At the age of 72, there are times when few things are as inviting as an afternoon nap or going to bed early . . . or both.
But there is a certain noblesse oblige that goes with being a columnist, sacrifices that you expect me to make on your behalf.
Watching the Miss Universe competition, for example.
It was broadcast Saturday night, live (or maybe dead, for all I know) from Moscow.
Russia, our new best friend on the playground of international relations, was host for this year’s pageant, whose name suggests that if there are other beautiful women in the Universe, ours on Earth are beautifuller.
Though possibly difficult to establish by usual scientific standards, you will get no argument from me. I can be quite agreeable on topics like this.
What’s left of the Union of Soviet etc. etc. lags behind the United States on certain, shall we say, social issues. They do not merit discussion here.
Suffice it to say that any Soviet prudery relating to the display of feminine beauty seems to have been overshadowed by the lure of an international audience which might eventually visit Russia, or at least stop pointing ICBMs in her direction.
The 16 finalists were introduced this year not as “Miss Outer Slovenia,” but simply as “Outer Slovenia.” I am not sure why, and it could be that among millions of mostly male viewers, I was the only one to pick up on this detail. That is why you rely on me on occasions such as this.
There is one practice in beauty pageants that aggravates the bejeebers out of me. Actually, I have hardly a bejeejer left in me after all these years.
It is the habit of announcers pausing dramatically for long enough for three commercials when announcing that “The ninth runner-up is . . . (Delta is ready when you are; We don’t get paid unless you get paid; Ace is the place, etc. etc.) Upper Kazakstan.”
It is not unlike the court bailiff on TV who, instructed by the judge to announce the verdict, says, “We, the jury in the above-entitled cause find the defendant . . . (look around the courtroom to ensure that the defendant, the lawyers, the victim, all the spectators, the press, and most important, the TV cameras, are watching raptly) . . . guilty (or not guilty).”
Just say it and be done with it, okay? It’s a little like football games. If there are no commercials to be run, just tell us if the review of the play reveals whether the wide receiver did or did not step on the line judge’s foot before plowing into the guy holding the first down marker.
Returning to Miss Universe (or maybe this year it should just be called “Universe”) we were treated to a view of her “million dollar swimsuit” that is transported in an armored car with an armed guard, 24/7.
Forgive me; I was not impressed. Doubly so when the announcer said that only one woman in a million has such a suit, which I believe would mean about 178 such suits exist in the U.S. alone.
I am a skeptic.
The final five contestants answered readily when summoned in English to walk across the stage, but needed translators to answer questions from a panel of, shall we say, eclectic judges, including Steven Tyler.
After Tyler sang a solo for reasons unclear to me (they could have run six more commercials instead), the winner was announced.
Are you ready for this? Really ready? Are you sure? Really, really sure? Venezuela.
Olé! Inker Dinker, our tuxedo kitty cat, curled up on his pillow in front of the TV, slept through the announcement.
Don’t tell anybody, okay? But so did I.
(S. L Frisbie is retired. His great-grandfather, who wrote a column called “Vagrant Musings: Glints from the Old Man’s Observatory,” once wrote that the measure of a man’s age is when he admires a beautiful woman and a fine horse with equal appreciation. He was really, really old when he wrote that.)