I went to Scotland in the summer of 2017 for a short semester. I was super stoked for all of the beautiful scenery, culture, and haunted dungeons, (and, of course, you know, the writing classes). However, I did not anticipate actually becoming a tourist attraction.
I Mean – Look At This Place!
While I was in Scotland, we had a ton of time to go out and explore – take whisky tours, try variants of haggis (yum), chug some Irn-Bru (god, why). So, I went on a tour with a group of friends through the Scottish Highlands. Included, was a short cruise around Loch Ness. No – I didn’t see Nessie. This is where I became the main attraction.
“Did she fall off the boat?”
“Did she have too much scotch before getting on and blow chunks?”
“Did she -”
I did nothing – other than be my normal, ginger self.
I was standing on the back of the boat with my friends, just taking in the black water and fresh air. There was a crumbling castle off to the right, shrinking as we sailed away from the shore and back to the docks. It would be a while before landing, so I sat on the bench lining the back of the boat. I was soon joined by another woman, her huge family close behind.
I didn’t really pay much attention to the large group – I believe they were from China – because, well, I’m from Northern New Jersey and we’re good at ignoring large, touristy crowds. But the woman who sat beside me inched closer. So, I scooted away, giving her room. Hey – maybe she wanted some more space for her kids or husband. But she slid closer and closer.
May I Help You?
I was getting kind of nervous (and a little annoyed), so I looked up at her and she smiled, then motioned to her camera.
“Picture?” She asked.
Shrugging, I agreed and stood. I thought this was a photo of her enormous group with the (now very small) castle in the background. But no. She shook her head and tugged my sleeve, then motioned, pointing between the two of us.
She Wanted A Photo With Me.
Surprised, I nodded. We posed on the bench and smiled while her husband took the photo. Then, someone else joined in. And another. More phones and cameras popped up among the family as time went on. They took turns like I was Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom. Once the whole group got their photos, they thanked me (and another friend of mine who was asked to join in) and headed to the front of the boat.
After a few minutes of speculating, one friend pointed out that the two of us have red hair – one ginger, and one more like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. We realized that they may have been intrigued by our hair color. Later, I did a little research and found that other gingers who have gone abroad, specifically to China, have had similar interactions.
We laughed about the situation – we’re Americans with little-to-no Scottish blood (or, so I thought). I didn’t know about my Scottish heritage (or my Disney Double) until months later.
Streets Of New York.
I could have made quite a profit. NYC has a ton of cartoon character knock-offs walking around the touristy streets. Think: skeevy Spongebobs and handsy Hulks. They wander around and take photos with starry-eyed city-goers – for a price.
Next time, I’m charging $5.