“And sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar. Just sayin'”Sally Armstrong
I recently came across this piece…a totally true story… I had written over a decade ago. It made me chuckle when I unearthed it from the hidden depths of my trusty laptop. I hope it makes you smile, too.
“Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”Mae West
A couple weeks ago, I picked up a book about aging gracefully…how to have your best brain after fifty…which, at 62, I’m trying to speed-read before it’s too late. One of the suggestions for keeping your brain fit and healthy is to take up a new hobby, so when my friend Anne gave me everything I needed to begin making beaded necklaces, I was ecstatic. Not only would I be able to create my own works of art, but I would now have a new activity to explore while giving my declining brain a good workout.
What fun! Anne had provided the necessary jewelry findings, beads, and wire. She had even offered to give me a lesson on how to proceed, but I couldn’t wait. So I googled the internet for a youtube explanation of how to attach a clasp. Soon, I was off and running! Whoo! Hoo!
In no time, I needed more colors in my palette, more textures in my supply, and more shapes in my coffer. So I was soon off to the local bead store.
I have often wondered how a store on Main Street that sells beads almost exclusively could remain in business. Are there really enough people in the area who are interested in beads? The shop is filled with beads of all colors, sizes, shapes, and places of origin. Some of the beads are relatively easy, with large holes that allow easy threading, and appear suitable for beginners. These bigger beads often seem as though they have already been used quite a bit with nicks, scrapes, and a somewhat worn patina. It is simple to take these beads off and on and off and on until you find a pleasing pattern or are ready to move on to more challenging spheres. Some of the beads have tiny holes that can only be threaded with the utmost patience and a gentle touch. While there is a wide variety of beads from which to choose, the wires appear to be pretty much all the same…allowing you to select the length and width that pleases and satisfies you most.
After selecting a strand of pink quartz, I approached the counter and asked the proprietor if she could help me. I was looking for a unique finding I had seen on a recent trip to Sedona.
You know…that round thing”, I said, using the index finger and the thumb of my left hand to form a circle. “You know…that round thing and then the stick thing that goes into it?” I asked, demonstrating with the index finger of my right hand going in and out. “You know? I don’t know what it’s called”.
She gave me an odd little smirky smile and replied, “ Um…A toggle?” she asked with a stifled chuckle.
“Yes, that’s what I guess I mean.”
The whole exchange was a little odd. I mean, why the snicker? Why the chuckle? What was so funny? How was I supposed to know the proper names for all the bits and pieces? Did she think I should make up my own nomenclature? Well…I let it go, paid for my treasures, and turned toward home with ideas buzzing in my head.
The following day I gathered all the required implements and the selected beads and began my artistic venture. As I bent over the bead tray with the stiff piece of wire in my hand, I was impressed that, yes, this was a fantastic new hobby, one that would strengthen my brain, creating new pathways for thought, stretching those synapses and neurons, and really polishing up my cerebral cortex.
As I selected the tiny black bead that would go on first, I was amazed at how little they were…how difficult it was to see the opening. In fact, I couldn’t see the opening at all. I poked around with the wire a bit, and then…success. It slipped easily onto the wire. I tried a few more. What lesson was I being taught? What message was the universe trying to teach me? Was it patience? Was it that if I kept trying, I’d eventually get the wire in the hole? Perhaps the lesson was that even if I couldn’t see and was operating by touch and feel if I kept trying, I’d finally succeed? It was as I took the next bead in my fingers and realized that I was sticking something stiff into a relatively small opening…poking around and hoping for success that the electrical circuits that were created back in my twenties were suddenly shooting sparks all over the cerebrum…it suddenly…or finally… dawned on me what I had been innocently demonstrating to the bead lady.
“There’s grinding the corn. Hitting a home run. Knocking boots. Peeling the banana. Making whoopee. And my personal favorite, the matrimonial polka.”Sue Mercury, Alien Warrior’s Second Chance
So, I guess…bead stringing… isn’t exactly a…new hobby…for me. But, while I look for the next new challenge to give the grey stuff a workout, I think it is good for the old brain to remember the time when bead stringing was new and exciting, and it was a success just to get the bead on the string.
I wanted to add an epilogue to this piece, but I had difficulty getting beyond all the innuendos that were trying to make it past the little censor in my brain. But perhaps, the following will suffice.
As I age, I understand my mother more and more. She never became a demure old woman dressed in lavender and lace. Instead, she became, among other wonderful things, the teller of rather bawdy jokes. Seeing the bemused looks of shock, surprise, and joy that her racy punchlines elicited gave her immense pleasure. No one expects a little old lady to know anything at all about bead stringing. However, If my ninety-year-old mother was any indication, stringing beads can be a pleasurable way to spend an afternoon or evening at any age.