Got Culture?

While we're living the cruising life, Windy and I are raising two little Americans who aren’t growing up in the United States—will they ever have pop-culture fluency?

Del Viento- family

Courtesy of Michael Robertson

Listening to a local AM talk radio station here in Victoria, I realized I’m missing a bunch of cultural references I need to understand some of the things that are said, and much of the humor. All of the common knowledge Canadians take for granted, such as the names of the major supermarkets, what the previous prime minister looked like, what their version of our 401K is called, the name of the sailboat on the back of their dime—is important to having a fluent understanding of everyday exchanges.

Then I realized Windy and I are raising two little Americans who aren’t growing up in the United States. They’re missing much of the shared American experience. I suppose we automatically compensate a bit when we tell them stories and expose them to the books, movies, and music we love, but will they ever have the fluency?

Of course, for exposure to pop culture, it’s hard to beat the television. And we do get a few nights out of each year in front of that thing, when we’re in a hotel room. And those few hours are good for a weeks’ worth of questions that lead to more questions.


Take our visit to a Vancouver Marriott a couple weeks back. We were there the night of the Academy Awards broadcast. It was very educational. They stayed up until the wee hours with their mouths agape. Thankfully, they now know what the Academy Awards are and what an Oscar is. They learned a red carpet is something fancy people walk on, a score is music behind a movie, and that a screenplay is the written story of a movie.

And has the knowledge ever sunk in. Even almost two weeks later, at the checkout this evening, Frances called my attention to the tabloid covers. “Dad, look! The lady with the red hair, pink dress, and lipstick from the Oscar television!” And when we returned to the boat, she and Eleanor once again amused themselves to no end singing, over and over again, “We saw your boobs!

I know our life won’t offer our girls the full complement of must-know Americana, and they’ll grow up as deaf to some tones of their country’s culture as I am to Canada’s, but that may be okay.



I__n our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at