When I was a hormonally-challenged lad of eleven or so, the Miss America Pageant was a very big deal to me. After all, it was the one night of the year when the network ditched The Partridge Family and Room 222 in favor of beautiful women sauntering about in swimsuits. And I would do anything to be able to stay up and watch the show. Anything! If Bert Parks had needed a kidney to go on, I would have gladly given him one of mine, such was my desire to see this remarkable piece of television fare. This was the same desperate need for biological information that drove some boys my age to steal the National Geographic magazines from the dentist's office or sneak the Sears catalog out to the barn for a little window shopping through the underwear section. I remember the first time I saw a brassiere in a Sears catalog. I thought it was some kind of prosthetic device. Yes, to a developing young man living in the Alabama sticks in the late sixties, the Miss America Pageant was a very big deal, indeed.
These days, however, the Miss America Pageant holds about as much appeal to me as a long car ride with my mother-inlaw. Maybe it's because I'm sliding head first into forty and the sight of bubbly, toothy, bathing beauties just doesn't do much for me anymore. Like a geriatric Playboy Bunny, my turn-ons now include uninterrupted nap time and my new vibrating Lazy Boy recliner. However, I don't think I'm alone when I say that Miss America has run her course. She's become old hat, a tradition whose time has passed.
We live in a time when you can have your house cleaned by bikini-clad maids or have your car washed by bikini-clad car washers. We have Baywatch, the Playboy Channel, NYPD Blue, Calvin Klein ads, Madonna and, of course, Victoria's Secret, that handy little catalog with the black, lacy prosthetic devices. What the heck do we need Miss America for?
Last Saturday night marked the 77th Miss America Pageant and I sat through it for old times' sake. Okay, I did flip to a rerun of "World's Funniest Surgical Bloopers" during the talent competition, but that's only because classical piano, opera and badly sung show tunes have been known to induce cranial bleeding in men my age. Can't be too careful, you know.
The Pageant's theme this year was "Everything Old Is New Again." I guess the "New" claim is in light of the fact that this was a year of firsts. For example, this was the first year contestants could wear two piece swimsuits if they so desired (three of the top five finalists, including the winner, Katherine Shindle of Illinois, did). This was also the first year one contestant sported a pierced bellybutton ring while another showed off a tattoo. And Miss Mississippi had on shoes, of all things! Can you imagine? And these girls call themselves role models. I don't think so.
All this piercing and tattooing made me a little nervous. I almost expected Miss New York to have a hot pink Mohawk and a knitting needle through her nose. She didn't, of course, but if she had it might have made the show more interesting. Two piece bathing suits or not, this year's show was about as exciting as watching an egg hatch. The highlight of the show was when Miss Arizona's face started to twitch after smiling non-stop for two hours. Let me give you pageant organizers two words of advice for next year's fiasco: mud wrestling.
Speaking of the organizers, contest officials went out of their way to make it very clear that the Miss America Pageant is not a beauty contest. To the contrary, this is a contest of intelligence and personality and poise and charm, designed to promote and further the causes of the American woman. The fact that there's a swimsuit competition is just coincidental, I guess.
Besides, they say, the swimsuit suit competition accounts for only 15% of the overall score. Miss America is chosen not for her beauty, but for her brains. Do they really expect us to believe that? The most intelligent woman wins? Okay, fine. Let's get rid of that grating talent competition and come up with some real tests of intelligence.
Let's have Miss South Dakota and Miss Rhode Island play Risk for twelve hours with no bathroom break. Let's take Miss Michigan out back and have her rebuild the carburetor on a '63 Pontiac Catalina. Let's have Miss California expound on the theory of quantum physics while trying to make a Jacob's Ladder with a piece of string that's too short. Let's have Miss Wyoming do the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink! Let's have Miss Kentucky balance my checkbook!
Of course, they'll have to do all these things while wearing swimsuits.
This is, after all, Miss America.
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From "Small Business Q&A" With Tim Knox
Tim Knox is a nationally-known entrepreneur, author, speaker, and radio show host.
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