My town has one Tim Hortons, but we’ve got two other coffee shops. One’s a mom-and-pop place run by a group of modern Mennonite women, and the other is one of those free-trade, loose-leaf tea, 12-kinds-of-coffee places like in the city.
I drink my coffee black, usually from the free-trade shop, but not out of moral obligation. A lot of coffee tastes like swill, Tim Hortons included. Not that I would ever dis Tim Hortons. It’s Canadian, and I support that brand just like I support my hockey team, Justin Bieber, and Michael Bublé. It’s not because I really like them; it’s because, as a Canadian, I have an obligation to back anything that manages to jump the border. We Canadians have to stick up for whatever international recognition we can get. It’s a matter of survival. It’s a cultural norm. It’s an unconscious agreement.
The Americans thought they had us long ago, but maybe if we keep rolling up the rims of our coffee cups, expressing our adoration for hockey, and exporting our singers, we’ll be able to keep our stitching in place and our border static. That is, of course, if we don’t destroy ourselves from the inside.
Some politicians think that a 51 percent vote should be enough for a province to start the process of separation, but if Quebec tried that I’d sure hop on a bus and get myself to Quebec City or Montreal, or somewhere I could make my grief known. Maybe it’s a little morbid, but the band Perry has it right: “If the ties that bind ever do come loose, if forever ever ends for you, if that ring gets a little too tight, you might as well read me my last rites.” My Canada is not my Canada with a piece missing. If Quebec ever separates, we might as well read Canada its last rites. But what can I do?
I’ll stick to my black coffee from the free-trade shop, but I’ll roll up a few rims at Tim Hortons every year, cheer whenever we win gold in hockey at the Olympics, and curse the Americans when one of their NHL teams takes home the Stanley Cup (even though some of the American players are actually Canadians and some of the Canadian players are Americans). I’ll boast whenever someone mentions a Canadian singer or actor who’s made it by border-jumping – even if I can’t name a movie or a song of theirs. That’s what you’ve got to do as a Canadian.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.