I believe that there is a specific type of woman who decides to wear beads. Women who wear beads are quite interesting and decidedly complex. Beads can be conversation openers. I often admire the beads other women wear. Once, having breakfast in a diner in Santa Monica I commented on the beauty of the beads a woman wore. They appeared to be made of glass, smooth but irregular in size, their translucence catching the softness of the California light that shone in through the big paned windows by the table where she sat. They made me want to reach over and eat them! The woman was pleased to inform me that she bought them in Barneys. Someone at the table said Barneys was an expensive store. I didn't bother to go.
I collect beads. Many of them hang from hooks that I attached to a shelf in my bedroom, many others sit in plastic bags in a drawer waiting to be restrung. Of the beads that hang from the hooks one of my favourites is a set I bought in a ''new agey'' type store in LA, made of ceramic they are handpainted in beautiful colours and are interspersed with a very obese looking Buddah. Others I picked up in Thrift stores and one, special one, that my brother gave me years ago of Chestnuts strung onto leather. Lately, I favour a necklace of multi-coloured buttons I spotted at an ''open day'' for my neighbours garden and for five euro it has drawn many compliments. Strange how the most simple concept catches the eye.
Some months ago while shopping at the local deli here in Galway I admired another set of beads. I said to the woman ''I love your beads'', at first she seemed startled, as if she did not know how to handle a compliment or maybe she was not used to people addressing her. But then she looked extremely gratified, almost relieved. The beads were eye catching, an unusual green, not mossy or brassy or a St. Patrick's day green but the green that you might see in the ocean, an ocean green grass. They were quite large too, like green prunes for all the world and they sat at the base of her neck like a choker. I carried on talking to her despite the fact that she said very little. I said ''I adore beads'' to which she quickly replied ''well, so where are yours?'' Somehow in one of my dashes to go out I had forgotten to put them on. That was the end of our conversation. I thought about her though and imagined her name to be Bea or Clothilde, something semi posh and I wondered why she appeared to be such a lonely individual even though I knew absolutely nothing about her. Since our initial encounter Bea or Clothilde has come across my path often. Last week I saw her as I was parking my car at the lot down town. She was returning to her car with a few small brown paper shopping bags, walking delicately almost warily. She was wearing the beads. I am sure she saw me too but did not make any attempt to indicate so. She kept on walking as if she were traversing an icy path. Funny how she can wear those beautiful beads and yet appear to be a quibbling and untoward individual I thought. Why did she not wave or stop and comment on my button necklace and wonder aloud about the unusually mild weather that the rain had created and point up to the seagulls circling overhead, the angry screeching mob rising and dipping above our heads?