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Travel Tips for Anxious Americans

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Are you an American with wanderlust who’s longing to see the sights (and sites) of Europe but fearful lest your provenence put you at risk of derision? Well, fret not. For a small outlay of $25 (that’s U.S. dollars, although these days the Canadian one is rapidly catching up), you can purchase a kit guaranteed to disguise you as a Canadian. The kit consists of a t-shirt and pin emblazoned with–what else?–a maple leaf, and a booklet to help you navigate the tricky shoals of maintaining the pretense. For example, if a hearty but brainless football fan accosts you in England for your take on sports, point to your maple leaf with pride and blurt out “hockey”. If he requires further assurances you’re not a Yank, say it again and add the cryptic words “Wayne Gretzky“, followed up by friendly “eh”. He won’t, of course, know what you’re on about, but will soon realize that any North American so besotted with hockey he would actually mention it in the same breath as a Brit’s hallowed football must be a Canadian. He will then think twice about beating you to a pulp because of his displeasure with George W. Bush’s policies in Iraq.

The booklet also offers the FYI that Toronto is Hogtown while Calgary is Cowtown, information to which only Canadians would be privy or find even remotely interesting, and thus a sure-fire way to discern one’s genuine position re: the 49th parallel.

For those American intrepid enough to go to Europe (and/or foolish enough to visit France and put cash in the coffers of the odious Jacques Chirac), I offer, free of charge, seven other tried-and-true ways to pass for Canuck:

1. Throw in a few words of French. Europeans know that Canada has a French element while the second language in the U.S. is more likely to be Spanish. So sprinkle your conversation with the occasional mais oui or avec plaisir.

2. Mention the name “Lester Pearson” with hushed reverence and talk about Canada’s role as a UN peacekeeper. The person you’re talking to will immediately realize an American would never willingly allude to peacekeeping or the UN because the U.S., unlike Canada, has a fully-functioning military that allows it to act decisively now and then.

3. Talk about camping in the bush. The European view of Canada is one of endless vistas of untramelled wilderness–the primary reason they come here–so telling them that most Canadians actually live in large urban centres will only arouse suspicion.

4. Your favorite foods: poutine, maple syrup and blubber, ideally not at the same time.

5. The Canadian version of espresso: a double double at Tim Horton’s.

6. The real words are: “true patriot love in all thy son’s command“, not “all thighs on command”.

7. Make sure they know that, being Canadian, you despise Americans just as much as they do.

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About scaramouche

  • Melisande

    You mean just saying “eh” all the time isn’t going to fool anybody into thinking I’m Canadian, eh? Sounds like an extraordinarily amusing publication. Thanks.

    ml