Each month, a secret blogger gives us a subject/question/prompt to write about. It's always exciting to see who gets the topic you gave out. It's always terrifying to answer some one else's subject. Why in the world do I keep participating? Because the inventor of this ever-growing project, Karen @ Baking in a tornado is awesome and still lets me participate. The best thing about these swaps is that you don't have to take the prompts literally. You can flip them or use them in any fashion you'd like. Some bloggers use lists or recipes, some tell jokes or make up fictional stories. You just never know! I have found that this whole swapping thing has made my Thursday nights (once or twice a month) pretty challenging (in a good way.) I need that excitement; that kind of last minute "dare" to write. Procrastination fairy? Don't let me down....
The subject for this swap was a fun one. It was given to my by Jen over @ Life on the SONny side. She is a funny lady that I've stalked for a while. Go check her out (click on the link here or at the end and give her a follow. I'm great at the stalking , but terrible at the following. I promise to improve on that.
Anywhoo, this was her prompt for me : You've been asked to re-invent the Miss America pageant to make it more relevant to actual human women...what does your new pageant look like? Who are the hosts? What categories should they compete in? What should they wear? Who are the judges? What is the prize? Paint us a picture of your new pageant...
Silly or serious? IHoly Spanx and pasties! Have I got a story for you. It's not a re-invent as much as a "re imagined" pageant, so get ready to go in the wrong direction. (Feminist friends, look away...)
wanted needed to give you both on this topic. At the end of this post, I've written a "Take Two". It's a bit of a rant. You may skip that part or jump to it first. Yes, I promise the same person wrote both ;)
Did I ever tell you about the time I almost came in 2nd place for "Miss Grocery Girl 2009?" No? Really? Well I know it's no "Miss America", but still. Have a seat my friend, this stuff is gossip gold!! ;)
It all took place at the local market on a hot day in June, 2009. The parking lot was packed on this, the last day of the Grocery Girl pageant competition. Our town was famous for the week-long festivities that led to the crowning. Women had been reared since they were tiny Stepford children to come and compete. Checking lists. Bagging groceries. Power shopping. Picking food in its prime. These were the skills we practiced after school and on Saturdays.
This particular week had been full of Grocery cart races, couponing, and putting dairy products back onto the shelves according to dates. I think that's what put me over the top that year; probably because I alphabetized those products at the same time. I'm an overachiever, for sure.
The last two contestants to survive the week were Ginny Dee and me. Ginny Dee was the same age as me. We'd been in the same classes all through our years in school and attended the same church, but we weren't really friends. We didn't have anymore in common as we grew up. She was single, blonde, leggy and tall. I was shorter, thicker, married and had a slight hint of a mustache. Thank God this wasn't a beauty pageant.
While I was exceeding in alphabetizing the dairy products in fervent speed, that Ginny was stuffing the frozen foods in their God-given places. Even the foggy windows and melting Popsicles were no match for her. I beat her at the Soda Pop tower. She won "Vegetable Arranging". At the end of all the rounds, we were tied.
The mayor tried to top himself each year with a celebrity host. This year, he booked the one and only Dr. Phil. I had always prayed it would be Oprah. I could just see her bending that beautiful head of hers back and saying, "Our second contestant has lived a fine, small-town life. She can use big words even if she doesn't know what they all mean... Everyone, please welcome Mi-SHEEEEEEEEEEEL." The second syllable of my name would become 2 different pitches. God bless Oprah. Oh well, Dr. Phil it would be.
The local PTA kindly brought in the judges for the day. Dorothy Lewis was last year's winner. There were also three elderly men who'd been bagging at the market for a combined total of 106 years, and, what do you know, my mother-in-law*. Awesome. And totally fair!
The very last competition of the day was, drum roll please! "Make an outfit ONLY from contents found in the grocery's paper-goods aisle." I was kind of hoping this would be the category. I love clothes. I love making them even more. The final category changes every year. I was in no mood to race to open 237 cans of creamed corn or build end-cap displays made out of feminine hygiene products. Creating paper clothes? I could do this.
The timer was set for 20 minutes. Ginny gave me the "I've got this!" nod and sweetly waved to my mother-in-law who joyfully waved back. Oh, it was on. The aisles were curtained off for our privacy and so we could make our entrances in front of the judges. I had my plan already in motion. When the bell went off, I raced to the aisle set up for me. I spun myself in paper towels the way one would use toilet paper in a mummy contest. Round and round, from my shins all the way up to, and over one shoulder. It may have taken two rolls, I can't remember everything. Classic-ish and not too uncomfortable. I then ripped off a large piece of tinfoil and crumpled it along its length until I could wrap it into a necklace. I had to hand it to myself. I looked great. If no one would notice that I hadn't shaved since April, I might be okay. "Keep your arms down, girl". Don't let the paper towels scratch your Chewbacca legs..."Those words were my mantra. I repeated them over and over. It was about talent anyway. I'll be fine. I slipped some white paper lunch sacks over my feet and carefully wrapped them up with baker's twine. Finished. I spun around in front of the mirror that was placed in the aisle. I was pretty pleased with my design.
