I had signed up for the "Vicksburg's First Annual Womenless Beauty Pageant" because it was being held to provided relief for the Yazoo Delta, a diamonded shaped region of land that started in Greenville, Ms and ended in my own town The region was known for three things, dockside gambling, cotton, and the Blues. It was also covered in seven feet of water from point to point. The money raised from the pageant was to be used to provided relief from the flood water and help the people of that region recover.
Charity aside, I will say this, I've always been on the soft side. I'm the second son of William and Isabella Bell, of the Vicksburg Bells, now before I go any further let me say something. The Bell family is one of the leading families of Vicksburg, we rank among the finest families of the city. And with that position carried with it a certain sense of noblesse oblige.
And thus, having been born into the bourgeoisie of Delta society, I felt it only right that I sign up for such a pageant. That and I wanted to explore the world afford only to the female of the species. My mother, Isabella Bell who herald from Jackson, the state capital had been thrilled with the idea. Having come from a city of almost a half million souls, she always considered Vicksburg to be something of a cultural backwater if you will.
The contest was to be held at the "Vicksburg Convention Center" a handsome brick building located down on Catfish Row. The convention center was the social and cultural center of Vicksburg and the surrounding region if you will. It was also home to Mississippi's third annual anime convention "Magnolia Anime Festival" or "Magnolia Fest". It was the third oldest anime convention in the state and the third largest. Coastcon down in Biloxi was the states oldest, followed by MetroCon in Jackson. But I ramble now.
I arrived at the convention center a full hour and a half before the event. Mom wanted us to arrive early so we could secure a dressing room. In her hand, she carried a make-up kit, and in the other, she carried a box of beauty supplies and styling tools. In my hand, I carried the dress, a formal, pink, sparkling gown. And in the other I carried a box of shoes, four-inch high heels, mom demanded that I wear high heels to the event.
"Come along dear." Mom said as she led the way. "We need to get you ready for the big event." Mom reached the two double doors that lead into the lobby first. She opened up and held it open for me. As I passed through the lobby I noticed that the whole floor was filled with boys and their mothers. Some where chatting among themselves and others where eyeing each other, sizing each other up if you will. The moms too sized each other up. There was a tension in the air and you could almost cut it like a knife.
I felt a dozen pairs of eyes focused in on me as I walked up to my mom's side, who guided me toward the front desk. Behind the desk there stood a woman dressed in a nice business suit, her brown hair was pulled back in a tight bun and her deep blue eyes seem to sparkle. As we reached the front desk, I noticed her attention was focused on a computer screen that was stuck to the side. After a few seconds, she caught sight of us out of the corner of her eye. Because she quickly turned around faced us. And thin in a very business tone of voice asked.
"Hello, is there anything I can do for you two?" The women's who name tag read "Ronda" asked us.
"Yes, my son here," She nodded toward me with a big smile. "Has entered into the Womenless Beauty Pageant, that being held here in an hour and a half. I was hoping you might have a dressingroom, or a spare room we can use." She said in a very professional and business tone of voice.
Ronda smiled and pointed down the hallway. "We have a few spare rooms set aside. May I please have your first and last name young man." She said in a gentle tone of voice.
"Daisy. Bell." I said
The women smiled and reached down into her drawer and pulled out a set of room keys. She handed to the keys to me and in a very professional tone of voice said.
"Okay Ms. Bell, your room is A104. If you go down this hallway and take a left it should the fourth one to your right. Good luck in the pageant." She said and with that, we were off. Despite being an hour and a half early, the hallway was already filled with people. News crews from the two big TV stations in Mississippi. Linda Parker from JTV and Melody Thompson from WTV were both conducting interviews with those who were already dressed. They were getting there golden fifteen minutes of fame if you will.
