For decades, people on both sides of the 49th parallel have argued about the difference between Canadians and Americans.
Some say it’s social, others say it’s political. I think it’s simpler than that; I think it has to do with underwear.
- VS., say -
More specifically, I think it has to do with how underwear is removed in gymnasium locker rooms. I saw evidence of this just recently at the “Extreme Fitness” in downtown Toronto, Canada -
- where I’ve been getting myself into fighting shape for the upcoming shoot of the movie “HARRIET THE SPY” –
- based on the classic children’s novel - for the good people at Disney.
(Sidebar note: while it’s a terrific gym, and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in Toronto, I would suggest going on Sunday mornings when all the religious kooks are in church.
It is no secret of course that Christians are, as a species, wildly overweight -
- while atheists tend to be much more physically fit, likely because instead of spending all their time praying for good health and a trimmer waist-line, they are, in fact, working out.)
Anyway, there I was, desperately trying to negotiate the control pad on my iPod – am I the only one who can’t seem to get the damn thing to comprehend the difference between Frank Sinatra and Franz Ferdinand? – when suddenly there came the most startling ‘crash’ from the other end of the Men’s Changing Room.
It sounded as if someone had driven a 1986 Volvo into a crowd of pre-schoolers - not that I recommend that sort of thing, but really, given the current state of youth crime in our culture, for example, those three boys who recently set fire to a fourth over a $40.00 video game debt, which may result not only in significant jail time but also the strong possibility of future careers in the Credit Card Collection Industry -
- perhaps it’s not a bad idea to “nip it in the bud”, as it were - and I couldn’t resist following the noise to its source.
To my surprise I saw a swarthy and heavily muscled gentleman of Middle Eastern descent writhing naked on the floor next to a locker, a towel clutched in his hand and a pair of mustard colored briefs twisted hopelessly around his ankles.
Thinking that perhaps with a single kind gesture I could make up for the horrors of Abu Ghraib, I considered offering some help, but thought better of it as he glowered at me, muttering something in one of those artificial sounding Arabic languages one used to only hear in the movies – often uttered by the Bad Guy as he swing his scimitar over his head and threatened a loin-clothed Victor Mature with the “death of a thousand mongeese” or some such nonsense.
As I backed off, watching him slowly pick himself up and begin gingerly rubbing his head, I suddenly understood what had happened. In fact, I had seen something like it many times before.
Now let me make one thing utterly clear; this is not a rant against Canada.
Indeed, it’s been a year since I was last here, in my home and native land, and while I was certainly in no hurry to return, even I – die hard Beaverphobe that I am – must admit I have been having a disturbingly good time during this latest cinematic project.
The marvelous Grand Hotel – although plopped unceremoniously at the corner of Crack Whore Boulevard and Homeless Person Urine Stain Drive – has been as gracious and as accommodating as always, with a wonderful breakfast every morning and a nightly Belvedere martini so perfectly constructed as to make me re-think the ten year contract I’ve recently signed with my houseboy Panton.
(Granted, Panton has other attributes which even a five star hotel can’t match, but then again the staff of this hotel speaks fluent English, unlike Panton’s indecipherable blend of Peruvian and Sanskrit, so perhaps it’s a draw after all…)
It must also be said that the team assembled by My Producers is one of the best I’ve ever had, including my darling First Assistant Director ROBYN -
- who deftly maneuvered us through the treacherous waters of our movie “Bridal Fever”
two years ago -
- and who has the kind of obsessive attention to detail that would make an autistic child feel like an under-achiever.
Then there are the actors – including the beyond charming JENNIFER STONE
- and the distractingly wholesome ex- Abercrombie and Fitch model WESLEY MORGAN -
- and of course national Canadian treasure JAYNE EASTWOOD, without whom I simply cannot imagine making a film on this side of the border –
- all delightfully enthusiastic and talented and clearly worshipful of the ground upon which I stand, which is a very admirable trait for people who wish to have their own close up shot from time to time.
Even our Writers – in this case a mother/daughter team so adorable that to just look at them is to develop a case of diabetes - have delivered a charming and deliciously ironic script which not even a GIFTED director could screw up.
Taking into account the usual bouts of homesickness for my loved ones back in our desert paradise - including of course Crawford The Dog, whose recent portrayal of a Chicken during Halloween has been the talk of the town for weeks –
- and the occasional idiots lumbering through the Hotel Bar in search of "Miller On Tap" (the mind reels; how DO these people find their way all the way here from the Bus Station?), I must admit that things have been going remarkably well.
