After the assembly, Eliza and I picked up little pink pamphlets with a typewriter embossed at the top.
“Boy, some of the idiots they let in this place,” I said.
“Definitely,” Eliza answered. “To think I would cut my nails to type all day!”
Time passed in a flurry and the contest was near. I was in English class growing restless by the minute. I was trying to concentrate on Mrs. Douglas teaching Haiku poetry. You haven’t lived until you have heard her explain that to the future farmers of America. I tapped my pencil on the desk and thought of California palm trees and long, endless beaches.
“Mary Ann, would you like to instruct the class on today’s poetry lesson?” she asked.
“No ma’am, I’m sorry, just a lot to think about.”
“You’re excused. Please pay attention from now on. You can start by reading the poem on page 157.”
I looked up and Rudy Bobby was grinning at me. Darn! Now he would probably remember to ask me to help him feed his calf at the ag barn today. Things had to get better than this.
One week before the contest, Eliza and I were all set to give a performance for the Lion’s Club luncheon. Our speech class was scheduled to entertain them. We were doing some prose readings and some mime interpretations.
I was okay with this because it is something that might help me in California with all those creative people. My background as a thespian also included a performance in The Canterbury Tales and as Edith Ann. I had performed Edith Ann during the Christmas pageant. and hated it because the jokes written for her were just not that funny and it was all material from the previous year.
“So at the garden luncheon, Mrs. Smith said she just loved the itty bitty tuna sandwiches. I said, ‘Kitty loved ’em too, she at five.'” Definitely not the highlight of my career. I surveyed the Witt Lions Club. Most of them were overweight farmers with names like Spike, Cotton, Crow, and Slick. Half of them were asleep. The culture club in Witt. I looked at Eliza. She rolled her eyes. I smiled. California wouldn’t be like this.
June the first, we were already out of school and graduation was over. Eliza and I did okay. I even got an award for my speech performances. That was behind me and tonight was the Miss Rutherford contest and all I really needed was second place. If I got second place, I could still get some money and do some promotion things with the town and cotton and stuff. I had ran in to Kerri Adams earlier that afternoon.
“Why Mary Ann, I just can’t believe you are competing tonight, it is just so out of character for you.”
“One never knows, I guess,” I replied.
“Well, I just hope you managed to afford a dress for this. I mean, not that you would win or anything, but I just would hate for you to be embarrassed.”
“Don’t you worry about it,” I said. “I’ll manage to look appropriate.”
“Good for you. You didn’t make a dress, did you? Oh of course not. Guess I’ll see you there,” she said and turned to hop in her sports car.
Backstage at the event, I was a nervous psychopath. Joey and grandma were sitting out in the front row, happy as could be. I was out of my jeans and stuffed into a formal dress that grandma, Joey and I pooled our money to buy. Eliza had done my hair and I thought it was just too much. Somehow I felt like I was auditioning for a “Charlie’s Angel’s” show. I had never worn makeup like this. Girls from all over the county were there and I was completely out of my element.
Jane Fields, the pageant director came by to remind us of the procedures.
“Remember how to hold the flowers, when to smile, walk straight out on the stage and don’t slouch and remember you are representing Rutherford County. Good luck, girls.”
Round one and everybody had to do their talent routine. Carly Adams dropped one of her batons. I was hoping she would do the fire routine, but no such luck. Freda Stone sang, “God Bless America”, and almost strangled herself on the last verse. I had wanted to play Dixieland on the piano, but instead I played Minuet. The piano was about the only thing fancy I had learned to do because my grandma had been adamant about that…..TBC