a Newsletter from Tuck Self, the Rebel Belle
October 10, 2006: Issue #2
THERE SHE IS... MS. AMERICA!
a Southern Voice for Bold Self-Expression

There She Is... Ms. America!

 

When I was a little girl, my dream was to be Ms. America. “There She Is” I could hear Burt Parks, all dressed up in his tucks and tails, singing to me as I walked the runway.

How I wanted to perform! I use to dream about the many ways of expressing myself and my talent in the pageant. Would I sing? Would I tap? Would I ballet or do jazz? How could I fit it all in? What a hoot now that I think back on it.

Do you all remember -- those of you who are old enough -- that beautiful black slim evening dress Barbie wore (I’m talking Barbie doll here)? It was a bustier, fitted to her body and ruffled at the bottom. That was the dress I was going to perform in. I could see myself on stage at the microphone, singing “One Love” from West Side Story.

Then... when I had the audience eating out of my hand, I would rip the dress off (I never quite had this part figured out), and underneath... wha-la was a “June Taylor Dancer” in full leotard.

Now for those of you who are not old enough to know the June Taylor Dancers, they performed on The Jackie Gleason Show, and they were HOT! Of course, if you don’t know Jackie Gleason... oh well, I guess I’m showing my age. So, as Jackie Gleason so famously said, “Let’s go on with the show.”

So there I was, a Ms. America contestant, dancing like a “hot” June Taylor dancer, performing to “There’s No Business Like Show Business!” I used to imagine myself in that black leotard, fish-net tights, white socks on my feet (that’s how we did jazz back then), moving to the rhythm. I had imaged this to perfection, in my dreams, from hours of watching the “Senior Dancers” at the Vera Marchette’s School of Dance in my hometown.

Then, when you thought you’d seen the best of my talent, I would exit the stage, only to return with a jump rope. My next move was to passionately tap my heart out for you with this incredible dance number I did with a jump rope to “I’ve Got Rhythm.”

Wait! There’s more!

Can you see what is happening here? Remember, I said I wanted to do it all. After I charmed the audience with my song, dance and rhythm, I was ready for my finale. Again, I would exit the stage, only this time to return in my tu-tu and toe shoes and woo the audience with my rendition of “Swan Lake,” bringing them to tears. I had this amazing “swan dying scene” to bring the house down.

So, there you have it, my one and only Ms. America performance. The one I dreamed about over and over again as a little girl. And, not only did I dream about it, I practiced it, and I practiced it a lot.

Did it come true? Yes, and no. And here’s what I mean:

I did get to sing.

I was a Key-Note in junior high, a small ensemble of girls who performed for social events. And, I continued to take chorus all through high school, ending with my senior year song and dance performance in “The Age of Aquarius.”

I did get to dance.

I performed my dying “Yellow Swan” routine in the ballet Swan Lake. And, I won “Ms. Pinnacle” in 1962 at summer camp with my jump-rope performance of “I’ve Got Rhythm.”

And finally, I did get the invitation to participate in a beauty pageant. The Bus Drivers Club nominated me for the Ms. West Florence pageant in ’71, but I declined. By then, all my worst fears and inhibitions had taken over. There was no way I was going to turn my backside to a group of judges for their review!

Why do I share this with you? Because dreams really do come true! As children, we have no fears about our dreams. We just have dreams, dreams that bring us joy, dreams that allow us to express our creativity and the essence of who we are. Although the forms may change, the essence of our dreams are always there.

Did my dreams come true? Absolutely! Did they come true in the form of Ms. America? No... and yes. I never made it to the REAL Ms. America pageant stage, but I can promise you this: Every time I performed, whether as a Key-Note, a ballerina, a dancer at Vera Marchette’s School of Dance, a shower singer or even an aerobics instructor, I was performing. I was expressing my essence, my creativity and living my dreams. I was my version of Ms. America, in my mind, in my heart and in my soul!

What about you? Are you living your dream? Are you expressing your boldest essence to the world – full out and on your terms?

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