Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How I survived my trip to Myrtle Beach

Well I survived my third trip to the Beauties of America Pageant in Myrtle Beach SC the weekend of August 14th relatively unscathed. This year I was lucky enough to be accompanied by my mother. Julz was to attend as well, but a last minute event for work changed her plans. I was feeling really confident and surprisingly relaxed, determined to put forth my best. I had felt better this year about my prepartation than in previous years, and planned to rock my sassy, new haircut.

Despite the threat of rain the entire weekend, Myrtle Beach was beautiful. My mother and I drove up Wednesday, in varying degrees of rain (and narrowly missed the tornado in Conway, SC) and made it around 6:30pm local. During the drive, we shared great conversation, as we chatted about a variety of subjects. We got checked into our room and immediately headed out in search of the closest Mystik tan booth.

Now I have to say something here about Mystik tanning. Alabama may be behind in a lot of things, but Mystik tanning technology is NOT one of them. The salon I "tan" at has a very nice Mystik tanner. There are numbers on the floor that show you where to place your feet, progressing a quarter turn for each of 4 head-to-toe sprays, and the whole process is narrarated (for lack of a better term) by a sultry, female voice. I learned that I, like all other redheads, should use "clear" rather than "bronze" for a subtle, streakfree tan. It was a very pleasant experience.The nearest Mystik tanning booth in Myrtle Beach, however, was quite a different story.

The young lady working the counter was quick to inform us that she was "not from this end of the strand," (whatever that was supposed to mean) and wanted my driver's license and thumb-print (4 images of it to be exact) for me to obtain a one-time spray tan. Okay...

When I told her that I needed the clear, she looked at me like I had two heads. "What do you mean by 'clear' ?" she asked, cocking her head to one side. I explained to her, as it was explained to me, that the "clear" formula was best for those with fair complexions. "Well I don't know what that is, we have Levels 1-3. I think you'd be fine with a Level 2." She seemed annoyed with me and though no one else was currently in the shop, impatient with me. " My mother cautioned me against using something I wasn't familiar with. "What if it turns out bad?" Though I'm not really a risk taker, I had to get this tan in so it could mellow before competition began, so I decided to go for it.

When we reached the spray tan booth, I realized that despite the slick, modern appearance of this "ultra" tanning salon, the Mystik tan booth was rather outdated. Instead of the smooth, four point spray sequence, this machine hap-hazardly sprayed up and down from 4 poorly positioned spouts. The enclosed booth filled with a fog of solution, most of which seemed to collect on the palms of my hands. There was a brief pause in which to change positions and the assault continued. When I emerged, I resembled a newborn zebra, as bronzing solution ran, zig-zagging down my legs.

We moved on to the recommended local sea food restaurant, and after circling the block several times to find the entrance to the adjacent parking lot, we settled in for our 45 minute wait. The service was excellent, as was the food, and despite the need to keep it light, I cleared my plate.

The next morning, we ventured out again and returned to the same sea food restaurant, as it's breakfast buffet was highly recommended as well. This would be the last meal my mother and would be able to share until after the pageant. After a satisfying breakfast, we struck out in search of a Sally's Beauty Supply to obtain a tube of Tanwise Exfoilating Self Tan Remover, and to fulfill my daily Wal-mart visit. I pride myself in knowing the location of a Wal-mart in every city I visit. This knowlege has proven quite valuable over the years, as I have survived many an emergency because of it.

I knew exactly where Wal-mart was and we completed the visit without a hitch. Sally's, however was another matter. We were told that it was in a Wal-mart complex, but not the one from which we had started. Despite obtaining several versions of directions and two telephone calls to the shop, we could not locate the store. We were about to give up hope, when we spotted the oft-mentioned Wal-Mart shopping complex.

With 2 hours to go before orientation, we rushed back to the hotel where I began trying to remove the tanner from my palms. I only succeeded in removing the solution on the back of my hands, up to my wrists. Lovely.

Orientation was great as I became aquainted with many wonderful ladies and was able to finally meet some ladies whom, up until then, I'd only met online. Next we prepared for dinner. Friday nights we are encouraged to "dress like a rock star" for our dinner in the private dining room at the Hard Rock cafe. I always struggle with that instruction as the rock stars I followed either wore spandex or their underwear as outerwear. I settled on a black, zera print dress, and cage shoes with 3 inch stiletto heels. After posing for photos in the lobby, the delegates piled into the Hummer limo and we were off. I enjoyed an excellent veggie burger and the good conversation with new friends. Then we returned to the hotel for a question and answer session with the out-going queens.

I fell into bed, exhausted.

