Jan. 4, 2020

LOVE ME--LOVE MY DOG--AND MY CATS--- AND ALL MY ANIMAL FRIENDS.

We met on the stage of The Miss America Pageant during the first rehearsal.  He was one of six male escorts who walked each contestant down the decorative long staircase for Evening Gown Competition. Of course these male escorts wore white tie and tails like the pageant’s famous host, Bert Parks….and they looked so young and handsome.

His name was Henry Van Zandt Hyde, Jr. and he was from Bethesda, Maryland.  His father, a medical doctor, apparently knew someone on the Board of the Miss America Pageant and that’s how Henry was selected as an escort.

We developed a friendship during the competition and several months after the Pageant was over, Henry flew to Arkansas to visit with me and my parents. Later, we corresponded for months---until my Mother demanded I stop communicating with anyone except the man she’d decided I would marry ---- just as soon as my year as Miss Arkansas ended. (My Book “The Beauty Queen” goes into details about My Mother and her sick control of my life.)

I liked Henry.  In fact, I liked many guys yet was only “in love” with a few. So Henry and I never saw or spoke with each other again----- from 1958 until that day in 2013--- when I received a Friend Request on Facebook from a Henry Hyde.  This particular Henry Hyde had been married since 1961, had no children, and lived in Arizona.  I accepted the Friend Request and indeed it was my long-ago friend, Henry Hyde,  from the Miss America Pageant!

From time to time, Henry would make a brief comment or two on my Timeline.  He seemed to stay current on Politics and was definitely a conservative.  Then, more recently,  I didn't from Henry but….between moving, publishing/selling my book, settling into another town, and my daily website- writings---I didn’t have time to miss anyone until--- my phone rang three months ago and the calling number was from Arizona.

Henry, now 84 years old, wanted to tell me that his wife had died two weeks earlier. He didn’t elaborate as to the reason for her death but explained his wish to visit me in Arkansas…. once again (it had been 61 years since his initial visit.) He’d checked the availability of flights, checked the costs, and was ready to book a flight in three days.  Would I make plans to meet him at the Little Rock Airport?

To say the least…..I was unprepared to entertain anyone, for any reason.  My house is older, outdated, and definitely  a work “in progress”…my car is older and not prepared to operate as a shuttle service to and from the Little Rock Airport or to conduct any big-city-sightseeing tours….and…. I’m older and unprepared to suddenly renew a brief friendship from 61 years ago.  

When I suggested we spend a little-time talking about the “possibilities”, I heard:  “I don’t have time to waste; I need to decide if I’m comfortable-enough with you and your present living situation to move you to Arizona to live with me”. 

He mentioned that his house was paid for and…between the two of us… our combined incomes could probably allow us to live comfortably. Besides, he strongly believed in frugality.  He wasn’t sure about my animals since he and his wife never liked animals, especially in the house, but…he could assess my animals and their “value” once he met them.

I was dumbfounded. If you really know me….then you already know my reply to Henry. After everything I’ve lived through...for all these years….does anyone actually believe I would jump at the chance to move-in with a complete stranger… just to have a “free” roof over my head?!?!? Forget the fact I'm making "hefty" payments each month for the new roof I presently have over my head!!!

When I suggested Henry could fly me to Arizona so we could meet again, renew our friendship, and then talk about the possibilities…he rejected that idea immediately.  No.  He couldn’t bring me into his “tight” neighborhood---the neighborhood that had known him and his wife for so many years.  It wouldn’t be “fair” to his dead wife’s memory.  Only if he could introduce me as his long-time friend and future companion…and he couldn’t do that until he had come to Arkansas to “checkout” our compatibility.

It didn’t take long for me to say “thanks but…no thanks” to Henry Hyde.  After hanging-up the phone, I wasted no time blocking Henry’s phone number then unfriending him on my Facebook Page.

My life is no-longer a Beauty Pageant. I’m well-past being judged and my days of competition are over.  No one, including an 84 year-old man who “just-might” select me as his live-in partner, will control me or dictate the terms of my life---ever again.   Actually, Henry lost me AND our friendship in the early minutes of our phone call---when he mentioned “assessing the value of my animals.”

As I will continue to say again and again:

LIFE OFFERS WORST FATES THAN BEING ALONE.

Sally Miller