Carrie: Hey, Deirdre…
Me: What, Carrie?
Carrie: The Miss Texas pageant is next week.
Me: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Carrie: Do you think it would be as much fun the second time, or would the magic be gone?
Me: Hmm. Will there be batons?
Carrie: Of course.
Deirdre: And commemorative champagne flutes?
Carrie: I hope so!
Deirdre: I guess a dramatic reading of Gone With the Wind would be too much to ask for this time…
Carrie: Probably – I think that was a once-in-lifetime occurrence. But … I bet there’ll be puppets.
Me: I'M IN
And this is how it began, once again. #MissTexas2017 #Becausepuppets
Last year, my neighbor and I made our first trip to the Miss Texas pageant. Don’t judge; we’ve got five boys between the ages of 11 and 6 between us – who we love, obviously – but that’s a lot of socks and underwear left on the floor … or the front yard … or each other’s front yard. Even our dogs are male. And yes, the whole concept of a beauty pageant might seem a little weird given the times we live in … let’s just say we like our sequins with a healthy side of sarcasm.
This year, we toyed with hitting another competition. But after concluding the Lone Star Classic probably didn't sell commemorative glasssware, we bought tickets once again for Miss Texas. After an endless Saturday of "OMG MOM, he won't let me play Madden 17" or whatever nonsense they were yelling at us all day, escape arrived in the form of a Lyft driver. Who, it must be said, had lovely manners and only laughed at us once for taking a selfie in the car.
We had reservations for an actual grownup dinner (you know, the kind where nobody spits a straw wrapper at his brother or complains because the grilled cheese is made with real cheese) at Urbano Cafe. Of course, we started off with a proper toast. Because A) we are not philistines and B) pageant prep demands a sparkly pink drink
I'm not much of a restaurant reviewer, but that redfish freaking rocked.
As did Carrie's duck.
We finished with creme brulee, because the waiter, who up till this point had looked at us with the teensiest bit of disdain (fair enough, we were taking selfies with sparkling wine) told us it was so good he ate it for dinner. We figured if he was that amped up about a dessert, it was worth trying .. and we were right. Usually I think creme brulee tastes like carmelized suntan lotion, but this stuff was really good. "Maybe you should get a blowtorch," Carrie suggested. For half a second, I agreed. Till I realized my kids would just torch the kitchen. Ah, well.
Lest you think we only discussed kitchen appliances, there was a sweet-looking, very young couple at a nearby table, who appeared to be on a first date. So of course we had to speculate on a back story. Carrie decided they'd met at church, and she was probably a teacher. On the other hand, he was drinking a beer and she wasn't, so ... maybe not a profession that involved working with children. I wondered if they'd kiss after the date, but Carrie thought that might be moving just a wee bit too fast. Alas, we will never know, because Miss Texas beckoned.
When we stepped inside the Eisemann Center, we were at first ... underwhelmed. Last year, it was like the color pink had exploded as soon as we walked in the door. This year, we were a little early and the crowd seemed slightly more subdued. Don't worry; this lasted all of five seconds, until we found the first tiara-wearers milling around, and then, of course, had to take a selfie.
On closer look, I think the difference was that last year there was more glitter. This year there were more jump suits. Lots and lots of jumpsuits. Black, strapless, cut-out midriffs, all of them paired with skyscraper-height heels. A. When did heels get so high? I was wearing 4-inch sandals (because when will I learn?) and felt like I was in flats by comparison. B. The jumpsuits were kinda badass, in a 70s glam sort of way. (Note to self: totally need excuse to buy a jump suit).
(We are totally NOT stalking past contestants at all here)
Once we'd arrived and taken the obligatory photo with crowns in the background, we headed for the bar. Because nothing starts off your night like cocktails in a commemorative Miss Texas flute. "Do you have a special drink tonight?" Carrie asked. The bartender said sure and started pouring champagne and peach "essence" -- which sounded a bit more like something that belonged in bubble bath, but what do I know?
We toasted each other and took a sip. If you've ever wondered whether Hawaiian Punch and sparkling wine would make a good drink, let me end that speculation for you. It doesn't. We took a few more sips, though, because hello ... Miss Texas cocktail. Finally we had to admit we couldn't do it, Miss Texas, be damned. We took our glasses back to the bar, asked if we could possibly get them wrapped up and just ordered red wine instead. Which the bartender did without blinking an eye. I suspect we were not the first to "not quite finish" the concoction.
That's when we spotted the Lone Star Princesses ... aka, First Communion on crack. I kid, I kid. I'll keep my mouth zipped on this one, except to say my hats off to any ten-year-old who can put up with that much chiffon.
After our selfie with the LSPs (because yeah, we did that), the doors to the theater opened. We high-fived, and made our way down to our seats. I *may* have splashed a bit of red wine en route, because stairs + hideously uncomfortable shoes = gravity is not in my favor (again, when will I learn?)
We took our seats, imagining what talents we might see this year...
Would we be wowed by ventriloquism, musical talent, or ... dare we think there might be a new talent to eclipse last year's glow-in-the-dark 90-second painting of Elvis? The possibilities made us giddy. And finally, the lights went up, the music started and hello Miss Texas ...
The first to take the stage were previous winners, many of whom, I might add, were wearing... you guessed it; jump suits. We met our MC, another past Miss Texas (PMT) of course. The next hour was a blur of choreography and contestants.
In other words...
Which was a hint of things to come, but more on that later.
Carrie and I had a very intense discussion about how they kept their legs and teeth so shiny. Spoiler alert; it's Vaseline. Which is both fascinating and disgusting.
