Blame Canada

Originally posted  February 20, 2011

I have to start this commentary with a disclaimer because I’m about to have a little fun with some things Uniquely Canadian.  Let me say up front that I love Canada, Canadians, and public transportation and there is no malicious intent.
Disclaimer:  This article contains ridiculous and pointless information and is intended for those with a perverse sense of humor and an ability to laugh at others.  If you do not openly profess an appreciation for the likes of “Tommy Boy” or “Dumb and Dumber” and don’t find words like smelifungus, vomitory and sphincter side-splitting hilarious then you should not peruse the distasteful commentary to follow.  Should you ignore this warning and continue down this path of gibberish, the author does not accept liability for the bruised psyche of offended cry babies whose mommies told them the world owed them something.  The author advises a good colon cleanse to ease your delicate sensibilities.
I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Ric and I landed in Toronto and were schlepping thru customs with the other zombies, all of us broken and bruised after 2 hours of persecution by bitter flight attendants who wished they’d listened to their mothers and gone to college.  There were a number of hideous offenses.  One guy requested pretzels instead of peanuts.  A little old lady got caught in the bathroom when the “fasten seatbelt” sign came on.   My offense was more serious.  My dog carrier was extending 2.5 inches out from under the seat in front of me.  I actually hadn’t even had a chance to get settled in my seat and push the thing underneath before this 80 pound male flight attendant with a hair cut like Hollywood from “Mannequin” got his panties in a wad.  I didn’t help myself when I was overheard commenting to Ric that the “waitress” needed to focus HER efforts on something more productive . . . like getting me a drink.
So we approach the customs counter.  We’ve done this a thousand times and I knew what to expect – big burly guy with a uniform that looks two sizes too small and a badge that says “School Bully”  – just looking to pick on the proverbial third grade nerd half his size.   I talked myself down from my typical confrontational stance, having at least enough sense to know not to spar with a customs official (which is more than I can say for my better half – but that’s a story for another day).  All I had to do was keep my mouth shut for 5 more minutes. . . 
I notice immediately that his uniform shirt is tucked in precisely, buttons neatly secured with no protruding belly hair, and he’s sporting a single chin.  He looks at our paperwork, asks a few mundane questions, and forcefully stamps each passport.  Then this oddball neat freak does something completely  unconventional – he smiles at us and welcomes us to Canada!  I was very suspicious.
But we made it out of the airport without incident and since that day I’ve noticed several other things Uniquely Canadian that tickle my funny bone . . .
                                                  For instance, explain this.  In the U.S.                     
                                                  rehab is a high-end pajama party for the rich and famous
                                                  reserved for celebrities who want to get out of a well-
                                                  deserved sentence.  They  sit in the Trust Tree singing 
                                                  Kumbaya  – or maybe “Oops! I Did it Again” – blaming DNA
                                                  and the paparazzi, and rehearsing the cliches they’ll recite 
                                                  at their first post-party press conference.  The famed 12-
                                                  step program has proven profoundly ineffective in 
                                                  rehabilitating Hollywood.  But our parking lots are far more 
                                                  evolved so perhaps . . . . 
Squeeze isn’t generally a funny word all on its own but within the context of traffic safety it’s a knee-slapper.  This sign is posted on one of the busiest highways in North America at a place where the right lane is ending in about 10 feet and drivers have to merge on a dime into 5 lanes of oncoming traffic moving at just under the speed of light.  Canadians are super polite but there are times when good old fashioned American hostility gets the point across more effectively.  Squeeze makes me think I have an option.   In this case, the sign should tell the driver in no uncertain terms to get the hell over now or spend eternity as a red splat on a Toyota bumper.
This is the local religion practiced by all respectable Canadians.  Affectionately referred to as “Timmy’s” it is a sanctuary of coffee and baked goods, the most popular being the Timbits which are what we in the U.S. refer to as donut holes.    A true Canadian snubs his nose at European blends, Cappuccinos and Lattes in favor of the daily grind at Timmy’s.   Truth be told,  Tim Horton’s coffee is average at best but the Canadian heart still loves the man and his contribution to hockey and the Toronto Maple Leafs;  a life cut tragically short at only 44 years of age.   That I can respect.  
