No Arms, No Hands, All Heart
The Beading Angel
MysteryShrink in the Now*
She’s always there. On the pedestrian walkway between the Mexico City Hilton and the Zocalo, sitting with her footless leg tucked under the one with the tennis shoe hiding where her toes were before the fire–her wings tucked in her tee-shirt, her halo and hairless head under a scarf. Her finished bracelets and key chains are on display on the ground next to her. Her steel fingers click away on her wares.
The Beading Angel is one of dozens along the passageway hoping to hawk a trinket or win a few tossed pesos in gratitude for a bit of novelty and maybe even a smile to one of us intense pedestrians on our way to ‘somewhere important.’ We are there, but not ‘there.’ We have ‘lost our minds’ rehearsing our what we need to do. Now doesn’t count. What we accomplish counts. Products. Efficiency. Bank accounts. Getting ahead. Take a selfie. Count the ‘likes.’ That’s almost like accomplishing something.
“Everyone belongs on the Mexico City streets—the children and old men hawking churros and pushing ice cream carts, knots of young men in a high buttoned black business suits cutting between acrobats, painters, jugglers, contortionists, and fortune tellers. And musicians if you count monkey-toting organ grinders. A tiny grinning man with tattoos instead of a shirt choreographs green and blue parakeets along his arms, shoulders, three on his head. At a crosswalk with eight lanes of insane traffic, a man darts among the cars and swallows a flaming rod, his begging hat in his other hand. Another runs into the madness and throws down a dirty rug. He dumps a pail of ice on the rug and falls over on his back in the ice, a tip jar heaving on his stomach.”
. . . And here among the craziness, the Beading Angel makes her art. It took me a long time to ask her for a picture since my main goal is to appear cool and worldly and to ask her for a picture has to be the ugliest idea an Ugly American can have. But we talked awhile. I told her how I wanted others to know her beauty and we worked something out.
She isn’t as worried as I am about what people think. She is who she is and doesn’t hide. Pretty impressive, right?
Well, hang on. There’s more. On the evening of Mexico’s Independence Day Celebration, Diez y Seis! —(The Cinco de Mayo idea is more the product of chain restaurant marketing than it is a product of Mexico.) –it is traditional for young women to line the pedestrian passage way dressed up in elaborate Marquesa gowns loaded with jewels, feathers, and all sorts of glitzy ‘look at me!’ accessories. The tradition is for people, especially the men, to choose the young lady they think is the most beautiful, the one who would make them look most impressive when they flashed their pictures later– and have their photographs taken with her for a small fee.
I was headed back to the Hilton after the Zocalo Diez y Seis party last year when I spotted her. Whoa. I didn’t know the cool thing to do. Should I say ‘Hi’ or walk on? She was there. She had the guts to dress up and hope for a buyer!
The Beading Angel stood pretty much alone, near the twittering beautiful girls surrounded by the flashing phones of admirers. When you’re ‘cool’ like me, what you try to do is ‘blend.’ She did not blend. She shocked. She stood out like a woman who’d been destroyed in a fire. Only what is inside her survived. Her heart.
Insanity in an Insane World: Behind the Beading Angel was a photo of a gorgeous model holding up a “beauty” product and saying she’d purchased the expensive make-up because she is ‘worth it.’
Really? I believe the Beading Angel saw herself as God sees her.
*Pinch yourself. Let yourself gaze at the beautiful Beading Angel. Feel your own ‘now.’
**I’m going again next week. I promise to let you know if the Beading Angel is there. I’ll post a picture of her. Wow, I hope she’s there. I hope, I hope.**