Today is July 1st, Canada Day, and you know what that means right? It’s like their independence day or some kind of day celebrating our neighbors to the north or something, I’m not really sure since I’m not from there and accustomed to celebrating it, and I’m aware that a quick Google search could provide me with the knowledge I need, I’m also aware that research is an essential part of writing, but who really has time for all that? Anyway, whatever this day means, I’m using it as an excuse to share with you one of my favorite stories from when I was in Canada.
The year was 2007, the summer before my junior year of high school, and I, along with some friends, loaded up into our church’s mega bus in Little Rock, Arkansas and made our way north for a mission trip. We were going to Canada to work with a church there to help with their weeklong vacation bible school, but once that was done, there was a free day before we had to go back home where we got to go into Toronto and do some touristy things in the city. We went to the top of the CN tower and we got to see the indoor stadium of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, and while that stuff was pretty cool, my favorite part of the day was by far the dinner we had. Right now you might be thinking it’s not that big of a surprise that dinner is one of my favorite memories from Canada, given that I talk about food, a lot, but the greatness of this meal had nothing to do with the food itself, but rather the events that unfolded surrounding the meal.
We were at the Hard Rock Cafe, because, like I said, we were doing touristy things, and I honestly can’t tell you what I had to eat, but again, that’s not the important thing. At some point while we were waiting for our food, me and some friends began talking about something we could do that seemed pretty funny at the time. If you’ve never been a teenage boy before, when you’re with your friends, a lot of time, probably the majority of the time, goes into laughing and making your friends laugh, and honestly it’s a great experience, so in that spirit, I decided to move forward with what we were talking about, and the next time the waiter passed by, I discreetly told him it was the birthday of one of our college interns who was on the trip with us. A few minutes later, the waiter, carrying a piece of cake with lit candles on top, followed by the rest of the staff, marched out of the kitchen and sang “Happy Birthday” to the intern, much to the bemusement of my friends and I. The funniest part to me was that some of the other adult chaperones on the trip were actually buying into it and were saying things like, “Sorry, I didn’t realize it was your birthday.” Ha ha ha.
One person not fooled by the birthday charade however, was the youth minister, who became, I feel, unreasonably angry about the whole situation. I don’t know if this particular joke had struck a personal chord with him or what, but in my six years in the church youth group, this might have been the maddest I’d ever seen him. I remember him looking around the table, neck snapping from side to side like a hawk looking for his prey as he demanded to know who was responsible for the fake birthday thing. I don’t know if I confessed, because that doesn’t really seem like me, or if it was the more likely scenario of the look on my face of unconfined jubilation at how hilarious the situation was that gave me away, but somehow he found out it was me and proceeded to lecture me about how wrong it was for me to have done what I did. Apparently it was stealing since the slice of cake brought out by the waiter wasn’t added to the bill, and I’d committed the cardinal sin of lying. I was sixteen years old, and in my mind it was just a harmless prank, but unfortunately not everyone saw it that way. Regardless, despite making the youth minister angry, I found the whole situation incredibly funny, and it remains as one of favorite memories of Canada.
Happy Canada Day to our northern neighbors!