My little sister Sally Jean and I sat side by side on counter stools at Daddy's Rexall Drugstore. Calle Jones, the woman who worked the soda fountain, handed each of us a lime Coke.
"How's the box filling up?" I asked, nodding toward a white bakery box with the words VOTE MARGARET DILLON 1956 TOMATO QUEEN printed on the side.
"These all today's tickets," Calle said, rattling the box. "Your daddy emptied it this morning."
I smiled. I was going to win Tomato Queen; I knew it. All the businesses on the main street had boxes with my name and besides my competition hardly counted. One of the girls running had moved to Papalote that year; the other had a reputation with a capital R. I'd already won Miss Papalote and Miss Welles County, which would get me to the Miss Texas Pageant. Tomato Queen was mostly for fun.
I held up a movie magazine to Calle and asked, "Can I put this on our account?"
"You trying to get me in Dutch; you ask your daddy." She shook a slender black finger at me.
Darn it. Daddy might let us have sodas, but not movie magazines. I flipped the pages, wishing Sally Jean had stayed out on the farm; she kept peeking over my shoulder.
"Hey, you used to look like that!"
She pointed to a picture of James Dean. I had resembled him a couple of years ago when a hairdresser in San Antonio gave me a DA, ducktail to Mama. While I was in class, they made me comb it into a sort of pixie. I stared at James Dean's picture, heartsick that he was dead and I hadn't even seen "Giant."
"You should cut your hair again," Sally said. "You look like everyone else now."
"And you don't, with a ponytail? You'd be pretty if you'd pin curl your hair once in a while."
She stuck out her tongue at me. "You wouldn't look like everyone else if you'd cut your hair."
"I don't look like everyone else; I'm prettier," I mumbled as I searched for a shot of Marilyn Monroe or an old one of Rita Hayworth. I wasn't looking at their hair, either. I was searching for a dress, a sophisticated look for the night I'd be crowned Queen.
Sally slipped her rump off the stool and wandered around the pharmacy. When I finished, I put the magazine back on the rack. Sally and I walked over to the only clothing store in Papalote, but they didn't carry evening dresses. We took Daddy's Plymouth and drove to Jesse, another little town, to Lee Loftin's shop.
Mrs. Loftin carried school cottons--sweater sets, blouses, pleated skirts, things like that--and a few formals. I only went there because Mrs. Loftin had been Mama's friend forever. Mama said I had to patronize the store.
Mrs. Loftin greeted us.
Sally wandered over by the window and held up shorts in front of her pedal pushers. My sister didn't have the legs for shorts, but she wouldn't listen to me.
"I need a dress for the Tomato Festival," I said.
"Let's see, something summery," Mrs. Loftin said.
She looked through a rack of ruffled dresses, things my friend in Rainbow Girls wore. I hated all the dresses, at least for my purposes.
"Here's one." Mrs. Loftin held up a pink dress with a scoop neck, fitted waist, and tiered skirt. It looked like a little girl's dress.
"That's cute," Sally said.
A little girl's dress.
"Not what I'm looking for."
"Describe what you want," Mrs. Loftin said. She hung the dress back and Sally pawed through the rack.
I gathered my circle skirt up in the back so it clung to me in front. "Anything strapless, with a straight skirt?"
Mrs. Loftin cleared her throat and said, "No."
Sally sneered at me.
"The girls always wear full skirts. How about this one?" Mrs. Loftin held up a dress in bridal white with a fan of nylon net at the bodice and tiny straps.
"Looks prickly," I said. "We'll keep looking. I might be back."
When we were in Daddy's car Sally asked, "Do you really want strapless?"
"Why not?" I asked.
"You're not going to find that unless we go to San Antonio."
I hated Sally Jean because she was right, and because I had to take her with me.
We parked in the lot at Joske's by the Alamo. Joske's had a better selection than Mrs. Loftin did, but in the evening dress department the saleswomen acted as if all girls loved nothing more than yards of pastel organdy. Just for kicks Sally and I walked up Houston Street to Frost's.
We got off the elevator with three very dressed-up women, who stopped to look at peignoir sets. Sally and I entered the evening dress salon, which was as quiet as Papalote on a Saturday night but a lot classier. They'd decorated with indirect lighting, a huge bouquet of flowers on a low glass table, and carpet as thick as a rich lady's mink coat. Racks of gowns hung around the sides of the room.
