Those loud Americans!

Turns out – much to my shameful incredulity (as I lay by the pool with my eyes closed beneath the radiant yellow sunshine) – that the loud woman I overheard nearby was Canadian. From Ontario. Near Toronto. Her strident voice was otherwise distinguished by two features; one, the frequent repetition of “Oh, wow!” and words such as “awesome!” and “cool”; two, a thankful lack of fillers such as “like” and “ah”.  In fact her animated and inspiriting discourse was objectively well-presented, unanticipatedly and spontaneously interjected with cryptic insights into morality, finance and intelligence. Suddenly for example she asserted the importance of “confirmation of others” and the priority of family over money. She knowingly remarked that children often fail to understand the language of adults. There were two additional telling characteristics; one, her voice sounded like that of a man; and, two, her account was distinctly plain and direct (that is, she stated facts without pretence or embellishment, at times self-effacing and rendering a more candidate iteration of facts than is normally predicted in communications with strangers around a pool). In the result hers was a refreshing narrative in spite of being inescapably audible and moderately disruptive.

Then there was the gaggle of New Yorkers whom I heard on the other side of the pool. “Don’t bother me!”, a woman said;  “… and her husband’s so nice”, a man uttered following his muted discredit of a woman. There were other acerbic comments regarding local and international people and affairs. The heightened volume of that particular discourse subsided after a while as though having completed its public identity.

The point is this, “You never know”. Identifying people by mere sound and sight is a dangerous expedition. I’ve proven myself wrong more than once. My failing is the presumption of identifying people without knowing them first. The kernels of primary knowledge are seriously flawed. There may also be an equally flawed presumption of the superiority of oneself or of one’s nationality. Familiarity really does at times breed contempt!

To round out this social experience, shortly before gathering my things to leave, others arrived to conduct their customary afternoon congregation. Among them was a chap whom I had briefly met several weeks ago in similar circumstances.  His appearance is totally contrary to his reality. As harsh as he gives the impression, he turns out to be anything but.  Indeed he reminds me of one of the men with whom I congregated every morning for breakfast at the local restaurant for over 35 years. In fact he is of the same profession; and, to a degree, of the same humorous inclination.

While it has taken me a decade or more to abandon the prejudices I have had regarding the competing nature of Americans and Canadians, I am at last turning the corner on the obstruction. Indeed I can now say that after having straddled the border between Canada and the United States of America for many years for equal periods, many of our most productive associations are with Americans. Upon further reflection, this observation holds true for Americans whom I met as long ago as 1976 or thereabouts and with whom I continue to be in fruitful contact to this day.