I carried this obsession through college, proudly displaying a few of my stuffed mooses upon my bookshelf. Somewhere in that time frame, I was gifted with an enormous Canadian flag that I hung proudly, and prominently above my bed in my dorm room. People that visited my dorm started questioning my nationality, and to amuse myself, I decided to start affirming their beliefs of me being a Canadian. Should they delve further, I had fabricated an entire backstory of living in Alberta, going to one of the figure skating competitions with my mom during the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics, and sadly, moving to California at the age of 10.
I met a Canadian today. On Canada Day. And he talked about what they do during their holiday, including using the word “oot”. It was pretty awesome, and I haven’t stopped geeking out over it all day.
I’m not really sure why I became so obsessed with Canada, but I vaguely remember how it started, and that I wasn’t alone.
My memory isn’t the greatest, but I believe that my best friend Shannon traveled to Canada with her high school orchestra. Maybe? I just remember that in one of her letters to me, she told me about their accents, and somehow, a phrase was coined: “Let’s go oot and aboot and play hockey with the mooses.” Yes mooses. I don’t care that I’m a teacher and know better. There are just some words that are funner when used ungrammatically.
From this letter of hers spurned subsequent letter envelopes decorated with red maple leaves and our Canadian phrase. Before I knew what was happening, I had a collection of mooses and moose related items all throughout my room. Also, it wasn’t uncommon for Shannon to receive some sort of moose related gift or card from me. Still isn’t.
I am a terrible liar, and am pretty much forced to tell the truth all the time due to the blush that starts forming on my face through my dishonesties. However, my desire to be Canadian must have been strong, because I think I truly started to believe my backstory, and told it with a straight face every time. People usually called me out on it as they got to know me better, and if they were really close friends who asked, I pretty much would finish my story, then laugh in their face about how gullible they were. (Which is hypocritical of me because I’m the most gullible person there ever was. Just yesterday, my brother told me a dude’s name was Fletcher with a ‘ph’ and I totally believed him.)
Anyway, throughout the rest of college, most people understood that I just had a crazy obsession with Canada and mooses, and I eventually let the Canadian story drop. However, the correlation between Canada and me never faded, and one friend, David, even nicknamed me Canada. He NEVER referred to me as Erica, and I honestly doubt he even knew what my real name was. After I graduated college, I went back to visit my youngest brother (who also happened to attend ULV) and I ran into David. Instinctively, he said, “Hey Canada! Long time no see.” We shared formalities until someone asked him, “Why do you call her Canada?” To which he responded, “Because that’s where she’s from.” Someone around started laughing and quickly informed him that I was not, in fact, Canadian. The look of incredulity on his face cannot be wiped from my memory.
Despite the fact that I felt horrible, and kept professing that I thought he knew it was a joke, I’m pretty sure David took it to be the ultimate betrayal. And even though I still feel guilty about it, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that it also felt pretty good: someone really thought I was Canadian.