Last month, we attended our counties Jr. Miss Scholarship Contest.
We attended to cheer on a girl from our small town whom we know as a lifeguard at the local pool, the girl who mows our next door neighbor's lawn (for free), and as one of the friendly and helpful teens at C's Wednesday night kiddie group gathering at the Nazarene.
The emotions generated by being at a scholarship pageant (not called a beauty pageant, even here in the heartland of all places) harkens back to my wife's family's keen interest and living room ritual of religiously watching every Miss America pageant that's been televised since 1967.
The girls seemed to enjoy the spectacle on the high school stage, complete with cardboard cut-out props and streamers for decorations.
The girls on stage aerobicized (fitness evaluation), strutted in long gowns (poise evaluation) and answered existential questions of little meaning to a teenager, but that I found to be rather thought provoking.
The big finale was the talent competition. It was at this point that I picked the winner, hands down, no question about it.
The contestant performing a modern dance routine drew little applause. I thought she was bold to attempt it at this venue.
The gospel singing contestent drew a little more applause. Playing the religious card - hard to go wrong with God.
The hip-hop dancing contestant drew whoops and hollars from the younger crowd. Others just scratched their heads.
The dramatic reading contestant drew stares the likes of which even the Elephant Man would ponder as rude. Gutsy and bold. I liked it.
Then the winner came out.
She was the one who donned a pair of red "Ariel-from-Footloose-"my Daddy hates these boots" cowboy boots, a rhinestone encrusted denim skirt, topped off with a red and white gingham top tied at the belly. She 2-stepped out onto the stage and came out singing "I wanna grow up to be a cowboy" to which the audience stomped their feet, clapped their hands, and just about threw a hoedown right there in the high school auditorium.
You could feel the audience turn with every sh*t-kickin', boot-stompin', cowboy hat wavin' step.
In the end, our girl didn't win (she was 2nd runner up), but I'm sure C learned some valuable life lessons from the evening.
I'm sure of it.