Hot dice keep rolling
Try to lose our nothin’
Now familiar, now forgotten
To get the prize
Forget the song
We’re here and gone
Trans Canada

-“Trans Canada“, Constantines

My fingers are turning raw. I may have rolled enough rims to last me a lifetime. It happens every year, when Tim Horton’s, or “Timmy’s”, as those of us on a first-name basis with the coffee shop call it, brings out its “Rolllll(an innumerate number of “l”s) Up the Rim” contest. Buried under tightly wound paper cups most certainly lies the heart-wrenching words “Please Play Again”. So I do. And again. Press repeat. Fingers finging, trying to gulp down as many double-double coffees as my poor nervous system can take. Getting the jitters would be a welcome improvement from the kind of manic state those purveyors of java inflict.

I swear, with only a slight bit of mirth, that I believe there must be some heavy narcotic in my coffee. That double-double could easily be “two rocks, two cream” for the effect it has on me. Oh, I’ll play again. Just you watch me.

Now, for all the snobbery that surrounds TH-haters, I’ve seen them lining up at rival barrista stands in increased numbers around the same time that the great rolling began this year. It’s one thing for advertising to increase your own business, but when it is so overwhelming that everyone in your industry is moving product, you know it’s good. But that’s just the thing. The current “Canada Land” commercials that Timmy’s are running are just terrible. Forget any notion that they cleverly use stereotypes to identify our nationality with their corporation. Shovel the driveway? That’s so lame it’s funny in an ironic kind of way. Like referencing Right Said Fred or parachute pants.

If you want clever, just watch any of the current Molson commercials that have gone beyond the “I Am Canadian” rhetoric about landmass, etc. and have gotten down to brass tacks about Canadiana in a way that results in every Bruce, Kyle or Doug out there nodding their head when they hear the line “turned down a booty call in the post-season”. Now that’s marketing. People talk about Molson in a way that it can’t be anything but Canadian, ingrained in the fabric of our culture. The images and language used is pointed, intelligent, almost vulgar (in a sweet way) and yet still carries broad appeal. It unifies, rather than divides us.

Ask ten average guys about what they think. Even if they don’t like Molson beer they’re likely to appreciate the commercials. Ask the same thing about Pierre McGuire and you’ll get five who love his enthusiasm and talk of “monster performers” and you’ll equally get five who can’t understand how the loud, little bald guy is on television, let alone won a Stanley Cup. These same ten guys watch hockey on TSN, where Molson runs its ads, where Pierre spouts his hocko-philosophy.

Tim Horton’s is different, though. It doesn’t need good commercials. In fact, I can’t think of any. But their ubiquitous presence, both in our culture, and physically on every street corner begs our mind to say “yes”. Yes, we can roll up those rims. If anything their commercial could be a thirty second spot saying “Roll up the rim is here.” in a monotone voice and we’d still get in a frenzy. Add in a couple pictures of a young couple smiling in their new 2009 Toyota Venza and you’ve got a mad dash to get people drinking coffee.

It’s just a flag. It’s meaningless beyond being an alarm clock for our brains that we need to fuel up the tanks with that sweet slick engine oil. And if my anecdotal experience walking past all the big lines at other coffee shops is evidence enough, it’s an alarm clock for coffee in general. Now stretch your hands, leave and get yourself a large double-double.