Like many childhood fantasies, my goal of being Miss America were dashed about the time I turned twelve. I had quit piano and dance lessens after only a year each, someone else in the family had gotten the baton twirling gene and my voice was so low that in sixth grade I got the bass solo in the choir concert. Even with all of those things going against me, I had still held out some false hope. It was the yellow tape measure from the seldom used sewing kit that was the clincher. 36, it practically screamed. My hips were a nice maternal 36 inches. I was geared to shoot out babies like a Pez dispenser but not destined to strut the stage in a modest swimsuit or evening gown.
Miss America was an annual televised event at our home. It meant an early bath, pajamas on and likely popcorn would be served. The show was living room color TV status. I was not about to watch these women perform their talents on a grainy black and white TV in a bedroom. For awhile I thought perhaps my home state would send me because I was nice, friendly and outgoing and maybe they could settle for me bringing the Miss Congeniality title home. I thought it would be awesome to have Bert Parks announce “Nancy Rose, representing the Land of ten-thousand lakes will be our first contestant ever to perform Sarcasm during the talent competition.” Yet somehow knowing deep in my heart that congeniality and sarcasm were not the perfect match.
I’m gonna be honest and tell you, I did not watch the Miss America Pageant last night. Other than a recent posting from another women’s organization that mentioned a past participant would be a contestant, it was not on my radar. Only after texting my son who is off at college, inquiring how his weekend was did the two-word reply come “Miss America”. I assumed that meant that he was watching, perhaps tweeting about it, keeping personal scores and rankings. Likely the viewing was taking place in a room filled with other coeds who had different opinions regarding, hair, beauty and fashion. All of these areas are ones that my son had interest in and strong opinions regarding from a young age. A recent Miss America is a graduate of Carthage College where he attends. I suppose this is where I throw in that my high school produced a Miss America back in the 1970’s.
Television viewing has changed so much in recent years, as has access to beautiful women. What I missed last night was likely available on my computer in real-time without the need to sit through commercials or introductions of judges who I’m not particularly interested in. Any true highlights would be featured on morning shows or social media. By highlight I mean wardrobe malfunctions, unfortunate trips or falls, heroic efforts to go on despite some broken heel or damaged oboe or some ridiculous responses to questions near the end of the show.
Regarding access to beautiful women. Beautiful women have been part of television history, including hosts, anchors, actresses and Doublemint Twins but not so many new, youthful “unknowns”. These were actual women moving, not beautiful women with a staple through their torso. With over 100 channels to watch and computers where you can simply enter the words “beautiful women” and see photo’s and video, there is not the same excitement over an annual beauty event that there once was.
By the time I crawled in bed last night and my husband was flipping through channels they were at the drawing questions out of some container I could not identify and then a judge asked the question. We watched three women, thrilled to have advanced and then given a current event related question which they all failed to actually give an accurate reply. The heavy topics included either questions or responses regarding; beheading of journalists, rape in the military and sexual assaults in general. Not surprisingly, each of the contestants were not in favor of any of those topics and all felt something should be done.
Thinking of my son watching the pageant on a college campus reminded me of an event I hosted exactly thirty years ago. I was an RA in Sherburne Hall at St. Cloud State. Realizing that the Miss America Pageant was that evening I posted a message on the in/out board of the building where other staff members posted their availability status. The message indicated that female staff members wishing to attend the pageant festivities in my room should wear a banner indicating the floor they represented, high heels and lipstick. We spent the evening watching the show and then took various pictures of the winner being crowned with a Hardee’s hat and the rest of us looking on begrudgingly. The theme for that particular year was “Maybe it’s my turn now!” which they used footage of the various contestants saying during the many commercial breaks. We unanimously thought it was lame. I have no recollection of who won that year but the picture I have included at the top of my post shows Lynne Warne who was crowned Homecoming Queen of St. Cloud State about a month later. Maybe it was her turn.