That was the Christmas season. So more often than not, you could spot bunches of people wearing red Santa hats, snow-patterned jewelery and other Christmas-y looking accessories. I eyed them all wondering if I should also get some zany accessory but did not really act on the thought.
I flew to LA right on Christmas day. One of the flight attendants on the plane was wearing a really cute pair of toy reindeer horns on her head. That was it. I decided that I was going to get back some really whacky-looking souvenir back from LA.
As I have mentioned before, I generally collect magnets as souvenirs from trips - magnets being easily portable, inexpensive and easily exhibitable (just stick it on the refrigerator :-)). But this time, even after I had bought the mandatory magnets, I still kept my eyes open for my whacky souvenir.
I told S of my plan and told her that we both should get similar whacky accessories so that we could wear them together and take pictures (yeah, I love both taking and posing in pics :-)). S enthusiastically agreed. That is, till I finally found THE Whacky Souvenir in the Universal Studios gift store. It was a pair of shrek ears made of green plastic. I pounced upon it with glee and told S that we both should buy it.
S looked at me speechless - she couldn't believe that my whacky-souvenir-wearing agenda involved going about in public wearing plastic ears on our heads. Finally she said "You know what? I don't think I will ever wear it again after taking the picture." And it struck me that she was right. No point buying ears that you won't wear ever. So I gave up buying those ears, albeit a little sadly.
Then, towards evening, S spotted a face painting stall. "Aha, I will get my face painted. That is the whacky thing I will do." I hemmed and hawed. But S's enthusiasm rubbed off on me. Besides painting my face was something I had never done before (not counting the tons of white paint-like stuff they used to put on your face as make-up while participating in school plays) and I too decided to get my face painted.
S chose a pattern called Rose Beauty. Needless to say, like it often happens in such situations, I could not find any pattern which I liked as much as the Rose Beauty pattern. So I decided that I would get the same pattern too. We both got our faces painted. In a funny kind of way, it looked really cute and we both were extremely pleased with the results.
For the rest of the time in Universal Studios, we fit into the equally well made-up crowd very well. By now, we were also wearing the free beads flung by the members of parade which went around Universal studios every hour or so. With painted faces and beads, we looked like total hippies and were loving every minute of it!
Finally, as the night wore on and the cold December wind began freezing our marrows, we decided to skip the Spiderman show we had wanted to watch and just return back to the hotel instead. But first, we had to return the rental car.
For a change, my navigation skills actually got us to the rental-car return center on the first try itself. Yaaay! We returned the car without any problem even though the lady behind the counter seemed to look at us rather keenly while processing our receipts.
Then we had to wait for the courtesy shuttle which would take us back to the hotel. Which was when I had this queer feeling that someone was watching me. I turned around and caught a lady to my side quickly turn her head. Then I noticed a teenage girl whispering to her companion ( whose back was facing us). The teenager's face had the exact same look that people have when telling their companion: "Don't look immediately, but if you look at that person behind you, you will see that he/she is looking weird/queer/funny".
Sure enough, a few seconds later, the companion turned a little too nonchalantly to stare at me. When she realized that I was already looking right at her, she gave an embarassed smile and quickly turned back.
I found this behavior funny but very weird and decided to call it to S's attention to see if she had noticed anything strange too. Which was when I noticed her painted face and her beads and realized I still had them on too. While we had been ultra-cool, hip and had completely belonged at Universal Studios, at this car-rental center, far away from Universal Studios, we probably looked like two hippies who were part of a travelling circus or a rock band! No wonder everyone wanted to stare at the weirdos!
The moment this realization hit, both of us burst into laughter. Whoever said "When in Rome, act like the Romans do" was obviously not talking through their hat!
Mercifully, we had to endure further stares only from the shuttle driver and hotel conceirge before we could hit our room, take pics and finally wash it all off. The pics came out very well :-D.
It was stumbling upon the pics while looking for something else which reminded me of the whole incident and prompted me to write this post :-)! Ah, now you know it did not come quite out of nowhere ;-)!
On an entirely unrelated note, how many of you poor folks in California have a tough time enduring those horrible Tom Shane radio ads for the Shane company? Those ads always used to annoy me but of late they seem to be on radio all the time. I can feel my blood pressure raise every time I hear Tom Shane's boring and pedantic voice. Unfortunately, I listen to the radio the most while I am driving and I am sure that driving with extreme irritation is a not good thing. If someone knows of a petition to prohibit the Shane company from advertising till they change the format of the advertisements, please let me know. Ugh, ugh, ugh :-(!