Monday, July 24, 2006

A message to the people of Canada: you are pretty

My friend Mel called me up shortly after I had arrived back from my trip to Milwaukee/Chicago. She spent her weekend in Vancouver, and briefly explained all the fun she had up there. In the course of this, she offered the casual remark that the people up there are more attractive than the people down here. Now, I was too road-weary and headachey to pursue the matter further, but I got the impression that Mel—certainly no stranger to the hot-cha herself—was making the argument that Canadians are, on balance, better looking than Americans.

This, naturally, wounded my patriotism and I found myself becoming quite agitated. It seemed to me absurd: how could a nation of hockey-drunk, bilingual, unfailingly-courteous, nature-loving non-warmongers be prettier than us here in the good ol’ U.S. o’ A.? My understanding was that my country was on the leading edge of the sexy, issuing forth the lithest, the supplest, the fittest, and the toothiest specimens the human race has to offer. Our blondes are blonder, our buttocks are rounder, and our muscles are muscley-er. And, if beauty is truly less about raw appearance and more about confidence, shouldn’t we Americans also come out on top? We’re the only remaining superpower! In the great nightclub of nations, we’re that dude in the V.I.P. booth, swilling Cristal, puffing out our chest in our new shiny striped shirt, doing body shots with Britain, and occasionally going “Whoooooo!” as we teeter to the bathroom. If that’s not hot, what is?

But, deep in the heart of me, I knew that Mel was (as always) right. Our quiet neighbors to the north have lapped us in the comeliness department. It isn’t even a “to-each-his-own” matter anymore. It’s become so obvious that I feel I have use standardized-test analogies: CANADA is to SEXY as THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is to LET ITS GYM MEMBERSHIP LAPSE. Or, if you prefer: CANADA is to “DAMN, BABY!” as THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is to “WHERE ARE MY GODDAMN CHEETOS?”

I can’t say it any more simply than this: you need a couple of stiff drinks to get into America these days. Not Canada, though. Canada’s the type you’d hit on at the grocery store. America’s the nation that smears on the Walgreen’s makeup, louvers itself into a top two sizes too small, and goes from place to place trying to impress everyone. America is a skank, in other words. Canada is a lady. A pretty lady.

And I’m not just saying this because I have a touch of the Quebecois in my background. I’m saying it because I’m disappointed in my nation. You see, Canada is a country coming out of its youth gracefully. It knows it isn’t an apple-cheeked adolescent anymore. It accepts that and considers it a good thing. Canada is making the transition from a sexy young nation to a sultry middle-aged nation. The United States, on the other hand, seems to be having its mid-life crisis early. It doesn’t want to grow up. It wants to hang out in ho-clothes down at the mall eternally, buying more shoes than it can afford and getting into clawing fights with the brats at the food court.

I’ll always love America, of course, I just hope she outgrows this trampy phase. Until then, I’ll be hanging out by the curling ice, making googly eyes at foxy, foxy Canada.