We walked, in line, out onto the stage. There were 5 of us in the Figure Masters 35 and up division. Across the center of the stage, from left to right, there were crosses made from, what looked like, green masking tape approximately 2 feet apart. I knew, only from watching YouTube videos and from my posing coach that we were supposed to stand on the tape crosses so we would be evenly spaced out.
There are no instructions for this stuff. You are expected to know it. From what I’ve read, and been told, every show is different. The way things are laid out for each program are based on a number of different factors. A couple of these factors include: the venue (stage size, auditorium size), and how many competitors actually enter the contest.
I was right in the middle of the pack so I knew I would land on the center tape. As we walked I could feel the top line of Jo’s shoes dig into the skin on the top of my feet. I could feel that my heel was not even close to the edge of the back of the shoes. Even though I had fastened them using the very last notch, the ankle straps were loose. I felt like a little girl clomping around in her mother’s high heels! I wondered if the judges were thinking the same thing. I was awkward and it threw all my poses off.
In figure there are 3 mandatory poses. Front, side, and back. We started with our front pose and then someone called out, “quarter turn to the right.” We turned and executed pose. This happened over and over again until all the poses had been demonstrated the judges were satisfied.
Sometimes the judges will ask contestants to switch places so they can compare different people side by side. It seemed like we performed each pose about 2 or 3 times. Every time I tried to stick my back pose I could feel my shoulder blades poking out (Your shoulder blades are not supposed to stick out!!!) I couldn’t figure out how to quickly correct it. I was distraught! The only person who could yell corrections out to me was in the process of rushing to retrieve my forgotten shoes.
I don’t think we were on stage for even two minutes!
The second we walked off stage I could hear the “yelling man” screeching for me to get into my next lineup!
I was signed up to compete in 4 different categories. So this process happened 4 times, one right after the other. It’s all mixed up in my mind. I can’t distinguish one trip onto the stage from the rest. It’s all a blur. The time that passed from the moment I stepped on stage the first time to the moment I stepped off stage for the last time was maybe 10 minutes, 15 max.
And, that was it! I clomped back stage into the hallway where 15 minutes previously, I had tried to get my shit together. I took off Jo’s shoes.
When I looked up, Ben was standing there. For 1 second I was relieved. To see his face is almost always an instant stress reliever. But, as soon as he said, “Why haven’t you answered any of my calls or texts?” The pressure, the stress, all the feelings were back. Only this time it was a hundred times worse because if Ben wasn’t on my side none of this really mattered.
I was instantly upset because I couldn’t understand why he was so upset. So, I’m sure my tone of voice was riddled with irritation. I told him I couldn’t answer his texts or calls because I was on stage. Pre-judging was over, I was done!
He was holding a white, plastic, grocery store bag which contained my shoes. He dropped it and walked away.
I was hurt and confused! I couldn’t understand why he was so angry! “I” was the one who just made a fool of herself and completely screwed up!
At that point, we were in two separate worlds as far as communicating with and understanding each other. We weren’t even speaking the same language!
I had been so caught up in my own world of “competition prep” that I had completely lost sight of everything else around me! It was such a gradual process that I didn’t see it until it slapped me in the face. Everything had been shoved to the back burner. I knew I was doing this to some extent. And, to some extent, you have to do it. You can’t put in the time and effort for something like this and not have it impact other parts of your life! I just didn’t realize how much of a strain it was until that moment.
Ben and I were both hurt and we were going to let each other know it. Ben was done with me and, therefore, I was done with this competition! The stupid shoes were the last straw!
Thankfully my parents, and Granny were there. Ben was planning to drive back to Idaho Falls and leave me there to go home with them. My parents took Sam and Will to lunch and dropped me off at the hotel so Ben and I could talk. Luckily, his truck, was still in the parking lot of the hotel.
I went up to the room and we said a lot of angry and childish things to each other. Somehow he agreed to stay if I agreed to do the night show. I think he was more concerned about not letting down the people who traveled there to support me. I just wanted “us” to be OK.
By the time the night show rolled around we were acting civil to each other but I knew things were still not right. Ben parked the truck, didn’t offer to carry my bag, and walked a step ahead of me. My parents still had Sam and Will. I’m sure those boys wanted to stay as far away from our drama as possible!
My best friend, Sarah came to support me and I barely even said hello to her! I still feel bad about that.
