The power of a $38K necklace

I've done and experienced many things in my life, some good, some bad. But through it all, I don't think I've ever lost a sense of adventure. You grow by what you feed on, said a professor of mine once.Early on, during my formative years, one of the earliest books I chanced to read was "Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest." It made a deep impression on me. Before this, of course, I immensely enjoyed tales of adventure written in my native dialect. Reading "Robinson Crusoe" right after Robin Hood convinced me that a life of adventure was what I was going to pursue. At another time the same professor subtly scolded me for making what was clearly a poor decision on my part, not going where I was supposed to go because I didn't want to undergo what I perceived then as an uncomfortable situation. He simply said, "You take risks." He was absolutely right. All my life, as I've struggled to forge a character I could live with, I've taken risks. This attitude was further reinforced after I drank in, in the course of my further reading, Teddy Roosevelt's ringing cry: "Dare to do mighty things, or you might find yourself knowing neither victory nor defeat…!", or some such thing. Well, what happened on Dec. 6, a Saturday, at the Volunteer Holiday Celebration sponsored by the Friends of the Downey Public Library, if nothing else, was one of those events that roused my slumbering sense of adventure. The Friends had invited some of the 13 women from Ventura who, according to their promo, bought a $38,000 diamond necklace and were going to tell their stories of how it had "transformed their lives." Referred to as "The Women of Jewelia" and the subject of a book entitled "the necklace," four came. Two were assisting their husbands run either a store or clinic, one was a real estate agent, and the fourth was a psychologist It was Jonell McLain, the real estate agent, who four years ago saw the diamond necklace displayed at a local store window with a price tag of $38,000. It provoked this train of thought: "Why are personal luxuries so plentiful yet accessible to so few? What if we shared that which we desired?" Sure enough, so goes the narrative, "several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and a leap of faith later," McLain had bought the necklace with 12 other women. Their goal? Share it, and the cost, among themselves. To their credit, they had whittled the selling price down to $15,000, each one paying a manageable $1,154. It helped that McLain knew the store owners, the husband agreeing to the price if the group were to include his wife in the sharing arrangement. Thus, each of the 13 gets to possess the necklace for a month at a time, to wear as she sees fit. The necklace goes, of course, to the one who celebrates, say, a birthday. The rotation has worked well. The speakers said sharing the necklace has worked wonders in their lives, "putting order where before they led chaotic, unbalanced lives," it has led them to work for the betterment of the community ("We've raised $50,000 for charity, and we feel blessed for it"), made them realize that it's truly better to give than to receive, made them reorder their priorities. Their experiment, they said, "transformed a symbol of exclusivity into a symbol of inclusiveness." Without hardly trying, the group has been written up in People magazine and appeared on ABC's Good Morning, America. It won't be long, they excitedly tell themselves, before they get called to the Oprah Winfrey Show. On a dare, all the while puffing up my chest to proclaim my manliness, I went up the stage that Saturday to be photographed with the ladies with the pricey diamond necklace around my neck, the first time I've ever worn, if only for a minute or so, such expensive jewelry. "Feel its power," they urged me on, amid much glee and laughter. No less than the likes of George Clooney and Mel Gibson have worn it before me, they said. In that case, I said, I'll do it. With a whole New Year ahead, I hope some of its power has rubbed off on me. ********** Published: January 9, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 38