Monday, January 09, 2006

Turning Canuck

Well, I'm back in the Frozen North, although honestly, we may have to start calling it the Soggy North if the weather continues how it's been this year. I'm still in the habit of taking off my shoes whenever I enter someone's house. I did it the whole time I was in Virginia. People kept asking me what the heck I was doing. "I can't help it! The Canadians have brainwashed me!"

It's strange to think that I've spent much more time in Canada than the US over the last two years. And yet, I still think of myself as American, and legally I still am. I wonder if that ever changes after you've grown up in country. Will I still be watching the news years from now and think to myself: "God, what were we thinking electing that guy?!" every time I see an American politician.

Also, I noticed all the cultural differences when I was in the states. Americans really are a lot fatter! And it's not that lifelong, genetic fat either; it's that sort of fat like they were skinny until after University, and then started putting on the weight. They look like they're wearing a heavy overcoat. They're like walking slabs of meat.

And you can understand why- there really are American portions at restaurants. The dinners that Claire and I get here in Hamilton could easily be put together for one American portion. Where my mother lives there are all these theme restaurants, like "T.J. Texas Skillets Fun-Time Restaurant", and they all serve these meals that are like "Two pounds of chicken chunks- deep batter fried and covered with golden cheese, placed on a bed of scrumptuous onion rings, soaked in gravy, and then served in a sterling silver bucket. Feeding bag optional." Mmmm....

Another thing that's strange is the obsessive collecting of crap. Half of my mother's town is strip malls, and they're all packed in the evenings. You don't see roaming packs of teenagers out on the street, like you do here; instead, you see them wandering through Best Buy. I actually enjoy a bit of shopping, unlike most academics- or, at least, I don't deny that I enjoy it like most academics do. Claire will attest that I'm not a shopaholic by any means! But, I can definitely understand the joys of having readily-available well-made consumer goods. However, Northern Virginia is just gross in its strong belief in shopping as a lifestyle. Here, in Hamilton, the average vehicle is a lowrider pickup truck, customized, with a sticker in the back window reading "Buck Wild!". In NoVa, the average vehicle is a Mercedes Benz SUV with vanity plates reading "Wel-Kept". It's a different culture.

What's worse is that stuff like this would go through my mind when I was in Northern Virginia and I would think to myself: "Oh no! I'm turning into a Canadian! They've won!" It's like there are all these characteristic things about American culture, and yet, if you notice them, it abstracts you and distances you from that culture. So, to remain American, I'll have to ignore it and start packing on the pounds. My God! What if I'm never fat enough to be an American, and never drunk and obsequious enough to be Canadian! I'll have to live at the Duty Free and rent myself out as some sort of freak. See the half Canadian-half American- The Camerican!

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