So you want to be Canadian, eh?

Last week, the Monitor published the results of a most interesting survey. The survey asked the requisite number of Americans the following question: If you couldn't live in America, what country would you like to live in? The No. 1 country, garnering 28 percent of the vote, was my own home and native land, the Great White North, Canada.

Then, just a few days later, I heard the news that the US mint plans to issue color currency, starting with the $20 bill in the year 2003, in an effort to foil counterfeiters, who've got a lot better since the computer came along. Just like we've had in Canada for years.

I was inclined to believe mint officials' explanations, until I noticed that our travel section this week was about Canada. Hmm. On the one hand, it could all just be a coincidence. On the other hand, it could be the confirmation of something I've suspected for a long time – Americans nurture a deep wish in their hearts to become Canadians.

Now, that's OK, you don't need to pretend to be shocked. You're among fellow Canadaphiles here. While many Americans labor under the notion that being a Canadian is the same as being an American, I'm here to tell you that you are sadly mistaken. Being a Canadian is a truly unique experience.

And in the interest of helping the obvious millions of Americans who want to "cross over" the border and embrace the maple leave, figure skating and well, snow, I've decided to offer up a few tips, in no particular order, that will help make the transition much more enjoyable.

First, Americans have a strong sense of national identity. Americans know who they are, and they're not afraid of telling anybody. As a Canadian, you'll need to completely forget about these qualities.

Instead, you'll need to develop a deep sense of inferiority, while at the same time secretly thinking you're the greatest country on the planet. And you'll need to put aside large quanities of time to watch Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) documentaries about what the heck does it mean to be a Canadian anyway, and still not know the answer when you're finished watching.

Americans love to wave the flag. Canadians are kind of iffy on this one. Oh sure, we'll bring them out on Canada Day, every July 1, and when a Canadian team is playing for a gold medal in either hockey or curling. But the rest of time we tend to leave them folded up in the closet. Except when we wear them on our backpacks while travelling around the world so that no one will think we're American. And you'll need to mumble the words to the national anthem, because you can't remember them all. But you will know all the words to the "I am a Canadian" beverage commercial that was so popular a couple of years ago.

And speaking of hockey and curling, you'll develop an unnatural passion for anything that happens on ice. Especially hockey. You'll find it spine-tingling exciting to watch three hockey games a night during the Stanley Cup playoffs. And you'll learn the nuanced differences between an in-turn and and out-turn draw in curling, and be willing to spend countless hours debating why curling really is a sport and does belong in the Winter Olympics.

You must learn to think of the the majestic beaver, Canada's national symbol, as being way cooler than any eagle.

You will need to memorize the complete list of Canadian celebrities, so at the drop of a hat, you can reel off the names of famous Canadians who people might not know are Canadian. Such as Morley Safer, Monty Hall, Jim Carey, Neil Young, Pamela Anderson, Alex Trebek, and John Roberts, the CBS newscaster who used to be a video jockey in Canada, but can be a newscaster in the US.

Right now, most Americans think of England's Queen Elizabeth as kind of flaky, with a weird taste in strange hats, but an OK doll after all. Canadians think of her this way as well, but she is our Queen too, so we tend to keep it to ourselves, and act very excited when she or one of her innumerable brood come to visit every few months.

You'll have to forget the gun thing, OK? Canadians don't do the gun thing. And you will come to think of the United Nations as a really 'hot' organization, not the secret power behind the trilaterial commission. And don't forget, no more war. Canadians don't do war, we do 'peacekeeping.' Why? Because we invented it. D'uh. Excuse me, I mean, 'Beauty, eh.' And no more bad mouthing 'socialized medicine.'

And you'll have to say 'Eh' at the end of every sentence. And start every conversation with "So..."

Everytime somebody bumps into you, you'll need to say "Excuse me."

There's a lot more to learn, of course, but it will take time for you to absorb it all. So allow me to welcome you to the bosom of a great land, with the greeting that has echoed down the corridors of Canadian history.

How it goin', eh?

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