I recently visited our kinder, gentler selves in Canada for work and pleasure and noted a few things: (a) they talk funny, (b) Americans--and we also feel totally comfortable hogging the continental appellation--feel totally comfortable pointing that out to them, (c) they never get mad at it, which must be a particular flavor of unamusing, constant, and blatant violation of the guest/host relationship, (d) like Californians, Canadians tend to end a preponderance of their sentences in the interrogative tone, which is a tough speech tic not to imitate when it permeates your world, and (d) sometimes you can misinterpret them unexpectedly.
To wit: I was in Edmonton and trying to get from my hotel to a nearby museum. I asked the Concierge for directions. Here, roughly, was our exchange:
Me: Hey. (Flagrantly giving myself away as a Yank.)
Concierge: Good evening? May I help you?
Me: Yes. I am trying to get to the Art Gallery of Alberta.
C: Oh, sure. That's close, eh?
C: Gettin' there's a very simple prough-cess?
Me: Nice; what do I do.
C: Go straight oout the door and take 100 Street?
C: Take 100th Street up a few blocks to 102, eh?
Me: Okay? (Giving into the cadence)
C: Turn right, go down two blocks? You'll see it just there?
C: Glad to help? Have a great time. (Meaning it.)
So, I went out the door (on principle, I refused to cave in and go oout the door). I walked up 100th Street and took a right on 102nd Avenue. I walked down two blocks and did not see anything resembling a museum. Confused, I retraced my steps to 100 Street. I finally decided to go one block further on 100 and I came to 102-A Avenue, which, as promised, led two blocks down to the museum and its yummy restaurant, Zinc, which was my destination.
Can you believe it? He said, "102-A" and not "102, eh?" And, thinking it over, I am convinced that there was no way to have anticipated it.
PS - Crazy story, eh? Oh, and of all the great Canadian musical contributions, nothing tops Celine Dion. Just kidding! Of course I would never cruelly hurt you by steering you toward Celine like that. One legitimate contender, however, is Cowboy Junkies, who put out a gorgeous cover of the Velvet Underground classic, "Sweet Jane" penned by recently deceased Lou Reed; now playing on iTunes.
One Hundred Thousand Flashbacks
4 years ago