Under the suspicious eye of a saleswoman, we wandered toward the smaller sizes. They had some chiffon, some pastels, a lot of taffeta, silk, and satin. Sally reached out to touch a taffeta dress--
"May I help you?" the voice came from a saleswoman who slipped her way between Sally's hand and the dress.
"I'm trying to find a formal," I said.
"What size are we looking for?"
She walked down the line of formals, her nylons whisking as her thighs rubbed together. I would never let myself go like that. Never.
"From this one to the silver taffeta," she said, pointing with a diamond-adorned hand.
I could tell my dress wasn't there, but as long as I was in Frost's, I decided to try on something. I saw three strapless: one in silver, one in pink, one in black. I reached for the silver one.
"I'll take the gown," the woman said.
We followed her to a huge dressing room. I made Sally wait outside while I pulled on the dress. The bodice fitted perfectly, but the skirt flared out too much. Not that the fit would matter. The price tag was stamped $295.00. Daddy could buy me a dynamite used car for that. I waltzed out to the mirrors.
"Lovely," said the saleswoman.
"But, it's not quite right," I said. I smoothed the skirt against my thighs to get an idea of how a straight skirt might look.
When the saleswoman went to find a slimmer skirt, Sally said, "You look Hollywood."
"Don't I know it. Frost's taste seems to be my taste," I said. "I think I want a tighter skirt."
"You want to look sexy?"
"Glamorous," I corrected.
"No one ever looks sexy on the Tomato Festival float."
"Well, I want to be the most memorable Tomato Queen ever."
"Ladies, we don't seem to have a gown with a slim skirt," the saleswoman said, to our mutual relief, I was sure.
We left Frost's and, only because we were in town, went to La Feria. The lady waiting on us acted friendly and helpful, the prices looked right, but they carried mostly cloud-like wedding dresses, veils, mantillas, laces, nylon net. Nothing alluring.
Out of desperation, I stopped at a fabric store. Sally had started picking at her cuticles back at La Feria and by the time we got to the fabric store she was biting her fingernails and driving me to distraction.
"Wait by the buttons, talk to the wall, I don't care as long as no one can tell that you're with me. I'm going to find something if it takes until the stores close."
Of course I found the perfect pattern--Vogue, slim skirt, strapless, slinky with a sash of silk or chiffon across bodice and trailing to the floor. I smoothed my hair, already feeling very sophisticated. A saleslady had to go into the back and hunt, but she finally brought out bolts of red satin, taffeta, and filmy chiffon to match.
"I hope the ball is indoors. This is too hot for summer."
"It'll be fine," I said. What did she think I was, a fat, sweating pig?
When we got to the car, Sally asked, "Can you sew?"
"Aunt Queenie can."
"What if she says no'?"
"Then I'll make it myself." Queenie was tall like me and I was betting she'd be happy to make me a dress, knowing how hard we both try to find the right fit.
"Shouldn't you have asked first?" Sally Jean asked.
"She'll do it. This is perfect; quit fussing at me."
I thought Revlon had a lipstick and nail polish about the right color to match my dress. I'd seen it at the drugstore. And I thought the shoe store in Crystal Springs had satin shoes I could get dyed. KTSA played "Do You Wanna Dance?" and I hummed along, thinking about Bill Shaw holding me at the dance after my coronation. Sally nibbled at her thumbnail.
"If you'd quit eating your fingers, you'd be prettier," I said.
"You're boring, did you know that?"
I turned up the radio.
Aunt Queenie lived on the farm next door to the one where our house was, so I let Sally Jean off at home, then went to hire my aunt as seamstress. Uncle Thomas had just spread gravel on the road and the tires made a crunching sound. One of their dogs ran up to the car, barking, wagging her stupid butt.
"Don't jump, don't jump." The dog bumped up against me all the way to the porch, and I held my shopping bags up high so she wouldn't touch my material. Gramma was kneeling down beside her garden pinching leaves off her plants; I waved as I hurried onto the porch.
I found Aunt Queenie vacuuming her living room. She'd been Sally's age when Mama was born and she looked old that day dragging the tank vacuum around as if she were tugging a stubborn horse by a rope.
"You didn't tell me you were coming or I'd have fixed tea," she said after we hugged.
"I need a favor."
She dragged the vacuum off to the dining room and pulled out a chair at her table. "Sit down, rest your feet."
