My Beauty Queen
I was sitting on the couch at my mom’s apartment early one evening. The TV was on, tuned to one of the public broadcasting station. I was very sleepy, and I was drifting in and out of a dozy type of sleep, aware of what was going on, but unable to wake myself up. I had been planning to watch the U of A beauty pageant, but if I didn’t snap myself out of this state of sleepiness, I was going to miss it. I did finally bring myself awake, and as I glanced over to the screen, and looked at all the girls, one girl caught my eye. She appeared to be wearing glasses. Now, this was interesting. Usually, in these beauty contests, glasses are nowhere to be seen. Which, to me was a darned shame. I loved the appearance of girls wearing glasses. To me, a pair of glasses on a fine looking young lady was as nice to look at as a diamond necklace.
Now I was definitely awake. I had missed the preliminary judging, and it was time for the winner to be crowned. As the name of the winner, and the first and second runner ups were called, I was amazed to see the girl with the glasses move to the front of the stage. I was shocked when I realized that the girl with the glasses was the winner. As the camera panned in to give a close up of this girl receiving her crown I strained to get a better look at the glasses. Impossible, absolutely impossible. The pair of black-framed rectangular glasses that the winner was wearing had myodisc lenses. Now I was absolutely captivated. I wanted to find out more about this young lady. I made sure to write her name down when they announced it. She was Tricia Howard, and it appeared that she was going to be in her last year at the university the following semester, the same as I was. Now I wished I had transferred to the Phoenix campus, instead of going to Flag. But, I soon realized that it likely would have done me no good, because the campus there was so large, unless I had been in the same lectures as she was I would probably never have seen her.
The next day I noticed something on the TV that suggested that Tricia Howard would be appearing as a guest on the Len Jaylo show that evening. Of course I had to watch it. I sat glued to the screen as Len interviewed her, and I came to the conclusion that Tricia was the most beautiful, and most intelligent lady I had ever seen.
As the interview went on I realized that I would never have spotted Tricia around campus anyway. Len asked Tricia about her glasses, and she was very forthcoming with her answers. She had gotten her first glasses as a child of about 18 months. She suffered from a rare disorder that caused her inner lenses to double in strength, so that instead of having inner lenses that were approximately +20D in strength, Tricia’s inner lenses had around +40D of power, making her, at under 2 years of age, a –20D myope. She had not had any further increases until she was around 15 years of age, when she began to experience a more normal form of simple myopia. Her eyeballs had elongated slightly, and now Tricia had a glasses prescription of around –27D. However, Tricia had worn contact lenses since she was 13 years old, so for the past 10 years no one had seen her wearing glasses.
Len asked Tricia about her vision without glasses or contacts, and her answer excited me a lot. Tricia answered that her vision was so poor that instead of a 20 something designation, her designation was CF 1 meter. This meant that she could count fingers at a meter, or somewhere around 33” without correction. I loved this thought. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I would never have placed her in a position where she was helpless or anything, I just loved the idea that she was so dependant on her glasses or contacts.
Apparently, 3 days before the beauty contest, Tricia got an infection in one of her eyes. Her doctor was very adamant that she could not wear contacts under any circumstances until the infection cleared up. Tricia was heart broken, as she thought that there was no way she could win wearing glasses. She was about to drop out of the contest, but all of the other girls, as well as the organizers convinced her to stay in. Tricia told Len that she would still have dropped out, except that the night before the contest she was watching world figure skating, and one of the girls in the doubles contest was wearing a pair of protective goggles. She and her partner won the contest, and when they were awarded the prize the girl came up to the podium, and before accepting the trophy she changed from the goggles to a pair of very strong glasses that looked lovely on her. Tricia told Len that this gave her the courage to go on, and now she was glad she had done so.
Over the next few weeks Tricia appeared on a couple of other talk shows, and I managed to catch them all. I also went online, and since I had my student password, I was able to access the entire university directory. I soon had Tricia Howard’s address, both at her parent’s house, and also at her university residence. I had her phone numbers, and I also had her e-mail address.
I was hesitant to write Tricia using her e-mail, so I composed a nice letter the old fashioned way. I congratulated her on her victory and told her I thought that she deserved to win, because she was the most beautiful girl on the stage. I also congratulated her on her courage to wear her glasses, and I said that I thought she was just as gorgeous wearing glasses as she would be without.
