Tag Archives: relationships

The Lost Art of Being Thankful

I told a friend of mine the other day that I wanted to bring back the lost art of letter writing. I admit, I am guilty of sometimes just sending a thank you text. If truth be told, I probably am also guilty of thinking I have thanked someone when I probably thought about sending them a text, but I was in the car, and then when I got home my children were acting crazy, and then it was too late at night, and then it was too early in the morning, and then I just totally thought I had done it, but I did not really do it; so in essence I had not adequately shown my gratitude. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the one that is so busy with life that I don’t stop to appreciate the people and things that make life worthwhile.

Recently, a man in my hometown, who I used to work with but rarely see, stopped by Southern Charm and brought me a cup of coffee. It was so thoughtful and unexpected. I sent my mom a text, “Billy Houston just brought me a cup of coffee. How about that?” Oh, I thought about texting him and saying thanks, but I wasn’t sure if I had his number, or if he texted, or blah blah blah. A week or so later, he brought me another cup of coffee. And it was on a day that I really needed a lift. Text to mom: “Billy Houston just brought me another cup of coffee. What the hell? How awesome is that?” That night, I decided I must send a written thank you note. When I got home, I decided that I couldn’t send him a note on my Barbie stationary (although I did send a note to a local pastor and his wife on a Barbie card and they found it endearing, or so they indicated), but I vowed to send a note the next day. When I got to work, I pulled a card out of my stash under the counter, wrote him a note, luckily ran into his daughter who told me he had a PO Box and gave me the correct address, put a stamp on the envelope, and managed to even get the envelope into the mailbox at the post office. Boom. Mission accomplished.

Why is this important? Because when people go out of their way to show someone kindness, they do it because they want to; not because they have to. And because the minute we stop doing random acts of kindness or we stop appreciating these moments of humanity, we become empty vessels. The people who show kindness do so to bring others joy. But if they are never thanked, or at least acknowledged, their light begins to dim. It sparks a chain reaction that lessens their desire to do for others. Then before you know it, we are all just a bunch of self-centered asshats who can’t see the needs of others and don’t care to reach out even if we could.

Last week I got a lovely hand written thank you note from Haley Ates. This didn’t really shock me. Her mama is an English teacher and obviously raised her right. (In case her mama sees this, yes, I know you rear children and don’t raise them, but whatever, I think reared sounds weird. Blame it on rap music.) Not to mention she is young and engaged and more than likely trying to use up all of her stationary so she can get some new cards with her new last name printed on them. But this week I got a hand written thank you note from a man. Not only a man, from a football coach. And it arrived within a week of the event for which he was thanking me. I don’t want to act like an athletic man is less likely to hand write a personal thank you note, but in my opinion, and man is less likely to hand write a personal thank you note.

The impression this left on me wasn’t that Haley and Coach Moore are a crazy rare breed of humans who know how to hold a pencil and lick an envelope. It let me know that they are humble people of gratitude. The impact of these notes was a reaffirmation of my need to not only continue showing others, whether friends or strangers, that I care about them through small tangible acts or tokens of kindness, but to also take the time to truly thank those who show kindness to me. I needed this reminder. It’s often easier to anonymously pay for a policeman’s lunch, or (my favorite) buy the blue-collar old man’s single can of beer at the gas station after he has gotten off from an obviously long workday, than it is to thank the people who are closest to us who do so much for us every single day.

By the way, a great random act of kindness is a hand written note. Feel free to help me bring back the lost art of letter writing or to steadfastly show small kindness to others by commenting or messaging me your mailing address, or the mailing address of someone you know who may appreciate the kindness of a stranger. I’m not saying I’m going to mail you a Barbie card before the weekend is over. I mean I’ve got wine to drink and this DVR isn’t going to watch itself. But it will give me a database, if you will, of people to share life with over the course of the year.

I think I’m going start by mailing a card to my mom. She lives next door to me, but I bet she would like to read my words of appreciation instead of hearing me casually calling, “Thanks!” over my shoulder as I walk across the yard carrying a can of Fresca or masking tape or whatever item I’ve borrowed that I will never return. And to whomever is reading this… hey, thanks.

moore-thank-card

Emojis and the Rapid Decline of Personal Relationships

I read an article today about people who were born before 1985, and how these people will be the last to know what life was like both before and after the internet. It was not a commentary on the internet being bad or anything like that. It is just that life after the interest is different than what it used to be. This got me thinking about life before texting.

I have frequent conversations with my friend, Terry, about different happenings in this world, specifically in large cities in America, where common sense and appreciation for human life seem to be lacking. We discuss how the cycle can never be broken until a generation is taught and believes that all life has value and  this generation lives in such a way that they relay this message to their children. I’m not going to make a leap and blame that on the internet, but I do think that the age in which we live makes it more difficult to have personal relationships.

It is easy to be anonymous behind the security of a keyboard, and it is even easier to form “friendships” through social media with people whom we have never met. These things are catalysts for discovery, freedom of speech, networking, business, the list goes on and on. Much good comes from the ease of electronic communication. But much is also lost. Many people whom I wish would read my opinions on this matter have already tuned out by now. It seems even a Facebook post that is long enough to warrant a hyperlink in order to “see more” is a post that is too long for a millennial to read. A post with a link to a blog that contains nothing but words instead of a photo based source of information with mere captions beneath is certainly not of interest.

No one wants to talk to anyone anymore. I’m not sure why they even call cellphones phones. I know very few people who actually use them to make phone calls. I get it. A text is simple and easy and fast. But a text really isn’t that important. I called my dad once and asked him if he got a text from me to which he had not yet responded. He told me that he heard his phone indicate a text had been delivered, but that he was in the middle of something and had not checked it. I was incensed. What if it had been an emergency? He calmly answered that people dying on the side of the road don’t text someone, they call someone. Well, alright.

The worst is when someone sends you a question via text and the answer isn’t that simple, and you are driving. So you dial their number and call them, but they do not answer. You just sent me a text! I know you are there! Answer the phone! Nope. Nothing. Fine. Google your own damn answer if you can’t exert enough effort to answer my call. How about the person who sends you a slightly critical text but they put LOL or the wink face emoji at the end of it? “Saw you across the parking lot. Wearing leggings as pants I see. Wink face emoji.” Is that supposed to soften the blow? Does the wink face mean that you did not just call me out for not taking the time or effort to change out of what I slept in before I went to the Piggly Wiggly to get wine? Between the blow softening emojis and the chronic call decliners, I’ve had just about enough of cellular technology.

The good news is I still have three friends who will always answer my call. They are my Tribe. We can text each other, too, but we make time to have actual conversations with each other. As Trish would say, we “connect.” Trish isn’t the leader of the Tribe, but she is the resident cheerleader. Trish is a management consultant. I used to think she always wanted to make things all about me, listen to how I was really doing, and know what I really thought about things because she was always “on.” But I realized that she doesn’t have this personality because she is a management consultant, she is a management consultant because she has this personality. We don’t make plans to meet up for dinner, we make plans to connect. We don’t talk about the weather, or what the girl in the grocery line in front of us had on; we talk about what we are doing that brings us fulfillment or how we need to better ourselves so that we can mentor others. It sounds exhausting, but trust me, it’s empowering.

Terry is the member of my Tribe who keeps us all grounded. She owns her own business, and has an adult child with special needs. She isn’t a complainer, she is a doer.When we met, we were total polar opposites politically and religiously. Over the years she has morphed into this completely different person who, somehow magically, is still totally the same as she ever was. It’s probably odd that we constantly discuss politics and religion, considering those are two topics I find it better not to discuss. She does her best to keep us all healthy, or at least aware of what oil, seed, or nutrient we should be consuming mass quantities of at any given time. She owns a coffee shop, although she doesn’t drink coffee. She also cares for a handful of progressively ill and elderly dogs. The more messed up they are, the more she seems to love them. Maybe she feels this way about people, too. Who knows? Maybe that’s why she likes me so much.

Becky is a successful career person in the medical field. She has two enchantingly obnoxious daughters and one ridiculously perfect boyfriend whom she annoyingly refers to as the most handsome man in the world. Don’t get me wrong, the man is handsome, but some of us (me) aren’t in a relationship and get tired of hearing about how good looking her man is. It’s like if you’re on a diet and your friend is in the back seat eating a dozen doughnuts. You know doughnuts are good. You’ve had a doughnut before. But you don’t have a doughnut right now, so you really don’t need her describing how great the warm, soft, glazed rings of deliciousness are while you’re in the front seat sucking on a celery stalk. Becky is the member of my Tribe who brings the fun factor. You never know where a night with Becky might lead, but like I said, she has a really good job, so she can afford the bail money.

As for me, I’m not sure what I contribute to the Tribe. But like the others, I stay pretty busy. I own my own business and am a single mother to two teenagers. I have a very active relationship with the Real Housewives of Orange County, New York, and New Jersey; and in a month or so, I will have an insatiable relationship with the Hallmark Channel as they begin to air their completely unrealistic, romantic, Christmas movies. So it’s easy to say that the four of us are all very busy people. The thing is, we make time for each other. We put forth effort – and it takes some serious effort – to arrange time to connect with each other. Trish is constantly flying all over the world, Terry has the shop and Bobby and the messed up dogs, Becky has her job and girls and the most handsome man in the world, and I’ve got my work, my kids, and a DVR that’s 89% full; not to mention, we don’t even all live in the same town. But we carve moments out of our busy schedules to talk on the phone and to connect in person on a regular basis.

The end result of this is a strong network of support and love that any one of us can lean on at any time. I can pick up the phone and make a call and one of these women will answer my call. I can’t say that about the other 959 contacts in my phone. I mean, my parents usually answer, but hell, my own damn kids don’t answer me half of the time. But if I text them, they will get back to me. They might even send me a kissy face emoji, or the little pile of poo emoji.

The article I was reading was actually about a book that delves into what it feels like to be the last generation to remember what it was like to live before the internet, and the author relays that the  book mentions something called Analog August where people unplug for a month and get back to the basics. Yeah, that’s not really realistic, but stepping away from the trappings of social media is. I love Facebook, but it’s not my singular means of communication with the world, and it certainly isn’t my means of finding my self worth. Maybe we all just need to open our eyes a little. Maybe we should use one of our fingers to dial a friend to chat and do a little less texting. It’s great to have opposable  thumbs, but maybe there is a better way to forge meaningful relationships other than tapping them on a tiny little screen. You know, if we actually talked to each other, really talked about things that are several layers below the surface, maybe the next generation could start to imagine what life was like before the internet. Or we could just keep on using acronyms and emojis to quickly brief each other on the mundane things in our day that have nothing to do with the people who we really are. Single tear sad face emoji.

 

Here is the link to the article: http://qz.com/252456/what-it-feels-like-to-be-the-last-generation-to-remember-life-before-the-internet/?utm_source=parWD&mbid=social_fb

 

Love, Small Screen Style

One of our kids is going to be President. Maybe not my kid or your kid, but one of their friends, or Instagram followers, or someone they met at football camp will become the President of the United States one day. This should scare the crap out of you.

Do you follow your kid on Instagram? What about Snapchat? Don’t worry about Facebook, that’s for old people (like me). Do you follow their friends? I do. And it is eye-opening. My youngest son is a mess and he posts silly things that make me roll my eyes. His friends send me snapchats of themselves with goofy faces and I send them back. I double tap their Instagram photos from time to time. Sometimes I will comment about how pretty they look or that I am proud of them. The other 90% of the time I am mortified.

Studies have shown that so many online relationships result in marriage because 1) the people on dating sites are serious about having a relationship and 2) relationships formed and developed over the internet escalate faster that traditional dating relationships. There is a boldness fostered by the the computer screen. There is a disconnect that makes it easier to share opinions, reach out, flirt, bully, etc. Couple this with the trend of selfie-taking, self-centered young people who are all but attached to their electronic devises and you have a recipe for disaster.

Remember when you couldn’t go on a date until you were old enough to drive? Remember when there had to be a reason to go somewhere, like a school dance? Dating now consists of staking a claim on someone and promoting it on social media. Ten-year-olds are dating. They claim a girlfriend/boyfriend in the classroom, and then have an electronic relationship right under your very nose. Nothing irritates me more than middle school aged children proclaiming their love on social media. (Actually, that’s not true. Reading comments on Instagram where one boy will comment on another boy’s photo, “UR so gay” like that’s an acceptable way to participate in playful trash talk makes my blood boil. Especially when they come from families that have enough sense to teach their children that it isn’t appropriate to use language that demeans any group of people. Change the word from gay to retarded and I will also flip my lid.)

