I had absolutely NOTHING to do with the decision of entering Tyler into a beauty pageant. 97% of all males that see a therapist can have 100% of their problems linked back to them having “Mommy Issues”, according to a survey that I made up just now. When Tyler comes to us when he’s 32 and tells us he’s going to a psychiatrist, I’m going to look at Sarah and say, “The beauty pageant. You did this to him.”
Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. We live in a small town called Auburn, in the state of infinite cornfields (Indiana). Our city is all of 7 square miles in size, with a population of 12,000. For at least the last 2 years, our city has hosted the DeKalb County Free Fall Fair (we’ve lived here for 2 years). The fair is setup on our downtown square, which is about a half mile from our house (which is nice because we walk there and don’t need to worry about parking).
I don’t know if they had this last year, but this year there was a “DeKalb County’s Cutest Baby” contest put on by the local woman’s care clinic. Sarah was beside herself with excitement and could not wait to enter Tyler. I said something along the lines of “no” to Sarah about it, and she said something along the lines of “yes” about it. Clearly, I was outnumbered.
So, Sarah explains the contest to me. You submit a photo of your baby. At the fair will be a booth with all the photos of the contestants on a board. Next to the photo will be a number. Each number will have their own little container that people put money into. Every penny counted as 1 vote. Then Sarah starts talking about the prizes. I have no interest in exploiting my child, nor of parading him around DeKalb county, as a constant reminder to the other parents of how ugly their babies are. I’m not that shallow. But…
“Wait, did you say prizes? I’m listening.” I said.
First place gets you a $125 giftcard to WalMart. I didn’t listen to the rest of the prizes because – let’s be honest – if Tyler is in a cutest baby contest, he will EASILY win. It’d be like putting Jessica Alba against Amy Winehouse*. No contest. But that didn’t stop me from saying to Sarah, “So, technically, we could put $120 in for Tyler and still pull a profit.”
Although that would be true, there’s no way I would have done that. Firstly, it’s not necessary. Tyler IS the cutest baby in DeKalb county, and surely people would see that and vote for him. Secondly, it’s not sportsmanlike, and the wonderful residents of our fine town wouldn’t resort to dirty tricks like that. Sarah and I decided that we would put in $5 worth of votes for Tyler.
Fair week finally rolls up and we walk down there as a family. I am secretly very eager to get to the contest booth to vote, but I maintain my composure. We took our time walking around, getting a corndog, and checking out the rest of the booths. Finally, we get to the contest booth. Tyler is listed as contestant number 8 out of roughly 52. I’m telling you, Tyler was absolutely the cutest baby on the board. I’m not just saying it because I’m his dad, either. There were a couple photos that made me think to myself, “the parents MUST be joking.”. Maybe I am shallow afterall. But what really infuriated me was seeing at least 3 toddlers on the board. You don’t see 23 year old women in the Miss Teen USA pageant. So, there shouldn’t be 3 year old KIDS in a BABY contest. Ok, fine, I’m shallow, da**it! Are you happy now? Guilty as charged. Whatever, let’s just vote, go to the 4-H area, and look at pigs, horses, and quilts. But there was a problem.
There wasn’t anybody at the booth, and there was nowhere to put our money to vote for Tyler. I had a moment where I was tempted to tear down the photos of the toddlers, but I don’t think it would have gone unnoticed.
We ended up going back the next day. This time, there was someone there, so we walked up. Like an idiot, I made eye contact with a little old lady at the booth directly across from the contest booth. She was holding something out for me. It looked like a sticker, and I thought of how cute it would be to put a sticker on Tyler. When I grabbed it, I saw that it was a tiny booklet. Yup… Hook, line, and sinker…
Little old lady: “Are you sure that you’re going to go to heaven?”
Me: *oh crap* “Yes I am.”
LOL: “How do you know?”
Me: “I just do.”
LOL: “Do you think that’s enough?”
Me: “What, believing? Yes I do.”
At this point, I tried handing the booklet back to her.
LOL: “I think maybe you should keep that book and read it.”
Me: “No thank you. I’ll get along fine without it.”
LOL: “Well let me ask you this. How do you know if I’ll go to heaven.”
I won’t lie to you. I actually found myself thinking, “lady, I’m surprised that day hasn’t come yet.”
Me: *still holding the booklet out* “I would never presume to know whether you’ll go to heaven or not.”
LOL: “Well, I don’t think you’ll go to heaven with that attitude.”
Me: “Have a nice day.”
I placed the booklet in her hand and walked to join Sarah.
I am a huge proponent of “respecting your elders”. I was extremely polite, and have no idea what she didn’t like about my attitude. But she was pushing the limits of my politeness. And where in the Christian belief does it say that it’s ok to judge other people? Little old witch. And Sarah’s not dumb. She knew better to walk over there. She saw the trap a mile away, and let me jump right in the lion’s den. I would have done the same to her. A match made it heaven, her and I.
Back at the contest booth, we deposited our $5. Sarah glanced in some of the other containers and saw that there was some competition. She immediately pulls out her change purse and starts DUMPING it all in there, except for some random German coin that she had. I’m freaking out trying to cram my Visa in there. Obviously, these other families were trying to BUY the win for their son/daughter/grandson/granddaughter, those dirty little cheaters. I checked the newspaper every friggin day from then on, waiting for the results. I checked the mail, looking for my WalMart giftcard. What was taking so long? Then, one day, the newspaper has the results for the DeKalb County’s Cutest Dog contest. WTF!?!? It was over 2 weeks after that when I saw the results in the paper. Where the heck was Tyler’s photo? There must have been some type of mistake. As a matter of fact, Tyler didn’t place at all. The vote was rigged. I’m sure of it. DANG! Why didn’t Sarah put that damn German coin in there!? To add insult to
mortal wound injury, the first place winner wasn’t even a baby! That kid was AT LEAST 2 years old! Ugh.
* Don’t get me wrong. I think Amy Winehouse has (had) a fantastic voice/album, but this purely about looks.