and entering

A Prairie Home Without a Companion

Kidder tries to take her mind off of her agonizing lack of identity.

The life of Stacey M. Kidder, ’15, is a tragic one. Everywhere she goes she is bombarded with questions – “What is your name? Where are you from?” – but one query hounds her incessantly from her most innocuous calculus class to her most scalding nightmare – “You’re from Minnesota? Where’s your Minnesotan accent?” Such an insensitive and dehumanizing question is positively repetitive. Though Stacey is tactful in her response, “Haha, I don’t know. I can imitate one pretty well, though, don’tchyaknow,” feelings of apathy and indifference simmer beneath her unperturbed demeanor.

How should she know where it is? Perhaps it was lost in baggage claim, perhaps the real Stacey Kidder was stolen from her crib and replaced by a gremlin child, or perhaps it was slowly and systematically squelched out of her by her jingoist step-mother from Ohio who believes Minnesota is a secret outpost of Quebec. It is said that children who face such traumatic childhood experiences have a stutter, and upon being reminded of the possibility of this traumatic incident, we saw a reemergence of Stacey’s latent and carefully concealed sputter. “What the f…wha…what?”

Stacey had faced ostracization and exclusion from an early age, sticking out like a fricative tee for her accentlessness. Even the elders of her community, entrusted to judge a fair beauty contest, rigged the contest as a cruel joke several years ago, voting for Stacey to win simply so that they could humiliate her by presenting her with the “golden prize,” a vile bust of Stacey made of butter. She keeps this bust in her windowsill as a reminder of the obstacles she has overcome and prejudices she has faced. “Sometimes people think we have strange customs, she says, gesturing to the bust, “but I think our quirks are what make Minnesota such a special place.” So adorable, that she is innocent enough to think she is one of them, but the cruel irony was too much for this author.

Stacey finally escaped her hometown to attend college in the Northeast after years of being passively reminded of her shortcomings by people’s incessant dialectic chattering, like a schizophrenic tormented by a thousand Minnesotan voices in her head. “Yeah, I remember being pretty excited to go to college. Pretty nervous, but excited.” But she was soon to realize that she fits in nowhere. Unable to assimilate in Minnesota, unable to rest unharangued outside of Minnesota, Stacey has been driven to leave the country: “Yeah, I’m…to study abroad next semester!” What will she do with the buttered bust, once a memorial to her strength and now a badge of her failings? “I guess we’ll try to eat it!” That’s it, eat your feelings with your mouth that just can’t perform.

© 2012