FACTS & AR­GU­MENTS

The Globe and Mail (Ottawa/Quebec Edition) - - GLOBE LIFE & ARTS -

I was once a con­tes­tant on The Bach­e­lor Canada. I didn’t last long, but go­ing home was worse

When Tina Pet­rick got kicked off The Bach­e­lor Canada, there was only one place to go and hide

You can’t go home again, es­pe­cially af­ter you’ve suf­fered em­bar­rass­ment on re­al­ity TV. A few years ago, I was a con­tes­tant in Sea­son 1 of The Bach­e­lor Canada. I didn’t last long, so I em­pathize with the women about to get dumped on TV.

Af­ter my first-and-only rose cer­e­mony, I was hun­gover or, more prob­a­bly, still drunk. The cock­tail party wrapped film­ing as the sun came up and I hadn’t slept a wink. I was put in a white van filled with skinny women with puffy eyes and wine breath.

As the ef­fect of the Cham­pagne wore off, I re­al­ized I was doomed. Worse, I was broke and home­less, with two suit­cases full of evening gowns.

Dumped off at the Swartz Bay Ferry Ter­mi­nal in Vic­to­ria, I bought a ticket with a debit card that I prayed wouldn’t be de­clined, then clum­sily wheeled my suit­cases on­board and found an empty row to oc­cupy. I curled up in my seat, hood up and sun­glasses on, shield­ing my­self from the world. With my cell­phone blink­ing low bat­tery, I called my mom only to get her voice mail, an ex­er­cise I re­peated five times, as though Sisy­phus ex­pect­ing sal­va­tion at the top of the hill.

I couldn’t go back to my West End Vancouver apart­ment, which I’d sub­leased to a man in his mid-20s. He re­sponded to my Craigslist ad, des­per­ate to get away from his psy­cho room­mate. Even still, he was ten­ta­tive about our ar­range­ment when – be­cause of the con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment I signed to be a con­tes­tant – I couldn’t an­swer sim­ple ques­tions such as, “Where are you go­ing?”

“Well, as long as it’s not prison,” he said, fi­nally giv­ing in and sign­ing the rental agree­ment.

On the ferry, I men­tally flicked through my Rolodex of op­tions. I could go to Monique’s Yale­town con­do­minium and crash in her spare bed­room. A week ear­lier, we were con­struct­ing my Night One out­fit – lay­ing out jew­ellery and match­ing lip­stick to my freshly pur­chased dress from Holt Ren­frew.

“If you get sent home early,” she said, “you can stay with me.” Ex­cept, while film­ing, my mild nerves, calmed by fid­dling with vin­tage ear­rings on loan from Monique, es­ca­lated so se­verely that I un­con­sciously twisted the del­i­cate French wires un­til they snapped in half and the ear­ring’s semi-pre­cious stones were lost on set.

(To this day, I won­der if Monique no­ticed the con­ti­nu­ity er­ror: I wear her ear­rings at the be­gin­ning of the show – be­fore my mas­cara smears and my teeth are stained with red wine – then I show up with bare lobes at the night’s end.)

I was too ashamed to ask friends for help.

Sav­ings squan­dered on heels and high-def­i­ni­tion makeup, I played cash-flow roulette and took a cab to a three-star ho­tel in Tsawwassen, where I loaded up on Advil, chased with Ga­torade pur­chased from a vend­ing ma­chine. I prayed my mom would call me back.

What was I think­ing? That I’d find my fu­ture hus­band on a re­al­ity TV show? Ra­tion­ally, no. Most cou­ples who meet on dat­ing shows go their sep­a­rate ways once the cam­era stops rolling, itch­ing to pur­sue con­tracts as an­chors on en­ter­tain­ment news tele­vi­sion.

Did I think I could launch my own celebrity? Estab­lish a life­style brand? Nix that, an em­pire? I don’t even have an In­sta­gram ac­count. My tips are con­fined to gems only fel­low lawyers would ap­pre­ci­ate, such as: “Keep a high­lighter on your bed­side ta­ble for night­time read­ing.”

I used to have an ob­jec­tively “great” job at a down­town law firm, which could be si­mul­ta­ne­ously bor­ing and stress­ful. I had great friends, whom I of­ten pounded back cock­tails with, numb­ing my­self from said bor­ing work stress. I even as­sure you, I had no prob­lem meet­ing men. (Dat­ing men, how­ever, was a dif­fer­ent story. It’s hard to get to date No. 3 when you are forced to bail on a night out in lieu of ur­gent court briefs.)

My mom re­turned my call and, thanks to her Air­miles ac­count, I’m soon on a plane, touch­ing down at a blip of an air­port sur­rounded by dense bush.

In the months be­fore the show airs, I hide un­der a rock as big as the Cana­dian Shield, in ru­ral North­west­ern On­tario. My tulle miniskirts and sparkly blouses look ridicu­lous on the clothes­line in our back­yard, con­trasted against white pines and birch. I let my eye­brows grow bushy and missed calls col­lect.

“You’re hid­ing out in Thun­der Bay?” my friend, Jen­nesia, ex­claims, when I muster the courage to an­swer her call, “Are you crazy? You don’t go to your home­town to avoid gos­sip.”

Ieven­tu­ally found a job at a lo­cal law firm, cit­ing “want­ing to be closer to fam­ily” as my rea­son for aban­don­ing big-city life in Vancouver, al­though I quickly be­came un­sat­is­fied with the qual­ity of cases on my desk, which were mostly sim­ple slip and falls and rear-end col­li­sions.

One day, I heard my name on the ra­dio as I drove to work. The news was out. I felt ner­vous ar­riv­ing at my of­fice, there are only a hand­ful of ra­dio sta­tions in Thun­der Bay.

I soon had a text mes­sage from a child­hood friend, Alexandra. “Oh my God! Tina, we MUST havea view­ing party! I will in­vite the girls!”

But I won’t be there, I thought. I handed in my two-weeks no­tice. I’d ac­cepted a job back in Vancouver. Sure, it was cow­ardly, but it turns out I’m not a lover or a fighter. I’m a flighter. Tina Pet­rick lives in Calgary. Sub­mis­sions: facts@globe­and­mail.com We want your per­sonal sto­ries. See the guide­lines on our web­site tgam.ca/es­sayguide

SANDI FALCONER/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

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