Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Doing the Minnesota Shuffle

First, and most importantly, keep your elbows tucked in tight against your body.

Now wave your hands and forearms helplessly around. Think flippers or penguin wings, but keep those elbows pressed in. Good!

Now you're ready for the feet. Pull them close together. Now slide one forward: not too far. Now the other. Now the other. Now the other. Now the other.

There you go: you're got it! You're doing our sacred dance: the Minnesota shuffle, also known as the Minnesota Duck-Walk. You want to look like you're penguin-stepping along on smooth ice, afraid to fall down.

In fact, that's exactly what you are doing.

But wait, we're not done yet. The exciting part is yet to come.

Proceed directly forward, as slowly as possible.

Then, at irregular intervals, slide both feet forward together and fall back on your butt. (I know that this sounds hard but, believe me, it's much easier than it sounds.) Try to get both feet off the ground at the same time, if you can.

As you fall back, detach your elbows from your body and wave your arms in the air. While you do this, emit a wordless squawk. Aim for something combining surprise and fear.

Now look around, as if you want to make sure that no one just saw you make a fool of yourself. Radiate as much confidence as you can as you do this. (Think cat: I meant to do that.) Don't worry: chances are, anyone around you is already busy doing his or her own Minnesota shuffle. If they're looking anywhere, it probably isn't at you.

Slowly stand up again—pushing off against the ground to do this adds a real note of authenticity—and repeat.







When you finally start to feel that you must have died and reincarnated as a penguin, when you begin to forget how to take a stride, when deep down in your heart of hearts you truly believe that this is what “walk” means....well then, congratulations, my friend: you're not just doing the Minnesota Shuffle.

You've become it.




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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