Back to young love. Young girl posts selfie (with or without duck lips) with some overused, cliche hashtag, such as #blessed, and immediately their 14 year old boyfriend will comment something like, “I’m so lucky, bae” [heart-eyed emoji, heart-eyed emoji, heart-eyed emoji]. Or young boy posts photo of he and girl together (usually in the school parking lot) and captions, “Can’t believe it’s been two months” [#blessed]. The girl will quickly comment something like #bae #truelove #justthrewupinmymouth. Oh, wait, not that last one. That was me.

Are you as a parent watching this? Are you showing these exchanges to your own child and explaining to them that this is not how life works? These kids don’t even talk to each other. They text each other. All the time. Have you read a text exchange between a tween-aged couple? Do you read your own child’s texts every day? If not, you should. My twelve year old has a cell phone. Or I should say, he has the use of a cell phone. I pay for it. It is mine. The content on said phone is my responsibility. I check his browser history, text messages, Instagram direct messages; you name it, I’m reading it. But I see these conversations happening openly on Instagram all the time. Where are the parents? Do they really think this is productive behavior? [Sadly, I have seen parents actually condone this by commenting heart-eyed kissy-faced emojis on these posts instead of telling their kid that four months of incessant texting at 13 years old isn’t actually what love is.]

If your 11-15 year old is having three week anniversaries, celebrating their love, texting a significant other four hours a day, and is feeling #blessed in general because of another human in the same age group; start cleaning out your basement. Little Johnny is going to be living in that basement about two semesters into college because he is either A) about to enter into the world with completely unrealistic expectations B) about to be involved in a teen pregnancy C) completely unaware of what happens twenty feet beyond himself D) all of the above. I used to wonder what parents were doing while their kids were behaving like this. But the answer is more than likely staring at a screen themselves. Just this morning I was looking at a Snapchat story consisting of a video taken in a common area. You can clearly hear the parent of the child in the background talking to someone else. They are completely unaware that they are being recorded.

This brings me to my next rant: adults who constantly interact with things/people on their cell phone instead of the living, breathing human next to them. But I will save that one for another day…

You’re Doing It Wrong

In the wake of the Zimmerman trial, I have seen articles from respected news forums about teens being slaughtered for having a Free Zimmerman bumper sticker on their car and a Hispanic man being beaten “for Trayvon.” These reports have been further investigated and have been exposed as false. But I saw the article on Facebook. One of my college educated friends shared it. It must be true, right? The sky is falling and many are blaming mainstream media sensationalism.

Can you blame them? I like to get my news from E!, personally, but you can’t walk into a coffee shop or waiting room without pretty, polished talking heads discussing the latest trial. They have countdown tickers at the bottom of the screen with the hours until the verdict is anticipated. They have forums to argue what the defendant should have worn to court. They profile the attorneys. They analyze juror reactions. They interview neighbors, old girlfriends, cousins-once-removed and fifth-grade teachers. And none of this stops when the verdict is reached.

I argue that it is not the mainstream media that perpetuates a legacy of stupidity, but it is social media that creates a frenzy of ignorance. Let us first agree that people who take the law into their own hands and perpetuate violence in the name of justice are ignorant people. Sure, they may be passionate. They may even be dynamic. But the bottom line is; they are ignorant. I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of these ignorant folks didn’t spend the bulk of their week watching continual trial coverage on HLN. Instead they saw a “news article” that one of their buddies shared on Facebook or a retweet of their favorite reality star’s “official” Twitter account.

 It is so easy for us to hit Like or Retweet or Share anything and everything. With the slightest touch of a finger, we perpetuate false information. We copy and paste quotes from articles via The Onion like they came from CNN. And even more scary is that this same internet is being used by college interns to sort the facts from the fiction before head writers and producers plant the information in front of the anchor or into the field reporter’s ear.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of social media. My addiction to Twitter, Facebook and now Snap Chat is only rivaled by my dependence on diet sodas mid-morning and white wine at bedtime. The thing is, I earned a college degree back in the stone ages when you had to actually go to a library and open a book. There was no internet. If you googled someone back then, you’d probably get slapped in the face. But even then, a cursory glance around the fraternity social would make it painfully obvious that the world is peopled with idiots. The only difference was, if we wanted to create mass hysteria, we had to get out a phone book and call all of our friends individually and hope to God we didn’t get a busy signal. It took days to plan what we would do on a Friday night and where the hell we’d meet. Heaven forbid you get the time wrong. You’d never figure out where everybody was!

Now don’t get all riled up and think I’m being mean to the younger generations. As hard as I had it in college, at least I didn’t have to walk to school in the snow, up hill both ways like my parents did. I could go on and on about how today’s college kids are more active and proactive in the direction of their own lives, our country and our world; due in large part to social media. (For instance, did you know that young Libyans organized their revolt and eventual eradication of Gaddafi via Twitter? It’s true. Google it.) It’s not just my younger counterparts who are oozing virtual oafishness. Out of my 900+ Facebook friends, it’s hard to find more than a handful of thoughtful, intelligent posts on any given day, and this likelihood decreases exponentially during football season. Sometimes, it is the older generation that leads the charge toward mindlessness. It’s called Snopes, Grandma. And if you don’t know how to use Photoshop, then you probably shouldn’t share a bunch of really unbelievable pictures that you saw on Facebook.

If Betty Sue came to your house and told you that your mother had lost her leg in a freak price check incident at the Piggly Wiggly, you’d probably pick up the phone and call your mama to make sure she was okay. But if Betty Sure posted an article on FaceBook about mutant monkeys holding twelve hostage at a Wal-Mart in Tuscaloosa, fourteen people would share it coupled with their non-spell-checked commentary on the state of our world due to Obama (if you’re South of Atlanta) or Paula Deen (if you’re North of West Virginia). Is it really too much to ask that we think for 3.4 seconds before we click Like, Share or Retweet? Far be it from me to tell anyone how to live, but if you give more thought to what you want on your pizza than you do the articles, images and statements that you are exhibiting to the world as a representation of the person that you are; then you are doing it wrong.

What If I Went?

My latest television obsession is The Week the Women Went. I stumbled across it while I was flipping channels and the premise intrigued me. Basically, the shows produces found a small town entrenched in stereotypical, traditional roles. Most of the women were stay-at-home mothers and their husbands worked long hours or worked away from the home. The mothers took care of the majority of the housework and child rearing and the fathers worked hard so they could do so. The women who worked were hands-on business owners who were an integral part of both their business and their home.  Then the producers removed all of the women (age 18 or older) from the town for one week; leaving the men and children to fend for themselves.

The producers throw in some usual occurrence oddities, like a little girls beauty pageant, which the fathers have to take care of, thus throwing them even more out of their comfort zone. Two of the guys decide to tag team and live together for the week; which sounds good in theory, but sometimes less is more – especially when it comes to 15 month old children.

One young man (who still lives at home with Mama) proposes to his girlfriend just as the women are leaving. The poor girl says yes and then boards a train with her future mother-in-law (who didn’t know the proposal was going to take place) and leaves for what could prove to be a very interesting period of getting to know her future family.

There is a single mother on the show. She leaves her three kids (two girls age 15 and 12 and a son who is not much younger than that) with her boyfriend of 7 months; a young, handsome, never-been-married Marine. I don’t have a young, hot boyfriend with whom I could leave my kids, so they would have to stay somewhere else.  It will be interesting to see what happens with this particular family. The marine, age 24, doesn’t qualify to date me based on my Chronological Chart of Eligibility. Corey’s Chronological Chart of Eligibility basically states that 1) in order to be dateable, a man must be at least double the age of my oldest child and 2) must not have a single son who also falls into this age group. Nothing is more awkward than dumping a guy for his kid, so I find it best not to put myself in that situation. Anyway, this Marine is not even double the age of his new teenage charge, therefore I’m not sure I would have left her with him, but to each his own. Either he is going to man up and be the marrying type, or he is going to request a transfer to a new base before the week is halfway through.

My first thought when I started watching was that the men would be crying in no time and the children would realize just how amazing their mothers were. But before the first episode was over, I started to wonder if that is what would really pan out. I think the men will gain a new appreciation for the women in their lives, but what about the women? How will they survive this week away? Then the horrible question popped into my head, “What would happen if I went?”

I’m a business owner and single mother of two boys. I get the kids dressed and fed and off to school, open and run my business, pick them up from school, help with homework, grocery shop, pick up from football practice and volunteer at the school – all while training a puppy! I’m Wonder Woman, right? I know two parent families who don’t juggle as much as I do in a week. My world would fall apart if I left for a week…or would it?

I suppose my children would stay with their father, or perhaps my parents. I could write payroll checks and write up daily plans for my store and leave it with my employees. But unlike the women on the show who have the majority of their identity based in being a wife and mother, I am used to being away from my kids. They visit their father every other weekend and for a few weeks over the summer. I enjoy my free time and am not one to pine away and wonder what the little angels are doing without me.

The part that scares me is the curiosity – fear, even – that someone else can not only do what I do, but do it better. What if the kids do better in school? What if they don’t fight as much with each other? What if they drop five pounds or start cleaning their room or worse; what if they figure out that I’m not that good at being a mom? What if sales increase at my store? What if shoppers enjoy it more when I’m not there? What if the atmosphere is better? What if the displays are more creative? What if the only thing keeping my good life from being great is me?

The Week the Women Went airs on Tuesday nights at 9:00 Central on Lifetime, and I’ll be tuning in each week as this social experiment unfolds. I’m a little apprehensive to watch, since most of the reality television I watch makes me feel better about myself – you know, the girls on the Bachelor are cuter than me, but they aren’t usually that bright – but this show has already proved to be a catalyst for some deep thought and self reflection. I hope that by the conclusion, I have learned as much as the actual people in the experiment. Or at least maybe I’ll learn how to get a 24 year old Marine to date me.

I Can Handle That.

There is something about being honest with yourself. Sometimes I think we are more honest with other people than we are with ourselves. But then again, there are those of us that just hear whatever we want to hear regardless of what is actually being said. Generally speaking, there are a few phrases that tend to be confusing for many people. These phrases are “I just want to be friends” and “I can handle that.”

“I just want to be friends” is a phrase often uttered by a male to a female. What the guy is really trying to convey to the girl in this situation is “I just want to be friends.” But in many cases, what the female hears is “I just want to be friends with you right now, but I bet if we were to continue to hang out together, like all the time, and you did a bunch of nice stuff for me like my laundry or cook things for me or have sex with me a lot; I bet I would wake up one day and realize that I’m actually in love with you and that nothing would make me happier than making you my wife.”

Similarly, when a woman is in a conversation with a man and he says something like “I just want to be friends,” she may reply with the phrase “I can handle that.”  Now what the female really means in this instance is “I can tell myself that I can handle that and I can do my best to constantly suppress my true feelings for you while falling deeper and deeper in love with you, and then I will beat myself up over the fact that you were honest with me from the start and I was really the stupid one to think I could handle it even though I can’t so it’s really my fault and not your fault at all; and now the only real question is whether I should totally loose it emotionally and go off the deep end in a public place, preferably in front of your new girlfriend and your coworkers, or if I should eat nothing but Ben and Jerry’s until I’ve gained fifty pounds and only leave the house when I absolutely must go to the grocery to buy food for the seven cats I’ve adopted from the local shelter, most of which are mange ridden and unlovable – just like me, or if maybe I should just start using meth and become a back alley hooker.” Although this seems implied, many men do not actually take this away from that simple phrase. What they incorrectly hear and understand is, “She can handle that.”

So is it that we are not honest with each other? Or is it that we seem to just hear what we want to hear and say what we think people want us to say? I think guys and girls do this equally. Or maybe girls do it a little more than guys do. I’m not sure where I’m going with this except maybe this: If you love someone and they tell you they just want to be friends, just be honest with yourself. You can’t handle that. Just walk away. If you haven’t really changed, but you want to; don’t say you’ve changed. Say that you haven’t changed, but that you want to. I’m all for that “if you can believe it you can achieve it” bull-crap, but you know what? Saying it doesn’t make it so. If it did, I’d be a size two, tan person living off my monthly interest payments on my vast fortune amassed from sales of my best-selling novels.

