The Adventures of Lilly
Book One – The Beauty Pageant
Lilly and her parents arrived promptly at eight o’clock at The Dionne. It was set back away from the bustle of the city. Tall palm trees lined the driveway leading up to the front entrance. The end of the driveway split into two, to wrap around a beautiful water fountain, emerging again behind the fountain under a canopy. The fountain consisted of four statues in the form of ballerinas on their tippy toes, arms outstretched, and heads held high. Their right arms each held up a large vase with four handles, water ejected from the center of the vase in all directions as if in an attempt to shower the ballerinas. When the sun hit the fountain at a certain angle it seemed as though a rainbow of colors emitted from the vase.
The lawn was neatly mowed and two huge flower gardens, one on each side, stood in the center on either side of the lawns.
The Dionne was a rather imposing building, painted light pink with white trimming. Tall windows cascaded each wall. There was a wrap around parking lot.
Lilly’s mother parked up front. They went in to get her officially registered and signed in and to get her settled into her room. Seeing that they had already turned in all the necessary paperwork, in ten minutes they were taking her luggage out the car and on their way to her room. There was an exciting spirit in the air. Lilly saw about fifty girls her age, some giggling, some shy, some talkative, but all waiting in eager anticipation for what lay ahead. Mothers were excited for their daughters. The parents were invited to hang around all day to help their daughters get settled in and to acquaint themselves with the manager and the coordinators of the pageant.
Two girls were already unpacking when Lilly and her mother arrived in her room. They introduced themselves as Gwynet and Cathy. Gwynet was a shy girl of fourteen. Although born in America, she was of Spanish descent and her long, black hair reminded Lilly of an ancient Spanish queen. Cathy was more out-spoken. She was a native of Oregon and she was Lilly’s age, thirteen years old. All three seemed to hit it off well, so Mrs. Hill decided to leave Lilly to get better acquainted as the girls unpacked. Since Gwynet and Cathy were the first to arrive they had first choice as far as who got to sleep in what bed. Lilly’s bed was to the far right. They shared a bathroom with the girls in the room next to theirs. The bathroom was the divider of the two rooms.
After unpacking, the girls did not know quite what to do next so they just sat on their beds and talked. This was their first time in the pageant. Cathy’s parents were both teachers. Her mother taught in high school and her father was a professor at the University of Oregon. Cathy loved swimming, playing the piano, tennis, and watching chick flicks. She seemed to be well off as was evidenced by the expensive jewelry she placed on her side table and the rich looking throw blanket she spread on her bed. Her toiletries and other personal items took up almost a half of the space on the dresser they each shared.
Gwynet told about some of their Spanish customs. Her only hobbies were reading, singing, and cooking. She loved to stay home. She lived in LA, not too far from The Dionne. She had a younger brother and sister. She put out the basic necessities, a comb, brush, a few barrettes, and some books.
Lilly’s mother entered after knocking to see if she was ready. There would be a short “Meeting of the Girls and Their Families,” followed by a tour of the building and then a late lunch after which the girls would be on their own. As they were turning to leave, Gwynet’s mother breezed through the door.
“Hola! Hola!” she said with a bright smile and a cheerful voice. She exchanged greetings with everyone. “Vamos, mi chiquita,” she said to Gwynet. The group hurried to the auditorium where they disappeared into the crowd. It was a miracle that Cathy located her dad in all that bustle.
Each girl was required to stand up and introduce whoever was with them. There were girls from all over the country: New York, Florida, Michigan, and even as far as Maine. After a time of fellowship, each was given a tour of the building in groups of twenty. The dormitories were towards the back of the building, next to them was the luxury dining room and kitchen. There was a small gift shop. There was a gym next to the kitchen, containing a swimming pool and indoor badminton and tennis courts. There was a huge room, the Couture Boutique, containing all kinds of clothes for the pageant: sports wear, casual wear, formal wear, shoes and accessories; it was like an indoor mall. It was to this that Lilly’s mother would contribute her designing skills.
There was a smaller room with makeup of all kinds. There was an outdoor track for the contestants to do walking and running every other day. It was like a self contained town. There would be lots of helpers on hand to help the girls in preparation for the big day.
Each day would be jam packed with things to do:
7-8:00 – clean rooms, shower, dress
8-9:00 – breakfast
9-10:30 – class on hygiene & beauty
10:30-11:30 – practice session
11:30-12:15 – indoor games, tennis, badminton, etc.
12:15-1:00 – swimming
1:00-1:30 – preparation for lunch
1:30-2:30 – lunch
2:30-3:30 – quiet time in room
3:30-5:30 – practice session
5:30-6:30 – outdoor activities, jogging, walking, etc.
6:30-7:30 – supper
7:30-9:00 – showers
9:00-10:00 – quiet time in room
10:00 – lights out
After lunch at 2:00, Lilly’s mother reminded her as she kissed her goodbye, “Don’t forget to read your Bible and pray as soon as you wake up and before you go to bed.”
“I will,” said Lilly.
“We want you to have fun, but remember you’re here to please God.”
“I won’t forget, Mom. Give my love to Dad and Marco.”
“I will and you girls don’t forget to lock your doors whenever you are in your room, especially at nights.”
“We will,” said Cathy, Gwynet, and Lilly together. She prayed with Lilly for her protection and the protection of the others.
Gwynet’s mother gave all three girls a hug, a Spanish custom, as she said a tearful adios. Cathy’s dad wished his daughter good luck and encouraged the others to look out for each other.
After all the mothers and fathers had left, each girl was summoned to the auditorium. They were introduced to those who would be working with them over the next three weeks, as well as to the owner of The Dionne, Mrs. Celine Roqueville. They were then showed several films on beauty pageants and the preparation that went into them. The last film was on bloopers that took place during the actual pageants. They were allowed to mingle with each other before their supper of beef stroganoff, salad, and ice tea. Once in their rooms, Cathy had them in a laughing fit as she imitated some of the ladies they had seen on the films. As they quieted down, Gwynet took out a book to read, Cathy listened to music on her iPod, and Lilly read her Bible. She said a short prayer kneeling beside her bed. Cathy was staring at her curiously, but Gwynet did not seem surprised.
“Good night, I’ll see you both tomorrow,” Lilly said as she laid down for the night. Lilly could not wait to meet the other contestants. She was looking forward to what lay ahead.