I didn’t get a reply for a while, and I had almost given up. Tricia went on to win the Tri State beauty contest, but she only came in third in the Nationwide one. I thought she should have won Nationwide, and I was disappointed that she didn’t. I had seen another interview with her on another show, and while she had been given the clearance from her eye doctor to go back to wearing contact lenses, Tricia had decided that she would see if she could reach the top wearing glasses. Unfortunately she hadn’t. When the interviewer had asked Tricia why she had decided that, Tricia had replied that she had received so many letters of encouragement from people who wore glasses that she didn’t want to disappoint the people who had supported her.
As Christmas approached, I was surprised to receive an early Christmas card. When I opened it, there was a thank you note for my kind comments from Tricia Howard, along with an apology that she had not responded before. But, what threw me for a loop was the part of the note that said: ‘ ps. Are you the same Billy Smith that was in Mrs. Longs class at Flagstaff Elementary?”
Yes, that was me. I was, and I still am Bill Smith. And I attended Flagstaff Elementary from kindergarten until grade 5, when my parents moved to Kingman. But, how the heck could she know? Now the tables were turned. Did she know me? Did she know someone who knew me? I had gone to kindergarten and grade 1 with a pretty little girl who wore very thick glasses, but her name was Lynn Courtwright. Lynn and I were good friends, and when we were in school together I had often fantasized about growing up and marrying Lynn. But then Lynn had moved away, and I had no idea where she had gone. I was confused, and this was going to require a quick answer, as I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer. So, I looked up the phone number I had gotten for Tricia, and I dialed the number. The phone rang, and a cheerful female voice answered.
“ Is this Tricia Howard?” I asked.
“Yes, it is. How may I help you?” Tricia asked with a questionable note in her voice.
“I received your card in the mail today. It is Bill Smith, and I just have to know how you could possibly know that I was in Mrs. Long’s class at Flagstaff Elementary?” I told her.
“Does the name Lynn Courtwright mean anything to you?” Tricia asked.
“Of course it does. Lynn was my best friend back then. I think I was in love with Lynn and I was heartbroken when she moved away. I still think of her and wonder what happened to her. Do you know Lynn? Do you know where I can find her?” I asked.
“Yes, I do know her, and yes I know where she is.” Tricia answered.
“Could you give her my number, and ask her to call me. I would love to see her again. I would even settle for just talking to her.” I said.
“Well Billy, you are talking to her right now.” Tricia said.
“You are Lynn?” was all that I could say.
“ Yes I am. My mom’s name was Patricia Ann, and I was Patricia Lynn. Since mom was called Pat, she and dad used my middle name. But, when I moved to Phoenix, everyone tried to call me by my first name, so I decided to go by Tricia instead of Patty, Then, when dad died, and mom married John Howard, John adopted me legally, and I took his last name. So that is how Lynn Courtwright became Tricia Howard.” Tricia said.
“This is wonderful. I have thought about you so many times over the years. I can’t believe that you have grown up into such a beautiful lady though. Can we get together over the holidays?” I said.
Tricia agreed that we would meet during our 2-week break. I told her that this was the best present I had ever been given, and that I longed to see her again.
We had agreed that I would drive to Phoenix. Since I was a student at the university, Tricia arranged for me to use her residence room. She was in a mixed dorm, and while the idea of a male staying over in her room while she was in attendance was not permitted, since she was going to be with her parents over the holidays, they allowed me to stay in her room. So, I drove down to Phoenix, picked Tricia up at her parent’s place, and we went to get me settled. As I drove over to the campus with Tricia sitting beside me I couldn’t stop myself from looking at her. Finally she told me to quit staring, and watch where I was driving, so I had to force myself to concentrate on the road. Tricia was easy to talk to, and it seemed that we had been close friends for years, with no prolonged interruption. By the time I was settled in her room I knew I loved her. But, there had been a picture of another guy in her room. She had looked at it, and had turned it face down on the dresser.
“Your boyfriend?” I asked.
“He was, until I couldn’t wear my contacts anymore. I am having a hard time getting over his shallowness.” Tricia replied quietly.
“His loss, my gain. I’ll never let you have another boyfriend. You are my girl now.” I replied.
“Not so fast Billy. I have missed you, and I have thought about you a lot over the years. But you had better back off a bit, and let me get to know you again.” Tricia warned me.
“Ok, that is fair enough. I guess I am just so thrilled to find you again that I can’t think of anyone else I would rather be with.” I replied.
The week that I spent with Tricia went way too fast. A couple of nights when we went out, Tricia wore her contacts, but most of the time she was content to wear glasses. I made sure that I complimented her on her looks either way, and I think she felt very comfortable with me. I hoped that by the end of the week Tricia would feel as strongly that I was the right man for her as I felt towards her. But, I took her warning to heed, and I didn’t pressure her. All too soon it came time for me to leave, and return to my own campus.