Trucks in the Sand

She ran through the woods, breaking through beams of sunlight as her laughter trailed behind her. In the exuberance of her youth she was never winded. Her feet moved from dirt to water to leaves without thought as she chased her dreams down the slope of the ravine. Miles away, he pushed his truck through the sand. The sounds of squeaking swings and children’s voices filled the air around him. His lips vibrated with the noise of a motor and he maneuvered his vehicle across the sandbox, planning his upcoming attack. They had never met. Their eyes had never locked in a glance. He had never heard her sing to her baby doll and she had never watched as he tried to be brave after falling and skinning his knee. Yet years later as she lay in bed, twisting to find the ultimate position of comfort then drifting off to slumber as gently as a summer breeze through an open window; he stood guard in the heat of the desert, eyes alert and mind racing; as trucks rolled by in the sand. He would protect her with his life, this girl he’d never met; now a woman with children of her own. He would not question her devotion, but persevere in his. He was bound by honor, by duty, by destiny; and giving up his freedom to protect hers was as natural as the blood that coursed through his veins. She would never know him. She would never know why he chose to serve her. Some days went by and she didn’t even think of him. But in her heart of hearts she knew he was there and she took comfort in it. She prayed that a gloved hand would never pause above an officer’s brow as his mother clutched a folded flag. And whenever she saw one of his comrades in an airport or a grocery or on the street, she would thank him; even though she knew her words would never reach them all. Miles away, she was the last thing on his mind, yet he continued to fight for her as if she was in his heart.

Unanswered Letter

My heart lies somewhere in the bottom of a box. I poured it out with ink and tears. I stopped and started it a hundred times. I looked at it again and again. My fingers trembled as I folded it. My chest ached as I sealed it away. I cried as I inscribed your name. And then I let it go; closing it in a tiny metal casket and hoisting the flag. The days ran together, one into the other, and my heart drifted across the ocean. Guarded by a dozen soldiers, it traveled space and time. Then somewhere between the sound of gunfire and the blowing sand, it came to rest in the bottom of a box; forgotten in the madness of war.

Building a Wall

For a moment they forgot their task. They were swept away in the possibilities of daydreams; forgetting their reality and running hand in hand toward infinite potential. Their eyes danced to a symphony played on the strings of the heart. Their laughter rose into the night and reverberated among the angels. Their fingers shook off their usual chill and warmed themselves in the grasp of each other’s hand. They took turns, leading and following, in a game of coy smiles and glances. They exchanged a kiss, just long enough to be savored but not so long as to satiate. As their heads lay softly on their pillows, a similar smile was fixed on each of their faces. And as their eyelashes rested on their cheeks, their thoughts slipped into slumber and then into dreams, allowing their flirtation to continue to play in the landscape of their imagination. But just as day always greets the night, the sun broke through from behind the curtains and these sweet fantasies were shaken off with the fluttering of awakening lashes. In the bright morning light, hope faded and realism took hold. So each rose and gathered their tools and went back to the task of building their wall.

You Ain’t From ‘Round Here, Is Ya?

I had to travel for work today and found myself in the back woods of Tennessee, somewhere between Deliverance and Egypt. It was a tiny little town, my destination; one that would fit a description I heard growing up as a “spit town.” I’m from rural Alabama, so for me to be impressed by the lack of civilization is a pretty unusual thing. I knew the area was economically challenged before I set out and I had prepared myself to witness the typical poor, rural items that are common place, such as half buried tires around the perimeter of a trailer forming some sort of semblance of a fence, barbecue served by the roadside from half rusted old barrels filled with wood chips and the smell of sweet mesquite, and shotgun houses set almost on the shoulder of the highway with one of its inhabitants either resting comfortably on the front porch or tinkering with an old lawnmower too close to the road. I dropped the top on my Jeep and tuned the radio in to a “God fearin’, meat eatin’ country station” and figured I’d slip on into town without calling any attention to myself. I didn’t realize that I had innately set myself apart from the locals the moment I had put on lipstick and a bra. The county road on the way into and through one after another One Horse Town, Unincorporated, was littered with hand painted signs displaying Bible verses, firewood for sale and stump grinding services. I was almost surprised when I didn’t see any used cardboard and spray painted signs advertising “Rabbits for Sale: Pets or Meat.” I stopped into a local filling station and went in for a drink. The red-blooded, full bearded, overall clad, American and proud of it behind the counter couldn’t understand me at first, but then I did my impersonation of Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama and he was able to comprehend what I was saying and pointed me toward a cooler in the back. There I found not only a can of scrumptious Diet Mountain Dew, but it was so cold that it had frozen chunks of neon green deliciousness inside of it. In case you have ever wondered the whereabouts of that mid 80s Ford Escort that your friend in high school drove, I found it. In fact, the ratio of 80s model Ford Escorts to licensed drivers in this area was at least 4 to 1. It was a little unnerving to see so many of them in the same place. I felt like Suzanne Pleshette watching the birds gather on the jungle gym in the school yard in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds, only it was a bunch of Ford Escorts. The good people of this region apparently do not believe in storage buildings. Why would they, really, when they have seemed to do just fine setting extra sofas, buckets, small appliances, clothing, yard implements, toys and other superfluous items right out in their front yard. In fact, a few of the residents seemed so in tune with their surroundings that they didn’t even bother having doors on their fine abodes. There was one establishment that didn’t adhere to this practice, however. It was a little store named “The Inside Store.” Now don’t let your mind run away with you and think that this was a retailer of fine home interiors. It was simply a store that was housed inside of a building; and judging by all of the other vendors selling their wares out of the trunks of their automobiles, road-side shanties and lone, free-standing metal racks right out in the middle of nothing, this Inside Store was one of a kind. Well, there was a place named the Tater Sack, but it looked closed. The natives, I mean, locals made me feel right at home. They all waved at me as I went by. Those who couldn’t wave because their hands were busy whittling or opening a beer gave me a warm welcoming glare. I was feeling right chipper until I passed the white supremacy flag and had an image of Sandra Bullock’s little run in with the klan in A Time to Kill. The bummer about that was there was no Matthew McConaughey that was going to come looking for me. Even if there was, he’d probably be off biking shirtless with Lance Armstrong. Then I passed the most curious thing. It was this scarecrow looking woman. Not a real woman, but one made out of something like a scarecrow and she was wearing this Amish type dress. Above her head she was holding up this huge log. And by huge, I mean like twenty feet long and a good foot in diameter. It was the oddest thing I’d ever seen. It was right there in some person’s front yard next to a big stump carved into some goofy looking fellow and an old cast iron syrup pot turned upside down and holding up the front fender of a mid 80s Ford Escort. I wanted to stop and take a picture of it, but I wasn’t sure if any of the residents were there and I didn’t want to be spotted photographing their every day existence as if it was some sort of novelty. Also, I wasn’t sure they would know what a camera phone was and I had neither the time nor the inclination to assimilate them into the current century, so I just kept on driving. All in all, it was an interesting day. I think if I ever have to go back, I will take along a side kick, you know, someone to man a camera while I drive. And maybe I’ll take some trinkets like you see settlers or missionaries do in old black and white Zulu type movies. Yeah, trinkets sound like a good idea. Perhaps I will take lipsticks.

From a Distance

I watch from a distance, but I can’t go back
I offer questions, but the answers are not mine to take
You were not mine, even when you were mine
Now you belong to whomever
Just beyond my reach; close enough to tempt, yet never within my grasp
You are not teasing; you are simply being
It is my own concoction to unravel
I cannot regret as the choices were not mine to make
But I can wonder what might have been
Silly notions and conjecture
Happy endings never to be written
I torture myself voyeuristically
Quietly watching a game in which I will never be a player
Falling, drifting deeper and deeper into adulation
Submerging any chance for hope under the cold waters of despair
If only I could turn my head; if only I would close my eyes
Perhaps you would melt away and your memory would dissipate into the night

A Valentine’s Day Poem

This is that special time of year
Lovers embrace their ones so dear
Cupid sends his arrows flying
Heart shaped boxes loved ones are buying
The cost of roses increases tenfold
Unusual amounts of chocolate are sold
Cards with foil and glitter and mush
Are paired with pink teddy bears made out of plush
Frat boys buy wine instead of kegs
Married women actually shave their legs
Men go to chick flicks without even whining
Stay at home moms get to splurge on fine dining
All this fuss about love is made
Even married people get laid
Kids swap “be mine” cards and come home with junk
That melts in their book bag and turns into gunk
Jewelry commercials are at an all time high
People actually buy things that say “cutie pie”
Couples photos are set as new profile pics
Girls get flowers from guys that are usually pricks
Romance and sweet nothings are everywhere you look
Until you take a peek into my little nook
I have no candy hearts, chocolates or flowers
No need to shave my legs, hell I didn’t even shower
I did get a Valentine’s text from my mother
Which is the equivalent of going to prom with your brother
But that’s fine, I’m okay, no need to cry and wail
Tomorrow I’ll go to Kroger and buy candy on sale
I’ll be my own Valentine and to myself be true
I’ll never cheat on me or make myself blue
I won’t even do anything stupid and make myself mad
Oh wait, I just got flowers; a dozen roses from my Dad!
That’s right; I got flowers from a wonderful guy
Who has always loved me for me and will till we die
Now I’m all smiles and rainbows and shouting hooray!
And can say without sarcasm “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

roses from my dad

Six Years

Six years and I still hear your voice
Booming loud above the noise of the world
Six years and I still hear you humming
Never waiting for the music to start
Six years and I feel your lap beneath me
Stroking my hair and playing with my fingernails
Six years and I still feel the floor vibrate
Rattling the window as you walk down the hall
Six years and you’re still scheming
Another gadget to slip into the house
Six years and it’s time for a jigger
Maybe a finger more
Six years and there’s no one like you
No one to fill your void
Six years and I still miss you
Forever my soul mate, my friend
Six years that feel like a lifetime
Yet only the blink of an eye

Floundering

Detaching from life
Reality left behind
Make-believe ahead
Never standing still
Moving rather than thinking
Avoiding choices
Happiness a myth
Hiding inside of laughter
Pretending to smile
No chances given
Giving hope the cold shoulder
The decision made
Why bother trying
Instead simply start over
Never to look back
Evade reminders
Fill each moment with nothing
Keep moving always
Disregard the past
Leaving the game unfinished
This time no one wins

Mine

My heart is aching
Even though you are not mine
You’re so far away

You call to my heart
Without even knowing it
Your soul draws me near

Tears fall down my face
I pretend it is nothing
But I’m missing you

We have memories
But they’re not without lament
Too late to go back

I wonder often
If you think that I’m a joke
Or if you might care

Time keeps slipping by
And our distance grows farther
Maybe it’s too far

My questions remain
Your intentions unspoken
Just as my feelings

I’ve given you hints
I’m just too scared to say it
I wish you were mine

If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother.

My parents invited me to the farm to eat fish for lunch with them and my grandmother. True to form, it was great food. Also typical was my mother’s incessant chatter while we ate. I timed it perfectly and arrived as the fish was coming out of the fryer. I grabbed a beer and sat at the table.

Sadie: “Everything looks good. Don’t you think it looks good? I think it looks good. I haven’t tasted it yet. I’m still getting mine ready. How’s yours, Mother? Is your good? John? Yours o.k.? Corey?”

Me: “I haven’t tried it yet.”

Sadie: “Well, if it tastes as good as it looks; it’s going to be great. Do you need some catchup, Mother? These fries look great. We should do them like this more often. There are plenty of hush puppies over here. Do you want another hush puppy, Mother? John, there are plenty of hush puppies. They have corn in them. Corey, I know you don’t like corn.”

Me: “I like corn.”

Sadie: “You like corn? I thought you didn’t like corn. Are you sure you like corn?”

Me: I don’t like bananas.”

Sadie: “Bananas? You don’t like bananas? I thought it was corn. Well, these have corn in them. They were buy one get one free. I think they’re good with corn in them. Did you want another hush puppy, Mother? These English peas look good, too. I always thought English peas just went great with fish. Did you get enough peas? John? There are more peas over here. You didn’t want any, Corey? There’s plenty right here. Wow. There is a little much garlic in this dressing for my taste. This is new garlic ranch. There is a lot of garlic in this. Mother, did you get enough salad? There are more dressings over there.”

Dad: “So Coco, I have a question for you and I’m not sure how you’re going to answer so I’ve been sort of sitting on it.”

