**Below is the original opening to this post, which I wrote on Tuesday morning with the intent to publish later that evening. I can’t bring myself to delete it because I find it so cute how confident I was that I would finally follow my self-imposed deadline. At least you know I really do have the best of intentions.
Look! It’s a Tuesday-Day-After-The-Bachelor miracle! The post is up, and I don’t have to hate myself for the remainder of the week for falling behind on my responsibilities. [ed. note: I hate myself.] Maybe I’ll reward myself this evening by starting season 1 of Downton Abby or taking a nice bath in the tub I cleaned yesterday. [ed. note: I did not do either of these things. As punishment.] How was your President’s Day? I cleaned my bathroom and ate more than one bowl of ice cream (two). It was everything I wanted my day off to be. If only I didn’t have to bruise the good mood by tuning into last night’s all new episode of The Bachelor. But alas, I have made a commitment to these recaps, and if I’m not there to dissect what goes through someone’s mind when they start screaming “THIS IS WHY I DON’T LOVE!” then I fear we will never get to the bottom of it. So onward we go.
Last night Ben Flajnik traveled across the country to the four hometowns of his remaining suitors. Four places I hope never to find myself: Ocala, Florida, Clarksville, Tennesse, Fort Worth, Texas, and Scottsdale, Arizona. I feel like these towns are filled with the kind of people who voted for Scotty McCreary on American Idol. Even Ben seemed to have trouble ratcheting up enthusiasm for this high-stakes episode. He presented the kind of ho-hum personality we have come to know and resent, but would leave any loving parent, upon introduction, with a great deal of concern for their daughter’s future. In Ocala, Florida, Ben and Lindzi were reunited for an equestrian-themed adventure. In homage to the first night they met, Lindzi greeted Ben on horseback, though this time in the more appropriate ensemble of jeans and spurred cowboy boots. Giddy up! Ben admits, “I’d like to say I’m more familiar with horses, but I would be lying.” Well your honesty is appreciated Ben because if my mother taught me one thing, it is to never lie about your knowledge of horses. In the past this has prevented me from attending Kentucky Derby parties and talking through Seabiscuit. Lindzi is really excited for Ben to see her in her element; “Horses have been my life since before I was born. I learned to ride before I learned to walk!” According to a quick Google search, I am told on average, a healthy child will take its first steps between the ages of 10 and 15 months. I don’t mention this to pick apart what was meant to be a light-hearted anecdote, but rather to take a moment to picture what it would like if a tiny baby was riding a horse. This is how I get through the show. After Lindzi and Ben rode around in some horse-drawn, buggy-Gladiator-chariot contraption, they sat down for a picnic. At one point, Ben leaned in for a kiss, and you guys, I tell you my gag reflex kicks in just thinking about it. A mere moment before kissing her, he stuck his tongue out, licked his lips, slurped his tongue back in, and then leaned in to kiss her with his mouth open. I started screaming. When they arrive at Lindzi’s parents house, Lindzi introduces them to her “boyfriend” (oh, Lindzi) and her father immediately gets things moving in the right direction, announcing, “I have some wonderful, chilled chardonnay.” Now there is a man after my own heart. There is more gratuitous chariot racing, before the foursome settle down around a fire, drinking wine out of glasses that appeared to be mason jars glued to wine stems. During a private moment, Lindzi confesses to her mom that she is falling in love with Ben. This concerns Mrs. Lindzi, who explains she doesn’t want to see her daughter heartbroken, should Ben choose someone else. If I were to interpret Mrs. Lindzi’s concern on a deeper level, I would say it served more as a reminder to be wary of falling in love with someone who is unwilling to reciprocate the emotional commitment you’re offering. It’s kind of like marrying a guy who proposed to you only after you gave him a deadline.
