Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Favorite Purchase

I am not an enormous souvenier person. I actually tend to buy most of my souveniers in the grocery store, so even though I am a carry on person on the way out, I inevitably have to check my bag on the way back, because I am laden with bottles of olive oil, honey, fancy syrups and jams, whatever. My purchases never stray far from the kitchen. I went to Paris (god, I love saying that, it's so worth getting ripped off at the currency exchange) last fall, and I even came back with two mini-bottles of champagne in my bag, because I had bought them at the grocery store across from my apartment, and I was too cheap to throw the two I didn't drink out. I spent the entire (endless) flight worried that they were going to explode in my luggage from the pressure changes in the belly of the plane.

My favorite souvenier, though, is a tiny green tube. It's a lipstick that I bought on a one-day tour of Tangier, in Morocco, on a day trip from Spain. It's made of the cheapest green plastic imaginable, and the lipstick inside is BRIGHT GREEN. This is not because Moroccan women have a Kermit the Frog fetish. The lipstick is made of henna, and it reacts with your body chemistry to turn bright fuschia pink. It is, in fact, slightly reminiscent of what a drag queen might wear. I mean, we're talking VIVID.

I love it though, even though I almost never wear it (and then the lightest possible application), even though it sits, like a tiny green monolith, on my dressing table. I pick it up and remember that day - riding a camel (briefly), seeing a snake charmer, watching the men in their Arab robes walk with their hands clasped behind their backs, walk in the classic, contemplative manner of the Arab world - was I really that exotic person? Did I really go to AFRICA?

And then I put it back on the table and put on something more subtle. Something that suits my everyday life a little better. But I see it there, in its cheap green plastic finery, winking at me from behind the lip gloss. It whispers to me. You are not so ordinary, it says...

I choose to believe it.

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