Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day: Pomp, Circumstance and Bobble-head Dolls

We have just inaugurated the 44th President of the United States. And what good old American celebration would be complete without cheap, gaudy souvenirs to commemorate the occasion.

I was watching news coverage of the pre-inauguration festivities yesterday, and a reporter was talking about the variety of Barack Obama souvenirs that are on sale. She interviewed a guy that had already sold 1,500 Obama bobble-head dolls and had to order more.

Why is it that we feel compelled to honor any major event with t-shirts, hats and mugs? I can still remember some of the stuff people were selling as part of the United States Bicentennial Celebration back in 1976. What true blue, red-blooded American could properly observe our nation's 200th birthday without a pair of commemorative underpants.

Apparently this phenomenon is not limited to Americans. I recall watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson back when Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married. He was showing some of the souveniers on sale for that event. The one I will never forget was a t-shirt emblazoned with the words "The Morning After" on the front and showed the Prince and Princess sitting in bed with black eyes and missing teeth. And I thought we Americans had cornered the market on tackiness.

When Pope John Paul II passed away, I bought a commemorative issue of People that focused on his life and his papacy. On one page, there was a display of products that apparently were on sale when he was made pope. There was actually a bar of soap shaped like his head on a string called--you guessed it--Pope on a Rope. Somewhere, there is a soapmaker headed straight to hell.

As for me, I will celebrate this historic moment without buying shirts or spending $10 on a commemorative $1 bill with President Obama's face on it. I will, however, be doing an internet search later today to see if I can find an Obama Bobble-Head Doll.

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