Never. Never in my entire life have I been utterly speechless. For us dames of the south, we are simply born with the art of the talk. Heck, we’re so good at talk we could tell you to go to Hell and you’d think you were on a trip to the Bahamas.
This exact speechlessness was caused by hearing my baby girl’s name proudly spoken into the microphone that last Saturday in June.
“Our new Miss Texas is…”
My heart stopped at this moment, waiting what seemed like endless seconds for the damned host to say her name.
“Miss Brittany Lee Cogan!”
Shrieks. Shrills. Screams. Any heinous noise you can imagine filled that huge auditorium with celebratory reaction. Our girl, Miss Brittany Lee, was the new Miss Texas and a surefire shoe-in for Miss America.
That was last year though. We’re about two months away from Brittany giving up her Miss Texas crown to her successor (no she didn’t win Miss America in January) and things haven’t been the same for our little girl.
It all started one morning over breakfast. I could tell something was wrong since Brittany was poking at her grapefruit, staring at it like it was as edible as a pile of pig droppings.
“What’s wrong darlin’?”
“Nothin’, Mama. I’m fine. Don’t want to talk about it.”
Before I could even get the words “Oh honey, come on now. Tell Ma…” Brittany was on the floor, spoon still in hand, sobbing. No, sobbing is not the right way to describe what she was doing. Convulsing, twitching, hurling, rambling, screaming and raging would be better ways to describe what was happening.
Never. Never in my entire life have I not been able to soothe my child. Never in my life had I ever seen this kind of reaction from her! I wasn’t equipped to deal. There was that one Little Miss Valley pageant she didn’t place in when she was seven that threw her into a temper tantrum, but besides that, this child was one of the most graceful, composed people I knew. She was a true southern lady in all the best ways.
It took about two hours to settle Brittany. I got her into bed in her robe, rubbed her hand and arm to let her know I wouldn’t leave her be while still upset. She suddenly passed out in a coma-like sleep, her body seemingly crashing from the emotional strain.
The next episode came two weeks later. Much more minor than the last in regards of emotional action, but if this were to continue, I don’t know if God in all His goodness could help me handle it.
Brittany was making her monthly appearance as Miss Texas at the veteran’s home closest to us. She smiled, posed for pictures, sang the national anthem and did the best local television interview I’d seen her do since she won the title. About an hour into the appearance, Brittany wandered out the door, down the driveway and into a busy street. Was she possessed!? Cars beeped and screeched as they swerved around her. I daresay it’s hard not to spot a girl with a sparkling four-point crown on her head. She walked clear across the road without any close-calls or injuries, straight into the wooded area on the other side of the road.
Looking at the group of us standing outside of the veteran’s home in awe at what was happening, you’dhave thought we were watching aliens land on Earth for the first time. We were all stunned and speechless. There I go with this speechlessness! Ya’ll are going to stop believing me!
Brittany’s father, whom of course we’d kept the breakfast-crying-incident from for fear he might worry unnecessarily about his little girl, shot across the road without any concern for his own well-being. He captured Brittany as she gracefully dangled a toe over the pond in the wooded area, balancing with the skills she learned in ballet class.
“Dear, I don’t think it was necessary to tackle our daughter, even trying to save her from the three-foot-deep pond. I’m having a Hell of a time trying to get the stains out of that white cotton dress she was wearing.”
“She lost her mind! What else was I supposed to do?” he said.
“Dear, you played football for Mississippi. Taking your baby girl to the ground like that is more of a threat to her life than a rescue attempt.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry darlin’,” he said with puppy dog eyes. “I’m just worried about her.”
“I am too, dear. I am too. Thank God Almighty the cameraman from the news had left the appearance before that!”
Things only got worse from there. There was the Princess Pageant Barbie we found cooked to the core in the microwave, the ten pounds Brittany mysteriously packed on in the matter of two weeks, the random screams in the middle of the night that I hadn’t heard since she was four years old and the unforgivable final straw. We found Mr. Pips, our eight-year-old cat, shaved. Yes, shaved. He was completely hairless! How no one caught Brittany in the act, I have no clue. But at this point, I had had enough!
Brittany was sitting on her bed quietly brushing her beautiful blonde hair, seemingly normal, possessed by nothing unusual as I knocked and cracked the door open to peek inside. “Baby? Can I come in?”
“Baby, now you know your father and I think you can do no wrong. We’ve given you everything you could ever dream of and more and you have always been such a grateful child. You’ve excelled at voice lessons, dance, horseback riding, the flute and even have straight A’s. And FOR GOODNESS SAKE, YOU ARE MISS TEXAS!!!” I said, shattering all composure. Brittany stared at me, frightened.
“Good!” I thought to myself. “It’s about time someone knock some sense into this girl.”
“I’m sorry about Mr. Pips, Mama. And the Barbie. And for actin’ all strange and stuff,” she said, reminding me of the sweetheart she was just a year ago. The nutcase who had taken over my daughter’s body seemed to be disappearing.
“Baby, I’m just worried about you and how you’ve been acting. You have been doing things so out of your character and so un-lady-like. This is just not who you are; this is not Miss Texas.”
“I know Mama. And again, I am very sorry. Not to worry. I’ll be my old self again in no time.”
I believed her. I cannot believe that I believed her.
Saturday, June 26th, same place and same time as last year when Brittany won Miss Texas. The whole theater watched in anticipatory awe as the hosts invited our reigning Miss Texas, Brittany Lee Cogan, to the stage for her first greeting during the competition. The girls this year couldn’t even hold a candle to my Brittany. Hardly as talented, pretty, well-spoken and poised, these girls were cut-rate really. I can only image what the Board of Directors was thinking as they first eyed the entire group of competitors in the opening routine.
“Please welcome your reigning Miss Texas – Brittany Lee Oh My God.”
Her last name isn’t…?
“OH MY GOD,” I screamed.
A similar volume of audience reaction as when Brittany won last year filled the theater; however these were sounds of disgust. My daughter, Miss Texas, stumbled on to the stage with cheaply dyed jet-black hair, a nose-piercing, her middle fingers to the audience. Her crown was nowhere in sight, nor was any form of composure, or God-forbid an evening gown.
Needless to say we checked Brittany into therapy before the pageant even ended that night. Who the Hell cares who won when my baby was having a mental and emotional breakdown? There’s more important things in life than pageantry damn it!!