The honor roll is nice but nothing boosts a fourth grader's confidence like winning a beauty pageant. Which would you rather have, a certificate on the fridge or a tiara on your head? As a ten year old winner of both accolades, I will tell you, the crown looks a lot better in photographs.
Much like the honor roll, I knew the Miss Pre-Teen Corn Queen title was destined to land effortlessly upon my bony shoulders. Effortless for me, that is. My mother, a lover of themes and spectacle, fastidiously pieced together my winning costume: an overalls-miniskirt combo, white cowgirl boots, red lipstick, and daisies braided into my hair. I only had one competitor, and her outfit did not include shoes.
The competition at the 1998 Travelers Rest Corn Festival in the Pre-Teen Corn Queen bracket was far less cutthroat than my only previous pageant experience, the 1991 Wee Miss Berea contest. For starters, it took place outdoors, on a high school football field, next to some 4H exhibits and a ferris wheel. Back in 91, two other fluffy three year olds and I were locked in a three-way tie, but (reportedly) I winked at the judges and won them over. I don't remember this winsome gesture, but I do remember telling the emcee I wanted to be a cheerleader when I grew up.
The third and final pageant I entered was the Miss TR competition in 2002 at Travelers Rest High School. Like all of my freshman endeavors, the pageant was a shot in the dark at belonging in a world I didn't understand. Despite years of orthodontics, contact lenses, and countless trips to the mall and Sally's Alterations, I did not win this one. Like every other thing I ever discovered I wasn't good at (figure skating, the dulcimer, the Nuva Ring), I quit pageants. Two out of three ain't bad, I thought, even if the two crowns I won preceded puberty. You win some, you lose some!