Dear Other Former British Colonies,

So New Zealand’s thinking of changing their flag to take out the Union Jack, huh? I also heard a rumor that Australia was thinking of loosening their ties with the mother country. It’s the very same “mother” that kicked them out eighty years ago, but hey, baby steps.  Kind of like when Greg Brady moved his room to the attic. And maybe, if either of these moves prove successful, Canada can take its rightful role of “America’s Hat” instead of “Britain’s Toddler.”

As an arrogant American, if any of this happens, I’d be the first one to say “Welcome to the eighteenth century.”

Early in my teaching career, during one of the seemingly bi-annual budget cuts that schools go through, I started looking at which other countries would accept my teaching credential. When I looked at New Zealand, which I had once spent three days in and absolutely loved, I was disappointed that there was no reciprocity with the United States. They WOULD accept a Canuck Credential, or Aussie or South Africa or any number of other nationalities’. But not a Yank.

I tried to bribe a Canadian official with some maple syrup (“Have you met my friend, Aunt Jemima?”), but no luck.

Those other countries are deemed as “culturally similar” to New Zealand, but the United States is not. Evidently the whole “former British colony” didn’t seep into a people’s culture until 1850.

The whole “asking for your independence” thing makes the Commonwealthers aghast. There’s a certain cultural element to waiting until your parents kick you out of the house. I’m sure we Americans were probably a bit too brash – screaming at our parents and running away from home while still in our formative pre-teen years. But really, Kiwis? Y’all waited till your parents converted your bedroom into a game room. Then you still asked if you could just live in the garage.

And none of you three are even independent now. How do I know? Because you still depend on your parents for money.

And last I checked, all y’all still have the Queen on your money.

You also still celebrate the Queen’s birthday. Although you can’t seem to agree on when said birthday is, and it is nowhere near the actual Queen’s birthday, but that’s a post for another time.

I don’t mean to call the three of you out, but you are aware that Fiji finally got around to taking her off their money, right? This is the same Fiji that proudly made up the phrase “Fiji Time,” meaning “when we get around to it.”

“I thought the bus was supposed to get here at 7:30.”

“Ya, da bus get here at Fiji Time.”

Those people beat you to the whole “putting our own people on our currency” by six years and counting. No pressure.

So the Queen’s still on your money after, what, 85 years of independence? That’s a serious question. When did you three become independent? I tried googling Canadian Independence and Google just laughed at me. Then it gave me a whole range of dates, some as early as 1867, some as late as 1982.

But the year 1931 seems to be a regularly agreed upon date. I assume that’s when Britain made you start paying rent. The earlier date was when she told you to get a job, and it wasn’t until 1982 that you had to start paying for your own insurance.

What? You guys don’t have to pay for insurance? What the fuck?

Regardless, just like you aren’t really an adult until you have your own place, you aren’t really a country until you have money featuring people that live there.

Fortunately, I can help you out with that. After all, I’ve visited ALL THREE countries we are discussing. I don’t think there could be any more qualified person on this planet, Kiwi Teacher Credential Board be damned.

Besides, having an American condescendingly tell you how to run things is another one of those “rites of passage” for being a real country.

Since the Queen is currently among the living, I can only assume you aren’t tied down by that pesky “must be dead to be on our money” rule that ties us down in the United States. If we didn’t have this restriction, I’m sure Britney Spears would be leading Harriet Tubman in that “which woman are we going to put on the three-dollar bill” debate.

So it’s a good thing you guys don’t have that rule. Because I’m not sure I could name any historical figures from any of your countries. Wait, the Crocodile Hunter is dead, right?

So without further ado…

Canada: This one’s a little bit tougher than at first glance. The natural assumption would be to pick a hockey player. That’s the first thing that people think of when they hear Canada. And from what we hear, they are even more popular inside Canada than they are outside.

Sorry, Canada, I meant “ootside.”

There are other Canadian sports figures, too. I would suggest a curler, but the more logical person would be Steve Nash.  Not only is he a Canadian athlete, but also owns gyms throughout Canada. On the road to Vancouver, there is a Steve Nash Sports Club right next to a Tim Horton’s, and I think that spot right there is the most Canada spot on the Earth. The only thing that could make it more Canadian would be if, instead of an exact address, it was “Aboot 250 Centre Street.”

Wait, is Tim Horton a real person who can go on your money?

Outside of sports, Canada is known for a number of actors, especially comedians. I think roughly half of the SNL members have been Canucks. It’s a seriously impressive list: Dan Akroyd, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Martin Short, Phil Hartman, Norm MacDonald, John Candy, Seth Rogan. Shit, even Dana Carvey was born in Montana, which is effectively Canada.

But how would you even begin to pare that list down? Plus, the unfortunate fact is that most of their memorable characters aren’t Canadian. Mike Myers is known for an English secret agent, a Scottish ogre, and a teenager from Ohio. Dan Akroyd plays an alien and Norm MacDonald was last seen as a dead Kentucky Colonel.

