Why am I watching Miss America? Tradition, probably. It used to be in September, right around my sister's birthday. We didn't watch it every year, but enough to remember some highlights. Like the year Sharlene Wells, Miss Utah, won. She played the harp, and ate almost a pound of fudge just prior to the swimsuit competition. I'll also never forget the year Vanessa Williams was stripped of her crown after nude photos of her were exposed by Penthouse magazine. I was young. . . and shocked.
My Mom always complained that they didn't show enough of the talent portion of the competition and too much of the swimsuit competition. And can we really compare an opera song to a show tune? or tap dancing to classical ballet? And a dramatic reading? Just how did she get all the way to Miss America doing a dramatic reading??? My mother loved the talent portion. She would always base her prediction of the winner based on the contestant's performance in the talent competition. Almost always, she was wrong.
My father, on the other hand, almost always correctly predicted the winner beforehand. Ironically, he wouldn't even watch the pageant. Usually he just bumped in from time to time, complaining "oh, did I miss the swimsuit competition again this year?"
No, my father would base his predictions on a set of random factors. A minor one was chest size. (For this my mother would scold him. He'd shrug and say, "sad, but true"--He never claimed to approve). The major factor, however, was simply a different kind of size: the size of their home states. New York, California, and Texas were always front runners. He'd also account for any politically correct wild card-ness. (In the case of Vanessa Williams, it was time for a black woman to win, and one year, there was a contestant who was deaf).
This method of prediction drove my mother nuts. It tore at her belief that the Miss America pageant was based primarily on talent, scholarship, and community service. To this my father would answer, "I'm not saying that Miss so-and-so SHOULD win, just that she WILL win." Then my mother would point out that her evening gown was the wrong color for her skin tone. Yes, it was as entertaining to watch my parent's bicker about who would win as it was to watch the pageant.
Home tonight, watching alone, well there's just not as much fun in it. There's still surgical enhancement, spray-on tans, too much make-up, and that song: "Here she comes, Miss America." Oh, and world peace. There is always, always world peace. Well, a girl can dream.