Now that the Miss America (search) pageant is over, I want to tell you about the other judges teasing me.
I guess my questions during the individual interviews were tough. After the first day, they started calling me -- in good cheer -- "Simon." Of course I knew the reference to the show American Idol. I actually had not realized my questions were tough -- the contestants were so smart and handled each question so effectively that I had no idea the questions were anything but ordinary. I tried to find the contestant who could take the heat of the media as she assumed the responsibilities of the title.
To give you an example of the questions, I asked Miss Alaska about drilling on the north slope, Miss Iowa about the Iowa caucus, Miss Alabama about the Ten Commandments controversy, Miss California about the recall, Miss Wisconsin about stem cell research (she is a doctor), Miss Texas about the death penalty, etc. I was not looking for a contestant who might agree with my opinion, but rather for the contestant most informed and most able to quickly handle an unexpected question. The media will pounce on Miss America with questions and she must be ready.
The individual interviews were each 12 minutes long. The contestant walks into the room and is faced with seven sitting judges. She has no idea who will question her first, and what questions she will be asked. The contestant -- standing -- gives a 45 second statement and then the judges begin the questioning.
Well, as luck would have it, I was in the middle of questioning one contestant with my fellow judges when she suddenly said she felt faint and looked ashen. One of the other judges -- Miss America 1994, who was also a judge -- quickly got her a chair to sit down. Seconds later the contestant was escorted out of the room and a nurse was summoned. As we judges then sat alone in the room looking blankly at each other, the judges then turned and teased me about my questions. As it turned out, she apparently had low blood sugar and it was not my questioning. Nonetheless I felt bad and felt tempted to change my questioning from world affairs to what their favorite colors might be.
We decided as judges not to penalize her for "leaving" and to invite her back to complete the interview after she felt better. She did come back a short time later and she did a great job completing the interview. Frankly, I think the "incident" helped her score from the judges -- it showed that she can bounce back from adversity and "get back on the horse." That is a very important quality and not everyone has it. I admired her very much for the way she handled this. We should all have her resilience!
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