Canada and the United States have a unique relationship. We are a lot alike in so many ways, but so different in just as many ways. And I have to admit that sometimes we Canadians have a bit too good of a time ripping on “the States.” For the most part it’s not in a mean-spirited way, but more like in a way that one sports fan rips on another sports fan’s favourite team. I used to love Rick Mercer’s “Talking to Americans” segment on This Hour Has 22 Minutes (it was hilarious and about the only thing I found funny on that show). He would interview random strangers in America and get them to congratulate Canada on building a dome over their national igloo or sign a petition to stop the clubbing
of baby seals in Saskatchewan. I wouldn’t expect people from most countries in the world to not know this stuff was hogwash, but for it to be our southern neighbour—it’s just so dang funny bro! I mean, the US is the focus of the entire world. This is the place that cranks out celebrities like a widget factory, dominates just about every category in the olympics, and can nuke half the globe before most other countries can get their army boots on. And we’ve got an inside joke on them. Call it an inferiority complex if you will, but we love it.
Yet we do appreciate our neighbours, and in honour of American Thanksgiving I want to prove it by providing you with a run-down of my favourite things about the US of A:
BUFFETS. I love a good buffet, and the US sure knows how to do them right. In Canada a buffet usually means four stainless steel bowls under a sneeze guard that may or may not have food in them. If not, just wait a bit. In America it’s a taste bud block party complete with hot rolls, seventeen main course meats, eleven vegetables (all covered in cheese), fourteen sides, a mile long dessert bar, and all the butter pats you can eat. And somehow you can shovel in all you want for $4 or something crazy like that. Makes me want to cross the border now. “No seriously officer. We’re only staying as long as it takes to travel to Virginia and eat at a Golden Corral.”
THE FLAG. Ever since I was a teenager I was enamoured with flags. My favourite is the British flag, and of course our very own maple leaf flag. But I do have great admiration for the American flag. With its stars and stripes it just looks provocative. People see
Canada’s flag and immediately think of maple trees. They look at South Korea’s and see Pepsi and staple marks. They see Japan’s flag and think, “Uh, is this one finished yet?” But one look at the American flag and you see civil war soldiers with muskets, Rocky mounting up a comeback on Ivan Drago, a super cool biker jacket, or an eagle laying the smackdown on some loser animal. Seriously, that flag is so badass!
FOUR LANE HIGHWAYS. It is so nice to travel south of the border and still keep clipping along at a good pace despite the fact that there’s a bazillion cars on the road. So many lanes! Yeah baby yeah! It’s like American highways are the king-size beds of the traveling world. Canada’s highways are the single cots. British roads are the “I slept in the tub” routes.
THANKSGIVING. Though I prefer this holiday in October, and though I don’t like it being a “Christmas kickoff,” I do like how it falls on a Thursday and I love how it gets so much more emphasis in America. One of my fondest memories of living in the US was playing football in a field with friends on Thanksgiving day in North Carolina. It was so much fun and felt like such a genuine American experience.
MALLS. I’m not a shopaholic by any stretch, but I do love walking through malls, and the ones in America are crazy amazing. Years ago the largest mall in the world was in Edmonton, Alberta. But then the USA struck a pose like Crocodile Dundee and said, “Mall? That ain’t no mall,” then pulled out a Minnesota mega-mall the size of New Brunswick and said, “That’s a mall!”
A TON OF TV SHOWS. While I do recognize the great art in Canadian classics like Seeing Things, Bob Izumi’s Real Fishing Show and The Beach Combers, I grew up loving American TV shows. Classic cartoons like the The Pink Panther and Spongebob Squarepants, engrossing dramas like Little House on the Prairie and Breaking Bad, action shows like Knight Rider and Hawaii Five-0, laugh-out-loud comedy shows like Saturday Night Live and Fox News. There’s nothing quite like American television. I grew up loving it and still do.
BASEBALL. It’s funny, I don’t really like baseball, but I absolutely love the nostalgia it has with Americans. Visiting an MLB ball field in the US can be as moving and captivating as visiting the Smithsonian.
And I could go on, but maybe we’ll save that for July 4th. For now…
Congratulations American Graffiti. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Cindy Williams in Amercian Graffiti.
Best Actor: Edward Norton in American History X.
Best Quote: “Sneakin’ around with the Wolfman, baby. This is gonna strike a raw nerve, Mama. Here’s The Platters.” — Wolfman Jack in Amercian Graffiti
And a new top ten list: My top ten favourite Americans!
10. Martin Scorcese
9. TIE: Helen Keller and Abraham Lincoln
8. Mohammed Ali
7. Charlie Chaplain
6. John Stewart
5. Harriet Tubman
4. Walt Disney
3. Bob Dylan
2. Martin Luther King Jr.
1. Leah Carruthers