June 7, 2013 – I was walking over to Fort Calgary today, doing some last minute preparations for our upcoming Brush With Death stage show. On my way, I was passing by the East Village, and I saw our annual crop of little baby Prairie Dogs (aka ‘gophers’ to most non-Canadians) playing and rolling around in the grass, and I decided to take some video of it.
As I was videoing the little critters, an older gentleman came up and started explaining (enunciating, with lots of hand motions and simple words) that these were Richardson’s Ground Squirrels. I had to try very hard to keep a straight face, as he described how they get really fat by Autumn (puffing out his cheeks and using big belly gestures). He asked me if we have these in my country.
I then used my thickest cheesiest Chinese/Japanese/Korean accent (I am of Chinese descent, but I’ve never been able to fake a decent Chinese accent!) and replied, “Ah so desuka? no have, no have! Lound skwuwell? yummy?” We then debated the relative tastiness of tripe versus hotdogs… as best I could, with my nominal grasp of the English language. (By the way, I was born in England, and consider my English to be passable… apparently my high school agreed, as they gave me a few awards for top marks in my English courses…)
Before he departed, he bowed to me and welcomed me to Canada!
In my head, I was giggling so much, I couldn’t bring myself to shout out a good punchline (like, “Indubitably, my good sir”, or “Bienvenue à vous aussi, monsieur”, or something) without laughing. Instead, I did a nice deep bow back, and shouted, “Ni hao! Dzoy geen! Konbanwa!” Apparently, he didn’t notice that I was mixing Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese there, because he seemed quite happy that he was able to assist a travelling tourist in identifying these mysterious creatures.
I was tempted to video the whole conversation (especially as I had my phone pulled out anyways) but I was so busy trying to maintain an Asian accent, I couldn’t think of a way to ask if I could video him. However, I did finish videoing the little gopher. Check it out… he does something really cute at the end…