Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Canadians are a rare breed

If you are not yourself Canadian, the best way to understand what it means to be Canadian, is to study the ways of a quintessential Canadian.

It's a little like birding. You need to learn the habitat, haunts, and habits of the quintessential Canadian.

Where does one look to find a specimen suitable for study?

It depends how serious you are about experiencing the authenticity of your quest. As with everything else, there is the hard authentic way, suitable for committed ascetic experts leaning heavily toward an obsessive-compulsive disorder; the involved dilettante's approach; and the easy way.

I readily confess that I am more of an involved dilettante than a die-hard nut-job. I won't don sniper camouflage, lie under a bush hour upon hour, with my belly sunk into squishy oozy mud, for a fleeting glimpse of a Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

What's involved in the involved dilettante's approach to discovering the quintessential Canadian? I'm glad you asked. It's simple, really. Like bacon and eggs. You see, with bacon and eggs, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

The involved dilettante will study a Google map to find the best target habitat for his prey, hop on his Vespa at 16h30 on a Monday afternoon, knowing that he must be home to hearth and home by 18h00 at the absolute latest, and use all of his commuting wits to get deep into the quarry's habitat, challenging the afternoon rush-hour madness, the clock, and the growing gloom of a mid-fall afternoon.

So now you're wondering, is the quintessential Canadian homeless?


Is she a super-hero lurking in alleyways looking to rid the world of crime and misdemeanors?

Well, no, but kind of yes.

The quintessential Canadian is not a she, though gender does not in any way define or limit the quintessential Canadian. He does his very best work here in these very seedy alleyways. He comes here at least once a week, fifty or so weeks a year. He spends precious minutes here, like two or three minutes each week, tending to business of national and even international importance.

Of course, even with that kind of regulated assiduity, the odds of me coming across him, though similar to the equivalent birder challenge of stumbling on a common Robin or Cardinal in springtime, were slim to none, and I wasn't disappointed.

I did spook a rat out of a dark corner and send it scurrying down the alley desperately looking for another dark corner or crevice to lurk in, but Rick Mercer was nowhere to be seen.  

The best thing about being an involved dilettante is that you don't care that much if you actually find your quarry. It's the journey folks, don't you know? It's the trip, not the destination, you know that right? Ask any Vespista and they will tell you the same thing.

I bagged photos of Mercer's habitat, I experienced first-hand the grit, the feel, the ambiance, the texture, the sublime hallowed aura of this place I had only seen on a TV screen until now, and I got to ride my Vespa to do it. It doesn't get any better than that.

Hell, even the last leg home in darkness on the terrifying sixteen lane 401 was an exhilarating experience.

So what, you ask, is the easy way?

In your case, it's really just too damn easy. Here you go. I picked a suitable topic for US election day too.

You're welcome.

But to get any kind of real appreciation for the quintessential Canadian, you'll have to watch twenty or so episodes of the Rick Mercer Report on the CBC. You'll know you've learned enough when you have seen him run basic training obstacle courses with the Canadian armed forces, tag hibernating bears in their lair, do a polar bear swim in deepest February, race skidoos across a lake in summer, get whacked in the jugular with a paint ball fired by Jann Arden, or frolic with tourists in Niagara Falls.

And for my dear, dear friends in the US of A, who are casually thinking of escaping to Canada depending on the outcome of what John Oliver calls the "Clowntown fuck-the-world shit show 2016" or the "America's shit salad fuckstravaganza 2016", I suggest you study the quintessential Canadian closely.

Could you stand having him for a next door neighbour? Yes, that's neighbour, neighbor with a U in it. A horse of a different colour. Yes, that's colour, color with a U in it. Just like what a future Canada might be, America's northern neighbour, but with a You in it.

Good luck to all of us on the outcome of THE election. We're all going to need it. 


SonjaM said...

Love the Mercer rant, however sometimes methinks he is trying too hard to fit any and every Canadian stereotype.

Love the graffiti. Please put this on the sightseeing list for our next visit ;-)

David Masse said...

You're right about trying (too) hard. He does stuff that I confess I would not be up to one bit. He's a relentlessly good and spunky sport.

I'll be happy to put this on the list... I wasn't kidding about the rat, just so you know.

David Masse said...

... then again, I saw many, many more rats when Susan and I emerged from having dinner at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

SonjaM said...

David, I am not too bothered about the four legged kind.

David Masse said...

I feel exactly the same way.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.