TopperSunday, September 03, 2006
A few days ago my friend Paul Leisz and I were playing the horse name game. I thought I was ahead until Paul said, "Hopalong Cassidy's horse?" I just could not remember. I had to do, what all do, now, in the 21st century. I Googled Hopalong Cassidy.
I can safely say that the United States is here to stay because Americans have a language with the advantage that any word can be converted into a transitive verb. In Spanish we have many limitations. The verb roer (what a rodent does, chew or gnaw) in Spanish cannot be conjugated in the present tense, first person since, "I gnaw," would make me a rat or a mouse which I am not. So the Real Academia Española calls this a deffective verb, a verbo defectivo. It is almost impossible to translate into Spanish, "I was rear ended."
I think about Americans with affection. I had contact with them at an early age even though I was in Argentina. Consider that back in 1952 I was wearing a Hopalong Cassidy costume that had been given to me as a birthday gift, complete with the awesome cap gun. The happy young lady on the far right is Susan Stone. Her father was the general manager for General Motors in Latin America. Susan Stone often sent her father's Cadillac to pick me up at home so that we could play in her garden. My street friends could not figure out what Susan saw in me and neither did I. At 10 I was too naive to realize the benefits I had in going to an American school. It was at Susan's that I first saw a documentary showing oil derricks in Texas. I saw it on my first ever TV set. In 1952 I had never held a phone in my hand. This was something I was not to do until 1955 in Mexico.
While I feel Argentine in some deep corner of my heart, and I speak Spanish, sometimes with a Mexican accent, I have an intellectual attachment to the idea that I am a Canadian. I love my "new" country even though I have been here 30 years. Only recently did I stop feeling like a tourist in Vancouver.
I cringe when I read about Bush's latest utterings and I grieve for their lonely role as the world's policemen. Back in 1952 men were good if they wore white hats and they were bad if they wore a black one. The exception to the rule was William Boyd on Topper. Inside my Argentine being I must share some allegiance and love for all things Americans. I thought about all this while watching on Thursday the exquisite 1958 Western No Name on the Bullet with Audie Murphy. He wore a black hat but his attitude was certainly that of a man with a gray one. He was an American I can understand, accept, love and almost like.