Silver Beauties. Lost and Found.
By Christine Ranck
Editors Note: Christine Ranck is part of the fabulous Janes Trio who will performing for us in NYC on October 25th.
I have these earrings. With a silver finish that has dulled over the years, they dangle precariously from my lobes in clusters of large silvery flowers and red beads, looking both glamorous and really tacky at the same time, a rare quality in earrings that I tend to appreciate. My gigantic Glitter-Cow-Jumping-Over-the-Moon earrings, for example, go just a little too far over the edge of good taste – in such a marvelous way – and my Silver Beauties fall into that same category. But they are precious to me, priceless in fact, because of their strange history and the unbelievable story of serendipity they could tell if only they could speak. It has become as necessary now to ponder their voice as it once was to find my own when I was the young girl who bought them.
For I was then but a junior in college in the late 60s, and I had only just begun to explore the wondrous world of expression that exists for women in the existential space between our earlobes and our shoulders. A shy, naïve, gentle girl from Ohio, I’d gone to a liberal Eastern school and discovered a tie-dyed freedom I hadn’t known existed. Oh, the earrings I saw in those years! And so, on a magical first-time trip to New York City, somewhere in a shop window in Greenwich Village, I spotted my Silver Florals and knew I was Born to Wear Them. My first real earrings! My first foray into a form of expression that gave voice to my insides, and said, “There’s more to me than you think! Just look at my earrings!”
I wore those Silver Beauties like a birthmark.
But then tragedy struck. On my second trip to New York, as I ran down a sidewalk somewhere in Greenwich Village, one Silver Beauty slipped off my ear. (Because I had not yet gotten pierced ears, they were only clip-ons.) I didn’t even feel it go. When I finally realized, I searched the sidewalks, the crosswalks, the shadows under rear tires, desperate to find my new symbol for my voice of independence. Gone it was, gone forever, even though I wished with all my heart that it not be so. It would never have fallen off my ear if I’d just gotten my damn ears pierced!
I was inconsolable.
“Do it now!” I shouted desperately at the ear-piercing man. This was one virginity I was ready to give up without a fight. I had learned my lesson for all eternity about losing precious things. Take care of them. Do what you must to keep them. Never, never let this happen again!
Five years later, I had come to New York City to pursue my career as a singer, having given a more literal voice to the glamour and tackiness I’d discovered within, through my Silver Beauties. I’d kept, like a sacred talisman, the remaining earring in its own special box, still grieving for its missing twin – I had searched unsuccessfully for years for another pair that looked even remotely similar. Then one day, while walking somewhere on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village, I spotted the strange jewelry store that was rumored to be owned by a gypsy woman. As if to prove her pedigree, a giant Evil Eye hung above her store. The place was a dusty cavern inside, brimming with some of the strangest and most extraordinarily tacky jewelry I’d ever seen. I was in total heaven! As I worked my way to the back, peering into one filthy case after another, there in a corner cabinet hung what appeared to be a pair of earrings that looked exactly like my Silver Beauties! I was beside myself. I gasped, I flushed! I couldn’t believe my eyes!
I raced to the gypsy woman behind the counter, breathless.
“Please ma’am, how much for those big earrings in the back case…the ones with the silver flowers and the red beads?”
She looked at me darkly and said,
“Well, unfortunately my dear, I’m afraid it is not a pair. We have only one…”
“But it is a Beauty. I’ll give it to you for only $5.00.
And for one dollar more, I’ll gladly change the clasp.
For you see, it is not a pierced earring, it is only a clip-on…”
“Are you alright, dear?”
And so in this perfect and mystical way, the Universe returned my Silver Beauty to me. Perhaps it’s time I gave my Silver Beauties away to someone else who could use their power. After all, I’ve learned the lesson they came back to teach me. I’ve found my voice – it’s strong and clear. I can’t lose that…it’s part of me now. We lose precious things in life that we love, no matter how hard we hold on. But the truly important ones come back to us in the most unexpected forms, if only we have the eyes to see them.
The problem is, who else would ever wear my Silver Beauties? They’re really tacky.