Auditioning for ‘Real World’ means breaking a sweat

Howie Mandel’s twin likes me.

Is that weird? Probably so, but keep reading because it gets weirder.

I’m sitting at Main Street Live on Saturday with nine other people my age, listening to a guy named Booker, a producer — or something like that — from MTV’s “The Real World.”

And it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. So here’s my story.

One of the nine people fought in Iraq for 18 months. Two of them are funny. Two guys say that the most common misconception about them is that they’re homosexuals. And one of the girls is pretty hot.

And then there’s Booker — who looks surprisingly like Howie Mandel, the host of NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” — and another producer.

We’re sitting there in a group interview, auditioning for “The Real World.” The two producers are asking us how we feel about the show, but I’m staring at the cute girl because I don’t watch “The Real World.”

Everyone, even me, remembers the buzz at school the day after the episode in which Karamo let the world know he was gay on “The Real World: Philadelphia.” Everyone, even me, knows Cohutta, the country boy from this season.

But that’s the extent of my Real World knowledge.

So I’m lost in the discussion of past seasons, characters and episodes, and all of the sudden, the conversation turns to politics.

Wow, I thought. I know politics. I can get involved here. You’re reading the writing of a guy who spent Feb. 5 glued to Super Tuesday coverage instead of watching college basketball, a guy who gets free text updates from Barack Obama’s campaign.

Now I’m involved in the discussion, and I’m on a roll. Turns out, Booker is tired of Real World casts that are politically apathetic. And it turns out that Booker is agreeing with me on everything I say.

Other than the political discussion, I’m obviously the least interested person in the room. The others? They are Real World: gelled hair, stylish clothes, beaming smiles, and so on and so forth. I’m not, with my hat turned backward and my faded “Big Blue Nation” T-shirt I stole from my roommate because I haven’t done laundry in weeks.

But for some reason, they tell me to stay.

What? Stay? Why?

So now I’m in a room even farther back in the bar, filling out a survey that’s 20 pages long. It took me longer to fill it out than it did the framers to draft the Constitution. My hand is cramping like it’s Joe Crawford’s leg. And I was pretty envious of the guy sitting at the bar drinking a Bud Light.

The questions were interesting, to say the least.

“What are your best traits?”

“Describe your childhood.”

“What are some of your life-changing experiences?”

“How’s your sex life?”

Whoa. Now we’re getting personal.

At this point, I’m more stressed out than I was in my Civil Liberties test last Thursday. I’m sweating. It looks like I’m writing in Arabic. My head hurts. And I’m really envious of that guy at the bar who’s almost done with his third or fourth Bud Light.

The guy sitting next to me, filling out the same survey, is struggling. That’s how taxing this survey is: He was Special Ops in Iraq for 18 months, and the questions are making him sweat.

I finish the survey and hand it to Booker as he walks out the door.

My ride is gone. My phone is broken. So I walk. With a swollen and sprained ankle, I limp two miles home.

As I gimp past Rupp Arena, where there was apparently a motocross event that night, I realize something:

I want to be on “The Real World.”

Travis Waldron is a journalism sophomore. E-mail [email protected]