When it was my turn, I carefully walked in front of the judges. Dorothy, the reigning G.G., gave me an approving nod. My mother-in-law smiled politely, but couldn't help but notice that one of my shoelaces was longer than the other. I looked down and blushed. I should have measured better. I should have used a thicker twine. They had it stocked, right there next to the baggies! Dr. Phil didn't hesitate to mention that while my dress was lovely, my severely crunched-up tin foil necklace and hairy ankles made him think that I had "Daddy issues." Ugh. At least the old men were smiling. Well, at least I thought they were...
What they were smiling at was not me. It was the next contestant. The only other contestant. Ginny Dee. Beautiful Ginny (who must have visited the teeth whitening aisle before this round,) stepped out from behind her curtain wearing nothing but a paper plate skirt that barely covered her nether region and two GINORMOUS red solo cups over the "girls". She too had used the twine. Her twine held the cups in place like bikini ties and served as a thong in the back. That girl had NO shaving issues at all. Dang.
The little old men had to be helped into chairs. The crowd leaned in closer. Dorothy had paled to the color of her creamy-white dress. My mother-in-law looked at me and then looked Ginny up and down. For a split second, I wondered if she didn't think that THIS is what a winner really looks like. Dr. Phil beamed, describing the pure confidence it took to create AND wear such a thing. Wha??? I was deflated. (no pun intended).
I watched the votes get written down. I saw them slowly being tallied. Then, a slightly hypoglycemic-looking Dorothy stood with the shiny Grocery Girl crown. I knew it. I'd lost my chance at the grand prize of free all-beef hot dogs and buns for a year. All of that training, went down the drain. Worse than that, I'd lost in front of the whole town to Ginny Dee.
I was starting to remove a paper shoe when a wobbly Dorothy bumped into Ginny. Ginny started to stumble, but steadied herself using Dorothy's shoulder. It was then that the crown Dorothy was holding, bumped into Ginny's chest and those two bright red cups of hers came loose and tumbled to the floor. It was like watching in slow motion. People gasped and Ginny grabbed herself where those cups once stood. One of the older men ran up with a paper sack. He was either going to cover Ginny or cover his heart; no one still is sure. As Dr. Phil bent down to pick up the once-admired OTSBH, (over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, people) Dorothy gasped and grabbed the plastic cups from Dr. Phil McGraw's tightening grip. She reached inside and in what can only be described as pure horror, pulled out at least three pounds of Kleenex tissues. The tissues, were NOT in the paper goods aisle at the time of the contest. Beautiful, guilty Ginny had stuffed her "plastic cups". Cheater! She was a disqualified cheater.
That dear readers, is how I ALMOST came in 2nd place for Miss Grocery Girl, 2009.
I actually won. :)
*I never even got to give a speech about doubling coupons or returning carts to the corral for discounts on groceries. Or world peace.
Thanks again to Jen @ Life on the SONny side side for the awesome prompt.
Would you like to participate in the next Secret Subject Swap? All bloggers are welcome! Feel free to contact Karen at Baking in a Tornado . She now has so many participants, the swap goes on twice a month. (Go girl!!).
*No grocery baggers were hurt in the making of this story.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, a rant on how I REALLY feel @ pageants:I could go on and on about how actual real women are the ones who have battle wounds; wrinkles, C-section lines and stretch marks, bruises, cuts and biopsy scars. I could tell you that there are no categories of swimwear for the female soldiers who have gone to war and are missing limbs, or for domestic abuse victims who have lost parts of their souls. We all would rather be in beautiful flowing gowns than be forced to wear those that hospitals or institutions require. We all know that. Categories of competition should be how we talk to our children about death. How kind we are to those with less. How we pay the bills when times are difficult. How we go on in faith when we don't have the strength to breathe. Holding multiple jobs, raising children alone, raising our grand kids or caring for our elderly parents are the true talents. Platforms should be based on how we as women can hold each other up instead of constantly tearing each other down. It's all too deep for pageantry. Our hosts are our families or friends. The ones that see us at our lowest. Our harshest judges live in our heads. Who can say anything worse to us than what we tell ourselves? When we realize we are perfect in our imperfections, when we can see that our trophies come in the eyes of our loved ones, we can know that none of us needs to win a contest. The prize for most of us, is getting through a night and waking up to one live more day. Would we spend that day singing arias or twirling batons, or would we instead, lay in the sun listening to our babies laugh? The things we hold closest to our hearts, the people that make us laugh, the arms that wrap around us to hold us up when we haven't the strength to do anythings else are better than any sash or crown or thorny roses. Being an"awarded" woman shouldn't be about anything else.