Friday, September 19, 2008

How Canadians are like Cylons

I just spent 24 hours in Vancouver, and I have learned that Canadians are like Cylons. Why? Because they look like us now! You don't even have to do them and see if their spine glows red - you just have to figure out a way to get them to say "about". 

"Eh," by the way, is not as common as the Barenaked Ladies would have you believe.

There is something very eerie about being someplace that is similar to where you live, but only a little bit off, a tiny bit foreign. This didn't happen in Montreal or Toronto because of all the French, but Vancouver is like Bizarro America. I was walking down the street, feeling pretty comfortable with my woman-alone-on-a-business-trip self, until I saw an ATM that was not a BOA or a WaMu or even a California credit union. No, it was a Canadian ATM, and I did not like it one bit.

Other things I saw that at first appeared normal, but then proved themselves to be Canadian: a post office, clothing stores that looked like American Eagle but were actually Roots, my cell phone signal provider. Rogers Wireless, bah - you charged me $400 last time I used you. (Thank god for corporate cell phones.) I am used to foreign countries where people drive on the wrong side of the road, speak other languages or at least pronounce English in an unintelligible way, and never ever get anywhere on time. At least they are upfront about their foreignness, and I can adjust accordingly.

I know it is a cliche, but the weirdest thing about Vancouver was that everything was nice and orderly. They have all these glassy high rises that look like Restoration Hardwares stacked on top of one another. The taxis were Prii (Prius in the plural, right?), the streets were clean, and everyone was very friendly. (Except for the guy from Barcelona who followed me down the street asking me out, but if I'm going to run with stereotypes here, I'm just going to say he was a typically libidinous Spaniard.) There was the occasional homeless person, but I just looked at them dubiously, like, Sir, don't you have socialized healthcare? And isn't it prohibitively cold here in the winter? Do you have a Canadian accent? Because if you do, that would be weird to me.

Anyway, it went as smoothly as a quick trip like that can, and I didn't even embarrass myself during my speaking spot. I could actually see myself living in Vancouver - it has mountains and a densely populated downtown and lots of restaurants and bars - but it would take some time to get over being subtly thrown off my game.

I still think Canadians are like Cylons, though, except that they are probably not planning to wipe out human existence. But they could if they wanted to.

No comments: