by Nic Olson
I think I just realized something about myself that most people likely already knew before. I am getting to know myself better, and the relationship between myself and myself could have started out better.
I’m an arrogant prick.
When I was in the Southern United States I learned about Texas. About how it was once a Republic of its own and how this has bred a group of people, an entire state, that has some sort of extra Texan pride that no one else can understand. A sort of nationalism within a nationalism. Can’t get much worse. But after a while I felt like I could understand where they were coming from. I could care less that I’m Canadian, really, not to say that I don’t understand my luck to live in a place like this, but I am happier telling people that I’m from Saskatchewan, if they know where it is. It seemed to me that people from Saskatchewan held a stronger pride in their province than those from anywhere else, except maybe Alberta. People from elsewhere in Canada would be comfortable enough saying that they were from Canada, while those from Saskatchewan might want to ad an asterisk, or the world’s new asterisk, #Saskatchewan.
While on the road I would start telling people I’m from Canada. This would satisfy ninety percent of people who asked where I was from. The other ten percent would ask where in Canada, and I would say Saskatchewan to avoid the looming gynaecological city discussions, and ninety percent of this ten percent would smile and ask if it was near Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. I would respond that it was somewhere in the middle of Toronto and Vancouver, a significant gap to be sure, but easier than trying to explain the location of a province with the population equal to a single block in their city. The final one percent that knew Saskatchewan asked what city, then I would tell them, and then maybe even mention where I was born and where I lived most of my childhood. Start broad, end specific.
I have had similar feelings surrounding my birth month. I always had this impression that people born in October had some sort of connection to one another, that we had some aura about us that no one else did, and that coming out of the womb into the chilled air with the smell of decaying leaves in our lungs, that we somehow meant something more than someone born in the meaningless month of July. I recently realized that this feeling was just born in me, thinking that I am greater than the rest of the population because I and several other friends were born within the same fictitious set of thirty one days, as if the Gregorian calendar knew something about us that others never could understand.
I think similar things have developed in my immediate family. I have heard reference to ‘The Olson Vibe’ in the past, which has always worried me when I hear about it. Someone once described it to me as, ‘a certain coolness’, but others, more blunt, have described it as, ‘basically thinking you are better than everyone else.’ At times I notice an instance that people may consider to be part of this ‘vibe’, and I sincerely hope that it is nothing more than an introversion mixed with a timidity and an anti-conformism. I hope that it isn’t an arrogance or vanity. We are just quiet and sometimes seem rude.
The word entitlement has found it’s way into my vocabulary lately. I use it negatively about people that feel they deserve something when I feel that they do not. Then I realize that I subconsciously think that I deserve a certain treatment, that I am entitled to be shown respect, when I do not. I always felt like I was worth more because I was born in between imaginary lines on a map, in an imaginary month on a calendar, into an imaginary system ruled by paternal surnames. My birthright.
Now I am working on meekness and humility. I am learning that although it is nice that I’m from Saskatchewan, that I was born in the month of October as an Olson, that it doesn’t mean a damned thing, and it doesn’t make me any taller than the man next to me born in Manitoba in the month of July as a Falloon.
I am entitled to an old man spitting a mixture of hot coffee and phlegm in my face. Filtered through his rotting teeth.
Or at least I’m not entitled to anything more or less than my neighbour. Maybe thats it.