In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Easy Fix.”
A team mate of mine had agreed to represent our Marching club in a local “Miss Henley on the Patterson “ contest, as registration day got closer she became more hesitant … being that I can usually talk the leg off a wooden horse, I was elected to convince her to go through with it. After telling her what an honour it was to be asked in the first place, she should do it for the club, She replied “would you do it if they asked?” replying “I would, but you were the one they asked, not I.” With that she called the chaperone, told her she couldn’t go through with it, but that I had said I would if asked!
Now what could I do? I had shot my mouth off and was stuck with it.
As appearances didn’t count at registration, our chaperone and I left straight after practice. We walked into a room full of what I thought were Vogue models, while I, looking hot and dishevelled following two solid hours of marching practice in the heat cut a dashing figure in my old shorts, a man’s shirt, dirty marching boots, . At twenty I have very little self confidence to start with, so understandably I just wanted to faint, even dying seemed a good idea.
Two hours of registration, afternoon tea, chat and mingle, carried off with all the aplomb of a professional contestant, until safely in the car to go home. Collapsing into tears, sobbing apologies to the Chaperone, whom I felt I had let down. She of course thought it was a scream, explaining that the girls were explicitly told not to dress up for registration … they wouldn’t win points for doing so … “The look on your face when you walked in that room was priceless”, she continued to giggle all the way home. I was not convinced, seven had, and 1 had not, who would you pick?
Judging was held on Australia Day as part of the town’s celebration. Our teams (being the reigning Victorian Champions) were scheduled to do a serious March Past in front of the Frankston Town Hall. The Mayor would take the salute and officiate at the flag raising ceremony, ending forty five minutes before we were expected to meet the judges for the Henley parade and results (a 15 minute bus ride away)
My hair in plastic curlers prior to the Henley Judging wouldn’t fit under the marching cap (all long hair had to be tucked up under caps), so they were removed and pins inserted. (This all took place in the main street as we waited for the parade to start.
Okay, ceremony over, all 30 girls scrambled into the bus, the only males being the driver and the instructor who sat behind him. I am bundled to the very back seats and stripped out of uniform. While trying to protect my modesty, many hands dress me, ever tried to put on suspenders (this was 1963) and stockings in the back of a moving bus? A very harrowing thirty minutes (for me) later we pull up at Carrum.
Exiting the bus dressed to the nines, full make up, hat, gloves, seams straight in stockings, and white stiletto heeled shoes, the chaperone precariously walks me to, of all places the river, where I am introduced to the most gorgeous looking young Naval Captain, who in turn gallantly escorts me to a nifty looking speed boat. (They actually expect me to get into his boat … to travel on water along the river!!!). I had no idea that “Henley on the Patterson” meant the Patterson River. I’ve always been scared stiff of water as I couldn’t swim. But when Handsome smiled at me and took my hand saying “Come on Wendy you are safe with me,” I am lost, into his death trap I get quite happily. Like some star struck teenager nervously waving to the crowd that lined the river, I am taken to a pier where Handsome helps me up the ladder, then roars off for the next pick up.
Being so relieved to be back on dry land (albeit at the time he could have sailed me of into the future, I was so smitten) I missed the name of the woman waiting to greet me. While awaiting the arrival of other girls I regale the complete tragic story to her, from being tricked into entering this contest, embarrassing myself at the registration, the hair in curlers under the cap, being stripped and traumatized in the back of the bus, and then meeting the handsome Captain. She was in stitches through my tale of woe. It wasn’t until the whole thing was over, that I find out she isn’t a chaperone as I thought, but the Lady Mayoress and the head judge waiting to greet the contestants. Luckily, by this time, I was past worrying “And all was right in the world.”