When a young Canadian wanders into your midst, I’d advise against the following bon mots uttered by the Americans on the reality show Real Housewives of Orange County:
“I don’t trust her. She has pretty teeth.” At the look of utter bewilderment this comment elicited, the man felt compelled to explain, “Canadians have bad teeth. They don’t have flouride in the water.”
Although I now live in Los Angeles, I grew up outside of Toronto. There was fluoride in the water. In places where there wasn’t flouride in the water, kids trapped in classrooms were forced to drink grossly flavored versions of it from little paper cups. Just one of the many fascinating tidbits about my homeland.
“Do you speak Canadian?” The Canadian woman addressed honestly didn’t know how to answer this. Honestly didn’t know if this was a joke. I couldn’t tell either. You would (desperately, hopefully) assume so, but…
“I would swim across the Ottawa River too for a green card.” Said with arms pinwheeling in swimming motions. This was one guy’s attempt at harmless humor, but just insulting on so many levels, implying a) the woman was basically a mail-order bride, desperate to escape her apparently primitive Siberian-like homeland and b) Canadians all desperately long to officially be the Americans that many Americans assume they are anyway. I realize the dude was in his own way expressing his great love for this great country, but people like him need to realize that it is also possible to deeply love and be proud of the not-American country you were born in.
I remember going to a comedy show in London and one of the British comedians made the point that as far as many Americans are concerned, “Canadians are basically Mexicans in sweaters.” Which got me laughing, but the ‘swimming across the Ottawa river’ green card thing struck me as much less hilarious.