If I Were…

If I Were on Carpool Karaoke

Unlike most guests, I obviously wouldn’t have a successful discography to sing along to as James Corden and I drove around downtown Los Angeles, thus making the call from The Late Late Show rather surprising. Had they heard my music turned up to a volume that blocked out my voice, thus leading me (and possibly them) to believe I sounded exactly like the artist actually singing? Had they caught me on one of those days when I forgot there were other people on the freeway and I thrust my body around behind the steering wheel, wobbling my car between the dotted lines? Had they somehow managed to get their hands on old family videos where my sister and I wrote songs while we were out on the lake fishing, our most prominent hit being, “My Butt is Sore”?

Why did they want me here? I would wonder to myself as I stood on the sidewalk outside CBS studios, and then I’d open the passenger’s side door of a silver SUV and James Corden would say, “I just really need some help getting to work.”

Once I was in the car, he would ask if he could turn on some music and I’d nod. In a perfect world, he’d play “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston first. It’s my ultimate jam, my #1 song requested at every wedding I’ve ever attended, and the true key to receiving my trust for this musical journey we were about to embark on.

We would jam our faces off and I’d probably ruin any hairstyle the team at CBS had given me before we left. I’d also undoubtedly be sweating by the end, and I’d zone out for a few minutes post-Whitney, wondering if I’d worn a post-Whitney worthy, sweat disguising t-shirt. What am I even wearing? I’d ask myself. Am I wearing anything?! I’d look down at my body, ensuring it was in fact clothed, and when James saw the wave of panic followed by an immediate wave of relief wash over me, he’d ask if I was okay.

“Oh yeah,” I’d say, “I’m fine, I was just making sure I was wearing clothes.”

Not knowing what to do with this response, he’d smile politely, make a turn to shorten our originally planned route, and turn the radio back up.

The second song would be another well-known anthem or perhaps a legendary ballad. Something everyone should know in the hopes of distracting the audience that I—someone nobody knows—am in the passenger’s seat, rather than the likes of Bruno Mars, Adele, or Harry Styles.

I’d do my best to sing along, keeping my volume a few notches below James, who actually can sing. About halfway through the song, I’d start to worry I was getting carsick, and even if I wasn’t, I would worry that I might become carsick. And since I still wasn’t used to the fact that I wasn’t alone in my car making deliveries for work, but was instead sitting alongside James Corden being recorded by 6 different cameras, I’d zone out on this thought for a while. Am I going to puke? I’d wonder. Or am I only making myself think I’m going to puke. Did Harry Styles think he was going to puke? I bet Bruno Mars NEVER pukes. You can’t get vomit on silk. The dry cleaning bill would be outrageous.  

“Do you mind if we play a little game?” James would say once we were finished with the third song. “Sure!” I’d reply enthusiastically, my posture growing worse and worse as I got more comfortable.

James would propose a speed round of song identification in which a snippet of a popular song would play and the first person to guess it would receive a point. I would nod politely at the rules, camouflaging the competitive side of myself that was screaming WE MUST WIN THIS OR OUR LIFE MEANS NOTHING.

By the fourth round of the game, we’d be tied, and my heart would be pounding. Again, I’d completely lose sight of the fact that I was being recorded for television and focus only on the game…and this incredibly slow driver that will not get out of the way!

“EXCUSE ME,” I would say to the navy blue Prius in front of us as my LA traffic demons rose to the surface, “WE HAVE PLACES TO BE.”

James would smile, remaining professional, and I’d start to come back to him, only to have the Prius turn on their reverse lights IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET!

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” I’d yell. “GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!”

I’d then return to James, having completely blacked out until the Prius was out of the way, unaware of anything that might have come out of my mouth.

“Shall we continue?” I’d say sweetly.

“We shall,” he’d say, and then I’d mysteriously win the game.

On the final lap of our drive, I would get quiet as I started to overthink everything that may have happened during the car ride. Was I funny? Was I crazy? Should I have just stayed in my car? Do they regret inviting me on this show? Do I regret coming? Where even are we?

Just then, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding would come on. It’s another one of my favorites. A wave of calm would wash over me as James and I sang along, and soon I’d be consumed by the song, rolling the window down and holding my hand out to feel the outlandishly hot air characteristic of a Los Angeles autumn.

