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Flirting with 'The Bachelor'
I had never paid much attention to reality television
shows, except the one where they make contestants eat earthworms with
marinara sauce. The shows are not my style.
So when I found myself walking into Doc and Eddy's Saturday evening
to audition for ABC's The Bachelor, my first thought was,
what has my life come to?
That's the show, I think, where some lucky guy gets
to date 25 gorgeous women on national television, ingest beetles on a
desert island, pose as the inbred millionaire son of European royalty,
rat out his roommates and pick one of the women to be his lawfully wedded
Something like that. The details weren't important to me, because based
on my post-divorce dating history, I'm pretty sure I'll meet my next wife
in the pages of a catalog.
But I had my reasons.
As a journalist, it seemed like going undercover to do a first-person
piece about the process could make for an interesting story. At least
my bosses thought it was a wonderful idea. I will get them back one day.
As a human being, surviving the heartbreak of a recently ended longterm
relationship, it seemed like the safe way to see if I was ready to enter
the dating pool. Just being considered for the next round would be a welcome
But if I didn't get past the initial audition, at least the rejection
would be at the hands of a group of disinterested producers, not an actual
Could or would?
Once inside, though, the competitive juices kicked in. I could have fun
cavorting with 25 gorgeous women on national television, I told myself.
I could find a person to be in a committed relationship with. I could
win this thing, and strike a blow for baby boomers everywhere. Just keep
telling myself that.
You see, I'm 47, with enough emotional baggage to warrant my own skycap.
By The Bachelor standards, I might as well be a cryogenic
tank mate of baseball legend Ted Williams. Buff was something they did
at the carwash.
But surely there had to be a place in a woman's heart for those things
I had tried to cultivate over the years— maturity, wit, intelligence,
charm, a sense of humor and my almost complete collection of Guided By
Striking a blow for baby boomers turned out to be harder than I thought,
though. For one, I could not read the questionnaire auditioners were required
to fill out. I would have to put my reading glasses on. Arrgh. That would
I fiddled around in denial for a few minutes, struggling to answer a few
yes/no questions, before I broke down and put on the glasses. I was in
for a shock.
It was not a three-page questionnaire. I was staring at an emotional essay
test that I was not sure I wanted to pass.
Why did I think I was America's Most Eligible Bachelor? Why did I think
I would make a good husband? What unique talent did I possess? How many
serious relationships had I been involved in? Why did they end? Well,
sister, there weren't enough pages to answer that last one.
Forget network television. I was burnt out on soul-searching, and now
I was being asked to bare my soul to some anonymous TV producers—
and I wasn't sure I wanted to. Could what I said be used against me some
day, like some of my ex-girlfriends had done?
The experience was beginning to have the feel of a very awkward first
date. Focus, I told myself. Think positive, try to be creative. Stop adjusting
In about 15 minutes, I finished the questionnaire. On paper, I thought
I had constructed an interesting persona, without coming across as too
self-absorbed. Then came the screen test.
Personable casting producer Johnnie Raines welcomed me. I perched on a
director's chair posed against a magenta backdrop. A single light illuminated
the set. Oh please, don't make me look like Stephen King, I thought.
I looked into the camera. I recited my name and age. I told Johnnie I
was a writer/filmmaker.
He asked me what kind of stuff I wrote. He asked me if I considered this
audition fodder for a story. Sure, I said. But at the same time, I said
it would be a really fun experience to be on The Bachelor.
I had taken a blind date to my 20th high school reunion, I told him. Appearing
on The Bachelor would be a piece of cake.
And that was about it. Interview over. I really felt like Johnnie and
I had hit it off, and I hoped he felt my sincerity. But I had to ask him
one last thing before I left. I shook Johnnie's hand and looked him in
I'm 47, I said. I know I'm skewing towards the high
end here on the age thing. What chance do I really have?
He smiled. A real smile, or a Hollywood smile, I didn't know. But it seemed
Age doesn't matter he said.
We're looking for someone who 25 women will fall in love with. Someone
America can fall in love with. I think my heart skipped a beat.
The producers in L.A. would look over the tapes and make callbacks, he
I'll be waiting by the phone.
Full credit goes to:
ABQ Journal, NM
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