No Souvenir For You

I am the worst souvenir shopper ever. I’m not the best regular shopper anyway, but I really set some records in buying things as mementos from trips. Or, should I say, not buying things as mementos from trips.

Once again I went on a fabulous vacation and bought hardly anything. I bought 15 postcards and didn’t mail any of them. Needless to say, if you’re reading this, it’s pretty safe to say I didn’t get you anything.

I bought a small number of cool things for myself, including a Pope John Paul II bobblehead, which is not a sin. I checked.

But my bag of souvenirs from 10 days in two countries fit nicely into my carry-on bag, leaving enough room for two neck pillows that everyone was trying to push off onto me. (I thought it would be nice to buy each traveler in our party a colorful neck pillow for the 7-hour plane ride to Paris and for the 10-hour plane ride from Rome to home, but they proved to be utterly useless. Unless you like to sleep with your neck folded in half and your head halfway to your tray table.)

I have a bad history with souvenirs. When we went to Ireland and England four years ago, we were going to bed on our last day there and suddenly realized we hadn’t bought anything for my mother-in-law. “We’ll pick up something at the airport,” my husband said. But Heathrow Airport only had a duty-free shop full of perfume and cigarettes, neither of which seemed appropriate.

So we arrived back in the US without a souvenir for her. The next day I went to Liquor Barn and saw a tea towel stamped with shamrocks and scenes from Ireland, bought it, wrapped it up, and gave it to her.

“I got it at Liquor Barn down the street,” I blurted out. I can’t lie. She loves me anyway.

I suppose it could be worse. Instead of not buying enough souvenirs, I could have bought more, tackier souvenirs. In Paris the shops were full of berets, Eiffel Tower keychains and Mona Lisa’s face on everything from magnets to erasers. In Rome, Audrey Hepburn and Che Guevara seemed to be everywhere you looked. And the bobblehead wasn’t the only representation of the Pope. The Italians love their popes. The most recent two popes are on dolls, calendars, postcards and t-shirts.

By far the tackiest souvenir I saw was the men’s underwear with a photo of a Roman statue’s private parts on it, anatomically correct and placed right on target.

Now aren’t you glad I didn’t buy a bunch of souvenirs? That one might have been yours.

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