[Think of it: Short, humorous pieces, inspired by specific, dated news items. What happens to such pieces, should this publication, or one of its johnny-come-hither counterparts, fail to run them in time for them to retain their relevance, their topicality, their wow-he-must’ve-written-that-this-very-morning-ness? You can probably guess their fate: They are, in the vernacular, “killed.” But this, Untimely Week, is their chance to live. Enjoy Untimely Week.]

- - -

For the past 10 years, the reigning Miss USAs and Miss Universes have lived in Los Angeles. As part of the “redefined” (i.e. Trumpified — Donald bought the organization with CBS two years ago) pageant, the beauty queens are being transplanted to Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where they will live for one year.

—New York Post, 6/8/99

- - -

My Dear Friends,

Perhaps you’ve seen them riding the elevators, or waiting downstairs for a limousine to whisk them off to some trendy restaurant, glamorous photo shoot, or Long Island mall opening, but allow me to officially welcome our newest residents: Miss Universe Mpule Kwelagobe, and Miss USA Kimberly Ann Pressler. Believe it or not, they will be sharing an apartment up on 30 for the duration of their reign, which is one year, or until a horrible secret from her past forces one of them to trade in her jeweled tiara for the humiliating bobby pins and plastic crowns of the boat show circuit.

If any of you single or recently-divorced fellas think you’re going to come calling on these comely young gals, think again. They have a round-the-clock chaperone, a 10 PM curfew, and a strict ban on overnight guests. Moreover, each girl has a serious boyfriend: Miss Kwelagobe’s beau is an electrical engineer back in Botswana, and Miss Pressler’s inamorato works in a cheese factory upstate. Now, I know what you’re thinking: after the newly-crowned Miss USA spends a year in Manhattan hobnobbing with the richest, most sophisticated people in the world, it’ll be dumpsville for her cheddar-cubing high school sweetie. To the contrary, it’s probably a blessing for their relationship that she is caged in a New York high rise instead of running loose in Franklinville, flirting with the County boys who swagger into the Sportsman’s Tavern on Friday night, tanned and sweaty from a 12-hour day on the steaming blacktop, plying her with double entendre and Genny Cream Ale until her breathless promises of fealty, exchanged in the back seat of Daddy’s Impala, are but quaint vestiges of a more innocent, and irrelevant, time.

Now, if you’ve been to 26, visiting me or my husband Mack, you know I’m no stranger to the high ranks of pageantry myself. Outside the parlor, in a handsome teak cabinet, I still proudly display my sash from the day I was crowned Miss Herkimer County 1966. As many of you have heard me tell it, that was the same night our wonderful son Jon (who is now a doctor) was drunkenly conceived in the most idiotic and self-destructive act of my life.

Anyway, those of you who don’t know much about the politics of pageanting might be wondering: If Mpule is Miss Universe, then Kimberly Ann must have lost to her in the big pageant. Is it possible that the most attractive girl in the Republic of Botswana, a tiny nation whose principal export is nickel, could look sexier in high heels and a swimsuit than the prettiest girl in the US of A? Well, you can rest easy. The most beautiful woman in this country is not Miss USA, of course, but Miss America, Heather Renee French, and until some real changes are made to the global pageant infrastructure, we will continue to get our heart-shaped asses kicked in the Miss Universe contest by less beautiful girls from backwards foreign lands. Throughout the world of international pageanting, it is still like the dark days of Olympic Basketball when we couldn’t dispatch our very best — the Michael Jordans and the Charles Barkleys — to bring home the Gold. Sure, there have been occasional fluke victories, like Sylvia Hitchcock in ‘67, Chelsi Smith in ’95, and the US Hockey team in 1980, but if someday we’re to have a level playing field, where all of the world’s most beautiful women can be judged and compared on the basis of posture, grooming, and physical fitness, then the Miss Universe organization must allow Miss America, and her two-piece, on its stage.

This is nothing against Kimberly Ann, of course. She’s a scrappy competitor and a lovely girl who will one day make a fine living co-starring in direct-to-video erotic thrillers. But the riches and popularity that await an American who wins Miss Universe are beyond imagining (for one thing, she’d get her own apartment!). Unfortunately, pageant representatives from the world’s homelier nations will do everything in their power to keep Miss America out of fair competition.

But enough about that. While I don’t think it’s exactly what the beautification committee had in mind when they set their agenda for the summer, warmest welcomes and regards to Mpule and Kimberly Ann. They are charming additions to our community, whether they deserve their titles or not.

Lovey Johns-Atchison