Dad once spent a small fortune -- a good deal of his retirement money -- on a bag of yellow diamonds that a friend of his from college years was looking to unload.
This “friend” had found some success in the field of gems and jewelry, and he sold Dad on the idea that this cache of “sunshine diamonds” was the perfect starter batch for the amateur who wanted to pursue the trade, or just make a bundle quick.
My Dad, with his eternally pleasant demeanor, could only imagine that his old buddy was graciously sharing the wealth, and not that he’d become a sleaze.
He was aware that yellow diamonds were not as valuable as colorless ones, but he was convinced that they could bring in some cash if only they were marketed creatively. They weren’t miscolored jewels, they were lemony diamonds. Buttercup dew. Sun crystals.
Creative as Dad was, we were skeptical. If we’d needed any proof that Dad was in over his head, we got it the moment he tossed the bag with a few dozen gems onto his kitchen table and announced to us over the ghee-like glow that he was about to become a labradoodle.
“Lapidary,” my sister corrected. Sylvie the Wharton grad.
“Yes.” Dad was unfazed. “Labradary.”
I grabbed Sylvie’s arm to prevent a further correction. She shot me a look to show me I was a killjoy, but she didn’t say anything.
“So what’s next, Dad?” I asked.
“Well, I’m not really sure. I suppose we need to get a bunch of rings and watches and stuff to stick them on.”
Sylvie’s face was now buried in one palm and she was shaking her head. Dad seemed not to notice. Or to care.
For what it’s worth, I felt that Dad’s reasoning wasn’t entirely without foundation. He was following the lead of the company that sold “chocolate” diamonds as something special.
That campaign was brilliant. No no, these aren’t crap-ass ‘brown’ diamonds. They’re chocolate diamonds. It combined two of the things loved most by women according to all the best stereotypes -- chocolate and jewelry. Put the gems on shoes and you’d have the trifecta.
So Dad was on the right track with his effusions about sunlight and buttercups.
“I have it,” Sylvie said. “Why not go for something simple.” She ennunciated her proposed slogan slowly and carefully. “‘Give her yellow diamonds to show her you’re in love.”
“Very nice,” Dad said.
“Dad,” I said with a frown. “Say it faster.”
So he did: “Give her yellow diamonds to show her you’re in love.” It took him a third time to catch the pun: show her urine love. When his face registered the discovery, he let out a soft laugh.
“Hilarious,” I said to Sylvie.
“Let your sister go, Chuck,” Dad said. “Clever is her thing.”
Sylvie shot her tongue out at me -- Sylvie the 32-year-old business manager and strategy specialist of a leading hedge fund -- and hefted the bag of yellow-tinted nuggets.
“Seriously, Dad. Can you get your money back?”
“You don’t think it will work?”
I jumped in; “It’s a very creative -- “
But Sylvie cut me off with an outward palm and wincing eyes. “It’s --” she began, just to head me off, then paused. I braced for her to dash his hopes and make him feel foolish. Instead, she said, “It’s a wonderful idea, Dad. I just don’t think you have the experience of the skill set to turn it around at this point.”
At the term “skill set,” he seemed to puff up a bit. Even if he was being told he didn’t have it, he seemed impressed that he at least earned the right to be spoken to with such authentic business terms.
“So maybe down the line a bit?”
“Otherwise, your old man will be left in the cold for his retirement.”
“Fortunately,” Sylvie said, “You’ve raised a daughter who will never let that happen.”
“Uh, hello?” I said. “He’s got a son, too.”
“You? With your art shop? You’ll be sharing his room at my place.”
I couldn’t exactly argue, and when she rose and kissed Dad on his balding forehead, his mood brightened. Then, looking at the bag of diamonds, he chuckled a little and said, “They kinda do look like piss, don’t they?”