Christly conquers: the bachelor audition
This article was originally featured on Your New Best Friends; a former lifestyle website.
A week prior to Houston’s The Bachelor Open Call, fate introduced me to the locally famous Extra Cash Cathy, owner of No Pay May; a blog dedicated to the journaling of one woman’s brave attempt at going on 31 dates in 31 days. Cathy needed a makeup application for a press event and I obliged, unaware that the trajectory of my life was possibly very close to being changed by the guidance of this tall, personable blonde. For it was in that hour of primping--and a romcom-esque attempt at airbrushing bruised legs--that I learned about Cathy’s recent dating dare and her love for The Bachelor. The two of us marveled at the absurd parallels found in our dating lives. We laughed about the cartoonish ego of recent Bachelorette contestant Chad. The dress she chose for the press party could have been found in one of my online shopping baskets--I complimented her fashion sense and shared with her my favorite stores to window shop. Evident that we were destined for friendship, she invited me to her press event. Regretfully, I informed her, I could not attend the party; I had a first-ish date. We spent a good chunk of time (too much time than said date deserved, honestly) dissecting that situation *eye-roll forever* and she joked that I should drop him and then attend The Bachelor auditions with her in a week’s time. HOLD THE PHONE. I pressed her for details.
Open call. Downtown Aquarium. 5 p.m.
There was no question, not one glance at the calendar. Whatever plans I had where unimportant. This was my newfound destiny: to find and fight for love on national television.
The day of battle arrived. If I was going to stand out in an army of Houston’s most beautiful, I would need to strategize. After much deliberation with my cat and a bottle of wine, I decided to assume the position of Manic-Pixie-Dreamgirl-Underdog. My Lieutenant General and muse would be the vague idea of Zooey Deschanel; my armor, a jewel-toned dress of the flattering fit-and-flare nature; my weapon, a ukulele. I called for an uber- my battle tank? You’re right, I’m driving this metaphor into the ground. My bad. Before leaving, I tweeted my outfit:
In higher heels than were comfortable, I climbed/fell into the uber and waited for the driver to ask why I was all dressed up and alone, save for a ukulele. He didn’t ask. I pouted in silence and refrained from strumming a few attention-seeking chords. Snapchat satiated me until we arrived. I took a deep breath and managed to get out of the car without dropping the uke or falling over. It was a little success, but enough to make me feel capable of tricking everyone into thinking I had my shit together. It seemed to be working--the Aquarium hostess immediately directed me to the conference room upstairs where the auditions were being held. My confidence swelled. Someone thought I looked like a Bachelor Girl. Assuming a Bachelor Girl would never enter a room winded from the ordinary task of walking up some steps, I took the elevator.
The doors slid open and my senses were flooded; the scent of tanning lotion, the click of heels, a cacophony of vocal fry. Two things caught my eye almost immediately:
Champagne, there’s champagne here.
I’m the only one with a prop. Bingo.
Right on cue, a reporter for Houston’s ABC 13 and her camera man swooped in like a pair of vultures, hungry for crazy. “Do you play that?”, the ladyvulture chirped. I put on my Zooey Deschanel mouthpiece,“I do!” With shaky hands I played and sang the first verse of a back-pocket piece. The whole room went quiet. Not quiet enough, I thought to myself, have some respect, people. I signed a verbal release and the two loons flew off to find more news fluff.
As I finished texting my mom about my impending local-news level fame, I received a notification that James Fuertes liked a YNBF insta post which I made earlier that day. This is THE James F. As in, recently kicked off The Bachelorette James F. I lost my cool and commented on the photo, directing him to my personal instagram account.
As I began to make a bee-line for the bar, I was intercepted by E.C. Cathy. She gave me the run-down. I was to fill out a questionnaire, then get in line to have my picture taken. Easy enough. The only question I had: was the booze free? It was not. I mumbled something about needing liquid courage. Like a true friend, Cathy encouraged me to get a drink despite the fact I was obviously fine. We parted ways and I ordered some bubbly at the bar. The bartender got an extra sweet tip for over-pouring and laughing at a cheap joke I made about alcohol being my longest-lasting relationship.
Cathy had saved a spot for me in the photo line. I began to worry that the girls behind us would be pissed that I was cutting. I turned, bracing myself for side-eye, and gave them a smile. They smiled back. In fact, everyone was smiling. It was then I realized that my initial expectation for these girls was way harsher than the reality. Sure, these women were collectively gorgeous, fashionable, thin…but they weren’t...bitches? I hated that I was expecting a competition against salty, beautiful dummies. Comparing myself to them, I wasn't confident in my looks so I assumed superiority in what, my talent? My intellect? I defensively wielded my ukulele like I was some kind of especially hot shit. And wasn’t this supposed to be for fun? For a light-hearted article on a female empowerment lifestyle blog?
I got over myself and made friends with the women behind me. One was a nurse. The other worked as a paralegal. They loved the show and thought it would be fun to audition. Not so different from my own personal reason for attending. We took shifts saving each other's spots to hit up the bar for a second round. On my turn, I got stopped by ABC 13’s social media ambassador. These people were obsessed with me, y’all. He snapped me singing. Naturally, I saved it.
