A Necklace from Kylie

I’ve never worn a necklace. I don’t mind them on men as long as they aren’t the Mr. T starter kit size. I have just never found one that suited my tastes.

In my first job, there was an accountant who had a chain so large it could be seen under his button down shirt. This was before the days of casual dress and this guy’s pendant literally pushed his tie an inch off his chest. I heard he got indicted for embezzlement after I left the company, which should be a lesson to us all – hide a big, gaudy chain under dress clothes, go to jail.

I did have a quest for the perfect necklace, though, and along the way I recruited a partner. I am not a surfer, but if I ever found a shark’s tooth on the beach I would get it set on a leather chain and wear it. I know you can buy them, but it isn’t the same as finding one in the sand on a morning walk.


On our annual trip to the white sands of Florida, Kylie and I would scour the beach for a shark’s tooth. She was the only other morning person in the family and a willing cohort to any adventure. Shark-tooth hunting became an event for us – a big one for me, a little one for her. We often ran to what looked like our quarry, but upon closer inspection ended up to be shells or rocks. Sadly, we never found a shark’s tooth. We spent many mornings combing the beach. Neither of us considered that our Friday morning walk in the sand in the summer of 2013 would be the last chance to find one together. Those thoughts don’t ever cross your mind as the sun rises across the horizon and the warm surf laps at your toes.



The consolation in not achieving a goal is that there is always next year. But that isn’t always true – next year isn’t a sure thing.

Those walks could be called futile in their result, but they weren’t. They are precious memories of time well-spent despite the fact that I do not own a shark’s tooth.

I do have a necklace, though.

It is nothing like I ever expected. A shark’s tooth makes one look manly – like a modern day pirate who extracted it from the beast barehanded and has a gaping scar across his ribs to prove it. That’s the story I would tell. But no, my necklace is not manly. And the scar that accompanies it is not visible.

My necklace contains three yellow beads strung on a leather cord. It cries wimpy… until you know its significance. For these aren’t ordinary beads. They are compacted flowers – making it even less masculine, if that were possible. They smell heavenly. The flowers that comprise them were collected from Kylie’s funeral – an event that ripped out my heart and left a scar that will never heal. Ironically, my beads rest just above that wound.


So we may not have found our shark tooth, but Kylie is a part of the only necklace I’ve ever worn. I love wearing it, too. It has become an item of comfort that often brings her image back to my lonely mind.

I love my necklace.

The big musclebound guy at the gym who chuckled at my feminine necklace may not be a fan. Thirty seconds into my explanation he was sobbing like a baby with all of his biceps and pectorals twitching and shaking uncontrollably. Any more questions, meathead?

So if you run into me, and wonder about my necklace, go ahead and ask. I’ll introduce you to my little girl who loved yellow and left me before we found a shark’s tooth to string.

“I found something blubbery, but its teeth aren’t sharp!”



Shark tooth photo attribution: Dominik Vogt

Floating In Pants

I don’t have a grand list of phobias. But of the things I fear, I’m pretty sure sharks top the list. As a child of the seventies, Jaws really did me in. I love going to the beach and being in the ocean, but constantly find myself scanning the horizon for a fin. I have been deep-sea fishing and enjoyed it even when I heard the eerie music in my mind and braced for the impact from the imaginary megalodon shark about to ram us from underneath.

I’ve been reading the book, In Harm’s Way, which is about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. A few years ago a survivor of the event, Edgar Harrell, spoke at my children’s school on Veteran’s Day. His story was amazing. If you don’t know what happened, the ship was sunk by a torpedo and since they were on a covert mission, no one knew to rescue them. This led to the largest recorded shark massacre in history. While I am fascinated by the situation, it leads to all kinds of issues. Could I survive such an event? Take the sharks out of the picture, am I ready to float in the ocean for days?

Then I remembered! I have been trained to use my pants as a flotation device thanks to the Uncle Sam. That was over twenty-five years ago, though… can I still do it?

I decided to test my skill. After all, I fly over the ocean sometimes, I might need to use this someday. It pays to be prepared. The weather is perfect – why not? To my closet to fetch a pair of dungarees. In order to do this right, I have to be wearing them. If I survive the wreck, I won’t have my carry-on. Into the pool I go fully clothed.

First observation, it is hard to tread water with shoes on. You would think they would be an aid as paddles (especially my size 13’s), yet they tend to be more of an anchor.

Second, it is difficult to stay afloat and remove your shoes. Always wear slip-on shoes or flip-flops if there is a high probability of emergency flotation.

Third, taking off your pants in the water can lead to some rollovers – it is tricky to both hold your nose and disrobe.

Forth, tying off your pant legs is fairly easy. Inflating them while staying topside is not. I am not asthmatic, but I must have the lung capacity of a baby armadillo.

Fifth, you should always wear a Jethro Clampett belt. I am ditching leather for rope immediately. That will be the only way to secure the waist tight enough to hold air.

shark pants

I am happy to tell you that should I ever find myself in the ocean with pants, I will likely live to tell about it unless I see a circling fin. The trial was a complete success. Quite proud of myself, I exited the pool and would like to share just a few more observations. Unlike me, you should probably choose a friend, relative or close neighbor’s pool, not a nearby community pool. The reason for this is you will find wet pants that have been used as a flotation device are nearly impossible to untie and put back on, which makes for a disquieting two-mile walk home.

Oh, and you should probably notify the police or get a permit as if you are having a fireworks display or parade. They take a dim view to a wet, pantless man walking home late at night.