Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Day I Entered a Pageant

Though it's never formally been said (to my face, anyway), it would be very sensible to state that the day I participated in a pageant would be the day that hell froze over. Well, I'm sure that at some point or other, some USC fan or nineteenth-century Holy Cross priest who unwittingly ended up building a university here has referred to South Bend as hell on earth, so I guess it's fitting that today was the Bend's first snowfall of the season.

Because today, I, Sarah Cahalan, entered a pageant...and I didn't even lose.

As I mentioned in some other post, I was recently nominated to be Miss Howard Hall in the O'Neill-sponsored laugh-fest of a pageant, Miss ND. After laughing for a really long time, I decided I might as well go for it. I got a talent ready, practicing it in my room enough times to probably make my neighbors hate me more than Rick Perry hates looking intelligent; borrowed the duck suit for my "professional wear"; mustered up every ounce of irony and humor in my being; and, early this evening, headed over to Washington Hall ready to channel my inner Miss America. (I might add that I have never looked dumber in my life than on that brief commute: the biggest snowflakes I've ever seen were absolutely pouring down from the sky, covering all my clothes and hair and completely soaking the bottom half of my jeans, and I was carrying an approximately 85 gallon trash bag filled with a duck suit full of my other clothes. Oh, and I was wearing the duck head as a backpack.)

After a lot of awkward backstage time in which my innate competitive nature returned to me as I analyzed my fellow contestants and, to my great surprise, even started to get nervous, the pageant began. I got off to a great start, nearly knocking over a mic stand and a stool in my attempts to reach the stage in a duck suit out of which it's virtually impossible to see. I waved eagerly to my adoring if invisible public and skedaddled off to change for the talent portion of the competition. Before I knew it, I was being ushered once again onto the stage, deeply intimidated by the absolutely hilarious acts that had preceded mine and still not positive I knew all the words to my song. The opening chords of "Taylor the Latte Boy" rang out from the 69-cent karaoke arrangement I'd purchased from iTunes last week, and I got in the freaking zone. I was wearing purple tights, my Chuck Taylors, a huge pink bow on my head, and my glasses askew on the end of my nose (among other things, such as, you know, actual clothes), and out came the first line: "There'th a boy who workth at Thtarbuckth who ith very inthpirational." I had decided within the last hour to go big or go home and rock the lisp - and apparently, it was a popular choice. I kept going, and, when I reached the section where I always mess up the words, I triumphantly....messed up the words. I covered it with a lot of character-worthy awkwardness and repetition of "Taylor maketh me tho nervouth," the audience laughed harder than at any other point in the whole song (yeah guys, that was totally what I meant to do), and I headed back to the green room feeling fairly confident. I watched the rest of the acts, continuing to be intimidated, and eventually headed backstage once again to prepare for the announcement of the top 5. The eleven of us walked out on the stage and listened to the emcee announce the lucky ladies. In the middle of these announcements, I realized that he had called Miss Howard. Wait...WHAT? I stepped forward and waved awkwardly, watched the rest of the non-court contestants slink off the stage, and sat down with the rest of the top five for the most terrifying pageant portion of all: Q&A. I gave some moderately funny/awkward answers, listened to the other girls give some absolutely hilarious ones, and waited for them to announce the winners. The emcee began with the second-runner up - the only position I thought I had any realistic choice of winning - and read off my name! Then he, you know, announced those other two or something.

So, today, more than being 11/11/11-Eve and the day of the official first snowfall of the year, was the day that I entered a pageant and came in third place. As I sit in my room looking at the "go Sarah" posters plastered all over my door, I still have no idea how this day possibly just happened...but, sure enough, it did. (There's a video to prove it.) So watch out, Toddlers and Tiaras - there may be a new 19-year-old who cruelly competes against small children coming soon to a pageant near you.

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