I have been living in Nova Scotia for a while now and I think I am well adapted. However, there are still a couple of things that I am not used to; “Buddy” is one of them. If you are not from around here, you might wonder who Buddy is. At least I did when I first moved here.
People here use “buddy” in two different ways. The first one, the one I kind of knew about before getting here, is the equivalent of “friend”, as in “He and I are buddies”. However, I hadn’t realized you could call someone “buddy” whether or not you knew them. I come from France – a country that some might consider a little snobby – where people who don’t know each other wouldn’t dare not use “vous” [the formal form of “you”]. That’s why the first time a friendly barista gave me my coffee and said “here you go buddy”, I got very … puzzled. Had I forgotten that we were friends? Did I know him? Had I ever interacted with him? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t insulted or anything; I was genuinely confused because I wasn’t used to it. And there is a little part of me, that snobby French part I guess, that still cringes when someone I don’t know calls me “buddy”.
The second way people use “Buddy” was even more confusing to me. I kept hearing people talking about Buddy. Buddy did this, Buddy said that. I lived in a small town at that time, so the first couple times Buddy was mentioned I just assumed he knew a lot of people. Quickly, because I am a very smart person, I figured out there were just a lot of men called Buddy… Until a few weeks later, when I had a problem with the copy machine at the building I used to work in. I asked someone how to fix it and they told me to ask “Buddy, down the hall”. I went down the hall, looked at the names on all the doors and couldn’t find Buddy’s office. So I went back to see Murray who told me to look for Buddy and thus began a very surreal conversation:
– I couldn’t find Buddy’s office.
– Who’s Buddy?
[Because English was still tricky for me at that point, I understood “Whose buddy?”]
-No, no, Buddy who takes care of the copy machine…
– You mean Steve?
– Who is Steve?
– Steve, Buddy that takes care of the machine.
That’s when it clicked. Buddy is nobody. Actually Buddy is everybody. And everybody knows Buddy.