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Mailbag: My Odyssey In Search of an Article Subject at the Heart of the Death of the Canadian Dream


I wasn’t really sure what it was. The Canadian Dream. Sounded like cheap liquor. I should back up.

I was at a loss for what to write in today’s article so I asked for reader suggestions. I got several and found others stashed away in our trusty mail bag.

“Make your bed!!”

“jan terri”


“And/or cats.”

“Pine scented things that aren’t pine related”

“The decline of the Canadian Dream”

I had several options now but still was unsure. The reader insisting we do a story either about or instructing our other readers to make their beds was most tenacious and as such I took his suggestion into serious consideration. I contacted Stanley.

“Stanley, we should do a series of articles on ‘Make your bed!'”

Stanley has not responded. I’m not sure I would respond to such a message myself.

I am still without an article topic. I texted a close confidante: “Should I just go ahead and do the article on the bed making? And do you know anything about something called ‘The Canadian Dream?'”

I then remembered I had an article I’d written, a fictional portrait loosely based on a neighbor I’d had in Brooklyn. When he moved there, he got into the habit of stapling empty cereal boxes on his wall as he would consume the cereal in them. The wall grew to be entirely covered in cereal boxes, several stapled to two layers. He would tell me that he’d wake up certain mornings lacking confidence, thinking he’d never done anything. He’d then look at the flattened boxes and think “I have done something! Something at least…” He dealt with hazardous materials as an inspector and aspired to someday be certified to inspect for asbestos. Asbestos was the tops. “Someday I’ll get that asbestos gig,” he’d frequently say.

It was a very good article but I seem to have misplaced it somewhere. So I went back to the subject of the Canadian Dream. I wasn’t sure what the Canadian Dream was. When I was younger, my father and uncle would call the strip clubs near Buffalo, NY “the Canadian Ballet”. Were they related?

I asked my sister what the Canadian Dream was. She just replied “I figured they limited their aspirations, out of politeness.”

My knowledge of pancakes limited, my interest in cats scant. Any article I might hope to produce on either would be embarrassing, jejune. Any knowledge combining the two couldn’t fully escape the trappings of the disturbing dietary fantasy genre.  A bind.

Annoyance at the packaging of pine scents together objects unrelated to pine is a well known problem, but I fear too much vitriol has been thrown on the subject for mine to do much now. I believe it best left in the hands of congress and the authorities.

I was stumbling further and further from my object. I heard that my old friend had finally been promoted to handling asbestos. I was still without an article. I wrote this to whittle away the time before inspiration came.

I could never be allowed to know the Canadian Dream, for I was sitting at it’s heart.