Posted in A Day in the Life, Beauty, Inside Lane, The Book, Tiara Trouble

Destinee’s Destiny–Never Was Mine

I’ve had two parents enjoying (ha!) brief hospital stays this week, but am happy to report that all parties are home and accounted for, neither needing any radical surgeries or treatments.  Still kicking–as they should be.  I got an email of clear health from the one who was leaving the hospital (in another state), while sitting in the emergency room with the other.  My mother said to me, the next day, “I felt so sorry for you, sitting up here with me.”  I said, “I’d have felt a lot sorrier for me if I didn’t have you to sit with.”  She considered and nodded, then said, “You win that one.”

Working to help my mom get some things in order, I’ve come across some old pictures.  Notably, I came across a stack of photos from my Little Miss Phenix City days.  They run the gamut from hilariously confused to hilariously stoic.  It appears that I was not the smilingest of little pageant queens.

To wit:


This is the night after I had been crowned.  I walked the runway at some point before the crowning of Miss Phenix City.  I had been completely confused and bewildered by winning, and was even more confused and bewildered by having something else to do the next night.  In my mind, I won, I was finished, and that was that.  Sweet tiara!  Now, let’s go dance to the music coming out of the transistor radio shaped like a can of RC Cola that I won.  (It didn’t work well, btw.  Mostly static.)

Given that I had really not understood the whole process, I certainly didn’t understand why people were cheering for me.  I knew why my family was happy, but I didn’t know any of those other people, and couldn’t figure out why they would care.  Also, it took a really long time to get my hair to do that, and it was not done without tears.  I did not think anything in the world could be worth all that time getting my hair done.

My family, especially my mother, had been very clear with me that winning the pageant wasn’t a big deal.  If I won, that would be a fantastic honor, but if I didn’t, that was fine.  I was still Lane, and no tiara could make me any better than I already was.

I’ve written before that my school entered me in the pageant.  I had no idea I was up for consideration until the school called my mother and told her to get me ready to compete.  I think she had a week?  So, we ran down to the Kiddie Shoppe in Columbus, GA and she bought me two dresses that were on the sale rack.  My favorite was the one pictured above–it was a chick yellow, dotted Swiss, with a crisp white pinafore.  I wore a floor length, white cotton sundress, with horizontal seams for the pageant.  It had pockets.  I loved the pockets.

I love how confused I am.  Like I'm wondering what in the world I am doing holding a bouquet.

I love how confused I am. Like I’m wondering what in the world I am doing holding a bouquet.

What I did not love was having to have my hair styled on a daily basis.  I did not love having to stay clean.  I did not love being kept out of the yard for a week.  I was a play-in-the-dirt, rip my tights rolling on the ground, black-edged fingernails kind of girl.

I do remember being excited and happy about my win, but I also remember being quickly disenchanted.  I didn’t see that I had done anything special to win, so I wasn’t sure what the fuss was.  All I did was walk up and down, and answer a few questions.  Nobody had asked me to sing, or to tell stories, or show them stuff I could do…what was the big deal about me just walking around?  (I didn’t understand that 90% of the competition had to do with what the judges saw when they took the little contestants out to lunch, out to a playground, and what they saw when they did little group interviews with us.)

Nothing about me had changed, but suddenly I was getting attention from people who hadn’t bothered with me before, and even at 6 years old I recognized it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the tiara.  My parents had done a good job making me believe the tiara didn’t make a bit of difference, so I was suspect of people who seemed to think it did.  And there was that one rotten boy, who threatened to break into my house and steal it.

When I started writing Destinee, I was trying to imagine what it would be like for a little girl whose world was founded on pageants.  I was wondering what that little girl would grow up to be–that little girl whose mother had made her looks what mattered.  That little girl whose family put value on her face, her hair, her fingernails, and not her heart, her mind, and her behavior.

But I wanted Destinee to have a happy family.  They might not share my values and they might not have expected much from their daughter, but they love each other, and they stick together.

Tell you what, Destinee wouldn’t be looking like a deer in headlights on a runway. She’d look like she belonged there.

Posted in Tiara Trouble, writing


I haven’t written any blog posts lately because I am writing a little fiction at the moment.  I am enjoying myself immensely with beauty queens, toddler pageants, and a murder mystery that includes gators, explosions, and a big, ol’ catfight.  I told my friend, Arwen, that I was going for Dynasty in the Dirt with this bit.  And since a good slapfight between Krystal and Alexis is always so satisfying, I am sharing.  Y’all take out your earrings!  It’s gonna get mean up in here!


…They leaned close and talked earnestly for a few seconds, then Tishelle froze like she’d heard something and looked around wildly.  It hadn’t really occurred to me that if I could see her, she could probably see me, so when I realized she was looking straight up at me, her almond shaped eyes narrowed on the big end of my opera glasses, I yelped aloud.  I also dropped those glasses and jerked my curtain shut.  I very nearly said something unladylike, but I caught myself.

