Pearls are my armor, my game face, my shield.
The first instance pre-dates derby by several months. One of my duties as chief resident last year was to interview potential residency candidates and help rank them for our eventual match list in the spring. After a moment of “Dear God, I’ve just now figured out what I’M doing here, how can I interview someone else for a spot?” I started thinking of ways that I could fake looking dignified and competent in front of the applicants.
In the south, for women – this is an occasion for a dress, heels and pearls. I showed up looking like a reasonable facsimile of a model resident physician and the interviews all went wonderfully. (My knowledgeable, wise demeanor cracked only for a moment when I HAD to high-five one of the interviewees over our shared love of quirky guilty-pleasure competition reality television shows. BTW: Work of Art, you need to watch it.)
The transition to wearing them for roller derby was accidental.
As is anything in a resident’s life, I had to go straight from the hospital to Roller Derby Boot Camp and change in the bathroom of our skating rink. Consequently, I still had on the pearl necklace I’d worn to work that day – and skated way better than I had on the previous nights. So I deemed them my lucky charm and kept them on whenever I could for skating.
Including one night before tryouts, my fellow fresh meat pointed out their absence so we sharpied “PEARLS” across my collarbone. (In the future, I will be investing in temporary tattoos)
A few of the vets commented that they remembered me for my little jewelry quirk and we’d even thrown around a few derby names based on pearl necklace. (ultimately vetoed due to unintentional non-family friendly connotations)
So now they’re my thing. I wore them first because I needed some outward display of confidence and authority – after months of hitting harder and skating faster because I had my lucky charm with me, I’ve finally developed some of my own.
And to answer the FAQ’s: Yes, they’re real. No, I don’t wear them for full-contact hitting/scrimmaging. Yes, they’ve broken once, doing a totally benign, slow speed, no-impact demonstration of a baseball slide for our boot campers.