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Move over Bennifer; Josh Duhamel and Audra Mari deserve their own lovebird nickname

With the nuptials of North Dakota's most popular couple, Josh Duhamel and Audra Mari, in sight, we think they deserve a mashup name in the spirit of Hollywood couples like Bennifer and Jayoncé.

Tammy Swift online column sig revised 3-16-21.jpg
Tammy Swift, Forum columnist.
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FARGO — In the beginning, there was Bennifer and it was good.

Way back in 2002, the press coined that term to capture the constant togetherness of two of Hollywood’s sparkliest new stars, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck.

Alas and alack, poor Bennifer flew their bird of paradise too close to the sun and their love tumbled to earth with a resounding crash in 2004.

But nobody (well, nobody born before 1980) forgot the name, which could now be handily recycled for their reunion and 2022 nuptials.

That witty name mashup was just the beginning.

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Over time, the road to briefly-married bliss has become studded with celebrity couple nicknames like Speidi, Brangelina, Jelena, Kimye, TaylorSquared, TomKat, Jayoncé and Posh and Becks (which actually sounds like an English lager).

That got me thinking: Don’t North Dakota’s celebrity couples deserve the same fun-filled tribute?

A prime example: Josh Duhamel and Audra Mari .

Our readers can’t seem to get enough info on these lovebirds, with their Instagram-ready good looks and proud Peace Garden State lineage.

If you are a Luddite who gets your news via one-winged carrier pigeon, you may not realize that Duhamel is a Minot native who has never forgotten his home state despite successful starring roles in numerous TV series as well as the “Transformers” franchise.

Fargo-born Audra is a model, TV host and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss World America 2016 and was a first runner-up in both the national Miss Teen USA and national Miss USA pageants.

Although I’m not really sure how they met. I like to envision that both were at a schmancy Hollywood party — perhaps filmed in a house that looks like the one in Blake Edwards’ “The Party” — bored by all the artifice and shallow conversation around them. Suddenly, their mutually attractive eyes met across the room. After striking up conversation, they soon bonded over their shared love of meadowlarks, lefse and snowshoveling and — in classic North Dakota’s “two degrees of separation” style — found out that Josh’s Aunt Nancy was married to Audra’s favorite piano teacher. (None of this actually happened, of course. Mari told The Forum that a mutual friend introduced them and they’ve been dating since 2019, but my story just sounds more romantic.)

The couple announced their engagement on Jan. 8, 2022, complete with an Instagram photo of the two looking tan and radiant as they stood on a sunrise-framed beach and Josh held a message which read, “Audra Diane Mari, will you marry me?”

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More recently, the engaged lovebirds were spotted applying for a marriage license at the Cass County Courthouse on Friday, Aug. 26.

Both of these stories almost broke The Forum’s website. In fact, anytime we share the slightest crumb of info on either one of these lovebirds, readers can’t get enough of it.

So keeping that in mind, I can safely say they are the state’s most iconic celebrity couple. Beautiful, well-known, successful and equally proud of their roots.

With that, I think they definitely merit a nickname. Maybe Audrosh. Or Joshdra. Or Joshri. Or Marimel. Or maybe Duhamari, which sounds like a high-end calamari.

Then I really got thinking. What other North Dakota celebrity couples also merit a special nickname?

I immediately thought of Angie Dickinson , but my highly trained crack research team (translation: 15-second Google search) helped me discover that she is single.

It’s a shame that she didn’t stay married to Burt Bacharach, because Burtgie, Angarach or Dickarach would have been awesome nicknames.

However, I did come up with a few other potential mashups among North Dakota's well-known couples:

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  •  Century High School (Bismarck) graduate/former NDSU Bison star quarterback/current NFL quarterback for the Washington Commanders Carson Wentz and wife Madison Oberg : Cardison.

  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum: Dougthryn. 
  • Bismarck-born film and TV actor Leslie Bibb and husband/actor Sam Rockwell : Either Bibbwell or Bibbrock. 
  • In regards to Minot-born rapper/singer/songwriter Wiz Khalifa , I had hoped he was still in a relationship with model Aimee Aguilar, which created incredible potential for nicknames like Aimwiz or Wizguilar or Wizee.
    Nope. A May 2 blog post said Wiz and Aguilar had "unfollowed each other on Instagram," which is the 2022 equivalent to "Here's your ring." Now if he only would start dating someone named Cheese.
Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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