What’s the Difference?

A friend sent me the following joke:

A Jew and a Chinese man were seated next to each other at a bar when suddenly the Jew punched the Chinese man hard on the shoulder.

“Ouch,” said the Chinese man: “Why’d you do that?”

The Jew answered: “I just remembered, today’s the day Pearl Harbour was attacked.”

“But that was the Japanese,” said the Chinese man.

“Chinese, Japanese – what’s the difference?” the Jew asked, whereupon the Chinese man punched him.

“Hey, what was that for?” the Jew asked.

“That was for the sinking of the Titanic,” said the Chinese man.

“But it was sunk when it ran into an iceberg,” said the Jew.

“Iceberg, Goldberg – what’s the difference?” said the Chinese man.

When I was in college I took off for parts known. I went to England and Scotland. My friend Lyn French and I traveled for one week to the west of England and one week to Scotland. The last week I spent in London bopping about.

We stayed in hostels and went to pubs and met many people. We were invited to a few parties and were at one too late to get back to the hostel. This guy, trusting two unknown Canadian girls, gave us the keys to his flat and said we could stay there as he was staying at his girlfriend’s. We spent a night freezing with no blankets and no heat in a typical cold and wet April.

It might have been that party or another one, where the following conversation relates to the joke above. In Scotland we were at this party and of course people asked us where we were from. From Canada, we said. “Oh, hey I have a friend/relative in Toronto. Jimmy, do you know him?”

I would pull out a map and say, “Here’s is Canada, and this is Alberta, one province. It’s the same size of all of Great Britain.”

Then this one guy kept saying I was American and I said, no, I’m Canadian. “What’s the difference?” he asked.

So I put it in words he could understand. I said, “Okay, you’re Irish.” I didn’t have to say it too many times before he started calling me Canadian.



Filed under Culture, Ireland, Writing

3 responses to “What’s the Difference?

  1. Given how Americans are generally thought of abroad, I had no qualms about being mistaken for Canadian while in Europe.

  2. colleenanderson

    This was years ago but I guess even more true these days. Even when I went there was some dislike or attitude toward Americans. It wasn’t helped at all by this Texan Shakespearean troop in one town who wandered around the streets openly asking everyone for pot and were fairly obnoxious in the pub.

    I have many dear friends who are American and not (what I think is the generally perceived notion) rude or brashly arrogant. Unfortunately George Bush has undermined so much on how the world sees Americans. I always like to look at the individual and not paint a group with the same brush.

  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Uncapitalized

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