"I'm fine. You know I'm running for Tomato Queen?" I set the shopping bags on the table.
She nodded. Only babies and idiots didn't know that.
"I need a dress. I have the material and some money left over so I can pay you to make my formal for me."
"I've never sewn a formal. All those ruffles and nylon net."
I handed her the pattern. She bent her head down to look, and while she was examining the picture, I spread my material out on her polished dining table. She backed away from me. When she glanced up, I understood what Mama meant when she called me a sourpuss.
Aunt Queenie looked from me to the table.
"I know the fabric's slick. We could use a shorter zipper," I said.
"Everything's wrong, young lady. The weight of the fabric, the color, Lord preserve us. You'd melt in this. And since you asked, let me remind you that we're prominent landowners in this county, not white trash."
She might as well have slapped my face, the old prude. "But--"
"If I were you, I'd make them take this back. I'd go over to Lee Loftin's and buy myself a decent dress."
I wasn't her. I stuffed my material and pattern back into the bags and ran from her house. When I pulled out, my tires spit gravel into their nice little yard. Served them right. By the time I got home, I'd decided that expecting a Hollywood welcome from a woman who lived with her mother next door to the farm where she had been born was my major mistake. I carried my packages to my room and flopped onto the bed. I'd only been trying to cut Sally low when I said I'd sew the dress myself. Hemming skirts and putting on buttons gave me fits. Queen Margaret had gotten herself into a mess. Queen Margaret moped around that night and didn't go in to dinner.
The sun had set, leaving the long evening that I usually thought was so romantic. That night I felt more than blue. Sally poked her head into my room, letting Mama's poodle in when she did. Lily jumped up on the bed.
"Too sick to turn on the lights?" Sally asked.
"If you can't be pretty, at least you should be kind," I said, scooting the dog onto the floor.
"I'm kinder than you'll ever be." Sally picked up Lily, tucking the dog under her chin.
"Then get your kindness in here and help me," I said, switching on the bedside lamp.
She shut the door. "Aunt Queenie said no' didn't she?"
"Yes. She's such an old prude."
"Maybe you just imposed; besides I thought you could sew."
"You know I can't. I don't know what I'm going to do." I clenched my fists and my eyes stung with tears. The cicadas buzzing outside grated on my nerves.
Sally Jean sat on the bed beside me, letting the dog curl up on her lap. "I love the cicadas," she said.
"They bother me practically to death."
"I've been painting their shells," Sally said, opening her hand to show me a bright blue bug body.
"You're disgusting," I said. But when she got up to leave I said, "I mean the bugs are disgusting. You're clever."
"I am a little. Why don't you call Mrs. Martinez?" Sally asked.
That puzzled me and I frowned, trying to recall a Mrs. Martinez.
"The lady who makes costumes. You can't tell me that Hollywood dress isn't a costume," Sally said. "I'd love some pajamas out of that material."
I ignored the hint. "Do you think Mrs. Martinez charges a lot?"
"I don't know."
"She's probably not expensive. They're all tortilla chompers; I'll bet she's cheap."
"You're terrible. You know, I hope you don't get your dress. I hope you have to ride that float naked." Sally, with Lily under her arm, slammed the door on her way out of my room.
Mrs. Martinez lived off the road to Jesse in a house with her husband, married daughter, and three grandchildren. They had chickens in the yard and a huge vegetable garden in the back. Mrs. Martinez's daughter greeted me and I sat in the living room while the daughter disappeared down the hallway.
They had a picture of Jesus with his heart showing over the doorway and a crucifix over the arch into the dining room and kitchen. The grandchildren wanted to get into my shopping bags and they didn't seem to understand when I told them to keep their grubby hands off my things. I sat on the edge of an overstuffed chair. The room looked tidy and the sofa and chairs had the same little crocheted antimacassar on them that Aunt Queenie and Gramma had at their house. Somehow I'd expected different decor.
"My mother says go on back," the daughter said.
"I'll take her," said a little boy.
I followed him down the hallway where a phone sat in a niche in the wall and a construction paper rooster dangled from a tack on one door.
"That's my room," he said, pointing to the rooster.
"Cute," I said.
"Do you want to see it?" the boy asked me.
He pointed to an open door.