Despite the listed concerns from Mrs. Lindzi, both parents offer Ben their blessing, telling him they would be honored to have him as their son-in-law. Really? You just met the guy and he’s dating three other women. Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Yes! Come on, it’s Lindzi. Horse puns are encouraged, if not mandatory! As the Oscala date comes to an end, Ben tells the camera that he might be falling in love with Lindzi, in a tone on par with one thinking he may have solved 15 Across in the daily crossword. You got him, Lindzi! Hook, line, and sinker!
Next up, Ben visited Kacie B. in Clarksville, Tennessee! I picture an Old Prospector at the town border, there to greet you when you enter. But the kind of prospector who has sinister intentions, like Kelsey Grammer in Toy Story 2. Kacie B. welcomes Ben to Clarksville with the saddest rainy day parade you’ve ever seen. Members of a high school marching band accompanied Kacie B. on a damp field, while she twirled her baton in front of Ben, for the second time this season. I’m a little confused as to why she thinks talents honed in high school are the way to keep a man. Though I have been tempted in the past to perform a monologue from The Mousetrap on a third or fourth date (I played Miss Caswell my junior year—a strange, aloof, masculine woman), I’ve always managed to hold back. Ben applauds, the way you applaud for a toddler who has just finished reciting the ABC’s, and then the two sit down for a sad, rainy day chat. Kacie B. tells Ben that the field she performed on was actually named after her grandfather, with a story that felt a bit tired—even to those of us who were hearing it for the first time. So far Kacie B. is 0 for 2 on this date.
Before heading to her parents’ house, Kacie B. warns Ben that her father is a federal probation officer who doesn’t drink. “Well that’s great! I’m a wine maker and my business is booze!” Name a really bland, doofy cartoon character. Ben is like that person’s duller brother. The front door opens to Kacie B.’s home, and we meet her parents: MARTHA and DENNY. You guys, those are MY parents’ names. Except the only people who are allowed to call my dad (Dennis) Denny, are his childhood friends. He has a huge problem with adult men who still have a “y” at the end of their name. He also has a huge problem with bachelor men who can’t keep a tidy bathroom, so he’s pretty much my hero. Poor Kacie B., nothing about this date went smoothly, as her parents spent nearly the entire time reminding both of them how serious marriage is, and if they moved in together before they got married, they would pretty much be burned at the stake. And not by God–by Martha and Denny themselves. During a private conversation with her father, Kacie B. admitted that she had fallen in love with Ben, to which Denny responded, “If he were to ask me if he could marry you, I would say no.” Kacie B.’s timid frustrations tell me she spent the first 18 years of her life under her father’s thumb, then started to assert her independence when she moved out of the house and added the b-word to her vocabulary, but continues to cower under his disapproval whenever they are reunited. Just a thought. Ben appears discouraged by this family dynamic—perturbed by the ruling that an engaged couple should not live together, but rather spend lots of quality time with each other outside a reality show setting, before tying the knot. Dictators! Ben says goodbye and I imagine went back to his hotel room and watched some indecent adult pay-per-view. Just to remind himself who’s boss.
Fort Worth, Texas was the next stop on Ben’s itinerary, and there, was welcomed by a very, very eager Nicki. “Last time I brought a man home under these circumstances, I married him! And now I’m bringing Ben home under these circumstances!” I would not be surprised if Nicki had a life size cut out of Ben in her bedroom. And by bedroom I mean, tucked under the sheets of her bed with smeared lip gloss all over his cardboard face. For the Nicki-planned portion of the date, she decided to take Ben shopping for cowboy boots and cowboy hats. Did Ben pull off this look? I’ll let you be the judge:
But the answer is no. He looked like he was playing The Cowboy in an elementary school variety show titled “The Prairie Valley All-Stars Present: Hold Your Horses!” They stroll over to a local watering hole (is that Texan for bar? I don’t feel like looking it up—but I mean bar), order a couple of drinks, and Nicki continues to act like a pageant kid hopped up on Pixy Stix. A lot of big eyes, superfluous gestures, and way over-the-top laughter: “HAHAHAHAHA!” Doesn’t flirting that hard give you a headache? I know I have one. At the tail end of their afternoon date, before heading to her parents’ house, Nicki admits that she doesn’t want to beat a dead horse with this whole “I’m divorced” thing, but, it’s really important that she keeps talking about it so that everyone is clear she is worthy of marrying again. “People think I gave up, BUT I DIDN’T.” Ahh, its ok! We know! Lots of people get married more than once! No judgment, Nicki. Just settle.
