If I Become Miss America…

This post was inspired by a recent Flop Night with Ruby, who if you recall, has crazy magical powers to make cable tv more interesting. One show we sometimes just can’t look away from is Toddlers and Tiaras, a real look into beauty pageants for babies and young girls. I recommend it for anyone who wants to feel better about their parenting choices. Not having children, we just watch it to feel better about ourselves as people. There’s just something freak-show-fascinating about seeing these moms spending gobs of money on glittery dresses, then DUCT TAPING their 10 month old, spray tanned, mascara’d BABY into it while saying, “This is how the professionals do it. We really think she has a good chance at the Grand Supreme Crown this time.” Or watching parents dress their 4 year old up like pedophile bait, glue false eyelashes on her and teach her sexy, Madonna-inspired strip dance routines; and then putting the resulting travesty on NATIONAL TV. One of my favorite moments was when the camera was interviewing this one mom and her eyes get all buggy — you could see the whites all the way around — her lips pull back in a snarl/smile and she says through bared, chemically whitened teeth, “I’ve been putting her in pageants since she was six months old. The whole reason I wanted to have a little girl was so she could be Miss America.” And as her eyes glaze over while she nods hypnotically, she adds, “and she will be. She will be.”

So, as we are watching and mocking this program, I suddenly remember way back when I was a little girl full of potential and dreams and how I used to play at being Miss America with my sister and our two friends who lived down the street. We had to play at Katie and Shari’s house because they had a real drainage ditch in their front yard, unlike most of the very flat lots in our Texas neighborhood which only had slight indentations and half submerged culvert pipes under the driveways. Why is this important, you ask? See illustration below:

We had vivid imaginations

You have to have a stage to play Miss America. And you have to have a real ditch to play the way we did. Here is our version. We would take turns being the winner, who would have to answer a stupid interview question or two with, “If I become Miss America, I will… insert ridiculous promise here.” Then, the girl whose turn it was would describe her evening wear and hairstyle in excruciating detail: “I’m wearing a dark purple silk gown with purple sequins up the front. I have amethyst earrings and a diamond necklace and an amethyst ring and bracelet, and black glossy, high heeled shoes and my hair is piled up this high…” and so on. Then the other three girls would describe all the things they were pouring into the ditch under the “orchestra pit” — usually consisting of manure, mud, sewage, ketchup, rotten fruit, and so on. All of this was building up to the Big Moment when someone would use a corny Announcer Voice to say, “and YOU are the next Miss America!!” at which the winner would scream, cover her face and start to cry and then regain her composure as the other girls mimed crowning and ribboning her — if we had a bouquet of wildflowers to hand her too, so much the better. Then she’d start her victory walk down the stage, smiling and waving while everyone else sang the Miss America Song. When she reached the end of the driveway, the “jealous other contestants” would run up behind her and shove her into the ditch full of all the imaginary foulness. As she sat there and shrieked about all the horrible things ruining her gown and getting in her hair, everyone else would scream with laughter. And then another of us would take a turn at being Miss America and we’d do it again.

And that’s how I used to play Miss America… Not disturbing at all, really.


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