This past weekend was our local reining club’s annual awards banquet. Although she didn’t know it for sure (I still try to reinforce that it isn’t the winning that matters) Annabelle was going to be awarded the year-end buckle for 2014 Short Stirrup Champion.
I really enjoy going to these banquets. It is fun to catch up with friends during the off-show season when we don’t see each other often, and the auction items are always fun to browse. Last year’s shows are rehashed, triumphs are celebrated, and goals for the upcoming season are said out loud for what may be the first time. It is fun.
This year, however, we had an added element of excitement. The banquet was for the first time ever to be a themed event (Hawaiian Vacation) and a costume contest was going to be held in conjunction with the other awards. My good friend Shane Broome had custom-made a gorgeous cooler as the prize for the winner of the costume contest.
In case you don’t know, a cooler is a special type of horse blanket that you put on a horse after he is just washed or really sweaty, and it helps to quickly dry him off. You can buy a standard cooler at pretty much any retail horse wear outlet, but to own a cooler made by Shane is as owning an original Picasso is to hanging up a framed poster from Wal-Mart. There is simply no comparison.
I really wanted that cooler.
Since I have been so busy with the kids’ school activities of late, I knew that time to shop for a suitable costume would be at a premium, so the weekend before the banquet I got online to see what Mrs. Amazon could offer up in the way of outfits. I quickly added to my virtual cart a grass skirt for me and one for Annabelle, a tiny child’s size coconut bra, a package of leis, and for good measure a ten-pack of large silk flowers with hair clips. I was about to check out when suddenly I saw……..
The Tacky Tourist Adult Size Costume
The costume featured a one-piece pull-on jumpsuit with a large hoop waist and blue Bermuda shorts. The front of the jumpsuit featured a prominent question asked by many a hungry tourist, and it was topped off by an extra-large Hawaiian shirt in a stretchy polyester fabric.
I knew immediately it was for me.
I removed the adult skirt from the cart and, chuckling out loud to myself in my empty office, clicked “Quantity: 1” next to the outfit. I added a big ugly hat and some large orange sunglasses with a parrot and a margarita glass on the sides and clicked “Place Order.” Since I wasn’t guaranteed delivery before the day of the party I sprang for the express shipping, which cost just a bit more than the actual costume itself.
The morning of the party I completed my outfit at our local Wal-Mart, adding some red canvas shoes along with tan trouser socks that looked exactly like a pair of knee-high support hose.
Annabelle pulled her hair back with the big silk flowers and I tied the coconut bra on over her gymnastics leotard. The grass skirt was a perfect fit. Desperate Hubby wore a bright red band shirt featuring Elvis in a Hawaiian theme and a bunch of leis. Batman was the picture of subtlety, donning a lone flower necklace over his favorite red and blue cowboy shirt. We were a picture.
Well, sort of. I apparently have still not figured out the settings of my new camera. The images were all so dark you can barely make us out. And as you can see, Batman declined to be photographed.
We did get a slightly better photo of Annabelle and me in a brighter corner of the room. Don’t we look divine?
In actuality, Annabelle had a real mix of emotions about my costume. She was at once mortified by my appearance (“MOM! I can’t believe you are embarrassing yourself in this way!”) and simultaneously sort of intrigued by all the attention it was getting. It was a hoot.
The costume contest itself was a close call.
My friend Justine’s family was done up in Hawaiian style from head to toe. Dad was dressed as a Tribal King, with a grass skirt and armbands, a hat similar to mine, and an apron-type pull-over that sported a tanned six-pack covered by a much larger version of Annabelle’s coconut bra. The beautiful blond sisters were decked out in authentic garb that was really from Hawaii; flowers adorned their hair in elaborate styles, and their gorgeous mom was glowing in a Hawaiian shirt and radiating good cheer.
Another lovely friend wore an authentic Hawaiian outfit with a silk lei and flowers so lifelike you would swear they were real. She was as elegant as I was tacky.
There was a multi-colored mohawk on our trainer, and another (female) version of the six-pack apron on our club president, Ann. Competitors abounded.
Shane was supposed to be the judge, but with so many friends vying for her colorful cooler she cleverly recruited the bartender, who knew none of us (well, she knew some of us a little better than others, if you know what I mean) to stand in for her.
Our judge stood in front of us for a long time. In terms of sheer degree of decoration, the family of the Hawaiian King were sure winners. Elegant presentation clearly fell to my friend Sherrie. An award for originality could have gone many different directions.
I was nervous.
But in the end, Tacky triumphed. The good-natured bartender laughed and said “I just have to go with the tacky family.”
I was thrilled.
Annabelle loved her new buckle, pictured here with Reserve Short Stirrup Champion Kieran. Sorry about the bad picture. I really have to read that owner’s manual one of these days.
We scored big at the silent auction, thanks to the diligent attention of both my dear children, who bid early and often, winning us a few things that I hadn’t even known were for sale.
The evening was a real success in every realm.
The buckle truly is lovely…..
and fills out Annabelle’s own personal trophy case nicely. She has now officially tied my fifteen-year show career in number of buckles won.
At the age of eight.
But I have the cooler.
It is so beautiful that I simply cannot bear to think of putting it on a wet or sweaty horse. I have hung it over the end of my bed where I can see it every day.
I think it matches nicely.