Have you noticed the increasing amount of Americanization that’s creeping into our language? For years, Canadians have spelled defence with a “c” unlike the Americans who spell it with an “s” as in defense. Even as I write, my iMac underlines that word in red to let me know that I have made a mistake. But lately I see defense in Canadian newspapers all the time. When Ontario recently mailed me a notice about how I could renew my driver’s licence online, the form used both “licence” and “license” on the same one-page advisory. Obviously some bureaucrat was careful to not take sides.
And what about singers who present both the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at baseball games and other venues? They always seem to have more fun and make personal riffs during the Star-Spangled Banner. O Canada always sounds so staid and is sung in the same boring monotone no matter who is the artist. And why am I the only one for rows around who sings the words? Have they been changed so often that people don’t want to risk singing the wrong version?
I saw two lineups recently, one silly and one celebratory. The silly one was a lineup of nearly thirty people waiting to enter the Chanel store in Yorkville. It was almost noon and the place had been open since 10 a.m. Who knows how long they’d been on line or when they got in. I did not pause to watch their progress into poverty. The celebratory lineup was a few blocks south where several hundred graduates had formed on a sidewalk, two abreast, going into a convocation ceremony at the University of Toronto. I’d rather be in the latter lineup, and not just because it might make me feel younger.
After all, ageism does enter our lives at some point. When I was weighed at the doctor’s office recently, the results showed up in kilograms. Asked the attendant, “Would you like me to translate that into pounds?” I know she was trying to be helpful, but hey, I can translate it myself. There was a different story when a cannabis shop opened in my neighbourhood. I was curious so found myself in the foyer with half a dozen others. The clerk checked everyone’s age but mine. I complained bitterly, so she laughed and inspected my driver’s licence. I took a look around but did not buy anything. After all, with age comes wisdom.