Writer’s Block: The Oddity Commodity

By Corinne Wnek

It’s been a while since I took a real vacation. To me, that means going someplace special, somewhere I always wanted to go to but just never did. I love getting out in the world to see how people do things in their neck of the woods. And it’s usually the most mundane things that get my attention first like, “Hey, look, they have Charmin’ here, too!”

I recall that when my daughter was in elementary and later high school, we did most of the big trips. Vacations for my family were not just for fun. They were also meant to be cultural learning experiences. It was a chance to try new foods, hear new music, see new architecture and learn a new language. The one thing about these vacations that triggered the blame game, however, was the purchase of those ‘must have’ souvenirs. Years later, they’re still haunting my closets like old ghosts who refuse to leave.

Let’s see now. We can’t get rid of the grass skirt with the coconut bra top we lugged back across the Pacific, and then some, because that will erase all of our memories of Hawaii. Ditto for the ukulele that came with it. Here’s hoping that the south pacific island look comes into style pretty soon or the promoters of fashion week will be getting a sternly worded letter from me. In the meantime, it stays in the closet.

A friend of mine went to Mexico for a vacation not too long ago and brought me back an assortment of colorful bowls and dishes. Finally, exotic dining comes to my house. Too bad about the label on the backside of the tableware, though: Warning! Do not eat or place food on surface. For decoration only. Ay carrumba. In the closet.

When she was in college, my daughter spent some time studying in Scotland. I guess she really bought the myth of the Loch Ness monster as she grew fond of all things Scottish. ‘Nessie’ now holds a prominent place in our house, too, along with an assorted collection of stuffed Scottish terriers, dressed in their cute plaid hats. We also have plaid wallets, scarves, purses and socks. There is so much plaid from Edinburgh in my home that at times I feel like I’m having a Brigadoon breakdown.

The list goes on and includes a real Viking helmet from the Norwegian exhibit at Epcot Center in Disney World which was never worn, genuine cowboy hats from Durango, Colorado, also never worn, and piggy banks from Paris and London in the shape of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. These actually were used. While I admit to purchasing a royal ‘tiara’ after an inspiring tour of Buckingham Palace, that ‘must have’ too, is sparkling somewhere in a closet.

But the oddest souvenir I ever saw came from northern Maine. Some creative artist there, who obviously suffered frost bite to the brain, perfected a knick-knack of petrified moose droppings that were shaped like a moose. Treated and hardened, somehow, and glued to a wooden stand with ‘Maine’ on it, we were told it was, a ‘big seller’ for its uniqueness.

Gee, how did this one get away from us?

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