Recently I was requisitioned to serve as host/announcer at two separate quasi-beauty pageants. The contestants were happily of the female gender. (Thank you, God.) My anticipation as the dates drew near turned me toward delirium even as my regular life threatened to collapse, rendering me all but oblivious of the army of authoritative berserkers who continued building their strength and number just outside my secured drawbridge.
Therefore have my eyes of late been witness to remarkable bounties that, were they to be accused of gluttony, would not deny the charge but rather would squint into proud smiles and perhaps belch contentedly from out their tear ducts.
My experience at the events was as satisfying as the law allows; bikinis, when required, are a surmountable annoyance. Being in such close proximity to the combatants before and during the shows was occasionally humbling.
I feel compelled to clarify one aspect of these settings before my direction is resumed: In many countries, these traditional events are increasingly vilified. In New Zealand (where they’re known in translation as Fox Hunts) each year seems to find them inching closer to an outright ban. Their believably upset opponents seem to be a well-educated yet visually unseemly group of malcontents who are essentially jealous of those who are generally more pleasing to the eye than themselves. Every time they trot out their tired old charge that these pageants treat women like pieces of meat, that slight greenish tint dusting their complexions begins to glow and pulse until they’re all twice as scary-looking and ugly as they are otherwise.
“Pieces of meat,” my tossed salad! These pageants have a track record of according their participants a good deal of respect, attention, even love – commodities we’re sure to note as being in short supply at a certain upcoming political convention. Meat? Has ever a judge at a county fair been kind enough to slip some prized heifer his room key or a proposal of marriage? I think not. Has ever a beauty contestant been baked or boiled or roasted or sold to some fast food chain or been tenderized with a damned mallet? Even if we parse definitions on that last one, the answer’s so plain… and only a moron would say that women require someone to prepare them when they’re already quite adept at doing that themselves. My point is (and you may quote me) that as far as I’m concerned (and I’m really not), there is nothing more wonderous, more beautiful on God’s earth than a woman who’s hot and needs approval. Mercy.
At my events, beauty alone was not the sole requirement. I was instructed to prepare a different compelling question for each of the ladies to briefly consider, then answer. It would be totally real and unrehearsed, although I was allowed to explain to each of them the meaning of terms like compelling and consider. They were to be graded, I surmised, on their ability to articulate something of their personalities through their off-the-cuff responses.
At each show, I would sequester myself in a deserted hall or maybe the ladies room some 10 or 12 minutes before the start and allow my mind to slip into a process I call “trancing” or “frantic deadlining,” when I proceed to write up about 15 cards, each with its own provocative query, questions I envisioned being interesting to the audience while mentally exercising the intellectual lobes within all that prime filet on stage:
• Mellow: have you never been, and why?
• Ever seen the rain, really, or have you never?
• How can you mend a broken heart, and where?
• On a mystery road trip, do you know the way to San Jose?
• Roads: How many must a man walk down before they call him a man?
• Nowhere Man: If the world’s truly at his command, how can he not know where he’s going to?
• You have become a mother. Congratulations! At what age do you think you should stop breast feeding (if the feeder isn’t me)?
Challenging questions all, yet I would awaken the next day with a slight suspicion that, while pulled from the ether, they might just be chock full of insight and answers regarding my own troubled psyche. Some loon might suggest gaining insight by stringing together just the first letter of each question, in the above order, and thereby force outward the soul’s deepest cry, a revelation at once overpowering, transforming, and utterly absurd. Get real.
I was so darned proud of these girls! I was entranced by the arhythmic opening and closing of those sweet mouths… the desperate grace of those firm bodies – fortresses of admirable and salacious imaginings, now suddenly beholden to and subjugated by the need for thought. “This is better than ‘The Hills,’” I decided, recalling the worst piece of crap I’d ever seen in my entire life. A rare, eternal truth…
They all thought so well on their feet (at least when they weren’t concurrently chewing gum). As one of the beauties put it to me privately, “I truly love learning… but I need a very strict teacher because I’m a very naughty girl….” I can’t deny carrying something of her with me when we parted, and I’m trusting that my doctor will make a speedy diagnosis and correction if my suspicion is confirmed.
I think women, with their varying pitches and movements, their clefs, time changes, and grandes finales, are to a great extent the actual embodiment of music, while occasionally being able to nearly transcend it. You can play music through an appliance, but no appliance is really capable of perfectly conjuring and capturing the eternal, ubiquitous song of the female, unless the batteries are really fresh.