I am Canadian...Don't hurt me

I am not a seasoned traveller. I have never been beyond the invisible line that acts as my country's border. I keep to myself, my space, my province and never bother the outside world unless it is to pester them on the world wide web.

I'm a homebody. But next week, for the first time ever, I shall grow a set of nuts wings and leave all that is safe and familiar to expand my horizons and leave my mark on the world.

Like a dog marking it's territory, I'm lifting my leg and getting on a jet plane to pee on the world. Specifically, the United States of America. Our friendly neighbour to the south. Big Brother. The States.

I mean, how different can y'all be? We watch the same television (thank the heavens for that, because Canadian broadcasting is well, fucking boring. Once they took the Beachcombers, the Friendly Giant and Casey and Finnegan off the air, it all went down hill. And I would know. The only channel I get with out any static is our national CBC channel.) We enjoy the same modern conveniences. (How I love my indoor plumbing, my iPod and my McDonald's drive thru.) We even laugh at the same jokes. (Insert lawyer/political/blonde joke here...)

How hard can it be? At least that is what I thought until I posted this last week. Who knew a whippersnipper could cause such a cultural drift? It's a fucking weed whacker, grass trimmer, cutter of all green things that shouldn't be there. (In my case it also operates as an instrument of terror which I chase my kids and dog around with while gunning the motor.)

Here I thought we spoke the same language as you Yanks. Turns out I was wrong. Oh, I get flack from time to time for my spelling words with a U (neighbour, colour, etc) from my American friends. And when I speak on the phone to my southern neighbours I am occasionally razzed that I pronounce my Z's like Zed instead of Zee and for using the term "Eh?" at the end of more than a few sentences.

(I can't help it. It's a conversational device that allows me to turn any phrase I say into an opinion poll without seeming pushy. It's like breathing air. I can't. Stop. It. Eh?)

As Canadians spread from sea to shining sea, we are a vast and varied people. But we all have a common bond. We all perk up when we hear the theme song to Hockey Night in Canada, and we all know that shopping in a crowded Canadian Tire store on a Saturday is worse than taking a pack of toddlers into a Toys-R-Us at Christmas time.

And coast to coast, we speak a language of slang Yanks have yet to embrace. My husband fears that while I am walking the slick city streets of Chicago next week, I will need a translator to interpret my speech.

All right, that may have been an over exaggeration, unless of course I wander into a restaurant and ask for some screech or swish, a bowl of poutine, a pike, a butter tart, a glass of homo milk, a two-four and a beaver tail and then complain because they didn't bring a serviette with it.

(After that meal, I'd be wandering around Chicago, flashing my girls and wandering around asking people how many clicks it is to the nearest Mountie office, while wearing my toque in the dead of the summer.)

Might as well pin a "Kick Me, I'm a Canadian tourist" sign on my back now.

Not that I'm dreading my visit South. As a sports nut (most Canucks are. Afterall, we invented lacrosse, basketball and of course, our national past time, hockey), the idea of being on the very soil that houses Wrigley field is almost too much for me to take in. I dream of being able to break past security, and run naked around the stadium, while imagining the stands filled with screaming people all chanting "Redneck! Redneck!"

(Everyone has to have a dream.)

My biggest fear is my sophisticated American friends will think I'm a hillbilly and believe me as indicative of all Canadian peoples. Classless. (Thank goodness other Canadians will be there to prove that theory wrong.) I'm not. I'm a REDNECK, who lives in the sticks; albeit very close to where the Inuit used to actually live in igloos, and I'm an educated woman.

(After all, thanks to our country I have an extensive education in bilingual cereal packaging. I know the french equivalents for free, prize and no sugar added.)

Just because I have to frequently clean the grease off my barbeque so the bears will stay off my deck and I make sure Nixon the World's Greatest Dog, Ever. stays by my side so as not to get eaten by a cougar does not make me a hillbilly.

We Canadians aren't so very different from Americans. Sure we think that any beer with less than 6% alcohol is for sissies and the elderly, but really. Isn't it? Yes, we design our kids halloween costumes around their snowsuits, and we trot them out to go trick or treating in a blizzard, but that just makes us a hardy people.

More reason for the Americans to love us. We're not sissies nor wimps.

I plan to spend this week brushing up on my American history, and trying to remember to say 'about' as 'aboot' when I'm next door. After all, I just want to fit in and not cause any kerfluffles.

That's what a good hoser does.