Back when I was the head of a division for a medium sized company, I spent money on nice things – fine jewelry, exotic vacations, a fabulous wardrobe. I have since come to appreciate my comfy clothes, my handmade jewelry, sleeping in, my own blossoming culinary skills and appreciating the sunset off my own deck.
Back in those days, I had coworkers who would travel to international events or conferences in Southeast Asia. I had no desire to go there for work and as I was one of the few Caucasians in the office, I was not invited. No hard feelings. I got my fill of Malaysia at a good friend’s wedding and that is all off southeast Asia I desired. If I was discriminated against because I was white and did not speak Vietnamese, Mandarin or Cantonese, I ignored it. I could have cared less.
When the head of another division and his wife were going to their home country of Vietnam on the company dime, they asked if they could pick me up anything. Well, I had had enough of the cheaply made tourist trap toys and trinkets from over the years, so I told him no. He actually seemed offended. He proceeded to tell me that he would be getting some nice jewelry for his wife while there so did I want him to pick me up anything.
When I once again said no, he started to tell me about the beautiful pearls that Vietnam is known for. He spoke of their luster, their color, their size. Finally, I said “fine, get me the nicest ones you can find and I want a lot of them”.
“How much are you willing to spend?” he asked.
This is that part of the conversation where you wonder if you are being sold a lemon car on a back lot of the used car dealership. The coworker had that sleazy quality that looking back, I should have just walked away.
I ended up giving him $200. I KNOW, I KNOW! I thought I was rich back then.
But lo and behold, this is what he brought me back from Vietnam.
They are beautiful are they not? All 121 of the pearls are simply pearly. The total necklace weighs 6 ounces and is 47 inches long. I can wrap it around my neck twice or three times tightly. I did tell my coworker thank you.
As I was handed my foreign purchase, the coworker put his hand on my arm and said “You just cannot ever take it apart.” I must have had a reputation already back then.
Hmm. I ignored him and his hand.
So here is the part of the story where you wonder what is wrong with the piece. I will get to it.
I wore the gorgeous piece to a military dinner with my husband’s Military Unit in Maryland. It perfectly accented my black dinner dress and modest military appropriate heels.
And all night, the necklace pulled my hair. Literally. The pearls are not on a knotted string. They are simply strung. So as the wearer moves (as is perfectly normal), so too does the necklace grabbing anything in its path. Ouch!
I lost a lot of hair off my head that night. Halfway through dinner I went into the ladies room to put my hair up out of the clutches of the pearls. Then I began to lose the very fine hairs on the back of your neck that are highly necessary when confronted with scary situations.
By the time dinner was over, I had the necklace sitting on the table. It was very long and inflexible so that I could not even fit it into my clutch.
Because the necklace takes up so much space, I kept it in my dresser drawer. I never wore it again.
As I unpacked from our relocation, I came across the piece and begin to think. Why had I been told to never take it apart? Was the string that held the pearls made of lead and poisonous to the touch? Would an alarm go off somewhere alerting my coworker that I had desecrated something precious? Was it a bit of superstition? Was it simply the coworker thinking he had any say in something I had rightfully purchased with my own hard earned money? Speaking of which, I never did find out how much it actually cost.
So this weekend I plan to go at it with my wire cutters and maybe some protective gloves in case there really is lead on the wire:) I will let you know what I make with it.
However before I attack it with passion, if anyone wants to buy it off my hands for $200, I would happy to discuss. Then I can be rid of the whole experience:)