Me: “What?”

Dad: “I’ve had all these invitations to join Facebook. If I join, would you be my friend?”

Sadie: “I don’t think that’s a good idea, John. Facebook? You’re a little past that.”

Me: “Whatever, Mom. There are people older than him on Facebook. Dave Burgess is on there. Can’t let the other Presbyterian preacher get ahead of you…”

Dad: “That’s who is asking me to join, other preachers in the Presbytery. So, would you be my friend?”

Me: “I don’t care. It’s not like you don’t know everything I do anyway. The stuff I don’t tell you, people who read my Facebook tell you. You’d might as well read it for yourself. I wouldn’t be Mom’s friend, so if you leave yourself logged in and she can figure out how to get on there and read all my crap then no, but I don’t care if you’re on there.”

Sadie: “I’m not doing Facebook. You don’t have to worry about that. There’s plenty of fish over here. Oh, I didn’t see that big piece under there. Is that bass? That must be the bass. This bream is good. You need to get out there and catch some more fish, John. When are you going to start fishing again?”

Dad: “Is 2:30 this afternoon soon enough?”

Sadie: “Mother, do you want some more fish? There should be enough here for the boys to eat later. Do you want me to box this up and you can take it home for the boys to eat? I think they would eat this. They love fish. I don’t know if they would eat these hush puppies since they have corn in them. Do you want to take this home? Why don’t you just leave it here and they can have it for dinner this afternoon when they come over. If they don’t want it then you can take it home tonight. I think they’ll eat it. Don’t you?”

Me: “That’s fine. Leave it here. They’ll eat it. I don’t feel well. I’m going home to lie down. Thank you for lunch. Love you, Mamie. Bye, Dad. Bye Sadie.”

I drove home. After about two minutes the boys came home. The first thing they both said was “I’m hungry.” Sigh. Wish I had that fish. A text came in from my mother that read, “since pretty u can bring them earlier if u like don’t know when home from kips can text before they come.” I respond with a text that read, “They are home now.” She responded with a text that read, “Since pretty they can come whenever know u don’t feel good whatever u want and they want.” I reply with “they are eating lunch right now.” You guessed it. In came a text. It began, “sorry didn’t send fish thought they eating there…” At this point, I just closed my phone and set it on mute. The fish really was good, but I’m not sure they were worth all the talking.

***Chatter about Curves (whether it would stay open, who should buy it, how it should be run and whether or not old people could handle it) and why college photos are used in obituaries when someone dies in their 90s along with a few other choice items were omitted in the interest of time and my sanity.

Sweet Home Alabama: Episode Eight

After a regurgitation of the season’s highlights, Devin jumped right in to choose her soul mate. It’s Country vs. Country in a battle of movie references: will it be the quarterback with all the right moves or the horse whisperer? At this point, do we really even care?

She has a date with Tribble and they head out on a sea plane. She announces that she will be Maverick and he can be Goose. They land on a lake next to a country club and play a game of pool before sitting on a dock and having their “deepest conversation” about trust. Next they have a boat ride. Tribble compared it to a “dumpster fire” since they had some issues with the motor; the main issue being that Tribble didn’t know how to operate it. They discover that they both only have one living grandmother, but Devin isn’t sure that those trivial things in common are enough. Tribble spends the greater part of the evening trying not to stare at Devin’s cleavage, and he can’t open up to her without her telling him that she had already chosen him. His lack of confidence was a big buzz kill for Devin. After announcing that he isn’t really hungry, he walks away from a huge, beautiful steak. It was such a good looking steak that I couldn’t even pay attention to anything else that happened. How do you walk away from a steak like that? Are you insane? They go night swimming while the steak sits there and rots.

The next day, she gets on the same sea plane with Adam and he makes a fun quip about swimming with the sharks. They go to an island off the coast of Mississippi and have a little picnic. There is brie cheese that Adam keeps calling cheesecake and Devin pretty much decides she wants to dump him because he doesn’t know the difference between a dessert and a block of cheese. Adam knew he was messing up, but he had totally let Devin’s date with Tribble mess with his head. A storm rolls in that is more horrific than their conversation skills and they have to leave the island. They dress up and have some sushi with “green beans” and Devin shows off her spelling skills. He finally gets his confidence back and things take a turn for the better. Adam spouts off some romantic stuff and Devin says he sounds like a line from a movie. He tells her “exactly what she needed to hear” and then a huge rain storm begins pouring down on them. Then in the rain under stings of lights, they begin to dance without any music. It was an electrocution waiting to happen, but it was also pretty damn romantic. Adam sums the night up as “being like a movie” and lets Devin know again that he’s “fallin’ for” her.

Devin decides that even though they are both country, that one is city southern and the other is backwoods southern. She thinks she looks good with Tribble and he always keeps her guessing, but Adam is ruggedly good looking and “to know him a minute is to know who he is.” Tribble shows up first and Devin dumps him through tears. He claims that he is at a loss for words and then proceeds to talk for ten minutes. Ever the jock, he bounces back quickly and declares that if it can’t be him to win Devin’s heart, that he’s glad that it’s Adam (his best friend in the house) and he thinks they will be great together. Next Adam comes and meets Devin who is wearing a classic bridal inspired prom dress. She tells him that he’s the one and he whips out a small white box. Devin freaks for just a moment thinking it’s a proposal, but instead it’s a “promise ring on a chain.” In case you weren’t in middle school at some point and don’t know what that is, a promise ring on a chain is when you give a girl a ring with a diamond, but not a diamond big enough that anyone would actually want to wear it on their finger, especially their ring finger because then everyone would just think they had a crappy engagement ring and they would have to spend half their time explaining that it was just a promise ring. So it’s typically worn around a chain; which in most cases is the better piece of jewelry. I’ve never quite understood what the promise was that went with a promise ring, but whatever it is, Devin ate it up and Adam put the necklace on her with pride.

So the only question that remains is: Did Devin pick Adam because he’s from Franklin, TN; just a hop, skip and a jump away from her real hometown back in Tennessee?

Oh! Don’t cry for Tribble. He will be staring in the next Sweet Home Alabama where CMT will pair him with ten city girls and ten country girls and help him find his true love. Oh, just wait. In the promo clip, he said he’s looking for “Mrs. Right.” So apparently, they will all be married women. See you next time in Sweet Home Alabama!

Sweet Home Alabama: Episode Seven

The country boys have a pow wow and decide that city boy Maxim is a threat and not right for Devin, but Jason Maxim isn’t worried because he looks like Josh Duhamel and he considers himself a Jedi (Yet he also considers himself mature enough for a relationship).

Devin takes Collin to a soda shop in Foley and they share a malt. Collin thinks she is “more than amazing and the love of his life.” Devin can imagine him being the guy she falls in love with. Next  they go to the beach and make out in the ocean. Later, while laying in a hammock, Collin lets Devin know exactly how he feels and she just smiles at him.

Devin and Jason go and meet Kathy Najimy in Gulf Shores. No, wait, that’s Jimmy Buffett’s sister, LuLu. “Alabama native” Devin explains that LuLu’s is a resort (it isn’t; it’s a restaurant with an upscale beach equivalent of put put golf so that people have something to do while they wait on a table) and the pair set off to climb a rope apparatus. While at the top, Jason explains to Devin that she has helped him “not care about money so much” and they make out. Devin says she doesn’t like to get stuff just because she’s pretty, but would rather deserve it. Jason realizes how much money that could save him and he falls even more for her.

Adam picks Devin up in his version of a “slick” car, a 1931 Model A, and they go to a hot air balloon fair. She is impressed with his suit and they share an ice cream cone and talk about all the mud in their teeth during their last kiss. They discuss where they would like to be in ten years. Devin is super realistic and explains her plans for two kids (a boy and a girl) and how the boy will come first because her daughter will need an older brother. She also explained how she wanted a career and would like to be a housewife. She is really also looking forward to getting fat. She teaches him some dance moves and he tells her that he’s “fallin’ fer” her and they swap some spit (without mud).

Tribble “pulls some strings” and gets his mother and Devin’s mother to meet them at Bellingrath Gardens for tea. Mama Reese explains that she must love her son to do this for him. As they walk to meet the Grissoms, she uses that time to bitch him out about his shoes not being polished enough and hopes that she doesn’t look at his feet, because apparently, at this point in the game, a dirty shoe would be a deal breaker. She must not be aware of the fact that Devin just finished a date with a guy who had mud in his teeth. Devin’s mom didn’t trust Tribble at first because he was “good-looking,” but after taking her sunglasses on and off about twelve times at  “tea” she decided that he was a nice young man. (Tea is actually mimosas, and to understand the sunglasses, just watch the damn clip). Tribble walked his mom back to the hotel so that she could run a full background check on Devin and Devin went off for a little chat with Kim Bassinger (or Mrs. Grissom, whatever you want to call her – see photo below and decide for yourself). Mom admits to Devin that she’s never “dated so many at once” (thank goodness). Tribble and Devin sneak away and have a disjointed conversation about how stressed she is and he walks away without any smooches.

Devin arrives to the porch and announces that she’s in the worst mood of her life (apparently they have now been there a full 28 days) and she apologizes to Tribble for their rotten one-on-one time. She tells them that two of them will be going home and that they just need to come see her at her old truck one by one.  Adam decided to go first and she invites him to stay. Collin goes second and she cuts him loose. He wants to know if she let him go because he’s “so deep that it scared her away” and she simply says she’s sorry. After squalling on the other guys, the other two country boys walk him to the fence (Tribble carrying a huge bunch of dry-cleaned dress shirts, um…whose are those?) and tell him goodbye. Next up is city boy Jason “Jedi” Maxim. Devin tells him that he scares her and sometimes she just wants to pack up and leave with him, but her heart is in the South and she knows that is where she belongs. He tells her that she opened his heart again and that he will just have to find himself another girl from the South. Tribble “did the math” and figured out he was going to get to stay and went out to see Devin and told her he wanted to stay. He’s excited that his “best friend in the house” is still remaining and they both look forward to the “fight to the finish.”

Yeah? Maybe like a short, pudgy Kim Bassinger?

Sweet Home Alabama: Episode Six

I’m sort of in a hurry, so I’m going to make tonight’s recap short and sweet. Well, short anyway. Devin’s Daddy comes to town to separate the men from the boys. Here are the highlights:

The City Boys proved that even they know the difference between alligators and crocodiles. (Sorry, Devin, you just lost a little more credibility as a Bama girl).

Daddy took the boys out ATV riding. Jason Maxim spoke from the heart (AKA brown nosed), Adam said something, but it was too country to understand. Tribble lost points with Daddy for being a quarterback. He must have gotten beat up by someone on the football team in high school. Daddy asked Collin what he would find if he Googled him and Collin assured him that he would find “nothing.” He then asked Flex what would happen if he Googled him. Flex told him he’d find about ten modeling photos and a Facebook page. When asked why he thought he and Devin would be a good match, Flex responded that they both “like Superman.”

While Daddy interviews the guys, Devin rides out on a four-wheeler and helps Adam get unstuck. Next comes a mud fight followed by some making out in the mud. Then they hose each other off.

Daddy and Devin clean up and have a chat. He likes Adam but thinks he has some growing up to do. He thinks Collin has a firm foundation, but doesn’t like the two earrings. He thinks Tribble is a playboy. He thinks Flex is a moron, although he didn’t really say that. Daddy doesn’t want Devin going to L.A. and he finds it hard to believe that Jason Maxim turned down a TV show to stay with Devin. Then Daddy let’s Devin know that he Googled the guys and found a video of one of the guys “full force getting it on” with a woman – completely naked and “going to town.” Well, that’s awkward.

The guys sit around and talk about their conversations with Daddy and wonder who will be going home. Devin arrives in a polka dotted dress and lets them know that one of them will be going home. She tells Flex that she wants to chat with him and they go for a stroll. Suddenly, he has a gas-station rose behind his back and gives it to her. She discusses their early chemistry and tells him that she always admired his honesty. Then she asks him about the sex video on the internet. He explains that it was a movie that he was in and that it was done tastefully and that you can’t see any of his “parts.” Even though it is titled Hotel Erotica, he says that his parents have seen it and they like it. (um…yuck) He starts making Devin feel guilty about “judging” him, but she tells him anyway that their romantic relationship needs to end. They hug it out and he leaves. He stands by the fact that his soft core porn was tastefully done and that he even “had a lot of lines.”

