P. T. Barnum said “There’s a sucker born every minute.” W. C. Fields said “It is morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money,” then went on to say “Never give a sucker an even break.” Well, we seem to be two of them even though born about 400,000 minutes apart, who willingly handed over our hard-earned money, and couldn’t have gotten a break even if we tried. We’ll be happy to explain.
You’ll recall we recently took a mini-vacation to Niagara Falls, the ones on the New York side of the river. It was there, in the Niagara Falls State Park, inside the conveniently located NFSP Visitors’ Center, that the State of New York recognized us and another 10 or 12 visitors as the suckers we so clearly must be. After visiting their facilities and sharing a $4.00 soft drink we decided to view the IMAX film, Niagara Legends of Adventure at the Niagara Adventure Theater. Thanks to all the Niagara myths and legends and spirits, and that it was winter, we got to take advantage of the low, low, half-off the regular admission winter rates. If we had to pay the full price to see a re-enactment of the legendary Seneca wedding featuring a runaway bride, a runway barrel with a runaway teacher and cat contained therein, a runaway steam boat chugging downstream, and a runaway family afternoon in the park ending with the runaway Seneca bride hanging out under the falls while all around her fall over the falls, we’d have felt dumb. (There’s more to the story than that –well, actually, no, there isn’t.) And once the 30-some minute show was over we got to exit. And so we did, directly into the visitor center gift shop. And it was there than we did what any self-respecting visitors do. We bought overpriced souvenirs and marveled at the deals we were getting.
Except for the extremely hokey and overpriced movie, the visitor center was what we’ve come to expect from the average tourist attraction. The truth is, including the extremely hokey and overpriced movie, the visitor center was what we’ve come to expect from the average tourist attraction. And we ask, why?
This isn’t the first hokey movie we’ve seen on vacation. (See “We’re On Vacation, Part 3.” In fact, see all three parts of “We’re on Vacation” under the Travel tab.) And it’s not the first time we’ve been unceremoniously dumped into the gift shop after a hokey movie. But it was the first time that we stopped ourselves from grabbing at the gaudy-colored, poorly screened t-shirt that proclaims to the world that we are living proof that P. T. Barnum was right. Who decided that every vacation must end with a purchase of the vacation spot emblazoned across a t-shirt. They are like the designer bag for the vacation set and say, “I have arrived,” or “I have been taken.” Other souvenirs are at least useful. Shot glasses and coffee cups can hold coffee and shots, bumper stickers and decals can be pasted to car bumpers or other places, magnets can be stuck on refrigerators. Hoodies keep out the chill. Sleep shirts keep in the warmth. Plates commemorate. Thimbles decorate. Post cards enunciate. But T-shirts? Twenty-nine dollar t-shirts? They just get dusty in drawers until they get to become dust rags.
So we got to see a magnificent natural sight. And then got taken in a typical man-made fright. It’s all in a vacation. By the way, did you know you can get commemorative mittens? Now that’s practical.
Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?