Southern Fried Austen

Dumb as …

After lunch, Darcy drove Lizzy and Jane back to Crowns R Us. Before they went into the building, he got a satchel from his trunk. Lizzy watched him and whispered to him as they walked down the hallway to the mirrored room.

Lizzy: What’s in the bag?

Darcy: You’ll see. Curiosity killed the cat.

Curiosity cat

Lizzy: Who’s cat?

Darcy: It’s a proverb from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Lizzy: Cats have nine lives. I guess we could call Wickham Curious George. He always seems to land on his feet.

Darcy: Huh? I’m not followin’ your logic. What does any of that have to do with curiosity?

Lizzy: Nothin’. I was talkin’ about cats, and then I thought about “curious.” Wickham’s name is George, and that led to Curious George. He’s a monkey. I got one for Christmas when I was little.

Darcy: Are you on ADHD meds?

Lizzy: What’s that supposed to mean? You don’t like the way my mind works?

Darcy: You’re so thin-skinned, it’s just barely enough to keep you from bleedin’ to death. That’s a joke. You know I love the way your mind works. Conversing with you is always fun. You’d drive a statue crazy. (Darcy opens the door.)

Lizzy: I knew it was a joke. It’s been around since Jesus was a baby. You must think I’m dumber than a fence post. Thanks for holding the door for me, darlin’.

Darcy: What do you think, Jane? Doesn’t she drive you crazier than a bedbug when she jumps from one topic to another?

Jane: I don’t have a dog in this fight, so don’t bring me into it. I have to live with her, and my mama didn’t raise an idiot.

Lizzy: We’ll continue this conversation when one of us isn’t loaded up on “I graduated from Harvard” soup.

Darcy: What’s that supposed to mean?

Lizzy: You’re actin’ like I’m so dumb I think Cheerios are donut seeds.

Darcy: That’s dumber than a barrel of spit and about half as useful.

Mrs. Young: Mz Clay is ready for you now. You can go on back.

Jane: Thank you kindly.

(Jane, Lizzy, and Darcy walk down the hallway.)

Lizzy: So, you think I’m few bubbles off plumb.

Darcy: No. I think what you said about me was uncalled for. I don’t think I’m smarter than you are, and I’ve never acted like I think that.

Lizzy: You knew what “a few bubbles off plumb” meant?

Darcy: My dad loves to build things, and when I was growin’ up, I helped him. He used a carpenter’s leveler all the time. He’d never so much as hang a picture on the wall without it.

Lizzy: Now I feel dumb as a cabbage.

Darcy: My grandma’s cat had her kittens in the oven when I was little. That didn’t make them muffins. You aren’t dumb. Now, go in there and knock Mz Clay dead. (Darcy opens the door.) I’ll be right back.

Lizzy:  Where’re you goin’?

Darcy: I have to drop the Browns off at the Super Bowl.

Lizzy: (laughing) But you promised you’d be with me during these consultations.

Darcy: You got that joke? I’ll be so fast, you won’t have time to miss me.

Lizzy: Of course, I got that joke. This is the South. Girls down here know their football.

Mz Clay: Come right in, ladies. Hel-lo, handsome. And who might you be?

Lizzy: He might be Will Darcy, but he’s better known as my boyfriend. I’m Lizzy Bennet, and this is my sister Jane.

(Darcy leaves.)

Mz Clay: Oh, I see. My name’s Penelope, but you can call me Penny. Let’s get right to work then. Where’s he goin’?

Lizzy: He’ll be right back. He’s gone to the Oval office.

Penny: The Oval office?

Lizzy: (singing) To da dump! To da dump! To da dump, dump, dump!

Jane: He’s seated on the throne of the tiny town of Toilet.

Penny: Oh! He went to the bathroom!

Lizzy: Yes, if you want to be crude. Can we just get started with the coachin’ and discuss my boyfriend’s personal habits later? I mean, you’re coachin’ us, not him.

Penny: Certainly. Who’s first? You, Lizzy? Or do you need some time to think up other ways to insert the words “my boyfriend” into the conversation?

Lizzy: Boy, when you got nothin’ to say, you just go ahead and say it.

