I need a tiara. Yes, I want a bejeweled headdress so large and sparkly that onlookers will have to view me through a pinhole in a piece of cardboard as if I were an eclipse, or they may be blinded by the glare. My escorts (because of course, I would have handsome escorts) would require at least SPF 30 sunscreen to prevent 3rd-degree burns.
Oh, I know that I do not have the face and figure to be crowned a beauty queen, and I am old enough to be the grandmother to the other contestants. It is not the prizes I want, the scholarships, or even the adoration. I desperately want the tiara.
I always have had a thing for sparkle and shine. It doesn’t have to be expensive sparkle and shine. Rhinestones and sequins thrill me just as much as diamonds and gold. It’s not the market value as much as the candlepower. I want people to have to put on sunglasses when I enter the room.
At prom time or right before the winter holidays, when the department stores feature displays of what seems like acres of racks of shimmering ballgowns, I meander wistfully among the racks, murmuring, “Ooh, sparklies!” I am consumed by a yearning to dazzle and twinkle like the stars in a cloudless midnight sky.
All my life I have lived in small towns and rural areas. Where could I possibly go that I would need a sequinned ballgown and a tiara? The grocery store? The gas station? One would think that I expect, at any moment, to be invited to a coronation or the Academy Awards.
I did once show up at an event in which I was promised what I thought they said was a Pulitzer Prize. Turned out they said Pullet Surprise, which was the name of the rubbery chicken breast entre they served at dinner. I was overdressed for that in my sequins and jeweled tiara.
I have a theory about beauty queens and their tiaras. What if they are not simple headdresses? What if they are communication devices through which the contestants receive coded messages from their home planets, because you know those gorgeous women are not of this world. Nobody could look that good. The vast majority of us could not look that good even if we had extensive plastic surgery and then forced the audience to view us backlit from behind a curtain like a television show’s mystery guest.
My theory extends beyond tiaras. Maybe I have been watching too much science fiction, but I kind of believe jewelry can, and often does, serve a mysterious function other than flashy ornamentation. You cannot convince me that the multiple piercings popular with young people these days are not picking up signals from galaxies far far away. And what about those copper bracelets I see advertised on television, purported to relieve the pain of arthritis? Likely story.
I know a married couple, Jackie and Don, who travel extensively and are rarely separated. They claim it is a mutual love that keeps them together. Then I discovered that Jackie had bought them his and her magnetic bracelets, which she claims promote good health. Ha! I believe that she cranks up the magnetism in some way and he is compelled by magnetic force to follow her wherever she goes. How else does she get him to accompany her to all those craft fairs, fashion shows, and outlet malls? The men I have known would rather slice off their left ear than attend any of those, even if it meant he could never properly wear a hat or a pair of glasses without looking like a cock-eyed drunk.
One day my boss wore a long necklace from which dangled a multifaceted crystal the size of an egg. Whenever she spoke to me, it bobbed and twinkled and sparkled, shooting flashes of light like a prism. It was hypnotic and I was fascinated. I could not take my eyes off it.
At any moment, I expected her to murmur, “You are getting sleepy. When you awaken, each time you see the crystal, you will work harder and longer and for much less pay.”
But I fixed her. I was wearing my new tiara, through which I was receiving strength from the planet Uranus. The air fairly vibrated from the power of dueling jewelry. In the end, the power of my tiara prevailed. I was tempted to yank the chain and crystal from her neck, swing it around, and let it fly, taking her down as David took Goliath.
I might then have to serve 5-10 years for assault and battery, but the good news is that I expect to be elected queen of cell block six. You are all invited to the coronation. Don’t forget the sunscreen and the cardboard with a pinhole in it.