Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How did I wind up here? -or- At least I Didn't Get Dumped on National TV

We all have our guilty pleasures, those things we like to indulge in but are not proud of. For some, it may be a type of ice cream, or a series of comic books, or an oft-ridiculed music group like Air Supply. (I'm just using them as an example of course, though thanks to my parents Air Supply is the first concert I ever went to. Don't judge me.) One girl I dated considered "Sex and the City" her guilty pleasure, but I was willing to watch it with her largely because of Kristin Davis. Well, I have many guilty pleasures, most of which I will keep to myself, but just a few weeks ago I stumbled upon another one which I feel I must admit to the blogosphere: ABC's "The Bachelorette."

One reason why I've been watching is because the Bachelorette of the title, Ali, is ridiculously cute. She appeared on the show's alternate incarnation, "The Bachelor," in a previous season and, in a major surprise, was eventually turned down for another girl. The network decided to bring her back, this time with the opportunity for her to choose rather than be chosen. She has been provided with a stable of different men who each try through various one-on-one and group activities to prove that they are the right guy for her. Every week, she must choose who gets to hang around for the next week and who must go home having been rejected in front of a nationwide television audience.

I find it fascinating for several reasons. Throughout human history, there have been numerous ways that people choose a spouse, and frankly, most of them are very weird. There have been marriages arranged by the parents, and sometimes these involve the bride and groom not even meeting until the actual wedding. There have been weddings that were strictly political. There's the famous Li'l Abner story of Sadie Hawkins, who wasn't much of a looker but was very fast on her feet and got to marry the first guy who couldn't outrun her. But only recently have people had the opportunity to go on national television and have their dates planned by a producer, followed by a video crew, and edited for mass consumption. Then again, this affords those involved to benefit from a major television network budget, and they take helicopter trips, participate in "The Lion King" on Broadway, travel to Europe, and help the (all-male) rock band Barenaked Ladies make a music video. We should all be so lucky to experience courtship like that.

I am also fascinated to watch how these guys behave. Just as Ali is one of those girls that you look at and wonder why she's still single, most of the men are better-than-average looking, well-chiseled, and have jobs like lawyer, pro wrestler, weatherman, etc. Most of them dress well, and it seems like standard procedure now for at least two per week to try to pick up a guitar and serenade the beautiful blonde. And yet, the majority of these dudes are really insecure. There are quite a few that, whenever they have their cut-away "interview" to talk directly to the audience, mention how jealous they are becoming, how hard it is to see Ali spending time with the other guys, how much they are certain that if she only knew how much I CARE about Ali she'd definitely pick me. I find myself thinking about how lame it is that these guys with so much potential are just losing all their dignity in front of millions of people, and then I remember that they are hanging out with her in a swanky New York hotel while I'm curled up in the fetal position on my couch watching TV like I do almost every night in this little town 70 miles from the nearest big city.

It does make me wonder how I'd do on a show like that. I'm not sure if I'd rather be the chooser or a potential choosee. (Is that a word? For the purposes of this blog, I will assume yes.)

Would I be one of the cool, laid back, confident guys that manage to have successful interactions? Or would I be one of the increasingly paranoid headcases who constantly resorts to cliched and trite "romantic talk" and gets a tattoo to "prove" how serious he is. (Congratulations, now you get to hope there's a girl somewhere on this continent who doesn't think you're going to become a stalker!!!) I wonder if Ali gets to watch the behind-the-scenes video that we do, and does that affect her decisions?

And part of the reason I watch is for the vicarious thrill--I have no luck with women these days. Even in Atlanta, which has a much larger dating pool than Watertown, I had a knack for developing a good rapport with women who wanted to be "just friends" or were already seeing someone else. The type of women that tend to interest me (some college education, physically fit and active, intelligent, of good character, variety of interests, basic good hygiene) simply don't stay in Watertown. I'm beginning to doubt if they even stay in Syracuse. There's a huge singles crowd in New York City, but that's still several hours away by car or train. It simply isn't easy to meet people anymore. It's far more convenient to watch other people date on television than to try to do it myself. But if you're reading this, and you're a single girl with many nice qualities, let me know what you think of Air Supply.

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