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This is my first chance to make contact.  I’m here to get contact information from any former Miss Americas that are attending the Pageant so I can set up interviews.  I’ve got my 30 second elevator speech well memorized.  I just have to be really bold, put aside my fear of rejection and do it!

Crowd watching.  For the most part the audience is a well-dressed crowd from the Miss America wannabees in slinky gowns, lots of make-up and shiny, not-a-strand-out-of-place hair, to family and friends wearing picture buttons of their favored contestant from Miss Alabama to Miss Wyoming. I’m wearing black jeans, a grey sweater and black leather jacket with high heeled black boots.  I’m okay…  I wait for a while in the lobby, watching the crowd as they come in.  Lots of air kissing.  Some people look like someone I should recognize. 

After the show, I start to leave.  But then, I see a group of former Miss Americas, who had been introduced on stage during the show, chatting together near the front of the theater.  This is my chance. I walk over in their direction, hesitate, turn to go, turn back, look at them, look away, take a step, sit down a dozen rows away, watch them, watch the crowd leave, think about being bold and introducing myself, sit some more, make as if to get up, stay put, finally stand, turn – and leave.  Somehow, the timing didn’t feel right.  Or was I fooling myself so I wouldn’t have to make The Move?

Out in the lobby I watched the crowd and waited.  My girlfriends sat on my shoulder urging me to take this step, walk through my fear, do what I came to do. So I waited.  And then Kellye Cash, Miss America 1987, came out. She had hosted that night’s preliminary.  When the rush around her abated, I approached.  In barely 30 seconds, knowing that was all I would have, I told her who I was and what I was doing.  Would she be willing to talk with me?  And, as one might expect, gracious and warm, she agreed and gave me her email address. Well, that wasn’t so bad. 

I wait some more.   Though I know most of their names, I don’t know all the faces that go with them.  Eddies of bodies swarm around some women.  I ask a woman wearing lots of badges who one of them is.  So I pull down my jacket, suck in my stomach and approach Heather French, Miss America 2000.  I receive the same warm reception. 

Whether or not they really mean it and will respond when I email them later is an open question.  But they are well schooled in the art of gracious response and I am encouraged. I breathe more easily now, having made first contact and finding the unknown pretty welcoming.