In my last week as the reigning Miss Nevada United States, I busted my butt to do as MANY appearances as I could. My logic went as follows: If my sash wasn’t RATTY and DISGUSTINGLY FILTHY with makeup, self tanner, sweat, and unrecognizable stains by the time I passed on the crown, I hadn’t done it right.
So I slept very little and I drove myself all over town, determined to make my final hours count.
Also, I was feeling sentimental about no longer being the ‘reigning’ queen, so I was kind of hoping I’d make myself sick of wearing it. (No such luck. But as Kurt Vonnegut would say, so it goes).
One of my final appearances was at the Lion Habitat Ranch, my favorite animal sanctuary and Vegas hang.
They were having a Locals Appreciation Day and asked me to come welcome guests. I brought along my Teen Nevada and the Clark County Fire Department and we made a day of it. (Talking to tourists about lions and awing over their adorableness? Hard work, I know.)
But I digress.
We had originally planned to be inside the “Feast With The Beasts” area (a plexiglass room INSIDE a lion den for special events) signing autographs and taking photos. But because I’m easily excited and annoyingly fidgety, I decided to give free guided tours to guests and roam the property.
Besides, I didn’t want to miss any of the Kodak moments.
But this change in plans ignited problems I hadn’t foreseen.
I find it important to note here that I am INCREDIBLY fair skinned. Like, quite possibly the whitest European mutt on the planet. (Seriously, I make EVERYONE look tan. Even my newborn niece… Who just came out of THE WOMB. And on a few occasions I’ve been accused of glowing).
On this particular day I did not practice good sun protection, completely forgetting about my fair epidermis in the cool breeze and partly cloudy skies. But can you blame me? Time flies when you’re pretending to be queen of the pride.
So naturally, it wouldn’t be until hours later after I got home that I realized just how burned I was.
I was a deep, lobster red. But that wasn’t the worst part.
I was only burned on one shoulder. The sash had blocked the other one and part of my back, giving me the WEIRDEST burn you’ve ever seen. (Yes, even worse than that time I got burned in Fiji and the Firewalkers healed me). Plus I didn’t have my Fijian family nearby to help me out of this one. And I had more appearances scheduled throughout the week.
THIS, my friends, is what we chicks in the crowns call a ‘Pageant Girl Problem’.
I spent the rest of the week trying to cover my burn with as much make up and self tanner as possible, never quite achieving equilibrium in skin tone. And when seen without makeup, my best friend let out uncontrollable cries of horror.
Let’s just say I had to wear this ‘sash of honor’ through the pageant. It was comical, really. And luckily, a spray tan helped (I call this the Pageant Girl Life Saver). But STILL. In my LAST week?
I suppose now and forever I’ll have the story; the one where She-Who-Plays-With-Lions was scarred by her sash and the sun.
Maybe it was the Universe’s way of making the end of my reign a little more permanent. Or a metaphor for the good and the bad it encompassed. Or maybe a way for me to hold on to it as long as I could, even though it stung. Like the Third Eye Blind song.
“That girl is like a sunburn I would like to save.”
Yeah, maybe it’s like that.