State’s Sprites

Hello, Minnie, it’s a pleasure to meet you. What can I do for you today?

I’m looking for guidance. I’m always wrapped up in a lot of big projects—you know, road construction, fish and game, education reform, moral sentry duty—but I can never quite seem to focus.

Well, I hope I can help you. How’s that herbal tea? Need a warm-up? Oh, and before we start, I need to tell you that, per the bylaws of Amalgamated Seers and Telepaths, I cannot accept as payment for your session a second-party check drawn on an account labeled “Tobacco Fee Escrow Thingie.” I may be able to hear voices from the other side, but as a tax-paying small-business owner, I am most intimately attuned to the sound of money talking.

Hey, I’m good for it. I’m currently forecasting a surplus.

That makes one of us.

Fine. Here—this is the last of my cash. Now lay some of that wisdom-of-the-spirits action on me.

I said I could speak with them, Minnie. I can’t vouch for their wisdom. Nevertheless, I am getting something…a lot of somethings, actually. Faces, names—Alexander Ramsey, Henry Sibley, Floyd Olson, Harold Stassen, Orville Freeman, Karl Rolvaag, Elmer Andersen.

They ring a bell. What are they saying?

Mostly they’re just standing around, staring down at their extremely sensible shoes, clearing their throats and shrugging. If I had to guess, which sometimes I do, I’d say they’re telling you that you’re on your own. I’m getting a very strong been-there-done-that-got-the-T-shirt vibe from these fellows.


There’s also a man in a white smock. His name is Rudy Perpich, and he keeps repeating a single phrase. Hmm. Maybe “Debtor costs, debtor costs”?

Cool! An actual voice from beyond. Now if we can just interpret it properly…

It’s getting louder. Uh-oh. Whoops. What he’s actually saying is “Better floss, better floss.”

You have got to be kidding me.

I never kid about the dead, Min. But perhaps he’s speaking figuratively. Perhaps it’s a statement about stewardship, infrastructure, wise and planful governance across the full spectrum of the issues you face. Perhaps he is placing this metaphorical flossing in apposition to a kind of cosmetic teeth-whitening that sometimes passes for leadership. Do you think that might be the case?

I want my money back.

Sorry, no refunds. And I’m afraid your session is up.