Charlie Chaplin is buried near here, in a lakeside town called Vevey.
I can’t say I’m a fan of Chaplin. I don’t have anything against him, particularly – I’ve just never exactly been inspired or entertained by any of his work. And, while I can respect him for having brought laughter and comic relief to the world throughout two World Wars, and will probably go in search of his grave while I’m in the area, the knowledge that good ol’ Charlie breathed his last in Vevey doesn’t get me terribly excited.
Unlike the large group of tourists who were there when I was busily trying to take a photograph of a large fork in Lac Léman. That’s right. a fork. As in a piece of cutlery, not a split in the path. Weirdest thing – it was just there, not doing anything other than simply being a giant, oversized fork, sticking out of the water. No signs to explain its presence or purpose, if any – I checked. A lot. But I digress.
All these tourists simultaneously spotted a statue of Charlie by the side of the lake. Nothing special about it – it wasn’t like a waxwork or anything – but they all absolutely had to get their photo taken with it. I really don’t understand this. Vevey is a quiet little town, and it’s not like it’s the height of the tourist season. Why not just wander further along the lake, see the town, and call back later to get your photo taken with the statue? Obviously there is something fundamentally wrong with this idea, which is why these people were queueing up eagerly as if Charlie were a rollercoaster at a theme park.
Wandering a few metres along the path, I saw another statue, but this one was standing all alone. His name was Mihai Eminescu, a late Romantic poet from Romania. A Romanian icon, in fact: his picture is on Romanian banknotes, his birthday is celebrated across the nation, there are statues of him everywhere, and kids study his works in school. And yet here was his statue, standing forlorn and unnoticed while people flocked adoringly around Chaplin!
No, I’d never heard of him, either.
However, a friend of mine once told me that when she attends a buffet-style party or social gathering, particularly one where each guest has prepared and brought a dish for the table, she feels sorry for the ones that nobody seems to be eating. I suppose she probably feels sorry for the person who brought it rather than for the food itself, but that’s beside the point: the point is, she ends up piling her own plate with food from all the untouched dishes. There was probably a reason for it having been previously untouched, and I’m not sure how often the poor girl actually enjoys these buffet meals, but I do find it very endearing, and completely understandable. Particularly as one of those dishes was mine once.
Anyway, I thought of her when I saw this statue of Mr. Eminescu. Glancing back at all the tourists and their Charlie, I marched decisively up to poor Mihai, and put on my best touristy smile.
Let it not be said that I am afraid to go against the crowds. I made my point, whatever it was. No one noticed.