Jessica Leigh Neufeld
Why do we let this travesty occur? Allow me to demonstrate with an example from my childhood. I grew up in a mixed household. My father is Canadian, but my mom is very American. All my life in Canada she would tell me to 'Stop being so Canadian!' whenever she felt like I was being taken advantage of. I recall one time while standing in line at a bank, someone cut in line in front of our family. My father and I's reaction was typically Canadian: "Oh! Sorry, eh!" and we let them cut in. They must have been in a rush, I remember thinking. My mother was having none of it: "You two, stop being so Canadian! You just let that guy cut in front of you!" I was mortified. I prayed she would not make a scene and embarrass us all in front of this nice fellow who seemed to have somewhere important to go. Unfortunately for me, she predictably made a scene, forcing the fellow to scurry to the back of the line, muttering 'Sorry!' to everyone he passed. We were all mortified, but my mother was naïve to it all.
My mother's persistent encouragement to act so blatantly 'American' continued throughout my life. I was forced to fight the urge to say sorry when someone knocked into me. I learned to quietly send back undercooked food at a restaurant instead of just eating it. I reluctantly tipped nothing at all to rude taxi drivers who got lost on the way instead of automatically giving him 20%. Thus, my transition to Chicago from Toronto has been relatively painless, thank you very much.
This ultra-nice, bashful, benefit-of-the-doubt mentality pervades most Canadians' mindset wherever we go, and this extends to our reluctance to exude pride regarding our performance at the Winter Olympics. We are only 35 million people (a little less than California) but we nonetheless do quite well at the Winter Olympics (one can't really expect us to swim faster than Michael Phelps when our water is frozen 10 months a year – thus the Summer Olympics aren't much of an event for us). However, officials decided that our near embarrassment at being the top medalling country at the Vancouver Olympics was an issue of national concern. Therefore, for the past four years they have been brainwashing us to be proud with a major, $80 million dollar PR push as a part of our ongoing "Own the Podium" campaign.
Yes, you read that right. We have a nationally funded campaign that was, in part, designed to make us more obnoxious over our wins at the Winter Olympics. Therefore, I'd ask that you forgive your Canadian friends if they were a bit overzealous after the USA's double crushing defeats in both the women and men's hockey final and semi-final games, respectively. Especially the part where it looked like the US women would win and then we took it all away, we got excited about that. You missed that game? Let me recap. USA was up 2-0 in the third period with four minutes left, and then Canada scored not once, but twice, with the final goal hitting the back of the American net with less than a minute left. Then, we delivered our epic final blow with a beautiful goal by Marie-Philip Poulin at 8 minutes into overtime. Oh, and did I mention we won more gold medals overall than the US?
Sure, I may not have made friends watching the men's semi-finals in the student lounge with my prideful comments and erratic victory dance. But surely you can forgive a country where more than 15 million people woke at 4, 5, 6, and 7am to watch their beloved team defeat the Swedes in the gold medal final. This is our Superbowl, and it only comes once every 4 years. Usually the rest of the world wouldn't care, only now we've been trained to be obnoxious about it.
See you in 2018.