January 2010

Life's Little Piles

Author: Chris Lane | Photographer: Anne

Every so often in a man’s life, something happens that causes him to shut out the external world for a brief, yet strikingly honest, period of self-examination. In this reflective state, he hits the hypothetical “rewind button” to review the many life choices that led him to the very moment in which he now exists. For many men, this moment may come at the front of a church as the veil is lifted from his beautiful bride. For others, it may come as his first born child smiles at him in its mother’s arms.

My “Life Tivo” moment came on a cold Friday the 13th as I waded through knee-deep horse excrement while a stranger took pictures of me dressed up like a nineteenth century European lady. I am speaking, of course, of the CH2 Bachelor of the Year photo shoot.

“What am I doing here?”

“How did I get here?”

“How do I get out?”

These questions raced through my brain as I took each dung-laden step towards the photographer, being careful not to look at him, as per my instructions. I made every effort to do as I was told and walk like I was “on a mission,” so that he could capture the “masculine” shot. I could not help but laugh to myself as I drew a mental parallel between wading through horse droppings and wading through my love life. Each squishy, stinky step forced me to consider how I had gotten to that particular pile.

The first few unpleasant feet, I thought about my high school flame and first love, Alison. We said that it was going to last forever. We got along very well for years, and, who knows? We may have made it. But she had to move to D.C. shortly after college began. Forever turned into just a few short years. Young love is cruel like that.

Squish.

Throughout the second leg of the journey, I thought of Pretty Brunette in Literature Class (PBLC). PBLC was amazing. We may have ended up together forever, thus sparing me the agony of my Bachelor Death March, but it is hard to have a lifelong relationship with someone when you lack the testicular fortitude to introduce yourself.

Squish.

After adjusting me nether-regions to make sure they were still there (the costume was excruciatingly tight from head to toe), I continued on my journey towards the photographer. The nagging discomfort reminded me of Melissa. Enough said.

Squish.

Finally, I thought of Jennifer. Sweet Jennifer. All she wanted to do was love me. But I was too immature to handle something serious. So there I was, up to my totally numb waist in horse crap. In that moment, I was a living reminder that the world is small and karma’s icy grip is far-reaching. Reality has a way of hitting a man hard after these moments of epiphany.

Somewhere between dodging horse feces, llama spit, and wallet-curious Clydesdales, I snapped out of my trance and realized that this contest could actually be the end of my social life as I once knew it. I began my public relations campaign immediately following the Friday the 13th Massacre at Lawton Stables. The effort was not one to garner votes, but rather a Hail Mary attempt to mitigate the inevitable harassment that was to be directed towards your humble author once the pictures were released.

I had to get “ahead of the story.” I knew that this could not be something that friends and acquaintances just stumbled upon; they had to hear from me before they saw the pictures. This would give me a chance to put my spin on the whole situation and shift attitudes about the final result. It turned out to be one of the more unsuccessful endeavors in the course of human history.

I first called my best friend, Ryan, to tell him about the photo shoot. Ryan is one of the funniest people I know. He is the comical lynchpin among my group of friends. If he thinks he can get laughs at my expense, he will not hesitate to do so, and my other buddies would surely join in for a roast-style session that could last for years. With Ryan, I attempted my, “This is SUPPOSED to be Funny” defense: “Ryan, we were going for funny pictures. In no way, at any point, did we ever consider trying to be serious, even when I was told to grow my facial hair for three days and to look wistfully off to the left of the photographer for every other shot.”

With just about everyone else, I played the, “I Have No Idea What Maggie Was Thinking” card: “I mean, Maggie is cool, but I don’t know what she was thinking. I guess she has a thing for dudes in top hats and green jackets. I will say this: I rocked the outfit. She must have been fantasizing about having tea and crumpets with me instead of considering alternative costumes.”

The campaign of denial is the LAST thing I thought I would be doing when I first found out that I was a finalist for CH2’s Bachelor of the Year. In fact, I joked with my buddies that I had just gotten the perfect pickup line for meeting women in bars (which, by the way, has never actually happened. This harkens back to the aforementioned lack of testicular fortitude.).

The scene played out repeatedly in my mind:

“Hey good lookin’. How are you? So, you come here often? I do. I live here. And I was a finalist for Bachelor of the Year here, so…you may touch me now if you feel so inclined. What’s that? Oh, I respect the fact that you want to take it slow. Feel free to just marinate in my aura. It’s magic, baby. Pure Hilton Head magic.”

The dream that once took root in my heart of hearts had now become a nightmare. New scenarios began to play out in my mind. Dark, evil scenarios.

“OMG Jessica, it’s the Hilton Head Willy Wonka of the Year guy! Did you see that green, floral pattern jacket that he wore in the picture? Ugh. As if. Go back to the chocolate factory, creep. Oh, and that video online: what was that? It looked like he was giving birth to a riding boot. I was LMAO, but not with him, at him. Let’s mock him publicly in this bar and make sure that he is miserable for the rest of his days.”

The social stakes had never been higher. To say that I was paralyzed by a sense of impending doom would be the understatement of the century. But all of that changed when I was struck by yet another epiphany.

We all know that the Lowcountry has a vast array of wildlife, and no species is more prevalent on Hilton Head than the cougar. My revelation came about the third time that one of these majestic creatures approached me with something to the effect of: “Hey! I saw you in that magazine! If you’re THAT lonely, I’ll show you a good time!”

I laughed for about 10 minutes. I realized that this whole sloppy situation was very, very funny. My dreams of women throwing themselves at my feet were as ridiculous as my costume. If it did not happen before the contest, it certainly would not happen after it. And, besides, how many times in the course of a life does one have the opportunity to dress up like an Englishman and have embarrassing pictures shoved in the face of all of his friends and family?

So I stand before the Isle of Hilton Head as a full-on owner of all of the ridiculous things that I have done since this contest began. The costumes, the Clydesdales, the horse crap, this article…I own all of it. The odds of me winning this contest are slim to none, but I will enjoy my moment. And, when it’s all over and everyone has forgotten about my Willy Wonka-esque shenanigans, I will do what I have done since long before CH2 made me do it on that cold, lonely Friday morning: keep plodding along to the next pile.

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