So obviously, with all this good energy circling me, it’s only natural I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m just surprised it made so much noise when it did.
And that it sounded like a homophobic nincompoop slamming his head against a locker door.
One of the fascinating side effects of Canada’s rather liberal social construct, in particular, its embrace of the Civil Rights of its Gay and Lesbian citizenry, has been the imposition of a form of “tolerance” onto its people. Canadians, as a nation, may not necessarily “like” homosexuals, but they are forced, by law, to accept them.
This probably works for Joe and Mary Snowmobile, coming from that delightfully innocent era "before" homosexuality -
- and for whom it now exists as a kind of rare bird, seen on occasion in the wilds of downtown Vancouver or, perhaps, on the dock of a rented cabin in Ontario's “Cottage Country”. As is the way of all good Canucks, if it doesn’t interrupt Hockey Night in Canada, it really doesn't bother them.
But for the heterosexual men of a place like downtown Toronto, the Gays surely must seem to be EVERYWHERE. And in classic “straight man” fashion (and by “straight” I mean "STRAIGHT-straight", not “well, I used to be gay but then I found Jesus-straight")-
- they are apparently convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that, regardless of the fact that they may bear a resemblance to the sort of thing one normally finds living beneath a bridge and terrorizing passing Billy Goats -
- they are in fact the targets of Godless Homos who clearly want nothing more than to lead them away from the path of righteousness-
- and right down Sodomy Lane.
Thus, the Jockey brand ankle bracelets around the afore-toppled Gym Goer.
Desperate to protect himself from the staring eyes of what must have been, in his mind, a Night of the Living Dead-type hoard of Butt Pirates intent on checking out his manhood -
- this deluded fellow had, while still semi-dressed, secured his club-issued towel around his waist and then, with bodily contortions that would have put a Czechoslovakian prostitute to shame, attempted to remove his underpants from beneath the towel, thus shielding his delicate private parts from public view.
Of course, gravity always outweighs modesty and it must have got the upper hand here too, with a single misstep causing the poor fellow to slam his thick noggin against the metal locker with a resoundingly appropriate “WHANNNGGGG!”, knocking himself down to the tile floor where, ironically, his legs spread far enough apart to not only reveal his precious genitals to the entire locker room but also turn the rest of the nearby patrons into amateur, if unwilling, proctologists.
But what, my reader must wonder, does this have to do with the American/Canadian question? Fair enough. Let me continue.
Having spent the past twenty-five years circumnavigating the world, and working out in gyms on five continents, in twice as many countries, I’ve seen a lot of interesting things. Most of these I cannot share, even with you, dear reader; while I have a Sainted Boyfriend who not only endures the stresses of life with a B movie director but actually embraces them -
- even ONE of these stories would likely guarantee me “single man” status for the rest of my life. At my age, this is not only undesirable but probably fatal.
But let it just be said, in all my travels, I have never before seen such a silly and potentially life-threatening display of puritanical penis-cloaking in my life as I witnessed that morning. While the poor fellow was obviously trying to allay suspicions about his own sexuality - rather like the "rap" world's favorite new slang "NO HOMO", used anytime they inadvertently brush up against the turgid prod of homoerotica-
- and which frankly, has been asking more questions than it answers -
- he actually did the exact opposite; laying naked on a gym floor with your legs in the air is basically Gay Porn 101.
Upon further exploration, I've even found a clever Entrepreneur cashing in on the apparently horrific idea of the naked human body being exposed to the world -
- and while I applaud his ingenuity, I suspect this ridiculous product won't catch on. Certainly not in California, where I have lived lo these past twenty years; such behavior would immediately attract suspicion of a terrorist plot. Everybody knows honest, flag-waving, red-blooded American men love nothing more than swinging their genitals around, whether called for or not.
While in this case the un-toweled “slamee” may have been of the Muslim persuasion, I don’t think his religion had much to do with his unfortunate gravitational mishap. More likely it was just a twist of fate – not to mention a fairly lax immigration policy - which catapulted him from the Tehran Gold’s Gym face first into a locker door in Canada.
There is, after all, a kind of insane logic to it; with gay marriage being all the rage up here, and an almost maniacal approach to political correctness running rampant in both the government and the culture at large, perhaps the delicate dance between locker room towel and boxer brief is the last thing that heterosexual men of any race, color or creed can truly call their own.
At least being ashamed of their own bodies is a tradition that they can adhere to without fear of breaking the law.