The fifty-first state

I was writing a postal code, got to the Z, and said to myself “Zee” … not “Zed.” Has it come to this? Have I finally been totally Americanized? Little wonder, when you consider the inundations that daily roll into our country from across the southern border. Or as Derek Burney, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., used to call it, “The world’s longest undefended cliché.”

Look at retail. U.S. banners from Amazon to Walmart dominate the Canadian shopping landscape. Eaton’s is long gone. The Bay seems to have been taken over by Saks Fifth Avenue, not vice versa. And there’s a Nordstrom Rack opening in May only five minutes from where I live. If only the depth of stock and quality of service came with the names. Nordstrom has been in Canada for more than a year and they still don’t carry Smartcare, their most popular line of men’s dress shirts.

Even our language is morphing more American. The first time I heard anyone use “buddy” for everyone he met was my friend from Georgia when I lived in Washington, D.C. in the 1990s. Now you can’t escape it. Everybody calls everybody buddy; everybody’s son is called buddy. It’s like no-one gets christened anymore. And, in the movies, Toronto is still Hollywood’s most photographed city that dares not speak its name. We can be any American urban centre we are so successful at hiding our real selves.

The only saving grace in all of this is that Donald Trump is not our president. But I say, let’s retake out identity. Build a wall. Unlike Mexico, we should happily pay for it.


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