Narrative Essay

The horrendous beeping burrows into my brain, jerking me out of my slumber. Reluctantly, I emerge from under my rainbow nightmare shield to slap around the noisy culprit. My breathing grows shallow and I grab my stomach as nervousness swarms me like a million hungry mosquitoes. Instantly, I'm in front of my nightstand, clutching my day planner. The impatient scripture jumps off the page at me, "July 9, 2004: The Miss Kamloops Pageant." Suddenly, all the momentarily forgotten mental notes and precarious planning are buzzing around again. Today is my pageant.

Still adorned in my pajamas, I find myself at the Hal Rodgers Hall, looking back at our very first Miss Kamloops meeting in January.
Heather Coltman called out, "The rules are as follows: no gum chewing, no spaghetti straps, and absolutely no blue jeans."
"Oops!" whispered Connelly to my very flushed self as we looked down at our denim-covered legs.
Smiling, I remember Connelly and I secretly wearing jeans to school. There were a lot of things that we've had to adapt to, but now it feels like second nature.
"Like panty hose," I snort, "Obviously invented by a man."
Hearing my mother howling upstairs, I snap out of my thoughts. Glancing at my battered telephone/alarm clock, I curse. Flick. Light engulfs my bedroom as I hastily throw on a zip-up sweater and fly up the stairs.
"We are going to be late!" mom's voice resounds throughout the house and probably all the way to China. Apparently, she is just as nervous as I am.
"Of course we are. It's the Radmacher Curse."

The day goes by painfully slowly. Hair and make-up lasts almost four hours! I am still in shock after seeing my face in the mirror at Sears, in the car, and any other reflective surface. A beautiful woman with dark eye make-up, long lashes and golden tendrils sleepily gazes back at me. Man, I could get used to this. I feel like a princess already and I'm not even in my pink gown yet!

When giving my Sponsor Speech, I am truly proud of myself and thankful for this opportunity. My fear evaporates. Even the most pretentious candidates tremble in front of me.
"My name is Bond. Credit Union Bond that is!" Hearing the audience laugh at my corny James Bond impression fills the kudo box of my heart. For the past six months I have been sculpted into a confident public speaker. Miss Kamloops chewed up and swallowed my old lifestyle. Under my command, it will never regurgitate.

My nerves are sneaking up on me. All the candidates are lined up on stage in a semi-circle with Miss Kamloops and Princess of 2003 at the center of attention.
"Miss Congeniality 2004 is. Nitsa!" exclaims our announcer, former Miss Kamloops, Cheryl Blackwell, transporting me back to the present. Connelly wins Top Ticket Sales with half the audience in her support. Danielle wins both Talent and Speech Contests. My grip tightens anxiously on my gown. Ripples disturb the once smooth pink fabric. Where are my awards?

"Our first Miss Kamloops 2004 Princess is . Jennifer Radmacher!"
My stomach detaches from my body and gently floats up to the heavens. Gaping at Danielle, who is sitting beside me, I am rooted to the spot. Before the Pageant, my time consisted of only dance practice and the instructor's stern supervision. I fish around my brain trying to find the memories that fill the gap between now and then. I find nothing.
After accepting hugs from Tara-Lynn and Alyssa gratefully, they decorate me with the crown, flowers and banner. Touching my crown, I think, 'Where have you been all my life?'
"I am so sorry," the announcer manages to say, "There has been a mistake."
The words alone don't break down my wall of happiness. Reality slaps me in the face as Jennifer Frederickson, a fellow candidate, is awarded my crown. On the outside, I clap for the new royalty and put on a smile. But on the inside, my hopes and dreams shatter, littering the stage.
"You are an idiot!" the voice inside my head screams, "You actually believed you could win?"

Filing off the stage, I leap into my boyfriend's arms. I find no comfort. Salty tears sluice down my cheeks, washing away the beautiful woman with the dark eye make-up and long lashes. I wish it would wash the blush from my face and the embarrassment from this moment. Without the strength to look into San's eyes, I turn to a group of familiar and unfamiliar people, surrounding, hugging and touching me. They do it to comfort their own hearts. I want to rip out their sympathetic eyes and replace them with my own. Alas, no matter how hard they try, they won't see my pain.
Scorching flames replace the red locks atop my head while the Judges pester my mother.
"The Judges' scores were calculated by the tabulator and Head Judge. They wrote the correct names of the 2004 Royalty on paper and handed it to Cheryl." I don't want to hear what the weasels have to say. They resemble little children blaming each other for stealing from the cookie jar.

I will always struggle with the memories of my Pageant. But I will also remember my uncle Jeff, who has a tough outer shell and a kind heart, screeching at the Judges in my defense. My boyfriend snuck out of his house, got caught, and still came to support me. Megan, a close friend of my mother, wrote a letter to the editor. She said she could never be prouder for how I held my head high and acted like a dignified young woman. And most of all, I will remember the after party at Kia's house. They waited until midnight for me while I tore off my gown and flung myself, wracking with sobs, onto my bed. We plucked 162 bobby pins from my hair, ate ice cream cake, and easily forgot the sad tension that hung in the air. My friends and family don't need my eyes to see my pain. They know it's there. Just like I saw it in my mother, who sobbed all day after Pageant. People phoned, sent flowers, and Heather Coltman said, "The committee refuses to accept any responsibility for what happened." My mom cried more than I did that day. To my friends and family, I don't need a crown to be a princess.