The highlight of the night was when CMT’s generic version of the never seen Chris Harrison narrated the preview of next week and called it “the most emotional episode ever.” You got me, CMT. I’m in.

Sweet Home Alabama: Episode Five

Devin starts off on a date with Tribble who got a boat to “match her eyes.” He outlines how he played football at Clemson (he was the back up quarterback, by the way) and then arena football and is just short of his masters degree and how he now works as a bar tender. Devin should be in marketing. She spins him being a bar tender as “having a lot of freedom.” She thinks the date is perfect. In fact, she thinks it’s better than the Titanic (I only wish I was making up this dialog).  Next the two crazy kids hung out on a football field. They sit on the “sacred spot” at the fifty yard line and have some stimulating conversation. Devin says that Tribble scares her because she thinks she will be just another notch (in his belt? bedpost? scoreboard?). So he tries to remove all doubt for her by making out with her. He brags about being an MVP of an Alabama Mississippi All-Star game on the field they are laying on (this is true: it was a high school football game) and they continue to gush perfection compliments all over each other.

After the date, Devin takes the guys to Tuscaloosa, Alabama (her “hometown”) to help clean up tornado damage. As sarcastic as I am about this show, I have to say that close to forty people in Tuscaloosa were killed in the storms this year, including one of Devin’s Phi Mu sorority sisters. Over one thousand people were injured in the path of the tornado that stretched over a mile wide. The devastation was vast and so many people are still displaced and hurting. Thanks to CMT for helping keep this in the forefront of our minds, and thanks to the cast and crew of Sweet Home Alabama for giving your time to help clean up. I’m sure the guys will never forget their experience that day. (For information on how you can help, visit CMTOneCountry.com) And as much as it means to me that they helped the people of my home state, I have to say that Kash did make a noteworthy stupid statement when he picked up a small Happy Meal type stuffed bear and said “This could have belonged to some little kid.” Good guess, Kash.

Kash gets the one-on-one date and he reminds her of how he was the first guy to talk to her the first day (remember, he brought her the sweet tea?).  Kash pulls the teddy bear out of his pocket and tells Devin that he knows she has a lot going on, but that she needs to remember that love comes from the heart and not from the pocket (wallet). He gives he a quick kiss and walks away as Devin confesses that he is the perfect guy “on paper.” (That’s usually the kiss of death.)

Devin meets the guys down on the beach and thanks them for being there. She lets them know that two more guys will be leaving tonight. The boys all refill their beer and the country guys slip off for some bonding time. Kash tells them that it’s more important for Devin to pick the right person than for her to pick him, but that he knows that she should pick one of the five remaining country boys and not one of the two city slickers. Tribble agrees. Soon Boyd shows up and is greeted with a beer. He pulls Kash from the group and he goes to meet with Devin on the back of her old blue pick-up truck. She tells him that he’s perfect on paper, but that she doesn’t think she has strong enough feelings for him. He says no hard feelings and they hug it out. He uses the excuse of reminding her to “follow this right here – your heart” to almost touch her boob. The rest of the country boys walk him out arm and arm while the city boys look on.

Next Boyd grabs Adam.  At the tailgate, Devin tells Adam that he has been her source of strength and that she looks forward to hanging out with him more. He drops about five g’s and gives her a goofy smile before headin’ back to the house. Country Cody is next to see Devin.  They hug and she says that she’s blessed to have had him in her life even for a short period of time. She thinks that he is the perfect gentleman, but that she doesn’t think she can keep up with his rodeo lifestyle. Then he tells her that he’s glad that she’s letting him go because he can’t give her the things that the other guys can and that he thinks she deserves better than him. She gives him a small wrapped gift to remember her by and they hug again. When he gets back to the house, he tells the guys that he is happy that she will end up with one of them since they can give her more than he can. (The gift was a giant belt buckle.) He tells the guys good bye and leaves to go back to the road – back to fast women and pretty horses. Wait, wouldn’t pretty women and fast horses be better? The remaining guys sat around and mourned the loss of the two guys and and the country boys draw a line in the sand and declare that it is Us against Them. New York gets into it with Tribble because “Cody was like a brother” to him.

Oh! Next week, Devin’s dad comes to visit and he knows how to use Google. Which of the boys will be exposed by Daddy?

Sweet Home Alabama: Episode Four

Thank goodness I missed the first five minutes of Sweet Home Alabama because I was busy watching old SEC Football footage on YouTube, as apparently Michael decided to sing to Former University of Alabama Phi Mu Social Chairman, Devin Grissom during their time together in New York. Devin confesses to the camera that she isn’t sure if she should laugh or cheer him on, bless his heart. Dear girl, cheering him on would be like the people who watched the Rebecca Black Friday video over and over; building up her confidence thinking that people were actually fans and not simply people with miserable lives who needed to feel better about themselves by witnessing someone else way more pathetic than they would ever be. Laugh at him. Discourage him. Kick his ass to the curb. Do something, but do not encourage him. He tells her that he only wants her to kiss him if she really wants to. She doesn’t.

Next in New York, Devin stops by a salon and gets a “blow dry” and talks about how she can get used to that big city stuff. Um, I don’t know where Devin hangs out, but even the salons in Eufaula, Alabama have hair dryers and offer a blow out. She puts on a fancy dress, smooches to some violin music and hangs out in Times Square with Jason who claims his life is like an action movie. Devin confesses that she’s not sure if she likes Jason or his lifestyle.

The country boys back in Alabama had a conversation out on the beach, but I was talking on the phone to my eight-year-old about frogs and didn’t get to hear it. Something tells me that my conversation about frogs was probably more exciting.

Devin tells Michael that she’s not feeling it for him, but he says it was all worth it because because of Devin, he “found his voice again” and told her to “go in peace.” For a minute I thought he was going to come out of the closet, but he didn’t. Next she dumped Pete who also seemed fine with it. She asks Jason to come back to Alabama with her and they make out in the park.

Jason comes back and rubs in the fact that he and Devin have a real “fairy tale” connection and announces that he turned down a job in L.A. for Devin. Boomhauer asked him “Did Devin like the city?” and I have to tell you, I’m from L.A. (Lower Alabama) myself, and I could hardly understand him. But the boys ain’t skeered, ’cause just like Lynyrd Skynyrd sang “You can take a boy out of ol’ Dixieland, but you’ll never take ol’ Dixie from a boy,” they decided that Devin was impressed with the city, but not the city slicker and that even though she had been out of the country, that the country was still in her.

Devin rocks her American flag tank top and Daisy Duke shorts with cowboy boots to the dirt track for a day of Southern style racing. After the track, Devin and Tripp hang out in the back of a pick-up truck and watch the lightning above a field. Tripp compliments Devin for not being plastic and they hug it out. I guess that means the date is over. I kept waiting for them to make some of that Deep South Glass with some metal sticks on the beach, but apparently they didn’t see the movie version of this show.

The boys (all Country but two) hold hands and pray about the upcoming elimination and Cody prays that God will bless the relationship of whoever ends up with Devin (Man, the Bachelor would be a lot different if it took place in Alabama). Devin sits at the end of a dirt road in the back of the old blue pick-up – her usual sittin’ spot – and Boyd comes to “have a beer” with the fellows. He pulls Tribble aside and lets him know that he is staying around. That makes Tribble happy because he doesn’t like the fact that their “family” is getting broken up. He does realize that they aren’t really related, right?

Next Boyd tells Flex to go see Devin at the truck. She wants to know why the guys at the house don’t like him. He says it’s because they are intimidated by him and jealous of him. Devin tells him that she wants him to stick around. Boyd pulls Tripp off the porch next to talk to Devin. He finds himself on the back of another pick-up truck with Devin and she tells him that she has stronger feelings for the other guys. He wants her to go through all of the guys and tell him why they’re better. (Really? Wow.) He tells her that he wants to fight for her and is willing to put it all on the line. She says thanks, but no thanks and gives him a hug goodbye. Then Tripp puts on his back pack, his ball cap and his Silly Bandz and goes to the beach and bawls his eyes out.

The Bachelorette: The Final Rose

It’s been the most amazing journey ever. And now it’s time for Ashley to pick her perfect match. Ashley’s family has flown all the way to Fiji to meet the guys and give their opinion. She shares with her family about how great the experience has been and tells them all about JP and Ben. Her mother’s accent is like the McKenzie Brothers. Good day, ay!?! One of these hose heads is going to have to take off.

JP is confident that Ashley’s parents will love him for who he is. He brings a bottle of wine (not from Ben’s winery) and starts smooching as soon as they see each other. JP sits down with the family as Ashley plays with her hair and mops sweat off of her face with a gold towel. As JP continues to talk, she looks down her shirt and sops  up some more sweat. Mom welcomes JP to the family with a toast. As soon as the women slip away, sister Kristi lets loose on Ashley. She wears her feelings on her tattoo sleeve and tells Ashley that she thinks that she is too much for him. Ashley starts bawling like a baby while Kristi talks about logistics and being rational. Ashley switches from wiping up sweat to wiping up tears and snot. Mom steps in and tells Kristi that she should at least talk to JP one-on-one before she decides that JP is not the one.

Next Ashley goes off with her brother, Elliot, and vents about her super mean sister. Elliot agrees that Kristi needs to actually talk to JP before making a decision. Then she tells her step dad about what happened with her sister. He responds in an incredibly Irish accent that Ashley should just calm down. Kristi and JP finally sit down together and she admits that she doesn’t see a connection between the two of them. JP tells her that he is 100% in love with Ashley. Kristi asks why JP is still single and wonders why he is interested in her “much younger” sister. Kristi will hardly let JP get a word in and keeps cutting him off. Then she tells him that she will not be happy if JP proposes to Ashley. JP is pretty pissed, to say the least. He talks to Ashley, but doesn’t get any reassurance from her and goes away feeling defeated.

Ashley sits down with her sister to warn her to chill out when Ben gets there. Kristi puts it back on Ashley and tells her to get over it. She compares JP to Bentley and says she’s not there to sugar coat it. After sitting there and talking over each other, Ashley tells Kristi that she’s not being her sister, that she’s being a bitch. Afterward, Kristi sits down with her mom and talks about how she thinks Ashley doesn’t want to hear the truth, but only wants to hear about rainbows and chocolate covered bunnies.

Ben arrives with a bottle of champagne (not from his vineyard) and goes in to meet the family. Unlike JP, he actually got to sit in the air-conditioning. The family asks them about their dates and actually got to know him (unlike they did with JP). Ashley starts using her dog voice and then Ben uses his dog voice. (Really? Is the wicked sister going to base compatibility on dog voices?) Ben goes off with Kristi for a chat by the pool. Ben says that he has felt this way about other women in the past, but that he is in love with Ashley. He feels like they are best friends and he is ready to propose to her. Kristi admits that she has been married and divorced (so now we know why she is so bitter), but she gives Ben the stamp of approval. Ben confesses that he is confident that the next time he sees her family, that he will be engaged to Ashley. When Ashley leaves her family, she confesses via voice over that it may be time to start making her own decisions and stop relying so much on her sister.

Ashley meets up with Ben for some alone time. He wears some super girly shorts, a straw hat that’s too small and he uses the word “swimmingly.” If this guys gets a rose, I’m going to kill myself. They fly off in a helicopter to get a birds-eye view of Fiji. They arrive at a natural “healing mud bath,” i.e. a big mud hole that some Fiji people are making a killing on. They rub mud all over each other and exchange flirty comments. After a shower, Ashley heads over to Ben’s place for a romantic chat. Ben tells her that he asked her parents for their permission to propose to her and tells her that he is in love with her. They make out and talk about how happy they are. Ashley throws her leg, complete with giant mosquito bite, over Ben and they make out some more.

Ashley meets up with JP for their final time together before the rose ceremony. He tells her that the issue with her sister was rough. JP tells Ashley that he knows her sister was wrong and that he thinks they are a perfect fit. JP tells her that he is flexible for whatever Ashley wants and that he is willing to give up a lot for her. He tells her that  he is madly in love with her and has been for some time. Then they head to the ocean’s shore where JP drops her towel and they make out next to the surf. Back at JP’s place, they sit on the bed and JP gives her a book that he made for her. It has a photo of them together and a letter with some super sappy stuff about their love story. When Ashley leaves, JP starts stressing about her choosing Ben and wondering if he will walk away with “love or nothing.”