Friday morning I glammed up (because at a pageant, one is NEVER observed outside of their room any less than red-carpet ready) and dashed downstairs for some breakfast. Unfortunately, by the time I reached our breakfast, all that remained was a piece of banana nut bread and coffee. It was gloomy and raining and I was glad that everything was in the same hotel. I couldn't imagine trying to stay clean in my white suit, if traveling while raining. Because I couldn't face interviews without a little protien, I ordered room service and was greeted by the largest omelet I think I've ever had. I painted my nails with 90 second nail polish while my mother ironed the pants of my white Calvin Klein nterview suit. I put the finishing touches on my make up and prepared to get dressed. I am not certain at what point I cut my knuckle open, but I discovered it was bleeding, profusely, as I fastened the waistband of my white pants. Luckily, only 1 drop of blood made it's way onto my pants and it was easily covered by my purple blouse. I donned my purple heels and headed for interview.

After nearly hyperventilating in last years interview, I was relieved to hear peals of laughter as I approaced the interview area. Paula snapped a few quick pics and in no time, it was my turn. It's funny how long five minutes is when you are in the interview chair. My first question began with the statement, "I see you are a baton twirler" and was followed by if I had seen "Miss Congeniality" and if so, what did I consider my favorite scene. I have to admit, the double fire-baton routine IS a favorite, though Sandra Bullock strutting to "Mustang Sally," only to trip over her feet runs a close secong. The next question involved my desire to meet the Duggars, and the answer came easy. My grandmother was one of sixteen children, and the opportunity to see what that might have been like has always intrigued me. The question about how I came to be featured in a nationally published women's magazine caught me off guard, because for a split second, I didn't know what she was talking about, but then I realized that is was my recipe in First ( ). I'm certain the look on my face gave me away, and subsequently cost me points. I was asked what I felt were good characteristics for a good customer service rep, to which I answered "patience and empathy." I don't recall how I came to explain how the process worked, but my apology for the hotel NOT being a client brought the desired chuckle from the judges panel. In fact, the panel laughed easily and often and I exited feeling better about interview then I ever had.

Later, I was told the panel laughed more in my interview, than any other.

Lunch was a yummy box number containing a turkey sandwich, pasta salad, pickle, and cookie.

After a few hours of learning and rehearsing the opening number and stage layout, it was time to head for dinner at Planet Hollywood. The housekeeper had not been around yet, and my tray from breakfast was still on the desk. My mother picked it up and went to deposit it in the hall as instructed. In my purple ombre Ann Taylor Loft dress and bare feet, I leaned out the door to ask a question, only to misjudge where my foot was and the door to slam shut behind me. Stranded in the hall with no key, i.d. or cell phone, we began knocking on doors to call the lobby. It seemed like an eternity before another contestant returned to her room so that we could call the lobby, who seemed disinterested in our plight, and half-heartedly agreed to send Security. Luckily, soon Security came to answer a complaint from another guest (not about us) and after some convincing and cajoling, reluctantly let us into our room, where we had to immediatly produce our i.d's and keys. I only had a few minutes to grab my bag and shoes and dash downstairs.

The sun was finally out, in blazing glory, as we reached Planet Hollywood and the earlier rains made it muggy and unbearable. Being in the first limo-load meant waiting for the remainder of the ladies and then taking a group photo in front of the restaurant. With no shade and no breeze, I was melting by the minute and by the time we were arranged for the group photo, I could tell I was developing a sunburn. Dinner was great, as was the conversaton with my dinner mates. So many interesting and accomplished women!

After dinner, we enjoyed a little down time and I gave a guided tour of the local Wal-mart to a few of my new friends. My mother was still awake when I got back, so I sought her advise on what accessories to wear with my on-stage competition wear. It was then that I discovered that my new navy gown, that had been altered to fit me perfectly would not fit. The zipper lacked an agonizing 5 inches from closing! The wave of panic that swept over me was indescribable.

I quickly set out to seek advice from others in our group. Several ladies offered to loan me their back up gown, including an amazing hot pink goddess gown, but a roll of Saran wrap turned out to be my ultimate life saver. Coupled with a "nervous tummy," by breakfast (which for me was just coffee), I was able to zip my gown.

Saturday was the group rehearsal with the addition of two, slick, ramps from the upper stage to the main stage. My biggest fear was realized as me and many other ladies slipped and fell while rehearsing. Lunch was torture, as I watched those around me enjoy chicken and steak fajitas, a favorite dish. I nibbled on almonds and washed them down with water. I completed my interview for Pageantcast, posed for pictures, then went to prepare for the evening.

The pageant went well and I felt confident and beautiful. My mother enjoyed the show and was impressed with the quality of the production. I fell into bed and slept soundly.

Breakfast and final farewells and we headed for Alabama under a lovely sunny sky.

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