I was happier than a shark swimming through chum as I stood at surf’s edge kicking up shells. The Redneck Riviera was resting in the tranquility of another in a long stretch of sunny, comfortable mornings. The ocean looked like an emerald mirror, rolling gently to the pale blue horizon. Fossil sharks’ teeth were abundant in the vein of crushed shells that I’d unearthed.
I wasn’t dodging stray beach umbrellas or ducking Frisbees (search Wham-O! DBB beaned by Pluto Platter, July 2012). People were returning my greetings. This was my idea of heaven.
“That’s some shark tooth you have around your neck.”
Two middle-aged women smiled at me when I lifted my head. Their southern drawls were so pleasant. I felt like I had just been invited into one of their living rooms.
“Thanks. Found it a little south of here.”
“That’s wonderful. We never have much luck.”
“My collection’s online if you’d like to see it. I’ve found a few this size.”
One of the women looked at me as if I had just passed gas upwind of her. Disdain doesn’t begin to describe her expression. So much for being invited into her living room. “So you’re trying to sell them?”
“Pardon me? Oh, no ma’am. I don’t…”
“You sell sharks’ teeth online?” the other women asked.
“No, no. I don’t sell ’em. This is a collection I’m talking about. I have a blog and…”
“People are always trying to sell things on the internet.”
“My blog is writing intensive,” I said, forcing a smile as I offered them dharma beach bum cards. “Would you like to see my site?”
“Have a nice day,” I said, as they trudged silently away.
I was tempted, at that moment, to cup my hands around my mouth and shout, “You might want to have those hearing aids checked. Those cataracts must be a bummer.” Does that make me a bad guy? Seriously, I love chatting with people on the beach; just don’t impose your values on me.
I’ve only ever sold sharks’ teeth once — at the annual city yard sale. I sold about ten teeth that day, while giving away roughly a thousand smaller teeth to fascinated children. I’ve happily given away 25,000 of them now.
It’s mighty hard for me to put a price on fossils. Neptune’s kept them hidden for millions of years.
And I’m a dreamin’ man. Money is of little importance to me idealogically. I defer, in closing, to the late author Jack Kerouac, from whom I borrowed two-thirds of my blog’s moniker. This is a passage from his novel, “Dharma Bums.” The quote is a reflection of Kerouac’s naivety at the time, but I can relate.
“See the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume. I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ’em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures.”
Dig it, y’all?