Pissing on the USA

26Oct06

The new English waitress at the local pub says people keep mistaking her for an Australian. That’s a stupid mistake, my friend said, although he personally gets tripped up trying to distinguish Australians from New Zealanders (the difference is in how they pronounce the word “fish”, he said. So “fish” is the shibboleth then, I said. Then he asked what the hell a shibboleth is). Of course, New Zealanders hate being mistaken for Australians, much like how Canadians hate being mistaken for Americans. I figured the Welsh and Scottish probably hate being mistaken for English too, although our waitress didn’t see how anyone could mistake a Scotsman for an Englishman. I figured it was plausible if it was a Scotsman who lived just on the other side of the border, but she couldn’t see why, if a Scotsman hated the English enough to be touchy about that kind of confusion, he’d live so close to the border.

Having grown up on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River just across from upstate New York — and being the descendant of a Prohibition-era rum runner and also, more distantly, horse thieves who dwelled on the border of England and Scotland — I know that the answer to this is simple: to drive across the border and stir up trouble. This, our waitress understood. She said that although she’d vetoed the plan, her boyfriend (a Canadian, from the sound of it) had suggested driving across the border for the sole purpose of urinating on the United States. The funny thing is that I’ve actually done exactly that.


This was back in high school, which is an important point. Clearly this was more motivated by boredom than actual anti-American sentiment. Back in high school in Brockville, after all, our main activity was driving around aimlessly. I’ve mentioned before that the highlight of a typical night was driving out to Devil’s Door road, getting out, and taking a leak. But you can only do that so many times. So when one of us got the idea to drive over the Johnstown Bridge and taking a leak on the United States instead, the rest of us figured, hey, why not?

So we drove down to Johnstown and prepared to cross. The border guard asked us our reason for entering the United States. “We’re going to visit a friend,” we said. He waved us through. We drove over the bridge to Ogdensburg, which lies on the other side. Being no more exciting than the Canadian side, only more dilapidated (it is not for nothing that upstate New York is known as The Land that House Paint Forgot), Ogdensburg was basically empty, so we had the run of the place. We looked around for a good place to empty our bladders. Being teenagers and thus basically opposed to almost everything, we contemplated urinating on a church for a while, thus killing two birds with one stone (or at least severely disrespecting them). But all the churches were too out in the open, and we were worried about getting caught, even if the town did look pretty quiet. Eventually we found a veteran’s memorial park to urinate in, which, in retrospect, is probably worse.

Our mission accomplished, we drove back over the bridge. The guard eyed us suspiciously. “Back already?”

“Our friend wasn’t home,” we shrugged.

“You don’t call first?” he asked?

We shrugged again. “It was going to be a surprise.” He looked dubious, but waved us onward. Much as how I wouldn’t have been able to get away with the time I kicked open a classroom door and hosed down a teacher with a Supersoaker if I’d gone to high school after Columbine, in today’s post-9/11 political climate, there’s no way we would have been able to offer such a piss-poor excuse for crossing the border without being pulled aside and strip-searched as the car was dismantled in front of us. But on the other hand, that would have actually made for an interesting evening for a change.



One Response to “Pissing on the USA”

  1. 1 Monkey

    New Zealanders basically pronounce i like a u.
    ie “Get some fush and chups” for “get some fish and chips”.
    Plus they get intimate with sheep a fair bit more than Aussies do.


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