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Gino

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Readers, I want to bring you into a more serious, cynical article than the kind I usually bring you. I try not to depress or enrage my readers, and I might do this for the first time, but I'll try to put in as many jokes as possible.
 
Do you, my fair reader, know much about Saskatchewan? We're a province in Canada that is shaped like an oblong rectangle. Neighbouring province Alberta routinely takes a huge shit on our province's integrity. We are Saskatchewan. Do any of you remember the Simpsons episode where Homer and Grandpa go to Canada to get medicine? There was a pharmicist who jokes that one drug "will make Regina look like Saskatoon." Now, that makes sense only to us...Regina, our capital, is probably the worst place in Canada. Saskatoon's cool, but all the snoot-ass Ontarios are moving to Saskatoon. Also, nobody has a "Canadian Accent". That mainstream accent is actually a Newfoundlander ("Newfie") accent.
 
Are we up to speed? Righty-O.
 
Saskatoon is a terrible place to be if you do not fall into any of the following groups, not counting "white":
  • Native/Aboriginal/theywereherefirst
  • Black
  • French
  • East-Indian
  • Middle-Eastern
  • Asian (they'll love you here)
  • hick
Those are just racial groups; I'm not counting age or sexual categories. Did you know that transexualism is considered a mental disease up here? And that a lesbian couple got beaten up by a man when the two women went to pick up their son from school? I'm just saying.
You can get shit for being a part of any gender, too. There's multiple radio ads for Bob's Traxx Footwear, where two women who sound the same complain that men don't understand their shoe obsession. But behold! BOB understands them! (Of course he does...these two women are paying for his retirement) The ads always end with the women going off to Bob's to fuck a shoe. "'Cause Bob's the man", the women always say at the end.
Or Visions Electronics. Do any of you ladies wanna buy a TV? Well fuck you, Visions is convinced that all women are out to destroy men's dreams of owning a large television. The ads always start with the same voice actor talking to, or describing, what The Woman is doing to keep you dudes from getting a TV. Oh, those crazy women! Always nagging, cooking and fucking shoes!
As for males, there are many, many ads (especially for Canadian Tire) where men are shown as bumbling idiots who can't even handle a shovel. But of course, a snarky middle-aged woman with all the answers is there to correct her idiot husband's mistakes. Funny. The one I hate the most shows a couple describing how dark their house was (get a flashlight or a porchlight!), and how many times Mr. Wrong injured himself and their cat outside. At the end, he turns to the floor and says "Isn't that right, Toodles?" There's a faint stock audio clip of a feral cat snarling. The same noise in all the cartoons...feral. This guy would have to have been regularly stomping on, stabbing and crushing this cat for it to hate you enough to make that noise. You'd have to be breaking its fucking spine for it to be yowling like that. I hate Canadian Tire.
 
One last example...there used to be an Austrailian guy named Steve who owned a nutritional store. There were a few radio ads where Steve Himself described all the people who admiringly came to his store. (Probably because there are no other Australians in town, and they wanted to see one up close.) When Steve moved to Vancouver, the ads continued...with a recognizable radio actor doing the worst Australian accent ever.
 
And then, there's Italians.
 
I have to say, they get the worst stereotypes out here, simply because there's none of them to complain. The biggest offender is Wiseguy's Mattresses, a mattress store between a gas station and a Humpty Dumpty's restaurant. Each ad starts with Godfather-style music, followed by a guy trying to sound like he has a stiff jaw and an Italian-American accent. Then, another guy comes in with a squeaky voice, calling the first one "Boss". They make shitty jokes about being in the Mafia, whacking people, and other things that The Sopranos led us to believe. One ad had Douchey McBossman saying "My daughter's going to beauty college." How stereotypical can you get? The station's been changing the actors, but the new guys stink...the worse the actor, the bigger the insult.
 
The reason this makes me mad is because of a kid named Gino Binachi.

In late June 2008, around the time school had ended, I had gone downtown to one of the bookstores. I went in and started looking for more Astro Boy comics, found none, and went off to the Captain Harlock section to debate whether or not to buy the American version for a review. Out of nowhere, a rough little voice says, "Is that Harlock? Can I see?"
 
