A casual dinner with friends a couple Sundays ago led to an impromptu trip to Memphis to attend the Liberty Bowl. Just the girls.
My friend Brenda mentioned that her daughter was going to perform during pre-game and half-time with other Homecoming Queens across America. What?!! Whoever heard of that? I guess I'm not in the pageant or Bowl Game circuit; ask me how to change majors at Purdue or make buffalo chicken dip, but I'm clueless on how the pretty half lives. Well, I was clueless.
Her sister and brother-in-law were unable to accompany them at the last minute, and here were two prepaid ticket packages that were ripe for the picking. I had the time off, with nothing better to do than laundry and reorganizing my life, again, so my daughter and I rode shotgun to Memphis.
What could have been a lovely, balmy New Years weekend ended up being blustery and bone-chilling. For heavens sake, it was 23 degrees during the outside stadium night game that had previously been 70 degrees in years past! But queens persevere, no matter what the weather, and we did too. Even after reading ahead of what the program entailed, we were in for some surprises.
Enter stage right on the set of Miss Congeniality, complete with a Candice Bergen character. I couldn't remember her name from the movie, so we called her Murphy Brown. Murphy with a deep southern accent. "I'm so happy you all are here to celebrate the 51st Liberty Bowl, of which our Queens have played such a big and important part all these years. You have been selected from entries from Queens all over the United States, and believe me this truly an honor. This is not a scam." Just my cup of tea - a bit of adventure with a dose of healthy scepticism to spice it up.
During the reception on the first night, we got a good look at all the participants and their mothers. That alone was an eye opener to genetic transference. The cloning experiments have been successful... All but 14 states were represented. It was impressive, I have to admit. All the girls brought their tiaras with them, "Did you see the size of hers? It wraps around her head!" and were given their own sash with Indiana or California or Whatever on it. It was a bonding factor and a geographical guide to hairdos. Southern girls have the biggest hair, by far. We didn't even have a Bump-It.
The schedule would be filled with parades, a trip to the St. Jude Research Hospital, rehearsal at the stadium on the morning of the game, and of course the Liberty Bowl festivities. The rest of the time was ours which we spent mostly eating barbecue. Ever try barbecue nachos with jalapenos? Really good! We never ran into Elvis, but we did see Eddie Money and a real razorback pig. We mingled with tons of University of Arkansas and East Carolina fans on Beale Street. Beale Street was closed off to traffic and reminded me of New Orleans during Mardi Gras with the free-flowing booze and merry-making/vandalism. Kids could go into the bars, so my 16 year old got initiated into bar life (without the beer). Our favorite part was when all red attired Arkansas fans would spontaneously "Woooooooooooo Pig Souie! Woooooooooo Pig Souie! Woooooooooo Pig Souie! Razorbacks!" It actually scared me the first time I heard it. It sounded like a tornado was approaching, they were so loud.
After the rehearsal, the girls went into High Maintenance gear. Again, envision the plucking, waxing, hair curling, major makeup part of Miss Congeniality. Times 88 teenage girls, preparing to go on national television in below freezing temperatures with only a white gown and Under Armor under it. They were not allowed to wear the white gloves nor white coat they were required to buy while on the field. They looked beautiful, but this could easily be a class action pneumonia suit. The primping part was excessive, in my opinion, but who am I to judge? It was their one chance in a lifetime and they were gonna look good. My daughter is only a sophomore, and it'll be interesting what will happen if she's selected in a couple years. I'd have to eat all these words - with barbecue sauce.
And the Spanish on the road? Yes, sir, we habloed español from my nifty Mexican Spanish phrasebook both at the hotel and in the car. Probably made Brenda enferma. That was the deal - if I came on the trip, I had to practice my Spanish. Actually, the Australians that wrote this book added many important phrases that you might not normally find in a textbook which made it fun. Like, Se me está subiendo mucho (I'm feeling drunk), or Quiero lo mismo que ellos (I'll have what they're having). It got rather specific, in fact, and we feel quite prepared for any situation in Mexico. We laughed our way through the dictionary, and feel empowered to know the word for fart, pedo. Farts are funny, I don't care who you are.
Hasta luego. Tengo Sueno!