I should start by saying that I “love the United States of America”. If you follow me on Facebook and you’ve heard my rants about Donald Trump, a corrupt political process, fake news and a myriad of other factors that I am convinced gave us the “Great Orange Embarrassment”, you may wonder if I like America at all. I don’t just like America, I love Her (and always did). The healthcare system here (compared to Canada) … mmm… not so much.
This year took a bite out of me, and made me more homesick than ever. I’ve been told that America “only gets rowdy during election years,” which I am a little inclined to believe, since stuff seemed more sane, peaceful and decidedly less racist in 2014, when I first arrived. Racism and xenophobia (prejudice about religion) are two massive triggers for me. I judge people based on my experience with them, their character, how they treat others. I also secretly judge people based on how they treat bar tenders or waiters. I have found that usually tells you everything you need to know about someone.
Me? I read the name tag, smile at them, and thank them excessively. I’ve been a waitress. Hell, I even tip if service sucks.
I woke up this morning trying to identify again, with my new home here in Texas. Still Canadian. Will always be Canadian. But I’m trying to find my own manifest destiny here in the USA, and trying to be the best American I can be too. How do I pacify the identity crisis when someone TELLS me that I am now an American? It’s a good thing that I am a wordy wordsmith.
“I’m a Canadian. But I’m working hard to be a damned good American too. Your government said I get to be both.” [That usually silences the “boiling pot” missive]. I celebrate more holidays and get an extra cake from my husband on July 1st (Canada Day). He’s bought me one every year, because he’s awesome.
I would say that people in Ontario like American’s for the most part. We vacation in Florida, or Myrtle Beach. We go to shows in New York City, and go on American shopping trips on giant buses full of housewives, to the promised land of outlet shopping (Buffalo). American’s come North for our amazing cottage country in Georgian Bay and the Muskoka’s, where even movie stars have lavish cottages. You are hard pressed to find someone in Ontario who doesn’t have family in the United States, or friends.
Other provinces, when I’ve traveled and spoken to people in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland didn’t share the same opinion. They thought American’s were loud, ignorant, rude, pushy, gun toting weirdo’s that kept commenting how Canadian’s were “so nice”, the way you would compliment a fuzzy puppy. Other comments I have heard about American’s is that they are litterers (that’s a serious no-no), and that they consider Canada to be like, the USA of the North (which pisses Canadian’s off). Once, I was in the Dominican Republic and I met a young man traveling with his family. He was from California. He had a Canadian flag sewed on his backpack, and I was shocked to learn he was an American.
His explanation? “I get treated better abroad if people think I am Canadian”. Naturally I laughed and told him that he was ridiculous to assume he’d be treated differently as an American, until I slid into the overcrowded hot tub later that night, and listened to Germans, speaking in rough English, about how “rude” American’s were. The flag started to make a little more sense to me. Personally, I found the Germans at the resort far more rude; they kept taking their tops off and freaking me out.
The world has some very definitive stereotypes about Americans, and I’ve been thinking about that lately, since my objective is to become a passable hybrid CanAmerican. The idea that all American’s are the same is laughable. Take a look at the polarized morals and viewpoints of both the democratic party and the republicans. Both American groups are screaming at each other for vastly different priorities and national identities that vary on several points, including humanitarianism, immigration, abortion rights, and whether Donald Trump’s hair is really real. The fact that he was charged with rape by his first wife, after he went into a fury after a botched hair graft to his head (does he comb upward from his neck and back?) – sorry, not a fan. I pull no punches when it comes to that dip shit. I hated him years before he decided to make American politics his next reality television show.
But I love Americans. The ones I know and understand anyhow.
- They all have flags. Not many houses in Canada proudly hang a flag, but almost everyone does here, and it makes my heart swell a little.
- They all like football. I get rugby and soccer, and the CFL. The NFL is a little confusing to me, but I have an in-house coach who is trying to teach me. One day I’ll get tickets and have a tailgate party, and move one inch closer to my hybrid CanAmerican identity.