"Once you're dressed. I'll make sure one of those lovely ladies make time for you too. You're going to get your fifteen minutes of fame too." She said winking as she reached down and picked the keys out of my hand. She smiled and guided me down the hallway. We soon were standing before a simple, plain door. A big brass "A" followed by the numbers "104" had been nailed into the center of the door. Mom key in hand pushed the door open and stepped in. She pulled me in a few seconds in and then she quickly closed the door
Once the door was closed, she placed the make-up kit and carry case of styling tools down upon the floor. I felt a deep blush coloring my cheeks, as I placed the hanger the dress was hanging from on a hanger mounted on the wall. Mom then reached over and wheeled a chair out and patted it. "Okay, hon we gotta act quick. Now, I'm going to warn you. These people like to play mind tricks with you, they're going to use all kind of tactics to throw you off your game. You gotta keep focused though." She said as she plugged in a curling iron and started to lay out the varies cosmetics contained in her make-up kit.
"Hey," She said smiling as she turned toward me and smiled. "I'm glad you're doing this, I always wanted like a second daughter to do girly-girl things with like pageants and stuff. Don't get me wrong, like I love Sue to death, cause she totally a warrior princess and all. But, she'll never do something like this."
I blushed and peered down the floor. I slowly lifted my head up and started to look around, the room was your average room. Small, square with four gray walls a few chairs and table. Soon, I found myself looking once more at the dress. A sudden rush of blood colored my cheeks, in a few minutes, I'll be wearing that gown, and instead of that fact filling me with dread. It filled me with hope and made me wish time would kind of speed up a little.
I remember when I first spotted that gown, mom and I had taken a trip to North Park, the second largest indoor mall in Mississippi. We were flipping through the mark-down prom dresses at Belk's and having little to no luck finding that perfect gown. Prom-season had just ended and big-chain department stores had knocked the prices on there prom formals down to rock bottom prices. Now was the time to show, when the prices were really, really low.
I remember that day because it was a Monday and the mall, normally filled from one end to the other with shoppers was something of a ghost town. It was around ten o' clock in the morning and the mall was just coming to life. Many of the boutique's that lined the walkways were just now opening there doors to those early morning shoppers. The dozen or so eaters that dotted the mall were just getting there oven heated. the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air around the two coffee houses that called the mall home.
And mom and I were hunting for deals. We'll mom was, I was standing beside her. Holding her purse while she flipped through the racks. Every so often she'll run across a gown, she'll then hold the gown up in front of me and nine times out of ten she'll shake her head and return the gown to its rack.
An hour passed in this manner and I was starting to grow reckless, mom sensing I was growing reckless told me to go wonder around, that she'll call me if she needed me for something or if she found that perfect gown that would bring home the crown. I nodded and strayed off from her, I had walked maybe a few yards when, sitting there on a table, ready to be marked down I spotted it. A vision from heaven if you will. A dress that seemed to call for me. Taking a deep breath, I walked up to the sells lady and asked her if the dress was for sale. She said yes, I then asked her if she was about to mark it down. She said yes and that, if I waited a few minutes she'll be more than happy to mark it down for me.
"Daisy? Earth to Daisy?" A voice, a female voice, one that belonged to my mom knocked me out of my daydream. I slowly regained the focus of my eyes and there she stood in front of me. She was standing behind a simple plastic chair. Her of her hands was resting on the back and in the other, she held a curling iron.
"You okay hon? You kind of spaced out for a minute there. Everything okay?" She asked in a tone of maternal affection as she placed the curling iron down on the table.
I nodded my head. Not trusting myself to speak.
"Okay, we'll the iron's ready. So go ahead and sit down and we'll style your hair. Then I'll do your make-up and then we'll get you dressed." She said in a gentle, yet commanding tone of voice.
I took a deep breath and eased my bottom down upon the seat of the chair. My cheeks bloomed with color as I folded my hands in my lap and took a deep breath. Mom started to whistle a little tune as she walked behind me and removed the elastic band that held my hair up in a low ponytail. My hair was quite long for a guy, I've been growing it out for a year or so. It now fell just beyond my shoulders blades.
