When you ride, always ride in style.
Earlier this week, to mark Canada Day, CNN's Karia Cripps hauled off a quick little thing - was it journalism? it kind of split the difference between a How-To charticle and a bunch of words - called "How to pretend you're Canadian when you travel." The premise is as old as the Ugly American archetype itself: abroad, Canadians are perceived as more likeable than Americans, better citizens of the world and all that. So if you're American, and you're travelling, you better pretend you're Canadian.
Using a list produced by FlightNetwork.com as a jumping-off point, Cripps (herself Canadian), offered a steady maple syrup drip of information to help any Yankee Doodle Dandy pass as a Canuck. Though FlightNetwork actually hired a body language expert - is this even thing? like Tim Roth in Lie To Me? - to parse the fineries of behaving Canadian, Cripps' own list amounts to a lot of cultural broad-stroking. You know, stuff like apologizing a lot.
What Cripps misses is something that Michael Mckenna pointed out a few months ago in Vice: Canadians are the new Ugly Americans. Starting with the brash self-affirmation of those lousy "I AM CANADIAN!" ads, Canada has slumped into the thick-necked Moose-typed we were maybe always meant to be. As Mckenna illustrates through his own hilarious anecdotal evidence, Canadians have realized a whole new, ugly strain of acutely self-conscious nationalism: bragging abroad about our demonstrably non-American "sophistication" instead of, I don't know, baseball or whatever.
Well I don't know about you, but I'd rather ride an atomic bomb around the world while yeehawing and waving a ten gallon hat, Strangelove-style, then be caught dead in some foreign port trying to flirt with another expat by bragging about the comparative strength of my nation's health care system. And have you noticed how 95% of all Canadians these days wear Big Bang Theory t-shirts like they're uniforms? Cheque, please!
So I say, forget Canada. Stich a Stars n' Stripes, even a Culpeper, flag over that stupid Roots beaver logo. Go to a German beer hall and order a Bud Light Lime. Get drunk in Shanghai and non-ironically lead a chorus of the willing through that Dennis Leary song about being an asshole. Flip the bird in photos for no reason. Be American.
NOW's Guide to Pretending To Be American When Travelling
Plan your trip using an Arby's Restaurant Locator: Sure, you want to get away. But do you want to get so far away that you can't find solace in America's most patriotic sandwich shop? When you're elsewhere, an Arby-Q or Beef ‘N Cheddar is like a care package from ol' Uncle Sam himself. Imagine hunkering over a Turkey Roaster sandwich and a pile of withered curly fries, served with a side of Arby's original Horsey Sauce, white-knuckling into that sandwich like you're quaking on the bow of a sinking ship. Feels like...home.
Wherever you go, arrive with a conquering army: Travelling alone is boring! When you want to travel, travel with absolutely no regard for international sovereignty or various binding UN declarations. It's great for your brand! You'll for sure be greeted as a benevolent liberator, 100% of the time.
Wherever you are, approach locals and yell "Y'ALL KNOW WHERE I CAN GET SOME SWEET TEA?" right in their faces: "Sweet tea" is American for "iced tea." It kind of tastes like iced tea, except it tastes terrible.
Just make up dumb accents and change them up whenever you want: Instead of saying "Eh?" as you normally would as a Canadian archetype, end every sentence with "Oh, FAWK!" as if you're a Boston archetype. You can call water "waddur" like you're an Illinois archetype, or instead of saying "a few," always say "two, t'ree." Your average sentence would sound like, "Hey what's up dere, chief? Gimmie one-dem lamb kebabs and a waddur and a couple or two, t'ree Budweisers, oh FAWK!"
Any time someone asks you where you're from, respond "The best god damn country on EARTH!" Everyone will respect, and maybe even slightly fear, you. There's nothing more typically American than placing yourself right at the centre of the universe, despoiling whole histories and cultural legacies just by virtue of visiting foreign countries.
Happy Fourth of July!