Remember last year when I went to England? It was an all-night vigil waiting to get into the ground floor Food Halls at Harrods and only the fortunate few actually got to the floor where they sell the cashmere sweaters. There were so many Americans spending money in Britain that a kind of surliness developed among the sales clerks, doormen and waiters. Popsie Tribble disguised herself as a Canadian by wearing a maple leaf pin and claimed she received a kinder response.
I went back to Harrods this year and wandered through the empty aisles -- three sales girls leapt at me where the knitted goods are sold. They bore enough cashmere to clothe every socialite who's been in or out of "W" in the last 5 years.
I'm glad Americans aren't going to Europe. Or the Soviet Union. For a couple of weeks after the Libyan thing I was astonished to read that some Americans decided Russia was the place to go because there were no terrorists on its airplanes. But then there was Chernobyl, and now there's only one place left to go: Canada.
Beverly, I pray that your mall will be filled with muffin and bagel buyers from every state in the nation.
Even Popsie is thinking of going to non-chic Canada. But she's not taking any chances.
"How safe are your nuclear reactors?" she asked.
"We use heavy water," I answered. "Ten out of 10 in the Consumer Guide. Graphite gets zero. And heavy water is better than light water."
"Who uses light water?" Popsie asked.
Actually I felt myself in deep water during this conversation so I was glad when Popsie dropped the subject.
"What about terrorists?"
"So far so good," I said, crossing fingers. "It's hard for terrorists to tell the difference between Americans and Canadians. Unless you wear that maple leaf pin. Canadians don't wear them much in their own country."
"What's the exchange rate like?"
"We're 70 cents to your dollar. Think mink, think fisher, think raccoon. You can buy three coats for every one in the States. As a matter of fact, Beverly wrote me that she has six raccoons in her attic. She'll give them to you for nothing if you pay for the U-haul."
"If she had sables squatting in her attic I wouldn't be interested. I'm more interested in this acid rain business. Is there any truth in it?"
"Could you be more precise?" I asked.
"I don't want to visit lakes that are polluted by acid rain, whatever that may be. However, Dexter tells me that there are several very respectable congressmen who claim acid rain does not exist, that acid rain is a hallucination of the Canadian imagination."
"We must be getting somewhere," I said, "if Americans admit that Canadians have imaginations. Let me explain. If a congressman comes from a coal-burning state, especially if it borders on Canadian lakes, acid rain does not exist. If, however, a congressman or senator comes from a tourist industry state with lakes, forests, etc., acid rain worries him more than your deficit."
"What about your food?" Popsie asked. "Do I have to eat seal flipper pie for every meal?"
"Seal flipper pie is a Newfoundland specialty. A regional dish, something like your Louisiana catfish gumbo. Or fried bread in Britain."
"Fried bread isn't regional in England," Popsie muttered.
"If you go to New Brunswick you might get to eat poutine rappee, which is kind of a boiled mashed potato ball with a suprise inside. It tastes best with maple syrup and ketchup," I reassured her. "Or if you go to Alberta you might be offered prairie oysters as a change from beef."
"I don't like the sound of prairie oysters."
"Listen," I said, "don't worry. Whether you go to Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal, you'll get your favorite dish: spinach salad with dressing on the side."
Popsie looked less gruntled. "How's the plumbing in Canada?"
"Plumbing!" I was hurt. "Do you believe our country is still in the age of wee hoosies?"
"I really don't want to know what a wee hoosie is," she said. "I just hope you don't have those long pull chains and water tanks that spray on my hairdo."
"We have impeccable plumbing and all our toilet tanks are at the level of your waist."
"We just might go," Popsie said, mollified. "But Dexter says we're having a war with you."
I was a bit startled, Beverly. "You mean there's fighting?"
"Only in the business section of the newspapers, and a few editorial pages. About shingles and shakes. What are they?"
"The shingles you mention are not the disease but for putting on a roof. I'm not sure about the shakes," I said truthfully.
"Anyway," Popsie said, "there's talk of retaliation on both sides."
"Don't underestimate us. As long as you don't ban Canadians from Florida and Hawaii in the wintertime, we can put up with almost anything."
Your best friend, Sondra