They stood there, giant mountains of teenage boy hulks casting a shadow over the booth.
Teenage boys on their own are an uncommon sight in my handmade glass jewelry booth. They are not my usual customer and on day 6 of a long show I am perhaps not as patient as I should be. I’m thinking “move along now”.
“Can I help you?” I ask Hulk 1 briskly.
There’s a shuffling of feet, a dropping of head and then a squaring of shoulders. A big intake of breath before a tiny whisper in a shaky voice.
“Need a present for my mom”.
This stops me. I assumed they were on a school trip and hiding from a teacher. Who’s going to look for 2 teenage boys in a bright coloured jewelry booth?
He’s stll looking at his feet and his friend is looking at the jwelry.
“What about this one?” asks Hulk 2.
“Dunno,” replies Hulk 1.
“Or this one?” asks Hulk 2 holding up a $450 statement necklace.
“Dunno,” replies Hulk 1 before visibly recoiling when he catches sight of the price tag.
“Maybe I can help,” I say. “What’s her favourite colour?”
“Does she wear a lot of jewelry?”
More squirming. Then he looks at me and in a barely audible voice he blurts out, “She doesn’t live with me. I haven’t seen her in a year. She’s coming for Christmas. I want to get her something really nice”.
“Oh.” My heart breaks just a tiny bit for this giant boy.
Together we look at some options. I point out some of the most popular colours and styles steering him to the less expensive pieces. When I hold up each option I ask them “What do you think about this one?”
Grunt. Hulk 2.
Shrug. Hulk 1.
After about 15 minutes I leave them to it. For almost an hour they stand there whispering to each other. Between them them take up at least a third of my booth speace. Ladies wander in and out, there’s laughter and small talk. It’s all light hearted fun. Many a glance is shot in the direction of the intense cloud of concentration the 2 boys are surrounded in.
He choose a small Snow Queen pendant. It told him it was a great choice. He like it because of the simple elegance, like he remembered his mom.
As I handed him his change he once again looked searchingly at me, “Do you think she’s like it?”
I hope so. Whoever she is, I hope she knows with just how much went into that choice and with what hope and love it was purchased. I hope she know just how lucky she is.