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?