I’m a guy and proud of it.  I don’t wear pink, don’t eat quiche and don’t watch figure skating on TV.  For me, it’s black T-shirts, fried eggs and Broncos football.  I wear my “man card” stapled to my forehead.

            When guys like me travel, we don’t go shopping. 

            Okay, there are exceptions.  Bookstores and photo galleries lure me in faster than a poodle to table droppings.  But I don’t consider that shopping.  I’m a professional writer/photographer.  That’s research.

            I do, however, have one wallet-emptying weakness.  It began years ago on a trip to photograph Canadian polar bears.  At a gift shop, I saw a stuffed example that I thought would make a welcome present for my wife.  Out came the credit card and home came the critter.

            That first boughten bruin was soon joined by a California black bear, an Alaskan grizzly and a Chinese panda.  Then came kangaroos, kiwis, koalas, raccoons, ravens, wolves, bison, foxes, otters, owls, penguins, prairie dogs, mountain goats, moose and more.

            Being a guy, not all of my critters qualify as cute.  I’ve got a Tasmanian devil, desert javelina, jackrabbit, skunk, shark, lobster, gator, tarantula and bearded Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia doll.

            My wife’s favorites are my stuffed rattlesnakes.  She still shrieks with delight every time she encounters one coiled in her dainties drawer.

            I’m now matrimonially barred from gift shops when I travel.  Still, new critters continue to appear.

            Yes, it’s a good thing I wear my man card stapled to my forehead.