Last night, Fella and I watched “Hilarious” by Louis C.K. I could tell it was recent because of the jokes, but a little light came on as he repeated over and again about how he’s 41. (The thing was filmed in 2010, LCK was born in 1967 according to IMDb)
I thought, “Hum. I think he’s around the same age as Tina Fey.” She’s a 1970 kid.
Then I thought, “Penelope’s in her early 40s, too!”
So all my favorite public figures, with whom I most identify, and whose success I most aspire to emulate, are in their early-to-mid 40s (Penelope was born in 66, so that makes her 45 for some part of this year).
I think the reason I love these three is because they all have kids my kid’s age, and their public life is informed by that. Also, they’re all funny/self-deprecating, smart, and embrace their natural appearance, keeping the plastic parts to a minimum.
So I’m in my early 30s, and the three people I most covet a lunch date with are at least 10 years older. What does that mean?
I have some ideas.
1. Either I am less prone to aborting unwanted fetuses, or worse at birth control than they are.
2. I’m reversing that 30 is the new 20 thing–30 is the new 40.
3. Tina, Louis, and Penelope are all extremely immature, or, spending ALL of one’s 20s and part of one’s 30s not being a parent is awesome for your soul.
4. My soul is ahead of its time.
5. I should have been a teenager, not a child, during the 80s. I could’ve been awkward, acned, and rapaciously horny at the same time I wore pink spandex pants with an oversized glitter kitty t-shirt.
She was the best-looking of all the 30-and-up contestants. I don’t have a shot of her face, but maybe my co-spy does. Stay Tuned. Here’s what the EmCee said: “Nancy is 39 years old with brown hair and blue eyes. Three words that best describe her are courteous, outgoing, and helpful. Her future ambition is to pass her LPN test. The person she most admires is her best friend, Molly. Thank you contestant 35.”
The boy behind her in the red suit is her son, also a pageant contestant.
While Contestant #35 struts, the father/grandfather of another of the mommy contestants (She is 21 and has two children, both are also pageant contestants) is allowing his 3-year-old granddaughter-beauty-queen to maul his ear. He is clearly enjoying it a bit more than he knows he should. This is evident in his grimace of shame/joyand his repeated requests for the little girl to stop it, even though he does not use his considerably greater power to remove her from his ear.
Here’s a picture of that family’s method to reserve their seats:
Thankfully, there were only 3 contestants in the 30-and-up category.
Contestant #36’s hair was similarly greasy and unkempt. Contestant #37 was 65 and wore this totally outrageous outfit for the “choice” portion of the pageant. It included coconut shells somehow sewn into this formless shift.
Interestingly, even with the coconuts, contestant #37’s breasts were difficult to distinguish from the rest of her lumpy middle section.
I’m uncomfortable as I write this. I abhor pettiness. And I certainly don’t want a stranger critiquing my middle section.
But I’m not strapping my middle section into an unfashionable dress with my bra straps visible to all, nor am I shamelessly parading myself and children across some stage in some recently-flooded, half-redone hotel ball room.
I’ve been thinking about what interests me about these pageants. I like to make up narratives for myself about the things that people tell themselves, or the events that lead to, these unbelievably shameless, trashy folks committing all this time and energy and money to these beauty pageants.
Yesterday, I read on the website that every single contestant receives a trophy.
Is that it?
It is rare for me not to be able to muster any pity or understanding for things like this.
Only a story this bad would make me sympathetic toward these people: Nancy is the youngest of 10 children. She wore hand-me-downs from her much-fatter sisters when she was a kid, and was sexually assaulted by the men in her family, enduring horrors that only Lifetime movies and Reader’s Digest Condensed Novels brave (certainly not unfocused blogs).
These men told her she was beautiful, and since she was being raised in filth and poverty in an impoverished town and an impoverished school district, her quiet mousiness in school was dismissed by her teachers and by her friends’ parents as normal. As a defense mechanism, she told herself an elaborate story with a perfect and happy story world in which she was a beautiful, rich princess with doting parents and the choice of any of thousands of handsome and kind princes, she would retreat to that world as she was being abused. Since nobody ever told her otherwise, she accepted the flattery from her family men and still believes that sexual congress between family members is acceptable, and spends more time than not in her fantasy, princess world.
Of course, not all the pageant people had behavior that inspired such sad musing, but the ones who didn’t perplexed me even more.
I’m going to another small pageant in about a month. I think I need a professional photographer to go with me. Anybody up for the adventure?
**It should be explained that I changed these people’s names. I guess I feel some respect for their non-existent dignity is in order. Also, I’m protecting myself from liability.
The question I set out to answer is this: “Are the people at pageants in real life as crazy as they are on TV?”
Depends on which TV you’re talking about.
1. I watched about 1/3 of an episode of “Toddlers and Tiaras.” It made me a little bit sick inside. So with that as a measure, no.
2. Little Miss Sunshine? I’m going to say that that movie was pretty accurate.
This image is the group of contestants aged five to six, both glitz and natural. In case you’re a pageant neophyte (like me), natural means no makeup and a subdued hairdo. Glitz means tons of make up and as many sequins as possible, plus hair that is so well sprayed it appears to be shellacked. Some of the very small children appeared to be wearing well-matched wigs & hair extensions, too.
The place felt a little like a baby factory. There were so many very young women with multiple children. A lot of women appeared to have recently given birth, or to have one on the way.
It wasn’t a big pageant. There were 37 contestants all told, I think. More on those later.
I was rooting for the sweet girl with downs syndrome and fake nails.
We did meet some sane, reasonable people. In fact, we were lucky to sit next to them. They allowed me to suspend my disbelief and judgement in really helpful ways.
I sense that this pageant was a pretty good cross section of pageant-goers. The contestants ran the gamut from the haphazard, wrinkled, trailer park kids (and their moms) to the pristine, well-trained, tap-dancing variety. Except that it’s now break dancing, and when I say well-trained, I do not mean housebroken.
Forthcoming posts: Contestant #35 and her zany family
Soulless Sabrina’s Dancin’ Grandma (featuring the videography of Judy Stumpf)
The 30 and Up Category
I Sold My Soul for a CD of Photographs
Is it a Racket?
I have not yet completed my research on the cost of the pageantry. But we were told that it was $300 to enter the pageant, but not for any of the additional categories. The cost of flippers (fake teeth), hairdos, makeup, gowns, other gowns, dance training, etc, commits the pageant hobbyist to thousands of dollars annually.
Here’s a picture of some of the merchandise that was available:
In digging into the website of the pageant we just attended, I learned that they provide a devotional. I wonder if the church thing and the pageant thing go hand-in-hand? I wonder if it’s just about guilt.