No, this has nothing to do with my reaction to the Orange One winning the White House. Okay, maybe a little.
I recently read an article about the Canadian Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Trudeau. She wants to do more in her role as ‘first lady’ of Canada, but with only one aide she felt she didn’t have enough staff to manage her affairs. Rather than pony up the salary for another admin that would allow her to serve multiple charity causes around the country, opposition members are choking on their own outrage, saying the attractive political spouse is out of touch with normal working moms, and similar vitriol.
One journalist suggested the outcry stems from her ‘tall poppy’ standing, something that appears to grate on most residents who live in the Great White North. What’s a tall poppy, you ask? As near as I can figure, it’s someone who enjoys a certain social stature due to their talent, looks, money, fame – what we here in the states would call ‘celebrity status.’ Whereas Americans fawn over the rich and famous, Canadians view them with disdain. And while I personally have no cause to judge Ms. Trudeau, I am nonetheless buoyed (once again) by the attitudes of those who call Canada ‘home.’
This goes back to my days growing up near Detroit. As a Michigander, they were truly our neighbors. If you drive east or north from the mitten you’re in Canada. And Windsor, the City of Roses, is right across the river from Detroit, which meant we could pick up the CBC network from the local affiliate. I loved it. Hockey Night in Canada (Don Cherry – need I say more?), the National Curling Championships (which rank just above baseball for sheer sporting excitement), Mr. Dressup (groundbreaking children’s programming, featuring a cross-dressing host and the first openly androgynous hand puppet on television), The Friendly Giant (a subtle dig, I felt, at the superpower next door – a metaphor to illustrate that the biggest kid on the block didn’t have to be an asshole).
And when, even as a child, I tired of watching Olympic coverage that focused exclusively on American athletes and their cloyingly star-spangled accomplishments, I could count on the CBC to offer a more balanced view of the competition. Or of the world in general, for that matter. While they had plenty of concerns and issues, Canadians never seemed to lose sight of the fact that the rest of the world did, as well. To me, they appeared so much less self-centered, less hostile, less jingoistic, less arrogant.
We were frequent visitors, too. For all the turmoil his alcoholism inflicted on the family, my step-father had a few good moments. A German immigrant, he fancied himself a modern-day French voyageur. So we bought a canoe and traveled to the boreal forests of northern Ontario regularly to paddle, fish and camp. It’s where I learned to appreciate the natural world. And it was just a bonus that you could buy bricks of “Black Cat” firecrackers there, highly prized contraband in the Great Lake State that was easily slipped past the unwitting customs agents on the way home.
“Anything to declare?”
And with the wave of a hand, we became international smugglers, heady stuff for a 12-year old still wetting the bed. So “thank you,” Canada, for making me a badass.
Look, I know the “love it or leave it” types are already emailing me directions to the nearest border crossing. I’ve always been impressed with such open-mindedness. But all I’m saying is, now that the election has gone south, going north might not be so bad. Unless, of course, you’re a tall poppy.