As I have stated previously in this space, and I only exaggerate slightly when I say this, I only live a stone's throw away from the good, old US of A. But what a difference a border makes. We speak with different accents and have different words for the same things. For example: Canadians eat chocolate bars, not candy bars; we drink pop, not soda.
When daughter #2 was young, we hosted two American girls from a city not very far from the border. The wee dears were thunderstruck to realize that we buy milk in bags (if we so choose), and when we treated them to our delicious fries at the bridge, they were aghast at the thought of putting vinegar on fries. All in all, they didn't seem to much care for these wonderful fries, probably thinking that they weren't like McDonald's fries. Pity that.
Just the other day, I decided to try a new chili recipe. It was from an American cookbook that is sold ubiquitously here in the Great White North. Consequently, I set out to find three kinds of beans: pinto, great northern, and red kidney. The red kidney beans were tracked easily enough, but I searched in vain for the other two. It was pretty darn exasperating. It is just as well that I walked into the store without much hair because, had I had any, I would have yanked it all out in frustration.
Anyway, after unloading the groceries that I was able to purchase that day, I decided to Google beans. I was thinking that maybe we might call them by different names here. A very unusual thing occurred. I was right! Not that I could find synonyms on the Net, but at least I was able to find photos. Armed with my newly-informed, Google, knowledge, I was able to track down what seem to be the equivalent Canadian versions by trying to match the photos of pinto and great northern beans with pictures on our local cans.
From what I can tell, American pinto beans are romano beans here in Canucklestan. And great northern beans sure look a lot like what passes for white kidney beans here. Regardless, I bought them, cooked them, and results were pretty darn tasty; so even if I was wrong, the recipe turned out right. Bravo for me!
So you see, I don't fully grasp American English. Oh, we are pretty aware up here; we have a basic understanding of most Americanisms because we glue ourselves to American media. But TV programs and movies don't really tell you beans about the important things like … well … like beans.
This type of thing has happened before. Take DUI (driving under the influence) and Q&D (quick and dirty) for example. These little acronyms were simply not part of this poor, dumb Canucklehead's lexicon and required explication by Americans who must have thought me terribly dumb. We also tend to sign our "John Henry" not our "John Hancock", both terms being highly confusing to my brand new son-in-law whose first language is not English.
Well, I'm sure you get my point by now, and just as I have the occasional difficulty with lingo American, I have also had a frightfully difficult time trying to understand Americans as a people over the past few days. You see, it's really hard for most folk of other countries to even begin to fathom how the vote could have gone the way it did.
Let me just say that I am making some progress. I think that these folk are tremendously misguided, but, having listened and pondered, I think I can at least begin to fathom some of the reasons why so many Americans arrived at the decision that they did. Personally, I think they are guilty of very fuzzy thinking, but I really don't want to get sidetracked into explicating all of that right now as I'm trying (and it's hard) to keep this particular piece non-political. Besides, the election is being explored in great detail in all sorts of places by those much better informed than this poor plod.
One thing I do want to say is that I think Americans are absolutely wonderful people. They are warm, open, friendly, and hospitable. I think that I can honestly say that I've never met an American whom I haven't liked. And now that I know beans as it were, hard as it is, I am working at trying to understand how and why many of them think and vote the way that they do.
Isn't that the important thing: to do our best to understand each other?