If there’s one thing Annabelle Maynard knew how to do, it was how to play the game. Winning it, however, was a skill she was still developing.
After paying her fifty dollar entry fee, Annabelle joined all of the other contestants on stage at this year’s Miss Haystack Beauty Pageant. Winning the crown was considered quite the coup in Annabelle’s farming community, and it promised one thousand dollars in scholarship money for the victor as well as the most bedazzled crown anyone in all of Southwestern Ontario had ever seen.
There were a lot of pretty girls vying for the crown. Those favoured to win included Emily Brasseur – the mayor’s daughter, Katie Leaside – a girl with boobs twice the size of Annabelle’s derriere, Macy MacLean – the girl with hair shinier than a recently waxed sports car, and Violet Evans – a girl who lost her leg in a combine accident. That was sure to at least garner a few sympathy votes from the farmers/judges.
Annabelle was considered a long shot. Sure, she was cute, smart, and pleasant enough to hang around. She wasn’t a player though. She was a worker, and the only thing workers tend to succeed at is having more worked dumped on them. She was still determined to give it her best shot, and she was hoping that the talent portion of the show would get everyone to see her in a new light. And it did, just not in the way she may have intended.
After sitting through Emily’s violin solo, Katie’s display of baton twirls, Macy’s nasally singing, and Violet’s surprisingly seamless tap dance routine, it was Annabelle’s turn.
“And what talent will you be displaying for us this evening Miss Annabelle?” the show’s MC, John Harding of John Harding and Sons Farms asked.
“Tonight, I’m going to get dressed from head to toe in under five seconds,” Annabelle said beaming with pride.
“But Miss Annabelle, you’re already dressed,” said the perplexed John Harding of John Harding and Sons Farms.
“Not anymore,” Annabelle said in return while tearing off her dress in less time than it takes a dinner host with a flair for the dramatic to do the tablecloth trick.
The crowd gasped at the sight of a naked Annabelle; well, everyone except for the hormonal sixteen year old son of John Harding, John Jr. He shouted, “That a girl!”
Before John Harding of John Harding and Sons Farms had the chance to jump in front of the less than modest contestant, Annabelle did as she had promised: she threw on socks, underwear, a bra, jeans, sweatshirt, boots and parka in less than five seconds. Everyone sat there in stunned silence.
“Being able to sing or dance or play an instrument or twirl a stick around is nice and all,” Annabelle said, “but none of those things will help you if a fire breaks out in the middle of the night. You need to be able to get dressed and get out of that burning building fast.”
“What about your pajamas?” John Harding of John Harding and Sons Farms asked.
“A nightie’s not going to keep you very warm in the dead of winter, now is it?” Annabelle answered.
Twenty minutes later, while watching the crown being placed upon Violet’s head, Annabelle came to realize that if beauty pageant judges truly had any interest in practical girls, then they would make the “I just want to make the world a better place!” contestants explain exactly how they plan to do that in a sequined gown and six inch heels.
Annabelle went home without the crown, but she did get asked out by John Jr. He wasn’t the least bit interested in running his dad’s farm, but he did dream of becoming a fireman one day. A man who recognized real talent was better than any old crown.