I had hit one of those periods in my life where I was broke, and the bottom of the barrel was beginning to look edible. My neighbor hooked me up with a contractor pal of his, so I could get paid for helping him out doing some indoor house painting. We went into La Jolla – an area in San Diego known for rich, upper crust type of homes – and this one fit the bill perfectly. A truly gorgeous house -with the ugliest walls ever seen anywhere.
The owner of the house was living alone (divorced) in an enormous 5 bedroom extravaganza of a home; and every room was in desperate need of paint. So – there I was for days on end, painting everything in sight. The very last day I was there, the home owner took me to her Daughter’s bedroom.
Before I go too far let me try to tell you about this home owner. She was a very nice, pleasant lady – on first meeting. My second day though, dear home owner started to show her true colors……cuckoo grey! Whatever room I was working in, there she was with her harp. Yes, you read that correctly – her harp. She played while I painted. The gal also was “sprirtually led” (her words) to ramble on about all the good times and famous people that were in those good times with her. Now, back to our story…..
As I said, on the very last day, she told me I was going to paint her Daughters’ bedroom, so I followed her up the stairs. Thankfully, her harp was too doggone heavy to haul up the stairs. I think I forgot to tell you that she never played anything all the way through, and even worse – she was never really on key! Her Daughter hadn’t lived there with her for quite a few years. She opened the door and told me I was on my own in there. In I went. Straight into what looked like a shrine about her Daughter. No – she hadn’t died…..just didn’t like coming home. And nothing in the room had been touched or moved in many, many years.
Anyway….in that girls’ bedroom was a beautiful bleached oak bedroom set and a big, lovely vanity table to match. And there on the vanity was an enormous, sparkling, rhinestone tiara at least 9 – 10 inches high! Spread out on the vanity table there was also quite a bit of bling-bling type jewelry and snap shots of a lovely young woman, who was always dressed beautifully. It wasn’t too big a stretch to understand that this lovely gal in the photos was the Daughter. I didn’t have anything to throw over the dresser so I called down the stairs to tell the home owner. She came back up with an armload of old bed sheets.
I asked her about the tiara because I was really curious. OK, I admit it, I was nosey! Her Daughter had been the California entrant in a Miss USA contest and she had won. Then the kid did her one year Grand Tour and started to drink like a fish – quickly becoming the booze hound of the century. Now you know why she didn’t come home! The home owner/harpist handed me the sheets and went back downstairs.
Now imagine me – sweaty, dirty, paint spattered all over my clothes, hair and nose (of all places) For what seemed like an eternity I stood there staring at the tiara – knowing in the depths of my soul that it wanted me to look. Finally, I went over to the vanity table, sat down, looked into the mirror and ever so gently lifted the tiara from the vanity table…..and I placed it on my head. For one tiny, fleeting, beautiful moment in time, as I sat there wearing that enormous, sparkling tiara, I WAS Miss USA. And it felt wonderful!
And that, dear reader, is my Miss USA story!