Those wild and wacky Canadians are in the news again, and this time their insecurities are showing.
Seems our northern neighbors are nursing a nagging inferiority complex because the U. S. of A. is constantly upstaging them and otherwise making them feel insignificant. Whenever the world needs saving, for example, who ya gonna call, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the U.S. Marines?
Then there's the fact that our country sets the fashion trends for the entire continent by doing things like poking holes and inscribing tattoos in all kinds of new places on our bodies. And, of course, there is that nagging currency problem. Last time I checked, the Canadian dollar was worth just 67 U.S. cents.
But most of all it's a certain smugness that we Americans have, an attitude that bubbles to the surface in some strange places and unusual ways.
Rim country resident Frank Hansen, who moved here 15 years ago, is still a Canadian citizen. He remembers an incident back in the early '90s when the Toronto Blue Jays became the first Canadian team to play in the baseball World Series.
"The Jays were playing Atlanta, and before the first game a U.S. Marine color guard comes out carrying the flags of our two nations. Only problem was," he recalled with a laugh, "this Marine was carrying the Canadian flag upside down in front of 80,000 people and a worldwide TV audience.
"Even though a Marine general offered a front-page apology, Canadians were in an uproar for weeks. There was even some tongue-in-cheek talk of declaring war.
"And everybody in Canada was wearing these T-shirts with a new version of the Marine slogan: 'The Few. The Proud. The Dyslexic.'"
Anyway, the reason Canada is in the news is because of a new TV commercial that's taking that country by storm. In fact, it has spawned a slogan that Canadians feel is every bit as creative as America's all-time biggest advertising slogans, including "Just Do It," "Got milk?" and the very intellectual "Whaaassup?"
Their hot new slogan: "I...AM...CANADIAN!" Now bite your tongue they think it's pretty catchy.
The slogan is actually the grand finale to an ad for Molson Canadian Beer, and to be fair let's take a look at the whole commercial. After all, Newsweek magazine reports it has become the "unofficial anthem north of the border" and "the center of a national dialogue, with acres of newsprint and hours of radio time devoted to dissecting its meaning."
In the commercial, an actor wearing a flannel shirt walks onto a stage and says: "I'm not a lumberjack or a fur trader. I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber or own a dog sled. And I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzie from Canada, although I'm certain they're really, really nice.
"I speak English and French, not American. And I pronounce it 'about,' not 'a-boot.' I believe in peacekeeping, not policing; diversity, not assimilation. And that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
"Canada is the second largest land mass, the first nation of hockey and the best part of North America. My name is Joe and I...AM...CANADIAN! Thank you."
That's it, and the Canadians are so wild about it that the actor Jeff Douglas is called on to "perform" it between periods of hockey games all over the country. It brings the house down every time.
I asked Frank if he had ever experienced the American attitude that has the Canadians so worked up. "Oh yeah," he said. "My favorites are, 'How much is that in real money?,' 'What do you mean I can't bring my gun collection across the border?' and, because we are metric in Canada, 'But officer, the sign said 110.'"
I also asked Frank about this infatuation that Canadians seem to have for beavers. With a twinkle in his eyes he explained, "Other countries' national animals are lions and eagles and tigers. We're the only country in the world that has a rodent."
As you might imagine, a man who sits astride these two contentious cultures had best have a sense of humor. Not too difficult, Franks points out, when your "national symbols are a rodent, a cop in a bright red tunic who 'always gets his man,' and a leaf."
An upside down leaf at that.