Tag Archive | Stan Fields

Miss Congeniality

April 25, 2017: The Perfect Date

Stan Fields: “Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.”

Cheryl ‘Rhode Island’: “That’s a tough one. I’d have to say April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.”

2000 miss congeniality 1If you’ve never seen the movie Miss Congeniality, I encourage you to request it from your local library, rent it on Netflix or your preferred movie provider. I have always found the movie to be funny, poignant and effectively showcase the human spirit. The casting was superb with Candice Bergen who tries to hold on to her glory days as a former beauty queen turned pageant director; William Shatner is priceless as Stan Fields, the smarmy host of the show; Heather Burns as the naïve Miss Rhode Island; and, of course, Sandra Bullock, as Gracie Hart, FBI agent turned pageant contestant to get to the bottom of an evil plot to take down the fictional Miss United States pageant.

The Infallible Wikipedia provides a more in depth summary. I include the first two paragraphs since, if you have not seen the movie, I would not want to ruin the ending:

“In 1982, a very young Gracie Hart steps into a playground fight to beat up a bully who is threatening a boy she likes. However, the boy feels humiliated at being rescued ‘by a girl’, and rejects her rudely, whereupon she punches him in the nose and leaves to sulk alone. Years later, Gracie is now a tough Special Agent for the FBI. During a sting operation against Russian mobsters, she disobeys her superior’s orders in order to save a mob boss who appears to be choking, which causes one of the other agents to be shot. She is demoted to a desk job as punishment.

Soon after, the agency is alerted, via a letter from the notorious domestic terrorist known only as ‘The Citizen’, to a bomb threat at the upcoming 75th annual Miss United States beauty pageant in San Antonio, Texas. Gracie’s partner Eric Matthews is put in charge, and he relies on Gracie’s suggestions, but he takes credit for them himself. One of Gracie’s ideas is to plant an agent undercover at the event. When all possible candidates are deemed unfit, Eric then suggests that Gracie take on that role, replacing Miss New Jersey, who was to be disqualified. Beauty pageant coach Victor Melling teaches Gracie how to dress, walk, and behave like a contestant. Though initially appalled, she comes to appreciate Victor’s thoroughness. Gracie enters the pageant as ‘Gracie Lou Freebush’, representing New Jersey, and becomes friends with Cheryl Frasier, who is Miss Rhode Island. As the competition begins, Gracie impresses the judges during the talent competition with her glass harp skills and self-defense techniques.”

There are so, so many memorable lines from the movie. The one above is excellent but I think my favorite is this clip:

And, of course, the clip for the April 25th quote:

What I most like about the movie is watching Gracie’s transformation as a character. While the movie pokes some gentle fun at the beauty pageant industry what shines through, ultimately, is Gracie learning to respect and like these people – so different from herself – which, I believe, is the foundation of all good relationships.

April 25 is also significant for my family as that is one of my two brother’s birthdays. In recent years he’s eschewed his birthday, forbidding us from giving him cards or even acknowledging the day. At my nephew’s marriage a couple weeks ago, I was struck by the fact that my siblings and I had become a part of the older generation. The father of the groom – my oldest brother who was not born on April 25 – had recently celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.

I totally get why my other brother prefers to not celebrate his birthday. But then again, none of us can wish ourselves younger than what we are. We are a sum of our lived experiences. Those of us who are Baby Boomers have a shared cultural knowledge, particularly, of our growing up years in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Then again, we can no more step into the shared cultural experiences of those who grew up in the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s.

So rather than lament getting older, perhaps we all need to find our ‘Perfect Date’ whatever it might be. It might not be April 25. Maybe it changes. For me it’s that day – coming soon – when the temperature hits 75 degrees, there’s a light breeze, and I can soak in the warmth and a bit of sun. My feet will be in sandals, I will FINALLY be able to wear a short sleeved top and my capris, and it will be a day when I won’t have a pressing obligation on my calendar. THAT would be the perfect date. And I plan to embrace it when it arrives.

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