As I gulped down my Cheerios this morning, I happened to turn on the TV and caught the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer as he cheerily announced, “For the first time ever, a couple from North America has won the gold medal in Olympic ice dancing!” A crowd of fans around him cheered wildly.
Matt — with whom I feel I am on a first name basis, since we’ve shared so many breakfasts together — then mentioned that the winners were, by the way, Canadian, and this sparked a second cheer. When Matt got around to saying that an American couple had won the silver medal, this incited a third and final enthusiastic response.
Lots of cheering over the Cheerios, right? But then it hit me. We Yanks have it both ways. When Canada wins, they become “North Americans” and we win, too. (It’s worth noting that once every 50 years when the USA beats Canada in Olympic hockey, the term “North American” is never used.) I guess you can read this reality in two ways:
First, Americans are so proud of our Canadian cousins that we bask in your reflected glory. Especially when you beat the Russians!
The second may be that, in some strange way, we don’t see Canadians as “others.” I’m dating myself (and killing my demographics!), but when I search for wisdom, I sometimes turn to theme songs from 50’s TV shows, and the insightful line from “The Patty Duke Show” went something like, “They walk alike. They talk alike. You can lose your mind, when cousins are two of a kind…”
Ok. Ok. Maybe the real answer is less “Today” and more “Breakfast Television.” Good bye, Matt.