Our brash cousins to the south, with their extraverted sense of superiority, looked a lot like us but acted with a less civilized (we thought) restraint. I mean if anyone was going to feel superior …
Anyway Canadians sewed flags on their packs because—feeling superior in the particular politely superior way that we did—Americans embarrassed us. We’ve stopped sewing flags on our backpacks recently because now we embarrass ourselves.
Consider Stephen Harper. The world meets to address climate change, a planetary emergency which threatens our very civilization, and he uses the occasion to sell dirty oil. Then he drops out of the only binding agreement the world has ever entered into to fight climate change, the Kyoto Accord. Our proud, vain nation becomes an international pariah.
The brazen, bitter shame of it all!
Canadians everywhere suddenly start practicing their British accents. Even their Brooklyn, Boston and Baltimore accents.
Bare patches start appearing on their backpacks, dark patches where little Canadian flags used to protect the fabric of the pack from the sun, little flags that are there no longer.
For a little while, yes, the dark patches will be tattle-tale, telling on us to sharp-eyed Sherlocks.
“Ah-ha! A Canadian!”
They might not chase us with torches and pitchforks down the street, but with our sensitive souls they might as well do. We want to duck into the hayfield and hide until the harsh sun fades those dark parts on our backpacks as well.
Hide our shame and bury our passports until Stephen Harper is around to embarrass Canadians no longer.
The Canadian flag isn’t really red. It’s just blushing.