Let the Pageant Commence

It was a spectacle worthy of P.T. Barnum, but without the trained tigers. I’m not referring to Miss America, though that antiquated sham of a beauty contest did occur last week. Rather, I’m speaking of the first ever annual Miss Perry Middle School Pageant. Despite the unfortunate billing of the event as “Miss PMS” on the large lighted sign out front, the contest managed to draw in 22 beautiful contestants!

The Perry Middle Jazz band, including musical son Wil, were the featured performers, so Poor Richard went to the beauty contest. It was great. I took notes.

First, no local pageant should lack a poised and lovely emcee with the ability to totally massacre the English language. The mistress of ceremonies for the evening applauded the quality of the “corography” of the first dance number and complimented the “ex-corts” on their demeanor and attire.

Second, every contestant should have a complete biographical sketch. The ambitious goals of these 11 – 13 year olds are simply amazing. Several aspire to be pediatricians after Middle School. Contestant #3 intends to read 150 books that contain 100 pages or more. Contestant #11, aptly named Savannah, intends to go to Savannah College of Art and Design in (where else?) Savannah, Georgia.

Contestant #18 wanted to learn 50 words in Japanese and win in a Junior Rodeo. Also inspiring were the career goals of Contestant #20, who is heading directly to law school after PMS. She would like to be a “divorce attorney for the rich and famous.”

Third, it is fitting that each contestant be judged on their ability to provide a thoughtful answer to a carefully crafted question. When asked, “What would you do if you were elected President?” contestant #2 became slightly flustered.

“I’d feed the homeless, because they need, because they need . . .” Losing her train of thought entirely, she looked to the audience for support.

“Food!” the audience responded in unison!

Fourth, every local pageant should have an evening gown processional with at least one contestant dressed as Queen Elizabeth II.

Finally, no good pageant should be without professional entertainers. I am biased, but son Wil and the Jazz band played wonderfully. Accompanied by a 9th grader, who decided to go to high school rather than law school, they performed a version of “Don’t Know Why” that even Norah Jones would have loved. The chorus was slightly less amazing, but they did feature a striking young alto dressed in neo-chorus biker attire. She commanded my attention, but also that of the 5 year old behind me who exclaimed to his mom, “She really kindof scary, ain’t she?”

The pageant drew to a close with awards of all sorts in the interest of the preservation of contestant self-esteem. Tension mounted as the judges tabulated their ballots. And the right girl won. The cutest girl in the pageant became the first “Miss PMS” ever, a title that will probably haunt her until her 55th high school reunion.

Poor Richard does not wish to offend with his blatant sarcasm. He does find it fitting and proper to question the wisdom of such an extravaganza given the tender sensitivities of the contestants. He does not, however, disparage the entertainment value of the event. It was hilarious! I loved it!

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