The following is an excerpt from Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in August.
Once I was a professional princess. At age four, I was chosen, out of a very competitive field, to represent my preschool in the Palmetto Avenue Neighborhood Association Parade as Princess Moonglow. At seven, I was both Fairyland Angel and Sassy Star, while fulfilling all my elementary school duties and also my required household chores. I was twice crowned the Vegetable Princess, or at least the princess of a few green growing things, like cabbages. I was Miss Teen Broward County at the tender age of fourteen. At fifteen, I stood in a white cowboy hat in front of a car dealership, in wind that whipped the colorful pennants around and nearly tore the petals off the roses I was holding, and tried to pretend I wasn't wearing a bikini and five-inch heels in front of a bunch of grown men. I smiled. My mother, Gloria, ducked into the driver's seat of the red Mustang convertible I had just won for her, showing her legs as she did so, diverting some of the male attention her way. A salesman patted my ass as she was adjusting the bucket seat. That day I was Freddy Ford Cowgirl. But then I threw in my sash.
Now I'm thiry-four, and I have just become Employee of the Month: August at Teddy's World. I guess I still have a thing for titles, in spite of my official retirement. I've made Employee of the Month in every job I've had. That's a lot of jobs. We're talking double digits here. Fourteen to be exact. Start with your left thumb and go down to your pinkie; then your right thumb to right pinkie; back to you left thumb, forefinger, middle finger.
Stop at what is known as the ring finger.
—From the book Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio. Copyright (c) 2005. Reprinted with permission from Simon & Schuster.