The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres


11 years and 6 days old. Cub Scouts. Competition for Best Halloween Costume.

I knew I was the best looking wizard who had ever paraded the scout hall. I was so proud of the outfit my mother had made for me, especially the cape with its golden swirls – it was a regal cape, a cape worthy of the King of all wizards. I pitied the other boys in their substandard attire, and the cheats who had bought their gear from the shop. Mine was the finest, the greatest, the most splendid of all Halloween Costumes and I knew I was going to win.

I didn’t win.

I didn’t come second.

I didn’t even come third.


Oh the pain, the hurt, the humiliation.

Be gracious in defeat. Big boys don’t cry.

But my costume was the best. My mother was a greater designer and seamstress than anyone else's.

It wasn’t fair; the competition was rigged. They didn’t like the fact that my costume was so good it put everyone else to shame; they were uncomfortable that I had a girl’s name; and they hated me because I was English, growing up in a small Welsh village. It was nothing to do with who had the best costume and everything to do with the politics of exclusion. It was personal – they didn’t like me and despised everything I represented.

Move forward 28 years, 9 months, 3 weeks and 4 days. The results are in for a local Flash Fiction (200 words max) competition I entered. The winning entry, out of 80 or so submissions, was ok I suppose, if you like that kind of tightly written, multi-layered, meaningful prose. However, even allowing for variations in personal taste, I should have come in the top 3. But to not even be included in the 10 runners up, well, that almost feels personal.

Of course I’m an adult now. I’m not 11 years old. I am gracious in defeat. Am I bothered? Do I look bothered?


34quinn said...

HI kim,

I understand contests and competitions everyone enters them obviously in hopes of winning.

We can't all win or sometimes even place even when we believe we should. ( favortism, politics, bad judges, or even an off day.

So, just as in our karate world, when all is said and done and the competition is over it all comes down to this.......

Did you do your best?, are you happy with your performance? was there anything you would do differently? and most importantly did you have fun doing it?

I love to read your writings Kim, keep at it for you and for us !!!

Dr Maroon said...

I agree with the above.
Now, stop being coy.
Print the winning entry and yours side by side and let us be the judge. There is no harsher critic than your friends.
Anyhoo, who were the judges? did they read all the entries? did they read them at the one go? Come on, console yourself with the fact that yours might have been read at 9 o'clock monday morning. Was the winner a judges relative?

Or was your entry really awful?

SafeTinspector said...

I dunno. Can we read your entry?
*reserving judgement*

Kim Ayres said...

Hmmm, this was supposed to be a bit tongue in cheek. Of course you always get a pang when you don't win something, but I was exaggerating somewhat for the fun of the blog entry. I wasn't actually expecting consolation comments...

34quinn said...

ooops. LOL.
* ahem* uh oh I knew that ..haha.

Anonymous said...

hello, my name is fancy-face and I just wanted to say to say hi, HI.and that I'm Quinns best buddy and that also my dad comes from Aberdeen Scotland...

Stella said...

LOL Kim. Of course we understand - we KNOW your Halloween Costume was the BEST and we KNOW your fiction piece was the BEST. You're NOT paranoid, they ARE all out to get you!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh the humiliation. I know it well. About the same age. First big Judo contest. Parents watching in the huge crowd expecting me to wow them with a victory. A guy half my size as opponent. Match begins. Couldn't move him from the spot no matter what I tried (along with desperate leg sweeps at his legs) for several minutes. He just stared at me in blank defiance with a smirk as my expression changed to ever increasing panic at the humiliation, until he got me onto the floor and won. I walked off head low and saw my parents later on who gave me a very unconvincing - "Never mind. You did your best" pat on the back, which actually meant - "Jesus, you were useless, a total embarassment to us, and to think we've been sending you to Judo for a few years now". The trauma will live with me all of my life LOL

Sarah said...

NO! (ok, yes a little)

so can i read it?

Kim Ayres said...

Fancy-Face - Hello! So do you consider yourself Scottish, or Canadian?

Stella - well that's a relief then...

Anonymous - thank you for taking the time to comment. Those early humialtions are the ones that stick in the memories for sure.

I see you've posted a couple of comments on an earlier post too - at least I'm guessing it was you. could you leave some kind of signature, even if it's a single initial so that in future I can separate you from any other anonymous commenters? Thanks

Sarah - if you're really desperate, email me. If I'd won then I would have posted it in all it's glory. But having not even gotten a mention I don't particularly relish the idea of putting it out for public consumption

Gyrobo said...

It could've been worse. They could have poured paint on you and made you dance for hours.

Mark Williams said...

I think the only good thing about competitions is experiencing the buzz of hope before the results are announced. That can be quite sustaining. The anguish of not getting anywhere is a serious downside. It's a bit humiliating really. As for literary competitions, the payoff is having a deadline to act as a goad. At least as a result of competitons you might have produced a work that might have been indefinitely procrastinated over. I certainly use competitions in this way. No, just in case you ask, I've never won anything. It's a bleeding lottery, mate.

Kim Ayres said...

Gyrobo - I take it you're talking from experience, in which case you have my sympathies.

Mark - You're right - at least it forces us to stop procastinating with our blogs... oh...

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