Then Madonna's "Vogue" came on to kick off the swimsuit portion. Ahem, I'm sorry, the "lifestyle and fitness swimsuit competition." Because nothing screams "fitness" like contestants strutting down the runway, whipping off their wraps and parading around in a skimpy bikini. Fitness, my a**. (Or, more accurately, their a**es) This is when Carrie and I looked each other and at our empty wine glasses and decided, even if the pageant wasn't ready yet for intermission, we were.
We hit the bar for chocolate, because that is what we do when faced with body-shaming disguised as fitness.
Also because M&Ms and red wine pair beautifully.
"OMG Carrie, peanut M&Ms are SO GOOD!"
Out of the corner of my eye, I spied someone doing what appeared to be a dance routine on stage. "OMG it's the talent competition!" I shoved the rest of my M&Ms in my clutch and we ran (Ok, I hobbled. Because shoes) for our seats.
Joke was on us, though, because it wasn't the talent portion after all. It was Miss Texas Outstanding Teen.
Followed by a video tribute to the host city. (Shout out to Richardson! Look, it's wildflowers! Look it's a DART train! Look, it's technical-looking people wearing lab coats and hairnets...wait, what? What tech corridor job requires hairnets? Is that even a thing?)
Then the mayor.
Then the evening gowns. Lot of trains this year. And capes, which I kind of love. Because to me, capes suggest that sure, you *might* be a pageant contestant...or you might be hiding superhero powers, and bound off the stage with a sword.
OK, nobody did that -- but I like to think it was a possibility.
After evening gowns, we met the Outstanding Teen (OT) whose platform was about smiles. I am not going to say anything snarky about this, because I mean, come on -- she's a kid. Which means she can have a platform about smiles if she damn well wants to.
At this point, you might be wondering when the hell intermission was.
Or the talent competition.
WHAT'S A MOM GOTTA DO TO GET A LITTLE BATON TWIRLING AROUND HERE?
Instead we got a triple play of PMTs performing their winning talents. There was a tap dancing PMT, wearing a jump suit, because of course she was. Another PMT fiddled (pretty good job, btw), and finally a singing PMT. Surely talent must be next?
Nope. Eliminations. Followed by a pretty killer baton routine from last year's Miss Texas. I still don't understand how she did that thing with her neck and shoulders. FINALLY this year's talent began. Which was...
More Lyrical Dance.
Lyrical Dance with gymnastics.
PUPPETS! Not just any puppets, but SINGING puppets! Carrie and I high-fived as only women who've watched too much lyrical dance can do. Miss Midland-Odessa, I salute your ventriloquism.
Singing -- something stirring about a battle, with a name I can't spell.
...And more Lyrical Dance.
I don't know who put the word out this year on pageant trends, but I liked the jump suits a lot more than the lyrical dance. Don't get me wrong; they were talented and athletic and obviously put a lot of thought into their choices, but ... if I'm gonna watch that much dance, there better be sugar plum fairies and nutcrackers involved.
The two standouts (apart from puppets, obviously) for me were:
- Miss San Antonio, who sang John Lennon's "Imagine" and played the guitar ... and did I mention she was hearing-impaired? Yeah. She pretty much rocked it.
- Also Miss Park Cities, who clogged. Which I had to admire not only because I'm from KY, where I know people who actually do that but also because -- in a sea of lyrical dancers, be a clogger.
After the talent ended .. 2 hours in, by the way ... that's when they called intermission. Two hours is a looooong time to sit through dance routines. Glass half full, perhaps it's good I am unlikely to ever be a dance mom, since this is clearly not my calling. Glass half empty?
When intermission ended, there was a final elimination and then the interview portion began. I *might* have whispered to Carrie, "If somebody says anything good about Trump, I'm totally booing." I was kidding, of course. I do not boo; that's tacky and I was raised right. Also? You don't get to the Miss Texas finals without learning how to deftly dodge an interview question, even when the topics included hate crime, jail penalties for adolescents, the 1st amendment, war and equality.
Miss Park Cities nailed the question about equality by saying we should all pay attention to how we treat each other. Ahem. Just gonna leave that right there.
The interviewer, PMT 1992 (shout out to the year I graduated college!), wore a fabulous off-the-shoulder jumpsuit.
There were some other awards given out -- Miss San Antonio won the Quality of Life award, Miss Dallas won Community Service and Miss Allen won the Miracle Maker award. Which ... I have no idea what that meant, but it did come with a plaque.
Miss Texas 2016 had a final video tribute, where we learned she skinned a rattlesnake on Facebook. Wonder if she hit it first with her baton.
Then finally, THREE HOURS IN, the crowning. And the winner is...
4th Runner Up: Miss San Antonio
3rd Runner Up: Miss Park Cities
2nd Runner Up: Miss Plano
1st Runner Up: Miss Midland-Odessa (#becausepuppets)
Winner: Miss Travis County, who was immediately mobbed by the other contestants, all of whom (except the 5 finalists) were wearing red. Which, on second watching, was very Handmaids Tale-esque. Irony, thy name is Miss Texas.
Last year we ended the evening with a post-show drink at the Renaissance, which we skipped this time around, because #tootired and #winesleepy. Also #toomuchlyricaldance and #notenoughbatons.
But ... there's always next year. And this time, we may be bringing a crowd. Carrie posted a few pics from the pageant on FB and seems we've got enough friends interested to fill an entire row of seats.
Of course, I already know what I'm wearing in 2018.
A jump suit.
Commemorative flutes filled with sickly sweet cocktail: $14
Finding M&Ms in my purse the morning after: priceless