Last is Best | July 27, 2022

Kyle and I took the boys out to dinner at a popular family restaurant in Grand Forks.  The small waiting area was packed with mostly grandmas and grandpas; and so when I realized one of the two benches had an open tush spot, I pointed it out to a woman who looked roughly the same age as the dawn of time.

“Oh, no,” she said, leaning hard onto her cane.  “That’s for someone who needs it.”

We stood there for another twenty minutes before our table was ready.  Despite a lot of glances towards the benches by several members of the crowd, one seat always remained empty.  At one point, both of the benches cleared off as parties were brought to their tables, and so a few of our fellow waiting room patrons did the “Well, I guess…” thing and sat down – always leaving one spot open.

North Dakotans have a real aversion to taking the last of something.  This goes back to our statehood: North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted at the same time, North Dakota being the 39th and South Dakota the 40th – probably because the government was like, “Hey, we have a spot opening in the United States; you in?”  And North Dakota was like, “Well, we should leave that for a territory that really needs it.”  And then the gov said, “Well, we have a second spot opening up right after this first one.”  And so North Dakota did the, “Well, I guess…”

I work for an architecture firm; and if you know anything about architects, it’s that they put white paint on everything love them some doughnuts.  Architects design buildings and construction managers build them, and if you know anything about construction managers, it’s that don’t care what color paint is used so long as its available they also love doughnuts.  Architects and construction managers find middle ground on things like paint colors through the consumption of doughnuts – and since the person-to-doughnut ratio at construction meetings is usually in the range of a 10-to-1, we end up with a lot of extra doughnuts in my office’s kitchenette.

A couple of weeks ago I went down to the kitchenette and found a box of eight doughnuts: seven flavors that I didn’t want, and one that I did.  Chocolate glaze.  As this was the last chocolate glaze doughnut, I did what any North Dakotan (and especially any woman over 35, as required by Women-Over-35 law) would have done in this situation, which was get a knife out of the drawer and cut it in half.  My half was delicious.

It was so delicious, in fact, that I was still thinking about that chocolate glaze doughnut after my morning meetings.  I decided to pop into the kitchenette for a completely unrelated matter and, lo and behold, the chocolate glaze doughnut half was still there.  Except that it was no longer a half; it was a chocolate glazed doughnut quarter because someone had cut the half in half.  Also, the seven grosser other doughnuts had reduced to two (a sprinkles and a German chocolate).  I cut the quarter in half, and it was delicious.

My office hosted a social hour in the kitchenette at the end of the day.  There were all sorts of awesome appetizers, as well as the box of what remained of the doughnuts.  I bet you can guess what was left: one whole German chocolate and one-eighth of the chocolate glaze.  As I tried to will myself to take the last of that chocolate glaze, one of my coworkers said, “Well, I guess…” and cut the German chocolate in half.

Here’s a math problem: an office is supplied a box of seven doughnuts.  How many doughnuts will remain twenty-four hours later?  If you guessed one-half of a German chocolate and one-eighth of a chocolate glaze, you are right.

Kyle and I have a box of tissues in our bathroom.  There is currently one left.  There has been one left for approximately two weeks; it’s a nose-blowing miracle.  Here’s another math problem: If two parents are playing “Whomever takes the last tissue has to replace the box,” who will win?  The answer is, of course, that one of our children will take the tissue, probably not use it, and the box will sit empty until Kyle or I realize it and change it out.

Children, of course, are smarter than grown-ups.  Kids not only can’t be bothered to uphold the politeness of “lasts,” they actively work to get the best.  We served a hockey-themed sheet cake at my eleven-year-old’s birthday party.  In the seconds it took me to light the candles, the boys completely worked out the food split.  

“First!  I call puck!”  One kid yelled, pointing at a spot with a fist-sized mountain of frosting.

“No, that’s Eleven’s!”  Another kid hollered, pointing at my son who smirked in the way that only a birthday boy who doesn’t need to call his own cake can.  “He gets that part!  I call second and I call this corner!”

“Fine!” the first kid yelled.  “Then I call the net!”

The boys divvied out the cake – without it yet being cut, mind you – so accurately that there was only one piece left at the end.  The kid who called “Eighth” wolfed down his cake before the others.

“Ahbawlbwlasht!”  He shouted, which was mouth-full speak for “I call last.”

“How was it?”  I asked him as I served him the last slice.

He cut off a huge hunk, leaving only about one-eighth on his plate.  “Delicious,” he said.

I didn’t have any pictures of half-eaten doughnuts or people not sitting in seats, so the photo above is of me and Kyle.

This week’s news has five football players, four teachers, and one neighborhood.  Read on.


Five NDSU football players – Logan Kopp, Ryan Jones, Chris Harris, Brayden Weber, and Alex Oechsner – rescued a passed-out woman and her two small children (one of whom was trapped) from a burning car after an accident. (Fargo Forum)

WalletHub has ranked North Dakota School as being the 8th-best in the country. (KX Net)

A neighborhood in Bismarck is now on the National Register of Historic Places. (Bismarck Tribune)

The third annual Dickinson Lemonade Day – for kids to learn about owning a business – saw double the participation of its inaugural year in 2019. (Dickinson Press)

Congratulations to Abby DuBord of Bismarck, Megan Wald of Kintyre, Megan Margerum of Hunter, and Ivona Todorovic of Grand Forks – the finalists for North Dakota Teacher of the Year! (Bismarck Tribune)

Thank you to the North Dakota Professional Communicators for honoring North Dakota Nice the First Place award in Personal Blogging, and to the National Federation of Press Women for the Third Place award in Writing – Humorous. (NDPC, NFPW)


Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get a story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).