Ben and JP each go select a ring from jeweler Neil Lane. Ben tells Neil Lane all about his relationship with Ashley and Neil smiles and nods and acts like he cares. JP talks to Neil Lane while he picks out a ring and Neil asks him what happens if Ashley says no. JP pours his heart out while Neil Lane snickers inside – not only because he seems to enjoy messing with people’s heads, but because he just got some major national advertising.

Ben uses the word confidence about 47 times and then heads off to propose. JP talks about how Ashley deserves the best and how he would sacrifice anything for her and also heads off to propose. Ashley applies massive amounts  of mascara and heads off to be proposed to. Ashley awaits on the beach and the guys arrive one by one via sea plane. First up is Ben. (Yay! I get bonus points for him being first in the Nashville Bachelor Fantasy League!) Chris Harrison ushers Ben to the walk down to Ashley while Ben gushes via voice over about how proud his dead dad would be of him. Before Ashley can speak, Ben tells her how great everything with her is and confesses how in love with her he is. Then he drops down on one knee and proposes to her with a simple, straight-forward “Will you marry me?” Ashley pulls him up and says she’s sorry. He shrugs and says “I guess that’s it,” and he walks off. She catches up to him and walks him out and he tells her that he doesn’t need her to sugar coat it. He tells her that he’s in shock and says that “good things don’t end unless they end badly.” He says that JP is a wonderful guy and turns and walks off. He jumps into a little boat and is motored away. JP’s plane flies over head as Ben’s boat passes in front of where Ashley is standing.

Ashley waves at da plane, da plane as JP arrives. JP hops out of the plane with the ring in his hand and is welcomed by Chris Harrison. Even though he landed on the beach, he and Chris walk up and down several flights of stairs back down to the beach. As soon as he reaches Ashley, they kiss immediately and exchange compliments. JP summarizes their experience from the limo to now. He tells her that he is still afraid of having his heart-broken, but that the only way to overcome his fear is to take a leap of faith. He tells her that the time they have spent together is the happiest time of his life and that he is madly in love with her. They kiss again and she tells him that she loves him, too. They beam with happiness and JP drops to one knee as Ashley grins. He asks, “Ashley, will you marry me?” and she says “Yes!” and they go right back to making out. The sun goes down and they embrace as REO Speedwagon’s I Can’t Fight This Feeling starts playing and we are treated to a montage of Ashley and JP’s best moments. Back at the beach, Ashley asks JP with her pseudo dog voice if he will accept the rose. And of course, he does. And that, my friends, is how you start happily ever after.

The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All

Tonight Chris Harrison welcomed us to The Men Tell All and promised to answer the burning questions that have been plaguing all of America. First, He sat down with Ashley in a prerecorded interview to review items such as drunken Tim, Jeff the mask, William the fallen, Ryan the unreal, and Bentley the player. Then they recapped some of the behind the scenes items that didn’t make it to the show including JP breaking the entertainment center, Ames ballroom dancing, Mickey hanging from a harness, canine urination, sampling local food, rice filled bamboo, toe cramps, creatively placed bananas, and Vaseline.

Back in the studio, the audience of middle-aged women and a few guys that were forced to be there squeal with delight as Chris Harrison previews the next season of the Bachelor Pad complete with tears and fights and back-stabbing. Highlighted are guests Michelle Money, Jake and Vienna, Ames, Guard and Protect Your Heart Boy, and a whole lot of Karma.

Next all of the guys who were dumped are welcomed to the stage to give their thoughts on this season. Most of the guys are in suits. Ames is surprisingly dressed down – he’s even wearing jeans! Perhaps he’s turning over a new leaf. They make fun of Tim for getting drunk and review Jeff’s mask. They discuss Ryan being a goober and William being too aggressive. All of the guys gang up on William for being a jerk and the audience seems to agree.  Nick stands up for Ryan and his “camp counselor” personality. Then Nick stands up for Jeff’s mask. Tim owns up to being a jerk for attacking Jeff, but says the mask is still creepy.

William joins Chris Harrison in the hot seat to review his Vegas date with Ashley. Then they make things awkward by replaying William’s terrible performance at the roast, and ultimately his dismissal from the show. You can hear a pin drop after the clip plays. William admits that he has only watched one episode of the show and that it is embarrassing to see how he acted on the show. He admits that he was an ass and vows to change the way he acts. When Nick tried to call him out and asks “Why are we all here?” William responds with “Because none of us can get a date,” and Chris Harrison compliments him and tells him that is how you shut someone down without being an ass.

Next in the hot seat is Ryan. We see a video review of Ryan’s time on the show from getting the first impression rose to his dissertation on water heaters. We get to see Ashley dump him not once, but twice. All the while, Ryan sweats and huffs and puffs in a live shot on the bottom corner of the screen. Ryan outlines the books he read before the show and the effort he had made to really connect with Ashley.

Ames joins Chris Harrison in the hot seat with his “awkward charm.” The audience goes crazy as he sits there looking goofy with his Twilight hair and world’s largest watch. As they roll clips of Ashley’s time with Ames, we are treated to Ames in the bottom corner with his mouth agape as if he’s catching flies. He tells Chris that his time on the show made him a better person and that he wished Ashley all the happiness. Chris Harrison presents Ames with a gift – the pink boxing gloves he used (or didn’t use) on the show.

To a chorus of boos, they roll the footage of Bentley’s time on the show. He goes on and on about how he’s not interested in Ashley and about how it’s just fun and games. Then he talks about how dumb all of the other guys are. Although Bentley was not there – as he declined the invitation – they discussed him anyway. The guys agree that he is a coward and an ass. None of the guys blame Ashley for falling for Bentley. Michelle Money was brought up to the hot seat since she had warned Ashley about Bentley before the show started. Michelle explains how she knows Bentley’s ex-wife and how she warned Ashley. She defended Ashley by saying that Bentley is a charmer and that women tend to fall for the bad boy. Bachelor, Chris, says that Bentley can “Go BLEEP yourself!” and the audience cheers!

Finally, with minutes left, Ashley joins Chris Harrison. She said the worst part of the process was feeling like a fool over the Bentley situation. She fights back tears as she talks about the time she wasted on Bentley. She asks the guys to forgive her for the mistake she made with Bentley. Blake tries to be nice about the situation, but doesn’t do a very good job of it. Ryan tells her that he gets it now and is thankful for the experience. Tim apologizes to Ashley for the mistakes he made the first night and slips in that he’s cheering for JP.

Previous contestants and winners (?) Deanna, Jason and Ally milk their fifteen minutes of fame a little longer and help promote that ABC concept of the “Bachelor Family” by joining Ashley and Chris on stage. Ally says this season was hard for her to watch. Deanna talks about how hard it is to send people home. Jason tells Ashley to forget about the audience criticism and to focus on what’s inside. Then we are treated to outtakes and bloopers from the show that never made it to television including wet spots, belching, bugs, frogs, Ames impersonations, and men without pants. And finally, the last ten minutes is filled with footage of Ben and JP and the big question: Who will Ashley choose, the man or the boy? I think we all know who I’m pulling for.

Sweet Home Alabama: Episode Three

In tonight’s episode of Sweet Home Alabama, Miss Tennessee Outstanding Teen 2007, um…I mean Tuscaloosa, Alabama, resident, Devin Grissom, continues her quest for love with the remaining country boys and city slickers. Without the fanfare of date cards and hosts to explain what will happen next, She jumps right into the dating with a one-on-one date with one of the country boys.

Her first date is with Collin at a bar in downtown Fairhope. He wears a cowboy hat and runs his mouth about one of the city boys, Flex. Next he talks about his landscape company and Devin is impressed with his business. Unlike most southerners, he talks a mile a minute. I wish they would have put subtitles on the screen because he talked a little bit like Boomhauer from King of the Hill. Devin found him to be wise and Collin felt like his relationship with Devin was “more than real.” He asks her to dance and their tonsils do the tango under a lit up gazebo under the stars. He gets back to the house and unlike Adam, he disregards chivalry and blurts out to the guys that he and Devin kissed.

Next Devin and all of the guys head to a cattle farm. Pete from Brooklyn apparently left his meds back in New York and starts having a panic attack about two minutes in. They divide into teams of country boys and city boys and they separate the heifers from the rest of the cows. Jersey grabbed his testicles the whole time he was in with the cows. Jason admitted the closest he had been to a cattle farm was a steak house.  Then Cody pulls out a rope and shows everyone how to lasso. Now I’m from Alabama and I do have three friends that own three different cattle farms. Although I have been invited out to help castrate bulls, I’ve never been invited out to herd steer. But I suppose roping cows is more conducive to a romantic time and that leaves plenty of room for the guys to sit around and  verbally emasculate each other.

Cody gets some alone time with Devin as a reward for roping the cow. Devin finds out that he is deaf in one ear from getting kicked in the ear. They talk about his lifestyle as a rodeo man and discuss his fear of the dark. As they are sitting out on a blanket for a picnic, they talk about relationships and love. Devin feels like the most special girl in the world with Cody, especially when he tells her, “I’m not a smart man, Jenny, but I know what love is.” No, wait, that was Forest Gump. What he really said was, “I don’t have a lot to offer, but what little I got, I’ll give you all of it.”

All of the guys hate Flex and decide that they need to knock him down a notch before his date. What they really do is all get into a yelling match. The next day, Flex and Jersey have a double date with Devin at the beach. They go to shuck oysters at the Flora-Bama lounge. Devin explains that since they are “kinda near” the  Florida line, that it is named the Flora-Bama. (Dear CMT, if you ever choose to have another season of this show, please get a girl who’s actually from Alabama and/or has at least seen a map. Thanks.) While on the beach, Flex tells Devin that she’s the first white girl he’s been out with. He also says the fact that he’s so much older (he’s 30) doesn’t bother him. Then he tells Devin that he cheated on most of his old girlfriends…and she finds him to be really honest. Ugh. He shows her this pencil drawing that he drew of her that makes her look like a ring girl at a boxing match and then they make out in the ocean. After the make-out session, she sits down with Jersey on the beach and he gives her half of an oyster shell as a souvenir. Um, Jersey, if you’re going to give a girl part of an oyster, give her a pearl. Devin gives him a one-armed hug – bad sign – and she turns him down for a kiss. Jersey tearfully confesses to the camera that Flex is not good for Devin and he doesn’t want her to get hurt by him.

When the date was over, Flex told the guys that he and Devin kissed in the ocean. Collin, thinking that he was the only guy to kiss Devin – since Adam didn’t tell anyone he had kissed her, too – storms out of the house. He confesses that he is on the verge of breaking down. I tell you what, Devin must have crack in her saliva because I have never seen a bunch of good ol’ boys get so smitten so fast. I wonder if the producers are slipping something in their drinks or something?

Devin arrives for the cocktail party and elimination and lets them know that four of them will be going home tonight. Pete, Michael (jack-weed from New York) and one other (who must not be a favorite or I would have at least caught his name) are pulled away to talk to Devin. She lets them know that they are leaving in the morning to go with her to New York City (apparently Sweet Home Alabama isn’t sweet enough). Then Mohawk Cody, Britton and Joey are pulled aside to talk to Devin as well. But instead of going to New York with her, they are getting a one way ticket to back to where they came from. Devin then uses Taylor Swift lyrics to break up with Jersey during some one-on-one time on the front porch. Apparently it’s not a love story and she isn’t going to say yes. The most beautiful part of it is the huge melt down afterward in which Jersey yells about all of the Euros he could be making in Europe and how he’s gotten used and abused. I mean, “I gave her half an oyster shell! I let her wear my dog tags! I gave her a pair of sunglasses!” I know, I know, I’m shocked that didn’t make her fall in love, either.

The Bachelorette: Episode Nine

Ashley arrives in the tropical paradise of Fiji, a place that she claims “the sun is always shining” even though it rains about five times while she is there. After she recaps her journey with the three remaining suitors, she primps for her date with Ben. He should be there any moment. There’s a knock at the door. But wait! It’s not Ben. What is going on? That’s right, another guy has flown half-way around the world for a mini-vacation, I mean, a second chance with Ashley. Ashley is shocked to find cry-baby, Ryan, standing at the door in a short-sleeved tablecloth. “Ry” recaps their Taiwan experience and tells Ashley that he thinks they didn’t have enough time together and asks her for a second chance. He tells her that he’ll be hanging out for a few days and for her to think about maybe them hanging out. They hug it out and she goes back to primping for Ben. (Oh, by the way, it’s raining.)

