The same evening the Boston Bruins captured their first Stanley Cup in almost 30 years, a crestfallen horde of Canucks fans in Vancouver expressed their disappointment by laying waste to their own city. As I think about it now, this makes as much sense as trying to salvage your marriage by banging your wife’s sister, or declaring war against an overseas despot and then hunting your neighbors with a crossbow. (It makes even less sense if your wife's sister is hot or if any of your neighbors are jerks.)
Still, since the turmoil didn’t occur in or near Chicago—in fact, happened 2, 160 miles from my house—I felt no direct effects of the unrest. Most of my family in Canada is even more distant from Vancouver, so I felt pretty confident my mom wasn't doing the stop-drop-and-roll in a public park.
Here’s the funny thing, though: within hours, my voice mailbox started to fill with questions from some of my American friends.
“Sooooo Brian, how about what happened in Van…cou…ver?”
“Oh my God…did you hear what your fellow Canadians did?”As near as I can tell, the thinking behind these calls went something like this:
1. Something newsworthy happened in Canada.
2. The Canadian event was newsworthy enough to receive coverage in the U.S.
3. Brian came from Canada.
4. Brian must therefore have an opinion about what happened in Canada, and
4b. He probably knows some of the parties involved.
This logic baffles me. I haven’t lived in Canada since 1998. I’ve only been to Vancouver once—and, when I visited, nobody threw a Molotov cocktail at me, so I thought the city was gorgeous. I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan; when they’re out, I don’t automatically cheer for another Canadian team (in fact, during the first round of the playoffs, I wanted the Blackhawks to thrash the Canucks). And, in spite of the notion that Canadians are a peaceful sort who (a) always eat their recommended daily allowance in fiber, (b) have daily contact with polar bears, and (c) never utter a harsh word, I’m not surprised when (d) some of my countrymen act like idiots. I’ve known some. Most often, these few act like idiots because (a) they’re idiots, and (b) Canadians love their beer almost as much as hockey. I presume at least some of those idiots live in Vancouver.I responded to the news with the same strong reaction I would have afforded riots in Boston, New York or Tuscaloosa (all of which are closer in distance than Vancouver):
“Huh.” This followed by, "Was anyone topless?"Had a neighbor thrown a rock through my window—two days’ driving distance from Vancouver, but a hell of a lot closer to my non-rock-resistant skull—my response would have been more immediate:
“Hey, what’s with the rock? And where are you going with my flat-screen?”I love both Canada and the U.S., but little that happens there affects me nearly as much as almost everything that happens here. And yet I’m the Canadian ambassador to almost every American I know whenever Canadians do something stupid. Which got me thinking: what if I called these same friends to hold them personally accountable for everything that happens here?
On the same day as the Vancouver riots—June 15—a report revealed that 70 percent of guns in Mexico came from the U.S. I did not phone my friends to see if they could fix me up with an AK-47 to deal with chipmunks under my front porch. If I get desperate enough, I'll buy a cat.
In Wichita, KS, the temperature rose 20 degrees in just 20 minutes, and yet I did not yell at anyone for fucking with my polar ice cap.
In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mistress confessed that she and Maria Shriver cried together when the truth about Arnie’s love child came out. I spoke of this with no one, because I couldn’t give a shit.Sure, I could have placed these calls. After all, they happened in the U.S. and many of my friends are American. But I didn’t. As a "nice" Canadian—one of the mostly non-idiotic, non-looting-and-pillaging, I've-never-lived-within-a-thousand-miles-of-Vancouver variety—I don’t play that way.