I have a gnome.

His name is Gnomey, and Kara gave him to me for my birthday one year, just prior to us going to Paris for the second time. He's a "travelling gnome," about an inch high, and carrying a little suitcase that I believe is filled with the souls of unwary travelers. But as my Gnomey is a sort of gentle, kind-hearted and friendly gnome, it's probably just a lot of neatly folded gnome underwear. He wears the exact same outfit every day, so clean underwear seems reasonable. 

When she first gave me Gnomey, Kara was way more excited about him than I was. "He's so cute! You can take pictures of him everywhere we go! We should call him Gnomey!"

"Nah, not Gnomey," I said. "That's not a cool name. I'll think of something."

"What's wrong with Gnomey?"

"It's not cool."

"I think it's a cute name!"

"I will never call him Gnomey!"

[insert hours of back-and-forth and some screaming]

So Gnomey is a travelling gnome, and the idea is to take him with you when you go to neat places, and then photograph him in those neat places. And at first, I thought this was a dumb idea. Because gnome, that's why.

But turns out, it's actually pretty handy to have a ready model to place in a photograph. Instead of taking endless photos of something that is really interesting in context but really boring when you're trying to get your friends to focus on your two-hour slide show, adding a touch of Gnomey to the mix makes for scads of hilarity and amusement. It also opens up all new possibilites for taking photos even in places that are boring and unworthy of normal, non-Wordslinger attention.

The trouble starts when you forget to bring Gnomey. When he's left at home while you galavant across the Texas hill country, or tromp through snow in Colorado, or tromp through snow in Utah, or go on road trips to see all the rich folk houses. He gets to kick back and watch your big screen TV, munching on traveler souls from his suit case, while you wonder why you even own a camera, because without Gnomey the world is so boring.

Today Kara and I are going to Moody Gardens in Galveston,  with my friend Bob and his wife and kids. I have Gnomey at the ready, suitcase in hand. The camera's batteries are all charged up. I am prepared. I will gnomify that whole joint. And we will feast on SO MANY TRAVELER SOULS.

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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.


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