I’ve spent the weekend with two of my high school-exchange student-cousins in Fergus Falls. For those of you who are not pocket known in the upper Midwest, I can tell ya it’s about four hours straight north from Sioux Falls (and when I say straight, I mean STRAIGHT; I made a total of two turns on my way there.)
After getting all settled in the Hogwarts-like dorm, we asked kindly for permission to leave campus and headed to the “big city” of Fargo. I felt like a rebel, taking these young ladies out of boarding school to hang out with their older (and undeniably weirder) cousin, but oh well.
As the good girls we are, we decided to go bowling. Once we got there, however, we were completely ignorant of the fact that we were about to enter a sketchy redneck bar that just happened to have a bowling alley inside it. We didn’t seem to think that the couple rocking their camo-jackets and Trump T-shirts with matching intoxicated smiles standing by the door indicated any such thing.
Frankly, we thought they were just drunks asking our ages, but later we figured they must have been door guards. The fact that two 17-year-olds and a (significantly) older cousin walked right past them with steps so confident we looked like we had received special invitations must’ve confused them, because they didn’t stop us.
As soon as the smell of beer presented itself, and we saw the camo-couple’s hundred-something relatives polishing their bowling balls inside the alley, we left and headed to a more family friendly alley.
We had a blast, but Rode and Eline should’ve known that bowling with a competitive beast like me meant trouble. I’m a pretty lousy bowler, but I’m always hungry to improve, so with one round down, I suggested the following ultimatum: “If we don’t beat our own score this round, we can’t speak a single word of English the rest of the day.”
Long story short, we suddenly became monolingual, so there we were, three non-English speaking Norwegians, in Fargo — of all places. I’m not sure how many foreigners with no English skills look at the map and say “I think I’ll to to Fargo for my vacation!” so the location could not have been more fit for an experiment like this.
The bowling alley didn’t accept foreign credit cards . . . good luck solving that issue in two completely different languages. Oh Lord, the struggle was real, and the urge to speak English was so strong we had to clench our teeth just to restrain ourselves. Besides, it was really quite hilarious seeing these poor Americans desperately trying to read our body language.
Things didn’t get easier when we went to an Italian restaurant and the waitress had to guess what we were trying to say based on where our fingers were pointing at the menu. One thing is pointing at “Lasagna,” and “Spaghetti Bolognese,” but when you try to explain that you don’t want cheese on it, or when you pick the “design your own pasta” option, and have to explain that you want the “long, wide and flat pasta” instead of the thin noodles, that’s when it gets tricky.
And how do you explain “cheese” to someone when the Norwegian word is “ost”? At one point I felt the urge to imitate a mouse, but it all worked out in the end.
We got a little freaked out in the end when we got these in our bill folders:
Needless to say, the waitress received a massive tip, and she was the hero of the day — with our without google translate.
PS! If you feel that “Visiting Cousins in Fargo” seemed awfully familiar, it’s probably because I caught up with another cousin, Adrian, here last year.
Thanks for a great weekend, ladies!