The actual meeting of the parents was a bit of nonevent. Sure you had your typical, “Oh Mama, I really think he’s the one!” mother-daughter moment, but by the third hometown visit, all of this begins to feel stale and so I started online shopping for a desk. Ever since coming across this image on Pinterest, I have decided my life would be more fabulous with a desk in my room:
It will require having a bedroom that fits more than a full size bed and a dresser, but I figure I could buy a desk, and then apartment shop around it. Anyway, the Fort Worth, Texas date really started to pick-up steam at the end, when Nicki pulled Ben into a bedroom to lay all her feelings on the line. Nicki expresses these feelings in vague assertions like, “When you want that and you know you want that, that’s when you know you really love someone.” You said that perfectly, Nick. Whether or not Ben is starting to develop similarly aggressive feelings for Nicki is irrelevant, as I would say this final interaction was more about Nicki guilting him into keeping her around one more episode. What’s the harm right? It’s all just a game that ends in the proposition of marriage. This show is turning me into a greater cynic than I already was.
The final stop on this whirlwind tour is Scottsdale, Arizona, where I think we the audience were more excited than Ben to learn exactly what kind of environment someone like Courtney came out of. The fact that it’s Arizona already says volumes to me. I imagine the people who choose to live in Arizona are the kind of people who get Cheesecake Factory carry-out at least once a week. So I can’t say I’m surprised someone as humorless and unimaginative as Courtney grew up there. Arizona’s cultural shortcomings aside, I come to find out that Courtney’s parents and sister are all perfectly lovely people. It makes you wonder how Courtney turned out to be such a manipulative twit. She’s doing wrong by the Roberts name, I tell you! Courtney’s dad was my personal favorite, sitting poolside, dressed in a crisp, white button down shirt paired with an argyle sweater vest—but keeping it real with blue jeans on the bottom–and sipping a glass of chardonnay. In a proper wine glass, mind you. None of that hobo mason jar, build-your-own wine glass we were introduced to in Oscala. Rick Roberts gave a toast, welcoming Ben into their home, and I longed for the return of summer when I too can sit around a colorful patio table, enjoying a glass of wine, and admiring the cacti-themed tablescape in front of me. Courtney’s sister cut right to the chase, asking Courtney if she is falling in love with Ben, or already in love with him. Only in the world of this show do people ever concern themselves with this discrepancy. Does it really matter? Isn’t the question we’re really trying to get answered here whether or not she plans on accepting a proposal from this bozo? Courtney clarifies her feelings, stating that she likes/loves Ben and somewhere Nicki’s head is exploding from this noncommittal response. Courtney’s mom Sherry, always the skeptic, tells the camera, “I would be very surprised if she was in love with him.” GIRL, WE ALL ARE! But in a private conversation with her mom, Courtney assures her that she and Ben are happy together and this gives Sherry “a newfound appreciation for new love.” That sounds like something a Drew Barrymore character would say in a movie called The Hidden Love Flower’s Treasure. Outside, in awkwardly placed lawn chairs, Rick and Ben discuss the travails of marriage. Now, here is where Rick and I do not see eye to eye. He tells Ben, “Marriage is life’s greatest gamble. And there’s only a 50% chance of winning.” No! I’m sorry, you don’t enter a marriage with a 50% chance you’ll get divorced. That’s not how it works. If two people make a thoughtful and confident decision that they would like to get married, and then spend their marriage working on sustaining the love and respect that their relationship was built on, then they will stay married 100% of the time. If something happens during the course of the marriage that causes one or both adults to decide that they should no longer be married, then they get divorced. But whatever the end result is, it wasn’t happenstance. It’s not a scratch-off ticket, for God’s sake. But to get myself back in Rick’s corner, I agree that, should Ben and Courtney get married, it would be a gamble, and there would be a 98% chance that they would get divorced. So good on you, Rick, for bringing this to young Ben’s attention.
