It’s a sad, sad day when your beliefs are shattered, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s like the day you discovered the big guy in the red fat-suit and white beard was actually Dad, or that the money under your pillow appearing after you lost a fang did not come from some winged pretty-as-a-picture nymph (cryptically put, so as not to shatter the dreams of any precocious 4-year olds reading this tome). It’s the same as that coming-of-age realization that your parents are fallible, or that you can’t trust politicians.

With the Winter Olympics opening in February, you just know there will be drug test failures, and that just breaks my heart that sport is no longer a thing of fun and joy, but a thing of big money. A sad, sad time.

But now as I write through my blur of tears, I have to impart the latest shocker.

A beauty pageant has been compromised, in that 12 entrants have been disqualified for receiving beauty enhancing procedures such as ear-reduction surgery, and the use of Botox for the plumping of lips, jaws and noses. Noses? Did I say noses?

Oh, so distraught am I that I failed to mention that this pageant was part of the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia, and the contests were in fact camels.

Evidently a long lower lip is an advantage, and so the cheaters will “pull it by hand like this every day to make it longer.” The disgraced owners are now banned for the next five festivals, and possibly face legal penalties for messing with Saudi’s animal welfare laws.

The Festival has a website (www.alaibilfestival.com/en/Jimal/php) which has handy-dandy facts and figures, and even has a page entitled “Standards of Camel Beauty” pointing out such areas as a camel’s archangel (which to me looks like an elbow, but who am I to quibble?); leathery mouth; bridge of nose; its gauntlet and arm.

The site informs us that there are 6 categories one can enter, but unfortunately my Arabic is a tad rusty and I cannot translate the page.

The rules are obviously very strict and bar such activities as “going on marches accompanied by poems containing tribal prejudices and abuse,” the penalty for which is exclusion and referral to “the concerned security authorities” – a no doubt gentle euphemism for Bruno and Guido over in that black tent 3 miles from the campsite.

It made me research further to find out what other animals leap into the beauty pageant pool, and I was rather astonished to find there is a British Tarantula Society Annual Competition, which frankly makes my skin creep; The World’s Falcons Beauty Contest is held in the United Arab Emirates; Vietnam hosts the Miss Milk Cow pageant; the Chitwan Elephant Festival is held annually in southern Nepal; our very own Los Angeles prides itself in the Grand National Pigeon Show; and again, in Saudi, and Jordan we have the Goat Beauty Contests.

But back to our camels – this is no nickel and dime show – there was very big money at stake for this pageant, with prizes totaling $31.8 million at stake.

Good heavens! Just give me a hump and an iffy attitude and I’ll enter myself.

-- Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at anniedearkc@hotmail.com