Bob Wire, A Jewelry Salesman’s Worst Nightmare

By BOB WIRE

When it comes to jewelry, I’m not exactly in the same class as Mr. T.

I’m more like Mr. U(tilitarian). I wear a watch so I know when it’s time to eat, and I wear a wedding ring to fend off the many sexual advances from beautiful women I assume would be heaped on me each day. So far the wedding ring is working really well. Incredibly well.

I do wear a single earring, so people think I’m either gay, or a pirate. I kid. Of course a man can wear an earring or twelve nowadays and it doesn’t mean he’s gay. And he’s probably not a pirate unless he’s Malaysian record executive.

While changing the strings on my acoustic guitar recently, I made myself a pirate earring out of the discarded low E string. I carefully fashioned a perfect ½” hoop with a pair of needle nosed pliers, and proudly slid it into my earring hole, so I could proclaim to the world, “I’m a guitar player and I own a pair of needle nosed pliers.”

Within 24 hours of inserting the E string earring, though, my ear swelled up like a catcher’s mitt and turned the color of a baboon’s ass. It was so sore it hurt when people talked to me. Then I remembered that the strings I use on my acoustic are phosphor bronze. That’s right, phosphor, the same volatile element they use in match heads and tracer ammo.

I yanked that thing out of my ear and warned all my guitar-strumming, earring-sporting buds not to repeat my mistake. They all had the same response: why don’t you just buy an earring at Claire’s?

Claire’s is the teeny-bopper center of the gewgaw universe, and has enough costume jewelry to hold its own Mardi Gras. My daughter Speaker is constantly nagging me to take her to Claire’s so she can spend any and all income she receives from birthdays, Christmas, and money found under the couch cusions. At Claire’s she can fill a full-sized shopping cart for about $8.00, and have enough left over for a guava smoothie.

This jewelry jones must be a teenaged girl thing, because she sure doesn’t get it from Barb. My spouse generally eschews jewelry, and it’s not for lack of trying on my part. The kids and I have showered Barb with various baubles and trinkets over the years, but they all wind up in the jewelry museum of her underwear drawer. I opened the drawer this morning for a quick whiff (I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m weak), and here’s what I saw:

  • A necklace and earring set. Matching green stones set tastefully in something called White Gold. I think that’s a shifty name for pot metal. Purchased by the kids last Christmas, the set has yet to leave the display box.

    Bob Wire shows off the latest in tasteful, understated men's jewelry.

    Earrings on a dude? Sure, as long as it’s tasteful.

  • A delicate silver necklace with a pendant that reads “My Eyes Are Up Here, Asshole.”
  • A 1990 Super Bowl ring (I have GOT to ask her about her previous boyfriend).
  • Several ladies’ watches. I keep buying them, she keeps not wearing them. “Time?” she says, “It ain’t nothing but a magazine.”

You get the picture. She usually wears only a pair of understated earrings and her wedding band and anniversary ring. Barb is a very practical woman, which is something I love about her. She’s not given over to frivolity and excessive plumage.

Of course, the main exception is homemade jewelry. Anything the kids have ever made has been proudly displayed somewhere on her body, usually in public, no matter how frightening or bizarre. It’s her own version of the “My Kid Is an Honor Student” bumper sticker. Only hers says “My Kid Made Me a Tiara Out of Chicken Bones and Packing Peanuts.”

I did buy her one piece of grown up jewelry, the anniversary ring, for our tenth anniversary a few years ago. Somehow I knew that for that particular anniversary, the customary gift certificate to Hoagieville just wasn’t going to cut it. I bought the ring from a jewelry store in the mall, just to make sure I was paying maximum retail.

First, though, I had taken a little trip out to that place on Reserve Street, the new multi-million dollar building owned by the guy who appears in his own TV commercials wearing ties that look like they were designed by a blind schizophrenic with ADD. You know the one.

I walked into his Wonderland of Jewelry, and he greeted me with a firm handshake and wolf-like smile. He smelled faintly of imported chocolate.

“Hi! Welcome to my store. I’ve just returned from my annual trip to Belgium, and I have some wonderful things to show you.”

“Excellent,” I said. “Did you bring me back some waffles? No? Well, never mind. You know, I’ve just returned from my annual trip to Tijuana, and I have a trunk full of urine-tanned leather vests and hats. Would you like to see them?”

He recoiled. “Ah, maybe some other time. Are you interested in something for your wife?”

He’d obviously spotted my wedding ring. The place creeped me out, and his tie was giving me a headache. I had to extricate myself. “No, I’m actually looking for something for a local nightclub owner. He screwed my band out of some money, and I wanted to give him a little gift, you know, just to let him know there are no hard feelings.”

Mr. Jewelry Man clasped his hands together and tilted his head a bit. “What a magnanimous gesture,” he gushed. “You must be a very big person to extend that little olive branch.”

“Yeah, I’m a real prince,” I said. “Anyway, I’m thinking of something along the lines of a big hoop earring. Maybe something in a phosphor bronze?”

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   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.

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Bob Wire is medicated and ready to rock.

Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.