Music? Bryan Adams defined the 1980s and Alanis Morissette took over the 1990s, but they haven’t been heard from since. A friend of mine told me that Rush was Canadian, which I found surprising. Not that Rush has a particular nationality, only that someone would think of Rush when discussing Canada. Or discussing music. Or really at any time, ever. My biggest problem with the book Ready Player One was how the the guy who created the game was a huge Rush fan. Nobody, I thought, is actually a Rush fan. Much less a big Rush fan.

But wouldn’t it be ironic if Canada put Alanis Morissette on their money? Don’t ya think?

Yeah, I’m going with the obvious one here, Canada. Wayne Gretzky’s going on your money. Maybe Mark Messier and Patrick Roy can go on different denominations

New Zealand: Ooo, this one’s a toughie. Google’s already laughed at me once today. I’m not even sure Wikipedia could help me find any famous New Zealanders.

My own personal famous Kiwi was the cute blonde that worked at the Zorb run when I visited, but I don’t think she was quite currency-ready.

You could put the kiwi bird on there. Or the kiwi fruit. Maybe a kiwi bird eating a kiwi fruit? But that sounds more like the back of money. The front really ought to have a person.

You could put the All Blacks on your currency. I’m sure the average Kiwi would know who they are. But when you try to exchange that money anywhere that doesn’t play rugby, people will just be confused. Plus you can’t have someone wearing shorts on your currency. Sorry.

I guess you’ll just have to put the hobbits on your money. The Lord of the Rings movies are what you’re most famous for.

I’ll be nice and let you guys vote on whether you use illustrations from the books or the actual actors. I assume Sean Astin would let his likeness be used.

You might have a little more problem with Orlando Bloom.

Australia: The world is your oyster, Oz.

There really are a shocking number of Australian actors. Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, both Wolverine AND Thor, not to mention the late Joker. Both of the Crocodiles (Dundee and Hunter). Russell Crowe.

What? Russell Crowe is from New Zealand?

Hold on, let me think.

Nah, New Zealand, you’re still good with Elijah Wood.

And it’s not just actors. Rick Springfield comes from the Land Down Under. As, of course, do Men at Work. So does Kylie Minogue. Most people might throw Kylie into the same category as Rick Springfield and Bryan Adams, as a throwback to the 1980s. Not so. I discovered when I was in Australia that not only is Kylie Minogue still making songs, but the Aussies are fiercely proud of her for it. I’m pretty sure every third song on the radio, and every other video on the TVs at the night clubs, featured the former Locomotion artist.

Keith Urban is the most unlikely Country star ever – not only is “Urban” the worst Country-sounding name, but how the hell does  an Australian get a Southern twang?

Actually, there seem to have been a few Aussies who play American cowboys. Like Russell Crowe in “3:10 to Yuma.”

Wait, Russell Crowe is a Kiwi? Are you sure?

And of course, combining singing and acting together is none other than Olivia Newton-John. I could see a full line of paper currency on her career. Maybe the five would show the good Sandy from Grease and the ten would feature naughty leather-clad Sandy. The hundred might have that memorable character from Xanadu. You know the one. Then all the coins would have the fat people working out in the Physical video.

But something’s missing from this whole thing. None of these people fit that international concept of Australia that the Aussies themselves hate so much. Where’s the “shrimp on the barbie?” I don’t see a Bloomin’ Onion anywhere.

And are we going to advertise the new currency with an “It’s Australian for Money” campaign?

You Aussies are known for getting blitzed, right? And being ready to fight at the drop of a hat? Like the time Russell Crowe got in that bar brawl or threatened that one reporter?

Dammit, Russell Crowe was born in Wellington. Wellington is in New Zealand. I can’t be the only one surprised by this.

We’re going to have to combine some of this Oz stuff together, Australia.

Let’s start with Wolverine. I don’t mean Hugh Jackman, I mean the character Wolverine. Sure, in the comics he’s Canadian. But he’s been played by an Aussie twice. Hugh is nice enough to hide his accent, but the Wolverine in the original X-Men cartoon made Steve Irwin sound like a caricature. So let’s go ahead and put him on your money.

So Wolverine snickts out his claws and we throw some shrimp on them. Then we barbie those shrimp over a fire made out of a few dried-out remnants of the Great Barrier Reef. With a Bloomin’ Onion and a Foster’s on the side. With a Kyle Minogue song playing when you take the money out of your wallet, like when you open those greeting cards. The ten can have the relatively tame “Loco-Motion.” Most people gamble with twenties, so those should play “I Should Be So Lucky.” And, giving truth to power, a hundred-dollar note should sing out “Can’t Get You Out of my Head.”

On the back, you could write, “Did You Know… That Russell Crowe is not Australian?”

So you’re welcome, former British colonies.

You’ll definitely want to re-visit this post if Prince Charles outlasts his mother.



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