Monday, June 02, 2003

I was watching TV last night, not really feeling 100%, and fighting off a mild fever that had plagued me for most of the day and I saw a commercial that made me harken back to the days of childhood bliss back in Clemmons, North Carolina. (Now, I know most of you are going, "But Brian, what's all this talk of North Carolina? I thought you were from Florida?" Before I moved to Florida, I lived in North Carolina so there.) Anyway...there I was flipping through the channels when the commercial came on and I just had to smile.

It was the Miss Universe Pageant.

Growing up, there were very few things on TV that my parents would let my sister or myself stay up to watch past our bedtime of 8pm (later extended to 9pm when we got older and then later to whenever the hell we actually went to bed). There was the occasional holiday cartoon but whenever the Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants hit the screen, all bets were off. Of course we had to promise to get up early without complaining and the whole usual laundry list of promises that came with it just for the opportunity of being able to say that we saw Miss USA lose the crown yet again. Now, I know that two Miss USAs have since won the crown but I wasn't watching the pageants those years so I guess, for me, I've never seen a Miss USA crowned Miss Universe.

The tradition went something like this -- I would assume my place on the floor while my dad would be in his recliner. Mom would be on the couch with her pen in hand to write down the scores (and would join me to become an impromptu accounting firm when it came time to tally them) and my sister would be somewhere...who really knows where she was... This was also back in the day when they had that huge travel commercial for wherever they were hosting the pageant that year where the women would pose in their bikinis while their composite scores flashed beneath them. Of course, by the time they got done with that, my mother and I had already put together the top ten contestants so it really wasn't that much of a surprise for us when we went ten for ten.

My sister and I would inevitably pick the contestants that would never win or make the cut to the semifinals while my parents had it figured out the system from many years of pageant viewing and knew crap from gold. My sister and I didn't care. We just liked the pretty dresses and watching the women walk down the stairs to strike their first pose on top of a grand piano and then be escorted down for their final pose and their score. I remember when Miss Zaire made it to the final five and I was really pulling for her but she didn't win. And then there was the year my sister and I were rooting for Miss Guam just because we liked the name of her country. We loved how they would squeeze the women into the really small isolation booth and then the guy would sing them a long ballad as each woman got a little bit more camera time as the final scores are being tabulated and at this point my sister and I would bet my dad a quarter that our pick would win and invariably, we would never pick the right woman and we'd lose the quarter bet we'd make with our father who really had a knack for picking the sister and I would boo, my dad would grin, and we'd have to pay up. Of course I was always under the misguided notion that Miss Universe had to sit on the throne for the entire year and had no idea what Miss Universe really did besides look pretty. I know there's lots of talk now about how Miss Universe must use her title to raise awareness for AIDS around the world but back then what did Miss Universe really do besides look pretty and try on swimsuits?

And then the cycle would start all over again next year....
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