As we walk through the sea of people, we hear a woman yell in a very amusing way, “Opa! Opa! Oysterrrrr!”. To our left is a large tank of crystal blue water and a small stadium-seating area. In the tank is a person diving for oysters at the command of small children. Unable to look away, we observe for a while, mesmerized by the woman’s pleasant voice.
“Welcome to Sea World everyone! Come watch the Oyster Opening Ceremony!”, the woman on the wooden platform shouts excitedly. Her high pitched, charming voice makes you feel like a child. “If you would like to own one of the wonders of the sea, step up to the bridge! Ask our divers to fetch some oysters for you, and see what kind of pearl you get!”
My boyfriend, Danny, and I push our baby’s stroller closer to the seats. My mom, step-dad, aunt, and my two year old cousin follow; all of us hypnotized by the angelic voice. After watching a few very repetitive ceremonies, the woman’s voice becomes increasingly unpleasant. “Opaaa! Opaaa! Oyster!”
I begin to search for an escape route.
“Opa! Opa! Oysterrrrr!”
All of us are looking around anxiously for a way out, but thousands of parents and children are surrounding us and it seems as though we might be stuck here forever. A few minutes later, it happens again, “OPA! OPA! OYSTER!”.
We frantically scurry at the sound of the piercing voice. Our strollers colliding with excited children, our baby bags knocking into parents, spilling their sodas and popcorn–but we didn’t care, we had to get out.
At last, we were free. It takes us a few moments to regain our composure before we are able to continue our way to the other side of the park. We find an amazing BBQ place where we overindulge our senses, ride the roller coasters until we’re sick, see a few great shows, and suddenly we hear, “Opa! Opa! Oyster!”.
How did we get here again? This time, though, it is a man’s alluring voice, and it is pleasant. Somehow it draws us closer. We find ourselves spellbound yet again, as we walk onto the bridge and request oysters from the diver.
“We are picking four oysters”, I tell the diver. “One for me, for my boyfriend, my mom, and my aunt”.
She dives down and comes up with about ten oysters for us to choose from. “The uglier the oyster, the prettier the pearl!” she declared.
I choose the blackest oyster with nasty crud all over it and a few seaweed pieces attached. The others choose their despicable oysters, but I am convinced mine is the ugliest, though it is the smallest.
My aunt and Danny make their way to the platform for the Oyster Opening Ceremony. The man with the sweet voice tells us the directions for the ceremony, while an audience forms on the seats below. Tita, my aunt, and Danny grab the wooden sticks, tap the oyster three times, as instructed, and exclaim, “Opa! Opa! Oyster!”.
A little old woman hunches over the pearls with her knife and opens my aunt’s oyster. “TWIN PEARLS!” she announces. Sure enough, on the wooden table lie two small peach-tinted pearls.
The old woman then turns to Danny’s oyster. “A WHITE PEARL! BEAUTIFUL!”, she shouts as she opens Danny’s oyster to reveal one unusually white pearl.
My mom and I walk over to the platform where we grab our wooden sticks, tap our oysters three times, and yell, “Opa! Opa! Oyster!”.
The old woman opens my mom’s oyster first. “TWIN PEARLS AGAIN! I’ve never seen twin pearls, let alone twice! You must be very lucky!”. The five of us become ecstatic at the sight of the two iridescent white pearls emerging from the rotten oyster.
Now it’s my turn. I’m hoping for a black pearl–the rarest kind. She opens the oyster and a very large grey-tinted pearl surfaces. “A BLUE PEARL!” the woman exclaims.
The man looks at us with wonderment. “That is the second rarest type of pearl! Wow, two sets of twin pearls, one perfectly white pearl, and a large blue pearl! Amazing!”.
It feels so great to know that I was the first one to ever touch that pearl and that my small, dirty, hand-picked oyster created that large blue pearl.
A few days later, we started speculating about how Sea World is able to guarantee that every oyster has a pearl. After all, not all oysters have pearls. My step-dad, Rob turned to the internet. It seemed like a great idea at the time.
“It’s a scam!” he confessed with dismay. “They open the oysters and put pearls inside, then submerge the oysters in a chemical that allows the oyster to be sealed once again”.
Looks of horror and shock are exchanged between all of us.
“This is why they mentioned to us that we could not eat the oyster–it’s already dead!” he adds.
Suddenly, there’s a dark, gloomy feeling in the room. I feel as a small child would feel after finding out about Santa too soon. We have been fooled. Our fingers were not the first to touch those precious ornaments! Our oysters did not even make those pearls!
Despite my sorrow, I attempted to see this blasphemy in a positive light. I thought, if Sea World did not do this, kids would possibly open an empty oyster, and that is not okay. I can imagine the tremendous grief I would experience, had I opened an empty oyster. My heart becomes heavy and aches at the mere thought.
Good intentions are behind this hoax, I realize, so I can’t be upset. We didn’t know what kind of pearl we were going to get, so the mystery was genuine. I still consider us lucky for obtaining such unique pearls, and though the pearls were made from different oysters than those we had chosen, they were authentic. What did I really have to be sad about? Our pearls are beautiful and we will forever be excited about them!