Ashley goes to meet Ben in an Amish length skirt and a bikini top. They hop on their giant boat and talk about how he thinks the hometown date went. Ben rubs lotion on Ashley and they kiss and exchange those three little words that make their world go around, “I know, right?” They do a little snorkeling before they head off to a romantic dinner. Nothing says fantasy date like picking your teeth at the dinner table. After exchanging pledges of comfort to one another, Ashley picks some fruit from between her teeth with her fingernail and then sits patiently through Ben stammering and yammering; trying to say “I love you” but not ever actually saying it. One smirk led to another and the couple headed off to the fantasy suite. They enjoyed some making out in the private pool and then Tarzan carried Jane around for no real reason at all.

Next up is Constantine. They flew around Fiji in a helicopter and oohed and ahhed about the scenery. Meanwhile, Ryan hung out on the beach below and bitched about being forced to hang out in Fiji while waiting to hear from Ashley. Back on the ground, Ashley and Constantine jump into a waterfall while Ashley provides voice over of jumping, falling and taking a leap analogies. Ashley tells him that she’s a little freaked out that he looked at 108 houses before he finally bought one. Hell, I’m a little freaked out that he looked at 108 houses before he bought one. I bet his real estate agent was pretty pissed off about it, too. Later at dinner, they toasted each other (not with wine from Ben’s winery) and Constantine basically says that he would be happy for Ben if he ended up with Ashley. (Does this mean he can’t tell himself apart from Ben any better than I can? Does he think they are the same person?) He tells Ashley that he is concerned that he is not really feeling it for her. He even tells her that he’s not interested in the fantasy suite before she even offers him Chris Harrison’s note. Constantine tells her that it’s the end of the road for him and excuses himself from Fiji. Man, he didn’t even eat his steak. I would have damn sure eaten that steak before I high-tailed it out of there.

Ashley has a great moment of clarity after Constantine leaves and she heads over to see Ryan. When she arrives, he starts grinning and beaming and suddenly I realize he looks like Robin Williams in that Peter Pan movie – until she tells him that she isn’t giving him a second chance. But then he remembers the lessons he learned at the Ames School of Perma-grin and pulls it together. He calls her “Ash” and she calls him “Ry” and then she leaves as he chants “It will happen” and looks for another bush to hide behind and cry.

Ashley meets up with JP for their one-on-one date. They take off in a sea plane for their romantic date and spend most of the time in the air kissing and grinning until they arrive at their destination. He is her rock; they’re on an island. Wait, isn’t that a Simon and Garfunkel song? They hold each other in the surf of their private island and she tells him that she loves his parents and he says that they love her. JP confesses to everyone but Ashley that he’s in love with her and that he wants to be the last man standing. After some water snuggling, they head to dinner. Dinner is held in “the middle of the jungle” and Ashley rocks the moment in her stilettos, because that’s practical. She tells JP about Ryan coming back and leaving again and about Constantine leaving. Once they get to the fantasy suite, Ashley changes into her swim suit so they can lay on the bed and make out. Wait, huh?

Finally, the overnight dates are over. Ashley sits down with Chris Harrison to summarize what we all just watched and Ashley makes a big deal about how the men have to actually accept the rose (just like every other time) and Chris Harrison points out how it is pouring down rain. What was that Ashley said about the sun always shining in Fiji? In the most anti-climactic rose ceremony ever, both Ben and JP get a rose. And yes, they accept it.

Sweet Home Alabama: Episode Two

I can’t believe I’m watching this show just so I can blog about it, but I figure if Jennifer Lopez can put up with Marc Anthony for a full seven years, I can sit through one hour of mediocre television.

Tonight the South got even hotter as the guys got ready for actual dates with Devin. The episode starts with guys working out, grilling out and showing out.

One city guy was totally offended that the Horse Whisperer was wearing jeans for his date with Devin, but he stuck to his Southern roots and wore the denim. Of course he tames a wild horse in 45 seconds at the beginning of his date.He told Devin she could “pet on the horse,” but all I heard was Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird say, “You can pet him if you want to, Mr. Aurthur.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Jersey boy highjacks the country boys’ barbeque and it does not go over well. Now I’ll admit, I think most of the city slickers in this show are real jack-weeds, but I’m from Bama and I’ll tell you straight up; if I marinate meat, light a grill and then someone else wants to stand over the heat and flip it all for me, I’d let them knock themselves out while I drank a beer and watched the ballgame. I think a country boy can survive someone else flipping his chicken. Elsewhere in the house, New York was folding paper towels into fancy napkins and setting the table for all the guys – he only wishes Devin could see what a pretty table he set.

Back on the date, Devin and the Horse Whisperer sat on the dock of the bay  and made out and then giggled. After the smooching, he went back to the house for some leftover Jersey chicken.

For a group date, Devin took the guys tubing on the river. Rodeo Cody jumped in the water and broke his nose. Since he was bleeding all over the place, Devin gave him a little alone conversation before she took off her cover-up and jumped in the water, because all good Southern girls know that if you jump in the water straight away and get your hair wet that you will look better than if you wait for it to get half wet and all wind blown while you’re in the boat. After some tubing and boating, Devin selects Joey from Arizona to go on the first city date.

When in Rome, Joey decided to dress the part and wore jeans for his date to the sweet shop, followed by some porch sitting. After talking about how sweaty they were, Joey used the words “fist pump” and “douche bag” and then went back to the house. All the other city guys asked him about his date, hoping that he represented the city well. But he said that he really wasn’t like the other city guys and within an hour he was wearing a cowboy hat and bonding with the Southern Gents (See, I told you the South would rise again) and had completely alienated all of his city brothers.

Devin goes and sits in the back of her old pick-up truck to think about who she needs to talk to before making her eliminations. First to go talk to Devin is the city guy that wears a headband. She tells him that she only has friend feelings for him and he heads back to the house to pack his bags and go back to his boy band, I mean Long Island. Next up is the quarterback, Tribble, from the country. Devin is nervous that he may be too hot for her, but he lets her know that he could date down a little and she keeps him around. Country singer, Mike, grabs his guitar and gets a handshake from all his country brothers, including his new city brother from Arizona. He sings Devin an original song that he just wrote thinking that she, like most women, digs guys who play guitar. But she dumps him anyway.

If your keeping score, that’s one more city boy and one more country boy out the door, which means that the country boys are still in the lead. But as country singer Mike and Scarlet O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

The Bachelorette: Episode Eight

Back in the USA: Ashley summarizes why each of the guys is right for her while we watch a montage of unrealistic dates and making out.

Hometown Date One: Georgia with Constantine

They go to the family restaurant where Ashley gets a chance to learn about Constantine’s Greek heritage while they make Italian food – without a hair net – while the Asian cooks watch. All the servers watch out the window and commentate while the couple eats their lunch. They leave the restaurant and go to his parent’s house. Ashley brings along a bottle of wine (from Ben’s winery, maybe?) and there are hugs all around. They sit down to another meal and then split up for chit-chat. I think his dad said that Ashley is a worm person, but I could have just misunderstood his accent.  They all had a sit down on the couch, but the dog walked in wearing a little dress and I got too distracted to listen to what they were saying. Next the whole family showed up and reenacted the engagement party scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Hometown Date Two: Ames Buys a Pair of Jeans

They go straight to meet the family and enjoy mojitos on the patio. Ashley is questioned by Ames’ sister and is unable to give her any indication that she has any feeling for Ames, but pledges her dedication to get to know him more. Sis figures out that Ashley realizes that Ames is great on paper, but that there is no spark there. During Ashley’s conversation with Ames’ mother, Mom uses a lot of hand gestures that mirror the claws of the fighting chicken statue on the table. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that they have a fighting chicken statue, or that it looks like Ames’ mom. The sister pulls Ames aside and tells him that he’s not turning Ashley’s crank and that if he really likes her that he needs to turn up the volume and turn it up quickly. In order to turn up the heat, Ames takes Ashley for a picnic under a magnolia tree at Winterthur. (By the way, if you’re not familiar with Winterthur, check out their website. They have a great catalog from which you can order unique gifts. I’ve been ordering things from them for years and they are great.) Oh, wait, they’re kissing. If Ames would stop talking about how ordinary, yet extraordinary their date is, it would probably be a lot more romantic.

Hometown Date Three: Ben There, Done That

If you saw Andrew Firestone’s season of the Bachelor, then you’ve already seen this date, but I’ll sum it up for you anyway. Ben takes Ashley to the winery and they have a picnic. They sample some wines and grab some smooches and then have some heavy conversation about death and emotions. About three minutes in, I was ready to slit my wrists and lay in a warm tub. Good gosh, alcohol is supposed to loosen you up – not turn everything all somber. She meets the sister and mother and they sit down for dinner.  After dinner they have one-on-one conversations, but they were all so boring that there’s really nothing to share.  The highlight of this date was Ben’s tearful confessional footage with his post-kissing, super hot pink lips.

Hometown Date Four: Couple’s Skate with JP

They start making out before they even get their skates on. JP has arranged for the lights to be down low with the disco ball turning and REO Speedwagon over the sound system. They are burning up the rink right up until JP busts his ass. After a few laps around the rink, they have an impromptu picnic in the skating rink. JP outlines everyone that Ashley will be meeting. Did he say his mother’s name is Alien? He lays it all out on the line and tells Ashley how he feels. They go to meet the family. Unfortunately, his mom’s name is Ilene and not Alien. JP’s family is the most normal of the eligible men. JP tells his mom that he thinks he’s the one for Ashley and that he’s confident in them having something that Ashley doesn’t have with the other guys. Mom and Ashley bond and it’s pretty obvious that JP has got this thing in the bag.

The Rose Ceremony:

Ashley returns to the mansion and has a talk with Chris Harrison. She sums up all of the hometown dates for Chris and tells him she has no regrets. And now for the roses. There is a shot of Ben struggling to look Ashley in the face while she is talking because her black dress is a little bit sheer, and in the lights of the cameras is probably a lot bit sheer. Of course JP gets a rose, because, well, he’s JP. The other two roses went to the Groban Brothers (Ben and Constantine) partly because Ashley couldn’t tell them apart and partly because Ames is sort of a dufus. He rocks his Twilight hair and grins through their goodbye, but I bet five bucks he cries like a baby as soon as they turn off the camera.

Next week is overnight dates in Fiji. Don’t worry Ames, I’m sure you’ve already been there on some sort of research vacation…and I bet you didn’t have to share that trip with two other guys.

Sweet Home Alabama: Episode One

Tonight was the premier of CMT’s answer to the Bachelor, Sweet Home Alabama, in which a Southern Belle, Devin, (actually from Tennessee – even though when she’s talking to a guy from Franklin, TN – just a stone’s throw from her real home town of Cleveland, TN – she says that’s she’s from Tuscaloosa, Alabama) who attends the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) is courted by ten Biffs and Blaines from the “City” and ten Jethros and Bubbas from the “Country.” There are several boys from Birmingham – one named Tribble Reese, man, what a great name – and then a handful of boys from New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Going into it, one would expect the city slickers to be somewhat jerky, and we all know there’s nothing like a gold ole country boy; and from the first four minutes, it appeared this show would be one stereotype after another.

With the southern boys, we have an Iraq veteran, a tobacco farmer (also a vet), a boy named Kash with a Sugar Bowl ring, Jefferson Davis the Third – Tripp, of course, Tribble – a self professed ACC football veteran, and other tall drinks of water that drawl out their pledge to stick together against the Yankees and drink beer from a can.

In the city league we have a personal trainer, Snookie’s ex-boyfriend, a boy scared of bugs, a big-headed stock broker, another personal trainer, and a Ferrari owner. Within minutes they were passing out business cards, talking about how they’re going to buy Devin a bunch of stuff and making fun of the South. Um, you guys better back up the truck, cause you carpetbaggers are going down. Hell, one City Slicker (Brian Wilson) left before he even met Devin because it was “too hot.”

Devin arrives in a old pick-up truck (cliché much?) and introduces herself to the guys. Of course one of the guys (city) sings to her (gag).

There was a group activity of skeet shooting in which the most horrific, terrible statement was made by our “Bama” Belle, Devin: “If you went surfing out here, you’d get eatin’ by a crocodile.” Um, no you wouldn’t.