When I was little, Mother had taught me to consider very carefully whether a situation was worth getting my mouth washed out over.  It stuck with me.  It is on very rare occasion that I let a cuss fly, and I never take the Lord’s name in vain.  I also don’t use slang words like dang, or darn, or shoot, or fudge.  Granny always says, “Never say darn when you mean damn. And never say damn if you’re a lady.”  Mother just says, “I did not raise you with that mouth, but I can bury you with it.  I hear that word one more time, and I will put you down.”  At least, that’s what she says to Rusty.  He’s not too worried about being a lady.

I was trying to decide what to do next, call Sarah, call the Sheriff, or fix myself something to eat, when there came a pounding on my door.  Sure as I was born, Tishelle had shot across the street and run up my stairs and was demanding that I let her in.  And you know what?  She wasn’t even out of breath.  I think I hated her a little bit more for that.  I am in excellent shape, but I can’t sprint and climb and still have enough air in my lungs to cuss a blue streak like she was.  That would not have flown in my mother’s house.

I opened the door a crack and she pushed her way on inside.  “What are you doing spying on me?” She howled, her eyes looking wild.

“What are you doing running around with Karl Pursley?” I demanded right back.  I wanted to keep the focus off me.  She’d already killed twice, maybe.

“That is none of your beeswax,” Tishelle slapped her hands down on her hips, auburn hair swinging around her shoulders.  I hated her a little more for her hair.  I mean, I have good hair.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s thick, and shiny, and a good ash blond which I keep highlighted to perfection, but Tishelle’s hair cascades like a cherry-chocolate fountain, and looks like she’s got enough on her head for three or four other women.

I have to work for my good looks, if you get me.  Without hair and makeup, I could just be another cute cashier down at the Piggly Wiggly.  I have to take time to make myself stand out and be memorable, and that’s probably my greatest talent.  I have a boosted genetic platform to work from, sure, but being able to take what God gave me and make myself look like God’s gift is work.  Tishelle?  That hateful thing?  She’s a natural beauty.

She’s got big, black eyes, long, thick eyelashes, and she doesn’t even need to wear mascara to make them pop.  I’ve seen her straight out of the shower, and she’s every bit as gorgeous.  I hate her for it. 

So, she was standing there, anger making her high cheekbones flush even redder and prettier, and I was still kind of dazed and just staring at her thinking, “This is one of those time when you want to tell someone, ‘Do you know how pretty you are when you’re angry?’”  But I was not about to tell Tishelle Tucker I thought she was pretty.  I’d rather cut out my own tongue.

She finally quit yelling at me—she’d been yelling words, but I hadn’t heard a thing.  I was caught up in my hating how pretty she was.  “What are you gawking at, you moron?” She sniffed at me.  “Are you stupid?  Do you understand English?”

“I am not stupid!” I insisted  After all, I have very solid opinions regarding Libya and our involvement there, now.  “You shouldn’t be up here.  You need to get on home before I call the police.”

“The police?  Why would you call the police?!”

Now I could catch her off guard.  “You know why,” I said. “And you know I know why!”

“I know you need to mind your own damned business!  What’s going on with me and Karl is personal and nothing you need to be sticking your nose in.”

“My nose hasn’t left my house,” I reminded her.  “But yours is sure somewhere it doesn’t belong.  You need to leave, and leave now!”

“I want the memory stick.”

“The what?”

“I saw you taking pictures!  I want you to delete those pictures or give me the memory stick!”

It took me a second, then I laughed right at her.  She thought I was taking pictures of her and Karl.  I guess from so far away, maybe my opera glasses looked like a camera?  I don’t know, but I do know she slapped me right across the face and demanded the non-existent memory stick again.

When she slapped me, it took a full second for me to register what had happened, and then it was all over.  We lunged at each other right at the same time, slapping, and clawing, yanking hair and hissing.  We were still standing in the doorway, so we managed to stumble out, still fighting, spit flying, and we half stumbled, half fell down the stairs to the ground out back of the garage.

It was a pretty evenly matched scrap, if you ask me.  She managed to best me for a second, rolling me on my back, trying to gouge out my eyes.  I got a fistful of hair close to her scalp and tore me out a hank of it, and don’t think that wasn’t a small victory in and of itself.  She howled and punched me in the mouth, but it was enough that I could knock her off me.  We both jumped up and squared off again, but that time, I had the upper hand.  I threw her hair in her face, brought my knee up sharp and nailed her right in the taco.

My knee landed hard enough it knocked the breath out of her, and sent a wave of pain all the way up my thigh.  I’m not sure what would have happened next because Rusty, Daddy, my mother, Karl and Royce had all arrived, and managed to get us apart.  Patricia George stood out front of the studio with Ainsley pressed to her side, one hand covering the little girl’s eyes.  “Well I never,” she huffed.

“Well you ought to,” Tishelle hollered back.

Karl was dragging Tishelle away, and she started to whine and sniff about her hair, and her face—I’d gotten my fingernails full of it—and that imaginary memory stick.  He was trying to comfort and cosset, and I considered telling her I didn’t even have a camera up in my apartment, but I decided to let her twist in the wind.  Anyway, now a bunch of people had seen her with him.