Summer television makes me sad. Back before I had a child I didn’t really notice how bad summer T.V. can be. I mean, who cares about T.V.? Let’s go to the movies, or out to dinner, or whatever. Oh, but now I find myself flipping through the channels hoping that Lifetime will air some quality, quality movie about a woman who was taken advantage of, but fought her way back to the top, and got custody of her children, and became CEO of some corporation while fighting breast cancer.
And the odds of that movie being on Lifetime are actually pretty good.
Other than that, I watch Top Chef because y’all know what a sophisticate I am when it comes to my palate. I’m waiting for the episode where they see who can make the best meal using Long John Silver’s fish and chips with malt vinegar sauce as the base ingredient. Now that would be a meal I could get behind.
So, last night, I was going through my 452 channels looking for something to watch, when what did I spy? A gift sent straight from heaven.
Miss Texas USA.
When I was little, I adored watching all the pageants. I remember sitting in front of the T.V. with a pad of paper so that I could keep track of everyone’s scores and make notes about various performances which, looking back, was maybe a little more intense than a 3rd grader needs to be. In my mind, I truly believed that boys grew up to be President of the United States and girls grew up to be Miss America. It was the pinnacle role of womanhood.
Obviously, I grew up in a household with strong, feminist sensibilities.
And really, other than the fact that my mama kept my hair rolled in pink, foam rollers and attempted to teach me how to twirl the baton, there wasn’t a whole lot of pageant-y activity going on at my house during my childhood. But once a year I would sit in front of the T.V. and dream about being crowned Miss America.
It’s not that I dreamed of dressing up like a giant oil well and coming out on stage and yelling, “HOWDY Y’ALL! I’M BIG MAMA AND I’M MISS JEFFERSON COUNTY!” because let’s be honest, is that anyone’s dream? It’s just that the whole pageant thing seemed so glamorous with all the evening gowns and swimsuits worn with high heels. And the hair. Oh, I coveted the hair.
In fact, I remember being about 8 or 9 years old and pointing out a picture of Loni Anderson on the cover of Redbook Magazine to my mama and telling her I wished my hair looked like that. And really, what 8 year old wouldn’t look just PRECIOUS with some peroxide and Aqua Net creating a flaxen helmet on her head?
Watching Miss Texas USA last night, I realized I would have been all wrong for the role. For one thing, I would have collapsed into paroxysms of laughter that would have caused my double-sided tape to come loose, if I ever found myself being serenaded by a choir boy dressed up like a sailor as he looked into my eyes and sang “I need you beside me, to hold me, to scold me ‘cuz when I’m bad, I’m so, so bad”. I feel certain that Donna Summer never intended for her disco anthem, “Last Dance”, to be sung by faux sailors. It’s just wrong.
And the fake press conferences where they make contestants field all the questions? So painful.
I actually had to hide my head under a pillow while willing the contestants to please stop talking while they were ahead. Please don’t say “world peace” is the reason you’d make a great Miss Texas USA.
Then, at the end as the judges tallied their final results, they brought out all the girls that didn’t make the top 5 to do a little song and dance routine for the crowd. Find pillow. Hide head.
I don’t have a problem with pageants. I know they provide scholarships, and new Ford Mustang convertibles, and diamond tiaras, and those are all good things. Very good things. I’m just saying that I haven’t seen choreography that bad since Mr. LaForge made us do arm movements to “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson in 7th grade choir at Marshall Middle School.
The pageant ended as they all do. The reigning Miss Texas USA took her farewell promenade as her pre-taped voiceover thanked everyone from her parents, to God, to her hairdresser, to her double-sided tape for their vital support in her life. They shuffled her off the stage and got down to the real drama.
The runner-ups. I don’t know if y’all have ever heard this, but the runner-ups are vital because if for any reason the new Miss Texas USA is unable to fulfill her duties, then all power is transferred to the 1st runner-up. Who knew?
The last two girls stood facing each other, clutching hands, vowing that the other one deserved to win, and that they would always be BFF no matter what. The witty emcee did a priceless stalling technique to add to the mounting tension. Then, the first runner-up was declared, leaving the new Miss Texas USA crying and speechless as they speared her crown to her head.
I yelled in the kitchen to P that this was just bad, bad television and questioned why I would even watch something this hokey and contrived. But then, they asked the new Miss Texas USA how she felt and she said she was so excited about the new car because she was currently driving a 1995 Ford Escort. With that admission, I decided I liked her. Anyone who will own up to driving a 12 year old Ford Escort on national, or at least statewide, T.V. is my kind of girl, even if she does put tape on her bottom to minimize the appearance of cellulite.
It’s just proof that America is still the land of opportunity. One day you’re driving an old Ford, the next day you’re driving a new Ford.
And wearing a tiara.