Once upon a time when Tom was in Djibouti, he brought back several short, carved wooden clubs with bulbous tips. Unsurprisingly, these were called “Djiboutian war clubs” and made fantastic gifts for the Y-chromosome owners in Tom’s life. (I got a carved jewelry box. For all the jewelry I don’t wear.) Now, my cousin Mark is as close to me as a brother, and since they had not yet met when Tom was in Africa it was very important to me that Tom make a good impression. Mark is what you might call, if you were vulgar, a dick-swinging man’s man whose opinions on boobs, trucks, guns, and beers are all the same: the bigger, the better.

Naturally, I asked Tom to bring back a Djiboutian war club to present to Mark as a token of Tom’s manly worth. Mark accepted it that October with raised eyebrows and without comment and I sadly thought that was the end of it until that Christmas. Mark excitedly gave Tom what he called an “American war club”: a Louisville Slugger. It was the highest gift he could bestow, except for that time he worked in a school supply distribution warehouse and gave me a case of ultra-thick toilet paper for Christmas.
“I think there’s still some blood on it from some dude’s head!” Mark informed us.
It’s so beautiful when cultures can share, don’t you think?
At any rate, a few months later Tom awoke to the sound of what he thought was a sexual assault in progress in the parking lot of our apartment building. (Fear not, it was noisy but once he translated her Spanish moanings, quite consensual.) He reached under the bed for a blunt object and was offered multicultural home protection’s finest: the Slugger, the Djiboutian war club, and an Irish shellalegh.
I bring this up because many dedicated travelers seem to have a thing with souvenirs. Some people have niche objects, others photographs, others still memories of that one meal that left them orgasmically happy or paralyzed over a Third World toilet. I myself collect zippered coin pouches, which are cheap and often come in handy for stashing various small items. But my husband seems to have ended up with a collection of International Clue’s murder weapons.
For Maggie, I decided to start collecting keyrings. The more colorful and tacky, the better, and bonus points for finding one with “Margaret” on it. So far she has ones from Oahu, the Big Island, Maryland, DC, Baltimore, Maine, New Hampshire, and St. Pete Beach. Not bad for someone who has no keys and actually can’t say “key.” It seemed like a nice way to show her where she’s been and at less than $5 a pop, relatively cheap.
Alas, there’s no blood on any of them. We’ll have to get Uncle Mark on that.