The worst possible thing that a traveler can suffer is a case of the dreaded "Shuddabots."
I feel light-headed recalling the handmade, blue-glass ice bucket I shuddabot in Guadalajara, Mexico. I am overcome by nausea every time I think of the eel-skin wallet I shuddabot in Seoul, Korea. Even hearing an Irish ditty can send me into a frenzy because I shuddabot more Waterford crystal at the factory.
The Shuddabots usually strike when you arrive home and are unpacking your suitcase. They can sometimes hit as you are boarding your airplane or, more likely, when you are at 30,000 feet. Occasionally they attack when you return to your hotel room late at night, all the stores are closed and you have a 6 a.m. flight the next morning.
In rare instances it happens when you are still in the area and can quickly race out and buy the items, providing instant relief.
The Shuddabots, like malaria, are characterized by periodic attacks, and they commonly recur years later. Every time I wear my lavender silk blouse I am ill because I shuddabot a matching jade bracelet in Hong Kong.
My mother still has hot flashes over a silver pickle fork with a fleur-de-lis design that she shuddabot in Florence, Italy, in 1935.
Holidays usually bring on relapses of the Shuddabots. Remembering items for friends and relatives that you shuddabot can give you a migraine.
No One Immune
Women are usually infected more than men. However, no one is immune. A male friend was showing me the hand-painted, gold-leaf wooden boxes he bought in Russia. He suddenly had such a severe seizure that he could not continue the show. Instead, he went into a lengthy explanation of the more beautiful and more expensive ones he shuddabot.
First-time travelers are almost defenseless against the Shuddabots, but even with experience, it is never totally under control.
On a recent trip to Romania I wisely bought two jars of a wrinkle cream for $1.50 each. I mentioned it to my fellow tour members as we journeyed through the countryside.
When a woman from Washington said, "Oh, I use that. It's $50 an ounce at home," the Shuddabots became so acute that I could barely wait until the bus stopped and I could dash to a store and buy several more jars.
The Shuddabots can occur when even discussing travel. A friend was asking my advice on packing for a safari when I remembered the adorable coffee mug decorated with simba and a lion that I shuddabot in Kenya. I paled and begged her to bring me one.
The Shuddabots are incurable, but a few preventive measures can ease and lessen the bouts.
--If something catches your eye, buy it. Do not hesitate. If you do, the bus will leave, the store will close or someone else will grab it and buy it.
--If you are buying an item to give as a gift, buy two. Otherwise, when you get home, it will be so irresistible that poor Aunt Vergie will never get it.
--If a traveling companion or fellow tour member is enthusiastic about an item, you need it, too.
--If you go to another shop and see the item cheaper, do not despair. Buy another. It will make a wonderful gift.
--Don't worry about an item being too bulky or too large. Most shopkeepers are prepared to pack items for checking on airlines or shipping.
My huge wicker basket from Jamaica and my blue-and-gray pottery crock from Germany were real challenges but are among my favorite souvenirs.
You can guard against it and think you are cured, but when you least expect it, the Shuddabots rear their ugly head. You'll swoon and begin to recall all those long-ago items: the puppet from Jaipur, India; the tea set from Taiwan; the llama slippers from Lima, Peru; the silk beads. . . .