The story of Nick.
In mid-April 2005 I posted a classified ad on a site devoted to insect-collecting. I’d been lurking there for some time, uninterested in their discussions of cherished pinned specimens, etc. This was the ad:
Wanted!! Edible Insects! Educator seeks reliable, safe sources of processed edible insects from around the world. Will arrange permits, etc with you [not difficult]. Orders between 1 and 2 kilos desired, though this is negotiable. The insect products should be dried or canned. NO PRESERVED SPECIMENS, as they are not edible. NO LIVE SPECIMENS.
That’s what brought Nick into the picture. My non-partnership with Nick Kugbeadzor of Accra, Ghana was like other things in life.
At least some of what I’m going to say from here on out may seem a little ridiculous, at least in the light of 20/20 hindsight.
Eventually other things became clear to me. For example, shipping only one or two kilos would be very expensive, and I didn’t know the first thing about the permits I’d alluded to. In the bigger picture, it hadn’t occurred to me that maybe there were good reasons why no one else had been importing mopane from Africa.
I remember it seeming like magic; in fact it was a form of seduction. He was enthusiastic and optimistic; he was playing me like a $2 fiddle, and I completely failed to see it. But I take some comfort in the fact that a huge number of people are routinely swindled out of their hard-earned money, and many of them lose far more than I did. So a little contextualization helps.
I’m not telling how much I sent. This is because everyone would have his or her own reaction as to what constitutes a lot of money. Some would be awestruck that I had sent so much while others would think it a small loss. It was neither; but it was a considerable sum from my point of view, and that’s the key variable.
[[[UPDATE (of sorts)]]]
It’s now late November, 2008, and perhaps I’m committing a breach of blog etiquette by messing with chronology but I can explain. I’m just now replacing this entry, having removed it at Nick’s request, which was many months ago. He said that the post would damage his reputation (HA!) and that if I removed it he would make things right between us. Sounded good to me, so I complied.
A longer version of this entry – which might well be complete with an excerpt of our IM exchanges – will hopefully find a home in the book I plan to get published.