(The following is a sarcasm-laden satirical piece inspired by Binyawanga Wainaina’s “How to Write about Africa,” published in Granta 92)
When you picture Brantford, confine your imagination to the immediate downtown area. Do not entertain the possibility that there might be other places outside the boundaries of the Laurier campus.
Treat the microcosm of the downtown area as a representative of the whole of Brantford. Ignore every other structure except the methadone clinic in St. Andrew’s Church, the bus terminal and Victoria Park where the ‘locals’ often hang out. Their antics will give you plenty of fodder to gripe about this insufferable town.
Never fail to express your disdain for the ‘locals’. Always imagine them in shabby clothes, unkempt and dirty. They can never have any purpose for being in the downtown area except to loaf around and harass ‘students’ for some spare change to buy liquor or drugs.
‘Students’ should always be used in reference to the far superior race of humans attending classes at Laurier, Nippissing, and in some instances, Mohawk. They can never be confused with ‘locals’. The constituents of those categories can never intermingle. Never entertain the possibility that a ‘local’ can be a ‘student’ at the same time for the two exist in distinct universes. A ‘student’ will never be caught dead doing something a ‘local’ does, like hanging out at the Brantford Public Library.
When talking about the library, always picture it as a place completely disadvantageous to learning, especially for ‘students’. Emphasize how you, as a student, hate spending any amount of time there, where there’s a possibility you might cross paths with the ‘locals’. Don’t forget to gripe about Laurier Brantford’s dismal catalogue in the library’s basement, even though you’ve never made use of it in your studies, and have access to the entire racks of three other university libraries, all of which can be delivered to campus.
Never fail to mention the juvenile delinquents who also patronize the library. Always assume that they’re illiterate. Complain about the noise they make and how hard it is to study there, even though you’ve only ever spent a few hours at the library, at most, during your entire career as a ‘student’. If you’re at a loss for descriptors, simply use the term ‘typical’ to describe all things negative.
Don’t forget to complain about the ‘locals’ who spend all their time at the library reading newspapers and magazines and socialize. Always assume that they are homeless, unemployed and, if you want to sound even more discerning, unemployable.
Demonstrate your insight on Brantford by commenting on the teenage mothers wheeling their baby-laden strollers around town. Talk about how young they are and how unfit they look to be parents. Remember to cite the fact that Brantford has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in all of Ontario, even if you’re not entirely sure where you got that statistic or if it’s still relevant.
While on the topic of statistics, also remember to mention the fact the Brantford was once ranked as the most dangerous city in Canada. Perhaps it was the most dangerous city in Ontario, but that doesn’t matter. The statistic was based on a survey carried out by Maclean’s magazine several years ago, but that doesn’t matter either.
What matters is that your disdain for Brantford is statistically supported.