The 11th Place Bachelor: Puppets, Lies and Embarrassment
Author: Stephen Johnson | Photographer: john brackett
I assume most view the annual “Bachelor contest” as a capricious episode within the CH2 world. However; this article projects a story that an unnamed editor (she has reddish hair, is like five-foot-two, appears on page four of this magazine and her name rhymes with Maggie Washo) doesn’t want told. The forthcoming article is a cautionary tale, outlining the consequences inherent to the contest, illustrated through the author’s personal plight and current life as an 11th place Bachelor finisher. It sheds light on the true nature of the contest: puppets, lies and embarrassment.
A year ago, I was a stunningly attractive single male. Then I became a finalist in last year’s CH2 Bachelor of the Year contest. Today, I still am a stunningly attractive male; but, I live under a blanket of embarrassment and shame; and I fear that my relationship status has forever been cemented—single. To that end, I implore CH2 to rename “The Bachelor of the Year Contest” to “Celebrate These Guys’ Future Life as a Single Embarrassed Guy Contest.”
“Steve, seriously—we aren’t shooting you in that, so put pants on.” These words were brashly articulated by the CH2 crew as I stood on the beach, cold, in my Speedo bathing suit. When I think of the beach, I think of volleyball; I think of half naked foreigners; I think of tourists with socks and sneakers. I do not think of dramatic poses with umbrellas while trying to balance on random jagged rocks. However, the CH2 crew, in their infinite wisdom, decided that a photo shoot in business suits on the beach wasn’t overly cliché. I disagreed. I stated very candidly and very heterosexually that the shoot should be done Michael Phelps style. Much to my chagrin, the powers that be decided a shoot of Speedos and swim caps a little too risqué. There wasn’t a sharing of ideas or even a democratic vote—simply the czars pulling strings from their ivory towers. This is what the contestants didn’t realize. When you sign up for this contest, you are simply a pawn in the magazine game. I begrudgingly changed out of my birthday suit and into my business one. They made me and all of the other finalists nothing more than puppets—fully clothed puppets. And from the puppet show spawned the dramatic non-Speedo beach photo shoot which was seen by many in last year’s December issue.
After last year’s photo shoot came out in print, I felt ashamed because I was a faux GQ sheep—popped collar, Zoolander Blue Steal look and all. At least with the Michael Phelps shoot people could’ve seen my perfect bone structure and chiseled abs and really, really ridiculously good looks. I contended that putting me on the cover in some sort of underwear would lead to the highest selling CH2 magazine of all time. I don’t care if the magazine is free—I’m sure people would volunteer to pay for such a cover. CH2 completely and erroneously disagreed. With that said, I still can’t believe the underlying sexist nature of CH2 magazine. Women can appear on the cover scantily dressed while guys have to pose on some random rocks in full business attire? I quite enjoy these women covers; however, women’s rights have come a long way. I guarantee that Susan B. Anthony would want to see me in an underwear shoot and would be disappointed in the shenanigans going on at CH2. The underlying sexism that permeates the pages is clear. What isn’t clear is the Napoleon grip that CH2 puts on the Bachelor nominees. Again, we bachelors are simply conservatively dressed puppets in this annual play they are orchestrating…
When I heard I was nominated for the contest, I participated under the auspice that I would meet a cornucopia of nice, elegant women. Although, it was true that I was recognized quite a bit for being one of the Bachelor nominees, it did not enhance my “social” status. Gaggles of young women mentioned how they had voted for me—although my 11th place finish would indicate otherwise. Did these girls vote for me; did they not vote for me? I don’t know; I’m not Columbo. The point is that although everyone politely recognizes the Bachelor nomination, there’s never an eloquent follow up, “Let’s make out” statement. I know what you’re thinking; obviously if I’m in the Pantene Pro-V section of Publix wearing nothing but my ex-girlfriend’s size zero jean shorts, it’s difficult for anyone to be so forthcoming. However, I know I wouldn’t have complained if a classy lady approached me with: “Hey, bachelor guy, let’s make some bad decisions right now.” But there were never any bad decisions made, and I blame this solely on the negative connotation attached to my “Bachelor” status.
So to all prospective Bachelor contestants, realize that although it may happen, it is not a certainty that you will have awesome make-out sessions while working out at Breakthrough Fitness or sitting in La Hacienda. It is regrettable that I had not known of this beforehand, because it is quite embarrassing—and apparently illegal—to try and make out with a random barista at the checkout counter of Starbucks after she recognizes you as a Bachelor nominee.
In accordance with the zero make-out sessions is the embarrassment of defeat in January. As you know, there are 10 finalists, but ultimately there can only be one winner. This requires nine losers—nine poor individuals embarrassed that not only are they single, but they aren’t even a top single guy on a 12-mile island! This is my life. This is what I wake up with and breathe in every day. My family no longer respects me. My friends no longer talk to me. Girls that used to laugh behind my back now laugh at me to my face. As for potential dates, who wants to date a dude that isn’t even the top single guy on such a small island? Coming in 11th place in the Olympics is admirable; coming in 11th place out of 10 in a “Celebrate My Loneliness Contest” is embarrassing.
Here I sit, in a furniture-less, damp, dark apartment writing an article for CH2 magazine in crayon on the back of an empty pizza box. CH2 didn’t even ask me to write this. I’m just bored with nothing to do. My calendar is completely void of any dates or social functions. I get random phone calls at night from groups of people just laughing into the phone. Every time I press play on my voicemail, it even mocks my existence: “Do you honestly think someone called you! Bahahaha.” This is the shame that beholds me and my fellow “non-winners.”
However, winning the contest is definitely more embarrassing then losing. At least if you lose, some people may not recognize your failure. BUT, if you win, everyone will remember you as that “single guy.” I tried catching up with the winners of yesterday, and I’ve been unable to contact either of them. Is it a coincidence? Or could it be that they, too, are living in a lonely world filled with embarrassment and shame. If you’re planning on entering the realm of competitive bacheloring, realize that it is a certainty that you will live the rest of your life under a lonely “bachelor” rain cloud—a cloud that follows you everywhere—a cloud that haunts you.
“Are you running this year, because I’m sure you’re still single.”
“No I will not make out with you. This is a library; I’m trying to read.”
“Do you go out to eat all the time by yourself and sit lonely in a booth pretending to text people?”
“Don’t come home for Christmas and don’t call here again. I have no son.”
Before last year’s contest, people who knew me would probably have described me as outgoing, amusing and, most of all, modest. I was kind of a big deal; people knew me. I had many leather-bound books and my apartment smelled of rich mahogany. However, all of that changed after the contest. No longer was I that incredibly good looking, athletic, smart, funny, talented, sexy, modest and humble guy. The Bachelor contest wasn’t what I thought it would be. There were no underwear covers for me. There were no make-out sessions with classy girls in random places. There was only embarrassment, shame and loneliness. The Facebook world also took my bachelor status on with laughter. “Vote for Steve” pages propped up last year, cementing my Facebook single status forever! I still hear whispers from time to time: “Isn’t that the guy from the Bachelor contest? He’s hot… but there must be something wrong with him if he’s still single.”
There’s nothing wrong with me, random waitresses at local establishments. There’s something morally wrong with the contest that leaves its sheep-like participants sullen, downtrodden… and single.