An Open Letter to Jason Mesnick, The Bachelor

Dear Jason,

My friend Kris thinks you have nice skin and teeth. My friend Kari thinks that good teeth tell you a lot about a man. Hadn’t thought much about it, but I guess they’re right. Kris and Kari are always right. And I like both of their husbands, so they must have pretty good instincts about men.

But I wasn’t really writing to talk about dental hygiene or dermatology or Tom and Lee. Thing is, I’ve been sucked into this crazy show, The Bachelor. I made a New Year’s resolution to try to watch more TV because I’m hopelessly lost when it comes to pop culture, and The Bachelor is what came up. This is the first season I’ve watched it, and while I’d like to be pretentious and say that I spend my evenings listening to Mozart while reading Proust and Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer and Goethe, the truth is I’m listening to Journey right now and blogging. I happen to be able to correctly pronounce Goethe, but at this moment I’m thinking about how you said that the sleep over with Molly in your backyard tent ended at first base. Really? In my definition book, first base never included a slumber party. I’m so confused!

Despite the fact that you’ve decided to date and select a spouse through a reality television show (twice) in front of millions of views, you seem like a semi-normal, decent guy. So from one single Seattlite to another, I’ve decided to share a few thoughts about dating with ‘ya:

1. Avoid general questions like, “Tell me about yourself.” Or you’ll end up with answers like Natalie’s: I really like bears. All kinds of bears. [On second thought, maybe that kind of answer tells you enough about the person right there! You may want to skip the whole fantasy suite thing and head directly to Build-a-Bear.]

2. You won’t get very helpful responses by asking any of the girls, “Are you ready to be a mom?” No one knows what motherhood/parenthood is really like until you become a mother/parent. Nothing prepares you for it. No one can explain it. And no one can anticipate how she’ll do in the role. If she does, it’s pure conjecture.

Like job interviewing, you really can’t ask, “Do you think you’d do well in this job?” What’s the candidate going to say: “I’m lazy and dishonest and lack problem-solving skills”? Better to ask these ladies to tell you stories of how they’ve handled themselves in the past. When have they failed at something? What was the best thing that ever happened to them? What stresses them out and what do they do when they’re stressed? Listen to their answers. Look at their attitudes. Best indicator of future performance? Past performance.

If you really want to get a sense of who’s mother material, invite them to the fantasy suite and set an alarm clock to go off every two hours. When it rings, hand them a wailing infant with a smelly diaper to change, feed and burp. Have them measure out accurate amounts of antibiotics at measured intervals through the night, and then wake them up in the morning to pack a diaper bag, pack a school lunch and then get dressed to go to work. See who has “chemistry” with you when the night in the fantasy suite is over.

3. Keep in mind the oxytocin factor. It’s that good ol’ bonding hormone released in a woman during childbirth and when a mother nurses her child. It’s the hormone that makes a mother look at her cone-headed, squishy-faced alien of a baby and fall punch-drunk in love with the world’s most beautiful being. Quite simply, oxytocin is cupid’s arrow. The sirens’ song. A hormonal spell of sorts meant to create strong feelings of attachment.

Do men produce oxytocin? Science says yes, but the hormone isn’t present in the male species much of the time. To borrow your baseball analogy, men’s levels of oxytocin significantly increase as they’re achieving a home run.

So if you’re trying to keep a clear head to make a wise life-long decision…well, ‘nuf said.

There you have it, my pearls of wisdom before the swine of reality television. And while the show’s a bit short on reality, I can’t help but quote good old Goethe: “Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking.”

Good luck and see ‘ya at the final rose ceremony!


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