Thus far, everything I've seen about Kevin Smith's new movie Tusk has, quite frankly, scared the living daylights out of me. There is a human-centipede level of creepy to the premise that makes my skin crawl, and honestly made me a little worried about watching it. (Although, it's Kevin Smith. Obviously I'm going to watch it, even if I'm hiding behind a pillow for most of the time.)
Where's the Kevin Smith that I know and love? Where's the funny? I have been searching for a way to find torture amusing, and failing.
I shouldn't have worried. This latest clip, "Cana-dos and Cana-don'ts" had me breathing a sigh of relief, as Smith reassures us that it's not all knocked-out-teeth and psychopaths.
Nope, it's just under two minutes of lighthearted fun being poked in the direction of the Great White North, and it shows that Smith genius, layering the obvious jokes (hockey, duh) over sharp observation (so that's why we are all so darn happy!) and some even subtler moments of humor. It's perfect, and it's the first time that I've actually been excited about Tusk.
So in celebration of this awesome new clip, I decided to put together a little list of my own Cana-dos and Cana-don'ts, should you be planning on visiting. Which you really should. It's lovely, and I promise, no one will torture you into becoming a walrus (unless, of course, you make fun of hockey).
1. Cana-DO: Apologize
Sorry, but you really should be apologizing. Constantly, profusely, and at the slightest provocation. Did you bump into someone? Say sorry. Did someone bump into you? You should probably also say sorry. I mean, it's only polite. Your shoulder might have bruised them when they slammed into it - and you should feel very sorry about that. Apologies don't even need to be used when you feel the need to apologize! In Canada, "sorry" is a multi-purpose word, kind of like the way Brits might use "excuse me" or New Yorkers use "hey you". Do you need to get past someone in a store or bar? "Sorry!" Are you trying to get someone's attention? "Sorry!" Would you like to make a point in a conversation, or even (gasp) interrupt someone? You guessed it, just say sorry.
2. Cana-DON'T: Say Eh?
This is on a par with heading to Stockholm talking like the Swedish Chef. Just don't. Yes, many Canadians will drop those two little letters at the end of random phrases and words (I've even caught myself doing it, and that was the day I realized I had been assimilated), but that doesn't mean it's hilarious when you do it. Especially when it's done with all the subtlety of a flying brick, which it always, always, is. We get it. As a nation, we have an easily identified verbal tic, and this makes it very easy to use as an attempt at making fun of us. Except that everyone who has ever made fun of Canada, ever, has picked up on it, and it's been done to death. Give it up, eh?
3. Cana-DO: Try All The Food
We've got some weird and wonderful food up here, and seriously, you have to try it. First off, have a Caesar. It's like a Bloody Mary, but instead of tomato juice, it's Clamato juice, which is tomato and clam. Yes, it sounds foul. Yes, it makes you wonder what is wrong with us that we would pollute such a delicious cocktail with juice squeezed from a crustacean, but trust me, it's delicious. It's a saltier, lighter, generally all-around more delicious version of the classic, and the best hangover cure I have ever found short of not drinking. Courtesy of the fact that these are very obviously a reaction to a heavy night, you can now find them all over the place with various bits of greasy bar food served on top, because why not? I beg you. Drink Caesars.
While you are at it, grab yourself some fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds, aka Poutine (the other Canadian hangover cure and often 3am street food). And just to top it all off (and make sure you can't fit into your jeans and need to go buy some Lululemon yoga pants for the return journey) stop by Tim Hortons and stock up on ridiculously sweet coffee and TimBits (donut holes).
4. Cana-DO: Perfect Your Small Talk
This one is especially important if you come from one of the bigger cities where the thought of a stranger randomly striking up a conversation has you reaching for the pepper spray. Here, it happens all. the. time. It's part of our nice, friendly image, and we want to keep it that way. A true Canadian can talk about the weather for hours at a time, and actually seem to care (which, given the crazy weather we get, actually makes some sense, but still). Wherever you go, expect a minimum of small talk - it's polite, and it's expected. However, if you are truly, truly terrible at small talk, there is always that good old fallback of wearing headphones everywhere. (Although you can take it too far. Maybe take them off in the bar and talk about the weather while you wait for a drink.)
5. Cana-DON'T: Expect To See Mounties
Yes, they exist, but they aren't actually the day-to-day police force. Men in red jackets don't barrel up to crime scenes on horses (OR moose, thank you). Nope, we've got pretty normal-looking police officers and police cars, and they may be nice to you, but they'll still arrest you just the same as officers everywhere else in the world. If you really, really, want to see a Mountie (god only knows why), come visit for Canada day, when there will be some in a parade. Other than that, it's been six years this time around and five when I was a kid, and I have never seen a mountie outside of a parade route. Ever.
6. Bonus Cana-DON'T: Believe ALL The Stereotypes
For obvious reasons. Fun things are fun, but there are plenty of Canadians who hate hockey, Caesars and poutine, who are rude and silent, and who are easily offended by the general assumption that all Canadians are friendly, beer-drinking, moose-riding, good-guys. I sincerely hope that none of those are reading this!
So what do you think, fellow Canucks and Canadian visitors? What would be your top Cana-DO or Cana-DON'T? Comment and let me know!