Mrs. Martinez sat at a sewing machine in the back room. She was running up a hem on a strip of purple fabric. A length of red cotton material covered an ironing board and on top of that strips of yellow, green, and blue. A metal bracket fitted over the closet door and four red dresses hung from that.
"What can I do for you?" she asked. She stood to greet me and I guessed she was about Mama and Sally's height. I towered over everyone in the room.
"I need a dress made, for the Tomato Festival." I handed her the pattern and pulled out the fabric.
"If you can't do it--"
"I can sew this dress, Miss. The satin is very fancy, very unusual. Thirty-five dollars." Which she wanted that day.
I didn't know if that was cheap or not, but considering I'd already paid thirty-five dollars for the material and pattern, and no one else wanted to sew for me, I didn't have a choice.
She shooed the boy out of the room and closed the door. Then she had me take off my clothes to my half-slip. She measured every part of me.
"You are very tall; how do you find skirts?"
"I have to let them down."
"Maybe I could make them for you."
"Maybe." I didn't much like her touching me, and I stood so stiff I got light-headed and wobbled.
"Don't lock your knees," she said, hanging her tape measure around her neck.
I flexed, then leaned over to let the blood rush back to my head.
"When do you want this?" She shook out the fabric, then smoothed it between her pudgy fingers.
"Next week," I said.
"Come on Monday for a fitting. In the afternoon."
Monday, right after the Chamber of Commerce luncheon where I heard the announcement about being voted Tomato Queen, I drove out to Mrs. Martinez's house. The dress made me look like a torch singer; I liked the look.
Mrs. Martinez smoothed her hands down my rib cage, wiggled the dress at the waist, tugged the skirt.
"Very fancy. You look too fancy for the Tomato Festival float."
"You think so?"
"Yes. You could be a nightclub singer or stage actress."
"Thank you very much," I said.
"I hope you have somewhere else to wear this afterward."
Miss Texas Pageant, I thought. But until then, Friday night and the Sunday parade would be my times to shine. I felt that thrill of being the center of attention, the confidence of being the most beautiful. I'd be the first Tomato Queen ever to honor the color of the tomato. I buttoned my halter top and slipped on my circle skirt. "--so then we'll bring the dress to your house," Mrs. Martinez was saying.
"That's fine," I said.
Every day the next week I expected Mrs. Martinez to deliver the dress. And every day she didn't. I called once and no one answered the phone, which gave me a headache. On Wednesday I called from the pay phone at Daddy's pharmacy and Mrs. Martinez answered.
"Don't you remember? Thursday afternoon. Your dress will be there, don't worry. You have a very beautiful dress."
I hung up and danced over to Calle Jones. Sally Jean was sitting at the end of the counter in her pedal pushers and plaid sleeveless blouse. My sister glanced up at me and said, "So, who said he loves you?"
"That's about right," she said.
"Pest. Listen," I said to Calle, "what if I help you back there. I could dish out ice cream and mention the contest. You know, get me some publicity for Tomato Queen?"
"Your Daddy don't pay me enough to have a helper," she said.
"For free," I said.
"You can't serve without wearing one of these aprons and they're not your kind of fashion," Calle said.
True, and if I couldn't be glamorous I didn't want to do it. But I kept thinking about Marilyn Monroe being discovered at a soda fountain.
"Besides, who would get the tips?" Calle asked.
"I'll just see y'all later," I said, leaving by myself.
Thursday Sally and I drove over to Crystal Springs to pick up my shoes at Wayne's Shoe Store. They matched the material just right and when I walked around in them I looked even leggier than usual. Sally wandered over and picked up some cowboy boots from a display.
"These cost more than a calf!" she said.
"Handmade. They'd fit you like your natural skin if they weren't my size."
"When I get a job, I'm getting me some boots like this," Sally said.
I couldn't believe my ears.
"Look at pumps, silly. How can you ever catch a boyfriend in boots?"
Mr. Wayne took the boot from Sally and the $12.50 from me. Then we drove by the rehab hospital to see Mama, but she'd already left work.
When we got home, Mama was sitting out on the front porch in her shirtwaist dress and stocking feet drinking a lemonade. Lily was beside her on the swing, right next to Mama's pistol, which she always kept with her when she was outside, just in case of snakes.
"You got a delivery," Mama said to me.
"My dress! Where?"
"Your bedroom," she said.
"I saw some wonderful boots," Sally said. "Handmade."
