The email read like a four alarm fire alarm. “My office! Two minutes! We’ve got a problem!” read the text from Governor Theo Thompson of Minnesota.
Within a minute six aides, two under-staffers, one intern and I arrived in the Governor’s office with a full minute to spare. My name is Jonathon Jones and I am the Governor’s Chief of Staff-my primary responsibility was to metaphorically rub the shoulders of the Governor in a calming manner. The Governor was a man prone to hyperbolic behavior. I on the other hand am a bespectacled graduate of Harvard prone to the opposite of hyperbolic, whatever that may be.
Waving an official document furiously in front of his fat purple face, the Governor was spitting and spewing. “This cease and desist order arrived this morning from Finland. We have been ordered, yes ordered, by Finnish Prime Minister Famke Famke to stop using the phrase “Land of 10,000 lakes.” It seems that Finland was known as “Land of 1,0000 lakes” at least 2,0000 years before we even knew there was a lake in Minnesota and I’ve run it past the attorneys and they agree. WE ARE F’d. We need a new state slogan.
(Metaphorical shoulder rubs needed). “The brave eats the soup,’’ I said.
“What the hell does that mean?” Fumed the Governor. “It’s a common Finnish catchphrase,” I answered. “This is no time for catchphrases! Fumed the Governor further.” (Metaphorical shoulder rubs fail).
“It’s exactly the time for a catchphrase.” I replied. “I’m saying forget an official state slogan for the short term.” The Governor looked confused. “Instead we will urge, no we will tax incentivize the citizens of Minnesota to each create their own catchphrases.”
“Hmm. You may be onto something Jones,” said the Governor.
“My father always said, ‘You’re not a man until you have your own catchphrase,’” I said.
“He did? That’s fucking weird, and what was his catchphrase?” shouted the Governor.
“Actually that was his catchphrase,” I snapped back.
“So what you are saying is if everyone (including children) in Minnesota creates a catchphrase, we will be the land of 5.69 million catchphrases,” chimed in the kiss ass Louise Langtry, aide number two.
“And Finland can eat our dust,” said Joe Jones, under staffer one.
“Yes,” I replied.
“’And Finland can eat our dust’ will be my catchphrase,” the Governor said, grabbing the opportunity. Joe was fine with the Governor’s grabby ways (after all he was only an under-staffer) and added “I’ll get on it right away. I can have a formal edict drawn up for your signature within the hour.”
Fifty-nine minutes later with a minute to spare the official words were signed and were announced to every Minnesotan in Minnesota.
The Minnesotans ate it up. They just loved it. Before you could spell Minnesota incorrectly, catchphrases came pouring into the Governor’s office for formal recognition and tax breaks.
“Having a good time is the best time,” wrote Jackie Jospehs, of St. Paul.
“It can never be too cold for these toes”, wrote six-year-old Tammy Tynes of Brainerd.
“Ponds are really just tiny lakes,” a sad attempt at a catchphrase but a catchphrase nonetheless, wrote Dean Damrosch of Wilmar.
“I love life even though life sucks,” wrote a depressed Fred Frud of St. Cloud.
“Whoa now buddy boy,” wrote Sally Sims of Duluth (age or emotional state unknown).
“Who knows–I knows,” wrote Janet James, age sixty-two of Minneapolis.
“Outta outta outta here”, wrote Geoff Goff of Blaine (turns out repeating the first word three times was a common tool people relied on when writing their catchphrases).
“Dogs bark and so do I,” wrote Peter Penn, an octogenarian also from Blaine.
“I’m here let’s drink.” This was sent in exactly six thousand times but only the original author, Bob Bennet of St. Paul received credit for it. It had to be rejected nearly 5,999 times leaving those 5,999 to go back to the drawing board.
“Back to the drawing board,” wrote Mary Mae after her original slogan “I’m here let’s drink” was rejected for already being in use.
You get the picture (not a catch phrase but more like an idiom, by the way) the list went on and on but there’s not enough ink on the internet to publish every one because In the end 5.6 million 998 thousand and 999 citizens of Minnesota created catchphrases, just one short of their goal. Most of the catchphrases sent in were basically horrible but as I already wrote, in the end the goal was accomplished; enough to officially call Minnesota the “Land of 5.69 Million Catchphrases. (A metaphorical shoulder rub win in my humble opinion.)
Even the Prime Minister of Finland Famke Famke sent in a catchphrase out of respect for the Governor’s decision to end what could have been the great 10,000 lakes vs. 1,000 lakes slogan war before it became a war or maybe just a feud. “The brave eats the soup and so do Minnesottans,” managing to spell Minnesotans almost correctly.