Just any moment now the results would be announced. And she was a little nervous. Maybe more than a little, because she didn’t seem to notice until Audrey repeated her name twice and began speaking.
“How are you tonight? It shouldn’t be long. I wanted to come over to tell you . . .” and Audrey’s faint voice fell upon her ears.
She was careful to keep the expression of attentiveness on her face, to be respectful of her acquaintance. Her appearance gave Audrey no reason to believe otherwise, and so, the conversation continued. But, inside her head it was different.
She should have purchased that new outfit. If anything could have helped her, it surely would have been new clothes! After all, ‘style’ could make a statement: “Look at me! I’m polished! And poised! And intelligent!”
Not that she wasn’t intelligent. She was a completely competent person. It’s just that, compared to some of the other candidates campaigning for the office, her regular attire was, well, ‘plain’. ‘Plain’ as in not very interesting, not very chic, not very commanding. But, yes, new clothes would have made her look commanding! And polished. And poised. And, intelligent!
The voice was still coming. “. . . that I was the person to suggest your name be put on the ballot . . . ”
She nodded her head as if to acquiesce. Yes, the ballot! She had actually wondered how her name got on the ballot. She knew only a few of the members, but none of them really well. Last year, she had just seen the ad in the city paper and decided to join to group. To know everyone at that point didn’t seem necessary. Because, when they met, they would discuss the favorite subject, hobby, and passion of all of them! That’s why everyone belonged.
She had never worn anything fancy to the regular meetings. Her apparel was just respectable and presentable, as her mother would have said. “You don’t have to dress like a queen, just act like one.” Yeah, right. That might have worked for living at home, but she was not so naïve as to believe that could be true anywhere else! And it certainly wasn’t the case here. Here your ‘image’ mattered. At least it mattered to the current officers. Oh, if only she would have purchased those new clothes! It would have made a big impression if she had acquired new raiment! She surely would have had a definite chance to win bedecked out in new garb!
“. . . to thank you for being so devoted to our group. You are so gracious and kind. . . . ”
Now, she really should bring her mind back to the conversation. Why was Audrey thanking her? The group was fairly large but she had sat by Audrey more than once. Audrey, dear, Audrey. Now she was someone who could use some better clothes!
But if her father had drummed anything into her head, it was that “Clothes don’t make the man. It’s honesty and integrity, and being gracious and humble.” All those inner qualities her parents had instilled and cultivated in her while she was growing up. So, even though Audrey didn’t look stylish, it didn’t matter to her. In fact, she thought Audrey made a positive contribution to the group just as much as anyone else, regardless of how she looked. Whenever she sat by Audrey, they had always had a pleasant time at the meeting.
“. . . So, I went to all the other members that I know and told them that you would be someone very qualified for the office and encouraged them to vote for . . .”
Voting. Yes, the voting was tonight. And they were here waiting for the results to be announced. But, still, she wished she had had a new outfit. That would have really made the difference!
Then, the voice at the front united everyone’s attention. “Will the Secretary please announce the election results.” With that, the Secretary leaned into the microphone and began.
Was she still in her own thoughts? Or, what did she just hear!
“Congratulations!” Audrey was extending her hand towards her. “Congratulations! You will make a very fine officer!”
And she stood up to humbly to accept the office, not in any new trappings, but in the clothes that she had always worn: her strength and honor.
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