Secret’s out: it matters to me

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Coming back from Atlanta Sunday, I stopped and bought a copy of a Birmingham paper.

&uot;I need to see who won the Miss Alabama contest,&uot; I told Greg, as he glared at me for asking him to direct the car off the interstate yet another time.

&uot;Miss Alabama?&uot; he asked. &uot;Who cares?&uot;

I care. There, I said it. Amidst all the feminist hoopla and preaching about today’s modern woman, I care about who wins the Miss Alabama contest.

I can’t help it. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to watch the Miss America pageant. There’s just something about a baton-twirling Miss Mississippi wearing a red, white and blue sequin tu-tu that sets my heart a flutter.

But my pageant involvement ends with watching, at least it did after the one attempt I made to enter that bright, shiny world.

I was a sophomore in high school and took part in the Miss Valhalla pageant. The pageant was for students at my high school but it was also a preliminary to the Miss Alabama pageant. This meant instead of a nice, quiet high school beauty walk, it was big-time, all-out competition, winner-takes-it-all event.

I knew I was in over my head the day the pageant director, a stern-looking woman, asked me about my talent offering.

&uot;Um … a dramatic reenactment of … something,&uot; I said.

She glared at me, crossing me off her mental list of those who had even a snowball’s chance of winning.

I didn’t take the hint. Instead, my mother and I went shopping. We bought the modest, structured bathing suit, matching it with dyed-to-order pink high heels. I bought a full-length purple sequined dress with satin fishtail hem and brushed up on my dramatic presentation, which ended up being a scene from &uot;A Chorus Line.&uot;

Finally, it was the night of the pageant. Me and about 35 other smiling hopefuls introduced ourselves, giving a little speech about our future plans.

&uot;Remember &045; vote DeVaney in the year 2000,&uot; I said, expressing my oh-so-sincere desire to go into politics so I could feed the hungry and promote world peace.

It was time for the finalists to be announced. One by one, the names of the top 10 were called out.

My name wasn’t called.

Then, they called out the two special talent winners.

Again, my name wasn’t called.

Then, they called out the swimsuit winner and Miss Congeniality.

No name, again.

I will tell you that the girl who won that night went on several years later to win Miss Alabama. I went on to become a newspaper editor.

She got to wear sequins. I didn’t. Life just isn’t fair