“Likelihood of success.”
My friend pondered for a moment. “No,” he said. “I don’t think that’d be healthy to tell a child at such a young age.”
“I don’t think that kid knows what healthy is,” I said, nodding at the next one out. “It looks like she’s hoarding donuts in her dress.”
“SHHHH,” one of the parents hissed.
My friend and I were in charge of filming his twelve-year-old niece’s beauty pageant, meaning we were stuck in the gymnasium of her school for the next two hours. Although it was agreeably one of the most boring things we had ever done, it was fun to think of new categories for the judges to score the girls on to pass the time.
“High scores on classics like Galaga and Digdug,” I said, contemplating to myself.
“What’s your highest score on Digdug,” he asked doubtfully.
“Oh, I never played that game, man. The green lizard monsters freaked me out, especially when their eyes went hollow and started floating through the dirt. That’s not for me, man.”
“What about gymnastics or dancing,” he said, “something with a bit more competition. Here they’re just looking at who had the most money to spend and which of them won the genetic lottery.”
“Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea. Would it not be more feasible to judge a pageant based off of what that girl does in the off season, too,” I said.
“What about the girls who couldn’t afford anything like that,” my friend asked.
“I would say we could let the PTA moms start a fundraiser for those less fortunate, but those chicks are like a human shark tank. Sharron, if we have to pay Olivia’s way on the soccer shoes this year, she’s going to have to forfeit the pageant, even though she clearly has more talent than all of our daughter’s combined,” I said, sounding snobbish and feminine.
A few of the parents, mostly the mothers, began glaring at us. “I think it should be up to the kids, man,” he said. “Sit them down and ask them what they’re good at, train’em up, and let’em go into whatever they all like doing, gladiator style,” he said.
“Wait– Wait, that’s the perfect one,” I said.
“What, mak’em sit down?”
“No,” I said. “Gladiator style soccer in the pageant dresses. The judges score on sportsmanship, final score of the game, and what percentage of the dress was still covered in grass stains after a wash, bonus points if they can’t take it back to the rental shop.”
My friend lowered his video camera and missed the shot of his niece’s initial walk-out.
“That’s pretty damn good,” his voice said through the TV as we watched it back at his sister’s place.
“You had one job,” his sister said, sitting across from us on the sofa and steaming at the ears.
Later that afternoon . . .
“She shoots—she scores! Woohoo!,” my friend was shouting.
We had spent most of that day training his niece for something that, sadly, would probably never exist.