Five Minute Friday: BETTER
I had a conversation on Twitter a few days ago that has given me an earworm of “Rainbow Connection,” the Muppet song. (The person tweeting said they had failed their child because their kid had not heard the song.)
The conversation got pretty amusing (to me at least), because it sent me down memory lane. “Rainbow Connection” was the song we walked to as contestants in the Miss Union County High pageant in 1981. Is there a less pageant-y song anywhere? It was cute in context, though. The whole theme was essentially rainbows and happiness.
I am not pageant material. However, participating in Miss U-Co-High and a pageant I did in college are things I think about frequently. It’s not that those times in my life were better times (not at all), but that being in those contests helped me be a better person. They also give me a better understanding of pageant culture and a certain angle on what pageants have become in our society.
I remember clearly my talent at Miss U-Co-High (I played “The Entertainer” on my flute and created a “jazz” kind of feel — I had on a vest-type thing and brought out an old gas lantern I had borrowed from my aunt.) I also remember Mary Annette Shadd’s talent (she won! congrats!) — she sang “The Rose” and clinched the deal by accompanying herself on the piano, something she ended up deciding to do somewhat spontaneously. I’ve always felt that addition of accompanying herself gave her an edge (can you tell I was first runner up?!).
For the other pageant I did, it was one of the scads of for-profit pageants that are around, the kinds featured in reality shows. I had no clue what I was doing. I got a dress with a hoop skirt (in a situation where most women aim, to an extent, to demonstrate that they are in good physical shape — I obscured all that). What I remember most clearly is how hard it is to smile CONSTANTLY. My lips were quivering. My knees were knocking. It was nerve wracking.
Despite the nerves, I am still glad I took a stab at sharing my better self with the world. It taught me a few lessons that stay with me decades later.
Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)