Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Miss Marianville Quest 2005

The day of the much-anticipated Miss Marianville Quest finally dawned on Saturday morning – and unfortunately I dawned a whole lot earlier, getting up at 4.4am to drive Lea and Neville to the airport. An early start, but well worth it for the weekend of blissful solitude that would be its reward. But first there was the Big Event to get through…

It was a crazy day – another huge Marianville event (one of 3 I’ve experienced now) full of people, noise, stress and cheering – but so much fun! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of it, but for me the day was a mix of being stage mum for Maria, our 10 Purple contestant whose cousin ditched her at the last minute, leaving her with no one to do her hair and makeup - and no equipment - so I ended up filling in for most of the changes... Then taking photos of the day for the Magazine committee, racing from the changing rooms around to the front of the stage, and not knowing whether to laugh or cringe as I sat near my noisy 10 Yellows who just couldn't shut up when the contestants walked out - especially when they were yelling at the escorts. They're funny girls and I get a real kick out of them - but the screaming and total boy-obsession did get a bit much after a while. And then catching up with my own escort during the break - the cute Brother I met at the night club that time, who just happened to be sitting at my breakfast table when I got home that morning from town - Pia had enlisted he and another young seminarian's help in carrying things down early to the Quest - so I found him again at lunch and sparked many a rumour by spending the next hour with him - "Ms Conolly's talking to a BOY!!! A NATIONAL boy!!!! A CUTE national boy!!!!" Had lots of stares, not just from students but from everyone around – sitting down near my girls, it was like there was a spotlight shining straight on us (or maybe that was just the sun reflecting off my comparatively lily-white skin). Shame he is a brother actually - extremely cute - but religion didn't seem to stop him from employing his clearly God-given gift with the girls…

The escorts were funny too. In a society where boy/girl relationships are strictly non-demonstrative (in public anyway), and in a school where boys are extremely rare and much-sought after specimens, I thought the boys would be far too shy to do more than look at the ground while trying to pretend they weren’t walking their partners down the catwalk. But once they got the hang of it, some of these boys were hilarious, playing to the crowd as the girls cat-called to them by either a nod of the head and raised eyebrows, or a downward glance below the sunnies, or even a direct stare, point or grin at the girls who were loudest (usually my Henrietta and Marjellah!). But the funniest of all were the subtle interactions between partners – when the boy looked back to glance at the girl as they crossed the catwalk, or when she let her hand drift over his as they passed each other on their separate struts. In the final round – the evening wear – several of the boys brought out flowers to present to their partners, and Emmanuel (our 10P escort) not only presented Maria with a flower, which she later tossed in my direction from the stage, but also got down on his knees and gave her another bouquet on their final turn and pose. He got a huge reaction from the crowd and I had tears streaming down my cheeks from laughing at these two show ponies, who backstage had seemed so shy! (A different set of tears to the ones I had on the first round, when Maria first emerged, nervous but beautiful after the girls and I had finished dressing her. I’m a hopeless sentimentalist, and I know “All my life”, her final song, will always have the same reaction from me whenever I hear it now – just as “Respect” will share a memory with Geita now, as well as Tuppie, and “Uptown Girl” will be Loa and her beautiful rainbow dress, not just growing-up memories of Sam and Dad and the record player in our Epping lounge room.)

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Maria, our beautiful contestant, with Genny (one of her dressers). Her contemporary outfit included Milne Bay face painting, a Highlands purpur (cuscus fur top), shell belts and armbands (like the belt I gave you, Marg - she really did jingle!), Manus leg bands, an Oro leather and tappa cloth bag and faux leather cap. Pretty gorgeous, huh?


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