That’s my little girl, third one from the left in the leotard made to look like a trampy duckling. She’s killing it, right? YOU’RE KILLING IT, HAILEY! You would never believe she has a fever of 102 right now. I mean… she’s sweating, yes, but that just reads as passion to the judges. And commitment, because committed people sweat due to how focused they are. Nope, you’d never know just how sickly my daughter is right now.
Which one’s yours? The flirty Raggedy Ann? Oh sure. She looks… healthy? In every sense of the word! Looks like you were trying to pack a family of bratwursts into a napkin holder, that belt is so tight! Nah, I’m just kidding. It’s that age, it’s that age. Get her sick enough, she’ll lose the weight.
Honestly, when I first started, I thought the judges were looking for a bit of that natural baby chub. Thought it would read as authentic, like… “classic child.” But I talked to one of the judges at the Denver Little Miss Mile High Mountain Miss semis and he told me that they’re judging on the same criterion as the adult pageants. All they’re looking for are the six "T"s: teeth, tits, tummy, toosh, toesies and talent. And then, if you’re lucky enough, we’ll be looking at a “T” of our own: “tiara!” Or “trophy,” we’d also accept “trophy.”
GO GET EM SWEETHEART! STAY ON TWO LEGS! YOU CAN SLEEP TOMORROW! FOR NOW, YOU’RE FIGHTING! WIPE THE SWEAT; IT’S BEADING ON YOUR EYELIDS! IT’S GOING TO MAKE THE SPRAY TAN DISCOLOR AND START BURNING!
Oh no, no. Her mother’s not in the picture. I mean… we’re happily married, she’s not dead or a runaway. I just mean that this isn’t her bag. She’s a lawyer. Dowdy pantsuit and all. This just isn’t her scene, God rest her soul. I told her, though, that these things aren’t so different from criminal court. We both have judges and award prizes and I get into vicious verbal sparring battles at these things all the time, just like she does at her job.
Honestly, I just wish she’d come to one or two of these for Hailey’s sake. Because to keep the honesty ball rolling, I think somebody is getting a little sick of dear old dad. Which is sad. But I get it, I mean… if I’d have been locked in a hotel room with my father for 49 weeks out of the year, many of which were in a persistent state of mild illness, I might be a ripening crab apple myself. We’ve been trying to visit a psychologist now to just sort of… head off as many issues as we can, but it’s hard when you’re this mobile. I’ve been trying some home therapy too, which I guess is sort of modern. I act as the therapist, of course. Who better to be your therapist than your dad? She doesn’t even have to talk that much, I can just tell her everything that’s wrong already because I’m her dad. That’s what I do!
SWEETIE, CURVE YOUR LIPS, ONE SIDE OF YOUR FACE IS DROOPING! HOLD ONTO THE GIRL NEXT TO YOU IF YOU NEED STABILITY! KEEP ONE HAND PRESENTATIONAL! YOU’RE CRYING BLOOD, SWEETIE, WIPE IT DOWN, BLEND IT INTO YOUR CHEEKS! IF YOU DILUTE THE BLOOD WITH THE TEARS, IT WON’T READ AS MUCH!
So we’re fine and… well, you know how it is. The work is the work. But when they come running back to you with that small, plastic trophy in hand and that clip-on tiara and that $50 savings bond, all the rest just sort of washes away.
Today? I’d hate to speculate. I’m not a judge. Yet. Dare to dream. She probably won’t rank, I think there’s probably too much blood on her face at this point for them to see through to her talent portion. That’s a real shame, because we’ve been working on her spinning arm rings routine and accompanying monologue for at least half a month now. But it’s okay, we’ve got four more this weekend and six more the weekend after that. Even if she doesn’t win, the most important thing is that we tried. I always tell her that that’s the only “T” she needs to worry about. At the end of the day, I tell her, if you can say that you tried, then you’ve already won the title of Little Miss Be Proud Of Yourself. Then I secretly dose her with just enough weight loss viruses to keep her on the cute side of woozy and I let the magic take over. Being a dad, right?!
PLAY IT OFF LIKE THE NAP IS PART OF YOUR ROUTINE, BABY! DADDY IS SO PROUD OF YOU! IF SOMEONE COULD ROLL HER OFFSTAGE, I’D GREATLY APPRECIATE IT!