Sometime in early 1992, my mother cut an ad out of one of her beauty magazines and gave it to me. It was soliciting photo submittals for the Miss Teen pageant. There weren't many details on what it was all about...but my mother was keen on sending in my photo. My mother was always trying to push me into things like this.
My stint at the Barbizon School of Modeling had just finished and my mother was still gung ho to get my face out there. She argued and cajoled that I was a "pretty girl" and that I should be doing something to take advantage of my appearance. Especially since I'd lost all that weight and I was feeling pretty good about myself - relatively speaking. Really, I'd only lost the weight to get my parents off my back.
Very reluctantly, I told my mother it would be OK to send in my photo. It was one of the shots from my portfolio (see! In this one I am actually smiling!) I never expected to be selected as a contestant. Imaging my surprise when I got the welcome packet in the mail.
An even bigger surprise; the entry fee. Holy Toledo, I couldn't believe how much they were asking us to pay. They had included all the tools I would need to go and solicit support from local businesses (selling advertising space in the pageant program guide thingy - see photo) . They had to be joking. They expected ME to go and ask strangers to give me money and send me to a stupid pageant??? I told my mother NO. NO WAY IN HELL. NO NO NO NO...
About a week later I was asking my Dentist if he would lend his support (and money) to my cause. I got a bunch of negatives, but enough positives to cover the tab. I still can't believe those businesses were willing to part with money to send ME to a dumb pageant. Yes, my mother was pushy as hell. Oh my God...I was going to a pageant!
Another problem...I had to have a talent. My mother said "Oh that's easy. You will play your violin." Um, mom? I haven't played my violin in two years. "Well...we will find you a tutor." And she did. A nice Asian fellow. We picked a piece of music and he set about teaching me to play it.(They took a nice photo of me in my talent "outfit" at the pageant, but I can't find it...so here is a different one of me with my instrument.)
To his surprise, I had never learned to read music. I always used to fudge it and mostly played by ear. Eeek! He really had his work cut out for him. When he realized the deadline to learn the piece was SOON, he cut some corners. No matter. He got the job done. I played a medley of music from Fiddler on the Roof. It sounded pretty damn good, too!
So there I was. I had my violin, two outfits and my evening gown in hand. We stayed at a very nice Marriott in Springfield. I remember the lobby seemed like a sea of pretty teenage girl faces. They all seemed WAY prettier than me, too. Uh oh. Panic began to set in. What the HELL was I doing there?
We had photos taken, went to rehearse our big group opening number "Back In The USA", and did a run through with wardrobe changes and had the initial staging of the talent portion. I was getting more and more nervous as each hour passed.
The time arrived. The grand ballroom was packed with chairs in front of the stage and podium. Several of the girls goofed up during the opening number. We really needed more practice than we got. When the time came for me to play my violin selection, I had a huge lump in my throat and I was feeling faint. I could barely croak into the microphone the name of my piece. I took a deep breath and began to play.
I started off rather slow and hesitant, but no bad notes. Suddenly my violin let out a horrible squeak. What the hell was that?! I had my fingers in the right position... Oh no. I had a glob of rosin suck on the bow strings. Every time that area of the bow hit the strings, the violin would let out a loud squeaky squeal. I wanted to stop playing and run...but I somehow managed to finish playing. There was a weak applause as I made my way back to my seat. My face was burning.
I tried to take deep breaths and enjoy watching the rest of the girls do their presentations. I had a feeling I already knew who was going to win. I was right. Lori Veto had this amazing dance routine. It was a real crowd pleaser. She walked away with the crown. I wasn't even a runner-up. No Miss Congeniality for me.
Oh well. At least I had done it. I'm still not ready to thank my mother for the experience. I'm still trying to figure out if it was a positive or negative experience for me.
Do you want to know what we were all competing for? A $650 cash scholarship, an "Official" Miss TEEN Crown, Trophy and Banner, personalized "Queen" stationary, an 11x14 color portrait, and a Miss Teen ensemble. I think the total prize package value was less than half the cost of entering the contest. At least the winner got to go to the National Finals in Albuquerque, NM to compete for a $25,000 scholarship, a $2,000 personal appearance contract, a $2,000 wardrobe, and a trip to Hawaii.
Well...at least I came home with my official logo tee-shirt and a certificate of achievement. Hmm. I wonder where my shirt is...