After the Roberts said goodbye to Courtney and Ben, the two headed over to Courtney’s favorite park in Scottsdale. A beautiful, green park, to my surprise, as I imagine all landscaping in Arizona to consist entirely of rock, dirt, and concrete. Courtney explains that this is a popular or perfect place to get married. I can’t remember exactly–my mind wandered over to the home décor section of the Anthropologie website at this point, so I was no longer listening for details. The point is, Courtney staged a wedding in this park so that she could tell Ben she loves him in the proper setting. The proper setting being a WEDDING. They walk over to the dozen or so chairs that had been arranged for all of the guests that had not been invited to the faux-ceremony and Courtney pulls two notebooks out of her purse so that she and Ben may write their vows. She also rummages around in there long enough to find two homemade rings, and a bow tie for Ben. After a few minutes of free-form vow brainstorming, the two reunite under the makeshift altar, and the officiator proceeds with the ceremony. Again, I was pretty tied up looking at sheet/quilt combinations, but I managed to transcribe this much of Ben’s vows: “From the moment I saw you, you took my breath away. Is this too good to be true? The answer I found in Belize was, no. I find myself falling for you more and more.” Better still was Courtney’s reaction to these words: “You just wrote that?!” Um, yeah Courtney. Those sentiments just fluttered out of his brain and onto the page in mere moments. Magic, huh? Courtney’s vows were straight up plagiarized from the Sex and the City series finale when Carrie tells the Russian, “I’m looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.” Unfortunately, she kept going, adding, “I want to treat you right, every day and every night.” There’s nothing like throwing in a bit of Dr. Seuss to show a man you’re serious. This whole charade goes as far as having each person say, “With this ring I thee wed…” before the officiator laugh-mumbles that this not a real wedding. I had started to hope it was real and then the show would be over and we’d all be out of our misery. The two were carted off in an SUV, with “Almost Married” graffitied across the back windshield. I like to think that the two of them sitting in the backseat of that car played out similarly to the final scene of The Graduate.
All four women and Ben arrive back in LA, returning to The Bachelor chateau for the first time since their journey began. Chris Harrison sits Ben down in his study, for a round-up of the four hometown dates. All of this rehashing feels extraneous as we know Ben has made up his mind and Chris Harrison saying things like “They literally rolled out the red carpet and marching band for you!” is just delaying the inevitable. The rose ceremony begins and I am all but certain Nicki is going home. The first rose goes to Courtney—duh, they’re married. Next is Lindzi. And then, in a moment that had me gasp and slap my hand over my mouth, Nicki’s name is announced, leaving Kacie B. rose-less. I. Was. Shocked. Nicki and Lindzi immediately turn to console her, while Courtney slightly edges her body near the group, before stepping away entirely, and looking at Ben like, “Sheesh, what’s her problem?” Ben escorts Kacie B. out of the house, while she meekly tells him “It’s fine!” for totally leading her (and America!) on all these weeks. Once she gets into the limo, things quickly go downhill, revealing an ugly cry I haven’t seen since I followed Farrah’s story on Teen Mom. “I had no clue this was coming. I’m so upset…This is why I don’t love! What the fuck happened? WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED??” It quickly spiraled out of control, going from a Bachelor: Diaries of the Departed moment, to an Intervention: My Family Betrayed Me moment.
So Kacie B. is gone and the final three move on to Switzerland. Just one step closer to the inevitable moment when Ben proposes to Courtney and she responds, “Umm, I don’t know if I feel the same way.” That’s my guess, anyway.
Until next week!