Thursday, October 20, 2005

Loonie Tunes

I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that grown men and women all over Canada, including Montreal, the Europe of Canada, refer to their money as loonies and toonies. For example, serious newscasters report on the growth of the loonie, the one dollar coin, in comparison to the U.S. dollar without breaking into a smile or even a smirk. I am not as strong willed.

The first time I asked for change for a toonie, a two dollar coin, I broke out in uncontrollable giggles. The salesperson responded to my request with the very sincere remark, "What is so funny?" GF tried to stop my giggling by pinching my arm, hitting me hard on the back of the head, and telling me to think of all the starving children in Africa. However, none of these tactics worked. I continued to giggle with intermittent spurts of real laughter.

When I finally gained control of myself I responded to the salespersons question, "Can you believe I just referred to the two dollar coin as a toonie?". She shrugged and said, "What else would you call it?". This question has plagued me ever since. I have spent many a sleepless night trying to come up with alternative names for the loonie and toonie. These are a few of the names that I think Canadians should consider:

The monochromatic coin (loonie)
The two-tone coin (toonie)
The big coin (loonie)
The bigger coin (toonie)
The eleven-sided coin (loonie)
The round coin (toonie)
The one with the man on horse back on top of a statue (loonie)
The one with the polor bear on an iceberg (toonie)

I have tried, with limited success, to introduce these new coin names into the public discourse. Recently GF and I went to a Russian bakery to buy some hamentashen, three cornered cookies stuffed with jam. After I paid for the cookies I asked the salesperson for change for "the coin with the man on horse back on top of a statue". At the completion of my sentence I was greeted with stunned silence. When I quickly tried to remedy the situation and ask for change for "the monochromatic coin" a crowd began to gather. Since I now had a crowd to please I would not give up and tried to ask for change one final time. This time I asked for change for "the big coin". Instead of responding to my request the salesperson turned to the other person behind the counter and said something in what I assumed to be Russian.

It was at that moment that I learned that the crowd gathered around me was not interested in my discursive experiment but was waiting in line to purchase various and sundry baked goods. As a result of the delay I was causing they began to grumble and complain. They even asked GF if she was with me and in an effort to preserve herself from their barbs she said no. It was at that moment that I thought it might be best to leave.

I left the store and waited outside for GF. When GF exited the store she walked right past me and did not stop for two blocks. When she did finally stop I asked her if she knew what the clerks were saying to each other about me. She said that she was not totally sure she understood their remarks but she did hear the word loonie bandied about and she was fairly certain that they were not referring to the coin.


Blogger R.J. Anderson said...

The one with the polor bear on an iceberg (toonie)

My favorite non-standard name for that one is "Winnie the Two". (This was suggested by a local newspaper commentator when the $2 coin was being introduced for the first time a few years back and nobody could settle on what to call it. I knew that "toonie" would win out, though.)

As you may be able to tell from the comment on an old entry, I got here via The Comics Curmudgeon and am now obsessively reading all your back entries. Must see if you have an RSS feed -- this is great, hilarious stuff.

5:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still angry that they're not called doubloons.

11:27 PM  

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