Somewhere between pretending to be a princess and playing with her Barbies, almost every little girl dreams of being Miss America.
She dreams of walking on the stage and waving to the audience. She dreams of smiling as she sincerely answers, "I'd wish for world peace." She dreams of having the crown placed on her head as she is simultaneously robed in the "Miss Congeniality" sash...
...maybe not every little girl. But, this little girl once dreamed of it. And, apparently, so did my fellow Hoosier, Katie Stam. Stam, 22, and a senior at the University of Indianapolis, was most likely dressing her Barbies and dreaming of the crown around the same time I was.
I remember sitting in my parents' bedroom years ago (circa 1994), watching as the four final contestants competed in the pageant. The first girl came out of a soundproof glass enclosure, and was asked, "If you could do anything for an entire day, and the next day, no one would know and there would be no consequences, what would you do?" (think Groundhog's Day) The girl looked at the speaker and said, "I'd walk around naked all day." Her response was met awkwardly by the audience, unsure how to react.
The second contestant came out of the glass cage and was asked the same question. She said, "I'd eat all day! I'd eat everything I could possibly imagine until I felt too full." The audience laughed at her all-American response. Can you blame her? Who wouldn't over-indulge?
As I watched from the floor of my parents' bedroom, I memorized her answer. I remember thinking: When I'm the final four in the Miss America pageant and they ask me that question, I will remember to say I'd eat. And I will definitely avoid saying anything about being naked.
Around the same time I began practicing for Miss America, I also dreamt of a magical place. It was a little island, with no cars. You had to drive golf carts and ride horses around. The island was covered in lush golf courses and sat next to the sparkling ocean. It was the most beautiful and wonderful place on earth; it was almost too wonderful to imagine. Which is why it's so convenient that I didn't have to just dream of the place- it was real: Daufuskie Island.
Sadly, though, today I learned that Daufuskie has declared bankruptcy. The dream island seems to be experiencing a nightmare that is all too common right now. And yet, no matter how shocked and disappointed this news made me, I was even more surprised to hear that the WSJ put The New York Times on its list of companies that would not make it through 2009. Daufuskie was a childhood staple. The New York Times is an American staple.
Lucky for the unlucky NYT, Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican billionaire, loaned them $250 million. Though the loan comes at a steep interest rate (14%), it should tide the Times over until they're a little more stable.
I only wish that someone would take the same pity on Daufuskie Island. I might shoot Katie Stam an email and ask her if next time she's in the spotlight and they ask her what she'd wish for, she can give a shout out to Daufuskie in addition to the whole world peace thing.