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Lessone learned: Don't stuff your bra, and stick to one hairpiece

By Vicki Charmaine Bunch

AUGUST 3, 1998:  Love lesson #69. Most romance experts beat you over the head with emotion. Not me. To me, love is a lark. A laughing kookaburra. A circling vulture. Take my date with Pooky Wellington, a date that changed my life.

Pooky was a 17-year-old god, voted Most Handsome at my high school three years in a row. A catalogue model for Sears, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward, his specialty was men's briefs. When he asked me to the prom, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

In our home there was never enough money. My job at the gator farm barely brought in enough to pay for Mama's electroshock. When Daddy caught me at a strip club amateur night trying to win the $25 to pay for my prom dress, he broke down and cried. The next day he showed up at a local music store decked out as Liverace, a Liberace look-alike. It was his ticket to stardom and I got my dress. My formal - all the way from Hurst - was the color of orange sherbet. (I would later wear it as my wedding dress!)

Pooky, who had inherited over a thousand dollars from his grandmother, bought the biggest corsage they had at the Piggly Wiggly. He was regal in a blue paisley tux and pink cummerbund. He wore a monocle and flaming red sneakers.

The prom, at the ritzy Flamingo Ballroom out on Highway 6, was everything I'd ever dreamed of. As if to confirm the adage about the sow's ear, however, I spent the evening balancing three hairpieces on my head - an auburn chignon, a cascade of golden ringlets, and a platinum blond I-Dream-of-Jeanie braid. I felt like Cinderella, except Mama said I could stay out till 4 a.m.

Worrying runs in my family but on prom night I was burdened with an unusually heavy phobic load. My biggest fear - next to head lice - has always been shaking my booty in public. What if we had to do the monkey or the swim? What if Pooky did the splits and ripped his pants?

Worst of all was the thought of getting a run in my stockings. That's why I tucked two pair of extra panty hose down the front of my dress. As Pooky escorted me onto the dance floor, I was pretty sure my deodorant had quit working. The cascade was hanging by a bobby pin. Pooky held me so tight I could barely breathe.

"You're smashing my snapdragons," I sputtered.

In those days we knew little of sex fiends. Like a calculating frat rat, Pooky stepped on my toe, immobilizing me, and attached his mouth to my neck like one of those fish that sucks the slime off the sides of the aquarium.

"Stop it!" I said, slapping the top of his meticulously coifed head. "I have a pageant next week! I'll be disqualified if I get a hickey."

The cad squeezed even tighter. Suddenly I felt a terrible stab. The corsage pin! Impaled like a moth in a bug collection, I blacked out - the lack of oxygen combined with a puncture wound. But that was nothing compared to the humiliation I was about to suffer. Days later my best friend Brandi filled me in on what happened while I was unconscious. "Mr. Jones pushed his way through the crowd like a knight in shining armor," she said.

Mr. Jones, the gymnastics coach, had been required to take a semester of first aid in college. "This dress is too tight," he said. "We've got to give her air."

That's when one of my so-called friends, Barbara Knight, unzipped my dress and the panty hose fell out. When I woke up, everybody was staring at my chest in shock.

It was so traumatic, I withdrew from the Miss Goat Head pageant.

Even thinking about it today makes me feel like I've been run over by an 18-wheeler. A lot of you readers are probably crying. I only hope my story has helped you. The point is to never wear more then one hair piece at a time, don't stuff your bra, and think twice before going out with an underwear model.

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