Some mornings, I sit at this little machine and stare at the screen for a long time. I might go to my guiltiest of internet pleasures, the New York Social Diary. With a few keystrokes, I can see what life is like at Gotham’s tony parties, people wearing the right shoes and jewels. Then I distract myself further and start an early morning load of laundry. I sit at the little machine again and stare.
On other mornings, the words are present and readily arranged and writing them feels like speaking to a friend at a picnic. They flow effortlessly as I spit them out. Like watermelon seeds. Do watermelons still have seeds or have the seeds been bred out of them? I’ll have to buy one and find out.
Back in the long ago personal past, we might have watermelon once or twice a summer. My father brought it down to his work bench in the basement and hacked away at it with a large knife; he’d bring it back upstairs in quadrants for my mother to slice and arrange on a serving platter.
At about this same time, the early 1970’s, the Hawaiian “puka shell” necklace surged in popularity. My frugal parents were unlikely to buy every trendy fashion item I saw in Seventeen magazine; the Chinese wage slaves had not yet figured out how to produce insanely inexpensive imitations of beautiful things we could buy and then throw away.
I didn’t even ask my parents to buy me a puka shell necklace. I knew the answer would be “no.” And since I was saving my paper route money for a new bicycle, adjustments would need to be made in order to get my hands on a puka shell necklace. Unless…
…I could create an imitation of my own.
And that’s how the “watermelon seed necklace” was born. We had watermelon, I saved the seeds and dried them out on a paper plate for a few days. Then I took a big darning needle and some rubberized thread and made my necklace. It was my own design, my own creation.
Here is the only known photograph of me, wearing the necklace. It’s hard to see it, but you can if you look closely.
I made the newspapers, not for my necklace, but for my participation in the summer “Arts and Crafts” program. I’m not sure why I was in the class. Maybe my mother wanted to get me out of her hair for a few hours a week. Based on my innovative creation, I should have been teaching the class and encouraging my classmates to make watermelon seed necklaces, don’t you think? That necklace could have changed my life if I’d had some entrepreneurial encouragement. Indeed, shellac the seeds, get a machine to punch the holes, and employ a small army of “stringers” to assemble my own line of summertime jewelry. It could have been a life-changer, right?
I might even be in The New York Social Diary today.
Life’s funny like that. If you’re at a picnic over this long holiday weekend, enjoy some watermelon and think of me. Be safe and remember…
Long live the watermelon seed necklace!