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Strangely Patriotic

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Stop 1: Picking up Knives in Montreal, Quebec - Poutine Is Serious Business

Knives Chau. 18 years old. Poutine: Taquise - guacamole, sour cream and tomato (it’s delicious)
Kim Pine. 24 years old. Poutine: Kamikaze - saucisse merguez, piments forts et tabasco (whatever that means. Kim picked it for the name)
Ramona Flowers. 25 years old. Poutine: Mexicaine - hot peppers, tomato and black olives (who puts black olives on poutine?)

“Thanks for picking me up. McGill’s great, but I’m sooo excited for the road trip! I only wish Scott was coming.”

Kim poked at her food, “Knives is excited. Someone shoot me, I must be dreaming.”

“You mean ‘pinch me’, Kim,” Ramona corrected. “Not that I’m squeamish about violence.”

“Americans. How’s the poutine?”

“Really? French fries, gravy, cheese curds and all this other stuff? Lunch shouldn’t weigh fifty pounds.”

“Um, Ramona?” Knives ventured, “you said that a little loud. Lots of people in Montreal speak English too.”

All around the bright yellow room, hip French Canadians were standing up. Clearly, poutine was serious business. Ramona reached into her new subspace suitcase and pulled out a wooden club (+2 against hipsters) as Knives armed herself with table silverware. Kim just glared.

“When you said you weren’t squeamish about violence, I was hoping we could last at least an hour before getting into a fight.”

“I need to work off all this gravy, anyway,” Ramona said, pulling down her goggles over her eyes.


Stop 2: Portage la Prairie, Manitoba - Out, Damn Opiate!

“It’s called ‘Tallest Poppy Syndrome,’ and it’s totally real. People hate you for being awesome. Canadians really are not all that nice.”

Ramona considered her relationship with Scott, and then reconsidered Kim’s words as she picked up the fourth most gaudy pair of sunglasses the Dollerama had. The first and third didn’t protect against UVB, and the second had arms like horse blinders.

Putting on the blue frames, the two ladies continued up the isle. “Alright, if I am to believe you, Canadians hate those who succeed, because they themselves have not succeeded. And yet, you are still the golden nation in international politics.” They finished the trip down the isle and paid for the glasses already doing a stellar job of protecting Ramona’s eyes from UBA and UVB.

“You people get away with your seal clubbing and cultural segregation and,” gesturing around her, “your bus-murderers, and yet I still have to apologize for being American. To some of you people, granted. I guess most you are pretty alright.”

Ramona finished the statement considering her relationship with Scott, and the females she was on the road with. This contemplation was interpreted by a singular flying Knives glomping into Kim who then fell sideways into Ramona.

“I don’t know any people who kill buses. And even if they did, it probably wouldn’t have anything to do with their nationality. It would likely be because said person was disturbed in a mental or social manner. Though, said murderer would get psychological treatment to overcome said perturbations of their personality because of their nationality. Because we treat people for that, here. So they don’t murder more buses. Which is for the best, probably. Because mass transit is saving the world. Like our car-pooling road trip.” Knives rambled, not pausing for breath.

Knives had decided to get a Slurpee at every 7-11 they passed from the west side of Winnipeg until the Saskatchewan border. There was a running bet to see if her bladder or her kidneys would hate her more. Ramona had $12 on the bladder. Kim, along with – somehow– Wallace and Stacey, had $16 and four bronze buttons in a pot for the kidneys.

Kim was blunt. “What has University done to you?”

“You used to be this sweet little thing,” Ramona lamented.

“To be fair, Scott warped her brain first,” Kim pointed out.

“Scott didn’t warp my brain! If anyone warped my brain, it was you, Kim!”

Ramona was confused. “Wait, what?”

Kim paused, "And yet, now I'm feeling strangely patriotic."


Stop 3: Edmonton, Alberta - I Am A Hipster!

The door slammed open, rebounded off the wall, and would have closed again but it was stopped by a determined foot before it got the chance. “You guys,” the owner of the foot announced, “I have found myself.”

“Hi, Knives,” Kim and Ramona chorused, without looking up. They were hanging upside down over the side of the hotel room bed, because Kim was trying to access the sub-space highway and Ramona claimed that it was easier to get in the first few times if you let all the blood rush to your head first. Kim had been a lot more dubious before she drank all the little bottles of tequila from the mini bar.

Knives advanced into the room. There was something different –

“Are you,” Ramona asked, then stopped. “Knives,” she tried again in a level and rhetorical tone, “Are you wearing a knit sweater with ducks on it.”

“Yes,” Knives said, happily. “And would you like to know why?”

“I have a feeling I already know the answer to this,” Ramona said, but flipped into an upright position anyway, ignoring Kim’s faint, “Hey.”

“I,” Knives said, pausing for dramatic effect, “am a hipster.”

There was a snort from somewhere in Kim’s vicinity. “I hate to break it to you Knives, but this is not a surprise.”

“No no no,” Knives said, “hear me out. I’ve decided that I am a sincere hipster! Not an ironic hipster. Love whatever you want to love and I will hardly mock you for it at all,” she said expansively, and flopped down on the bed next to Ramona. Kim made a muffled sound of protest as the bed bounced a bit, making her head bob up and down unpleasantly.

“I have to go throw up now,” Kim said, struggling off the bed and stumbling to the bathroom.

“See, road trips are all about self-discovery!” Knives said, and clasped one of Ramona’s hands in both of her own.

“Kim, how did this happen? More importantly, how do I make it stop?” Ramona called.

“She’s legal drinking age now. In Alberta, anyway.” Kim replied when she could speak again.

“Guys!” Knives exclaimed, “let’s sell the car and we can bike back home!”

Ramona got her hand free from Knives and reached for subspace suitcase. “If it’s alcohol, she’ll sleep it off, but I’d rather deal with this quickly,” she said, pulling out her anti-hipster club (+2 against hipsters) and cracked Knives over the head with it.

Knives looked stunned. Then she looked down at what she was wearing and started to scream.


Stop 4: Somewhere on the BC highway #3, between Sparwood and Fernie, British Columbia – Into the West

After that weird stopover in Edmonton when Knives ripped off her duck sweater and set fire to it in front of their hotel while half-naked in a manner reminiscent of bra burnings, things were a little tense. Kim and Knives both had splitting headaches the next day, for obvious reasons, and were more then a little irritable. Then Ramona admitted that she’d taken the subspace highway back to Toronto to visit Scott a few times.

“I don’t see what the problem is,” Ramona pointed out, as she drove. “Neither of you ever noticed I was gone, so clearly you enjoy each other’s company.”

From the backseat, beside Knives who was fast asleep, Kim actually blushed, but didn’t stop her attack. “I’m sorry Scott couldn’t get time off work, but this was supposed to be a girls trip.”

“You know Scott’s attention span isn’t long enough to finish eating cheeseburger,” Ramona retorted. “Unless there’s a video game involved.”

“Oh please. He moped over you for months. Months. He’s not going to forget you in a few weeks.”

“He’s not the only one who moped for months,” Ramona muttered, “I’m not good at this commitment thing yet. I’m trying. This is me trying.”

“You’re trying, Scott’s trying, Knives and I are trying. We’re all trying.” Kim paused, then sighed. “So how’s Scott?”

“He wrote another song for me. It almost sounds good.”

Kim and Ramona continued talking for a while, then Kim fell asleep against Knives.

It was, for Ramona, a comfortable circumstance to be driving in silence on a winding mountain road, alone in her peripheral vision, but with the knowledge of what was behind her.