My brief reign as Mr. USA

crown me

Back during my alma mater’s Homecoming I spied an opportunity as rare as an easy left turn in Boone – the chance to snuggle up close with a beauty queen. Thank goodness my wife was nowhere around. I may have lost some cool points. Or, um, I mean, more cool points than I lost anyway.

Note to self – there is no cool way to act smooth with a beauty queen. None.

I learned that lesson during the alumni breakfast at the alumni office. There’s free food for all the Mountaineer moochers in town for the big game. One on the honored guests at the breakfast was Shannon Devine, the reigning Mrs. United States .. emphasis on Mrs. I knew ahead of time she’d be there, so even before the first biscuit was bit I had planned to ask for a photograph.

Now I’ve never met a beauty queen. The closest I’ve ever come to a celebrated speciman of feminine perfection is living vicariously through a friend who once met Demi Moore. And that’s just sad (I’ll let you decide in what way).

So when the queen made her entrance I made ready to say hello. I wasn’t sure exactly how the conversation would go, but I figured I wouldn’t be the first dork she’d meet seeking to pose with a pretty woman. In any case, it would be a moment to remember. And how.

At first Devine was surrounded by wellwishers, but eventually the crowd dispersed. She made her way into the breakfast room solo. I saw my chance so walked up and said hello. I congratulated her on her win and asked if she’d so far been in many parades. She smiled and said she had in fact been in a few as Mrs. North Carolina, but today would be her first representing all 50 states.

I spied the university photographer nearby and asked if she’d pose for a photo with me. Of course, she replied, a bit quicker than I expected. Then she put me on the spot, “Do you want to wear the tiara?”


Now I pride myself on my johnny-on-the-spot-quick-wit, but this time it failed me. I wasn’t expecting beauty queens to have wicked senses of humor. Before you could sing “There she is,” the shutterbug put to pixels me looking all prit-T. I look like that Warner Brothers vulture sent out to bring home dinner and returning with a bumble bee. (Um garsh …).


After some laughs at my expense – both by the queen, the photographers and anyone within a 20-foot radius – she acquiesced to my request for a less-jovial photo. She was kind beyond words and I’m honored she let me bask in her tiara’s glow.

Later that day I recanted the story to my wife. I told her, “See what happens when you leave me alone. I attract beauty queens!” She answered with the look one gives children relating their first time sitting on Santa’s lap, feigned interest with a bemused smile.

Oh yeah! Next time, I’m getting a hug!



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