Penny: A bit of free advice – don’t use that attitude in your interview or pageant questions. Come on, Jane. You must be a saint to put up with her. Bless your heart.

(Darcy walks back in and sits on the couch with Lizzy.)

Jane: It’s mighty kind of you to bless my heart, but I don’t need your blessin’ if you think you can talk about my sister to me. She’s just very direct. In her mind, it saves problems later. You were lookin’ at her boyfriend like you were starvin’ and he was the only steak for miles around, and she staked a claim. I’d do the same if you acted that way with my Charlie. But, you know what? Go ahead and try to flirt with Darcy. I have an idea he can take care of it himself. You wouldn’t be the first woman who threw herself at him. He loves Lizzy so much, he’d drink her bath water.

Darcy: (Puts his arm around Lizzy and whispers in her ear.) I go to the bathroom for a few minutes, and you girls establish battle lines. Should I check out back for a pod? I’m pretty sure some alien took over your sister’s body.

Lizzy: That coach is a bad Penny, and I have a feelin’ she’s goin’ to keep turnin’ up like one.

(Darcy unpacks and sets up his gear, and then stands beside it. Lizzy joins him.)

Penny: What’s all that?

Darcy: I’d like to take video and stills of the session, if it’s okay with you. I want to document Lizzy’s and Jane’s way through the entire pageant process. It should be good, especially since neither of them has ever entered a pageant before.

Penny: It’s okay with me, honey.

Darcy: Then, if you don’t mind, would you sign these papers for me? I need your legal permission to use this footage later, if I decide to put together a presentation of any sort.

Penny: I don’t mind at all, darlin’. Just hand it here, along with a pen.

Lizzy: (under her breath) If she bats her false eyelashes any faster we can cut off the air conditioner and use her for a fan.

Penny: There you go, sugar. Can I help you with anything else? Anything at all?

Lizzy: (muttering) Back off, Barbie, or I’ll snatch you bald.

Darcy: No, Penny. I think that’s all I need. Lizzy takes good care of me, but thanks for offering. If I need help, she can handle it.

Katherine Webb

Here is a good example of a swimsuit pose in an evening gown.


Penny: Here’s my card. Call me any time, sweetie. Now, Jane, show me your walk. Nice, but we need to work on those turns and poses. This isn’t the same as swimsuit walkin’, precious. Let me remind you what’s good for swimsuit. You shift on your feet with your hands high on your hips, accentuating your waist and torso by turning your upper body. Elbows behind you. Head straight up – not forward. Stop in a T stance, like this. Think of your shoulders and head touching a wall behind you. Walk with one foot in front of the other to make you look slimmer and curvier. Present your hip to the judges, like this. If your left side is toward the judges, pop your left leg. Reverse that when your right side is to the judges. Stop with one foot perpendicular to the other, like this. Bend the knee facing the judges a little and point that toe. Your arms should be held at a 45 degree angle from your body. Swing, but don’t flail, your arms. When you leave the stage, take two steps toward the judges. Then make a half circle when you leave. Swimsuit is projecting that you’re having fun. It’s a little freer than the other walks. Lift your head with a big smile. Swimsuit is all about personality. It’s faster. Use a little laugh. I’m stressing little. Use that little laugh once in swimsuit and once in gown. When you hit your mark, smile, but before you leave the stage, smile big. It needs to grow. Show that you’re confident. Relax.

Gown stance

Proper gown stance


The walk is a bit different in a gown. They’re looking for a queen. Don’t forget that. You are presenting yourself as their representative for the next year. Everything is done with purpose, but very slowly. You must look like you know what you’re doing. Put your hands further down, and drop your hands when you walk. Let them swing just a little. Be loose, but hold those shoulders back. Don’t slump. Posture is very important in both walks, but in gown, you can’t leave your feet shoulder-width apart like that when you pose. Keep moving. Think of fluid flowing across the floor. Lengthen your legs in a controlled walk. Don’t stiffen your arms, but use smaller movements. When you hit your mark, bring one hand to your hip at the same time you put your toe in front. It’s all one movement. Keep one hand on your hip when you turn. And step and turn. Gracefully. Head up. Remember your posture. Let the dress flow around you. Fully extend your legs, heel touches the floor first, then toe, heel – toe.  Turn your head as you walk, not your torso, and watch the judges. You’re in the zone. Keep eye contact with the judges. Look into each judge’s eyes at least once, and hold them. Smile! Not too big at first. Relax your mouth when you turn around. Smile again when they can see your face, but it must look natural. Be sure to put petroleum jelly on your teeth so your mouth won’t dry out. If it does, your lips will stick to your teeth. You can’t smile with a dry mouth. Cotton mouths are for snakes and Lizzys – er, lizards.

