Me and Reality TV (American Ninja Warrior!)

I can no longer say I’ve never tried out for a reality TV show.

(This isn’t the first time that my family has been touched by reality. My sister-in-law appeared on an episode of Four Weddings, in which brides apparently turn their weddings into competitions. It should be noted that she was not the bride in any of the competing weddings—I think she was a bridesmaid—which is kind of too bad because her wedding totally would have kicked any of the other weddings’ asses.)

This is my audition video for American Ninja Warrior:

I am not expecting to be cast. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed seeing the video; even though I know how much better I am at doing things than I was a few years ago, I see this and see how slow and struggly I still am. As I note in the video, my angle is that if I get cast this year, it will be seeding a great redemption story for next year as I continue to get fitter. While that’s probably not a common storyline for the producers to be seeing, I still don’t expect much.

The application process is also not in my favor—it involved all sorts of bullshit questions, the same type that HR people ask when they’re interviewing you for a job and trying to show that they’re clever or maybe just that they want you to suffer. For example, things about the most traumatic event in your life. The actual response is, first, none of your fucking business, and then, there’s no way I can convey what you’re looking for in an eight second soundbite because it involved a betrayal that was trivial on its face but absolutely devastating when you take the lifetime of subtext that preceded it into account.

I at least was able to spice up the written portion a bit too. Another question was about any interesting or unique collections that I have, which I do. See, I produce and collect butterfly pornography. (It’s a lot more innocent than that. I volunteer at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and one of its central features is the Butterfly Haven with about a thousand live, free-flying butterflies. And as live, wild animals occasionally do, these butterflies sometimes have sex. Or fuck, really, since the act can last several hours. Seriously, it’s a place that is completely inappropriate for children. Anyhow, the first time I saw it, I snapped a photo, and I’ve generally done so since then when I’ve seen it happen, and I periodically bring it up when I’m in a bad conversation and want to scare the other person away. The photos are generally good; it’s one of the few times the butterflies stop moving long enough for a good shot.)

Another, obvious bullshit question was “Do people ever underestimate you? How does that make you feel?” That one was just too stupid to provide the answer they wanted, so my reply was: “I have never been estimated. Every possible statistical evaluation of me and my abilities is constantly displayed on an LED display projected by a microchip in my forehead to the nearest available surface. If necessary for television purposes, however, I am willing to convincingly claim that being underestimated just fires me up to prove what I’m able to do.”

What else? I relayed my potentially heroic story of helping an elderly lady who was having severe difficulty walking make it to the bus stop—which may have also been a tale of sadistic demagoguery if she was actually escaping a nursing home that was providing the specialized cognitive care she desperately needed, as every single car she saw she claimed had been following her all day. I also relayed my favorite word in Finnish (pilkunnussija), although it appears that I may have inadvertently omitted the “l” from it, which may be ironic enough to advance me to the final round.

Anyhow, you can be certain I will let you know if I am cast. Unless they throw a bajillion confidentiality agreements with the threat of an $84 million dollar lawsuit at me. In that case, I’ll just give you oblique hints or innuendo.


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