Wednesday, February 3, 2010

True North Strange and Free

Back in January, we started an all new morning show at Energy, and we decided to splurge a little and order the import host instead of the domestic.

Yep... we dun' gone and lassoed ourselves a Yankee... Chris Shine; hired out of Dallas, Texas, but born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts; I guess that means he's a calf-roping Patriots fan who'll eat a bowl of clam chowder while watching a Matt Damon movie... or something... (That's actually all pretty accurate with the exception of the calf-roping).

As it turns out, Americans are a lot like us... but after driving a car-less Chris to and from work for a month, I've learned there are a lot of very small and strange differences that make our countries so, well, different... eh?

One of the most dramatic has got to be the shoe thing.
Get this... Americans do not remove their shoes when entering a house!
No, for real. Carpet, hardwood or linoleum, whatever you've got lining your floor, they will drag their muddy soles all over it without a second thought.
Furthermore, Chris was surprised to learn that we Canucks remove our footwear, and the concept of the "shoe pile" at the front door of a house party seemed even more foreign... My mother would have a fit if I left my kicks on in the house, so perish the thought I say.

Again, it's the small things that are the oddest:
They have social security numbers... we have social insurance Numbers
They have zip codes... we have postal codes
They have the fourth of July... we have the first of July
They say 'zee'... we say 'zed'
They use fahrenheit... we use celsius
They have blundering Presidents... we have blundering Prime Ministers... And the Queen, which is odd to them.

Even the slightest variations in dialogue can raise an eyebrow; for instance, Americans don't use the term "grabbing a pint" in reference to grabbing a delicious frosty glass of golden brew. The word 'pint' throws them a bit.
However, they do have the privilege of purchasing that brew along with a bag of chips at 7-11... We do not.
However... they do not have ketchup chips... that doesn't really even the score of easy liquor access, but whatever, ketchup chips are effin' good.

Speaking of food, that's a bit of a curiosity too.
America... the land of bucket sized cups of pop (soda as they say), deep fried chocolate bars (candy bars), and cheeseburgers made with Krispy Kreme doughnuts (donuts)... does not put gravy on its fries. (I know, right?)

So imagine Chris's amazement when I told him about the most wonderful and delicious gift Canada has to offer to any sojourner from another land... Poutine!!!

Mmm... Just look at it... all gooey and cheesy and yummy and satisfying... How could this national treasure pass under the American radar for so long!? They embraced Avril Lavigne, didn't they? Why the frig haven't they discovered poutine yet!?

Something had to be done... so I took Chris out pour un dîner authentiquement Québécois (an authentic Quebec lunch) and insisted that he give the glorious creation a try.
Guess what... he loved it! So much so he texted me the next day to say he was craving more.
Hot damn! Not gonna lie... it kind've inspired me to open up a poutine stand in Manhattan. I could make a bloody fortune and retire early. It'll be gravy (ha ha)...

But by far the most amusing difference so far has been the geography lessons... Think back to your 8th grade Social Studies class, we (or at least, I) had to learn every state and every one of their capital cities. The Ameri-kids learn no such thing of Canada. For the most part, they don't even think of our country in terms of provinces and territories, each with their own traits that make them unique. We think of Texas, we think of guns and cowboys. We think of Boston, we think of tea parties and "Cheers"...
To them, we're simply Canada. One big overly polite neighbour (neighbor) upstairs that doesn't like to be a bother... and that's really not a bad thing at all.

Chris and I have become pretty good chums since he made the trek to our true north strong and free, so I've learned a few things from him in our time spent together.
I've learned that whatever country we hail from, we're all very strange creatures who do very odd things... like make condiment flavoured (flavored) snacks and put our feet up on the couch with dirty shoes on.
But I've also learned that we're really not that different at all when it comes to the stuff that matters...

Stuff like poutine... everyone on Earth can get together and enjoy a piping hot poutine... unless you're lactose intolerant.

Cheers to that Amigos!