Back in the summer of 1999, along with thousands of other Canadian twenty-somethings, I set out on a post-collegiate backpacking trip through Europe.
While on a train from Munich to Amsterdam, I looked across the aisle and spotted another solo female traveler.
Like me, she had a large Canadian flag sewn to the top of her backpack.
"Where in Canada are you from?" I asked, happy to be sharing the long journey with a fellow poutine eater.
But something wasn't right.
She began to squirm and wouldn't look me in the eye.
"Um, Toronto," she said.
After a bit of interrogation, she came clean.
She was actually from Minnesota -- close enough to her northern neighbor that her accent wouldn't immediately alert suspicion, but far enough away, culturally speaking, that her attempt at deception was doomed to wither beneath the suffocatingly courteous inquiry of a curious Canuck.
Her admission was understandable.
Eight hours is a long time to try to fool a Canadian into thinking you're one of the tribe.
Ugly Americans a thing of the past?
In 1999, my American train mate's attempts to deceive were somewhat forgivable.
The U.S. military was hot and heavy in Kosovo. Americans weren't looked upon favorably in many international quarters.
But do today's Americans still feel the need to jack the Canadian flag while traveling abroad?
I wouldn't have thought so.
After all, these days it's the Chinese who are being called "the new ugly Americans."
Yet according to Canadian flight booking website FlightNetwork.com, pretending to be Canadian by wearing that glorious red maple leaf still gets Americans better service when they're abroad, provided they're able to act the part, too.
In honor of Canada Day on July 1 -- remember that date if you want to have a hope in h-e-double-hockey-sticks of fooling anyone -- the Ontario-based site brought in a body language expert to provide tongue-in-cheek advice on how Americans and Brits can try to fake their Canadian-ness.
"Using quintessentially Canadian symbols, body language and facial expressions is a time-tested way to enhance the travel experience abroad," says Allison Eberle, vice president of operations for FlightNetwork.com.
"It's not surprising that travelers from other nations would do their best to come off Canuck."
The site commissioned body language expert and author Mark Bowden of TruthPlane Inc. to demonstrate "faux Canadiana contortions that immediately betray a 'flag-jacker' -- be they American, English or other."
Here are a few tips he lays out in the video.
The Maple-o-gy: A Canadian gesture showing submission by raising the shoulders in an apologetic motion, presenting oneself as nonthreatening.
The Canuck Crinkle: Showing the creases around your eyes when smiling -- indicates genuine friendliness.