I read this morning that organizers are hoping to rejuvenate the Miss America pageant by moving it from Atlantic City to glitzy Las Vegas. And since Bert Parks died (or is awfully old like Dick Clark), they figure that using one of the hunks off "Desperate Housewives" ought to add an extra shot of debonair adrenalin. Who knows if these strategies will work?
Whatever the case, I've always enjoyed a good beauty pageant. I think it has to do with that word "vicarious," which seems to crop up in a lot of my secret desires, i.e., singing, drawing, and, yes, beauty. Since I've been severely lacking but desirous in all such departments throughout my life, and since my singing, drawing and beauty genes will surely never develop, I've always quietly cheered for the folks fortunate enough to receive these gifts.
In fact, I like beauty pageants so much, I even conceived and coordinated one back in the mid-'70s. Since its great local success, I've always dreamed that "Saturday Night Live" would snatch my idea and use it on one of their shows. Every year, when we put on the Sandpoint High School Drill Team Variety Show to earn money for our spring parades, we had to come up with a unifying theme for the production.
One year in the early '70s, our student body president, Dave Winfrey, submitted the winning idea, "Do You Walk to School or Carry a Lunch?" Russell Strange, whose band played in the show, even created a fun musical arrangement to go with the title.
Everyone thought the theme was pretty catchy, and it seemed to draw a crowd who got to watch Tom Evans mimic the local curfew siren, Pat Gunter topple over on a tricycle and Jim Hubbard demonstrate an original duck call, which involved blowing up a brown paper bag and then calling "Here duck. Here duck." Somehow, 35 years later, I still haven't come up with the connection that any of those talents have to walking to school or carrying one's lunch.
It was probably 1975 when I came up with my own wacko idea for the variety show theme.
"Let's have a 'Miss Ellaneous' pageant," I announced to the Ponderettes. The girls did look at me like I was nuts, but after a brief explanation, the ideas took off, and our pageant turned out a great success. We opened the door for a variety of candidates to show off their individual talents, brains and beauty and all-around desirabilty as they vied for the illustrious title of "Miss Ellaneous."
I believe we had about a dozen candidates. Miss Adventure appeared in hiking boots and climbed a metal ladder, hygraded from the custodian's closet. Miss Fortune dressed to the nines and had deep pockets---filled with money---which she threw out to the judges.
Miss Shapen wore a tight dress which barely covered her excess blubber. For her talent, she ate a large bowl of spaghetti. Of course, some willing teen-aged male counterparts delighted in supplying the sound effects as she shoveled in bite after bite and sloppy spaghetti dripped from the corners of her mouth. Meanwhile, Miss Fit's clothes look smashing on her, while Miss Matched just never could get the colors right in her ensemble.
Miss Spell tried but did not sucede with hur speling wurds. She provided a good role model for Miss Stake who apologized a lot. Then, there was Miss Quito. She had a prominent pointed nose and glided around the stage with her long legs trying to suck blood out of anyone in her path. There were others, like Miss Demeanor who committed crimes and Miss Judge who wore a black robe and shot discerning expressions toward Miss Demeanor.
The competition was fierce, but finally the pageant judges made their decision. Unlike the 2006 Miss America pageant, which has cut back on scholarships to save money, we didn't worry about money because the statute of limitations now allows me to divulge that our pageant was rigged.
In the end, we did not have to give away any crown, any long-flowing robe---not even a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses. We had no need to raise scholarship funds to award our pageant winner in 1975.
If I recall correctly, our Master of Ceremonies that year was a most debonair and personable young man named Steve Gill. He provided a smashing Bert Parks' imitation throughout the pageant, but, in the end, he had no need to sing "There She Is, Miss Ellaneous" to the winner as she did her victory walk across the SHS stage. The reason?
Our winner was "Miss Ing."