It’s a rare thing when I run into other Canadians out here. I recently found out that there are several hundred of us in Prague, but we rarely connect. If we do, it’s usually by accident or sheer coincidence.
We all know that other Canadians are here. It’s not uncommon to hear of a Canadian friend or colleague. “Oh you’re from Canada, I know a guy who works with a girl whose boyfriend lives with a Canadian…”
It doesn’t bother me often, but every now and then you just want to find some Canadians, meet for a beer, turn off the expat switch and revert back to the most familiar form possible. It’s not a necessity or anything, but I get to do it so infrequently.
Recently, one wise Praguer took it upon herself to connect as many Prague-based Canadians as possible. It was the first time in several years (excluding one surreal trip back to Canada) that I was in a room with more than two hosers at once. In this case, there were close to 20.
I found out that a lot of them were in similar situations. They’d been here a while, they knew there were others, but damned if we knew how to find each other. It seems that it’s not really in our nature to approach other people that might be Canadian. And our accents are so similar to Americans that we can’t exactly identify each other right away, the way Aussies or Brits can.
Still, it’s an odd thing when that much Canada gets released into one place at one time. You catch yourself doing things that you haven’t noticed yourself doing in a long time. It brings out the Canuck tenfold.
What exactly happens when you take a group of Canadians who haven’t been given the proper opportunity to hoser-out in quite some time? Well, a couple of different things:
- Hearing someone say the word “pan” and know that they’re from British Columbia because of the way they elongate that a in a BC kind of way.
- Smiling when someone tags a sentence with “buddy” and immediately know they are from Ontario because they say it exactly like your idiot high school friends used to say.
- Catching your long-dormant accent come out suuuper hard when you say the word “though”, as if it was spelt: dooooou. Even worse, you can’t turn it off for a couple hours afterwards and your Finnish girlfriend chirps you for it. Then, she chirps you even more for actively using terms like chirp in conversation with her for the first time ever.
- Telling someone where my hometown is and having him respond: Right on! I love the Hammer!
- Over your shoulder you overhear a conversation to your left, catch only the words Robson and Davie, but you’re not lost at all.
- Everyone secretly repressing the overwhelming urge to burst into O Canada because you know that the rest of the table would have to join in and it would be awesome, even if the rest of the pub starts booing you.
- Spend way too much time lamenting things we can’t have out here, like bagels, hot sauce, cheddar cheese and wings.
- Getting into a shouting match with a group of Czechs about whether or not the World Championship is an accurate measure of global hockey supremacy (it isn’t).
- Having it evolve into a fistfight when they bring up Nagano (bastards).
- When groupthink and repressed nationalism took over and a few of us took that American guy we ran into outside the bathroom into the back alley and brained him with an empty beer bottle. Just because, fool.
- Routinely rip on Americans for their unfathomable love of guns; finish the night by playing Russian roulette in the back room of a non-stop (24 hour) dive bar.
- That Neil Young face tattoo seemed like a much better idea last night.
- Doing maple leaf shaped lines off of hockey cards, ya’ll!
So there it is. I think that the first meeting will always be the worst. There’s too much maple-coated emotion to repress for that long. Hopefully, the next one will be a little lighter.