The front and sides of our refrigerator are loaded with magnet souvenirs from various family trips and vacations throughout the past ten plus years. Some family vacations yield several magnets, while others yield only a single magnet. How my wife decides which trip is “souvenir magnet worthy” is beyond me as we have some from Nebraska (we live in Iowa, we’re not exactly “globetrotters,” we Ripleys) but I feel I know the reasoning. Souvenirs are a touchstone back to that time when you’re not at work, you’re with family and friends, you’re out of your element…exploring, learning, and relaxing. Drinking from a souvenir coffee cup while you’re back on the job (months or years removed) from that particular vacation takes you back to that time, if even for a moment. I’m glad that Connie buys the magnets. It’s kind of reassuring in a way. I still use a coffee cup from a childhood trip to Florida in 1976 with my parents (Oh Silver Springs…such fond memories with your glass bottom boats and reptile gardens.) Anyway, our refrigerator has enough magnets on the front that one day I halfway expect to hear a loud crash and find that it’s tipped over on its front from the excessive weight and magnetic pull.
Repair guy: Yep…I’ve seen it a thousand times. The magnetic pull from all of those magnets pulled it over towards the stove. I’m real sorry about your cat.
Souvenir magnet collecting man: Fluffy? Fluffy’s dead?! (beginning to cry)
Repair guy: I’d say so, she’s flat as a pancake. Never seen a feline survive something like this. That last magnet from Six Flags in St Louis probably pushed the frig over the edge.
Souvenir magnet collecting man: Fluffy!!
Repair guy: Maybe you can put a big magnet in ‘er and stick her on your new frig? She’s thin enough now.
Part of my job, as alpha male in charge, is to comb the souvenir shops for refrigerator magnets for my wife. It goes something like this:
- Pull up to vacation attraction.
- Unload family and announce the usual warnings: “no one is to get kidnapped, abducted or threaten national security during this pleasant family outing.”
- Locate restrooms and announce, “The bathrooms are by the Coke machine! If anyone has to pee, look for the Coke machine!”
- Check out restrooms for suspicious persons of interest. (It’s okay lady, I’m just in here lookin’ for perverts….get back here and wash those hands!)
- Enter souvenir shop.
- Locate refrigerator magnet display with local/national attraction on them.
- Announce loudly “Sweetheart…if you want another crappy refrigerator magnet, they’re over here!”
- Retreat from that area, but remain close enough to my brood to thwart any potential child abductions (but at this point they’re all teenagers or older so a little scare put into them would probably add some bite to my repetitive warnings).
It’s about building “husband credit points”. Safe transportation, restroom location, refrigerator magnet display located, efficient transportation back to the safety of the nearest Holiday Inn Express.
Occasionally, and I do mean occasionally, I’ll know a little history about the place that we’re at…but it’s more fun to make something up like “It’s a little known fact that General Custer’s second to last stand against the Sioux was made…right here at Mount Rushmore. It’s true…the only thing that saved Custer and his men that day was that they held the high ground of Washington’s nose and brow. If you look closely at Roosevelt’s nostrils you’ll see pock marks made by the bullets of sharpshooters trying to pick off the warriors of the high prairie tribes of the Ogala Sioux. Helluva battle that day. Custer thought that by retreating to the Little Big Horn he’d save himself, as he thought he’d rest him and his men at a nearby Red Roof Inn (as they were the hotel of choice in the 1800’s)…but no, it wasn’t meant to be for old George and company.” Now my kids are old enough to know when I’m just shooting my mouth off but the real fun comes when the foreign visitors to our country eavesdrop on my “interpretation” of history (the trick is to do a lot of pointing and gesturing, then nod a lot). Do the French do this in Paris? Probably not.
And by the way…judging by the hordes of people clamoring at souvenir shops, I’d say that our economy is doing just fine. Where else would normally educated people spend $15 on a Mickey Mouse coffee cup (I did, bought two), $25 on a travel mug from the Mitchell South Dakota Corn Palace (been there…it exists and is kinda cool) or $30 on a tee-shirt that says on the front of it “I went to Georgia on vacation and all I got was this crappy shirt.” It’s a free market that we live in; let the buyer beware. It’s like the hot dog vendor in Washington DC last June that charged me $7 for a hot dog (that’s $7 for a tubular shaped piece of protein that is basically made from spare pig parts…eye lids, guts, lips, anuses…and I love ‘em by the way). Seven bucks! It was worth around $2.50…but I gladly paid it since I was starving, on vacation and didn’t have the time to find food elsewhere.
I just pray that the hot dog vendors don’t corner the market on refrigerator magnets….or I’m in big trouble.