A few weeks later there was a meeting of the “contestants”, i.e. the poor, unfortunate, horseless girls, at which time they explained the intricacies of the pageant. Since we were in fact cursed with no horse, we would be cursed with a fashion show. So, on a hot, sticky Sunday afternoon our parents all crowded into the school auditorium – little more than an oversized classroom with a stage – while we paraded forth in casual wear and “dressy wear”. Luckily, being a conservative west Texas town, we stayed away from the evils of swimwear.
I have never been graceful and the mechanics of the step-turn were lost on me. There was no interview (which would have been small comfort at best, but I could talk better than I could walk) so needless to say I muddled through in a truly unremarkable fashion.
Later in the week the festivities began to reach a fever pitch. Wednesday was the day of the Rodeo Parade. Normally I enjoyed the parade from the middle of the 19 member marching band. We could all march, each of us to our own private drummer. It was more of a collection of individual performance artists than any sort of a cohesive band. Somewhere, I’m sure, we could have been a hit in a small, off-off-off little avant-garde theatre, but mostly we were just out of step.
This time, I was fated to enjoy the parade in a whole new way. The sponsor was saddled with the responsibility of making a float for the lovelies to ride on, in lieu of riding a horse. Aubrey Nell had not spent a lot of time in life learning the finer points of float design, what with running a business, a farm and a household. Such a waste. My job was to find a suitable prom gown in which to be ogled upon our float. I ended up in a fluffy mass of what would probably be labeled “sea-foam green” tule and taffeta. My chariot arrived.
Turned out they had decided I could ride on – on, not in – their big chunk of a cherry-red 1987 Chevy Suburban. And not on the hood – the roof. To this day I have not idea how I hauled myself and that huge dress to the roof of the vehicle or how I got down. It was evidently traumatic enough to block it from my memory, but somehow I survived to ride through town – green dress, red suburban and a poster board sign proclaiming I was the proud bearer of the title “Miss City Grocery and Deli”.
Part 3 - coming soon!