Bob was always interesting to watch television with. He always saw allegories and metaphors in the oddest places, and loved sharing them. I suspect he was the kid the English teachers loved, and the rest of us hated. While we were scratching our heads wondering what on Earth the author was trying to say in a book, Bob was spouting off fantastic ideas as though they should have been completely obvious to all of us.
We were sitting in the dayroom, watching old reruns of “Home Improvement” when Bob had one of his epiphanies. “Bravo,” he said at the commercial break. “A brilliant play on international politics!”
“I thought we were watching silly old comedy shows to forget about politics,” I said.
“That’s the beauty of it! This is so masterfully done, most people would never catch on that they’re getting political commentary!”
“Political commentary? Um, the Tool Man just asked his neighbor for advice, misunderstood most of what he was told, and did more grunting than conversing. I didn’t see anything political.”
“Oh, come on; you don’t get it? Seriously? Think about it; Wilson is Canada. It’s so obvious!”
I knew I was going to regret asking. “Wilson, the nut-job neighbor, is Canada? How did you reach that conclusion?”
“You’re kidding, right? Look; throughout the show, Wilson is only perceived as a nut-job. In almost every show, though, he’s up to something that looks completely weird to his neighbor, but that he’s always doing well. He’s smart, competent, wise, a good neighbor, doesn’t cause trouble, and yet, is never really seen in the show. Not once, in all the episodes that they aired, did they show the actor’s full face until the final bow of the finale.”
“That half-hidden face thing was just a running gag in the show.”
“It was genius, I tell you! Just as Tim Taylor never really sees Wilson’s face, so also most Americans never really look at Canada. We know our neighbor is there, but we don’t take the time to see him.”
“So Tim Taylor is America, then?”
“More like the American Government, I’d say. Supremely confident, marginally competent, and just as likely to mess things up as to fix them. If it wasn’t for Al, who is kind of like the average American worker, Tim would never accomplish anything. Wilson, on the other hand, is always there in his back yard, quietly going about his own business, and is only really thought about when he’s needed. You know, like Canada.”
I was glad we weren’t watching “Two and a Half Men”; I didn’t want to even think about what kind of political metaphors Bob would find in the innuendo and scatological humor of that show. Innuendo? Scatological? Yikes; now I’m starting to use college words like Bob does. Maybe I should see if the Three Stooges are on.
“Canada isn’t the star of the show,” Bob continued. “It just borders on our back yard, comporting itself with quiet dignity and staying out of trouble, while we bumble about and think ourselves superior. Yet, no matter what, Canada is always there at the fence, with that friendly greeting of ‘Hi-dee-ho, good neighbor!”
“Well, except for maybe Quebec, which is more likely to say, ‘bonjour mes amis.”
He didn’t miss a beat. “It makes you wonder what Wilson ever got out of the deal.”
“They did have that assurance that, if the Soviet Union ever came across Alaska to North America, we’d have to deal with them first.”
“Hmm…” he said. “I’ll have to watch the show some more and see if any Cold War metaphors show up. You may be on to something.”
I was on to something, all right. I was on to a rerun of Mythbusters on another channel. I’d like to see Bob come up with political metaphors for two guys blowing stuff up just to test urban legends.
Wilson equals Canada, yeah…
…then again, he might just be on to something, too.
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