Our first "Just Asking" query, about what you collect as travel souvenirs, ran four weeks ago, and judging from the responses -- including invitations to see your slides of Kuwait and refrigerator magnet collections -- you were just waiting for someone to pop the question. And you told all, providing detailed inventories -- broken down by country -- of prized souvenirs, with entire families reporting in some cases.
You collect and display all manner of art -- original and not-so -- and crafts, ceramics, coins, charms, cassettes of "country" music, Christmas ornaments, wood carvings and cuckoo clocks. You horde swizzle sticks and shot glasses; hotel shower caps, soaps and sample shampoos; match books, magnets, menus, mugs and maps; rows of rosaries, rocks and rugs; shelves of shells, saucers and spoons. You are, collectively, a neatnik's nightmare.
Standouts were collections of dice (brass, glass, wooden and Revolutionary War-era, from Helen Judy of Annandale) and "sheep in all forms -- stuffed, dressed or nude" (Selma Cohen, Bethesda). Wendy Bronson of Alexandria collects "movable pens" with pictures, to the strictest standards: "There must be no air bubbles and no sticking." There were "toilet papers of the world" (Pauline Vetter, Fairfax, and Irene Melonson, D.C.) and a collection of foreign coke bottles (Suzanne Glaser, Rockville). There were masks, "the more grotesque the better," said Marsha Dubrow of D.C., and evil-eye talismans. They work: "I haven't had an evil eye problem in years," wrote Nancy Wright of Bethesda.
While some travelers look for quality goods, and the truly indigenous, others take tacky. The ultimate measure of truly tasteless? "When I'm embarrassed to fork over the money," said Joanna Pessa, D.C. Oh, and about those invitations to view your magnet collections? While they are, we admit, a real draw, we do have a column to write.
(Watch for "Just Asking" on the second Sunday of the month -- the next one, Jan. 13 -- with answers four weeks later.)