While saying so is probably tantamount to confessing that I’m a hopelessly materialistic person, I love giving and receiving presents. Birthdays, graduations, housewarmings, congratulations-on-finally-dumping-that-slimy-douchebag celebrations — it’s all fair game for my impulse to foist things on people.
The one kind of gift I’m definitely less fond of: souvenirs. They’re pretty much obligatory when you or someone else has gone overseas, and that “checking off a list” quality usually results in a tacky bauble picked up last thing at the airport. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve given my fair share of Mt Fuji fridge magnets and Space Needle pens too, but when I have the time and money I like to splash out and get something both practical and unique to the country I’m visiting that my loved ones will treasure forever — or at least until their dog eats it.
Luckily for me, this time the universe (and/or the local textile industry) provided. I’ve been to Taiwan enough times now that I was starting to run out of souvenir ideas, short of terrorising people with another attempt at making felt finger puppets of their favourite TV characters (last time, so very tragically, all of Stiles’ freckles fell off).
But then I started to notice a strange phenomenon: loads of stores I passed in Taipei had started selling superhero socks! Yes, even though every day was providing new ways for me to complain about the 90% humidity. Many of the major DC and Marvel characters were accounted for in diminutive knitted form too, from The Hulk to Catwoman to Wolverine. Unlicensed merchandise or no, I had stumbled across the perfect combination of cute, practical and highly portable souvenirs for all my fannish friends. My one quibble? When’s the last time you saw Batman look that contented about anything?