Monday, May 30, 2005

Middle Canadian

A start of a story..

I guess you could say I’m middle Canadian. I have medium brown hair and eyes of indefinite color that they call hazel at the motor bureau. I stand about 5’10” in my socks and I weigh about 175 pounds, no tattoos, no big or irregular facial features, no tics or physical deformities. I live in the middle of Canada and I don’t speak French. I probably would have set up housekeeping in the middle of lake Louise if that were the neutral midpoint, but then I’d be an amphibian, and I don’t know if that’s possible. My name is Tom, the rest is just as normal, it really doesn’t matter. We live in a suburb, not too big or small and I work for a company pushing paper all day, not much to it, I believe they have forgotten I am even here, working in my little cubicle so far back in the office that no one bothers to make the trip. I eat my lunch here, no fraternizing though I guess I could if I wanted to, and home at the end of the day by public transportation, just another cog in the wheel of industry.
I thought I wanted this life. I moved away from all I knew and remade myself, lost my accent, forgot my relatives, closed up shop so to speak, and took up life anew in this new land. Lately though, I have begun to wonder.

The thing is, I grew up in Kentucky, Land of juleps and thoroughbreds , and I spoke with a drawl. I was an only child, a towhead, and at the top of my class. I was tall and strapping for my age, made all the sports teams in school and stood out in general until high school, when I started my slide to anonymity. I hated the loud bragging style of my dad, who would always call attention to everything in ways I found obnoxious. Dad would be the center of anything and everything, starting a spitting contest down at the general mercantile, for example, in those days the townhouses had not yet been built and we were gentlemen farmers. We lived in a huge antebellum style house, left in the family since the Civil War days and I grew from proud to embarrassed to be living in such a monstrosity as I gained friends and saw the modest farmhouses and new clean suburban tract homes where they lived. I died a thousand small deaths daily at the shenanigans of my father who kept country ways even as his wealth grew to put him at the top of local society, where he was considered a “character”. In the South, we do not hide our social miscreants, we show them off, and are proud to be southerners. My Daddy had horses and I grew up with horses. I learned as a small child how to feed and water and later, at about 8 or 9 I was let to hotwalk or exercise the horses to warm them up before a ride or race and then to cool them down again after. Later, as I aged, I had to groom and muck out stalls. It was tough, but I liked the animals and the solitude, as long as my father was out of the barn. Did you know that race horses can only have names that are 18 letters long or less? That’s the rule and because of that, the owners all try to push the envelope with long-winded names. That’s one of the things my father used to do that irritated me so much. We had a horse named Bucket, but to race him my dad insisted we call him Buckets of Bullitts! Just to get the full count on the name. I thought it was a pretty stupid name for a horse, but it did not hurt his running and dad kept joking we should a named him Buckets O’ Simoleons (something they called money someplace in the old days). You might well wonder where my mom was, a good enough question. I love my mother; she’s still, last I heard, alive. She was pretty and kind had a nice smile and actually sang while hanging the wash and doing chores in general, kept the radio on for company and disputed with the various announcers as to the veracity of their various claims. She was sweet to me and a great cook too, but she paled beside the larger than life figure of my father, and if she sounds just too good to be real then so be it, allow me my illusions of memory, for this is how I like to keep her in my head. Cheery but shy, a beautiful, red headed counterpoint to my fiery, loud and obtuse male parent.

I don’t know what attracted me to Canada, It may have been the war. It may have been seeing droves of them on US television that made me see them as regular, well adjusted humans with no discernable accents but a small proclivity to mispronounce the letter L, something, I am told they are taught at broadcasting school where you sort of swallow the letter and make instead a glottal noise instead, making the words sound clearer to the listener, but it’s a tricky maneuver and often as in the case of one prominent announcer, comes off as a speech defect. The man just can’t grasp the nuances of the technique. Anyway, thinking that Kentucky was far too colorful or obvious , I moved towards the middle of the United States, but as it turned out, all the areas I encountered, had some other weird cant of language or behavior. In Minnesota there is a great population descended from Swedes or some such and the twang of their voices is just unimaginable and then populated with all manner of archaic exclamations as: ........ And this is the place where my memory went still, and I have not returned to this place since.

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