Fast forward to when I was in college. Like a typical 18 year-old, I joined a few clubs, but did not rush a sorority. Things were going on well in my freshman year; and it was time for the annual beauty pageant at the University. True to the pattern, the sponsors requested that various student organizations submit a nominee for the Miss Campus Queen Contest.* My organization had not been planning to submit an entry; yet the president of a rival academic organization made a crack about our organization having homely girls; and not having anyone worth making an entry, as they knew they were overmatched.
The major league bitch! My club was so totally pissed; and resolved to enter one of theirs come hell or high water. However, some of the other girls begged out because of feminism, because of pregnancy, because of being swamped with work or studies, or because "she knew her butt was too big." Anyway, they were pretty well scraping the bottom of the barrel, and Tee Angel was one of the remaining double-X chromosome certified possibilities, and (most importantly) I could not talk my way out of it.
I must admit that I was secretly pleased; and learned about the scope of the pageant. Sure enough, it required some display of talent, some adroitness at answering questions (I was definitely in favor of world peace) while wearing an evening dress, and that dreaded and most expected part: the swimsuit competition.
Anyway, since I was nominated by an academic nerd organization, I had no one to fill me in on was to expect or how to perform, so I thought I'd wing it. On further reflection, I asked Mama for some help as I was over my head. She was a big help by helping me modify my old prom dress for the pageant. Indeed, she thought it was a total hoot!
So I did a beauty pageant. And I got a look backstage. Most of the girls were friendly and doing it for laughs like I was, or because they were talked into it and relatively clueless! There were, of course, a few professional pageant competers who tended to look down on the unwashed that they had to share a dressing room with.
For my talent I performed the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker Suite. I thought I did well; considering that the competition included a rope twirler, a clogger, someone who could not quite sing on key, a yo-yoer, and someone who sang "Baby One More Time," complete with sexy schoolgirl outfit! However, I lost to another contestant who twirled the baton! That's the kind of talent that is recognized.
I'm sorry that when it came to spontaneous answers I was not the one to get the World Peace Question. Instead, I was asked by a sports-minded judge about what I thought of artificial turf. I gave a flip answer on a whim thinking that my answer would be remembered for its originality: I replied that men should go au naturel rather than wear wigs! He then asked be what I thought of the designated hitter rule. My response was that a girl should learn to defend herself, and not simply get brothers or boyfriends to do the heavy work! [Maybe I would have qualified for Miss South Carolina.] At least I didn't such hard to answer questions as "What if the sun doesn't shine tomorrow?" or "What would you do if your future husband disapproved of you having worn a bikini before he met you?"
My evening gown part of the pageant went well due to Mama having modified it well. But then there was the dreaded swimwear competition, where we serve as eye candy, more of less, for the yahoos. Suffice it to say that I did not employ technical enhancements, unlike some of the other participants. And I did not inspire any "ahh" or "wow!" comments. Instead, I strutted and fretted my overly long minute on the stage, and was seen no more. Followed by modest applause.
I was neither the winner or one of the runners-up. However, this saga ended on a happy note. When I attended the next meeting of the organization, they gave me a standing ovation, and a tiara, declaring that I was their Queen. I actually came to tears; and took it with me during my textbook salesperson days and, later, when I went to graduate school.
*There were universities that had Miss Campus Chest contests over 50 years ago. These supported the Community Chest, but also emphasized certain prominences.