Not too many people know this, but I am Canadian. I’m first generation American, but my parents got me Canadian citizenship when I was younger because the Vietnam War was raging and they were concerned that I might be drafted when I grew up. So by getting me declared a Canadian citizen, they gave me the option of legally moving to Canada without having to face desertion charges. I wish they would have run that by me, to tell you the truth. I was looking forward to getting really high and burning my draft card. It looked like so much fun on TV.
So I am, among other things, Canadian. That explains my love of beer, hockey, and tendency to wear flannel shirts and grow facial hair. And I like to shoot beavers in the face. It also explains the fact that I am a pretty polite person. Seriously. I’ve met a few people who knew me first through this web site, and they’re amazed at how polite I am in real life. I guess they expect me to go apeshit crazy on everyone in sight and then celebrate the occasion by doing body shots off of nuns I’d just hogtied or something. Usually I just say please and thank you a lot, which, if you’ve ever been to Canada is a very Canadian thing to do.
I absolutely love Canada. I’ve had tremendous amounts of fun every time I’ve been there. And I especially love visiting Quebec because the Quebecois are such serious fucking drinkers that there is hardly a square meter in Canada that doesn’t contain beer for sale. Seriously, every place you go has a styrofoam cooler with Molson inside, which is awesome even if it is a little strange to find yourself buying a six-pack in a maternity ward.
And the great thing about getting drunk in Canada is that no matter how out of control your behavior gets, it’s not going to be met with anything more than a polite request to try to keep the shenanigans in check. “Ah, say there! I was wondering if you could pull your pants up and, you know, not press your butt against my living room window like that. You know, if it’s not too much to ask. We just found out that our Aunt Gladys passed away and… Well, I was thinking that it would be nice if I didn’t have to see your naked behind every time I looked up. Not that your behind isn’t a perfectly normal behind for a fella your age. I would venture to guess that some ladies mind find it appealing, I suppose. So I’m not complaining about your particular naked behind, it’s just that… You know what? I’m sorry. I’m still pretty shaken up about Aunt Gladys. You’re fine. I’ll just… I’ll just close the blinds. Is that ok? Wonderful. Oh, and there’s a cooler of Molson by the front door in case you’d like another beer or two. Just leave some money by the cooler. I trust you.”
Canadian politeness explains the following conversation I just had, which was triggered by a wrong number. I was watching an episode of the Simpsons with kids when I got a phone call from Calgary, which I let go to voice mail. When I listened to it a few minutes later, I heard this message from an elderly Canadian man: “Nick! It’s Ben Simmons. When you get a chance, give me a call, ok? Thanks.”
Now in my youth, I might have been tempted to call Ben back pretending to be Nick with a wild story of how I’d been kidnapped by the Mexican Drug Cartels and desperately needed Ben to wire $70,000 Canadian dollars before it was too late. “The Guapos, Ben, they’re nice fellas and all, but they told me that they’re going to beat my kidneys with a rake handle until I pee blood, by golly! Please send me the money right away!”
Instead, I pictured old Ben, sitting there by the phone in Calgary, waiting for a call that never came, wondering what he had done in his life to anger Nick to the point that he wouldn’t return a simple phone call. Choking back tears, I decided to call Ben up and let him know that he’d dialed the wrong number. That’s when this insanely polite conversation took place:
Ben: Hello?Me: Hi, is this Ben?Ben: Well, yes!Me: Hi Ben, my name is Greg. I live in Arizona.Ben: Oh, yeah?Me: Yeah. Listen, I think you were trying to call someone else in Arizona because I got a call from you on my voice mail and I thought I’d give you a call to let you know you dialed the wrong number.Ben: Oh, you know, the wife wrote that number down. Maybe she wrote it down wrong. Or maybe I read it wrong.Me: Ok, no problem. I just thought you should know.Ben: Boy, I really didn’t mean to do that!Me: Honest mistake, Ben. You have a nice night.Ben: I suppose I should be a little more careful!Me: I wouldn’t worry too much about it.Ben: Well I sure do apologize, I didn’t mean to interrupt your evening or anything.Me: Oh, no problem. I just didn’t want you to be waiting for a call that never came.Ben: Well, that’s mighty kind of you. You say you’re down there in Arizona?Me: Yeah, in the Phoenix area.Ben: We have a friend down there!Me: I figured you did. Nick, right?Ben: Yes! Nick! You don’t know him, do you?Me: No, you mentioned his name in the message you left.Ben: Oh yeah, right, right, right.Me: Ok, Ben, you have a nice night now, ok?Ben: All right, then. You too. And thanks again!Me: Don’t mention it.Ben: And sorry, I really didn’t mean to dial the wrong number.Me: Well, nobody does. Good night, Ben.Ben: Good night!