14 January 2011
I remember waking up early one morning during the Spring of 1984. Yes, I am taking it way back into time! I was in fifth grade and a senior at my elementary school. I thought I was on top of the world. I dressed carefully, choosing a hot pink and white mini-skirt with matching hot pink blouse. I had on white slip-on shoes with little white bobby socks. I used a hair dryer to straighten my perpetually curly hair. I reminded my mother to put my white ruffled poof dress on a hanger and to pack my white shiny shoes. That day was the talent show at school and I was going to be a star.
School was pretty exciting with everyone practicing. There were several students singing, others practicing their dance moves and the harried teachers ushering students from the mini-school to the main building. I asked my teacher, Ms. G. Miller, to let me go to the bathroom and change.
"You look fine dear. Just go ahead with all the other students to the auditorium," she replied giving me that educator's glare.
"I won't take long," I stated and hurried on to the bathroom before she could redirect me to the auditorium.
Once dressed and fluffed, I rejoined my class and waited for our class' turn to perform. One class sang a song using the rounding technique. This is where one portion of the class begins a song and upon the second stanza, the remaining students begin the first stanza. It was a wonderful performance even though I didn't particularly like the song. Four more classes performed and finally it was our turn.
Since this was the year that Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss USA, Ms. Miller felt that we could re-enact the pageant. Guess who was to play Miss USA? Oh yeah, it was me. The class voted for me. The boys in the class were the judges and all the girls represented various states throughout the US. One particular student, Regina (changed her name for anonimity) pranced about on stage with her slinky little outfit. She realized that her stockings and skirt were slipping. So what does she do? Regina stops center stage, lifts her skirt above mid-thigh and readjusted her stockings.
Okay, picture this. The boys are seated at students desks in front of the stage. The stage itself is approximately five feet above where the boys were seated. Regina is at an angle where the boys could view all of her treasure under her skirt. The boys, of course, were in a sexually charged uproar which transferred to the audience.
Now, I was to go next. I walked around in various catwalk poses and began to sing. I can't even remember the song. All I remember is the snickering of the crowd and the male judges. I tried to sing above the heckling but it was no use. Ms. Miller cut the song short and lined up the girls. She announced my name as Miss America, handed me a bouquet of flowers and placed the crown on my head. The audience really became negatively boisterous. The flowers slipped out my hand, a solitary tear trickled down my cheek and I ran off the stage. I was mortified. I hated Regina for the rest of the school year. I thought of several ways to get back at her. However, I never followed through on any of my maniacally genius ideas of revenge. I simply let it go after a while and buried that painful memory.
It's funny that now as I reflect upon this memory, the sting of rejection isn't so bad. From that particular moment in my life, I learned that people are fickle. At the age of 11, I also learned that unfortunately sex sells. It is one of the most motivating forces in marketing. It took me three years to have the courage to ever get on a stage again.