As we pulled back onto the CBS lot, we’d be whistling to the end of the song. (Him more than me, I’ve never been quite able to whistle correctly.) And as the song came to a close, I’d realize why musicians—and other celebrities if you count the Apple Music extension of the series—sign up to do this. It’s the same reason why (most) people that sit in traffic don’t kill each other. It’s the same reason why, in this fictional story, the CBS producers recruit me: Music can bring out the best in people, and can bring even the strangest of stranger together.

So as Otis Redding faded out and James Corden put the car in park, I’d smile, knowing that yes, while I was probably a crazy person sure set the gif-ing Internet on fire, I was also just a person, sitting alongside another person who appreciates music. And even though there were a bunch of cameras on us and I had sweat under my arms and was still a little nervous I was secretly carsick, we had shared a moment. An experience that no one could ever take away. And that’s really what music is all about.

 


 

Also check out: If I Were on the Bachelor, If I Were on Dancing with the Stars

If I Were On the Bachelor

Like most contestants, I’d go into the process optimistic, naïve and dangerously in debt from all of the evening gowns I purchased to drink wine and cry in.

On the first night, I’d get out of the limo without any shenanigans. I’d decide it was silly for me to wear a Ghostbusters costume or fly in on a California Condor because that’s just not me, and I’d forego heels for flats to prevent me from falling face first out of the limo onto the brick driveway and starting the season looking like Sylvester Stallone at the end Rocky IV.

My first conversation with The Bachelor would be light and casual and completely lacking a cheesy pickup line or a one-woman performance of “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, and my conversations with the women would probably be a healthy mix of “girl, you’re too good for this guy what are you doing here?” and “girl, you should be at home working on you and figuring out that you’re too good for this guy, what are you doing here?” At the end of the night, I’d get a “you seemed relatively normal and didn’t scare me” rose, before cheers-ing with the rest of the women and immediately retreating to my room before I overdosed on estrogen.

Over the next few weeks, I’d be what is considered by Bachelor standards as a “boring contestant”. I wouldn’t start any fights, I wouldn’t talk about celery too much and I wouldn’t accuse The Bachelor’s eyebrow of twitching every time he said my name, causing me to think he secretly hated me.

No, I’d probably end up having an epiphany in Week 3 where I’d realize the reason nothing was progressing between us was because I wasn’t even attracted to The Bachelor and that, now that I looked at him, he kind of reminded me of my brother. Ironically, he’d be in the same boat, and so, against all of the producers’ wishes, we’d become friends. I’d be someone he could vent to and slouch beside and tell a joke that didn’t have to end with an on-camera tongue in the mouth. And although there were girls that had the makings of a being a Bachelor Meltdown Legend, he’d eliminate them in favor of me for a few weeks, just to have a reminder that platonic relationships exist outside the walls of an anonymous mansion in Agoura Hills, California.

When the time came for him to choose between me and the soon-to-be-viral villain all the other girls hated however, he’d be forced to go the way of the ratings and smile as she jumped into his arms and accepted the rose with her teeth. I’d give him a hug and wish him luck and he’d give me the number of his brother who he thought I’d be great for, and ask if we could grab a beer in a couple weeks to fully analyze his decision to do this show.

By the time the finale aired on television and Chris Harrison invited everyone back for the after show, I’d arrive on the arm of The Bachelor and take a seat next to him on the couch to talk about our unlikely friendship, and his engagement that America is convinced will end prematurely. Chris Harrison would ask juicy questions about my relationship with The Bachelor’s brother and if there were wedding bells in the future, and I’d smile politely and clam up like it was my dad asking me about boys in high school.

“How could you know?” I’d say with overly enthusiastic hand motions and a nervous stomach threatening to revisit our pre-show Chick-Fil-A. “How could anyone know who they want to marry in that little time?”

The room would then go quiet as its entire audience, staff, and former contestants had built their lives around the belief that you could know. I’d close my eyes and wish I was back at home in sweatpants, and The Bachelor would laugh under his breath, letting me flounder for a moment, like any best friend would.  To spite him, I’d dig deep for some wit. I’d stand up and point at The Bachelor, then lock eyes with the camera and say, “we’ll find out how he knew…right after the break.”

 


 

Also check out: If I Were on Dancing with the Stars, If I Were on Carpool Karaoke

If I Were on Dancing With the Stars

I know what you’re thinking. All of America would be thinking it too. But don’t worry, it would be the first thing I’d say in my bio reel.

“I know I’m not a ‘star.’”

I would mean for it to come off light and airy. A way of immediately calling attention to the elephant in the room. But, seeing as I have no experience in front of a camera, I’d probably sound afraid or traumatized, as if I’d just walked out of 4 hours of detention where the teacher made me write 1000 copies of the exact same sentence.