- They like SUV’s and Trucks. I can’t claim that I blame them now though; I buckled and bought one with a heated seat that is red (smile) and can run over zombies if I have to now. In my Hyundai Elantra I was screwed if the zombies invaded. You have no defensive options in an economy ride with a sun roof.
- They like meat. Sure, I live in Texas and this may be a slightly Texan thing, but grilling is part of the American identity. I’ve seen people drive crappy cars to afford a fancy grill and smoker. Priorities man.
- They like big houses (could be a Texan thing too). We’re rocking our tiny house and saving up for one of those bigger houses that I tell everyone (in the interim) is a shameless waste of money and bad for the environment. When it’s 103F … your family needs a pool in Texas.
- They give. Comparing where I live to where I used to live in Toronto, there is more a sense of community here. People care. People help. At least in our small town areas.
- They like guns. This is abnormal to me and frankly, it’s terrifying too. I’ve seen enough bat shit crazy people everywhere in the world to know that a semi-automatic belongs in the hands of a law enforcement officer, not a uni-bomber. But… “from my cold dead hands” mentality about guns. Try proposing that you take away the big bad ones… and American’s get angry fast. They too, want to be prepared for an alien invasion or zombie apocalypse.
- They are predominantly Christian. I don’t believe church and state should be separate, but church should also include the beliefs of other world religions, and respect for them. As a Canadian you learn about “the boiling pot” social and cultural pressures, but it’s never more pronounced than it is when you discuss religion. Me? I’m a Catholic, studying Buddhism, Koran reading closet Jewish (love the religion and community) kind of gal. I’m a religious Heinz 57 … because I think (don’t shoot me… with a big gun), they all came from the same place. God.
- They like big portion sizes. Seriously… we split meals with the kids when my husband emphasizes that portions are way too big here. In Ontario, not so much. And if a restaurant in Canada offers giant portions that are ridiculously high in fat and calories (wait for it), we call it “American Sized”. <— See, Canadians can be assholes too.
If America Was One Person
- SHE would have long hair, masterfully curled at the ends, with some highlights.
- SHE would go to church around the holiday’s mostly, but weekly in the bible belt.
- SHE would have a tattoo.
- SHE would have a tan.
- SHE would wear flag t-shirts.
- SHE would be playing multiple games on Facebook.
- SHE would have the Hobby Lobby app.
- SHE would love a good mixed drink.
- SHE would drive an SUV (sometimes with those stick families on it). **Reminder to self, need stick family stickers for the Jeep.
- SHE would love football and possibly be in a football pool.
- SHE would think Canadians were cute, excessively apologetic nice people who wouldn’t hurt a fly (bitch please… )
- SHE would fight with her children’s teachers because her children are always right.
- SHE would be scared about job security and rising costs of healthcare (our rate wanted to jump $300+ per MONTH).
- SHE wouldn’t have savings or life insurance.
- SHE would have an excessive amount of student loans or credit card debt.
- SHE would have a college education (in something).
- SHE would believe her kid has a chance at the NFL.
- SHE would be slightly scared of other religions, or their assertion of their own unique rights to practice their faith.
- SHE would claim to not be racist, but frown at biracial couples in the Walmart. Also her kids would not be allowed to date visible minorities, and those women with the scarves on their heads are really “sleeper cells” for ISIS… and … she believes she is not racist (and will get angry if you provide a textbook definition of racism and xenophobia). Not to say also that racism doesn’t exist in Canada; it’s so impolite and offensive to our society, that racists have to keep it on the down-low, or they get openly, verbally thumped for it. I’ve seen a whole subway car defend a black woman against an ignorant white guy (it was beautiful and ugly at the same time). In Canada, they’ll jump your ass for it. But clearly, having a President that validates it… is going to be a BIG step backward. Sigh. Hate him. Sigh…
- SHE believes that a President will fix all her problems. Like unemployment, debt vs. asset ratio, increasing cost of living, minimal education, and the average cost of SUV’s.
Most of those aspects are similar to Canada. Most of them. I find the overt racism really hard to manage as a sensitive person. But I know enough kind, LIBERAL Americans too, who believe that people are judged on merit and character, not skin color or faith. I love those kind of Americans.
Maybe I’ll grow up to be a good American one day.