 
I turned and saw this short, lanky boy with messy reddish-brown hair. My first thought was 'Oh crap, I don't wanna talk to this kid...'
I said, "Yes. It's Harlock. It's an American version, though." I handed it to him, and he stared at it in surprise. Then, for some reason, he asked what my favorite anime was. I have too many to name, so I think I just said "everything by Osamu Tezuka, Sailor Moon and some others." He excitedly replied that he likes Sailor Moon too, along with Princess Knight, Dragonball and something called Majokko Megu-Chan. This boy, who introduced himself a moment later, had just come back from Italy.
 
Gino's dad was Italian-Canadian, previously living in Toronto. He was no different from the average Italian in Brooklyn, or whatever your stereotypes project. His wife kept going to visit her hometown in Italy, usually Gino with her, so Gino had spent 2/3 his life in Palmero. And, Italy is one of the lucky countries that gets all sorts of cute and insane 80's animes (even Dr. Slump!) that were neglected by the American licensers. Who cares about Starblazers and that show about the robot lions that morph into a Transformer clone? Majokko Megu-Chan was about a hot witch girl who learned magic, hid out in a mortal city, and gave regular fan service. But, Gino just watched it because he liked slapstick. He had then-recently turned 13, and was completely naiive! He was awesome, as I discovered, despite talking to him for only seven minutes or so. But since I used to be such a nervous (and insensitive) girl, I claimed I had to get back to my brother's Tae Kwon Do meet. I left, and had a surplus of five minutes waiting at the meet. Damn.
 
I went by the bookstore again, two days later, just to kill time. The bookstore was on the same block as a Harley Davidson outlet, where Gino's father worked. Gino and his dad were talking to some fat guy in leather at the front of the store. Gino spotted me immediately, and hobbled over to talk to me. I saw his dad that one time, and he looked like Senbei from the early part of Dr. Slump. The family was like one giant cartoon.
 
Gino wanted to show me another bookstore a block away (which I had already known about, but I let him lead me anyway). As we were walking, he said to me, and I'm typing exactly what was said...
 
"Do (a) you go t' school nearby?"
"No...my school's on the other side of the river."
"Oh...I...never mind, I was (a) gonna get you t' talk off these guys."
"What guys?"
"The ones (a) makin' fun a' me."
"Is it because you like anime?" (I should have phrased this better.)
"No...it's cause a' my accent."
 
I've put his "accent" in brackets. It was very, very faint when he said "ah". Screw your "I'm-ah make-ah you a nice-ah pizza-pie-ah." So, I was disgusted with the guys Gino described, and he went on to tell me of an ad on the radio that made his father mad. Now see, there's a restaurant called J.D. Peppercorns. I don't know why they'd want an ad with a mafia guy, because I don't usually associate the mafia with whatever the hell a "peppercorn" is. Anyway, a man with a gravelly voice and bad accent comes on and tells the listener that "after a long day", it's best to go to the aforementioned restaurant. They reveal that they have two new dishes that happen to be Italian, presumably called "What's A Peppercorn" and "What the Fuck Am i Eating". Making it worse, the ad ends with the guy saying "Heh-heh, the Boss says so."
 
Gino told me that his dad actually found it really, really appalling, and brought a wrench down on his pocket radio. He said (and I know this, because Gino helped me write it down), "Cosa c'č di sbagliato con loro?!" We went to the bookstore and didn't talk about this for a while. Gino bought some picture book about a cartoon walrus, then we went seperate ways. A few hours later, I heard the J.D. Peppercorns ad for the first time, and I couldn't have been more disgusted.
 
It only ran for about four months, so I like to think someone complained.
 
