I call her Maggie, always have. She is a white bust set on a cobalt blue base. I was sure they meant her to be a fancy lady of the eighteenth century, but I have always thought of her as a funky maid, flippant and diffident like Despina in Mozart’s opera, Cosi Fan Tutte.
She used to belong to my parents. When my mother passed away in 2004, Maggie was among the many things I inherited. She currently lives on an etagere in my dining room and I pass by her all the time.
One morning I found a friend who was visiting, gazing at her.
“Good morning, do you like her?”
“Oh yeah, she is beautiful.”
“What do you think of her?”
“I’m not sure.” We take our morning coffee cups and move into the living room. “Usually these kinds of busts are of wealth, elegant women,” she continues without missing a beat. “But this one feels different.”
My ears perk up, “How different, what do you mean?”
“It’s almost as if, and don’t think I’m crazy, but it’s almost as if the guy who made this, took a lower-class woman as his model and dressed her up.”
The spoon slipped from my fingers and clattered on the glass top coffee table. “You’re kidding. I’ve always called her Maggie, the maid. That’s amazing. Do you sense anything else about her?”
“Yeah, she wasn’t your regular yes ma’am, no ma’am maid. She spoke her mind, told people off, and ran the roost. And they loved her for it.”
“You just took my breath away. That’s exactly how I picture her. Since we both feel the same way, do you think it could be true?”
“Who knows, maybe, but it sure is a coincidence, isn’t it?”
After she left, I stared at Maggie for a while and then tried an experiment. I walk to an oriental commode in the entryway to my home. My father was an antique dealer. I put my hands out, palms down, to see if I had any thoughts or feelings about this piece. Within moments, my hands tingled, exploding in intensity to a point that was almost uncomfortable.
A picture of a happy, smiling family appeared in my mind’s eye, parents, and two children, a boy, and a girl. Although the picture was cloudy, I could tell it was the early nineteenth century. They were all dressed up, getting into a horse-drawn buggy for a Sunday outing. I watched them get in and drive off.
I opened my eyes and smiled. They owned this piece back then, I just knew it. I don’t know how I knew, but I was sure. I wondered what else I might find out from doing more of this with my other antiques.
But what is this thing with my hands all about? I don’t think I should mention it to anyone. They will think I’m weird. I think I’m weird.