Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  (Author unknown)


Great concept, but before leaving the harbor, there is something to be said for preparedness, ie., sailing experience.

As one who was often caught up in youthful enthusiasm, this is a lesson that I experienced early in life: Know thy limits...

It was the year of my First Holy Communion when Sherry Steinbach (altered name) rang my bell and told me that she was entering The Little Miss America Pageant held at Palisades Amusement Park. I'd heard that pageant song a million times on television, seen the hoopla made over a bunch of kids who, in my world, were otherwise quivering in front of a math example at the blackboard or getting smacked by the nuns to wake up and smell the chalk dust. At the Little Miss America Pageant, the smacks stopped, and stars were born.

Sherry hooked me up with an application.

I told Mom my vision. She said the pageant was too vain. It was not fruitful or nice to focus on externals, or compare little girls to one another. I thought that she was just unbelieving... she'd see the value later. Still, once Mom made a decision about not supporting an effort, there was no changing her mind. So I filled out the application and entered anyway. Journey in Time With Me, click photo. Note: recipe to lose your mind: click it twice at once (photo/link used with permission of website author)

To illustrate the alternate universe experience between Sherry and I, though, her brother and she had brought a stray dog home one day (white in color.) Their parents did not approve and said they were getting rid of it.

Sherry and Craig sat on their stoop and sobbed, and their parents sat with them, listening to their feelings and quietly discussed theirs. The dog, "Honky," (altered name) sat nearby attached to a leash, hoping for a favorable outcome.

Honky stayed.

As the second to the youngest of nine children, that scene fascinated me... a family gathering that centered around Sherry and Craig's disappointment about, what, a dog? That required a split second to resolve in our house: "No."

There were no family meetings in our home. My parents knew better. If there had been, they'd risked a coup. So we skulked off, crying about disappointments somewhere else.

The morning of the competition, I rose, dressed, and walked a few doors down to meet Sherry in front of her house. This detail was impossible for my Jewish friends to wrap their heads around -- that I got ready all by myself. Their mothers were the proverbial stage mothers, attentive in the complete opposite way. (And they would not have chosen to tie a long, psychedelic scarf around a pony tail.)

In the morning light, I saw that the stockings I wore under my First Holy Communion dress (that were swiped from a sister whose legs were double in length) made mine appear charpei-like. But it was time to go (and anklets made me feel like I was going to church anyway.)

Perhaps nobody would notice the nylon build up around my ankles.

I was impressed that Sherry's hair was now curly, and she had everything working for her (short of a spray tan.) She wore a pink Marcia Brady-like mini-dress with bell sleeves, trimmed in feathery fluff and sassy little matching shoes. She was coordinated and in-style. I was Margaret, in her sister's stockings and a Holy Communion dress.

The judges were going to love me!

I think Mrs. Steinbach hated having me in the back seat of her car, and if I knew better, I would have, too.

We arrived at Palisades Amusement Park: a WOW moment, and everything happened fast once we'd entered the room off the stage where I was pushed, pulled, positioned and cued:

Ready... set... YOU'RE ON!

I beamed and began the most exciting walk ever imagined, so electrifying that I'd forgotten that the purpose was to impress the panel of judges with my externals. I walked right past them, enjoying the stroll to my place, but engaging zero eye contact, spins, curtseys or giggly stuff. This was sheer fun, because... well, I just did not get it.

I took my place among the no-goes, along with Sherry.

Today I saw this online:

Auditions Being Held by NY Senior America Pageant...Is There A Crown In Your Future?

Ummm, no. But it would be fun to show up in my wedding dress.