Don’t Croak in a Beauty Pageant

Pageant season was in full swing, and I was asked to emcee the South Carolina Queen of Cotton Pageant in Bishopville, South Carolina. The pageant is held in conjunction with the South Carolina Cotton Festival, and, of course, the highlight of the festival is the crowing of Miss Cotton.
It seemed that I was making the rounds with the same panel of judges, who were friends of mine.

 Before I was introduced, the panel of my pageant friends mentioned in good-natured humor how sick they were of me telling the same story about the preacher and the bug.
“Well, we think you need to change it up or add something extra. Plus, you know some of these parents are on the circuit, too. I bet they are as sick of that bug story as we are,” said my pageant buds.

In a nutshell, this preacher had a knack for quoting scripture. The folks in his town were amazed at his ability to match Bible verses with particular situations. One hot August day, the church had their revival service outside. Bugs were zooming everywhere. In the middle of a profound statement, while the preacher had his mouth wide open, a bug flew into it. The congregation sat in suspense, knowing there was no scripture to accommodate this situation. To everyone’s surprise, the preacher took a deep breath, swallowed, and said, “A stranger came and I took him in!”
Before I knew it, I was introduced, made my entrance and stood center stage. In front of me were huge footlights with moths the size of small airplanes fluttering about. I launched into my story. Right at the part where the bug flies into the preacher’s mouth, one of those giant moths flew into my mouth. As I gasped for air, I felt the helpless creature struggling along with me. I pointed to my throat, trying to get someone to give me some water. My pageant friends were to busy laughing hysterically at me.
After the pageant, my pageant buds approached me laughing as they relived my moth moment. “That was a scream! We can’t wait for next week…aren’t you emceeing the Frog Jump Festival?”

Jane Jenkins Herlong is a SiriusXM humorist, author of five books and member of the Speaker Hall of Fame. Visit Jane’s website for more Southern fun!

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