It was then that I received what is perhaps my most notable instagram notification to date. James F. liked two of my pictures ON MY PERSONAL ACCOUNT. I considered leaving right then to hop on a plane and find my sweet Jamey so I could propose to him, but, alas--I needed to finish what I started. Champagne Number Two emptied, I found myself next in line to have my picture taken. I tested out a few different smiles on my window reflection and settled on a parted-lip smize. All my plans went out that same window when I made a face that looked something like weirdly ecstatic constipation denial. Remarkably, I was able to get a hold of the picture:
The final step in the audition process was to be an on-camera interview. Sara the Nurse passed her drink off to me because she didn’t want to look messy. Didn’t she know that “messy” was exactly what they wanted? I swallowed the thought with a gulp of “The Final Rose Rosé.” It may be tough, but I’ll do what I must to make it to the top. My competitive edge began to rear its ugly head when I caught sight of ABC 13 interviewing another girl--a girl with a skateboard. I thought about fighting her, but tweeted instead. She was really tall and, I mean, she was holding a skateboard. I know I said I’ll do what it takes to win, but I didn’t see this playing out as a Kendra Scott Laden David v.s Skater Punk Goliath situation. Passive-aggressively retaliating in my own sad way, I tuned my uke. No one cared.
My glass was near empty as we approached the end of the wait, but I saved the last sip to bring into the interview with me. I was born to be a Bachelor Girl; this drink would be my subliminal proof. An attractive brunette in heels (whom I could have mistaken for a past contestant) called our girl gaggle into an adjacent ballroom. We split off into each our own little makeshift cubicle where I was greeted by yet another hyper-attractive brunette. She warmly greeted me with a delicate handshake then handed me a body mic which I immediately managed to tangle around myself and my ukulele...was the last drink too much, I thought? Not possible. To my relief, Beautiful Brunette #2 found my mic web hilarious. I almost melted into the cushy ballroom chair as BB #2 turned on the camera. She explained that the normal protocol would be for one to state her name/age/city, then answer a series of questions. Brave and boozy, I asked how we could work in my uke. The hope was that BB would suggest I open with a song instead of my name...with every beautiful brunette sighting, it became increasingly evident that I needed to make a serious splash. She took the bait gorgeously, as if it were her own brilliant idea. “Yes, that’s great! Open with maybe ten seconds?” I played about fifteen seconds of my best then confidently slated with a little dry erase board which read my name. Nailed it. My BFA in Acting was finally paying off!
The interview was mostly a blur of self-deprecating jokes on my part and a polite tolerance on BB’s, but one question struck me: Why do you want to find love on the Bachelor? Cue panic. I couldn’t say it was all just a big stupid bit. I was in too deep….or maybe it was no longer a joke. I reached down and surprised myself with a truthful answer that went something like this (but probably less coherent):
I’m tired. I’ve been on countless dates over the span of years. Awkward online dates, empty conversations sitting at bars, disappointing stints with friend-of-a-friends. Modern dating is the real joke here. No one knows how to connect anymore. No one wants to take a chance when there’s a thousand other options in your pocket. We’re all scared that we’ll miss something better if we stick to one person. Well I’m scared if I keep thinking that way, I’ll be running around in circles forever. I want to take a risk. I want to do something that’s a little crazy, because maybe it’ll put me in the company of like-minded people and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll find my right kind of crazy.
Not bad, right?
Drunk Christly will tell you BB #2 had a single tear rolling down her cheek as the speech came to an end. Not quite true. She did, however, beam at me. Beamed -- like the way Kate Winslet looked at Leo when he finally got that Oscar. BB #2 gave me the Winselt Beam and told me I did well, “very well. Seriously.” I waltzed out of the ballroom and said goodbye to Cathy and Sara the Nurse and the rest of the gang. We kissed cheeks and wished each other luck. On the elevator trip back down to reality, I called an Uber.
I’ll know by the end of July if the gods want to see more of me. The shot is long, of course, and I’m not yet sure what I’d do if I was asked to join. Honestly, It's not difficult to justify accepting an offer. Free food, booze, and housing. World travel. Exposure (good or bad I haven’t decided). Love……? I feel silly typing the word. Lahhhhhhve. It comes out of my mouth with a little gag at the end. You see, I’ve never been in love. I’ve always prided myself in that truth, as if I’m special because I’ve been fine without a Mr. Right. Here’s the crazy thing: this seemingly trivial experience has helped me realize that I may be a bit of a romantic; I don’t need love, but I do want it. There's something to be said for the openness and honesty that it takes to be on the show. Doesn't it also take naivety, you ask? Probably. Neurosis? Of course! The show wouldn't be as popular if everyone was completely sane and kept their cards hidden. On the other hand, one could argue that the hope and deep belief in romance is adorable--admirable, even. I'm a little jealous of that blissful optimism...and also probably a little neurotic. I catch myself watching the current season of The Bachelorette and wondering, would Wells think I’m funny? Would Luke and I connect on our Southern roots? Am I too eccentric for Jordan? Sure, I am fantasizing like a 13-year-old fan fiction writer and undoubtedly romanticizing a very staged process, but I find comfort in my self-awareness. I’ve always lived my life in a place where caution and impulse meet. I say yes when my gut says yes, and if it does, I throw myself in and wait for my heart to follow. If the gods call upon me, I’ll consult the gut and see if the ol’ ticker can catch up. Plus, I'd love an excuse to go shopping for evening wear.
Don’t worry, I promise you’ll be the first person I tell. Right after I call my mom.
Edit: Since the original article was posted to Your New Best Friends in 2017, I have moved in with my significant other and we are living happily ever after with a blue eyed-pupper named Tinsley whom I swear is my actual child. Neither the man nor the dog were found on The Bachelor, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.