I love the World Hum blog. The pieces speak to real, gritty, Therouxian travelers. Earlier I came across a brilliant and hysterical piece by Spud Hilton, discussing the “fine art” of place dropping. It’s like name dropping but instead of making yourself cool by association to a person, you subtly (or not so subtly) make yourself cool by association to far off places. For instance, from my “place dropper” archives:
“What a fantastic necklace!”“Thanks! I got it from a silversmith in Lamu who collected the ancient pottery on the beach from 15th century ship wrecks.”.“Where did you get that scar?”“Yeah, it’s a little souvenir from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.”.“You’re so tan!”“Oh I know! I guess I should have reapplied the SPF when I was in Dahab, but I just couldn’t pull myself away from the Blue Hole.”.
It scares me how naturally I recognize an opportunity to place drop. Even while working a shift at Borders tonight I saw the window and went for it without missing a beat. I came across a girl about my age in the travel section (OBVIOUSLY my FAVORITE section of the ENTIRE store) surrounded by books on Italy, specifically Rome. I just couldn’t help myself.
“Are you planning a trip?”“Yeah, well sort of… a friend and I are thinking of heading to Italy for a couple of weeks.”“It’s a beautiful place, you’ll love it. And springtime in Rome is so exciting. Each year they put closed azaleas all over the Spanish Steps and let them bloom in the sun.”“Have you been?”“Yeah, I lived in Rome for a couple of months a few years back.” (Note: saying you lived somewhere exciting is much cooler than saying that you studied there for a semester.)“Oh wow! How exciting! What was your favorite part of living there? Tell me everything, you’re officially the coolest bookseller I’ve ever met. I will hang on your every word.” (I’m paraphrasing.).
I know, I know. I’m pathetic. I’ve had a handful of interesting travel experiences and have been fortunate enough to visit some amazing places and suddenly I think I’m Samantha Brown – with far less class, of course.