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Mobile home quip didn’t for work for Miss South Carolina

By James Werrell
The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

Have pity on Miss South Carolina. She was the victim of bad advice.

Brooke Mosteller of Mount Pleasant, this year’s Miss South Carolina, is mortified over what was supposed to be a witty quip at last Sunday’s Miss America pageant. It fell flat, and she feels terrible about that.

Other contestants offered bon mots as they introduced themselves to the audience. But here’s Brooke’s stab at comedy: “From the state where 20 percent of our homes are mobile, because that’s how we roll, I’m Brooke Mosteller, Miss South Carolina.”

Mostly silence. And she knew for sure she’d blown it when someone tweeted: “Brooke Mosteller, please move to Georgia. Your South Carolina citizenship is revoked.”

That tweet might have come from an official with the Manufactured Housing Institute. Manufactured home, by the way, is the politically correct name for them. Don’t ever call them trailers.

Mosteller is correct that South Carolina ranks near the top in the nation in the percentage of residents who live in mobile … uh, manufactured homes. But most are set in place and don’t roll at all.

Anyway, Brooke’s sin wasn’t just offending manufactured home dwellers. It also was saying something that wasn’t particularly funny.

And she didn’t even make it up! The wisecrack was written for her by the pageant’s script writers. (Did you know the Miss America pageant had script writers? Judging from the quality of what is uttered at the pageants, that is hard to believe.)

Brooke said she made a big mistake in letting them persuade her to use the joke. But, then, haven’t we all been there?

Most of us have had at least one friend who would get us into the same kind of trouble: “Go ahead, (insert really stupid action here that you will regret for the rest of your life). It’ll get a big laugh!”

The intelligent reaction, of course, is to carefully consider the consequences and back off. Instead, we’re more likely to reply: “Really? You think so? OK, then, here goes.”

So, you can’t really blame Brooke entirely for this gaffe. But if she had just given it a little extra thought, she might have come up with a better witticism. Here are a few possibilities:

– “Hi, I’m Brooke Mosteller from South Carolina, the state that started the Civil War.”

– “Hi, I’m Brooke Mosteller from South Carolina, home to such political luminaries as “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, Strom Thurmond and that guy who called the president a liar on national TV.”

– “Hi, I’m Brooke Mosteller from South Carolina. Jadeveon Clowney, yaaaaay!”

– “Hi, I’m Brooke Mosteller from South Carolina, where we have one of the highest gonorrhea rates in the nation. But not the highest, right Miss Louisiana and Miss Mississippi?”

– “Hi, I’m Brooke Mosteller from South Carolina. Tax-free gun-sale day, need I say more!”

– “Hi, I’m Brooke Mosteller from South Carolina, and we still fly the Confederate flag on the lawn of the State House.”

– “Hi, I’m Brooke Mosteller from South Carolina, where you can hike the Appalachian Trail and still get elected to Congress.”

Actually, some of those might be a little snarky, too. If she wanted to avoid offending anyone, she might have gone with something much tamer:

“Hi, I’m Brooke Mosteller from South Carolina, and our state snack is boiled peanuts.”

Then again, maybe the mobile home quip wasn’t so bad after all.

James Werrell is opinion page editor of the Rock Hill Herald. Email: jwerrell@heraldonline.com.
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