I know I’m not a star

I know I’m not a star

I know I’m not a star

I’d probably try to smile at the end, but I’d look like my lips were at war with my teeth and I’d only recently discovered I have a tongue.

They’d have me walk you around my house, which is small and not full of awards or vintage popcorn machines or fashionable children, then they’d sit me outside in front of our one palm tree and tell me to talk candidly about my “normal” life.

“I’m a writer,” I’d say cheerfully, because that is true and I’d be proud of myself for forming words. But when they asked me what I write about I’d blank, and probably realize how long it’s been since I peed, or drank water, and I’d zone out thinking about dehydration and kidney stones. When I finally returned to them, I’d try to scan through the blogs I’ve posted, and probably settle on vague, one word descriptions that, while accurate, do little to insinuate the meaning behind the posts as a whole.

Ducks…and Cheetos…and weeds.”

The camera people would look at each other, communicating paragraphs of concern with each silent blink, then look back at me with a smile and a nod. They’d tell me I was doing great, even though we’d both know it was a lie.

When I met my partner, I’d probably end up hug-shaking them. You know, that “I’m going to give you a handshake. Oh? Are we hugging? It looks like you’re going in for a hug. Okay, we can hug. Wait, why is your hand extended now?” And then you end up shaking hands and hugging at the same time, sending a sea of teens into a gif making tidal wave.

On show night, as the intro reel played on, I’d be watching it from the stage. My body clad in glitter and fringe and my hair harder than the bodies of all of the professional dancers. I’d be looking at my partner with “oh shit” eyes as I realized all of America was watching me be a complete idiot, but he’d smile and rub a hand through his hair and tell me not to worry, that the first week is the hardest and just to have fun. I’d nod, escaping to the place in my head where the two of us elope and make the most attractive, talented babies, and then we’d hug as I tried not to hear the words play on repeat in my head.

I am not a star

I am not a star

I am not a star

As the weeks went on, I’d start to find my groove. I’d finish my routines, which would be a miracle because they’d all feel like marathons, and I’d do a lot of politely rehearsed, yet completely genuine nodding at the unbelievably beautiful judges that were trying their best to help me out.

Soon some of America would start to like me. They’d say I was “quirky” and “relatable” and “very brave,” while others would spend hours wondering why I was still in the competition, calling my dancing, “average” and “kind of strange” and “containing too many awkward facial expressions.”

One week midseason I’d become very aware of my boobs. I’d wonder if they’d always been there with the potential to look so nice or if the costume designer did some boob magic that morning. I’d probably make a corny joke like “abra-kaboobra,” using a makeup brush as a wand and then instantly regret it.

During the “most memorable year” week, where each contestant is required to sit in a recliner and make all of America sob, I’d have a spray tan disaster. The ladies at the salon would tell me they had a malfunction on the day I was supposed to go in and push me back to the day of sob story filming, making me freshly pumpkin when I arrived on the recliner. I’d then go into detail about 2014 and about how it changed my life and I’d cry/nervous sweat off patches of my tan, leaving me 50% pumpkin, 50% pale white girl and 100% Grey’s Anatomy mystery disease patient. My partner would say it was no big deal, that I could just get my tan redone, so we’d schedule another appointment for the only other time I had free: the morning of the show, which would prove to be disastrous.

That Monday night, Twitter would come alive with questions: “Is she dying?” “Did she try to tan in an oven?” “Y’all why does Kim look like a melted traffic cone?” It would be hard and I’d probably want to quit, but when I arrived at the studio the next day I’d find my partner a fresh shade of oompa loompa solidarity and I’d laugh and we’d shrug a “what can you do shrug” and then get back to dancing.

In the end, I’d go out in 5th place, just missing the finale, leaving many Americans wondering what the hell my “freestyle” would have looked like. I’d get emotional as I said goodbye to my partner and probably hugshake them while retelling the abra-kaboobra joke to try and stop myself from sobbing. Inevitably however, I’d straight up snot cry, thanking everyone for allowing an “average Joe” like me to crash the party, and I’d walk to center stage to slow dance with what could have been my baby daddy. As the lights dimmed and the crowd applauded, Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews would tell me that they hoped after all this I could go home knowing that I am a star, that we all are in our own right, and that yes, my boobs look great.

 


 

Also check out: If I Were on The Bachelor, If I Were on Carpool Karaoke