The stage: District Speech Contest, my senior year.
Of all of my high school memories, this one comes closest to 'the day I scored the winning basket in the state championship game' or 'the day I was voted prom queen'. Since I am - at the very least - incredibly untalented athletically and since I was never voted prom queen (see also this post), the district speech contest my senior year is as good as it's going to get. Although *I* was a loser, being on the speech team in our school didn't actually get you an automatic 'L' on your forehead since our school was so small that practically everyone had to be involved just to send a team. Speech was kind of my thing though and I took a perverse pride in being darn good at it. Still, I had an evil nemesis (heck, it wouldn't be a very good story without an evil nemesis!). I performed in poetry and serious prose. (Like you expected anything else, right?) My evil nemesis also performed poetry and our senior year, her piece included the Lord's Prayer. (Say it with me now... ugh!)
Since we were both from small schools, we performed against each other at almost all of the competitions - not just our senior year but every year for four years. I got really, really tired of hearing her poetry interpretations. Especially her overly dramatic, chest-heaving, heavy-sighing versions of them. I also got tired of getting my rear kicked every single time we competed against each other. Inevitably, she took first place and I came in second. This part of the story doesn't have a Disney ending, by the way. At District Speech, she still kicked my rear and I took second... but that was all that was necessary to qualify for State. When my name was announced, I walked out to the center of the gym floor to get my medal and came back to my teammates cheering and clapping. One of my teammates picked me up, gave me a huge hug, and spun me around in a circle, putting my feet back on the ground just in time for another teammate to swing me up again.
It was the speech team equivalent to being put on your teammates' shoulders and paraded across the football field. (I know... pitiful, isn't it?)
However, I was so busy being overwhelmed by the attention that I failed to hear my name called again... as the first place winner in the serious prose division. I had beaten a bow-tie-wearing, son-of-a-speech-coach named Teddy who irritated me almost as much as the Lord's-Prayer-chick. My teammates had to push me out onto the floor. I was walking on air... but still aware enough to see the twisted expression of Miss-the-Lord's-Prayer... who had only qualified for State in one event. Heh.
Even a whole lotta years later, that's a very satisfying memory.
I wish I could wrap this up nicely by telling you I went on to dominate at the State competition and came home victorious, but I took getting to State a whole lot more seriously than I took performing at State. As it was, I was content... and still am... with my medals and my moment in the spotlight.
Next up: An even more humiliating story about the boyfriend who dumped me at major holidays so he didn't have to buy me gifts...