I’ve been busy. Perhaps not in the conventional sense, or busy like many of you have been. But those walks on the beach each day take quite a long time, and then there’s coffee. Coffee is an event in and of itself. I mean who wants to hurry up and finish when there’s sun, surf and a nonfat, no foam latte all wrapped up in one? So that’s where I’ve been but, as you can plainly see, I’m here now and I have something I want to say.
I like Americans. Well probably not all Americans. I suppose if I had to pick one off hand who I particularly don’t like it would have to be, hands down, the Idaho State Trooper who saw fit to cite me for going a little faster than I should have been just moments before I would have been back in my own country and out of his hair. But then who likes all of anything really? Even in a box of chocolates there’s sure to be a dud. Besides, I spend a fair bit of time in the U S of A and overall, most of the people I meet are really lovely so I don’t have any complaints. Well maybe just one. It seems, and I say this with some trepidation as it’s based on a rather small sample, but nonetheless, it does seem that people here don’t know very much about Canada. Which is a little odd since we are, quite literally, attached at the hip.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Americans don’t know anything about my home and native land. As a matter of fact it seems to me that they are pretty good at identifying us, or at least those of us who quite unknowingly, and perhaps unwittingly, end at least one of our sentences within an entire conversation with “eh”. Who knew I did that, eh? But I must because, as soon as it happened my American friend popped the “so where are you from in Canada” question. Unfortunately, beyond that things get a little iffy. Especially when it comes to geography. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that most people here are geographically challenged when it comes to the large landmass to their north. Which surprises me a bit because here’s the thing. I’ll be the first to admit that I am no geography genius but ask me where, let’s say, Arkansas is and I can give you a pretty reasonable answer. More south than north. More east than west. And I’ve never even been there. So at the risk of tooting my own horn I’m going to go right out on that proverbial limb and say that I can pretty much do the same for any of the remaining 49.
Which is why I was surprised, and perhaps a little dismayed, to discover that the same can not be said for my southern compatriots who, having asked me where I am from are, more often than not, stumped when I reply, “Edmonton, Alberta”. In an attempt to assuage the inevitable blank stare, I further clarify my answer with “Canada”. To which the most frequent response is “Oh, it’s cold there, isn’t it?” Because that seems to be the constant, the one thing they are sure to know about Canada. Now even as a shallow person I know this is neither the time or place for sarcasm. I simply know that I shouldn’t say what I want to say. At least not then. Not while I am the sole representative of my entire country. But here. Well this is my blog and I can say what I want to. So let me tell you how some of these conversations go and how they could/should have.
American #1: So where are you from?
Me: Canada. And in an effort to be more specific, “Alberta”.
American: Oh, is that like another country?
What I said: Alberta? Oh no, it’s a Province in Canada. A province is similar to your state.
What I wanted to say: Yes. We call it Oil Country. At least we did. And I’m sure we will again one day.
American #2: When talking about our house in Victoria on Vancouver Island asks “how did you ever find that Island?”
What I said: Oh. Vancouver Island is quite well known in Canada. In fact, Victoria is the capital of British Columbia.
What I wanted to say: Actually, we didn’t. It was founded by Juan de la Bodega y Quadra and George Vancouver in the 18th century.
American #3: While chit chatting in a line at a very popular amusement park asks “where are you from?”
Me: Canada. Alberta to be specific.
American: Oh, Canada. What language do you speak?
What I said: English. Although French is also an official language.
What I should have said: The same one you and I have been conversing in for the last ten minutes!
American #4: Where are you from?
American: It’s cold up there isn’t it?
What I said: Yes, yes it is.
What I wanted to say: Yes, yes it is.