The last night of the Gathering was the bead swap/closing party. From what I had read, I thought the bead swap would be a friendly, get to you/glad to know you, what a great Gathering kind of thing. I was very disappointed. It turned out to be a get the best deal, hustling, show off, kind of thing. I did not turn around and immediately go back to my room for the night though. Instead, I got a glass of wine.
I was soaking up the atmosphere and feeling very insecure about my beads, when a very nice lady that I had met at the opening reception offered to trade with me. She was very gracious, but I felt like I got a much better deal and felt a little bad about it. She left saying she would be able to say “I knew her when…” so I guess that’s a compliment. Then I swapped with another lady who seemed very nice, but very shy.
So I was sitting there with my beads spilled out on the table (next year I’ll have to have a better way of transporting/showing my beads), drinking a glass of wine, and watching this other woman at the table work it while steadfastly ignoring me. I think the only reason I was still there was because I still had wine in my glass and I wasn’t quite ready to go to bed. I was fairly well discouraged and a bit embarrassed – not good.
The dynamic changed when Harold Cooney came in and plopped his suitcase-full-o’-glass down on the table. Even though I wasn’t that familiar with him or his work, I recognized him as one of the presenters, and knew he was a hot shot glass artist. So, my first thought was “oh no, I’m done for.” Then I got a hold of myself enough to make a joke – I looked at the woman who had been ignoring me and said, “I need another glass of wine!” She chuckled a little – I guess it wasn’t a great joke.
Then I really got a hold of myself and said to Harold “I think the fact that you sat down – without asking – at this table that I was already sitting at, obligates you to make a trade with me.”
He said “Oh really?”
“Yes.” I said with as much confidence as I could.
“I think we can work something out.” He said.
Now I was a bit surprised – “Oh really?”
As it turns out, Harold was looking for beads to pay rent on his double wide. Evidently his landlord will take beads, but only pays $5 – $10. My beads were perfect.
He asked me if I haggled. I said I had in the past… But when he asked me to place a monetary value on my beads I hesitated. Harold very kindly let me know that was a mistake. Oh well. He picked out a few beads and handed me one of his pieces. I wasn’t thrilled with the first piece I looked at – it was beautiful, but not really my style. I ended up picking out the piece above from his bag. I really like it – again, not something I would buy for myself, but now that I have it, I really enjoy it. This piece may be worth more than the first bead he handed me, because he grabbed a few more beads. Maybe I do haggle.
So, after that I put all my beads up. I hung out just long enough to finish my glass of wine. It was a great way to end a great experience. I’m glad that I got to go, and that it worked out so well. It is fortunate that I’m sturdy enough to make a trip like this by myself – it was by no means certain when I made the plans in April.