My first 30 minutes as a Canadian.Posted: October 22, 2010
One of the things I look forward to every year is my trip to the Florida Keys. I get to spend a week with great friends, listening to music and having a few beers in a perfect place. I’m heading out this year in about a week and a half. As a result, there are a lot of emails flying around between my friends and I about travel arrangements, things we plan to do etc.
One of today’s emails reminded me of the first and only thirty minutes of my life that I spent as a Canadian.
Some background before I go on. I have some distant family in Canada and have also had a good bit of interaction with Canadian colleagues from my profession. One of the things that has struck me in being around these folks is how little we Americans understand about the nation right next door.
I’ve seen Canadians asked what language they speak. This wasn’t a reference to the French/English requirements in Canada. The questioner actually had no idea what languages people spoke in that nation.
Several times I’ve been with Canadians who were introduced to a new person who promptly said something like “I know someone from Canada, do you know Marty and Linda from Ottawa?”
For those of you who cringed when you read that, please know I apologized to those Canadians on behalf of the entire smart population of the US.
And Now, Back To Our Story
Anyhow, my thirty minutes as a Canadian started in the evening, after a day of drinking various beverages with friends, one of whom, unlike me, has been a Canadian since birth. The guitarist in one of the bands we were watching was Canadian and my friend wanted to bring a Canadian flag to the stage for him. He asked for my help and I obliged. We brought the flag to the stage, then walked back toward our starting point.
On the way back, several people were very kind and told us how nice it was to have us in the US. My friend was cordial with them and I was too. I thanked them and told them I was sure I’d be back…because that was simpler than explaining that I was facilitating my friend’s national pride. It was also kind of nice that people were giving me beer for being from Canada when no one was going out of their way to do so for North Carolinian me.
The Jig Is Up…
When we got back to near where we had started our trip to the stage, a man asked “what flag is that you just brought up there?” I told him it was a Canadian flag. He then asked if I was from Canada.
A voice inside me said “you’ve been drinking, he’s been drinking. Go for it.” So I said I was.
I said I was from Canada and that I was so enjoying the hospitality of all the people I’d been meeting in the US. He reached in his cooler and gave my friend and I both a beer and welcomed us to the states. We both thanked him. My friend lingered a second, then started laughing and drifted away to watch the charade from a distance.
For the next half an hour I was a Canadian for this gentleman. I have to point out that I really made no effort to disguise my accent, which leans sort of southern United States-ish. He didn’t seem to notice.
I answered his questions and spoke glowingly of my time in the US. We toasted both of our nations. I told him I did not know Susan from Montreal, but I was certain she was a lovely person. I enjoyed another of his beers.
Eventually we grew close enough that he said “may I ask you a question about Canada?” I told him he certainly could feel free to.
“If that is a Canadian flag, and you are a Canadian”…the jig is up, I thought, he’s not as drunk as I believed… “why is the country called Canada and not Canadia?”
Apparently The Jig Was Not Up
I explained to my American friend that, just as the United States of America goes by shorter names like America or the U.S., my country had its full legal name, and the more commonly known one. By the time we parted ways, I educated him that the nation he knew as Canada was actually called, in its constitution, The United Provinces of Canadia.
Shortly thereafter, I returned to my group of friends and resumed being American.
My friends, please, be kind to our neighbors to the north..and to everyone for that matter. Afford their nation the respect it deserves. Try learning something. Remember, chances are that they do not know that nice Canadian you met on a cruise any more than you know the someone they know in Akron.
I’m probably preaching to the choir here…but it feels good to say it.
The jury is still out whether I will repeat this experiment again this year. Just in case, though, I have decided I will be from Saskatoon.
I posted this about a year ago. Since it is almost time for me to head south again I thought about it and was considering editing and reposting it. And then I read a post that made me think about it more. You should read it too.