Thursday, January 27, 2011

Perspectives on Miss America

When Miss Nebraska won Miss America on January 15, I was thrilled to see a young, poised, talented, confident contestant from a neighboring state win out over the “Seasoned Southerners”. I applaud the judges for looking past the “pageant patty” certain states have a reputation of producing year after year and crowning a fresh face.

When a young woman wins Miss America, one of the first things that state has to do is find a replacement for her at the state level. Logic says it would be the 1st runner up, right? I mean, we all know the shpeel that the contestants get once it’s narrowed down to the final two ladies: “If for any reason the winner is unable to fulfill her duties, the 1st runner up will assume the title of Miss FILL-IN-THE-BLANK”. 

Over the past several years, though, I have noticed states are having a tough time finding someone willing to serve the remainder of the year as that state’s representative. Points in case: 2009: Indiana wins Miss America, and no one in the top 5 is willing to take over as the new Miss Indiana. 2010: Same scenario in Virginia. 2011: Nebraska has to look to the 3rd runner up to find a state titleholder.

Here is what I don’t understand: why are these 1st runners up given the option of saying no to the job of Miss “STATE”? As 1st runner up, that is part of the gig, part of the risk of competing. You are accepting the fact and the chance that if your state titleholder pulls a Tara Connor and drinks her way out of the title, is kicked out for some reason, or wins Miss America, you are responsible for taking her place. End of story.

Now, I do think some rules should be amended. For instance, if a state titleholder is removed from her position for any reason, including winning Miss America, she should have to forfeit her state scholarship money and remaining prizes to the new state titleholder. Otherwise, you are asking a young woman who was very close to winning the title to give up her eligibility to compete next year for what….no scholarships, prizes, and five months to do the job? Not that it should be a choice, but I can see why so many turn it down.

Here’s what I think should happen: if you are named 1st runner up, you are expected to take the state title if the winner is removed from her position for any reason, including winning Miss America. If you don’t, you are required to sit out from competing for one year, and possibly even forfeit your 1st runner up scholarship since you are not adhering to the rules that you signed in your contract. The former Miss “STATE” will relinquish all state scholarships and unused prizes to the new titleholder. This is fair because Miss America gets her own hefty scholarships and prizes, and the contract is already set up so that if you are removed/leave for any other reason, you forfeit your winnings. The new titleholder, then, would get her 1st runner up scholarships as well as the winner’s. That makes the job a little more attractive, I think.

I get why these ladies turn the job down: they want “their shot” at Miss America. They want a full year to be Miss State. They want to win with all the glitz and pomp and circumstance, not a crummy crowning ceremony. They want the scholarship money. But I think it speaks volumes about the character and intentions of the girls who say “thanks, but no thanks” to the opportunity of serving as Miss STATE.

So let’s pretend those girls who turned down the crown go on to win a local and come back next year. If I were a judge, I would have one question I would be sure to ask each of them: “Why do you think you should be Miss STATE this year when just five months ago you were given the opportunity to have this job and turned it down? Why should I have confidence that you are interested in the job of Miss STATE and not just using it as a stepping stone for a 1-in-53 shot at Miss America?

I would love to hear those answers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FATS!

The other day, Brady and I were at the mall. He is in a phase where he likes to hold my hand and run as out of control as possible, which he calls "fats" (he means FAST, but it sounds like fats). So we were running "fats" all the way down the center aisle of Jordan Creek. He particularly enjoys it when we both yell out that we are going "fats". Some people laugh, some people are probably annoyed, but overall it's really pretty harmless. At least he is holding my hand and not running half way down the length of the mall, turning around every few seconds to see me chasing him only to squeal and run faster, duck into a jewelry store, and cling to the leg of some poor guy looking at rings with his girlfriend....but that's a different story.

So there we were, doing our thing, when we came to the section where those back massager guys are. You know what I'm talking about: those guys who always try to get you to put your face in the chair hole for a few minutes so they can rub your back and make a few bucks. There was one young woman taking advantage of these services right as Brady and I whooshed by. At this moment, Brady chose to stop talking so the only thing you could hear was me randomly shouting "FATS". To a young woman. With her head down in a hole. Who was more than slightly overweight....

She kind of looked up at me, and I quickly proceeded to "tell" Brady we were running FAST, in hopes she would think I actually said FAST, and wasn't just giving her a run-by insult. I have no idea if she heard me, if it was coincidence she looked up as I said FATS, or if she got that I was running "fast" with my son; but I felt bad nonetheless! Mommies say the darndest things....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's Never Too Late To Apologize

Never.

I think I am a somewhat gullible and naïve person. I always see the best in people, even when it doesn’t exist, and believe everyone’s motives are good. I trust without it being earned, and it’s led to some hurt in my life. Hurt that probably wouldn’t have happened if I had been more careful with my trust.

I know I’m not the only person who’s ever been hurt before, I know I will be hurt in the future. It’s part of human nature. But for goodness sake, if you hurt someone, don’t avoid it, don’t excuse it - just apologize.

I don’t mean a half-hearted “I’m sorry”. I mean give that person more than a second of your time: reflect on your actions and explain why you are sorry. Do it in person if possible. Let them ask questions. Be sincere.

The apologies I’ve received have allowed for self-healing. For mended relationships. For admittance of mistakes or wrong-doing and for letting go of the past. They have helped me move on toward forgiveness. The ability to apologize, to admit a wrong, shows character. It’s closure to an argument or situation.

So the flip side – those who don’t apologize: who either don’t see it as necessary, don’t care, or don’t think they did anything worth apologizing for. It doesn’t matter if it happened years, months, or days ago, the hurt from your actions is there. Forgiveness may have happened, but the pain has not been forgotten. Instead, the person you hurt ends up confused, unable to reconcile in his/her mind who they thought you were/knew you to be, and how you ended up not only hurting them but not even caring enough to apologize for it.

If you cared about someone enough to cause hurt, you probably should care enough to apologize for it. And if you are honest, simply ignoring the fact that you hurt someone in your life isn’t all that freeing for you, either. I’ve never heard of an instance where an apology was a bad thing.

It’s never, ever too late to apologize. Do it.
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