One thing in my life I’ve always wanted to do, was learn how to juggle. I bought a book – Juggling for the Complete Klutz. Obviously, I’m even klutzier than the Complete Klutz. I practiced with scarves, small sandbags, lemons and limes. To absolutely no avail. I practiced over a bed, practiced in front of a mirror, practiced in front of a wall. Nope. Randomly, one item or another would go shooting off into the distance, taking out a lamp, a cat, a customer.
For my 40th birthday, I swore I would learn to juggle. I practiced. I practiced more. Lamps, cats and customers lived in fear.
By the time I turned 41, I realized I would never be able to juggle. Heartbreaking, but it was time to face facts. Plus the cats were getting all in all pretty pissed off.
In search of a new venue for my creative outlets, I joined a lampworking class. Long sturdy rods of glass could be melted down into tiny beads of unique styles and shapes. Perfect for someone just beginning in the jewelry world.
The teacher was quite famous, from Omaha. Beautiful beadwork. I was sure, by the end of the day, I’d have beads with little frogs on them, flowers and polka-dots. Excitement, I’m sure, glittered in my eyes.
Ah, except. The trick comes from holding both the glass and the mandrel in the eye of the flame. The blue tip.
“Hold your glass and your mandrel in the eye of the flame, Carrie.”
“Yup, it’s there.”
“Um, no, it’s not.”
I rolled my eyes. Not a good thing when holding molten glass. Sliding the glass orb a little closer to me, it suddenly exploded into thousands of teeny tiny pieces of shrapnel. Students ducked, the teacher ducked. I’m sure the cats ducked at home.
The teacher guided my hand to the “sweet spot.”
“That’s where I had it!”
“Um, no, it’s not.”
Sighing heavily, I turned the bead. I was pretty sure I was in the sweet spot. The bead was melting, and that’s the way it’s supposed to go, right?
“You’ve burned your bead.”
“You’re holding it too close to the flame.”
By now, I’m getting irritable. No pretty frogs are emerging from my glass sticks. As a matter of fact, I have nothing more than a slightly lima bean shaped bead with scorch marks. Grr. I kept on for hours, sweat rolling down my back. No matter where I held the mandrel, I wasn’t in the sweet spot.
“Do you have a problem with depth perception?”
The teacher was sweating as much as I.
“No that I know of.”
Kindly, she drew me away from the flame and the blobs of glass. “From what I can see, now mind you I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, you have a problem with depth perception. You simply can’t find the right spot in the flame.”
All the other students nodded, their perfect little beads in rows beside them.
“You’d have problems with small things like judging the distance between two objects (hence the customers occasionally covered with water rather than in their glasses) or things like catching a ball.”
Catching a ball? I never played baseball! I never . . .
Juggling. Catching the balls. Judging the distance between objects.
It cost me $150, two second degrees burns and a heart-stopping trip over a realllllly long bridge to get to the art center, but I finally realized my dream would never come true.
I’d never be able to juggle.
Somehow, I’ve managed to continue on in my non-juggling life. It’s probably saved me money in the long run, certainly saved the cats from headaches. The customers are slowly returning to the restaurant now that they are no longer in danger of being beaned by a rogue lemon.
I’ll always look back on that time with a bit of sadness. A bit of heartache. A small whining fit because I can’t see any of the new disney movies in 3D.
On the other hand….I wonder if I’d be any good at sword swallowing?