Rule # 1:
Whenever you see a souvenir
you want to buy on vacation always buy another
really, really ugly or incredibly tacky one to go
along with it. Then, when you get home, make sure
you display the ugly one prominently.
“We have too much kitsch,” my wife said staring at
the crowded window sill in our kitchen. In
wife-speak ‘we have too much kitsch’ actually
means ‘you have too much kitsch’ and
apparently, it was driving her crazy.
By kitsch, I mean those inexpensive, tacky or
sometimes ridiculous souvenirs we all tend to
chuckle over and buy on vacation- whether it’s the
wooden, plastic or ceramic knick-knacks or the odd
and even odder ends that remind us of where we’ve
been and what we did.
By crazy, I mean that semi-frustrated, not quite
angry but lower lip pursed, stern-eyed, crossed arm,
foot tapping stance that taps out ‘Houston, we have
a problem,’ in wife-Morse code.
“Too many, huh?”
“Way too many.” Tap, tap, tap.
“Do you know that the word ‘souvenir’ comes from the
Old French meaning ‘to recall,’” I said, dodging the
incoming salvo. “It’s a thing to trigger a memory
and it stems from the Latin ‘subvenire’ which means
‘to come to mind.’”
“What comes to mind is that there are too many.”
started to reply that what comes to mind when I look
at them makes me smile or grin from something fun or
foolish that happened on a specific trip. I wanted
to remind her that the value of any souvenir we
bring home is what special meaning and value it
takes on long after the purchase. I wanted to remind
her that life is all too short and that the good
wanted to but I didn’t, of course because I’m smart
enough to realize that some wives, husbands or
significant others are like International chess
player grandmasters or battle-tested generals. They
instinctively know how to effectively maneuver us
around any field of contention and deftly directing
us into indefensible positions. The secret is to
Encourage your husband,
wife or significant other to buy a really, really
nice and/or expensive souvenir of their choosing on
vacation or holiday as well.
“For every one item you remove you can keep one,” my
wife said outlining the parameters of the potential
cease fire while securing the high ground so she
could take better aim at some of my tacky troops.
“Fair enough,” I said recalling that in The Art
of War the ancient Chinese tactician Sun Tzu
wrote, ‘Those who know when
to fight and when not to fight are victorious.’
believe it was Mrs. Tzu who pointed out that those
who know when to fight and when not to fight would
also have an inkling of what couch they would sleep
on or not sleep on depending upon the strategy they
began the souvenir culling peace process by removing
a well-crafted, hand-painted and expensive
collectable lead Eiffel
from the window sill.
“Oh, no!” protested my wife. “Not that one!”
“No, of course not,” I said, trying another tact.
“That’s right, you bought it in that little shop
just off St. Germaine, near that restaurant with the
great Creme Brulee. We had a really good time
in Paris, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we did,” holding onto her high ground. “And
that’s besides the point…”
“Okay then, what about this?” I said, holding up
another one of her
“Do you remember what we paid for that?”
“No, was it much?” I asked, knowing exactly what it
cost just as I knew that there was no ‘we’ involved
with the purchase. I also knew it didn’t hold much
in the way of used 10W30 car motor oil. This I
discovered when I was trying to change my car oil
and realized the pan was going to overflow. So
rushing in from the garage I spotted it on the
counter, grabbed it and ran out and stuck it under
the leaking oil until I found something more
cleaned up pretty spiffy so I saw no need to mention
its viscous capacity limitations to my wife at this
or any other moment.
“So those two souvenirs of yours will stay, I mean
because you like them and all,” I said as I reach
for a small blue Wedgewood egg ‘we’ picked up in
England. Here, I should point out that I didn’t know
what Wedgewood was before ‘we’ bought it nor did I
really know what to do with a blue clay egg
reasonably certain though that it wouldn’t hold
anywhere near the amount of fine crude as the finely
lubed Delft jar.
However, when I put my car keys in the ceramic egg
one day I quickly learned what not to do with it
too. “Maybe we should take this down too before we
accidentally knock is over and break it. I am bull,
you know and this represents China shop.”
“You are bull but its okay,” she said readjusting
it. “I like it there.”
“Let’s see then, how about this?” I said, reaching
for my miniature Hofbrauhaus beer stein that I got
in Bavaria. Her battlefield excitement was as
palpable as Genghis Khan breaking in a new war pony.
“No wait, I like it,” I said, reining in some of
her enthusiasm. “Maybe the windmill I got in
“It’s kind of cheesy,” she said.
“Gouda you to point that out. But come to think of
it, I like that one too. So, let’s see if I have
this right? You have three things up there you like
so I get one more…” I say taking a Beefeater tin
soldier I picked up at the Tower in
placed it next to the
jar to keep it safe from marauding minute lubers.
“There we go!”
“Well, something has to go,” she said bringing her
full force to bear.
When your husband, wife or
significant other wants you to get rid of one of
‘your’ souvenirs, don’t argue. Keep the one or ones
you really want and toss away the ugly, tacky one.
“Yes, you’re right,” I conceded waving the
proverbial white flag. I pulled down a small sword
wielding ceramic Viking ‘berserker’ I found in in a
flea market in Scandinavia. “I…I guess this can go.”
“See! That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
nodded, feigning serious injury knowing that on the
next trip I would replace it with another tacky,
totally ridiculous souvenir destined for the window
sill and destined to be thrust blindly into the guns
in the next battle of the souvenirs.
Okay, so maybe not blindly.