During my MFA program, I studied abroad in Scotland during the summer of 2017. I had never been out of the country and was ready to learn about the Scottish culture, rich history, climb an extinct volcano to Arthur’s Seat and basically be a tourist while exploring the castles and haunted dungeons. I was fortunate to have done it all with great company – especially during our tour of the Highlands. However, I did not anticipate actually becoming a tourist attraction while on our boat ride around Loch Ness.
“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 group 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, thinking she wanted some more space for her kids or husband. But she slid closer and closer.
May I Help You?
I was getting nervous (and a little annoyed), so I looked up at her and she smiled, then motioned to her camera.
“Picture?” She had a thick accent.
Shrugging, I agreed and stood, thinking she wanted a photo with her family and the rolling hills in the background. But she shook her head and pointed between the two of us.
She Wanted A Photo With Me.
Surprised, I nodded again. We posed on the bench and smiled while her husband took a 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 Princess Merida from Brave 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.
The Missed Opportunity.
Looking back, I could have made quite a profit. NYC has a ton of cartoon character knock-offs walking around Times Square to take photos with starry-eyed NYC first-timers. For a price, of course.
Next time, I’m charging $5 per person.