At sixteen I was a voluptuous teenager, physically advanced for my age. My legs were slim; my hips were curvy; and my blouses popped open at the placket, as you can kindly imagine. Being this way was not a true blessing. As I received the attention of the male population, I played my little Lolita role to the hilt. To my parentís dismay, I concentrated on boys, clothes, and make up, not my studies.
One night my parents allowed me to attend a DeMolay Installation with my friends and their folks. (DeMolay is a young manís organization and part of the Masonic Order.) I donned a madras skirt and a cranberry shell, which was the fashion of the day. When I met with my friends, I saw that they looked attractive, too.
We sat through the long, boring installation, but the fun began afterwards. We mingled with the guys and laughed and danced. I received lots of compliments and attention from these 18 to 20 year old DeMolays, and I soaked it all in like soda on a sponge. When they asked me to be Chapter Sweetheart for the coming year, I was elated! Tears spilled down my cranberry shell.
A year seemed like a very long time, especially for a young girl. I tried to forget about the DeMolaysí sweetheart proposal, but a few of the guys kept in touch calling and visiting. Therefore, I focused all my attention on the high school dances and football games. I even enjoyed my status as class flirt. Still, all the male attention was making me self-centered and haughty.
I must have left an indelible image as the DeMolays didnít forget me. A surprise call from them came to my home one night, and a group of them came over. They announced that I was the new Chapter Sweetheart.
First, I had to be installed, which was another heady experience. Standing in front of 250 people, I was electrified. I was dressed all in blue taffeta, and I felt like a princess or a Barbie doll. When the Master Counselor (a president of a DeMolay Chapter) placed the tiara on my head, the ribbon over my shoulders, and handed me a bouquet of roses, my spirit soared. My soul became overwhelmed, and I felt like Cleopatra at Solomonís temple. Again, that night ended with my calendar full of dates.
I had lots of fun as Sweetheart, and I went to DeMolay Installations and other activities. I met many people, but my main concern was flirting with all the guys. The few girlfriends that I had would become jealous and gossip about me.
One night a contest and banquet was held to elect the District Sweetheart, a Chapter Sweetheart chosen to represent several chapters in the state competition. Everyone assumed that I would win the competition; after all, I was the ďprettiest.Ē
It was a lovely banquet with roast beef and vegetables served. Because my nerves were in high force, I could hardly talk or eat. Finally, the emcee, a local radio personality, strode to the podium. The contest was about to begin, and ten contestants waltzed to the stage. The emcee introduced them, and each candidate said a few lines. I mumbled mine. Each contestant had to answer a trick question. My question pertained to a broken shoe. My mind went blank; my heart raced; and I fumbled and jumbled my words. All was quiet when the emcee announced the winner. And, the winner was Cheryl Watkins, a hawk-nosed, beady eyed charmer!
I was heart-broken. I didnít win. And, I was so sure of a victory!
As ďprettyĒ as I thought I was, this loss made me realize that the old adage was true: beauty is only skin deep. I must develop more inner qualities to be truly beautiful.
I ate humble pie at that banquet, and it was dreadful. My head hung in shame the rest of the night; I felt mortified. But, Iím thankful God forgives and teaches us many things. Mine was a lesson in pride. I changed my attitude from flirt to dainty, and I became a better person and a better student.
Many, too many, years have passed since that night. Iím a grandmother now, and I often tell my children and grandchildren about it. Iíll never forget the lesson humble pie taught me.
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