Paul Kix explains the essence of the Midwest — he starts with the inevitable discussion of the movie Fargo, which is how most outsiders are exposed to our exotic inscrutable ways.
What Fargo nails, in other words, is Midwestern Nice, the idiosyncrasies of a steadfast populace that appear banal and maybe even bovine to the uninitiated, but in truth constitute the most sincere, malicious, enriching, and suffocating set of behaviors found in the English-speaking world.
Read the whole thing. I’ve been living here for 15 years now, and I’m only sufficiently familiar with the culture to be simultaneously entranced and horrified. It’s even: I sometimes seem to shock the natives with my blunt and awkward ways, too.
To be fair, though, at least I had a transition. My mother was born in Minnesota, and her family were all tried and true Scandinavian Minnesotans, so I moved here as a sort of mongrel Midwestern/Western hybrid. I also see a lot of my mother in that essay: she’d never say an unkind word about anybody, and tends to be quiet rather than snarky. Not that she’s unaware, though — she always knows exactly what’s going on.