Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Advice to a Faribault teen: Be kind. Be honest. Be real… January 24, 2022

One of my favorite natural places in Faribault, River Bend Nature Center. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2021)

A CHANCE ENCOUNTER while hiking at Faribault’s River Bend Nature Center in late November led me down the rabbit hole of internet surfing on a cold January afternoon. How did I get there and what did I discover? Here’s the backstory and then the story. Sit back and enjoy.

The story begins with me and my camera. I carry my Canon EOS 20-D with me nearly everywhere, especially to natural spaces like River Bend. Another photographer—a young man—happened to notice and inquired about my camera. We talked equipment for a bit before I continued down the woods-edged trail and he returned to senior portrait photography.

My first glimpse of the colorful art car. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2021)

Later, while walking across the parking lot, I spotted a colorful car covered in messages. I put two and two together and determined this vehicle belonged to the young photographer I’d met earlier. I liked the car, a work of art really, enough to snap a few frames.

A loving message on the back of the car. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2021)

Well, those car photos and that chance meeting were forgotten until I rediscovered the file images recently. “I really ought to post those car pictures,” I thought to myself. That led me to Google “Curtis Pecore-Kotek.” I learned he’s a high school senior from Faribault who specializes in photography and videography. Yes, he’s on YouTube and that’s how I ended up watching his video, “How to Get a Girlfriend,” posted a year ago. Note that I rarely watch YouTube.

Identifying messages on Curtis Pecore-Kotek’s car. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2021)

The video title intrigued me, mostly because I wondered where Curtis would go with the topic. I quickly found out. He went to Walmart. And then to Hy-Vee Grocery Store. There he randomly asked shoppers and staff for tips on getting a girlfriend.

Many of them, much to my surprise, responded to the teen thrusting an over-sized microphone toward them. Only one seemed concerned about what Curtis would do with the recording…before giving a lengthy, thoughtful answer.

And what did the fine folks shopping for food and other goods or working advise this teenager about getting a girlfriend?

Be kind. Be nice. Be gentle. Be honest. Be real. Be confident. Be a “good person.” Be yourself. Be the best version of yourself.

Have a sense of humor. Tell a few jokes.

And then there’s this one: Hang out in the right spots (although “right spots” were not defined).

Curtis ends the video by interviewing a girl who wants to be just a friend, not a girlfriend. I sensed her uncomfortableness in the questioning.

I found the video entertaining, interesting and insightful. Interviewees offered great tips, many sharing the same advice. Curtis handled himself well. He seems real, confident, nice, kind and possessing a sense of humor. I’d say he’s got it covered in the qualities he needs to find a girlfriend. Whether he’s connected with a young woman beyond friendship in the year since crafting this video, I don’t know. He’s young, there’s plenty of time for relationships…


TELL ME: What tips would you give Curtis about getting a girlfriend? Or about life in general?

NOTE: In watching this video shot a year ago, I noticed something I rarely see in Faribault now: people wearing face masks to stop the spread of COVID. At the time, a state-wide mask mandate was in place.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling