In the dairy industry, they call it Grand Champion; the cow with the nicest shaped udder, well-placed teats, and a strong dairy build. The judge also looks for a securely attached udder (if I was a cow, I’d be valuing that too…).
In the sheep industry, there’s the Supreme Ram, Ewe or Prime Lamb; judged on structural soundness or wool quality.
In humans, there’s Fashion on the Field.
We go to our local races each year, and every November as I get ready for our day out, I realise I have nothing much to wear and certainly no two coordinating accessories. This year I decided would be different.
I had bought a dress online a while back because it looked cool. And every girl needs a one-off purchase of a cool-looking dress with no occasion in mind.
Last week I stuffed it in a bag and took it to a hat shop where I fell in love with a fascinator that matched. At the cash register I picked myself up off the ground and handed over my card, reassuring myself that an old dress deserves a new fascinator.
Remember the nude wedges? I fished them out of the same bag and held them up in a shoe shop to see if the shop assistant snorted and asked where I got those old things. She didn’t. (This was good; I’d just put all my money towards a fascinator that I was carrying in a paper bag in front of me like it was made of the finest shards of Swarovski crystal.)
Now I just needed a bag. In the next shop the lady took my nude wedge (she didn’t laugh) and held it in front of various bags covered in large gold buckles, clasps and/or chains. I told her I wasn’t into buckles, clasps or chains.
Eventually we agreed on a plain clutch. Never owned a clutch. Never felt old enough.
So on race morning I put it all together and off we went for a great day out while Elsie and Maeve had a sleepover with their grandparents.
Did I mention we had a fun day out?
There was a moment early in the afternoon when a couple of beautiful girls descended on our marquee with a clipboard and handed me the number 53 on a piece of card. That was my number for Fashions on the Field. I was to be exhibit 53 – like you see clipped on the livestock pens at Sheepvention or International Dairy Week. I thought about popping the card in my clutch and leaving it there. But in a small town you support things. Sometimes because you should and sometimes because they’re going to be fun. I went it in because I felt I should. It’s all about numbers in small towns and if our own race day event was struggling for numbers, I didn’t think I could say plainly, ‘I don’t want to go in it.’ Imagine how our town’s kinder, schools, sporting clubs and events would go if people said plainly, ‘I don’t want to go in it.’
It all felt a bit ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’ to me. And as the question was being asked, up onto the platform I climbed and stood before the crowd at the track fence. And for a moment I felt a little bit like a sheep in pen 53 who’d been contentedly eating a little container of grain and enjoying his day before he got lead across a stage with a halter to have his characteristics and appearance judged.
As for my dress, every girl knows the importance of being able to wear a dress again (think of four bridesmaids walking down the aisle at a wedding – “Oh they look gorgeous! AND they’ll be able to wear it again.” Uh huh. Whatever…).
Well I get to enjoy it if for a lot longer yet:
Next year, I’m buying a clutch big enough to hold a big pump pack of Hamilton sunscreen.