Beauty everywhere

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beauty. It can be seen, heard, imagined, experienced, felt.

It's all around us. All we have to do is pay attention.

Last Saturday evening my wife and I went to one of our favorite Cape Girardeau restaurants. As it turned out, it was prom night for one of the high schools, and the young women were radiant in their special hairdos, makeup and puffy formals. The young men appeared a mite less comfortable in their rented suits, cinched belts and lace-up leather shoes, but they were all handsome.

I noticed that the trend this year in formals is lots of petticoats. They might -- or might not -- like to know that this was the style when I was in high school, which was in another century.

Some of the girls were self-conscious about their strapless tops, tugging nervously at their bodices for fear they were overexposed. They weren't, but they couldn't be sure.

One group of five girls and five boys came to the restaurant together in hopes of being seated at one table. They wound up at adjoining tables. It was curious to watch the social interaction. If they were couples on a date for the prom, they did their best not to let it show. Is that the way it is nowadays?

Several diners stopped by the prom-goers' tables to admire and congratulate the students, who were gracious and polite despite being a bit uncomfortable with all the attention.

Moms and dads: You weren't there to see your sons and daughters, so I'm happy to report you should be proud of your children. They were having a good time, and for a few minutes their youth and exuberance rubbed off on a lot of us too-old-for-prom folks.

After this year's ice storm that swept across southern Missouri, there were worries that flowering trees and shrubs might have a tough spring. But the Charleston Dogwood and Azalea Festival last weekend was one of the best ever -- perhaps because it was such a contrast to the malicious ice of just a few weeks ago.

All along the highways leading to Charleston was evidence of the tree-splitting havoc caused by the ice. My wife remarked that it looked like a tornado had swept across the landscape.

Along the streets of Charleston, however, there was beauty everywhere. Both the dogwoods and the azaleas were at their peak.

Thanks, Charleston, for another feast of spring's outdoor bounty.

Everybody likes it when the underdog is the winner. That's why shows like "America's Got Talent" and its British counterpart are so popular.

In 2007, a cell-phone salesman from Wales, Paul Potts, stunned the audience and judges during his "Britain's Got Talent" performances. Potts won and has had considerable success with his recordings.

Last year, our own Neal E. Boyd from Sikeston, Mo., mirrored the Potts story in the "America's Got Talent" competition. Boyd won with his powerful operatic voice and continues to dazzle.

This year, another underdog may sweep the "Britain's Got Talent" contest. She is a Scot named Susan Boyle, a spinster who says she's never been kissed. Her singing career so far includes the church choir, karaoke at the local pub and standing in front of her parlor mirror.

The judges verged on rudeness as Miss Boyle stepped to center stage for her first on-air performance. They were judging a book by its cover. Then Miss Boyle began to sing, transforming before our very eyes into an angel. The judges and audience were agog.

If you haven't already, go to YouTube and search for Susan Boyle. Then sit back and marvel.;

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