Big Brother became my summer thing. I associate it with warm, evening air and lingering sun. At the time BB felt like the K-car of reality tv; I was embarrassed to admit I watched. Steve was slightly disgusted with me, until, after weeks of involuntarily peripheral-viewing, he was hooked. He rolled his eyes at me every July, and by mid-August found himself sitting beside me, rooting for a favourite houseguest to take home the grand prize.
It was like this for us with Felicity, Once and Again, Everwood, and Gilmore Girls. Steve didn’t commit to these shows, but my weekly investment drew him into the storyline and characters without his permission. He knew knew he’d been bamboozled when one of his employees mentioned Gilmore Girls and Steve challenged her facts. She shot him an “as if you even know” look. Steve ended the conversation by citing the fictional town featured on the show, “Stars Hollow doesn’t have the population to support your fantasy, Nicole.”
Zed. Shaped. Snap.
I stopped watching BB a few years ago. Maybe because I hate The Bachelor/Bachelorette and being a fan of BB felt hypocritical. It mostly had to do with getting rid of cable and relying on the internet. By the time networks started making shows accessible online, I had lost interest.
It was mid-August this last summer when our six weeks of exploring Metro Vancouver with every living Albertan came to an end. I was feeling adventured-out and a wee bit sorry for myself. I wanted a reason to zombie-out on the couch. There were a dozen or so Big Brother episodes in waiting. Comfort food. I watched them and Steve and I both got hooked again. This season was extremely entertaining with some great game play, sparking good conversation during and after. I think I grew up enough during my BB dry spell to stop feeling silly about loving it.
People are fascinating. They just are.
A week after BB ended, Steve and I watched the first episode of the most recent Survivor on Saturday night. Five minutes in I thought, It really would be so much fun to be on a reality show. Why am I not trying out for Big Brother Canada? I googled to see if it was too late to apply online, and the first thing I found was a link to an article about the open auditions for the show downtown Vancouver the following morning. Steve encouraged me to go, even offering to reschedule a long run he had planned and stay home with Emma. I told him if I went, I’d take her. I knew she’d love it.
I laughed at myself as I set my alarm that night. I was sure when it went off, I’d decide sleep was more appealing.
When my alarm sounded Sunday morning, I contemplated leaving the warm covers for about fifteen minutes. This is stupid. My chances of getting picked are not good. Do I really want to waste my Sunday this way? My chances of getting picked are zero if I stay in bed. I’ll hate myself if I don’t go, even just for the experience of an audition. Successful people don’t give up opportunities because they want to sleep in.
After dressing and applying some simple makeup, I looked in the mirror and thought, Go back to bed, fool. I made myself wake Emma up before listening to myself; I knew she’d give me the push I needed. I barely whispered her name when she shot up and wrapped her arms around my neck. “Mommy! You look so pretty! You’re going to be famous!” She was warm jelly from sleep and filled me with her excitement.
On our walk to catch the skytrain, she wouldn’t stop looking up at me. She held my hand tight for comfort. “Mom, are you nervous? You’re nervous, aren’t you? It’s okay if you’re nervous.”
“I don’t think I am nervous. I mean, this is all I have to offer,” I swept my hand down the length of my body, “so what is there to be nervous about? If they don’t like me, there’s not much I can do!”
“Mom! You’re going to be on TV!”
“You’re funny. My chances of actually getting picked are low, Em.”
“But your chances are also really high, too, mom.”
God I love her.
There was a lineup hundreds deep wrapping the Convention Centre when we arrived. Emma and I queued up and a media volunteer handed me my number for the day: 430. On the back was a questionnaire for contact information and a space to share why I should be on Big Brother Canada.
I thought about it for a while before writing, “Because my face is fun to look at. Because I don’t have a TV body, but I’m not afraid to wear a bikini. Because I have controversial perspectives. I am an ex-Christian married to an ex-pastor who believes religion is dangerous. Because I fight the war on shame by talking openly about the hard stuff.”
I know. I’d change it if I could. It’s not my best crafting. I didn’t have long with the pen though, and I panicked. But my face really is fun to look at. Gumby was invented after they met my face.
Another media volunteer walked the line saying, “The game starts now. Be friendly to your linemates, have fun this morning, but don’t share any personal information. You could be in the house with the person next to you and they could use that information against you.”
Don’t share any personal information. You’re funny, line man. How about I stop breathing, too.