Psst. Psst. Yeah, you there. Listen, can you step to the left a bit? You’re letting some of the light in. Yes, a bit more… perfect, thanks. Oh, what am I doing, hiding here in the shadows, you ask? Uh, how patriotic are you? Not very? Alright, that’s good. You seem like a decent fellow. I’m sure we can trust each other.

You know, I’m a proud Canadian, born and raised. I wore my maple leaves, and red and white well. And all through elementary school, I was one of the few kids who stood with their chins held high and backs straight, when our National anthem played. I drank maple syrup for breakfast every day. I wore shorts in the winter. You can tell, right? I’m as patriotic as they come.

Well, it all started when I met up with one of those pot-bellied, red faced, American friends of mine. They’re crazy about their country, you know? We got into an argument, and in some absurd form of defiance, he started reciting his Pledge of Allegiance. Is that right? Is that what they call it? They make their kids say that every morning before school starts, like brainwashed, fanatic zombies. I was visiting once, and it’s honestly terrifying. I think they program loyalty into the kids upon birth. Also gluttony – maybe that’s why they’re all so fat.

Anyway, my American friend delivered every word with a sick satisfaction, and looked at me pointedly when he finished. So I, being the proud Canadian that I am, bristled at the challenge, and readied myself to retaliate with our National Anthem, which is infinitesimally catchier.

Now how mortifying it is to find, at a patriotic-off no less, that… I don’t know the lyrics! I don’t! Oh, don’t judge me. Who does? Who even listens anymore? Do you know how to sing the National Anthem? I should think not!

I’ve always prided myself in my fervent allegiance to this country…but I don’t even know how to sing that cursed song, O Canada!

I tried to sing it anyway; I thought it was just the nerves. But my voice broke on the first note, and my American friend cracked a mocking, yellow smile. I started sweating a little. And then, “O Canada, oh… oh… how God, ah, free – pro-protect, our land! O Canada… uhm hmm hmm hmmmmm!” My face had turned as red as the American’s, and when he started cackling boorishly, while making uncultured, obscene gestures… well. I just snapped. I punched him right in his beer gut. It was like shoving your hand into a pillow. My fist made a soft, sluggish splosh; in, then out. I watched, fascinated, as his stomach rippled like the waves of the Pacific. I don’t think he even noticed, with that obtuse, bovine expression plastered coarsely across his face, mouth hung slightly open in a permanent look of bewilderment. But then he started yelling in that slow, Southern drawl, and I apologized, because that’s the polite thing to do, but I guess that Americans don’t understand politeness because he started chasing me down. I knew to run, because I understood well enough that he wanted to beat me up. God damn Americans. They’re crazy, you know?

So now I’m here. Moping in the shadows, and hiding from the murderous rednecks. It’s alright, I guess. I’ll try to memorize the National Anthem while I’m here. I see your sidelong glance. I know you’re judging me. That’s fine. I’d judge myself. But give it a few years – you’ll forget the lyrics too, one day.