"You better find a job if you want those," Mama said as I ran into the house.
The dress box, tied with a red ribbon, sat in the middle of the bed. Mrs. Martinez had done the package up nicely. A slip of paper with Margaret Dillon written on it was tucked under the ribbon.
I shut my door, flung off my clothes, and put on my red satin heels. Then I untied the ribbon. Lifting the box top, I felt tingly all over, the way I do when Bill Shaw and I make out. Then I went into shock.
"No! Stupid old biddy."
I pulled up a red cotton flamenco dancer's dress, ruffled with purple, blue, green, and yellow. Not a dress I'd be caught in--alive or dead. I ran from the room, dress over my arm, out to the porch.
"Look what she brought me. Look at this trash."
Sally started laughing. Mama said, "I'm surprised at your choice."
"This isn't my choice. Y'all know that."
"It matches those pretty shoes," Mama said.
Sally turned away from me and I could see her trying to contain herself. Well, she'd better, that was all I could think. She'd just better.
"Your dress looks more like Mexico than Hollywood," Mama said.
I was dumbfounded. "You knew about the dress?"
"Sister was concerned, Margaret."
"You and Aunt Queenie gossiped about me? What did you say?"
"That I trusted your judgement."
I knew what that meant. God, Mama wasn't a lot better than Aunt Queenie. I let the dress drop to the porch.
"Don't get that dirty. It belongs to someone else," Mama scolded.
Sally was still laughing.
"This disaster is all your fault; you made me go to that woman. It's all your fault."
"It's a mistake. Take the dress back and get yours," Sally said in a matter-of-fact tone. She was all full of herself.
"Box up the dress," Mama said. "I'll drive you over to exchange it or two girls are going to be mighty disappointed."
"Did you put her up to this?" I asked Sally. "Did you get her to send the wrong dress?"
My sister shook her head.
"I'm sure it was a mistake," Mama said.
I knocked on Mrs. Martinez's front door. The house had that quiet feel of an empty place. Mama went around to the side where someone was watering the garden. Sally walked off into the shade with the chickens.
Mama came back around with a small Mexican man who wore blue pants wet almost to the knees. They were speaking Spanish, the both of them using hand gestures. Mama should've been a Mexican.
"Margaret, this is Mr. Valencia and he says that the Martinez family has gone to Monterrey. Mrs. Martinez is taking dresses to her nieces for a dancing program. You must have one of their dresses."
I gasped for breath. "She has mine probably, in her car."
"Mr. Valencia said he's sure Mrs. Martinez wouldn't mind if you used the dress she delivered, since you paid her for one."
Mr. Valencia didn't know from beans. I sat down hard on the steps and stared at Mama and Mr. Valencia. Sally came up beside me and laid her hand on my shoulder.
"I really didn't put her up to anything," she whispered.
Even though I believed Sally, I hated them all: Mrs. Martinez, Sally, Mama, her new friend. I'd hit the worst luck of my life.
I skipped dinner and banned everyone from my room, not that they could have helped anyway. Around midnight, though, Mama came in wearing her pajamas. She didn't turn on the light, but sat beside me on the bed.
"Margaret, you've been a lucky girl all your life. Lucky in getting the beauty, lucky in having friends, lucky in having a Daddy who buys you nice things. Maybe being so lucky has made you too dependent on superficial qualities. Do you know what I mean?"
"For a while now I've been concerned about your vanity, not that I'd wish you ugly. But you dwell on your looks and on how you can manipulate people with them. I think you can learn to trust your other attributes, but you have to use them, make yourself strong in spirit as well as body."
"But I'm queen! A queen has to look gorgeous."
"Queens who only look beautiful but have no heart lose their heads."
I got her point but wouldn't say so. "I still don't have a dress."
"You have three dresses: your blue formal, your yellow formal, and the red dress. I'd choose the red dress. I'd tie back my hair in a sleek bun, wear big hoop earrings, and be the fanciest queen Papalote's ever chosen. You could make this the most memorable Tomato Festival in history."
"Yeah, memories of everyone laughing at me in that dress."
"Or you could drop out of the contest and ride horses in the parade with Sally and me and the rest of your kin."
"Or I could die," I said.
"We love you, Margaret. I'd feel more comfortable if you showed a grain of humility, a little grace."
"Alright," I said. Mama got the point and left.
