Gift-giving the scavenger hunt way |

Gift-giving the scavenger hunt way

One of the great joys of going on vacation – besides figuring out a way to write the whole thing off as a business expense – is picking up little mementos for your friends.

Most people are sarcastically appreciative; they’re just glad you thought of them when you decided to plunk down $5.95 for a Utah shot glass that doesn’t hold liquid.

They don’t take offense if you get them a cheesy magnet or a snow globe. They say they can’t wait to hold a party at which they will serve the kangaroo tail soup you brought them.

Not my friends. They’ve seen the gifts I return with, so now they make specific requests. And when they heard (for the 48,290th time) that my family was headed to California and Hawaii, those requests began to roll in.

“Hey, I’m not going to get to Hawaii anytime soon,” said a friend I’ll call … “Jim.” “Can you get me a coconut? Can you mail it?”

Sure, yeah. I guess that’d be kind of fun to get a coconut in your post office box.

“Hawaii? Really?” a friend I’ll call … “Cathy” said. “Can you get me one of those aloha shirts? Medium. Red. With lots of flowers, but not an organized design? If they don’t have red, blue – a light, aquamarine blue – will do. I guess.”

Uh, OK. Sure.

“I need a pound of that granular salt that they cook with,” my friend … “Cheri” said. “You know the kind. They scrape it off those huge salt beds? It’s supposed to be really great. I’ll let you know if I notice the difference.”

Salt. OK …

Our vacation was turning into one giant scavenger hunt.

“Anything from the North Shore would be great!” “Jason” said.

“You’re going to San Francisco?” said … “Steve.” “Hey, could you pick me up one of those rubber chickens, like the one that was ruined in the Ullr Fest parade?

Uh, sure, if I see one.

“Oh, and get me one of those other chickens, you know, like the other chicken thing that was trampled by kids in the April Fool’s parade?”

Oh, yeah, that’ll be easy.

“Hey! If they’re all getting chickens, I want a chicken,” “Lenny” said. “I want a live chicken. You think you could bring me back a live chicken?”

No. You have to draw the line somewhere.

You’d think after one “no,” they’d stop. Haha! Right.

“If you think about it, I’d like a sarong …”

“Can you get me a jar of sand? Black sand would be best. And a shell. Any kind.”

“I’d like a bottle of water from Waikiki!”

“Can you get me one of those crickets in a box? It’s for my sister’s birthday.”

“Oh, that reminds me! I forgot to pick up something for my brother’s kid when I was in San Francisco. Do you think you could run by this little store, it’s called Lark in the Morning, and get a pennywhistle? I’ll pay you back …”

I was unable to locate a rubber chicken, although I could have had many live ones for “Lenny” because Mad Chicken Disease du Jour had created what will certainly go down as the Chicken Glut of 2004.

I went to Lark in the Morning and bought a pennywhistle. The cricket in a box … I’m sure he was pulling my leg on that one.

On to Hawaii. In Oah’u, I gathered a jar of white Waikiki sand and a bottle of ocean water. I picked up a sarong, an aloha shirt and a pound of salt in the local marketplace. The coconut I purchased from a street vendor in Hawaii Kai.

I flew to Maui, rented a car and drove to Black Beach, where, I’d been told, there was black sand. There wasn’t. I was on the wrong Black Beach. I needed to be on the Big Island. And, my Mauiian friends noted, you can’t take black sand from the islands or you’ll bring terrible karma down on yourself, and have to return the sand – in person. Sounds like a marketing ploy to me.

The last day of our visit, I gathered all the trinkets and stuffed them into my suitcase, whose zipper immediately broke. I had to buy brand new luggage, darn the luck!

I’m billing my friends for the cost.

Jane Stebbins writes a Wednesday column for the Summit Daily News. She can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or, unless she’s off collecting things for her friends.

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