“When can I see you again?” I asked.
“We can get together for reading week. Do you ski?” Tricia asked.
“Sure do. Been doing a lot of boarding the last couple of years though. How about you?” I asked.
“Just skiing is enough for me. If I come up to Flag do you want to spend a day on the slopes?” Tricia asked.
Sure, I’d love it. All I have to do is find you a place to stay. Will you want me to come down to pick you up?” I asked.
“No, I can drive. My eyesight is more than good enough for driving, although I usually restrict myself to driving in daylight.” Tricia replied.
So, Tricia came up to Flagstaff, and we spent a couple of days on the slopes. I was surprised that Tricia was a fairly good skier, but she explained that her adoptive father had skied a lot, and so she also learned to ski. This was the first time she had skied here though, as previously she had skied in rim country, which of course is closer to Phoenix. I had not been too surprised when Tricia chose to wear contacts while she was on the slopes. It can be quite a problem wearing glasses while skiing. But, she did wear her glasses enough to satisfy me. One of the things we did was look up our old grade school teacher, and we had a pleasant, short visit with Mrs. Long, who I don’t think remembered me. However, Tricia was wearing glasses for our visit, and our old teacher remembered her well.
Winter turned in to spring, and we were both very busy with our final exams. We were both graduating, and we wanted to have the best possible marks at the end of the year. So, our time together was limited. But, Tricia had tentatively been hired as the assistant personnel manager at a firm in Phoenix, so I naturally restricted my job search to that area. With all the construction going on in the region it was not a problem for an engineer to get a job, so I accepted an entry level civil engineering job with a sewer and water main construction company. The pay wasn’t wonderful, but it did allow me to move to be closer to Tricia.
Of course, while I had taken her warning to not push her too much to heart, I couldn’t resist suggesting that we rent an apartment together. I suggested a 2 bedroom, so that she would feel less pressure, but I don’t think that part of it worked. She would not commit, and I was getting tired of living in a rented room, so finally I told Tricia that I was renting an apartment with or without her, and while she had first choice of the second bedroom, if she didn’t decide soon, I was going to advertise for a roommate. She left it right until the last minute to decide to move in with me. But what I didn’t expect was that she really did move into the second bedroom.
Well, I figured that if this was the game she wanted to play, I would go along with her. So we divided up the chores around the apartment, and I made sure that I did exactly what was required of me in the housekeeping and cleaning department. It was hard. On a Friday evening after work we would usually go out for dinner together, and if the mood was right we would go to a show. Tricia always insisted on paying her fair share, and when we arrived back at the apartment we would do a little petting on the couch in the living room, but we always went to bed in our separate rooms. And we spent most of the weekend together. Sometimes we would visit with her parents, once in a while we would drive to Bullhead, to visit my mom, and often we would go hiking in the areas around the city. In the summer we spent a lot of time on the lakes north of the city, or else we swam a lot in the apartment pool.
Finally I had enough of the relationship. It seemed to be stalled. So, one weekend, after we had had a fun filled Saturday, I suggested to Tricia that we needed to talk seriously about our relationship.
“I love you, and I want very badly to take things to the next level Tricia, but I keep getting the feeling that you are not as interested in me as I am in you.” I told her.
“I think I love you as well Billy, but I am all mixed up. Sometimes I want to slip into your bedroom, and curl up with you while you sleep, but I am afraid to do that.” Tricia replied.
“Girl, I’d give anything to have you do that. You told me not to rush you, so I have been trying as hard as I could to let you come to your own decision about what level you want our relationship to go to next. I have been ready to go on for a few months now, but I have been biding my time.” I replied.
“What is your eventual idea of where this relationship should go?” Tricia asked.
“I want to marry you, and live with you forever.” I replied.
“Well, there is one little problem. I have a decision to make, and you may not still want to marry me after I make it.” Tricia said.
“Share it with me, and let me decide for myself.” I said.
“You may have noticed that I have been wearing my glasses more and more recently.” Tricia said.
“Yes, I have and I must say I love it when you wear your glasses.” I replied.
“Therein lies the problem. My eyes are becoming more and more intolerant to my contact lenses. I have tried different brands and types of lenses, but my prescription is so strong I have limited options, and now I have run out of different lenses to try. My doctor has suggested that I have the inner lens in my eye removed, and replaced with a lens implant. The chances are good that I would be free from glasses or contact lenses for the rest of my life.” Tricia said.
