As many of you know, I am an avid watcher of the Bachelorette/Bachelor television empire. For more than 20 seasons, we’ve watched host Chris Harrison welcome The Bachelor(ette) to the mansion, console them though hard choices, “keep it real” on the “Tell All” shows, and most importantly, notify everyone when there is only one more rose left. But what about Chris? What about his life, hopes and fears?
I open my eyes slightly to see part of an abstract painting. It’s of a boat on a river of flowers, with an old-timey couplefloating on the river. There is no way I would have such a piece of shit in my house.
I try to turn over but as soon as I do, a huge wave of nausea hits me. It;s only after a few minutes that I hear a loud pounding on the door. I wonder how long its been going on, and if there’s an actual person behind it.
“Mr. Harrison?” Oh shit, there is someone. I left my head up and I see the entire wall with the shitty painting and realize that it’s attached to a hotel room. I can tell its a hotel room and not someone else’s house because it has that sad style of decorating that you often see in hotel rooms. Decor with no personality but just enough to say that the designer gave a shit. This room was decorated in hues of pink, which I guess is supposed to be relaxing, but really just reminded me of gross baby gerbils that were just born.
“Mr. Harrison!” the voice was getting impatient. I move a little more and my head feels like there’s someone inside it trying to turn it completely inside out. I am reminded slightly of the night before, and as if someone set up a tableau to remind me of the carnage of last night. I can see some empty whiskey bottles laid out on the bedside table. Their labels, coincidentally, were all faced towards me as if they were a panel of my ex-wives judging me.
Now the pounding on the door is affecting my headache. I sit up all the way and feel something pressing into my midsection. It’s a belt buckle. I’m still wearing the suit from the day before. Slacks, shirt, and tie still fastened. It feels melded to my skin like a shroud mourning the death of my shitty career. I now remember more clearly why I drowned myself in liquid sadness last night.
Stumbling to the door, I trip over some other reminders of the night before. Script pages, roses, date cards and a call sheet. They lay across the floor like landmines before I can get to the door.
I open the door.
“Mr, Harrison, it’s 9am!” It’s my assistant, Paulo. Gay as the day is bright. Paulo’s wearing an Armani jacket, an Hermes tie, and Ed fucking Hardy sneakers. I feel the puke rising at the back of my throat and I tell myself I should aim at his sneakers.
Paulo grips me as if I am a piece of clothing he is pulling from his homosexual closet and steers me towards the desk chair. “Wait, I need a minute” I barely croak out and through a bleary haze see the bathroom door. I stumble in and look in the mirror.
I look into my own eyes and barely recognize the person. It’s like one of those conditions Oliver Saks talked about, where you can SEE all the parts that make up the whole, like I can recognize my eyes, nose, brows, etc., but I can’t put it together as a face. I remember reading about that in college, when I was a broadcast journalism major and I thought I would be reporting on presidential elections and not on fights between an accounts manager and an administrative assistant.
I sneer at this jumble of face parts and open the medicine cabinet to find my pills. Ah, the only thing that gives me comfort. Will I accept these magic pellets? Yes, certainly. Despite the rest of the room, which I’ve trashed, this is the only thing that has order and chaos. I had meticulously arranged them by shape, size, color, and potency. I grab some ativan and gulp it down with the sink water. I lean on the sink for a moment while I try to feel it going down my digestive track, trying to imagine the tiny pills dissolving and taking shape while they do the trick.
“You’d better fucking impress me” I say to no one in particular, maybe its to the pills, maybe it’s to myself, maybe it’s to Paulo, and maybe it’s even to the fifteen or so pieces of garbage downstairs getting primped and ready for this joke of a production.
I stumble back out of the bathroom only because I remember that there’s some leftover fries from the room service I ordered at 3am. It’s weird that I somehow remember this but I can’t remember anything else that happened last night. As I stumble around looking for the tray of food, I gasp in horror as I see a bright red stain across the bed sheet.
“Ketchup,” Paulo tells me. Is he still here? And then I remember- after a fourteen hour shoot where I stood around with a thumb in my ass while this harem leader kept flubbing his one and only line, I came back to my room, alone with room service and liquor and fell asleep watching Meet the Fockers. I would be ashamed if my fucking head wasn’t pounding so much. And if I had the ability to feel emotions.
“Mr. Harrison, we have to get you ready,” Paulo said sternly, acting like he was my over-demanding father telling me that I had to kick the football better than I was or else I’d never be a true man. “Sit down now.” He pushes me into the chair while he pulls out his arsenal of grooming products. I wonder how in the hell he’ll be able to make me look like someone with a soul and who gives a shit with just a few combs and face powder.
He looks serious as he starts spraying product in my hair and meticulously spikes out each little part of my hair. I wish I cared about something as much as he cared about getting my hair perfectly tousled.
“I had ambition like you once,” I found myself saying. “I was a news anchor. OF REAL NEWS. Not reporting on the love lives of reality stars.”: I had this strange lump in my throat. And it wasn’t just the feeling that I was going to puke. Was I crying? Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between crying and not crying.
“Mr. Harrison,” Paulo said, almost motherly. “This is not the time, we have to get you fixed up and ready. It’ll be ok. Consider yourself lucky…this is one of the highest rated shows in this timeslot.”
“Real news. Earthquakes, murders, school union strikes,” I murmured to myself.
Paulo continued to do my hair and then seemed to finally realize I hadn’t changed my suit. Perhaps taking pity on me, he makes me stand up, ran a lint roller over me, and then has me put on a new jacket.
He leans in closer, and I thought he was going to smooth my lapels. But he look right into my eyes. I never noticed before, but his eyes were a deep green with specks of blue. “We never know what our lives will end up like.” he says, his voice almost dream-like. “We have to accept and play the part that life hands us. “ Finally, I feel the tears. Paulo embraces me, and for some reason it feels like heaven. I sob into his Armani jacket, probably ruining it far beyond any Beverly Hills dry cleaner could repair.
He hold me for several minutes. I sob like I am a child who has been torn from his mother’s womb, who realizes that life is a series of failures and fakery and will never again feel the loving support of a warm, loving uterus.
“Christopher,” It’s the first time he uses my first name. My given name. I haven’t heard anyone call me that since that one, perfect magical summer at my grandmother’s lake house when I was six. Nana died the next year and my parents wouldn’t let me go to the funeral. “Some people are meant to be doctors. Fathers. Artists. Actors. But you…were put on this earth to guide fifteen fame whores to find fake love with another fame whore who deludes himself into thinking he’s in love. It’s not what you chose. It was chosen for you. And you must continue. The rose ceremony…must go on.”
Paulo’s words had about as much affect on me as the eighteen tylenol and 5 shots of tequila I took last night- nothing. I felt nothing. I barely felt the sweeping of the brush across my face. After I went downstairs, I barely felt the PA attach my mic. I am just a vessel, a husk. Do what you want with me. I’m basically a prostitute. No, lower than a prostitute. I am this network’s fuck toy that weirdos have their way with.
I stared blankly at the large ballroom and the thousand of sequins attached to the dresses of the fifteen women swirling all about. I am not sure how long I stood there, mesmerized by the fireworks of vanity.
Finally, a nudge. It wasn’t a hard nudge, but it projected me forward, and as I stepped forward, my mind went on auto-pilot. It was a sentence I had uttered a thousand times before, and one I would utter several times more.
“Ladies, this is the final rose of the evening.”