Tchotchkes

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Martin Hash
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Tchotchkes

Post by Martin Hash » Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:19 pm

There's a knack you pick up when you are an eclectic collector, especially someone with undiagnosed OCD; that is to go into a gift shop and do a thorough evaluation of the merchandise, pay, and get back on route in 15 minutes or less. This skill directly impacts how many gift shops you can visit, and if you're really good, you can even look at the thing your wife came to see. I finely honed this special ability on my wife, Gwynne, and my Route 66 trip, where I might possibly of outdid the tchotchke buying ability of any other person on the planet. I mean it; I got so much good stuff that even I felt satiated for a short time. Other swag collectors know what I'm talking about.



The most difficult gift shops are the ones that actually have something unique and interesting to sell; you don't find many, they're usually some rundown building with a faded sign that says “curios” or “exotica” but there's no other place to get real dinosaur poop, toad taxidermy or statues made out of antique kitchen items. I always tell people that if I hadn't of gotten married young, it would have never happened because the first time my prospective mate got a whiff of a real coyote-skin cap, with snout, eyeholes, and tail dangling down the back, she'd be gone. Luckily, I caught Gwynne when we were young, and she used to raise goats, so when I got out my fossils, she showed me her hand-letter leather belt, my coin collection was matched by her just beginning to burgeon penguin collection, and when the kids were young, she was please they enjoyed reading my vintage comicbooks.

However, even Gwynne's forbearance was tested on our 4-week driving tour of Route 66, especially since we also made stops at every State capitol building and National Park along the way. All of those places have gift shops, and no place but Salt Lake City has a whiskey flask that says, “Drink and be Merry for Tomorrow you may be in Utah.” That wasn't the only whiskey flask I got; I also found one with a picture of my white-on-read 1958 Corvette emblazoned on the front; and 26 whiskey glasses, some made of ceramic, copper, and even wood.

The only problem as I see it is how to get all the new cool stuff in the car. I had to throw away a sleeping bag just to make room to see through the rearview mirror. The second suitcase would have gone next because if sacrifices have to be made, there's no question which comes out on top: the big piece of petrified wood or some of Gwynne's bras. This stuff isn't cheap; have you ever priced a chunk of meteorite? What about a yardsign made out of old license plates? And you ain't been paying attention until you've tried to buy a Megalodon Tooth from some old Indian on the State line who makes a killing selling fireworks to scofflaws from one of the burn-down-the-prairie States. All-in-all, we could have paid for a nice vacation with all the money I spent, assuming we weren't already on vacation spending the money. I was even able to circumvent the trick question Gwynne used to use to stop a buying frenzy: “Where are you going to put it?” This time I bought an old false eyelash display off of Facebook Marketplace that can hold hundreds of good things!

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