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Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Golden Opportunity

Something funny happened today.

(I love how often I’m able to write that. I am lucky that funny things happen near/to me. Or maybe I just see the amusing side of things. But I digress…)

Today at the park we were hanging out with a new friend, Laura. She moved to our neighborhood a few months back and we first met (at the park, of course) only a few days after she’d moved. She’s easy to talk to and we have good conversations, but I don’t know much about her life before moving into the neighborhood. We were gabbing about this and that when I suddenly noticed that her pants said “St. Olaf.”
Okay. Time out! St. Olaf, as in the hometown of Rose, from the Golden Girls? I asked Laura if her pants were a reference to Golden Girls, a show I watched in the 80s, and still enjoy today as reruns. St. Olaf stories were in every episode.  Rose often shared stories about her hometown, a Norwegian farming settlement in Minnesota. Every time she said, “Back in St.  Olaf…” the others either left the room, or settled in to get comfortable, knowing the story would be long (and may not in fact relate to the previous topic at all!).
Imagine my surprise today when I learned that St. Olaf is a real place! (I hadn’t bothered to find out before, but today’s discovery that it’s a real place makes this blog so much better.) Laura went to school at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. I asked if I could photograph her leg and she gave me the go-ahead. Laura said that the Golden Girls’ writers had gone to Carlton College in Northfield, MN, the rival to St. Olaf, which is in the same town. They named Rose’s hometown St. Olaf (where everyone was fairly stupid or at best naïve).
I definitely consider myself a Golden Girls fan. Those four spunky ladies were such a funny quartet. They were roommates and friends and each episode made me laugh. Sometimes the story lines were mostly comical, but other times the show managed to mix humorous moments with meaningful topics. I remember episodes that took on serious social issues: aging and death, betrayal and loyalty, immigration, homelessness, HIV, addiction, and homosexuality (which was not something that tv shows had dipped their toes into in the 1980s). Each of the four roommates had a distinct personality, strengths, weaknesses, and baggage. Plus, the four main characters were women, which must have made an impression on me years before I learned the term “gender inequality.” This show was a delight. I liked all of the characters but one who stands out in particular was Rose, who was played by the adorable Betty White. Rose was naïve, at times ditzy, and (unless stopped) could ramble on for long periods about strange things/people/animals/events from back home in St. Olaf, Minnesota. These stories always involved names with unusual sounding words that reminded me of sounds the Muppets’ Swedish Chef made. I’m looking at a Golden Girls segment on You Tube as I type and I’m laughing out loud. How did Rose manage to utter those funny sounds and not bust out laughing? She’s a pro, of course.
Here’s an example of things Rose had learned in St. Olaf. She said it was an old Scandinavian saying:
"You can let two, angry mackerels fight it out in a purse but don’t ever plan on carrying that purse to a formal affair."
If you would like to hear a sample of names and words that have St. Olaf's distinct flavor, watch this one-minute clip:
Oh, I love moments like this. It’s pure coincidence that Laura wore those pants today, which led to my discovery that St. Olaf is real. These serendipities just make my day. Hope you got a laugh, too!


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