Tramp Stamps by Chris Wilkensen

December 5, 2013 Comments Off on Tramp Stamps by Chris Wilkensen

People collect so many tangible things: DVDs, clothes, photos. Then, the intangibles: tattoos, STDs, calories. I used to think collecting products was a waste of time and money. Like I had money to collect stuff anyway.

Despite my anti-materialism, I would purchase a stamp machine. My desire to travel would dissipate. Different colors, characters, but roughly the same size. Different settings on the stamp machine.

Anti-consumerism ideals. Sometimes they lead me to stupid decisions. For example, the government savings bonds my mom saved for my college tuition. Like I wanted to learn what the man wanted me to know. Unnecessary to use the bonds. Except to travel. And so I did.

The dictionary taught me the following for free, unlike college-credit courses.

stamp (stæmp)

n.

An official mark, design, or seal that indicates ownership, approval, completion, or the payment of a tax.

The ones that took me from country to country. Arrival and departure dates. Passport stamps.

tramp (træmp)

n.

One who travels aimlessly about on foot, doing odd jobs or begging for a living; a vagrant.

A person regarded as promiscuous.

The first one described me perfectly. The second one exaggerated wildly.

tramp stamp [træmp stæmp]

n.

A lower back tattoo as a body decoration, sometimes intended to emphasize sexual attractiveness.

Not to be confused with my self-coined term about traveling solely for passport stamps.

After almost four months of backpacking across Europe, it was time to come home. Twelve passport stamps deserved a break. I arranged my arrival date perfectly to surprise my mom on Mother’s Day.

“What do you want for Mother’s Day? Dinner? Something else?”

“You know you don’t have to get me anything. I’m just happy that you’re here today. How long’s it going to be this time?”

“I ask you all the time what to get you for Christmas, your birthday, Mother’s Day. But you always say you never need anything. Well, what do you want?”

“If I never needed anything before, then I don’t need anything now.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, while flipping through my passport.

“If I say that we should get dinner, would that be convincing? I have money.”

“Let me see that,” my mom said.

I handed her my passport. She pretended to throw it out the kitchen window. I screamed.

“Don’t even pretend to do that, Mom!” I wagged my index finger at her.

My mom laughed. Then, she pointed toward the fridge. “All your postcards.”

“I didn’t forget about you,” I said.

She took a deep breath.

“If you really want to do something for me on Mother’s Day, then stay here for a while. You don’t need to go anywhere else.”

“Okay, okay, okay.”

“Do you mean it?”

“Yes. Now please give me my passport.”

“Let’s get dinner. My treat.” She smiled and handed me my navy-blue book.

© 2013 Chris Wilkensen

Chris is a scribe whose heart lives in Chicago and body survives in Asia for the moment. He passes the time by blinking his eyes and flipping through fine fiction. His work has appeared in Thoughtsmith, The Rusty Nail, The Story Shack and others.

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