Tales of a Professional Contest Winner
Winning! I was so money I didn’t even know it.
This poster I’m holding right here? That won me a gift certificate for a personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. Pretty bratass, huh?
The contest was to draw the women in history we found most inspiring. The three other winners chose Mother Teresa, Sally Ride and Sandra Day O’Connor to feature on their posters.
I chose Betsy Ross. No, not Diana Ross. Betsy. You know, the flag-making chick? Yes . . . that Betsy Ross.
Damn straight, Betsy Ross. While the menfolk were off doing whatever it was they did to pass the time — making laws, fighting for freedom or whatnot — I chose the woman who . . . um . . . stayed at home . . . to do their stitching.
Doesn’t matter — my poster wasn’t personally meaningful to me anyway. I just picked Betsy Ross as a contest strategy. I always thought that the answer to everything had to be the most obscure, the least obvious. That’ll win it. That’ll set me apart.
Also, I was excellent at drawing people in colonial garb.
Here below you’ll see my first shot at advertising. This ad won me a $25 gift certificate to a toy store. I spent part of it on a few plastic made-in-China-thing-a-ma-bobs that I couldn’t even begin to remember, let alone name off for you.
Fine. A Poochie charm bracelet, Smurf Shrinky-Dinks and a Herself the Elf doll. Then I spent the rest of the loot on puffy unicorn stickers. Naturally.
Get it? I drew foxes and one of them looks pretty foxy in her new clothes. Pretty clever, huh?
I remember later thinking the boy fox looked mad. He’s the one on all fours who is not wearing a bonnet (ahem . . . note the colonial garb). So I went back and drew the boy fox’s tongue sticking out to imply he was all “Hubba hubba.” Or maybe all “I want to lick that bonnet like a lolly.” Just as long as he didn’t look all “Hey, you think you’re better than me, bitch?”
A foxy fox. Yes, I know I’ve said before that I detest puns. 1.) That they’re the lowest form of comedy in the Free World. 2.) That greeting card companies gobble ’em up like lemon drops, which is why I’ve resorted to Facebook wall posts for all my birthday wishes. 3.) That The Family Circus was lousy in part because Billy couldn’t keep his germy little fingers out of the pun jar when Bil Keane (RIP) was off traipsing around on vacation.
Yes, all of that is true. Down with puns! Hate ’em. Ick. Pooey.
What can I say. It was a contest strategy.
And I sold out.
The contest winnings didn’t end with posters and ads. I also was an expert winner of raffles. You know, fundraising-carnival-throw-your-name-in-a-jar-and-win-a-free-Seedling-Mile-Elementary-Wildcats-drink-koozie type of thing. Over time, my parents recognized my phenomenal luck and decided their odds would increase if they’d use my name in every prize drawing they encountered.
So, like a ribbon-clad show pony, I performed. I won them a joy stick for our Apple II computer. And a $30 gift certificate to a shopping mall sporting goods store that didn’t sell one thing that interested me outside of tube socks. So my mom bought herself a new pair of volleyball knee pads and we called it a day.
I might know a thing or two about what Gary Coleman thought of his parents.
When I was in first grade, my Brownie troop conducted an experiment by attaching each of our names on helium-filled balloons and letting go of them outside to see how long it would take before one of them would turn up in someone’s frozen fish sticks.
No one’s balloon or the family of robins that lived down the block was ever heard from again.
Except mine! My balloon was discovered by a farmer in a cornfield 80 miles away. I didn’t win a personal pan pizza or anything lucrative like that, but I was a Grand Prize Winner deep down in my prideful heart.
You may have read this contest story (if not, click here and scroll). This is not one I’m proud of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly proud of my essay — because who wouldn’t be proud of Animals and Snow. And I’m certainly proud that I styled my own hair the morning of this photo. I’m just not proud of the unfortunate events that followed this contest. I come off looking far worse than an asymmetrical perm.
My husband says none of my childhood contest successes legitimately count as “prize winnings.” I suppose because I never won anything like a new Chrysler LeBaron. Or a trip to Hawaii. Or a new 13-inch color television set.
My husband won a 13-inch color television set! I’m not kidding. When he was in sixth grade, he won it through a bingo game on the back of a box of Fruity Pebbles cereal.
The box featured pre-printed tabs on the back. And he apparently pulled the tabs off or scratched them off or something to reveal a line of Dinos. Which I guess meant he was a big winner.
What the . . . what’s that, anyway? That doesn’t involve the strategy of a Professional Contest Winner. That’s just dumb luck.
I’d like to see him try to win a poster contest. More importantly, I’d like to see him draw people in colonial garb.