I want a beauty queen moment...
I lowered the camera and watched after the Homecoming Queen was crowned. The quarterback dipped her for a friendly kiss that made everyone laugh. She was beautiful in her colorful gown and beaming face and so were the other candidates. A tiny sigh escaped. I never had that moment, that moment where, in my mind anyway, I felt like the most amazing beautiful woman that I could be at that moment in time.
I think many people have this on their wedding day. Mine fell very short since I got married so young that I didn’t even know who I truly was yet, how to cover my flaws, or have the money to make the most of my few attributes. It was a rushed, “Let’s get this over with” kind of a day with a $50 dress and a rented hat. Eh, I know, people are starving in Africa, and I need to quit whining. I just want to explore this idea of a “beauty queen moment.”
What I long for is a moment where at that point in time I look the very best that I can. I would have been coiffed and coddled and shelled out the dough to be so. I would have shopped and found the perfect dress and shoes and jewelry. I would have an event to attend that would warrant such activities. Of course, a photo would be taken to remember this beauty queen moment for all eternity. Alas, this has not happened yet for me, and I feel a void. Laugh, I know the men will. It’s there. As time ticks by, I see my chances for this sliding away from me and yet I grasp at the idea that it still could happen. I hate to give it up. Every wrinkle and every pound is a step away from this small goal/dream of mine. Silly, yep, I know it is. It’s still there.
I live in the Midwest, on a farm, near small towns. Not a lot of opportunities for balls or black-tie affairs around here. I only got married once so I didn’t have the second chance at a wedding. We talked about a renewal of vows, but again I live in the Midwest and these things are looked upon as cheesy or a little strange, especially the way I would want to do it. Plus, it takes a lot of money, and we have three kids. I’m not going to spend thousands of dollars on a ceremony when they need a jacket for the winter and some Nike shoes.
We have one of those great cheesy town festivals with a parade, and I even considered getting gussied up in a crown and a gown with some crazy friends and a convertible (a la Sweet Potato Queen), but I chickened out.
I guess I will either manufacture this moment or drop it and accept old age and the impossibility of a beauty queen moment, at least one where it’s not a “Gee, she looks good for her age.” That’s one of those comments where you feel great until you hear the last three words — “for her age.” If you are like me, you want to hear, “She looks great!” without the qualifier. Every month I look at the More magazine feature “This is 45!” or whatever age is featured and think I should give it a go, maybe that would be my moment. But I haven’t. I keep thinking I might look better after a few more months at the gym, some facials, etc. Meanwhile, new wrinkles appear, and things move further south, and here I am without a crown.
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Lesson 278: In the midst of a disappointment, know that later you may value the experience. In other words, "Relax darlin'."
The Perils of Traveling with a Beautiful Daughter
Our last day in Italy I pulled out the dress, the gorgeous, sexy dress and I wore it…to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, shopping and gelato, house red wine and pasta. That dress did Rome and finally, finally I got some attention from the Italian men.
I am a person who wants to be young, who works with young people, who is young inside, and who, I hope, looks younger than her true age. I avoid the thought of being old. I don’t spend hours with creams or avoid the sun but I on Facebook, I dye my hair, I don’t wear my shirt tucked in with a belt, and I listen to the music and the you-tubes the teens tell me to. I, in the words of my dad, shall not age gracefully but shall fight it every step of the way.
On my trip to Italy, I was confronted face-on, undeniably, with my age, my true age, middle-aged and on the downhill side to OLD. I took a group of students to Italy, one of whom was my 19-year-old daughter Kayla. My young gorgeous Italian-featured daughter: long brown naturally wavy thick hair, flashing green eyes, and olive skin and let’s not even discuss her body. Where did she get all that anyway? She attracted attention wherever she went. To put the following “conversations” in context, during most of the following encounters, we were with the entire tour group of 49 people.
In Venice at the glass-blowing demonstration: “Hi Barbie. My name is Ken,” from a male my age if he was a day.
In Florence at the souvenir stand: “I will trade you those 7 postcards if you will just leave your daughter here with me,” from a younger Italian male as he held on to her for dear life.
In Sorrento at the artisan wood factory: As he was showing the tour group of 49 people who did he speak to, who did he look at as he described the $2500 poker table ….mmmm hmmm, Kayla. Before she left the shop he told her, "You come back to Sorrento so I can see your beautiful eyes again."
In Assisi: The tour guide did the double-cheek kiss with Kayla, only Kayla, and he was GAY.
In Rome: She got “the look” from the gorgeous Italian men everywhere we went.
Everywhere we went: “Ciao Bella!” Hello Beautiful!
I tell you this was tough for me on so many levels. Not only was I smacked in the face with my old self but also I was seeing these older men fall all over themselves to talk to my young, so young, daughter.
How did I cope? Our last day in Italy I pulled out the dress, my sexy new sundress, hoping for some male attention, simply to feel vibrant and full of life,
not dead and passe’. And I got it: the man sitting by the ancient Egyptian obelisk who stared me down and seemed to be hoping the breeze would give him a view as I walked by, the taxi driver who leaned halfway out of his window to watch me bend over in the street to pick up something I dropped, the twenty-something male who approached me saying something along the lines of “Ciao Bella” with a huge grin that made me uncomfortable so I turned my back on him.
My favorite encounter was with a man just doing his job but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of his attention. Rome had these gorgeous men who stand on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant encouraging people to come in and eat. What is it with these Italian guys? Why are they so cute? As our tour group walked by, I was straggling at the back not ready to leave Rome or Italy or any of it. He caught my eye and crooned, “Bella, come sit. Come eat.”
“I’m sorry. We already ate dinner,” I said looking him in the eye, playing his game. He dropped his chin and gave me “the look.” The look I had wanted to see. The look that said I still have the elusive “it.” I don’t have one foot in the grave. I am still alive and wily. The look that made my heart skip a little beat to reinforce all these points. He gave me “the look,” lowered his voice, caressed me with his dark eyes and sexily said, “You come back tomorrow night, okay?”
I grinned weakly, pretended that the look was real, and breathlessly said, “Ohhhhh-kay,” knowing, but not wanting to explain, that I would be on a plane back to Misery, I mean, Missouri, the next day.