This may not be politically correct, but I have a walrus tooth. It’s actually awesome, although it’s also rather ugly. A couple inches long, it’s rough and uneven, kind of tan with shades of brown; it was a Christmas gift more years ago than I care to admit.
When he would return from Alaska, where he was living at the time; he always brought all manner of gifts. One year, he put a small box under the tree for me. I was intensely curious as to what it could be.
Truth be told, I hoped it was a lump of gold from his mine! He’d showed me some of the gold he’d gotten out of it. It wasn’t much; just a small bag of rough little nodules and, back then, gold didn’t sell for much and the little bad contain maybe a few hundred dollars of gold. Still, a lump of gold would have been awesome.
Come Christmas Day, his was the first box I opened. I was too young to believe that old saying about good things coming in small packages. It was just that I had to know what was in there!
When I saw the tooth, I was perplexed. I had no idea what it was. As far as I was concerned, it was the claw of some alien creatures. Mind you, I think this was back before the “Star Wars” movies; I couldn’t imagine it was a Wookie’s tooth or some such thing. Still, I’d seen enough episodes of the classic “Star Trek” series to think it could be from some mysterious alien being.
Stephen explained which only made it more interesting. In Alaska, the Eskimos could hunt walrus for food and other uses, as the hunt was part of their culture. Thus, the tooth wasn’t the result of poaching and was legal.
I loved that tooth. It hung about my neck for years, until I got so old that wearing it was no longer cool. Yet, I wasn’t about to get rid of it. No, I tucked it safely away in my keepsake box with all of my other prized possessions.
It was a good thing I did. As it turned out, the tooth came in handy some years later. I had met a local indie, which means independent, filmmaker. We made a low-budget movie together. No, low budget isn’t the right term; this was done on a shoestring. No, that’s not it either, we didn’t even have a shoe! We’re talking a micro-budget film. So much so that we used his home, our home and any other places and things we could beg, borrow or, well, you know, as a film set. One prop we needed was some sort of exotic item to serve as a powerful talisman against evil.
I had just the thing, the tooth. It was perfect! The cast and crew oohed and awed over it; they asked a dozen question about what it was, where I’d got it and so forth They were thoroughly fascinated by its background story. The necklace played a vital part in the story – it even got a close-up and a special effect – and it made me smile to see it fit in the plot so well.
Now, today, with Stephen gone from my life, it makes me happy to watch my copy of the movie. Just the sight of that old tooth summons up happy memories for me.
Thanks, brother; I’ll keep that little bobble forever.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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