John Scalzi, of the AOL journal "By The Way...", has written a letter to Canada and posted it in honor of Canada Day. I have copied the whole letter because I think it's wonderful, and I want you to read it, and I know some of you don't want to get the AOL ID required to read his journal. But mostly because I want to keep it, so I can find it again easily in my archives. No, I haven't obtained his permission to copy it, but he gets enough email as it is, and I believe that having given him full credit (and it's not like in copying it I have cost him income from it) it will be ok. If he objects I'll remove it, but I hope that by then you've read it.
John's original is here: http://journals.aol.com/johnmscalzi/bytheway/entries/6146
Thank you for being you. As the co-inhabitant on the Great Geographical Duplex known as North America, you are the perfect neighbor: Friendly, decent, hard-working and forgiving. You're the Ned Flanders to our Homer Simpson: Always smiling, always ready to lend a hand, always patient about the return of power tools -- in your case, talent like Mike Meyers or Neil Young, whom we said we were just going to "borrow" for a couple of years, but haven't gotten around to sending back (although, to be fair, we did return Corey Hart in short order, and hardly the worse for wear).
Thank you for never going to war with us. Oh, sure, the British used you as staging grounds for a couple of their wars against us, but that doesn't count; the Brits were abusive, coercive parents to the both of us, so we know they were just using you to get to us, like abusive, coercive parents do sometimes. After we sorted them out, you've been the model of sheer peacefulness, which of course, we've used to our advantage. After all, not having to defend one of the longest contiguous borders in the entire world has saved us a tremendous amount of cash and effort over the years, which we've used to do other things, like, oh, invade Mexico and take over roughly two-thirds of that country.
(Always been touchy neighbor, that Mexico; heck, they practically begged us to invade and take California off their hands for them. We didn't want to do it. Well, maybe James Polk did. But the rest of us could have left well enough alone.)
You, on the other hand, have never given us an excuse to get all Manifest Destiny on you, and that's a fine, fine thing, because you know that in our more intemperate youth, we would have done just that, and then later everyone would have been sorry. Heck, even now, I'm sure there are some elements of our populace who would wouldn't mind stuffing Alberta or British Columbia into a sack if they thought no one was looking -- all that oil and fish and lumber, mmmmm, so tempting. But we'd never do it now. Because you're Canada, our constant, non-belligerent friend, and we couldn't do that to you (at least, so long as you stay in one piece -- another reason to tell those excitable Quebecois to calm the heck down).
We know it can't be easy living with us. It's like being the younger sibling of the Most Famous Person in the World -- the sibling that doesn't actually enjoy fame and went on to become an accountant or some such. When people meet you, they want to talk about your famous sibling and whatever damn fool thing they did that has the newspapers chattering, not about you (or about accounting). And sure, you've gone along with it, more or less politely, but we know that sooner or later it starts to grate on you. You have a life. You have feelings. You're your own country, and sometimes you don't give a crap about what we're doing.
But you still put up with it, and with us. It's more than we do. God forbid someone should ever bring up Canada to us; we'd have a blank look for a second, mumble something like "Oh, yes, Canada, a lovely, lovely country, all that hockey and beer, you know," and then find some way to direct the conversation back to us. We're just that way. It's a weakness. And we're glad you understand it.
And let's be honest. In some ways you're a greater country than the US is. In terms of sheer square mileage (or, in deference to the metric system you use up there, sheer square kilometerage), you've got us beat -- you're the second largest country by land mass, placing silver only to Russia. Also, while you, like we, had this tendency to displace the earlier natives of the land you wanted for yourself, you did a stand-up thing recently and gave many of them their own territory. This is not something I really see the US doing anytime soon -- it's not like we're going to say to our Native Americans, okay, here, have the Dakotas. Also, Macintosh toffee. Please mail me some right now.
Fact is, we don't appreciate you. We ignore you. Despite hearing it played frequently at sporting events, the only two words most of us know of your national anthem are "O, Canada," and that's only because they're also the title of your national anthem. What little of the Canadian culture we do pick up comes from old SCTV skits and Rush albums. You know the name of every US president since Lincoln, whereas we're hard pressed to name your current Prime Minister. The only really nice thing we've done for you in the last couple of decades was to get into a tizzy about those ice skaters a couple of Olympics ago, which prompted media from other places to talk about a "North American bias." We were confused about the "north" part of that.
Well, although I know it won't make up for the years of neglect, or for the waves of draft-dodgers who scurried across your borders, or for stealing the Stanley Cup from you year after year, or for, well, every lame thing we do because we're big, fat, self-centered and oblivious -- I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being so very Canadian: Calm, collected, agreeable with just the merest hint of passive-aggressiveness, which, by the way, we so totally deserve. The fact is, there is no other country we'd prefer to have live with us. Sure, we're all chummy with Britain now, but just imagine what it'd be like if we had to live with them. We'd've nuked them by now. When all is said and done, Canada, we make a perfect pair.
Come here, let's hug. And bring that Macintosh toffee with you.