It's finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of "The Bachelor."
I can readily admit that I've been a part of "Bachelor" fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I've gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that "The Bachelor" was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.
While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.
The casting location of "The Bachelor," The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?
As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.
Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.
The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel-sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.
I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don't want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress."
I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.
The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone's hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.
A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love."
Being with all these people, I can see why it's so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it's different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn't like a rose?
Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn't get to call all the shots. Every night isn't going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.
The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn't your high heels. It's not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It's being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I'll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.
But for anyone who wants to be on "The Bachelor," let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.