I spent my 20th birthday obliterated on mushrooms. Around half an hour before I threw up and refused to leave the bathroom for five hours until my friend finally said, “Rose, I am sorry you are having a bad trip, but…. You can’t keep chain smoking in my bathroom…. It’s against my lease…. One was fine but I think I counted ten butts in the trash…. Can I maybe move you to the window? Do you think you can make it to the window?” I was rolling around on the floor, sobbing, muttering, “I am special. I am somebody important. I have something in me that other people don’t. I am meant for more than this. Don’t you all see it?”
Everyone agreed, of course, because it was my birthday, they are my friends, and they were also extremely fucked up.
(The first time I ever tripped, I threw up an entire turkey sandwich out of my nose and stared at my vomit for far too long, mesmerized by it’s holographic purple sheen, and I audibly cheered and threw my fist in the air when my friend found an hour and a half long playlist of Skrillex’s music. Seeing as I have had seven years to prove this to the world, but the only thing I seem to be much good at is waiting tables, I can’t quite pluck my proposed theory that I am destined for greatness from my overflowing, metaphorical junk drawer of “Shitty Ideas Or Opinions I Briefly Had And Unfortunately Shared With The Class While Gone Out Of My Goddamn Mind Off Some Shit I Shouldn’t Have Ingested.”)
However, I am funny, funnier than most people I meet, and I just needed to be recognized by someone with some pull in the entertainment industry, but I am not very committed to posting high-quality bikini pictures of myself on Instagram or making Vines, so when I was 21, I applied to be on The Real World.
(If the first thought that just popped into your head was, “….They still make that show?” let me remind you that this was many years ago, but as this whole ordeal played out, about 90% of the people I told also said, “….They still make that show?” so…. I don’t know. They were making it, and I am not hot enough for The Bachelor, not established enough for The Bachelorette, any reality show with challenges that required you to be physically fit were out of the question as my daily cigarette intake steadily increased, and if they were planning on making a version of Jersey Shore with emos called Side Stage At Warped Tour, then I must have accidentally scrolled past the casting call. I needed a show where all that was required of me was to party, make out with people, yell at those same people, and be funny while I am doing it: The Real World it was.)
MTV had been trying to revamp the show with new twists; in the prior season, they casted only newly single people and surprised them by bringing their exes into the house. I hoped this wasn’t the case because it would have squandered my chances: Sure, my boyfriend of seven years and I had just broken up, but we were excruciatingly boring, and he had recently gone bald at the ripe age of 21, so a television spot would be embarrassing for the both of us. Our interactions on the show would probably consist of us teaming up to make fun of everyone else in the house, borrowing each others deodorant, and maybe having anticlimatic sex once because we are both low sevens on the rating scale and couldn’t find anyone else who was willing to fuck us. There was nothing cinematic about our relationship; it had no flair; that’s why I broke up with him in the first place. (I was special, remember?)
The initial application is cake: You send in your best photos of yourself, and I had plenty of those because that’s how I got out of paying for concert tickets, so I made it to the second round, which is a fuckin’ lengthy questionaire — there were easily 50 questions that prompted detailed responses. It was like applying for food stamps, but luckily, I had stumbled upon a bunch of Adderall this same week, so I popped one and knocked it out in about an hour.
I don’t remember even a single one of the questions, but I do vividly recall getting a phone call from a random number about a week later. I actually answered it because again, I was on uppers and totally down to shoot the shit with a scammer about my car’s extended warranty expiring for a few minutes, but it was actually a producer from Bunim Murray who loved my responses enough to skip the next step, which was waiting in line at a group casting call for three hours to talk to them for five minutes, and go ahead and do a Skype interview.
Clearly, I HAD SOMETHING IN ME THAT OTHER PEOPLE DIDN’T, AND FOR THAT, I WAS GOING TO BE A STAR! I signed an enormous contract that listed the 20 ways in which MTV would forever own my soul and continuously hinder me for the rest of my life, borrowed a computer with a Webcam because I was poor, popped another Adderall, and gave those producers my best impression of me as a PARTY ANIMAL, FUNNY-ASS, NO-SHIT-TAKING-BUT-A-LOT-OF-SHIT-TALKING-ASS-BITCH.
I thought it went well, so I was a bit surprised when I got another phone call a week later saying that they loved me, but I wasn’t a “good fit for the season’s concept.”
But a PARTY ANIMAL, FUNNY-ASS, NO-SHIT-TAKING-BUT-A-LOT-OF-SHIT-TALKING-ASS-BITCH is a perfect fit for ANY concept! I thought, sadly, while also wondering if that contract was void now in case I ever wanted to run for public office.
It wasn’t until the commercials for the season began airing that it all made sense: It was their “go big or go home” season, where they made the cast face their biggest fears, which explains why the producer asked me that exact question no less than five times, and each time, I said, “Bedbugs”; after the fourth, I said something like, “….BEDBUGS????” because I really didn’t understand where the dissonance was: Bedbugs will destroy your life! I’d rather be demonically possessed! They’re easier to get rid of!
If I wasn’t such a nervous idiot on a high dose of prescription amphetamines, I may have noticed that they were only incessantly repeating this question because they really wanted to cast me and were giving me multiple chances to say heights or public speaking or some shit because obviously, they weren’t going to release bedbugs into The Real World house, and I blew it. I feared nothing but infestation, but I’m very good at lying, and yet, I blew it. Sad.
I begrudgingly watched the season, and immediately spotted my replacement: She had a raspy voice, a nose ring, one whole tattoo, and let some disgusting raver white man who wore spirit hoods treat her like shit, and I hated her, and I hated bedbugs for being so goddamn scary because another girl in the house was virulently racist and I would have adored trolling her until she had to legally change her name or be out of a day job forever.