I’d just barely come up for air after First Night State College when I braved single digit temps to go the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania Preferred VIP Reception or something like that. I drove to the event in my sister’s GMC Terrain since my friends Double R and JD were with me. We would have been a bit snug in my Ford Ranger and not nearly as comfortable as we were in the GMC. As my hip and urban friends would say, that is if I had any hip and urban friends, that Terrain is a pretty sweet ride.
|Actually I don't got hummus.|
Although the weather during the trip was like a warm-up act for this week’s Polar Vortex, in the car we had the choice of Ice Station Zebra or Bessemer furnace. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly fluent in the heater controls. In the digital age, high-end car climate controls are not always intuitive for late model boomers like me. I didn’t really feel like downloading the seminar on how to work everything, let alone stopping at a GM dealer to see if Mr. Goodwrench matched the promise of his Grindr profile. So I fiddled with the heater as we drove. Sometimes I was hot. Sometimes I was cold, and other times I was hot and cold at the same time.
Except for the heater controls, the trip down was uneventful. Somehow I resisted temptation when we went by Clarks Ferry, sparing Double R and JD the story of stopping at the dirty book store there years ago to buy a SCREW magazine (RIP Al Goldstein) en route to New York City to see if live sex shows in Times Square really contained live sex. (I don't know about the rest of the theaters, but at The New Bryant Sextacular the answer was not just yes, but hell yes.) When we got to Harrisburg we parked at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture across the street from the arena and took a shuttle bus the rest of the way to the Farm Show Complex.
We weren’t even in the shuttle bus when some nebbish from the Port of Philadelphia glommed on to JD and was expounding on the many fine qualities of the Port of Philadelphia (Rated #1 by both Philadelphia and Camden mobs, biggest port for frozen Alpaca (“The Other South American White-ish Meat”) in the tri-state area, etc. etc. I’d describe him as a barnacle, but barnacles don’t usually have comb-overs. His social skills were more than somewhat lacking—I could see him throwing snowballs at Santa at an Eagles game—and I wondered to myself how guys like that ever get laid? I think we lost him when he had to find a men’s room mirror to do a serious amount of highway work on his hair, though, frankly, even Stevie Wonder could see that he had a comb-over.
After passing the Future Farmers of America coat check, I skipped the Campfire Girls shoeshine stand in order to dash right into the reception.
|It's Dad's Hat, not Dad's Hot, which is way too ick in a post-Sandusky Pennsylvania.|
There were plenty of people there, though it was hardly a crush of PA Preferred VIPs. I’d heard that most anything was suitable in the party dress department and saw everything from men in suits to jeans. The best outfits belonged to two presumably certified heterosexuals in extremely fetching camouflage blazers from the Duck Dynasty Collection by After 6. And no, it wasn't the cool urban hipster skinny jeans sort of camouflage, this was the kind that comes with a matching recliner, covered in Herculon.
Since the room wasn’t as crowded as it could have been, it meant finding my friends more easily. I was renewing old acquaintances and chatting some new people up a storm and when someone said, “Look at that woman over there in the gown, it’s Mrs. Pennsylvania!”
Sitting on the chairs at the edge of the room was a woman in what can best be described as a getup, decked out in a tiara and sash. She was smooching and making googly eyes at a man of a certain age plus twenty years. He was wearing a tuxedo.
In a flash my friend Patti joined Double R and me in going over to meet Ms. P.
Ms. Pennsylvania was nice, but I couldn’t help but think of her as a woman who’s had too much to drink and isn’t quite as attractive as she thinks she is. If I were going to be snarky, which I hardly ever am, I’d say she reminded me of the sort of person you meet at a semi-low end airport bar during an interminable flight delay. I don’t remember her name but I recall that she said she was a psychiatric nurse and said that this was her first pageant. Yikes. She looked as if she learned about makeup from Tammy Faye Bakker and maybe got some fashion tips from her too, since that sort of jacket thing, was, well, you just don’t see that every day. Trust me, that jacket had a label that said Merkin Donor or I’m not The Wandering Wahoo. Ms. Pennsylvania introduced her gentleman friend slash beau not as Mr. Pennsylvania but Mr. America. Then she gave him a look that said that he was going to get lucky tonight, or perhaps unlucky, depending on how you look at it.
Ms. Pennsylvania volunteered that she had an album out—“What genre?” I asked, thinking that she might have done a cabaret act. “Inspirational” she replied, something I should have seen coming.
No sooner had I snapped some photos of Ms. P than there was an announcement over the public address system that all the queens should come have their photos taken with the governor. No, I’m not making that up. Seriously. The public address announcer really said that. Of course, much chuckling ensued.
|I don't remember who the people were behind the Junior Grange Prince and Princess. They were some other edition of Grange Royalty, I think.|
|The Lamb and Wool Queen wears a sash made from sheepskin. So slimming, too!|
|She's the Maple Sweetheart since some troglodytes in Somerset County own the term Maple Queen.|
|Even though she was representing a black cow, the Angus Queen was wearing white shoes. Before Memorial Day.|
|Grapes rate a Princess and a Queen. They're besties with the Apple Queen.|
|The Pennsylvania Rabbit King is from Pittsburgh; the Rabbit Queen is from Montgomery County. I asked if they had an arranged marriage. They chuckled nervously.|
|Yes, this really does say National Rabbit King. A nice guy with a promising career ahead of him in window treatments.|
|Dairy Princesses are the Windsors of agribusiness royals.|
|Perhaps I should have asked the Eastern Alpaca Princess if she wanted her head in the photo.|
|The Honey Queen was about to enter a competition to become the national Honey Queen.|
|The Honey Queen had the best bling.|
After running into my Congressman (no, he was not in a thrifted gown and rhinestone tiara) in the Pennsylvania Trout Taco line and not having the presence of mind to ask him if he could get me a date with the so far non-gay Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Illinois) and eating my fill of Pennsylvania pork and other snacks, it was time to venture out into the single digits for the trip back to Happy Valley. Mr. Port of Philadelphia had apparently got lucky with Miss E-Z Pass, for he and his comb-over were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps I could figure out how to work the temperature controls in the car for the ride home. If I’d only run into Miss GMC Terrain in her tiara and gown, I’m sure she could have told me.