Thursday, March 08, 2012

When in Rome (or Minnesota), SOUVENIR THYSELF!

When I think back on all the souvenirs I've purchased on vacation, or as What-did-you-bring-me? business trip "gifts", I sail through a variety of responses.

  • I am lucky to have experienced so many swell destinations. (well, not that one bathroom)
  • Whatever happened to most of those souvenir trinkets? (junk pile)
  • So glad I bought those heavy-duty tee shirts 15 years ago, otherwise I might have forgotten I was there. (still wearing them, complete with frayed necklines)
  • I still wish I'd purchased the better necklace on that cruise. (wrong cheap-o decision; beads everywhere)
  • Buying consumable regional goods like jams and jellies is practical, but not as memory branding. (belly fat)
  • Wonder how much I've spent, altogether, on souvenirs? (don't even thinkaboutit)
  • How well do souvenirs define the region? (Don't most sell the same slogans with different city names?)

For better or for worse, souvenirs are markers of time.

Imagine this. You are blindfolded and given a headset powerful enough to block out chatty Captain Announcements. (Oh, baby! suggestions anyone?) You take a flight to "somewhere." After you arrive at your surprise destination, you're led into a car and driven to the closest souvenir/discount store where your impediments are removed. 

I doubt it would take you long to figure out where you were, especially if you were near the beach or circled back into the airport.Towels, tote bags, hats ... all announcing You Were (are) Here!

Well, I didn't experience the kidnapped-to-play-the-souvenir game. But I have to admit I laughed out loud when I saw this Snuggie on the shelf during one of my routine visits away from home. "Only in Minnesota," I said out loud to the stranger standing next to me. Because he was Minnesota nice, he did not respond.

Of course my comment wasn't really true. This type of camouflage everything -- sunglasses, sheets, chairs, lingerie, tents, rifle cases, doll clothes -- can be found anywhere hunters lurk (and hide, what with all that camy). Camouflage isn't just a force of gamesmanship; in some areas, it's a way of life. And there is protocol.

Case in point. Several years ago I was browsing in Fleetfarm in Winona MN (not to be confused with Farm and Fleet in LaCrosse WI) when I came upon a rack of men's insulated hoodies. On a terrific end-of-season sale. I tried one on and thought WARM! Soft. Nice.The price is right! Who cares if it's blaze orange; it'll be easy to find in the closet. So I bought it.

Several months later, I was scheduled to met my grown hunting/fishing son at the local Winona Perkins Restaurant and Bakery. It was a chilly day. I grabbed my cozy hoodie and headed out.

"Mom!" my manly son said when I arrived, eyebrows sailing. He leaned toward me, looked right and left, then all but whispered, "It's not the season for blaze orange." (This might be a slight exaggeration, but not by much.)

A blaze orange fashion Faux Pas? Who knew? The only thing I was hunting for was pancakes. Why should it matter what color anything I wore in a PERKINS?!

In case you're wondering, no, I didn't buy the souvenir (practical?) camouflage Snuggie for my grandgirlies. I do have to admit, however, that I have purchased my Minnesota sweeties a few camy hats and articles of clothing. Pink camoflauge, to be exact. And to the best of my knowledge, pink Camy was a bit of a fashion statement this winter.

Then again, I bought said pink camy items in Minnesota, at least one state that is home to the camouflage Snuggie.

Seriously, they only sold Snuggies in red and blue in the Walgreen's in the Chicago suburbs. I guess practical is as practical does. A fun souvenir to one person is a practical way of life to another.