Dad is sitting at the head of the table, the New York Times spread out in front of him. The kids are eating cereal and bacon and watching cartoons. Mom bustles around pouring milk. It’s a cool, crisp, Wisconsin morning outside.
“Honey? Have you seen this thing in the newspaper?” Dad says.
“Which thing dear?” Mom says.
“This thing about Canada. Says here the Prime Minister threatened to bomb us again.”
“That’s just because of those sanctions. He’s been trying to trade maple syrup for nuclear technology again.”
Dad mutters to himself, skipping ahead in the article. “Ah yeah, I see that. You’re right. Where’d you hear about that?”
Mom pours herself another cup of coffee and tiredly sits down at the table. “They made a joke about it on the Late Show last night. Come on kids, now, make sure to finish up. The bus will be here in ten minutes.”
Dad frowns as he reads more of the article. “He’s saying something here about nuking the Eastern seaboard unless we start showing him some respect.” He laughs and looks up from the paper. “Ahh, Canada.”
Mom smiles. “I know. What is this, the fourth threat this year?”
“Fifth. Remember what happened when the UN caught that shipment of flannel and hockey pucks bound for Iran?”
Mom chuckles. “Oh, that’s right. What’s the top story, by the way?”
Dad flips to the front page and reads the headline. “Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to appear on Dancing with the Stars.”
“Ooh! That sounds fun!”
“And below that we’ve got, uh, looks like Charlie Sheen trashed a nightclub.”
Dad nods. Mom frowns. “Where was the Canada story?”
“Oh, like page three. International news.”
The kids grab book bags and jackets and dash out the door as the bus pulls up. Mom and Dad wave them off and sit back at the table to relax for a moment, before setting out on the business of the day.
“Does it ever bother you?” Mom asks.
“To live right next to a crazy person. I mean, he’s just over the border, being… crazy.”
“What? His Supreme Maple-y-ness? Naw.”
Mom snickered. “Did you make that up?”
“Nope. Its what Canadians call him.”
The snickering becomes open laughter. Dad joins in. After a moment, Mom settles back and grows a thoughtful expression.
“Still. He is crazy. Do you think maybe we should move?”
Dad shrugs. “Eh. Canada doesn’t have anything but flannel, maple syrup, and bacon. Oh and trees. Lots and lots of trees. Its a miracle they managed to get a nuclear program off the ground at all. Without regular shipments of food those poor people starve. Washington will start giving them aid again after this blows over and he’ll calm down.”
“That’s how it works.”
Mom nods. She sets down her coffee cup. “So, I’m sorry to change the subject, but while we have a moment, I wanted to talk about where you wanted to go for vacation this year. The kids and I have been thinking about New York City. We could see some shows, experience the city…”
Dad looks up, horrified. “Are you kidding? With all the crime there? That place is dangerous! How about we just go to the Mall of America again?”
This exact conversation played out all over South Korea this week… with a few minor, obvious differences of course.