Tuesday, December 07, 2004

O, Canada: So close yet so far

I think I'm turning Canadian, turning Canadian, I really think so.

OK, who out there has thought of becoming an expat?

Ah, yes, the continental cuisine, the strange accents, the thoroughly-thumbed phrase book, the cigarette smoke, the fine wine and REAL champagne, the living out of a few boxes, the wondering what you'd miss about the United States while trying to do the foreign paperwork and find some peace and solace abroad....

Yes, how DO you see yourself following your bliss for the next four years or the next forty?

To avoid the hassles of defending the United States or being prejudicially labeled an "ugly American," some savvy travelers have subtly disguised themselves as Canadians.

Few outside northern North America would notice the discrepancy in accent, and who really sees your passport anyway after you've gotten away from the airport, the train station or the concierge?

Well, now, in the gut-wrenching aftermath of the 2004 election, in the post 11/02 world, as some put it, Americans passing themselves off as and even parading around as Canadians may not be so subtle.

We Americans are now guilty by association - even those of us who adamently opposed Bush. The thought of Bush and his crew running a big chunk of the world (and the good standing of our nation) into the ground makes many of us ill. Well, it's making millions of foreigners ill as well.

So close yet so far: The United States may share one of the longest international borders with Canada, but in so many ways, Canada is a world away. And lots of those ire-spitting French folk know that. Seeming Canadian may be a way to ward off a personal terrorist attack - or at least a barrage of criticism, insults and ire thrown one's way by passionate English and French people wanting to unload their own brand of Bush bashing.

Here's a link to a little T-shirt company in New Mexico that's hitting the big time with it's "Canadian Package," including "O, Canada" T-shirt, pins and patches for your bags. Yes, you too can be a Canuck, bone up on your hockey trivia, say "aboat" for "about" and end carefully pronounced sentences with "eh."

Apparently more Americans than in years are considering a little more than an "O, Canada" T-shirt. During the last four years, plenty moaned and groaned about moving abroad, but now record numbers seem to be making that move a reality. In the weeks after the election, Canada's immigration website had up to six times the usual number of hits. Just find the site, take the test, score a 67 or higher, and you could be on your way. Canadian cities, even mid-sized cities, are generally more urbane and cosmopolitan than American cities, per capita, but there is plenty of room for you: Canada is the second largest country on Earth with a population of only 31 million.

I'm not really likely to light out for the great white north, but in some ways, I'm already more Canadian than American - mannered, polite, a little old-fashioned, a little more easy going, not a big fan of road rage rabid media or "reality tv" or guns or a gigantic military empire, a lover of social services, social graces, a genial civility and the feeling that there is a common good to serve. You see, being of a certain culture besides the one you inherited through birth can be a major part of the spiritual journey - a journey you can even take without leaving home. So you see, even sitting before your computer, you too could be/might be turning Canadian. I really think so.


(Note that it seems to be it would be better to get your Canadian paraphernalia from Canada, preferably with "Made in Canada" labels attached. And get some Canadian luggage, too, while you're at it. Maybe make a trip north to get outfitted. Spending outside the U.S. is one way to share the wealth.)

Cheers all!


At 12/08/2004 6:12 AM, Blogger Aleksu said...

I'm heading south, I already know how to pass as a Mexican.

And then, after a couple of years, I'm crossing the puddle and going to Europe.

At 10/19/2006 12:55 PM, Blogger Frances said...

What's happens after you roll up the rim?

Find the answer to this question and you can really pass off as a Canadian.

And we don't say aboot....


At 10/20/2006 5:37 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Well hey Francs there's a little "aboowt" in the "Canadian" accent. How should we spell it? I agree there's a little tinge of "w" in the "ooo" sound, but it is distinct. Love to Canadians everywhere! LCW


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