Welcome to Canada: Did you bring your Skates?
This Christmas vacation, my family took a mini getaway to Toronto. As an alternative to our New York City visits, we love exploring this cosmopolitan city to the North for its great restaurants, theatres, shopping, and museums. Going round and round on an outdoor skating rink in sub-zero (Celsius) temperatures we regret to say was the farthest thing from our minds.
Because our children go to sleep away camp north of Toronto, not only are we having fun getting to know Torontos’ sites but its people. My daughter spent much of our visit not with us but with the family of a friend she made from summer camp. All arrangements were made over Skype through the girls and without one conversation between the adults. All directions were found via GPS. Welcome to long distance friendships in the 21st Century, I guess.
We dropped Jolie off at her friend’s house and were greeted by the girl’s mother. In the small entryway of the house, we made some awkward chit-chat as the girls settled in for a weekend of catching up and shopping. When we mentioned that we were staying at the Westin Harbour Castle, the mom’s first reaction was:
“They have a lovely ice skating rink just a block from your hotel. Did you bring your skates?”
About a half hour later, the father came home after participating in the traditional Canadian Boxing Day, which is the equivalent to our Black Friday for shopping deals and sales. We were introduced and then his wife went down to the basement to get something from their pantry.
In another awkward introductory chit-chat, the father of my daughter’s friend independently asked us the same question:
“There is this great outdoor ice skating rink near your hotel. Did you bring your skates?”
Now, both my husband and I looked at each other with great amusement. We were struck that Canadians make the assumption that we actually – all of us – owned our own pair of skates. And there was this second assumption that – upon our arrival to this vast cosmopolitan city, the first thing we would want to do was skate.
Another inquiry of our skating habits was made as we were checking out of our hotel. As we waited with our luggage, the bellhop looked at me and my boys and asked me in his French Canadian accent: “Do your boys skate? Do they play ‘ockey?” I had to say no and I asked him why he asked.
He then pointed to a well dressed young man standing in the lobby. “Because, ma’am, that young man plays hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is only 20 and makes over 2 milion a yaear. So, your boys should liarn to play ‘ockey!”
Now, I am sorry to say that I did not recognize this young man, so this brush with fame was completely wasted on me. And I also appreciated this bellhop’s hope that my young sons held the athletic prowess to be hockey stars, but again he was sorely mistaken. I’m afraid, Canada, that we Americans are just not that into skating.
Or are we? Do you skate? And if so, do you own your own pair?