By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Women may not like to keep secrets, but they can do it - if they want.
Eight women from the Newcomers Club did.
The proof is the hoax of a style show that took place Monday at the Wildflower Country Club in Temple.
As it has for the past 25 years, the club members thought the annual show was going to highlight the latest styles of spring and formal wear.
But it didn't.
The models wore trash bags, mismatched sets of animal prints, too-tight spandex and underwear. But they did it with grace and pride.
Each of the six models used the stride of a trained model, complete with a curtsy, pause for photos and Queen of England wave.
The 130 women in the audience, who, by the way, were quite nicely dressed, hooted with laughter as they saw their friends delight in disgrace. Models Susie Elmer and Sue Judd came up with the idea for the joke show last June.
'Why? We thought it would be great fun,' Mrs. Judd said.
So Ms. Elmer, Mrs. Judd and their four fellow models spent 10 months plotting an 'Overly Elegant Style Show,' as it was billed on the program.
Only two other women knew about the hoax: the pianist who provided the background music and the club president whose consent was needed.
So that's eight women with one secret. Odds of success weren't in their favor.
But the tight-lipped ladies hit the jackpot. On the day of the show, the crowd was unsuspecting.
Only one woman claimed to know 'what was going on.' She sat at Maxine Willingham's table. But she couldn't provide any of the details, and she didn't want to identify herself or the alleged leak.Conspiracy
Not all plots involve a grassy knoll. Sometimes a regular living room can be the best place to plan.
On March 26, the six models met at Mrs. Judd's house to run through their script.
'It's going to be great. They're expecting clothes from Dillard's, Coldwater Creek, Foley's and Belles,' said Mrs. Judd. 'There's never been anything like this, nothing humorous.'
Her partner in crime, Ms. Elmer, nodded.
'We haven't told one soul,' Ms. Elmer said. 'We're going to make them throw rocks or laugh. Either one's fine with me.'
Ms. Elmer's primary role was to act as the emcee.
'I start out looking like a lady,' Ms. Elmer said, pointing at the Victorian gown she wore at the beginning of the show. 'But it goes down hill from that.'
Ms. Elmer's shoulders shook as she laughed.
A round of 'No kiddings' came from the rest of the jokesters: Rita Baker, Tommye Conn, Shirley Hatley and Tracy Kaiser.
As the women modeled the different outfits they wore at the show, they teased each other about their sagging breasts, belly bulges and personality quirks.
Ms. Conn and Ms. Hatley wore bikinis over black spandex.
They weren't complaining about posing this way and that; they just said that with their 'passing' looks, they deserved 'to go incognito under the names of Dolores and Ulga.'
The 'spring break' pair wasn't nervous either.
'Honey, we were born with the guts to do this. Some of us more than others,' Ms. Conn said, patting her belly while glaring at the thinner Ms. Hatley.
After the friends shared a laugh at Ms. Conn's well-said pun, Ms. Judd suggested the bikini twins hold a can of beer or grab for a box of condoms.
'Oh, they don't need condoms,' cracked Ms. Baker.
'But for disease prevention, we might,' Ms. Conn said.
'True, true,' Ms. Baker conceded, giggling. Yes, they were all giggling like schoolgirls.
'You can do anything you want when you get old,' Ms. Elmer said.
(All of these gals, by the way, have at one point in time served as president of the Newcomers Club, the society that welcomes residents new to the Temple-Belton area.)Blind flock
Lunch was the first order of business on the day of the style show.
While Mrs. Judd and her friends were backstage getting ready, the rest of the Newcomers Club was in the dining room enjoying a ham luncheon.
Most of the discussion was, of course, about the anticipated style show.
'Hmmm. That's strange,' said attendee Maxine Willingham of Salado to her friend Liz Martin. 'They're not listing who's providing the fashions.'
Ms. Martin nodded her head, giving a displeased look at the program she was reading.
'Well, usually it's Dillard's,' Ms. Martin said.
'That's right, that's right,' Maxine Willingham said. 'From the look of program, it's going to be a lot of bright colors.'
Clip art images of cartoon characters and women dressed in floral prints and long skirts decorated the list of style show models.
Ms. Willingham and Ms. Martin had good reason to be excited about the fashion show.
'We love clothes, it's our business,' Ms. Martin said.
'We ran a clothing store in Lubbock,' Ms. Willingham explained. 'We always look forward to these.
The first part of their conversation seemed to echo from Jane Tolman who sitting three tables away.
'Don't know. It must be Dillard's,' Ms. Tolman said. 'It will be spring and formal wear.'
Connie Swindon was the club's luncheon guest. She sat at Ms. Tolman's table.
After circling the room with her eyes, she turned to the woman beside her and asked, 'What are we not allowed to know what we'll be looking at?'
And then the “overly elegant” ladies came out. The laughs started, and in a matter of seconds, the joke became clear.