I was running an errand in another part of town yesterday when, without even thinking about it, I pulled over and ended up in a Bead Store. I’d never been in a place like this before; Beads everywhere! Mounded in baskets, rows of plastic tubes organized by color, and hanging from the wall in thick ropes of many strands. The lady asked if she could help me, but I’m sure she saw that newbie look in my eyes, which worried her.
So I decided I did need some beads, but didn’t have a specific plan. I wanted them all! First I collected an assortment of colors in plastic tubes, then I put them back. I decided on bigger beads that came in strands – earth colors instead of the bright ones in the tubes – and then changed my mind again. The lady handed me a straw basket and helpfully offered to put things back for me (she probably figured I was putting them back wrong, which would be a real nightmare in this place). Then she went back to the counter and fell back into bead lingo with the other bead lady. This bead store was different from, but similar in many ways, to the yarn store with the yarn ladies (I wrote a story about them, too).
I kind of wanted to belong; but not too much.
After my third question that was stupid, “Why does the price tag say $3 on one side and $10 on the other side?” (Turns out $3 is the price and #10 is the size of the beads), and my second question that made the bead lady uncomfortable, “Do you have any skull beads?,” she decided to just leave me to shop by myself.
Until she heard that sickening sound: **POIK! skudder skudder skudder **– a rope of bead strands exploding in my hand sending millions of tiny beads flying behind the wall racks and all over the floor. I apologized, but I didn’t offer to pick them up, so sue me. I decided it was probably best to go on ahead and finalize my purchases and get the hell out of there.
But on my way to the register, I thought of something else. “Do you have thread or something to string these beads?” Duh; a whole wall of string, line, thread and wire in a hundred sizes. She answered me in a different language so I just grabbed some white thread and then asked, “Do people use needles to string beads?” Back in the hippy days we just used fishing line which was stiff enough that you didn’t need a needle to string beads.
She looked me right in the eye and said, “Do you want twisted wire needles or English beading needles? What gauge and length?” Okay, now she was just fucking with me. “I think short needles with a large eye,” I said, which I thought sounded good for a beginner. Tubes of beads, thread and needles and, $76 later, I was out the door and discovered a little Thai restaurant next door. Mentally exhausted, I ducked in there and ordered a beer and some vegetable curry.
I spread my purchases out on the table and opened the intricately wrapped packet of needles, which were microscopic and seemed to be pointed on both ends, until I held one far enough away from my eyes to see that there was actually an eye on one end. Finally got it threaded, when the waitress brought my cold beer, curry and a bowl of white rice. Ate a couple spoons of rice while waiting for the curry to cool, then – how to get the cap off this tube of beads? Using my teeth it came off suddenly, filling my mouth with blue beads. The waitress showed up in time to see me spitting blue and white rice into my hand. (Later the cook peered at me around the kitchen door, so the waitress must have told him) I swallowed some of beads; had no choice.
Carefully, I poured little piles of each color of beads on the table and started to string them. This is fun! Until the waitress set a bottle of hot sauce on my table and the beads shot everywhere. I can’t handle these tiny beads! I still had a lot left, but my little piles were now scattered all over the carpet. A bus boy came by with a carpet sweeper, but the beads just scampered in front of the vacuum and spread out even more. They’ll never get them up that way. I thought for a minute about suggesting they go talk to the bead lady next door, who probably knows all about the best way to clean up bead spills. But for some reason I didn’t want the bead ladies to know what I had done.
Left a good tip and headed back out into the hot afternoon to finish my errands in the Heights. Last night I dreamed that I made intricate beaded Rasta hats and sold them in a European open air market.
It was only a dream.