When we got inside the school I just booked it backstage! I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone because I didn’t want to cry! I’m the type that if I’m upset and someone says, “Are you OK?” I won’t be able to stop the tears! I just wanted to sit backstage, not talk to anyone, and get it over with!
Unlike pre-judging, the night show seemed to take forever! I was ready for the night show. I had my own shoes strapped on, I was completely glued into my suit, my tan was touched up, and I had eaten a few rice cakes and some peanut butter. I had time to pump up my muscles and time to practice my posing.
I also made a couple of friends and took in the backstage scene.
Cinnamon skin hugging silicone and hard muscled bodies crowded the backstage areas. Rhinestones, half consumed jars of peanut butter, gallon sized bottles of honey, bags of the type of candy I would’ve only consumed as a 10 year old, and multi colored exercise bands occupied every available surface.
There was no mistaking the athletes who were going to take home the larger trophies that evening and I took note of their backstage habits.
It was finally time for all the figure competitors to line up numerically for a solo trip to the front of the stage. We were supposed to walk out to front/center stage, pose a couple of times while the announcer quickly stated our name (and whatever else you wrote down for them to say), and then walk off the stage.
After that, if you placed in any of your categories, you were lined up and called back out to the stage to get your trophy. The top 5 in each category were awarded a trophy. I placed 5th in masters 35 and up, 5th in my open-class “B” (according to height), and 3rd in the true novice category. So, I walked out 3 more times to collect my hardware.
It was finally over! I wasn’t sure about what I was supposed to do next. I saw Jo and asked her if it was OK if we left (I was thinking in terms of etiquette). She was like, “of course!”
So I threw on my ratty, tan stained, tank top and yoga/sweat pants, stuffed my trophies, makeup, my infamous shoes, and my leftover rice cakes into my gym bag and headed out toward the front doors. I had butterflies in my stomach (not the good kind). I didn’t know where Ben and I were at, emotionally.
I located Sam. He told me congratulations and that he was going to home with my parents and Granny. I didn’t blame him! Then I spotted Ben. He looked sullen. He held up a finger and kept on walking hurriedly by.
That exchange told me all I needed to know.
I walked outside and noticed Will, my parents, and Granny at the end of the sidewalk near the parking lot ready to get on the road back to Idaho Falls. It was late.
When Ben made his way over to us I started to cry. The tension was thick. My parents asked if I wanted to get something to eat. I laughed. “No, I just want to go to bed,” I said. They said they were going to head out and they offered to take Will with them. We declined the offer and said our goodbyes.
Ben, Will, and I walked back to the truck in silence. Ben walked just a step ahead of me and did not offer to carry my bag. I felt like a fool.
I wanted to be proud of myself for accomplishing this goal, but in the scheme of life and my relationship with my favorite person, it didn’t matter. But, at the same time, it did matter because Ben and I are attracted to each other for who we are together and separately. And we admire each other for working hard and accomplishing our goals. There was no winning for either of us. We just had to battle it out, or not.
Back at the hotel we managed to say a few more horribly demeaning things to each other. The argument wasn’t going anywhere. We were both too angry and unwilling to see the other’s point of view. I’d had enough. I was exhausted and hungry. I grabbed the truck keys and said I was leaving. Ben stood up and said, “No you’re not!” as he tried to grab the keys. (My plan was to go get something to eat and then sleep in the truck in the hotel parking lot.) When he realized he wasn’t going to get the keys from me without a physical fight he backed off and said, “Where are you going to go?” I was like, “I don’t know.” “Well, you’re not taking my truck,” he said. And I said, “Fuck You!”
As soon as the words left my mouth Will started to giggle! Ben and I looked at each other and both started to laugh. We simultaneously realized how ridiculous we were acting. We hugged for a long time. Then, Ben said, “Let’s go get you something to eat.”
I showered first. It was like one of those showers you have after a weekend of camping in the dirt!
I had plans to go get after show treats between pre-judging and the night show. But, those plans were thwarted by the possibility that my marriage might be, “on the rocks!”
I previously spotted a Cheesecake Factory on Friday, when we were headed into town. I did a quick Google search and we were on our way!
Ben waited in the truck while Will and I went in to snag a couple of pieces. Will picked out a piece of Godiva (chocolate). I decided on a piece of Salted Caramel and also a piece of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
When we got back to the hotel I ate both of mine and half of Will’s! I slept better that night than I had in 6 weeks!