Canadian nuances, Humour

Canadian nuances – Part 4: The Dance of Gentlemen

If you’ve ever encountered a Canadian, or at least heard of them, you will hear a variety of things. Apart from them growing enraged over games of ice hockey, and drowning their pancakes in maple syrup, you will be told something to the effect of “They’re a friendly and polite bunch of people.” Today I’ve decided to go on a little rant about the politeness of these snow-covered creatures. Coming from a country where the rules blend into guidelines more often than not, when I’m suddenly forced to follow procedures without question…it can feel like the proverbial nail is skating down the chalkboard. I’ll give you an example…

After first arriving in Canada I figured out where the nearest bottle store was from my house. Why? (Because without it life has fewer colors in it). The first time I visit I grab a six pack of stout, I get to the counter and the older gentlemen behind it grabs my beers and enquires “Do you happen to have I.D. on you?” I counter the question with a dumbstruck expression and say to the guy that I’m not a teenager. I’m told that regardless he needed to see my mug on something otherwise by law he couldn’t sell it to me.

I soon realize my arguments are as effective as walking the streets of Vancouver minus an umbrella. I decided to walk the two blocks back to my apartment, grumbling as I go, to sequester my beer ticket. I arrive home and I can’t find my PR card (i.e. permanent residence card). I rummage a little and decide my passport should suffice.

I return to the bottle store again, gripping my beer ticket like a weapon of the first world. I hand it to the same gentleman. He takes a good minute scrutinizing my picture and then comments “the photo is a little blurry.” I shrug and tell him, “You asked me for ID. That is all I have.”  He nods and allows the purchase to continue.

You may wonder why did this ordeal drove me to write several paragraphs. The answer is in my home country from the legal drinking age of 18 and upwards, I never once was asked to present my ID before buying alcohol. Never. In fact it never crossed my mind to have my ID on me when buying beer. This is one example of the Canucks having a high regard for the law, now I’ll move on to illustration I have dubbed “the dance of gentlemen”.

I have explained a little earlier that one of the primary values of Canadians is to be considerate of others. One of my Canuck house-mate mentioned to me, “that is what makes a civil society”. Despite many of my rants I do agree with this principle for the most part, although it does seem rather weird at first. When first arriving here I would start to cross the road and a car would be approaching. Sometimes the car would go as far as reversing slightly to ensure that you had enough space. Yes, you heard me.

Automatically reversing cars is one example of Canadians being considerate and giving you your personal space, here’s another. After the first eight months or so I remember making friends with a great guy called Conrad. His parents were visiting from New Brunswick and the five of us (Conrad’s wife included) were off to go eat at a Chinese restaurant. We had all done at least 30 km cycling around the city that day. We’re walking on the side walk towards our chosen restaurant, the and dance of gentlemen was about to ignite.

For some reason I reach the door first and hold it open for the masses. Conrad’s parents and his wife accept my gesture and shuffle passed. When he gets towards the door he gestures for me to go first. I tilt my head slightly and do a similar no-after-you motion with my free hand. This is paying the price of chivalry. It is the dance of gentlemen. The reason you do it is because if you end up being the last person to enter the building, you win! If you’re lucky a small flicker of colonial pride may kindle in your eyes for a second.

It’s silly and stupid. Perhaps even pathetic. I’m sure if you’re a man you’ve found yourself doing the same dance. I’ve found myself doing this a lot more in Canada where manners, aren’t merely nice-to-have but are expected. You know what? I think I like it…especially if I’m the last guy with trundles into the pub with pride.




the man in the hat

the man in the hat
rummages through our lives
his hungry hands wade into
crying milk cartons and
our frugal egg shells

this morning i leave the house
my modest motorcycle carries me
towards the gate
i brake softly
still wrapped in plastic feelings
a cloudy face jumps up and watches
like a brazen rodent who
stumbles towards stale morsels
and parched containers

the man in the hat
hopes to find enough
charred doorknobs
soft match boxes
tender cardboard
chipped picture frames
to build his rusted thoughts
and carve copper dreams
into the moldy fingerprint
of today’s wreckage

next week he will
come with another
stubborn trolley of
tainted trinkets and the
same furtive glance
that steals the
liquid pathos
painting my face

poetry, Rantings, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Here’s a great comment on contemporary culture, and what we should really be considering. Every now and again I dose my self with some anti-establishment literature to soothe my soul.

This is just kick-ass nihilism! 😉


Poet: Andrew C.

Welcome to my-face-space-book, dot com

It’s a social network created by so-called experts

The finest in brainwash scientists teamed up

A collaboration in emancipating humanity from itself

Green bucks, vanity in a nutshell

Just to feel the built in wallets in their butt’s swell

Sometimes it makes my gut delve

But the thought stops it’s lingering

When I start fingering my keyboard

This is better than an MTV brand sea-shore

Full of three-hundred and thirty-three whores

times two

I can chat while getting my favorite corporation’s logo tattooed

on my-face-space

The book fell of the ledge in to the flaming pit

How does literature cooked taste?

How’s for a survey to find the answer?

Dan from Montana thinks it tastes like wal-mart cancer

Which, by the way, tastes delicious

Or so I’m told by Ex-Sex-Pistols bassist, Sid Vicious

But isn’t he dead?

Of course, but his name-sake was bought  by Macky-Fred 

Or was it Freddy-Mac, Goldman and Sachs? 

My-face feels like it just got taxed for it’s space

My face feels like it was attacked by a burning copy of The Grapes of Wrath

My, my… how it feels to be faceless

Lipless, tongue-less equals tasteless

Everything I held dear is make-shift

My-face-space-book, dot calm

Mind state;

raped and left for dead on the front lawn