I found two pearls. Biting into raw oysters chased with dirty martinis. My young friend immediately saw some sort of good fortune and attempting to pass on the fleeting intrigue, she picked up her phone and projected her fascination into cyberland for all to share. I don’t see it that way. I like the taste of oysters and biting into the sliminess means you could end up with pearls.
These are not the first I have found. The first was with a friend, only a few months before this bounty. I didn’t believe him then when he told me the miniscule brown stone was a pearl. I couldn’t believe a rock rolling inside my mouth would be beautiful if it had more time. Of course, it was too small to be beautiful. I felt small when I was with him.
But this time, the smallness and the ugliness would not intimidate me. The pearls rolled nervously around the bread plate, where I placed them for security, trying to find a place to land. A sort of reverse psychology, the dull brown pearls against the shiny white porcelain. It does something to what we want to believe.
I grew up believing that pearls began as tiny grains of sand, trapped in the oyster’s shell. But the truth is that the pearl begins as an irritant, a parasite, trapped inside a foreign place and coated with layers and layers of shell material. Some parasites become perfect. Spherical, iridescent perfection. Others become small brown rocks rolling around a bread plate on a fake Cajun restaurant’s dirty bar in a strip mall. Either way, we are all just parasites.
Now I have to sort out what to do with my pearls that are nothing more than parasites disguised as rocks and labeled pearls only because of their birthright. How to keep them from falling into a crack somewhere and getting lost forever. My two new ones join the first in a cheap, felt-lined reading glass case, the glasses long ago broken, lost or wherever reading glasses end up.
I am holding three shell-hardened parasites in a reading glass case. Maybe my young friend is right. There must be some meaning in that.