Jawn and I were chatting on the phone last night, discussing gift ideas for a female when I avowed that every girl over 10 years old should have a charm bracelet and in fact, I received my charm bracelet on my tenth birthday. Jawn asked, "So, your dad gave you the pearl necklace when you were older?"
"How old were you when your dad gave you the pearl necklace?"
Thus begins one of many conversations with my friends that have heard the infamous pearl necklace story that I shared at a weekend house party, drunk and floating around in my pool on a Memorial Day several years ago. ZZ Top's "Pearl Necklace" played from the radio and someone commented on the real meaning behind the title, one I didn't know for years after the 1981 release. Not a big fan of ZZ Top back when I graduated from high school in 1982. Back when my graduate gift was a strand of pearls worn proudly with sundresses and Izod Lacoste shirts, sometimes mixed with gold add-a-bead necklace.
So, one summer night in 1982 I found myself hanging with my friends, drinking Miller pony beers, wearing my pearls and plaid madras shorts when one of the guys asked what I had on around my neck. Touching them proudly, I said, "Oh, these are pearls."
"A pearl necklace?"
"What's so funny?"
"Who gave them to you?"
"My parents. For graduation."
"So, your dad gave you the pearl necklace?" Laughter.
"Well, my mom and dad."
"Both of them gave you a pearl necklace?!" Hoots.
"Yes. Why?! What is so funny about that?"
"Nothing. But one question, did your dad pick which pearl necklace you would get? Or did your mom?" Snorts.
"Well, because you are so nosy and must know, I picked it myself. I knew exactly what I wanted." Cackles.
"So, you are saying that you wanted a pearl necklace? You asked your dad for a pearl necklace?" Roars.
"Yes. Pearls are a classic gift. And it is not a necklace, it is a strand of pearls. A necklace would be on a chain. Genuine pearls are knotted on silk thread."
"Oh My God! You have a pearl necklace! From your DAD!" Screams of laughter.
Finally having enough of my male friend's laughter, I asked, "Well, what did your parents get you for graduation?"
One guy stopped laughing long enough to say, "A cassette tape player for my car."
And it was time for me to laugh at him, "Well, that tape player will break one day, but I will have my pearls for the rest of my life."
"From your dad? The pearl necklace from your dad? You'll have that for the rest of your life?"
"Yes! And you'll have a crappy broken cassette player!" I walked away to get another beer.
My friends in the pool laughed until they all admitted that they probably peed a little in the pool. Years later, no matter what I wear around my neck, they'll ask "What's that around your neck? Is that a pearl necklace?"
And Mardi Gras parades, Geez Louise, do they they love that. "Look, Leezra, pearl necklaces! You can go home and show your dad all the pearl necklaces you got in New Orleans!"