 
I went back over a week later, but a little off-schedule of when I'd usually see Gino. I passed by the King George Parkade and saw Gino with two guys: a tall, zit-faced boy in a Hawaiian shirt, and a big Métis guy dressed like a wannabe-rapper. I couldn't hear much, but they were walking closer to him, and the tall one called Gino a "dago". Then the big guy asked if Gino's dad was really fixing motorcycles, or if he were trying to run a Mafia-based crack-smuggling operation through the motorcycle outlet. He said, "I bet you're doing that. No one needs fuckin' dagoes runnin' around town." The tall one said they didn't need a Mafia around, just the Young Bloodz (whom, might I add, are a group of Aboriginal gangster-wannabes who do nothing more than stupid hoodlum things, like breaking or stealing things, spray-painting, and tying shoes to telephone wires).
 
I got mad. I think I just walked over and said, "What are you doing to him? Stop that." Gino shouted my name, and if anything, he looked incredibly relieved. The guys looked at Gino, smirked, and the big one said, "So she does exist!" They walked off and went into the alley. Gino and I walked off towards the bookstore, and I think those guys stopped to watch us for a moment. Gino confirmed that those were the guys who were bothering him, and they had just been telling him that his accent was the reason he had no friends. I was still wondering what the Métis guy had meant about me, and I think I said, "So you told them I was your friend?" I remember being really, really happy then.
"No," Gino said. "I told them you were my girlfriend."
 
 
Now, there are a few things you shouldn't do with platonic female friends. That is one of them.
I was very touchy about it then, but I'll always have an extreme dislike of when I get a male friend, only to have him become attracted to or enamoured with me. It happened a damn lot when I was a kid, believe it or not - I befriend someone really funny and interesting, only to become a possible poontang. Was Gino really in love with me? I hope not, and I don't like to think so; he was two years younger than me. If you were on the street about the time he said this, here's what you may have seen:
 
 
Everything sped up...I said something about "don't tell people that" and "you're younger than me", and tried to walk away. Gino was pulling on my arm, apologizing, and I shouted at him to let go. He complied immediately, because both of us must have noticed our proximity to the CTV Station. I left on this:
"Are you comin' back?"
"Fine; sure. Maybe next week." And then I left.
 
I did go back the week after, but Gino looked and acted nervous. He didn't leave the block, and wouldn't exactly give me a reason. But he proudly informed me that the antagonists were scared away from the shop; apparently they had the idea to shove Gino down in front of the Harley Davidson outlet without knowing Gino's dad worked there. His dad ran screaming out of the shop with two burly guys behind him, and while his dad helped Gino stand up, the bikers chased the boys up the street. The bikers didn't hurt them, just scared them off...and then someone at the Dry Cleaners called the police. Gino described it really enthusiastically, but when I suggested we go look at the new dollar store...he didn't want to leave. Then his mother came out, and I had to introduce myself.
 
I didn't go back until two weeks later, and I found Gino's dad at the front of the outlet, cleaning a motorcycle's chain. I asked him where Gino was, and he simply said he was at home. He also explained that the family was thinking of moving to Red Deer, Alberta, and test out the city for a month. He said he told his boss that the move was for his wife's career. But he added, this being verbatim, "Don't tell anyone this, but...this place isn't too good, y'know. We're gettin' crap for bein' Italian. Is this happenin' to anyone else? I get 'Mambo Italiano' sung to me so many times..."
I said something to the effect of "The Hindus and Koreans are made fun of here, too."
He said that those people were generally immigrants, direct from wherever they were from. He said his parents were Canadian and Italian, and he felt his family should get as much respect as a "whole Canadian". It was all quiet, and I started to feel awkward. I started to leave, and asked if he could tell Gino that I was there. He said he would, smile and wave. Then I went home.

A while after, I went back to the outlet while waiting for the bus, but it was closed. Gino's dad had probably stopped working there a week before. The Binachi family was almost certainly in Red Deer, possibly to be taunted again, and forced to move back to Toronto. I hate Toronto.
 
What am I trying to say? I could go on for a paragraph about equality and how disgusting our North American stereotypes are right now, but I'll leave you with this...
 
 
Come and be enlightened.
 
 
 
 
CLICK ON THIS RESTAURANT THAT PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE OUT HERE BECAUSE NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE REALLY KNOW ABOUT ITALY AND ARE OKAY WITH ADS THAT SAY MARIO LIKE "MAY-RIO"-- just click on it.

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