This is the mother of confusion.  One needs to be licensed and certified in order to correctly implement Canadian recycling practices.  And you WANT to do it correctly or you face the penalty of public degradation for being uneducated in “eco” nomics.   But honestly most Canadians don’t even understand the hieroglyphics on these devices meant to intimidate the self-absorbed American tourists.  There simply are no well defined rules. What is paper?!?!  A coffee cup ISN”T paper?  An envelope IS paper?  An egg carton is questionable? Why do coffee cups sometimes have a designated drop?  And how much residual coffee left in a cup reduces it’s status to “litter”?   When in doubt, and I’m ALWAYS in doubt, I use the hole marked “litter” and race off with my head down like I do when Tina Belle peed in our building’s carpeted elevator.   I’ll be caught eventually and off I’ll go to a Pajama Party of my own.  
These little green bins are everywhere.  For many months the only action they see are Petey’s hiked leg.  But once it snows they come to life, overflowing with the salt that keeps the sidewalks free of ice and snow, transforming them into a filthy wet mess of black slush.  Unfortunately Petey has claimed this particular bin as his personal port-o-potty and is reluctant to give it up. I haven’t the heart to tell the maintenance guy.  I’m already dodging him over the elevator incident anyway!  
This is Poutine.  Technically a Quebec creation, it’s now a country-wide Canadian culinary tradition.   Traditional Poutine is a box of french fries with brown gravy poured all over them and then topped with a big glob of cheese curds.  You have to eat Poutine with a fork because the french fries get all gooey when swimming in gravy.   And do you KNOW what a cheese curd is?  It’s the solid part of soured milk!  One can even get Poutine at McDonalds!  If that’s not disturbing enough, Poutine is a healthier alternative to the large order of fries by 60 calories.  
Shamelessly, I love every drop of this glutinous vein-clogging delicacy,  but I also thought the salt bin was a dog potty so I may not be the best role model.
This is undeniably the worst food in North America. The rotisserie chicken classifies as a biological weapon, so dry it’s like trying to swallow a wool sweater.   They know it’s dry so they provide Swiss Chalet Dipping Sauce with every order FOR FREE.   The really creepy thing is that if you dine with friends at the Chalet and mention that the chicken is dry, they will respond by saying,  “But that’s why you have the dipping sauce!”  Well then perhaps I should have ordered the dipping sauce and skipped the glob of dehydrated animal fur posing as chicken and it’s risk of asphyxiation!  
This, on the other hand, is the most wonderful food item in all of North America.  It took me a month to learn how to pronounce the name, another few weeks to learn how to spell it and 
.0000089 of a second to become an addict with a serious problem.  The Nanaimo Bar is a decadent desert with layers of chocolate wafer, vanilla custard, butter icing and topped with chocolate.  I would roll naked in a tub of this. 
Bags of milk.  I’m not kidding.  It really is a  bag of milk.  They say that I can buy a plastic container somewhere and  I can put my bag of milk in, cut a corner of the bag and then pour it.  I have yet to find such a product.  I just pop it with a straw and drink it like a juicy juice.
This is a photo I took while sitting in an exam room waiting for my doctor.  Hint:  This is NOT an apparatus men will ever need to climb into.  In fact, I’m betting most of us women have never climbed into “stirrups” covered with oven mitts.  Pretty ingenious really.  Should one unexpectedly give birth while visiting the gynecologist’s office for a routine checkup, the doctor is ready with a pair of oven gloves to catch the little rascal.  Done!  
This is a Canatrocity!  A kid from a small town outside Toronto  jumps onto the music scene at 15 as a hip hop gangsta with his backward hat and peace-out fingers, belting out thought-provoking lyrics like “Baby, Baby, Baby, OOOOOH”?  yo yo yo!  (That’ll be a really cool song to sing when he’s 40.)  It just smells of Vanilla Ice to me.  Sure, Toronto has a hood.  It’s the section of town where people don’t recycle.  
In fairness to the Bieb he made Usher look like a fool on the Grammys when the Bieb outsang him at every turn.  Poor Usher sounded like a sick crow.  If it weren’t for Google I’d have no idea what song he was trying to sing.  Maybe Usher should stop trying to mold the Bieb into Minnie Me and take a few pointers himself.  
When I finished writing the above commentary I sat down and turned on the TV and realized we have some things here that are Uniquely American as well.  A reporter was interviewing a haggard chimpanzee who had learned to speak. He needed a bath and extensive dental work but he was forming words as best he could, often spitting on the reporter sitting opposite him.  He didn’t make a lick of sense but seemed confident that he was smarter than the other chimps.  I gathered that he’d been to quite a view Pajama Parties and fallen out of the Trust Tree repeatedly .  Science has come a long way when it can teach a chimp to speak but we can’t call ourselves the greatest nation in the world until we can train them to think. 
                                                     AP Photo / Aspen Police Dept
                                                 UNIQUELY AMERICAN!

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