"Isn't it a little ironic here? We pick politicians by how they look on TV and Miss America on where she stands on the issues. Isn't that a little backwards?"-- Jay Leno
Every little girl dreams at one point or another of being crowned queen or princess at a pageant.
Okay... I realize that statement isn't exactly true.
If I were writing a nationally syndicated column I would be hounded, with thousands upon thousands of nasty comments and hate mail. About how politically incorrect I am to group all little girls together and how outrageously demeaning pageants are to little girls
But thankfully I'm not.
I'm just my tiny little rant in my corner of the world, and that sentence, though littered with fallacy and assumptions, sounded like a good way to start today's post.
Besides you should all just be happy that this isn't another story about my dog.
So back to where I started.... as a child I dreamt of being in my small town's Exhibition pageant just like my sister.
( I never was, Exhibition week seemed to always fall conveniently on the same week I went to visit my aunts in another town. Kudos to my mother for pulling that one over on me three years in a row)
I watched on the edge of my seat as Darva Conger was crowned to marry a millionaire when I was seventeen.
(Who knew that show could cause so much controversy, yet ten years later the Bachelor/Bachelorette shows are beloved prime time must-sees.)
And if I had cable TV I can say with absolute certainty I would be addicted to the "Little Miss Perfect" shows.
(No matter how much they make my stomach turn, I have to admit it is about 50% curiosity, 48% disdain, and 2% jealousy that keeps my from looking away.)
So when asked to be a judge for the First Annual "Real Lobsterman of Shelburne County" pageant, I could hardly resist.
Six men would compete to prove worthy of the title and all I had to do was sit and watch and pick which one I liked best.
Sounds easy right?
Yes, I could sit down in the darkened audience and watch these men do all the hard work, then maybe hold up a little card that said my score on it for each one.
Should I mention I'm not actually the competitive type so I was planning on giving them all a 9.5 anyway?
The pageant started a 7pm... like a diligent judge I was having some pre-pageant coffee (to stay alert just in case I felt the need to vary the scores or anything) and getting ready to show up by about 6:45.
This is where my preconceived notions of the night started to go a little hairy.
I got a call from my sister asking me to be there by 6pm to go over the judging rules.
Oooppss... I could tell right then that one of those rules would be "Please don't be apathetic about this and just give them all the same scores, leaving the other judges to do all the work"
So I show up an hour early, still thinking this would be a fairly laid back evening on my part. What could be so hard about actually deciding who deserves the 7 and who deserves a 10?
As I walk towards the stage, and notice all the people running around doing what looked like official setting up things, I realized that maybe this was going to be a little more involved than previously expected.
Then as I neared the stage I realized that the table ON the stage had three seats for the judges.
So much for sitting with the audience, was my first thought.
Glad I brushed my hair, was my second.
As it turns out the judges were also a part of the show.
As a diligent supporter of community events, I didn't complain.
Well, not until was informed I had to write a bio on my self to be introduced.
Then I wined a little.
You may think that because I write these things that make people chuckle I'm actually quite witty.
Au Contraire Mon Frére. Not in the least. At least not on demand. I'm not so great at writing under pressure.
I read the bios for the other judges for some inspiration. But all that did was intimidate me.
Little did I know that finding a way to describe myself in six short entertaining sentences was actually the easiest duty I would have for a night.
I then had to come up with my own questions to ask the contestants!
All I know about lobstering is how much it hurts to get pinched and that I get a little nauseous before sunrise.
This is when I started flat out complaining that my sister hadn't prepared me for anything. She looked a little horrified as she tried to assure me that she had no idea I would have to do public speaking.
I think she thought I was going to quit or something.
Sometimes I just like to whine. It helps with my creative process.
And so there I sat, through the Opening Ceremonies, with my "I'm paying attention and fully enjoying this" face. Thinking about how similar being a bridesmaid and a pageant judge really are.
First you think it's an honour, then you realize there is real work involved, and to top it all off you have to get up in front of everyone and behave yourself so as not to steel the spotlight from what they actually came to see.
As the pageant starts they call the men up to the stage.
I look at line of six strong, macho, fisherman walking to their own rhythm of "How the hell did we get talked into this?" and I start to feel a little less sorry for myself and a little more proud of them.
Then the judging officially starts and I have no time to actually think of anything else.
They modeled their outfits, answered their questions, and their hands flew as they completed their rope coiling, splicing and lobster banding tasks.
There were points to be given out for creativity and originality. Not to mention I gave out extra points just for them being entertaining.
But I kept having to adjust scores, because I would give one guy a 45 out of 50, then the next guy would be way better.. so I'd have to down grade the 45 to a 42 to be able to give the next one a 48.... it was a complicated system I had going. I'm not sure if it would pass a pageantry review board.
Nothing was scored out of ten. I felt a little bit like I was being given a public math exam.
We had three stop watches, but not a calculator in sight.
By the end of the night, my score sheet looked like this.
My fellow judges and I tallied everything up individually. Then we added all of our scores together, only to find that out of a possible 450 points, two guys had the exact same score.
We couldn't have done that if we had tried.
So we went back for a tie-breaker. A Band-0ff. Ten lobsters each, first one done takes the grad prize.
It was a nail biter to the end. But finally we crowned ourselves a "Real Lobsterman of Shelburne County", and two "Men in Waiting".
And despite all my complaints I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I hope to be asked back next year (hint hint Suzy).
I will be prepared with my caculator, and my white-out.
3 years ago