The Wolfpack Files

My Life in My Words

Monday, November 26, 2007


If you take a look at various Facebook/Friendster/MySpace pages (as well as the random resume) you'll find that everyone has a hobby. One definition of hobby is: "An activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure." So you'll see people list skiing or listening to music or collecting stamps as a hobby they enjoy. My hobby is collecting keychains. To those of you that know me, you know I've been doing this for quite a while. For those of you who don't know me - I've been collecting keychains for quite a while. I don't know when I first started, but at the moment I have about 225 hanging on my walls, and at least that many in various bags, as I've run out of places to hang them.

Collecting keychains may seem an odd choice for a hobby, but the way I look at it, they're usually fairly easy to find wherever you travel and they're rather inexpensive. And when people go away on vacation an
d say 'can I bring you anything' I can always say, 'sure, bring me a keychain.' Is there an airport in the world that doesn't have a gift shop with keychains for sale? I think not. So over the years I've gotten a lot of keychains. I can't say that I have a single favorite one, but there are a lot that I enjoy. I've got one that's a fake chicken's foot, which a friend sent from China. I've got one that looks like a piece of sushi, which a friend brought back from Japan. I've got a couple in the shape of feet with sand from the city it came from. I've got Popeye, Frankenstein, Homer Simpson and the Loch Ness Monster. I've got this cool one of a dog with a working clock in the middle. I've got keychains that talk (including one that has the 2004 Red Sox LCS and World Series championship final outs.) I've even got one with my name written on it, in Korean. I'm pretty sure I've got one from every continent, except Antarctica (and if my parents ever go on that cruise, I'm set.)

The reason I started collecting anything... now there's a story I'm betting no one knows. It all started, as a lot of my stories do, back in elementary school. I don't remember exactly what grade, but I'm thinking somewhere in the 4th-6th range. We had a Hobby Day in school where all the kids were supposed to bring in their hobbies to share with the other students. Me being the stellar student I was, I remembered the morning of Hobby Day. So my mother and I quickly scanned the house to find something collectable. Having traveled a little bit back then, we had coins from a few countries. So we rounded up different coins from Canada, India, England, the U.S. and maybe a couple of other places, put them into these plastic coin holders that you could get in Fruity Pebble boxes, and off I went to school.

As soon as I stepped into the classroom, I knew I was in trouble. People had all sorts of things on their desks. But the worst was this kid named... Chris Eastwood I think. Chris had a coin collection. But his was a real collection. He had coins from every place imaginable, and he had them in these official looking cardboard coin holders. Since my coins were in my bag, no one had seen them and I decided I was going to do the honorable thing and lie and say I left my hobby at home. So when my turn came up, I mumbled something about forgetting my collection at home. I didn't feel that bad because as I had sat down, I noticed that two other people didn't have anything at their desk. Gail and Steven if memory serves. So I figured I was OK - I wouldn't be the only loser. But something curious happened. As the teacher went around the room, she skipped over Gail and Steven without asking them anything. I thought maybe they had spoken to her earlier and said they had left theirs at home, so she was being nice and wasn't going to make them say it aloud.

We got to the end of Hobby Day (which was about an hour in the morning) and the day went on. I felt embarrassed, but since I wasn't the only person without a hobby, I didn't feel too horrible. Then gym class came and our teacher came with us. This didn't normally happen since there was an actual gym teacher, so I couldn't figure out why our regular teacher was there. Then she said "OK class, now Gail and Steven are going to show us their hobbies." I was mortified. It turns out Gail's hobby was gymnastics, and Steven's was basketball. They proceeded to show us a few moves and everyone clapped and blah blah blah. I ended up being the only person without a hobby.

From that day I was determined to collect something. I never considered playing baseball or tennis or soccer a hobby because it wasn't something you could show someone easily. I needed to collect something. My first collection? I shouldn't say this because it's completely ridiculous... but my first collection was the insert cards you get from magazines. Yes, those cards that let you sign up for other magazines. I had a ton of them under my mattress at one point. I'm not sure when I realized it was ludicrous to collect these things, but one day I came to my senses and tossed them out. The next thing I remember trying to collect was bookmarks. That didn't go so well since, while they could be cool, there weren't a lot of places to get them. That one re-emerged briefly in the early 90s when I was in London and found that they had a lot of nice bookmarks.

I also collected shot glasses for a while, and still kind of do, although not as seriously as before. They're nice to look at and all, but there was something odd about being someone who didn't drink and collecting shot glasses. And then the keychains came up. I don't know exactly what my first 'collecting' key chain was, but I think it was from a cruise we went on when I was younger. It's from Norwegian Cruise Lines - the M/S Sunward II. It's in the shape of those circular life preservers. I remember actually using it for keys for the longest time before I realized that I didn't want to eventually break it, so I put it aside and it now hangs in the center of one of my keychain squares.

So there you have it, the story of my keychain collection. It all started one fateful day in elementary school because Chris Eastwood (I hope that's his name) had a better coin collection. I wonder sometimes what would have happened if I had shown my coin collection that day. Would I have ever bothered to try collecting anything? Or would my keychains have been sold to 500 other people around the world? In closing I'd like to say, if any of you reading this happens to be travelling somewhere and sees a cool keychain or two... I'd be more than happy if you sent them to me :-)