Saturday, February 14, 2009


Apparently North Dakota isn't a state as much as it's a state of mind.

Case in point: I drove through Council Bluffs at 40 miles per hour Friday afternoon, careful not to slip and slide along the interstate. Omaha got a sloppy snow storm that day, closing roads and canceling class. I feared getting stuck although I knew I'd have no problem as I'm practically a native North Dakotan by now. We drive in snow like it's our part-time job.

I-29 posed no problem, but the streets of Dundee did.

The city only got six inches, a dusting in North Dakota terms, so boots, tennis shoes or galoshes of any kind were out of the question. Not to mention, such footwear wouldn't match my outfit. I took the classy route, dressing myself in pearls in black flats. In fact, I'm such a class act that after my flats gave way to the ice, landing me on my keester, I choose to swear in French instead of English, so as to protect the ears of small children.

You're welcome.

In other news, while North Dakota may be cold, this story is hot... AND spicy. Look out.

Kelli M. and I, a former Creightonian and current language tutor, helped three Burmese women learn English words for human body parts. "Hips" seemed the most difficult and "belly button" the most ridiculous, but I was impressed with the ladies' motivation and progress as well as Kelli's patience.

Burmese women are not just strong learners, they are also strong-handed, forcing us to dine with them, and at one point, even spoon-feeding us. Since they speak no English and us, no Korin (they're native tongue) we couldn't ask what we were eating, so we assumed it was chicken although the meat was just as likely to come from cat.

In fact, what one of the husbands said was pork and green beans was actually pork and green CHILI. The chilies were so hot, they burned a hole in Kelli's cheek as she took more than one in a single bite.

As for me, I stuck to the chicken/cat/frog substance. What I didn't know is the meat had yet to be removed from its bone. So I stuck a whole piece in my mouth and lost a tooth. That didn't really matter as I was already chewing on bone and couldn't tell the difference. More calcium for me.

Now, I don't know about you, but I had 10 seconds to determine which was worse: offending a 90-pound Burmese woman, or ingesting squirrel-femur. I'd have chosen the latter, but notice the dimensions of your two outside toes. Oh yeah, that was the size and shape of the marrow in my mouth.

I waited until Kelli spoke, hoping for a diversion. When they turned their heads towards her, I pulled the bone from my mouth, hoping it looked less disgusting than it felt (Although the meat, whatever it was, tasted quite nice). It didn't matter. They all saw. And if they didn't see me remove what looked like my own vertebrae from my mouth, they could see it on my plate as I had no napkin in which to hide it.

No matter, the women seemed to say, picking up a possum piece and biting it like a drumstick.

Huh, we thought, we may have taught you the difference between "button" and "bottom," but surely we got the more valuable education that day.


If you run into a man with an Irish flag tatooed on his head and an angry Jesus flipping lamb-burgers on his arms, it's best just not to ask.

More tomorrow.

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