Miss America, Jayhawks & Me
Posted January 31, 2010on:
There is more to life than Scrabble, although it’s taken me a little time to realize that.
Yes, this Saturday night that added life included the Kansas–Kansas State basketball game and the Miss America Pageant.
I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming (unless, of course, you read the headline for this blog entry).
Kansas might be easier to understand as my daughter and son in law lives in Kansas. Mike – the son in law – is a huge Jayhawks fan having graduated from the University of Kansas. Maggie, a University of Minnesota graduate, is finishing her master’s degree at KU while working full time.
And, I am a KU alumnus of sorts. I took a six-week summer Spanish program at KU while in high school.
And two years ago I was in Kansas City for a wedding shower for Maggie the weekend of the NCAA Final Four the year that Kansas won the national championship. It was incredible fun to be with all their friends – and many of their friends’ parents.
“All the cool kids have their parents here,” one of the friends said.
Cool kids = parents. Yes, life has changed.
I also have a long history with the Miss America Pageant. If you are reading this, I’m sure you assume that is because I was a contender for Miss America. Not exactly.
But as a little girl growing up in suburban St. Louis, I naturally wanted Miss Missouri to win and now, of course, I want Miss Wisconsin to win. With Miss Wisconsin from the La Crosse area, I have a greater interest this year, a reason I went back and forth between B-ball and P-girls.
Also, I must confess that my first date with my husband back in 1974 was the Miss Oktoberfest Pageant in La Crosse, an event that could lead to the Miss Wisconsin and Miss America Pageants. Dick had to cover the pageant for the La Crosse Tribune, where I also worked at the time. I went along with him, even though my tongue as they say was firmly planted in the side of my cheek.
I remember that night for two reasons. First, Dick had to caution me about not making smart aleck comments as there would be many family members of the contestants all around me.
Even more important I learned something about newspaper reporting. After the pageant was over, Dick had to interview the new queen.
“How will you know which one she is?” I asked.
“She’s the one wearing the crown,” he responded.
Duh. Dick had been a reporter longer than me. He knew these things.
Oh one other thing about the Miss America Pageant. Back still in my Tribune days, there was a Miss Wisconsin from La Crosse itself. It was incredibly exciting until it was discovered that she owed money all over town that her creditors were suing her to get back.
When a La Crosse Tribune reporter called to get a comment after one suit was filed, she turned out to have “HBO mouth,” as I call it and HBO had yet to be invented. If you don’t know what HBO mouth is, I can’t write it here. This may not be a family column, but my mother would not put an S in front of HIT in Scrabble even to get 50 bonus points. It’s the way I was raised. She certainly would not have put the word down that comprises most of the dialog in HBO. I would.
Around that time, we had a bunch of giggles in the newsroom about that particular Miss Wisconsin. It also was the time when beeley-poppers were hot and I happened to be wearing them like a tiara. A Tribune photographer took the photo of me that heads this blog and posted it on a bulletin board in the newsroom with this cutline: “Miss Newsroom confronts her creditors.”
Despite the tarnish on the Miss Wisconsin crown that year, my daughter who was probably 2 or 3 at the time, still loved watching the Miss America Pageant in our motel room in Minneapolis. Her eyes and imagination were wide open.
So this Saturday night, I bounced back and forth between the KU game, sending a Rock Chalk Jayhawk text message to my son in law before it started. And I was pleased to be able to say that months earlier I reassured Mike about my medical care because I was able to say to my surgeon, “Rock Chalk Jayhawk.”
“How did you know?” Dr. Christian asked. Naturally I had looked her up. She is a KU graduate, both undergraduate and medical school, not to mention residency at KU-Witchita.
It was an incredibly tight game Saturday night with the KU archrivals, Kansas State, which was ranked 13 in the nation. Mostly, KSU loses that match up, but two years ago, it beat KU. But KU that year went on to win the national championship.
It was home game for KSU, exactly two years after it had beaten KU, a very, very rare occurrence since KU = basketball. KSU fans held signs Saturday night that said things like, “I hate KU.” Seems a little excessive to me.
KU prevailed in overtime and likely moves into being the number 1 ranked team in the NCAA, a mark it held for weeks earlier in the season.
The La Crosse area contestant,Kristina Smaby, did not fare as well in the pageant Saturday night, but you do have to admire this gutsy young woman for her determination. Smaby reached the national pageant after her fourth try at local pageants. According to the La Crosse Tribune, she has won the following titles in the Miss America Program: Miss Holmen 2005, Miss La Crosse Oktoberfest 2006; Miss Prairie Shores 2008; Miss Madison-Capital City 2009; and Miss Wisconsin 2009.
Miss Newsroom never had that determination. And I’m not sure that I could be an effective candidate with a talent limited to “smart aleck.”
And, we don’t want to talk about high heels and the swimsuit competition. Trust me. We don’t.