“What’s with those shark tooth necklaces anyway? Is it a macho thing?”
The bum lifted his head just enough to see from beneath the brim of his boonie hat. He had been following a long line of finely crushed shells near the high-tide line, and he wanted to make sure he didn’t trip over anyone.
Two middle-aged women in chaisse lounge chairs were talking about him.
“It must be a macho thing. That’s the only thing I can think of.”
The bum walked into the surf to bypass the ladies. He wanted to look at them and say, “Hello, I can hear you. I’m only a few feet away.” He didn’t. He swallowed the insult. That’s what people do. They go to the beach, watch other people and have a good joke at their expense.
Some folks think their words get lost in the wind — that others don’t hear them. But others do hear them. And sometimes they’re deeply offended.
The bum smiled and kept walking. His adornment had nothing to do with machismo. He wore his necklace out of a deep appreciation for nature and the incredible diversity of life on earth.
He also liked sharing his hobby. Some people have seen his shark’s tooth and stopped to talk with him about hunting fossils. It wasn’t uncommon for him to give strangers a few teeth from his pockets and it hadn’t been that long prior to his encounter with the two women that he had given away a nice fossilized horse tooth to a teenaged girl.
Nevertheless, he decided when he got home from beachcombing to research what it meant in other cultures to wear a shark’s tooth. Fossil teeth are widely regarded as charms, especially in the South Pacific. Some wore them as symbolic protection from nature’s wrath.
Not long into his study, the bum found this blunt, brutal assessment. Males who wear sharks’ teeth around their necks, a female blogger wrote in 2007, believe sharks’ teeth “hold an irresistible attraction for women near and far.” She mentioned that sharks’ teeth became fashionable in the 1970s and that hairy-chested guys like Tom Selleck are most likely to wear them.
What? Surely, she must have been joking. I mean. She’s an Australian and Aussies are fun-loving people. Her blog must have been, in the parlance of our times, tongue in cheek. Nope. She also wrote this.
“Rather than these necklaces demonstrating the masculine strength of the wearer, they are often interpreted as being worn to make up for a shortfall of masculinity in some other area.”
I guess I’m just missing something about that “macho” connection. I’m not wrenching a tooth from a live shark’s mouth. I’m not going into battle with a lost tribe deep in a jungle.
I’m collecting sharks’ teeth. That’s what I do.