In a perfect world – or even just a pleasant one – generosity would rule. Kindness would wrap us all in warmth. Honesty would triumph. Honor and integrity would be our guides. “Nice” wouldn’t be a passive-aggressive insult meaning “weak.”
And earnest earthy silversmiths would not pass off food-colored rocks as Rare Apple Coral.
I drank the Kool-Aid, for sure. Met the artist, who handcrafts jewelry from gemstones she sources herself. Learned the background of each piece offered for sale. Was taught the powers and meanings inherent in each semi-precious stone. Was told that fair trade practices support indigenous peoples and small businesses.
Imagine that! I nod and smile.
Ultimately, I spend way too much on a gorgeous red necklace. I buy a long turquoise lariat, too – also overpriced, but not too overtly southwestern (no eagles, wolves, or squash blossoms).
Time passes. I notice one day that my neck is bloody. This alarms me.
Turns out, it’s the necklace that is bleeding. Can it be a miraculous sign from God? I was raised Catholic; I harbor secret hope for such things.
Rather, it’s a sign of the times. My Rare Apple Coral is nothing but gravel. Ruby dye reddened the artist’s fingers as she strung the beads. She laughed all the way to the bank, my check clutched in her stained hand.
After testing my coral, I turn to the lariat. Its sterling beads have tarnished badly, so I polish them. Silver paint flakes off base metal. I rinse the turquoise, and the water runs teal. The stones no longer match — they are various shades of grey and green.
For shame! On her, certainly, but on me, for being such a guppy. The gullible will not inherit the earth.
But we’re Nice. Surely that counts for something?
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