There's a saying about the beautiful women of America that goes, "If they haven't moved to California, they're still in Texas." This little wisdom is courtesy of Karen Patricia Foster, our Miss October, who is proof that at least half of the truism has merit. We had asked Karen what she would tell a newcomer to Texas, how she would sell the state. "You don't have to sell any town in Texas. People here are friendly. We talk to people." And she proceeded to talk, about growing up in Lufkin, a town of about 28,000, two hours from any major city, your basic blue jeans, cowboy boots and pickup truck kind of town. She graduated in the top ten in her class (about 500 students, your typical 5A-football-league school). Some of the stories sound like those of a typical Southern upbringing. Karen went to twirling camp, traveled to twirling competitions with her sister and mom, collected a roomful of twirling trophies. "It's close to rhythmic gymnastics - it has the elements of dance and acrobatics, plus you've got the baton to worry about. But what it teaches you is that you just don't become a twirler. You learn to be responsible, to organize your time, to work toward a goal." The skills came in handy when she enrolled at the University of Houston - she worked as a cheerleader with the Houston Rockets basketball team. Parts of her childhood seem unique: She grew up riding dirt bikes. "It's a neat family thing, sort of like taking a hike together, except you're on motorcycles. My brother had one with training wheels." She also studied karate for seven years. "When I was eight or nine, I was real skinny. In sixth grade, I weighed the same as my brother in kindergarten. My dad thought I should learn something to hold my own." She fought in tournaments, against boys, never placing less than third. "It's not just kicks and punches. It's not just a body sport, but a mind-body thing. It's concentration - and a lot of knuckle push-ups."
When asked about childhood dreams, Karen had one that may have been typically Southern - for an older generation. "I thought I would grow up and marry Elvis. I know; he died when I was twelve. But he always meant something special to me. My dad would say, 'There's an old Elvis movie on TV,' and we'd sit together and watch." And now that Elvis is back, anything is possible, right? Wrong. Beyond the daydreams, there is a clearheaded young woman. At U of H, she has combined classes in computer science with accounting courses, while pursuing modeling on the side. "I'm always going to have a brain, but now is the time to see what I can do with these looks." She is obviously comfortable with her body, and with the idea of posing for Playboy, but is aware of the public's mixed reactions to nudity. "I went to Europe and visited the topless beaches there. I was a tad uncomfortable at first, but then when you see seventy-year-old women sunning sans tops, you wonder at your own embarrassment. But if you tried a topless beach in Houston, it would take the rest of the century for people to get through staring at one another." If Miss Foster were sunning herself on said beach, it might take longer than that.
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