Two years ago I promised myself that I would someday enter the Saloon Girl Contest for Honoka‘a’s Western Week. I already had the boots. Cowgirl boots are very important for this contest and I found the perfect pair at St. James Thrift Shop in Waimea. Alas, I didn’t have the rest of the costume that year. But I’ve been toying with the idea ever since; toying as in telling myself to do it and then arguing that it would be a bad idea. But on the chance that I will, I’ve been buying pieces that might make a costume to go with the boots.
I enjoyed the contest last year, witnessing it for the first time in person. Our Councilwoman, Valerie hosted both the Fiddling & Banjo Competition and the Saloon Girl Contest. Turns out she was the first saloon girl winner some years ago. As I watched, my brain went into overdrive: “I could compete! Why not give it a try? Yes. No. Who the hell do you think you are? I’m as good as anybody else.” I had another year to ponder.
Meanwhile, I found a cowboy hat. What I really need is a couple of large rose colored feathers for my hair, but a cowboy hat will do in a pinch. It was at Chi Chi LaFong’s, one of my favorite thrift shops in Honoka‘a Town. Their logo is Endangered Clothing and Vintage Books, and they have a unique way of displaying their wares – by color! I found the hat in the rose/pink section.
This shop is a branch of Mama’s Thrift Store in Kona. The manager told me they bring all their best clothing here. And they support recovery from addictions on island, so my money goes to a worthy cause.
But boots and a hat do not make a costume. I bought a little black dress at St. James that could pass for a saloon girl dress with some work. Well, a lot of work. And now the contest had gone back to its original format – I also needed a talent to go with the costume. I’m not embarrassed to sing in public (though maybe I should be). So I envisioned a take-off on Nancy Sinatra’s “These boots are made for walkin’,” because these boots ain’t made for walkin’. I asked our local ukulele star, Brad Bordessa, to accompany me (he even has a CD!). He said yes, but I immediately felt stressed; I was now committed to writing the song.
Luckily within four weeks, I got crazy busy with a bunch of projects and I had no time to rework the black dress, re-envision and rewrite the song, or rehearse with Brad. I apologized to him and chickened out. (Phew!) Two weeks later, the next phase of the on-again-off-again saga was a brilliant flash for a song that I could sing a cappella. No rewrite or rehearsal time needed. Sorry Brad.
But I still didn’t have time to rework the dress. So I began to ambivalently nose around again. I checked out a new thrift shop in Honoka‘a, the Mad Hatter. A friend, Eliza, works there and became enthused about solving my problem. (Me and my big mouth.) The next Saturday, as I walked past the shop, I heard her call out to me – “Hey, I found it!” The “it” was a tiered black and rose skirt with a tight pink sweater as a bustier. The skirt was perfect and fit. I bought it. The sweater/bustier was a bust.
I couldn’t decide if I was happy about this great find or not. If I decided not to perform, I still had the lack of a bustier to save me. Until Friday. Sigh. In Kona for some work on my car, I was passing time at Goodwill. There it was – in black and rose. New, still with the tags; $5 dollars and it fit. I bought it. My costume was complete.
Just when I figured things couldn’t get better, that night at Honoka‘a’s First Friday, I found two large rose colored feathers at the Mad Hatter, perfect for my hair. They were a dollar, but I only had a twenty and she didn’t have change. So she said, “Take them and bring the dollar tomorrow.” Does this happen to anyone else?
Secondly, when you’re struggling with a decision, just get on with it — make it. Listen to your heart over your head, because the heart is likely to win anyway. It’ll save a lot of time.
Now is the time to be clear with myself: I’m entering the Saloon Girl Contest.
Stay tuned. If you are on island, be there to cheer me on, May 22, 5 pm, on the stage in the middle of Mamane Street. Does anyone have a feather boa I can borrow?
A big thank you to Sarah Anderson Photography for the use of her picture. Check out her website at www.sarahandersonhawaii.com.
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