You know what the funniest thing about Canada is? It’s the little differences. Wonderful place it is, the message could not be clearer: if you want unsweetened ice tea at any store or restaurant, fast food or fancy, you can drink lemonade-sweetened Nestea or fuck right off you wimp.
Given that it’s a British Commonwealth, or something, I’d thought Canada would have more sensitivity to the variations of tea people like to drink.
Breezed through with only part of a day in Toronto and two days in Montréal. In French-speaking Québec I fought the instinct to gush out my halting high school French freshman year skills. Kept the clumsily composed phrases to myself, sometimes whispering them when the moment passed. Did break out a few “Merci” without shame. Increased resolve to some day get to France and of course apologize to all around for George W. Bush-era and now Trump-era buffoonery done by Republicans des états-unis.
I unknowingly scheduled us to arrive in Montréal on Canada Day (July 1). I got to the Old Port where a 10 p.m. fireworks display was the crescendo to a day-long event. The city was active, weather great, and a lot of human activity.
I missed the first minute of fireworks as I was still walking down a street to get within sight. The music was not the national anthem of “Oh, Canada”. It was the main music theme to the “Lord of the Rings”. Then after about 10-12 minutes of medium trajectory fireworks, the show was over. Disney-trained me expected spectacle, grandeur, patriotism, boasting, expense! Fireworks in shapes! Hearts! Mickey Mouse heads! Fireworks bursting inside other fireworks then becoming another kind of fireworks!
Instead it was a modest “Here are your fireworks. Got ‘em? Good. Now let’s all go home. The police are working late and most of you probably have got work tomorrow. It’s Monday night.”
Others leisurely and pleasantly walking back didn’t seem to be as bewildered and underwhelmed as I was. Then I started laughing and I’m still chuckling on & off about it now.
(Below: “Autoportrait” (2016) by Yannick Pouliot. A two-way mirror. [Right] Your narrator. My daughter and I marveled at this exchanging places. [Left] Daughter sits to rest as I stand on the other side.)
Within the first few minutes of watching Canada television, my daughter remarked during a commercial break for a local show & tell programm(e) that most every element seemed to not yell or want to rattle the t.v. in the way that we were used to. Typically that’s attributed to a Canadian trait/stereotype of modesty (“Sorry”). But Canada has national healthcare. The U.S. does not. Canada seems better in attending to general well-being. Increasingly I don’t think the tone is attributed to modesty so much as we in the U.S. are accustomed to feeling so on edge, working to exhaustion, aware that a major health event could bankrupt us and put us on the street, that we need to get screamed at to get our attention. Stress and worry has made us collectively dumber and more selfish and unable to identify our true sources of stress. Our media often whips us up then directs us to the wrong causes for why life/society isn’t working for us like it could. In the wealthiest nation in human history.
As we wrapped up watching the “Good Omens” series finale (fun - ups & downs - but fun!), Room Service (ehm, I mean “Service Aux Chambre”) knocked on our door tonight and accidentally gave us extra sheets and blankets. So our teens made a pillow & blanket shelter.
Yes, we had poutine in Montréal. Two different kinds. La Banquise seves 30 different kinds and is open 24 hours a day. Charming place, tasty. Back to the States tomorrow!