Being an American in a foreign country is not typically a good thing.
That may seem a bit dramatic but if you have lived abroad, you know what I mean. US foreign policy is alive and well… and well, sometimes it pays to keep a low profile.
Now, one of the best things about being from northern Minnesota is that I sound remarkably Canadian. This has provided great cover from being American at times.
Sometimes, it just happens. In line at the supermarket and someone hears me speak. They ask where I’m from and the questioner answers before I can reply, ‘Canada, right?’ Nodding heads with wide, hopeful eyes and broad smiles. I don’t want to disappoint them.
Sometimes, it’s deliberate and kind of fun. It happened at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo one summer. Now, as an aside, this is a wonderful, must-see event that will be loved by everyone from small kiddos to your Grandma- go, NOW (ok, you need to wait until August) and see it. It is a strange cool mix of kilted, bagpiping Scotsmen, local dancers and international military music corps- drummers, singers and heck, the Norwegians even busted out an electric guitar! All set against the backdrop of the formidable Edinburgh Castle lit by torches and purple floodlights. I’m getting the chills just thinking about it.
Well, the event started and it was good. REALLY GOOD. I had tears. The bagpiping was raw and emotional. The Swiss military drummers were spellbinding. The Norwegians rocked it. Then came the Americans. Thud. I can look back and see where they were going with it all, but man, it was a cheese fest. The singers did a boogie-woogie 40’s revue that was supposed to be all ‘Glee-like’ but did not deliver. Cheesy music, cheesier lyrics, over-exaggerated jazz hands. Gaaaaahhhhhh!
Shortly after this, they broke for intermission. The announcer’s voice boomed. This was the ‘cheer for your country’ portion of the show. First, the locals. ‘Let’s hear it for the Scots in the crowd.’ Huge cheers. Aw, I love those Scots so I think even I let out a woot. Country by country, they all whooped. England, France, China, Italy, Japan… Canada.
Ok, I confess. I cheered and raised my hands when Canada was called. Perry did too. We made split second eye contact and the unspoken ‘we can’t possibly claim that performance.' I swear, after that, people looked upon us with proud eyes and lifted chins of approval in our general direction. Is it the Commonwealth connection? I can’t be sure but for good measure I asked the man seated next to me afterwards, ‘Good show, eh?’