My mom smiled as she started to wrap a few strains of my hair around the hot tube. She held the tube for a few seconds before moving toward another section of hair, she repeated this over and over again till my whole head was covered in tight, bouncy curls. She then spun the chair around and smiled as she peered into my eyes. A small grin formed upon her face as she picked up the tube of lipstick and the make-up brush. She smiled as she removed the brass cup from the tub and twisted the stick of cherry red lipstick out of its casing.
"Pluck your lips together for mommy sweetheart." She said in a gentle voice.
I plucked my lips together and a few seconds later I could feel the lipstick being applied to my lips. It took mom thirty full seconds to finish the task. She placed the lipstick down and then picked up what appeared to be a pencil and a brush.
"Close your eyes sweetie." She said.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Time seemed to slow down and the seconds seemed to drag on as I felt mom using the pencil on my eyes and felt the brush being applied to my cheeks. Finally, after what seemed like a new age of the earth, mom gave me the okay to open my eyes.
"Daisy honey." She said smiling as she brought up a hand-held mirror. "You look wonderful!"
My breath was almost taken away, my mom had transformed my facial features from that of an androgyny tween to a gorgeous, charming young woman. I must also confess, I've always been on the effeminate side. For example, while many of my peers loved to wrestle, fight and built castles/forts out of mud and sticks. And then once the castles where completed, they would then lead there armies of plastic, toy soldiers into battle to take the back the castle. I found it odd that the gray colored ones where always the "Germans" or "Nazis" and the green ones were the "Americans" and the yellow ones were the "British." But I ramble on. I never played or those kind of games, instead I stuck of reading, and training my pokemon army and playing doctor with stuff animals I shared with my sister.
"Honey, now go get changed into that dress of yours." She said as she gently took me by the hand and helped me stand up. I stood up and moved toward the dress that was hanging from the hook behind the door. Blushing I peeled off my shirt, followed by my undershirt,then I unlaced my sneakers and removed my socks and finally my belt and trousers where removed. Then blushing and taking a deep breath I pushed down my briefs.
My mom collected all my discarded clothing and started to fold them nice and neat. Once the clothing was folded placed in the corner. Mom turned her attention to me again and then smiling softly, she handed me a small box, the box was wrapped in bright pink, pastel wrapping paper.
"Go ahead and remove that wrapping paper." She said as she turned around. "I'll be right here if you need some help." She said smiling.
I blinked and peered down at the wrapping and taking a deep breath, I reached down and removed the wrapping and tossed it into a nearby paper waste basket. Once the paper was removed, I removed the top of the box and there sitting in the bottom of the box was a lacey pink bra and a matching set of lacey panties. I blushed, they kind of matched my dress. I took a deep breath and picked up the panties and slipped them. A deep blush colored my cheeks as I felt them settling around my waistline. I think picked up the bra and slipped it on. Once both were on, I felt another blush blooming in my cheeks.
Mom turned around at that point at smiled as she peered toward me. Grinning she reached into her purse and pulled out two foam pads. She slipped the pads into the cups of the bra and patted them. She then picked up the dress, unzipped the back and slipped it on me. She wasted little time in zipping the back, the dress almost molded to the curves of my body. And with the addition of padding to the chest, the dress really kind of filled out more if you will. Mom nodded her approval and finally, she placed the shoes on the floor. Without giving it a second thought I slipped the shoes on my bare feet and buckled the strap, once both shoes were on, I stood up for one final inspection.
"Daisy, you're going to win this thing." She said smiling softly as she walked over and wrapped her arms around me. "You look stunning my dear. Now, we need to do a few more things before the rest of the family arrives. First, we need to find one of the reporters and then we need to get you behind the stage. And remember, we're all standing behind you dear. Daddy, Susan, Madeline, Kayla and I."
I could only nod my head.