They sang, danced, cheered and waved flags. Five little girls, ranging in age from five to ten, all competing to become either "Little Miss Firecracker" or "Miss Firecracker." It would be, I thought, a cute photo spread for the newspaper. There were no bathing suits, gowns or make-up in this contest and it was the farthest thing from a "child beauty pageant" as you can possibly imagine. It was the sort of thing you'd expect to see at a rural Independence Day celebration.
The "controversy" started the day before the event with an email referencing Jon Benet Ramsey and the negative impact of this "beauty contest" on local little girls. By the time I arrived to take photos, apparently word of the controversy and the letter had spread. Ah, life in a small town and how swiftly the rumor mill operates.
It even followed me home. As I began to work on photos, I could hear the dinging sound of arriving e-mails - and it continued throughout the day to the point where I felt like I was being stalked by an insane woman who made multiple accusations and then sent a final e-mail outlining precisely what I could not say in the article I would write about the competition: "...you will not make any indirect references, either, , such as: "Despite issues raised by some citizens..." or "The contest became slightly controversial..." or "The [newspaper] received at least one complaint..."
With every e-mail, I had to get up, leave the computer and go do something - like clean my kitchen - so I wouldn't respond in insane kind and tell her that I was no longer in middle school, hadn't been for a long time, and wasn't going to let her take me back to that level with her drama and insanity. My kitchen ended up being really, really clean.
It was enough that I gave serious thought to finding another job. I didn't. I also didn't put any of this in the article; I'm putting it all here. heh.
Anyway .. enough of the rant. Here they are. Very cute kids. The very ugly adults out of my system.