UN Approves African Ivory Auctions

Some crazy things I learned today: 1) My bank merged with another bank, and didn’t tell me. Awkward! 2) More than three cups of coffee will shrink your breasts by 17%. (As someone else elegantly put it, what’s 17% of zero?) 3) Ivory auctions are now a-ok according to the UN.

Denis reports:

UN-approved ivory sales in four African countries will raise millions of dollars for elephant conservation, yet many conservationists say the auctions encourage poaching.”

Hmm. This sounds to me more like child psychology more than global and environmental politics. Plus, isn’t it kind of twisted to be raising money for elephants by selling ivory. It seems obvious that this would convey a mixed message. It’s like a yard sale for a dead person that includes catalogs of the possessions of every live person on the block. Maybe. (I’ve been bemoaning my inability to develop interesting analogies these days, so vote now!)

Anyway, this story does remind me of an ambiguous ivory encounter in my own life. Earlier in the fall, I was walking down 5th avenue when I noticed a flashy-looking man in sunglasses giving me the eyes. I thought nothing of it until I was walking down 33rd st and heard someone yelling, “Excuse me, miss!” I turned around and it was he.

He: Hi! I noticed you on 5th avenue and I just wanted come meet you.
Me: Um, Hi!
He: That’s an awfully large Starbucks you have there.
Me: Yes. It’s my second venti of the day. I’m addicted.
He: That’s really not good for you. Where are you going?
Me: Work.
He: Ah. Well, I was wondering if I could get your number so we could hang out sometime.
Me: I don’t usually give my numbers to strangers on the street.
He: (snorts) Does that happen often? That people approach you on the street?
Me: (lamely) Umm..no..I guess not. But I’m not really interested in giving out my number.
He: Oh come on.
Me: Do you have a card?
He: No. I’m going to go the gym.
Me: inside thought: He must be independently wealthy! Who else would go to the gym at noon on a Wednesday? (I failed to remember that Lehman brothers had just laid off its entire staff two days before.)
Me: Well, you can email me.

So, yes. I gave out my email, still harboring the hope that this person would turn out to be a venture capitalist. (A Facebook investigation later revealed that he was. At least on facebook). But here is the strange part of the story. His facebook profile also revealed an penchant for Safaris. When the email came it read:

“Hi! It was a lovely suprise meeting you on the streets today. Was that necklace you were wearing ivory?”

I replied: Haha. No. It was plastic. Save the elephants.

And I never heard from him again! So, we can only conclude that a) he’s a jerk. b) he is a secret agent arresting ivory poachers or c) he wanted to buy my “ivory necklace.”

A few weeks later I went to visit my grandfather in the hospital and pulled this story out of the “light entertainment” armory.

My grandmother shook her head gravely. “How did that make you feel, RB? To be wanted only for your ivory necklace?”

“Amused! It’s so funny, no?” Believe me, Grandma. It could be worse.


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