I am shopping my way through northern New Mexico. I’m a great one for adapting to the local environment. As soon as I arrive in the southwest, my lust for all things silver and turquoise and cowboy resurfaces. I tell myself, Of course, I’d have lots of places to wear that squash blossom necklace or concha belt or chaps in Ohio. It’s all about attitude.
Just like I know I could wear a sarong in Columbus, with the right accessories. And a heavy sweater.
The woman in the store always encourages this. She slings that sarong around your body in one minute flat. But something will happen to it on the way home, so that the first time you go to wear it, you will fuss with it for an hour and then wad it up and throw it on the floor of the closet behind the leather leggings.
There are two standard greetings in tourist shops. First, they find something you are already wearing to compliment you on. That’s a lovely bracelet, they say. Or that’s a stunning jacket you have on, did you buy that here? Or, those socks are striking—I wouldn’t have thought of putting those colors together. This convinces you that you have good taste. That way, if something looks good to you, you will have the confidence to buy it on impulse and overpay.
The second standard greeting is, Where are you from? Which lets you know that they have immediately marked you as a tourist in search of genuine Native American curios. And you say, Ohio, and they say, We see lots of people from Ohio, which makes you think there’s this mass exodus from Ohio to New Mexico, and you’re at the tail end of it. And maybe all the sarongs have already been bought.
Oh, wait. Not sarongs. We’re buying turquoise this trip. And fetishes, which always sound a little dodgy to me.
Every shop in every tourist destination is having a 60% off sale, that day only, and isn’t it lucky that you chose to visit on that very day!
If you have any hesitation about buying something, they whip out the ultimate weapon: the Certificate of Authenticity and Appraisal, done by their brother-in-law in the back room.
And the thing is, you have to buy it. Because if you don’t, that thing will look better and better in the rear view mirror.