“Here’s a shout out to all those kids who never found their name on anything at a souvenir store”
I ran to where the Key-ring Koala was. On a shelf barely within my reach, I was exuberant to see my first initial stitched in yellow and green on its round belly. On determined tippy toes I reached up to the metal loop at the back of the Koala’s neck and managed to tug it off the adult sized display. It spiralled down towards me. A little white tag slightly protruding from its bottom rotated into sight as it landed softly with a bounce into my embracing palms. Half the tag was caught on a metal link holding the loop, causing my Koala’s neck to bend backwards awkwardly. I freed my new friend from his contortion and the white tag opened slowly into its proper length.
‘Do not machine wash. Not suitable for children under 3 years. Australian owned.’
‘Made in China’
Like the opening of a bad fortune cookie message, revealed in a deliciously, sweet treat was that bitter message (and if you’re Chinese, like me, you have to take fortune cookies seriously!).
“If you find something with your name on it, we’ll buy it for you”, my parents said outside the souvenir shop before I had run in. The promise of an Australian icon with my non-Chinese-but-still-unusually-rare-for-an-English name on it would surely solidify my identity as an Aussie rather than a kid whose parents picked an overly unique name for him to compensate for his obvious lack of Anglo-Saxonism.
But there that little white tag was; my little white flag of surrender, reminding me of that I will never be able to find something with my name on it in a souvenir store.
Reluctantly I took my Koala to my parents as Vegemite injected, rosy-cheeked, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Johns, Davids and Jennifers brought their t-shirts with their easy-to-find names and Australian flags on them to their own parents.
I’m reminded of their overjoyed faces whenever I meet an immigrant who decided, for either themselves or their children, to give them a name pretty close to Apple, or Sunday(Yes I’ve seen these names.) How they miscalculate the catastrophe of their error. They too will be reminded with each ill-omened fortune cookie, with each Koala that was never theirs to befriend, with each ‘Made in China’, that there will be no solace in a souvenir shop.
And then we have this unwitting fool who will gladly toss all opportunity to a collection of personally named souvenir and memorabilia. Imagine all the (what’s Scotland’s national animal?… who cares, imagine all the kilts! And bagpipes!)