This is what happened.
Last weekend I was in Rome. It was my mother’s birthday (no coincidence there). My father wanted to do something special and since he had been invited to a jewellery exhibition, he thought he’d make an evening out of it: take us to see fancy female ornaments and then for a high class dinner. We had no objections.
We arrived at the Eden Hotel, that hosted the event, and walked to a small showroom with maybe six cases with a handful of sparkling earrings, necklaces et al. in them. I’ve never been too into jewellery – don’t get me wrong, I love having things to wear and something to go with all my outfits, but I don’t really like spending time looking at stuff I personally can’t even start thinking about affording. There, however, spending time looking was exactly what we were supposed to do.
Chaperoned by a middle-aged lady with a very tight dress that made her look pregnant even though (we strongly suspect) she wasn’t, we sat on thick black leather sofas around a low black leather table (yes, leather table) sipping pineapple juice (our choice) and munching on snacks, all offered by the jeweller.
Incidentally, I asked my sister to pass me a pig in a blanket (small hot dog rolled in pastry) and when I popped it in my mouth it was actually a salmon in a blanket. Just saying.
The best part of an hour passed with us sisters sitting and chewing, basically, uhmming and ooohing at the rings and earrings my mother tried on and nodding intelligently at the complicated precious-stone-talk the lady spewed out incessantly. Then, I remembered a ring I had seen in one of the cases outside the showroom. It looked incredibly like a pangolin. So I asked the lady, feigning interest, if she could kindly show us
“that ring that looks like an armadillo” Because pangolin was, you know, too intense. A pangolin is technically an African armadillo (more or less!), but the word pangolin is less known than armadillo. Or so I thought.
Turns out, armadillo was too intense for the lady, too. Her plastic smile faltered, her mouth opened but no sound came out. I could see her frantically leafing through her experience and training to find the right words, and then she said
“aaaah yes, the white one!” Good try. But no, it was gold. After a few more failed attempts to try and understand what ring I was talking about I had to go with her (massive shortcoming for her here – the client had to get off the sofa and walk to the case to show her a ring she hadn’t understood the description of) and we came back with the object in question.
She then insisted that it was the “mermaid” line and that the “scales” were part of the mermaid’s tail. But no, really. Really. No. It’s a pangolin. 100%.