I almost choked when I heard that. “ Well, I am most attracted to you when you are wearing your glasses, but I don’t think that I would not want to marry you if you didn’t wear glasses anymore. What is the worst case scenario?”
“Worst case is that I could end up blind. Best case is that I would be free from glasses or contacts forever.” Tricia said.
“What do you want to do?” I asked.
“I have mixed emotions. I have worn glasses for so long that they are a part of me. But for the last 10 years I almost never went out in public wearing glasses. I don’t feel as pretty wearing these strong myodiscs.” Tricia replied.
“Why not go for a few months wearing glasses, and see how you feel then?” I suggested.
“I thought of that, and I think that is probably the best idea.” Tricia replied.
I knew that Tricia had a computer in her room, and that she had a fan web site from when she was in the beauty pageants. So I asked. “ Have you asked your fans what they think of you never having to wear glasses again?”
“Yes, I have, and the reaction was pretty negative. A lot of young girls look up to me because I managed to do so well in the beauty contest when I wore my glasses. And a lot of these fans wear glasses themselves. Actually, I think that pretty well all of them wear glasses.” Tricia replied.
“So, it wouldn’t be just me that you were disappointing then.” I said with a chuckle in my voice.
“No, it would be a whole lot of 15 to 20 year old girls as well. So, I think I will give it 6 months, and see how I feel then.” Tricia replied.
I was on pins and needles for the next 6 months. Every time I looked at Tricia, looking so beautiful wearing her strong myodisc lensed glasses I almost cried at the thought that I might never see this again. I did my best to keep my opinion to myself. However, I am afraid that I too made a decision. I agonized for a long time about it. And I waffled back and forth more than a few times, but finally I realized that if Tricia had the operation, I was going to have to leave her. As beautiful, and as nice a person as she was, I didn’t think I could stand looking at her without glasses for the rest of my life. I called myself a shallow SOB, and I tried to rationalize my thoughts. But, every time my decision came back telling me that I had to cut her loose.
As the six month period came closer I reached a point where I could no longer stand it. I had to know what she had decided. So, one evening after a great supper I came right out and asked her what she was going to do.
“Tricia, have you decided what you are going to do about having the operation on your eyes?” I asked point blank.
“I have decided that I would put it off for now. I have been doing fine wearing my glasses. My vision is really quite good, considering the strength of my glasses. All my girls on my fan site want me to keep wearing glasses, and I am pretty sure that you have decided to dump me if I get my eyes fixed.” Tricia said.
“I hadn’t realized that I was so transparent about it. I am sorry.” I replied.
“No, you weren’t. I just made a lucky guess right now.” Tricia laughed.
“Well, you caught me.” I replied.
“If I don’t get my eyes fixed, you have to do two things for me.” Tricia said.
What are they?” I asked.
“Well, the first thing you have to do is ask me to marry you.” Tricia said.
“Did my ears just play a trick on me. I thought I heard you tell me that I had to ask you to marry me. If this is true, I better do it right now. Tricia Howard, will you marry me?” I asked.
“Yes.” Tricia replied.
“Now that that is settled, what is the second thing?” I asked.
“My doctor told me that there is always a possibility that the inner lenses in my eyes might get thicker. If this happens I could reach a point where my vision is no longer correctable with glasses. If it reaches this point I would have to have my inner lenses replaced, and then I might not have to wear glasses again. I need to know where you would stand if this happened to me.” Tricia said.
“That is an easy question to answer. If it were a choice between you being able to see properly, or not being able to see at all, I would definitely tell you to go ahead with the operation. Right now your vision is good with glasses, so to me it would be a terrible thing to have an operation, but I would still love you every bit as much if you had to have the operation to save your eyesight.” I replied.
“Well, you gave me the right answer Billy.” Tricia replied.
That night we slept together for the first time. Once the lights went out, Tricia allowed me to remove her glasses, but all we did was hug, and kiss. Tricia was not into premarital sex. I had thought it would be a pretty good idea though.
Our wedding was a small affair. We invited a few friends of ours from university, and after the wedding reception Tricia and I flew to Hawaii for a week of fun in the sun. But it rained a lot so we got to spend a lot of time in the hotel room, and that was just as much fun. I found out that Tricia had a rule that I didn’t find hard to live with. When the lights were on, her glasses remained on her face. After dark, when the lights went out, I was allowed to remove her glasses, and place them carefully on the table beside her bed. I made sure I always followed this rule.