Lizzy: (whispering) Did she just call me a snake? The last time I saw a mouth as big as hers, it had a hook in it.

Darcy: You listened to all that jabber, and that’s all you got out of it? She’s going to grease your teeth, and you’re worried about her calling you names?

Lizzy: You must think I’m dumb as a coal bucket. I heard every word she said, and I’ll rock that walk. I’m already a queen. I don’t care what she calls me, as long as you call me and don’t call her.

Darcy: I’m young, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I’m not dumb enough to trade a diamond for paste. Haven’t you figured it out yet? I love you.

Lizzy: I love you, too. Why’d you tell me here when you can’t kiss me in public?

Darcy: I can kiss you anytime and anywhere I want.

Lizzy: Oh, my!

Penny: (clearing her throat) Lizzy, I hate to break up this special moment, but I’m ready for you.

Darcy: Penny, right now I’m wishin’ and hopin’ you don’t get anything for Christmas. (muttering) Her voice would chip paint.

Lizzy: (Giggling and whispering in his ear) Now, Darcy. Be nice to the girl. You just licked the red off her candy.

Darcy: I’d rather unclog a toilet with my bare hands than put my mouth near anything of hers. What’re you doing with that paper and pen?

Lizzy: I’m making you another list.

Darcy: Hold on, Penny! She’ll be there in a minute!



13 thoughts on “Southern Fried Austen

    1. Laura Hile

      And who knew there was so much to remember? Turn here, smile there, relax your expression when you turn away from the judges–and, presumably, the cameras?

      I’ll be watching pageants with a new set of eyes after this.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Laura Hile

          They’ve used up their daily allotment of brain power on “Turn and walk to center stage, shoulders back, chin up but not jutting, heel-toe, arms at 45 degree angle to hips…”

          I would be toast as a pageant girl.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Robin Helm Post author

            Gayle, Layne (our sister), and I all did it. It wasn’t quite as complicated then, and nobody wore bikinis. We weren’t coached.

            Both of my daughters were coached. I watched all of their sessions. Wow!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Laura Hile

              I don’t have that “body intelligence” as far as coordination goes. One season in Drill Team about did me in. Learning those routines took effort!

              Yeah, I’d rather learn another language than learn a dance routine.

              Liked by 1 person

      1. Robin Helm Post author

        There are also different walks for the different pageant circuits. In other words, what works for the Miss America pageants doesn’t work for Miss USA or Miss Universe. Those are all separate. I didn’t get into that in this post because it’s so complicated.

        It’s a great deal to remember.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Robin Helm Post author

          Contestants have to learn a different opening dance routine for every pageant. Pageants are themed. The girls have to come up with a costume to match the theme, too. It’s not cheap.


  1. Laura Hile

    Apparently I’ve been walking all wrong in a bathing suit.

    I should be projecting that I’m having fun? Instead of, you know, making a fast break for the concealment of the surf or the deep end?

    Poor Penny, always making a play for the younger man! If she bats her false eyelashes any faster we can cut off the air conditioner and use her for a fan. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Robin Helm Post author

      There are women like that. We all know them.

      I haven’t put on a swimsuit in about 10 years. If I keep losing weight, I may just bust all out and buy one. We’ll have a trauma team standing by for me – and the onlookers.

      I started to change that sentence to, “we can turn off the air conditioner,” but I decided to leave it in Southern. You’re going to be fluent in SouthSpeak.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. tgruy

    Love it, love it, love it!! But I’m with Laura in that I would never be able to remember all that… Or walk that way either… And I loved the expressions! Especially the last steak and the red of the candy. Oh my stars! I had to stop eating I was laughing so hard!

    Liked by 1 person


Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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