One of our "rituals" before going to the Hospital is to go see The Pin Man.
Twinkle has a world-class collection of pins that she has accumulated in the last eleven years of Hospital trips. She's a wicked little trader - shrewd and careful, she knows which pins have more value, which ones are fairly common. She has several in her collection that are "rare", and one in particular that was only given at a certain event, to certain Shriners.
When we get to the Hospital, she'll whip that big old book out, and Shriners will start to gather around her. Some to see what's new, others to trade, some just to admire this collection that all started out with one little pin. It's a fun way for her to pass the time in the Clinic waiting rooms, and when she gets done trading for the day, she goes around and passes out her pins to patients, and new Hospital Staff members.
Needless to say, she's always popular at the Hospital.
Long ago, Twinks decided that she wanted her own pin for trading. She wanted a pin that was instantly recognizable - so that if she saw it in someone else's collection, she would know it was one of hers right away.
In my life pre-Twinkle, I did business with a guy in our city who came to be listed in my Rolodex as simply "The Pin Man". If he didn't have what we needed in stock, he could get it. This guy is one of those old-school salesmen - he remembers every customer, every client. He can tell you every detail of every order they have placed with him over the years. He also has an exceptional memory for jokes; as someone who can't remember the pertinent details of Letterman's monologue 15 minutes later, I am amazed at his ability to carry all of these jokes around in his head.
So, I called The Pin Man. After a brief explanation, he says "Come on down, and bring Twinkle. We'll find something just right." Twinks was probably all of 5 years old at the time. Everything was high adventure at that age. Just going downtown in the city was a Big Deal, going downtown to see The Pin Man was almost as good as going to the circus!
Twinkle loves The Pin Man instantly. The walls are covered, floor to ceiling with examples of his trade. He looks over her growing collection, and they talk for a few minutes. He notices the silly little yellow smiley-face sticker on her shirt, and jokingly asks her if that is a picture of her. He shows her a beautiful sparkly smiley face pin. She's sold. That's it. Yellow smiley faces.
These silly little lapel pins are just one of the reasons that Twinkle never seems to mind the trip to Hospital City. They sparkle and gleam on the pages of her book, and each one holds a story or a memory for her. There are pins commemorating different Shrine Circus events, some for the "units" (like the guys in the little cars, or the clown groups, or the mounted patrols), and many are from the Potentates - the "head guy" of each Shrine Temple. She has traded with Shriners from all over the nation that come to the Hospital to visit; during one really memorable Hospital trip, the Shrine Convention was in town... and a large group just happened to show up at the Clinic, just as the Twinkster was opening her book. She really cleaned up that day - she scored so many pins that we had to add two pages to the book!
So, today we went to visit The Pin Man. Twink took along her book to show him, as always. They sat together, poring over the pages, admiring the designs as Twink narrated each one's purpose or meaning. We bought another bag of 50, a little plastic bag full of sunny little yellow smiley faces. I predict that well before we leave Hospital City that bag will be nearly empty.
And Twinkle will fill another page in her pin book with sparkly memories, and another spot in heart with new friends.