photo; nhat meyer
Did you see the Olympic closing ceremonies? I was absolutely delighted. It was one of the silliest things I've ever seen. Please don't be offended if you're Canadian, I mean that with admiration.
China gave us amazing choreography, high-tech magic and a cast of thousands.
Canada did all that, pretty much, but they added in giant inflatable beavers.
Neil Young's farewell song was perfect - but I love Neil Young. So I'm not a good judge. But I found it touching; sweet, wistful, real.
I naively thought that's where it would end. Oh no. It was just beginning.
They paraded out some of their famously funny people, (it was all just a tad flat, which kind of added to its charm), dressed Michael Buble up as an overstuffed Mountie, then had him croon through an extravaganza with snowboarders, Mounties and a pretty audio visual display. I was thinking it was okay, but not a big deal.
Then the beavers showed up. I started roaring and my guy, who is not one to laugh out loud easily, joined me. I continued to sputter as the beavers were followed by moose. Then the cutout skateboard guys were surrounded by the huge inflatable RC Mounties.
"They are just this side of hip, aren't they?" my guy asked with great admiration in his voice.
That's what I've always liked about Canada.
Look at the outfits the teams wore for closing night. America was dressed in their Ralph Lauren red white and blue, looking like a preppy rowing team. (I hate Ralph, sorry. He's the one who airbrushed a skinny model to look like a skeleton to sell his rags, then denied he did it.)
Then here comes Canada, moose sweaters and Rocket J. Squirrel flap hats with "Canada" emblazoned across the forehead. That was one happy and cute as hell bunch of athletes.
I love this about Canada: they are who they are. They make no apologies (despite what Katherine O'Hara said) and they make no pretense. They're real.
I haven't been to Canada for about ten years; maybe I've got it all wrong. But that was my sense when I was there, and that continued last night. On PEI, when we visited ten years ago, we took the kids to an amusement park that was as low tech as it could possibly be. My kids were amazed. I recognized it as the kind of small town park my parents used to take me to, way back when. The kind of thing that has been replaced with bigger, faster, more expensive in the US. My kids adored it.
The people we met seemed to be missing a hard shell that many Americans have developed. I think we in the US are very concerned about seeming cool. Maybe we're still feeling like Colonials...is it a genetic self-doubt left from the first Europeans to settle here?
China certainly seemed to think it had something to prove: it went all out in Beijing proving its coolness.
I think Canada knows it's cool. It's the kid in class who is totally comfortable with who he is, the kid that at first glance makes the other kids laugh, but who eventually becomes the most popular kid in school.
Canada, I have just one question. Where were the MacKenzie Brothers? I honestly thought they'd be sitting on top of that huge Mountie hat at the end, inviting the crowd to sing along, eh?
"Coo roo koo koo koo roo koo koo...."