North Dakota Ghosting | September 14, 2022

If you live in the upper-half of the United States and spend any amount of time on social media, you know that there is a long-running online conversation on the “Midwest Goodbye” – which is appropriate, as the Midwest Goodbye basically never ends.  In the words of a Tweeter (Twitterer?) named APHSarah: “A Midwest Goodbye is saying goodbye 20 times and standing around talking for another half hour while slowly inching your way out the door.”  The stages of Midwest Goodbye are such common practice – slapping your knee and saying “Welp;” engaging in at least two rounds of handshaking/waving; warning of impending weather and/or deer; moving your guests into your home and making them a legal part of your family – that you can actually buy t-shirts that say, “I survived the Midwest Goodbye.”  Kyle and I once held our visitors hostage for so long that we had to stop our farewelling and serve them a meal.  Fer real.

However, I’m not here to talk about the Midwest Goodbye.  Instead, I think it’s time to shed light on its quiet, subtle, 100% socially-accepted workaround: North Dakota Ghosting.

My eleven-year-old played in a hockey tournament earlier this spring; and so, naturally, all of the parents gathered outside the hotel to have a chat once the kids had gone to bed.  We had organized our lawn chairs in a large circle, as per lawn chair law.  As the evening ticked on, one-by-one a person would stand up, say they were going to the bathroom or to refill their cooler, and pick up their chair and leave the group.  Each time this happened, the remaining participants would shuffle their chairs closer together without breaking conversation or commenting on the individual’s departure. 

Finally, there were only a handful of us left.  Two of the dads – let’s call them Mark and Casey because I don’t feel like texting them to see if I can use their real names – were telling a story about a recent fishing trip.  Midway through the tale, WHILE HE WAS THE ONE SPEAKING, Mark rose, picked up his empty cans, folded his chair, and started to back away.  Then, with one foot in the parking lot, Mark said something like, “And you wouldn’t believe how surprised Casey was,” and disappeared into the night.  As Casey recounted his aforementioned reaction, I watched as Mark drifted in and out of the streetlights like Bigfoot through the forest.  A perfect North Dakota Ghosting.

North Dakota Ghosting is an ideal exit scenario because 1) unless you have been stuck in an entryway for so long that the homeowners feel they should feed you, saying goodbye generally stinks; and 2) North Dakotans like to leave their options open.  If Mark had returned twenty minutes later and sat back down with a wedding sheet cake and a single fork, no one would have mentioned it (if he had brought a handful of forks someone would have probably said, “Got some cake, huh?”).

There is a slight art form to North Dakota Ghosting.

First, you have to decide to leave.  This is difficult for North Dakotans because we are generally fine wherever we are, so needing to move from one perfectly good place to another is seemingly pointless.  Therefore, you have to say to yourself, “Self, I am going to depart.”

Second, you need to identify a direct route to your exit.  There’s no greater opportunity of being stuck in a Midwest Goodbye than to wander around the universe checking out someone’s new tires or grabbing a snack for the road.

Third, you need to move with purpose.  Not quickly; that would be concerning.  Not slowly; that would be super weird.  The best North Dakota Ghostings are accomplished with a confident, yet casual, stroll.  Something that says, “I have to pee, and I’m gonna make it.”

Fourth, you can’t let anyone stop you from your path.  If Casey had shouted to Mark, “What was the name of that guy with the fish?”  Mark’s only course of action would either be to completely ignore the question, or to point in the direction of Casey as if to say, “Hey, there you are,” without ever breaking stride.

Finally, you need to wait an appropriate amount of time (up to one day) to communicate with the people you recently ghosted so they know you are alive.  This is typically done with a text saying, “That was fun, let’s do it again.”

My little sister lives in North Carolina, and so we generally only meet in person a couple of times a year.  It sucks.  It especially sucks saying goodbye because she and I know it will be a while before we see each other again.  Therefore, our goodbyes are hefty; in fact, we’ve made it a habit to starting them a day early to speed up the actual exit.  We should really take a cue from our homeland and just – walk out.  Then, when we meet again several months later, we can pick up from where we last left off as if no time had passed.

Speaking of which, this story has come to an end, so…welp…

The photo above is of me was taken by Kyle on our daily (eveningly?) constitutional.

This week’s news has inline skaters and the Queen’s pen pal. Read on.


Park River’s Adele Hankey, born on the exact same day as Queen Elizabeth II, exchanged annual birthday cards with the Queen for 70 years. (Grand Forks Herald)

The North Dakota College of Science Wildcats have a new 49-year-old nose guard named Ray. (Valley News Live)

The 11th annual Rollin’ on the River Inline Marathon in Grand Forks attracted 100 skate-and-bicycle racers from across the US and Canada. (KVRR)

Hay there! (KFYR TV)

The Wahpeton community raised $13,000 for the Out of the Darkness walk. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Ope, Norsk Hostfest is looking for volunteers. (Minot Daily News)

Grand Forks’ Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux are being inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame. (Grand Forks Herald)


Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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