October 16, 2000
There She Isn't


"It's Miss California, isn't it?" David said. "Miss California wins, right?"

And he burrowed his chin a little deeper into the groove of my shoulder as we lay spooned, watching the Miss America pageant on Saturday night.

(What can I tell you? We don't have cable, and we owe a small fortune in late fees at Blockbuster. It was Miss America or "Walker, Texas Ranger.")

I shrugged noncommittally. "You don't really want to know who wins, do you?" I said. No sense in spoiling the suspense for both of us. Right? He thought about it for a minute, and then he decided that no ... it would be more "fun" if he tried to guess the winner as we went along.

For someone as openly disdainful of beauty pageants in general (and the Miss America pageant in particular) as Ю僱êrvØ¡, he was certainly getting into the spirit of the thing. Frankly, I haven't had this enthusiastic a *pageant-viewing partner* since my daughters were little and the three of us dressed up in tin-foil crowns and Mommy's old Prom gowns for our annual "Miss America Party."


I run hot and cold about Miss America. I loved it and watched it faithfully as a little girl. I decided it was sexist and stoopid when I was in college. I loved it again when the girls were little ... that golden time I think of as "The Barbie Years." I was drunk for most of the ghastly Regis Philbin/Kathie Lee Gifford era. I've ignored the pageant lately, partly because I'm back to thinking it's sexist and stoopid ...

... and partly because THESE days, when I watch the Miss America pageant -- when I see all of these 18-22 year old beauty queens marching back and forth on the stage, with their perfect posture and their sixteen years of classical piano training and their 3.99 GPA from Stanford -- all I can think is "I am old enough to be that girl's mother" (or maybe her slightly-older -- but still incredibly vibrant and groovy -- Big Sister) ...

... but mainly I've avoided it because it's not much fun watching something like The Miss America Pageant alone. That's almost as bad as watching The Wizard of Oz alone.

This year, I watched the pageant in a whole new way ... besides watching it laying in bed next to a naked man, that is.

This year I watched it -- knowing who was going to win!

No, I'm not psychic. At least, I'm not psychic about beauty pageants. (I CAN predict SOME stuff. For instance, I predict that a big dorky Daddy's Boy with a bad haircut will be elected President in November. I predict there will be a Jessica Alba poster on my son's bedroom wall by Thanksgiving. And I predict that the next two weeks will be the quietest, most productive weeks I've ever had at The Totem Pole Company.)

But even *I* can't predict beauty pageant winners.

Instead, I found out who the winner was going to be the good old-fashioned way: on AOL.

I have no one to blame, of course, but myself. Nobody pointed a gun at my head and said "Yo! Secra! Click here to find out who won!" I know all about time differences, and tape-delayed broadcasts, and watching "live" events on TV that are already history by the time I see them. I know how Internet news works. It was midnight in Atlantic City. I knew that if I went to the official Miss America site,  I was going to find out who won before the show even began, here on the West Coast.

But I clicked on the link anyway.

"I know who won," I announced to David a few minutes later, as we watched the ten semi-finalists being culled from the original fifty-one contestants. That was the point at which he decided to play the "Let's See If Dave Can Spot The Winner" game ... which meant that unless I wanted to deliberately spoil his fun, I was going to have to keep my mouth shut, and my face absolutely expressionless. Especially any time that The Winner was onscreen.

I've got to tell you that it was weird, watching the pageant and knowing in advance who would be wearing the crown at the end of the evening. I imagine it's the same way everybody felt last month, watching the Olympics broadcast fourteen hours after-the-fact from Australia every night. I can't know this for certain, of course, since I avoided the Olympics pretty much the same way I avoid Yasmine Bleeth. But I can imagine that it felt the same.

"I'll bet it's going to be Miss California," David guessed, as the special "musical performers" wailed their tuneless (and tasteless) boy-band way through a song about wet dreams.

"I think it's going to be Miss California," David said confidently, as the ten semi-finalists were whittled down to five.

"It's GOT to be Miss California," David declared nervously, as Donny & Marie faux-bickered over who would open the envelope this year.

But it wasn't Miss California. At the end of the evening, the crown was placed on the elegant (and obscenely young) head of ...

... Miss Hawaii.

"You're not disappointed or anything, are you?" I asked him, when it was all over. This always used to be the worst part about watching the pageant with the girls: whoever didn't pick The Winner was likely to throw her tin-foil crown at the person who did pick correctly. Feelings were hurt. Words were exchanged. Doors were slammed. Band-Aids were involved.

It wasn't pretty.

But David seemed to be perfectly fine with his failure to correctly spot The Winner. "I'll get it next year," he said confidently.

'Next year?'  

Cool!  Guess I've found me a new pageant-watching partner ... for life!

I wonder how he'd look in one of my old Prom gowns?

one year ago: high school reunions

throw a rock