If anyone could pull themselves away from last weekend's Red Sox massacre long enough to check out the Miss America pageant, they may have noticed a few changes in the format. It seems that some of the older traditions no longer appealed to modern audiences, which alarmed the producers: conventional wisdom states that when a society won't tune in to watch beautiful young women traipse around on stage, there's clearly a problem. Extensive polling revealed that viewers don't care about girls that have either "skills" or clothes; as a result, the talent competition and bathing suits were both trimmed accordingly.
It was then decided that the pageant lacked star power, which the executives addressed by bringing in singer Clay Aiken. Regrettably, his energetic performance ended on an awkward note when he was mistaken for a contestant. The ensuing tension spoke volumes about a pageant that, though successful, did little to distance itself from its rapidly-multiplying competition. At last count, the Pageant Eligibility, Registration and Validating Service (PERVS) established that there is roughly one pageant for every three girls in the world. But as poorly as it bodes for Miss America, this statistic reveals an even more troubling absence in the pageantry world: me.
I'm a nice guy. I clean up well. I'm intelligent, ambitious and have lots of hidden talents, especially when I'm wearing a bathing suit. Or, more accurately, board shorts. And an opaque, children's tank top that makes me look jacked. Problem is; I have nowhere to showcase myself. The world of men's pageantry is woefully devoid of men's pageants. Not that we'd call them pageants, of course. We'd call them "face-offs" or "duels," as in the "Mr. Turbo-Galactica face-off" or the "Mr. Outer-Space duel." Anything but "pageant," really. Dudes just don't do "pageants."
But girls certainly do; early and often, at that. Toddler and Pre-Teen pageants are a natural progression from "Miss Infant" and "Miss Gender-Ambiguous Fetus" competitions, all of which prime the young delegates for when they turn "'teen. At that point, entry into a national pageant requires only that a girl win her state pageant, which typically follows a series of earlier, smaller pageants held in cities, towns and households.
Once she's secured her state's endorsement, the girl is sent as a delegate to the "Miss America" pageant. Or she can enter the "Ms. America" pageant. Or the "Miss USA" pageant. Or the confidence-boosting "America's Perfect Teen" pageant. In fact, all a young lady has to do is choose a location for example, "Falkland Islands" or "grocery store" and a female title, and she'll be able to find the exact pageant she wants. Two years ago, the "Mrs. McDonald's ballroom" pageant was a popular draw. This year, the sky's the limit for these girls. Unless they're challenging for "Miss Earth" or "Mrs. Globe," in which case they're somewhat terrestrially-bound.
For everyone else, the limit is actually beyond the sky. Just as the NBA crowns a "world champion" despite barely maintaining a Canadian market, pageant organizers crown a "Miss Universe" under the dubious assumption that our delegate is more attractive than any alien contender. Which may or may not be true; I'm not the best person to ask. What I do know is that both "Miss Universe" and "Ms. Universe" lay claim to the entire universe, which would've lead to an ugly showdown if Donald Trump owner of "Miss Universe," as well as "Miss USA," "Miss Teen USA" and "Mississippi" hadn't secured the rights to the universe beforehand. Negotiations are presently underway for the name "Miss Cosmos," though a group of deities and Carl Sagan are being all salty about the whole thing.
Still, even without an inter-galactic option and actually, the "Miss," "Mrs" and "Teen Galaxy" competitions provide one there remain countless other outlets for our humble humanitarians. Each year at least five married women vie for such titles as "Mrs. United States," "Mrs. International" and "Mrs. Pitt." Other past-their-prime women are either enterprising Tiffini Hercules, 1998's Miss Hawaii USA, was arrested for drug trafficking just so she could compete for the "Miss San Quentin" crown or simply addicted, like any woman entering the "Beauties of America" pageant, which crowns winners well into their sixties. Any time Grandma is eligible for something that I am not, a grave injustice has occurred. Except a senior citizen discount. I concede her that.
Point is, I feel left out. I'm not trying to disparage pageants here. I've seen the critically acclaimed "Miss Congeniality," and realize how much preparation goes into these extravaganzas. All I'm saying is that men should have the same chance to have their academic accomplishments and charitable efforts ogled and photographed on-stage. Women aren't the only ones changing the world, y'know.
But I guess they are the only ones doing it in a two-piece.