There he is, Mr. South Whidbey

Accepting the winner’s sash from Gena Felton, junior Scott Perkins celebrates becoming Mr. South Whidbey in a pageant at the high school Wednesday night. - Matt Johnson
Accepting the winner’s sash from Gena Felton, junior Scott Perkins celebrates becoming Mr. South Whidbey in a pageant at the high school Wednesday night.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

South Whidbey High School's most desirable young men are up to much more than anyone could ever imagine.

Dave Gettman enjoys juggling while standing on one foot and reciting the alphabet backwards. Tim Gathings likes long walks on the beach. Kyle McGillen and Phil Schorr like long walks on the beach with each other.

All this came out in a rush of emotion -- punctuated mostly by laughter -- during a tongue-in-cheek male beauty pageant Wednesday at the high school. Arranged by senior Finn Keough, the pageant went from a fun idea dreamed up in leadership class to one of the most memorable events the school has ever staged.

Sixteen high school boys strutted across the school's auditorium stage during the evening as Peggy Thomas, who was crowned Mrs. Washington in 2000, emceed. The boys competed in four categories -- sportswear, evening dress, personal interview, and talent.

The sportswear category seemed to get the widest interpretation. While some of the boys showed up in gym shorts and nothing else, others wore diving wetsuits, beach gear, and sports equipment. While introducing each contestant, Thomas found herself speechless several times as she listed the boys' interests.

"I just can't say that," she said with a laugh while introducing senior Tim Gathings, whose utterable interests included drawing, helping the elderly, world peace and walks on the beach.

The talent portion of the contest helped faculty and community judges separate the boys, well, from the boys. Getting big applause was a Chinese yo-yo act put on by Jasper Hein, a ballet performance given by Andy Wills and Scott Perkins, and enough teenage guys with banjos to be considered extremely disturbing.

Judges cut four contestants from the field at the start of the evening wear contests. The dozen who remained had to answer a question during short interviews with Thomas. The question, "What is the greatest challenge facing high school students," brought a wide array of answers. One contestant who was clearly trying to butter up the evening's hostess, said standing next to "such a beautiful woman" was the most difficult aspect of his life.

Charlie Patnoe won points and giggles for honesty with his answer.

"Waking up in the morning, that's hard," he said.

Not to be outdone, Jasper Hein tried to further plumb the depths of truthfulness.

"Trying to choose what to have for lunch when you're in the lunch line," he said.

In the end, the judge's big decision probably came down to one contestant's ability in the area of self-effacement. Scott Perkins was that contestant. After bringing down the house with his aerial acrobatics and facial expressions as a ballet dancer, he became the clear choice as a truly representative Mr. South Whidbey.

After his dream contest was over, pageant creator Keough said he felt lucky to get enough guys to put it on stage.

"A lot of girls in the leadership class twisted some arms I think," he said.

He said he hopes the pageant becomes an annual event.

Perkins and three runners up in the event received gift certificates for a number of restaurants, hair care products, and free gasoline.

"All the things a guy needs," Keough said.

Perkins received the most desired prize, a haircut from Peggy Thomas, who is a Langley stylist. But if he wants it free of charge, he may have to wear his tutu.

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