I finally fell asleep, but when I got up Friday morning, I looked like something a horse had left behind during a parade. I felt as if I'd be better off giving my crown to the second-place girl, the new girl in town. No one bothered me, or invited me to breakfast, or brought me poached eggs. I guess they didn't care that I was a queen. I tried to imagine what a queen would do in a distressing situation.
Sitting on my vanity stool, I dabbed a little foundation under my eyes, then brushed out my hair. I felt a little better. The red dress hung on my closet door; the blue formal hung inside. After holding each up in front of me I made my decision. Even though it fell a little short of my ankles, I chose the red dress.
That night, Bill Shaw was supposed to pick me up and carry me over to the high school in his car for the coronation. I got so nervous I called Bill and said I'd meet him at the football field. I ate a bite, and had Mama help me with my hair. She had picked up some huge earrings at the five-and-dime in Crystal Springs.
"I know I discourage make-up," she said, "but this time, you need to smolder."
"Well, you wanted dramatic, and tonight you're going to be dramatic."
Mama even darkened my eyebrows. I was as red as a tomato alright, from shoes to dress to nails and lips. I felt kind of excited. Bold. Sexy. I wagged my shoulders and strutted as if I were a flamenco dancer, however a dancer's supposed to move.
Mama had forewarned Daddy, who lavished praise more on my ability to improvise than my looks, but by then I was taking any attention I could get. Sally had set her hair and she wore a dainty pink skirt.
"You look really pretty," I said.
A momentary look crossed her face and I thought she was going to smart back at me, but she didn't. Everyone was being so sweet, finally, and I told them so.
We drove the Plymouth over to the football field and Daddy let me out right at the enclosure where the contestants waited for their escorts.
"Margaret?" the sponsor asked.
"You look, very--"
"Dramatic, I know." My knees trembled.
I glanced at my court, as the other girls were called. They'd both worn white dresses. The new girl in town had the dress in bridal white with a fan of nylon net at the bodice and tiny straps, the one I had passed up at Mrs. Loftin's store. We were going to stand out together. My palms sweated though, because I was afraid Bill Shaw would think my dress was trash. I wished I'd worn the blue dress. I hoped Bill would still want to go with me. I'd rarely felt that scared.
Bill took one look and nodded. "Margaret Ann, you're the most beautiful, inventive girl I've ever known. I never knew you were so damned inventive." He kissed my forehead, leaving my Revlon red lips unsmudged, and we lined up behind the princesses.
When the first princess walked onto the field I heard polite applause. When the new girl walked out, I heard more applause plus a whistle.
Bill and I walked through the parted curtains and I heard a gasp. We bowed to each other; I curtsied to the crowd. My heart pounded. I could hear murmurs and laughter. My face flushed, as hot as a French kiss. Then I heard cheers and applause. My King and I walked to my throne where I watched the marching Javelinas, the First Baptist choir, and a tumbling routine from Papalote Junior High.
When the mayor addressed the crowd, he said, "In the spirit of our lovely Queen, I welcome everyone to the Papalote Tomato Fiesta. Queen Margaret, may you have a splendid reign."
After the show, we all walked over to the gym where a deejay from San Antonio was playing records. While I was dancing, two things happened. I forgot I was queen. Wearing the red flamenco dress, its skirt swinging around my legs, I felt as if Bill and I had run off to South America for a carnival.
The other thing? Bill proposed.
I weighed the options: Miss Texas or Mrs. Shaw? I could have done both, I suppose, but suddenly the pageant seemed a bit childish, like a fancy livestock show, with you know who being the prized cow. Life with Bill looked a lot more satisfying than participating in an event with a bunch of girls in organdy formals. Life with Bill looked like a house, a car, and prestige. Maybe I'd get a beautiful diamond engagement ring. Maybe we'd move to Crystal Springs; they had signal lights and a junior college and jobs if I wanted a career. I accepted his proposal.
The wedding meant I needed a new formal and to save myself wasted time, I asked Mrs. Martinez to design my wedding gown. And just for fun I asked her to make Sally a pair of baby doll pajamas from scraps of red satin and chiffon.
While Mrs. Martinez measured and fitted, she chatted about her trip to Mexico. Mrs. Martinez's niece hadn't had such a good time with my Hollywood formal. I felt sorry for Mrs. Martinez's niece. Poor thing. She'd had to miss her performance, and those occasions are so important to young girls.