What? Marine Corps Beau* (country) decided to leave after meeting the chick to go back to Birmingham to work on his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Well, he didn’t say that, but trust me on this one. Man, the guys are dropping like flies.

Before it even gets started, Devin eliminates two of the guys to join the other two wimps that already left. First to go was Matt from San Diego. Maybe she was worried he would try to surf and get eatin’ by a crocodile, poor fella. Next she tells Adam from Tennessee that girls don’t ask guys out, but if he’d ask her out that she’d say yes. Of course, he asks her out and she says yes. She tells Jeff from Jersey (who says Jersey Whores at least three times in this episode) that she’s concerned he may party too much, but he convinces her that he doesn’t. Then she tells Mark from Hollywood that she thinks it’s time for him to go because she’s not a party girl and he has a typical Hollywood lifestyle. He begs her to stay like I’ve never heard, bless his heart, but she says her mind is made up. Then he starts hugging everybody and crying. Good golly, this is turning into a country song.

This episode was a little like watered down sweet tea, but I suppose I’ll give it another shot next week since the “scenery” is very nice. In case you’re counting, the country boys are in the lead. That’s right, save your confederate money boys, ’cause the South shall rise again!

* To Marine Beau, Tobacco Farmer Cody, and all the other brave men and women who have proudly served our country, I sincerely thank you. Also, PTSD is a serious condition that unfortunately many of our soldiers suffer from without ever knowing that they have it or that there is help. If you want to say thank you, please get involved with the Wounded Warrior project or at the very least, remember to say “thank you” when you see a soldier in the grocery, airport, sidewalk, wherever – whether you believe in the cause or not.

The Bachelorette: Episode Seven

Taiwan: where it seems everything is made. In tonight’s episode, I wondered if they made backless shirts and jeggings in Taiwan, because Ashley kicked up her donning of both items to a new high.

Groban I and Groban II got the first two one-on-one dates tonight. Ashley and Constantine boarded the train to Hogwarts where they wrote magical wishes on hot air balloons and let them go into the sky. I don’t think they were really at Hogwarts, but there was a train and balloons. I got so distracted by the perfectly tailored short-sleeved cowboy looking shirt that Constantine wore that I have no idea what else happened on the date. But it would be hard to tell where one date ended and the other started with the Groban boys. Groban II embraced his excitement about the upcoming Tom Hanks film, Larry Crowne, and hopped on his scooter and declared that he and Ashley were “Going places.” I’m not sure where they went, but before I knew it, it was dark outside and they were drinking wine. Ashley proved once again that she knows nothing about wine when she declared for the second time on a date with Ben, “This wine tastes like the wine you brought me the first night!” Um, yeah, Ashley, all white wine does not taste like the wine Ben brought you. For some reason, Ben doesn’t come home that night. I assume he stayed up all night trying to explain bouquet and undertones to Ashley.

The group date appeared to be as much fun as a root canal. (Ironic, considering Ashley is a “dentist.”) JP, or as I like to call him, the winner, was super pissed off that his future wife was going out with other guys and going on a group date with two of them was not high on his list. If the William Wedding Weirdness in Vegas wasn’t enough for you, then you surely ate up the group date. The guys dressed in different styles of wedding wear and had their photos taken with Ashley. As painful as it was to watch, it was totally worth it to hear JP describe Ames as the “offspring of an ostrich and Elton John.” Ames also brought a bunch of childhood photos to use in his campaign for a home town date. In the most shocking event of the season, Ames discarded his traditional white pants for a pair of red pants. Clearly, he is a rebel. JP gets the rose and then he perks up.

Ryan got the last one-on-one date. They went to this temple where they made wishes on these rocks and threw them to the god of matchmakers – or something stupid like that. Then they threw the rocks and they landed in a way that indicated their wishes would not come true. Ryan gave Ashley an eco-green lesson about tankless water heaters and bored Ashley to the point that she can’t stand him another minute and tells him she doesn’t want to meet his parents. He cries like a baby in his pink shirt and runs into the bushes to cuss and have some alone time. Or maybe he was hugging a tree. Who knows?

Lucas is super excited about the cocktail party because he feels like he’s on the fence and needs time with Ashley.  Too bad, so sad, Lucas – there will be no cocktail party tonight. It looks like the boys back in Odessa won’t be reliving the feeling of victory like they did back in 1988 as chronicled in the book Friday Night Lights. Nope, it looks like this boy from Odessa is going home a loser.

Bachelorette: Episode Six

High Road to China: Bentley is in Hong Kong. Shut Up! Seriously? Are you kidding? Really? Yes, Ashley. Chris Harrison would never mess with your head like that. That’s what Bentley is for. Why didn’t he just call? Is he taking the high road? Of course not; he’s here for the vacay!  Without the mental lubricant of the cocktail party beverages, Ashley could see clearly and realized Bentley was/is a toad. Bye-bye Bentley!

Ain’t Nothing Going to Break My Stride:  After eating some delicious fried pig intestines, Ashley takes a little row boat in China to help get to know Lucas, or as I call him, that non-descript blonde guy. He decides he needs to get his laundry clean and tells Ashley all about his divorce. She still has questions, but gives him the rose. But wait! The season is almost over and they haven’t kissed. Oh, no, they did kiss on the boat. It was just so non-descript that I didn’t notice.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat: For the group date, the guys split up into teams of two and had to recruit random street people to join their rowing team. Everyone just happened to run into English speaking dragon boat crew members with the exception of Team Groban.  Josh Groban’s long lost twins, Constantine Groban and Ben Groban couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag. But they bought some super awesome bath robes and exchanged quite possibly the most bromantic bonding moment of Bachelorette history. Groban One: “Dude, we’re getting smoked.” Groban Two: “Like salmon.” After the boat battle, there’s lots of making out between Ashley and most of the guys and lots of Ryan bashing between all of the guys except Ryan, of course. What’s that, Groban? You don’t like cheese in a can? Well too bad, mister, cause Ryan got the rose.

Twice as Nice: JP gets the second one-on-one date – although the hang out in pajamas after getting dumped by Bentley date really doesn’t count.  So what do they do? They hang out and have a totally non-Bachelorette type date. Over dinner, Ashley confesses to JP that she saw Bentley in Hong Kong and he took it like a champ. Ashley gives an overly long-winded offer of the rose to JP and he accepts. Now, I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but JP is the winner of this thing. How do I know? I just know. Don’t question my Bachelorette intuition. After all, as of last week I was in second place in the Nashville Bachelorette Fantasy League. That’s right. Ashley in her black bra and white shirt just fell for JP on the top of a roof while some other dude played some ancient Chinese instrument. Take it to the bank. Bank on it. It’s JP for the win.

Cocktails and Confessions: Ashley tells the guys about Bentley and they are pissed off. And by pissed off, I mean pissed off. Lucas got pretty mouthy. Maybe the rose gave him extra courage. Blake grills her as well (he doesn’t like playing second fiddle). JP considers her confession as selfless and honest. After Ashely runs off crying, JP and Ryan come to her defense. Ames (wearing yet another pair of white pants) proves that he’s the least manly man on the face of the planet when he starts talking about wanting a fairy tale. Mickey tells her that she lied and he doesn’t want to be there and she tells him to leave if he needs to and he does. At the rose ceremony, it comes down to Ames (who stands there like a side of beef) and Blake (who sort of looks like a weasel). Blake is sent home.

Bachelorette: Episode Five

Date One: Thailand.  Ashley wants it to be fun, but like real life. Therefore, an off camera assistant gets stuck lugging around all the crap she and Ben F. purchase while they spend the day as carefree tourists in the market. Other highlights: mental kissing and seersucker shorts. At dinner, Ashley wears a ridiculous romper and Ben says he never let himself love anyone because he was too much in love with his father. What? Paging Dr. Freud. Ben gets the rose.

Group Date: Ultimate Fighting Championship.   Unfortunately, the only thing Ames ever hit was the books. After a few moments in the ring, Ames is taken to the hospital. He shows up later looking dapper in his tailored outfit and mild concussion. Kudos to Ames for using it to his advantage by proclaiming that the doctors diagnosed him as “totally in love.” But Blake turns his total lack of chemistry into a plus by pointing out that a fast attraction (suck as Bentley) can turn into total crap (such as Bentley) and sometimes the tortoise wins the race, or something like that. Blake gets the rose.

Two on One Date: Beyond Thunderdome.   Will solidifies himself as a total douche and the Rain Maker totally dries up. In what appears to be Ashley’s first moment of rational thinking, she sends both suitors home. Don’t worry, her moment of clarity doesn’t last long.

Cocktail Party: Snoozing and Losing.  I’d love to tell you what happened here, but honestly, I slept through it. The only excitable part was when Ashley sat down with Chris Harrison and told him she wanted to see Mayhem, I mean Bentley, again to remove the “dot dot dot,” and the only thing that was lively about that was the fact that I was screaming at the television “What a moron! You dufus!” the whole time. During the most boring rose ceremony ever, Nick and his six-pack were sent packing.

Stay tuned next week for the return of Bentley. Too bad All State doesn’t sponsor this show. They would have protected Ashley from Mayhem.

Bachelorette: Episode Four

The rules of phonics are pretty clear. The combination of the consonants “ph” produces the same sound as the singular letter “f.” For example, “phone” is pronounced “fone.” With this principle in mind, Phuket was the perfect place for this week’s episode of the Bachelorette.

The most exciting portion of this show was when the guys froliced  in testosterone-laced pandemonium when it was announced they would be going to Phuket. (Apparently, they thought it was pronounced with the “f” sound also. Silly boys…)

There was the standard Tourism Department video of Phuket, Thailand (the Seattle of the Orient) and Ashley met with Annie, the “Navigator” at the hotel to help plan her dates.

Constantine earned a solo date in which Ashley (allegedly) planned for them to take a boat to a private island. However, it was storming and they couldn’t use the boat. Apparently when Ashley was planning this date, she neglected to plan even the tiniest little plan B, so she spent considerable time looking lost and confused until Constantine suggested they go buy tacky Hawaiian shirts (because clearly, you can get some great Hawaiian shirts in Thailand). They hit the streets of Phuket and asked some old dude (via translator) for marriage tips, drank some beer on the side of the road and then ran in flip-flops down the slick street. I think they had dinner after that, but this whole date was so boring, I could hardly stay awake. The best part of this section of the program was listening to the guys back at the house talk about how Constantine has game and watching JP get so worked up about the fact that just about everyone had kissed Ashley, that I honestly thought that vein that sticks out of the left side of his forehead was going to explode (it didn’t, dammit). Even though this was the most boring date ever, I guess Ashley thought, “Aw, Phuket, I’ll give him a rose.”

Next was the group make out session, I mean date. It was raining, of course. Ashley let the guys know, in case they didn’t, that there had been a tsunami in Thailand a few years back. So to give back, they painted the interior of an orphanage. One of the guys decided to “stand out” by painting a mural on the wall, but I don’t remember which one it was. There was a lot of Ryan bashing. It appears that he is too happy for everyone else. But he doesn’t care. He even told Ashley that he was on the other guy’s nerves due to his positive attitude. But he is his own man. That’s right, he said, “Phuket, I can’t do anything about it; I’m just a happy guy.” Mural guy got the rose.

Ames had a one-on-one date in which he modeled several more styles from his extensive collection of white pants. They went kayaking or something like that (in the rain), and their chemistry was so cheesy that I had to sort of tune out so that I could keep down my chicken salad. Ames is easy on the eyes, if you like chiseled features, and the fact that he has real earning potential doesn’t hurt, either. Ashley spent most of the date calling him a nerd (but in a good way – whatever), but she gave him a rose anyway. He accepted the bloom, but he opted not to kiss her. This guy must be on the wrong show. Chris Harrison needs to read him the fine print where it says everyone has to kiss the chick whether they like her or not. I mean, please, Phuket, just kiss her.

At the rose ceremony, there was more making out and more Ryan bashing. Ashley grilled all of the guys about what they wanted and about past relationships. Then she told Chris Harrison that she knew she was supposed to send several guys home tonight, but Phuket, she only wanted to send one home. That’s right, West, sorry about your dead wife and all, oh, and by the way, I want every single person to stay here with me in Thailand – except you.

If you haven’t watched this episode yet, I highly recommend you invite all your friends over for a viewing. If you’d like to turn it into a drinking game, then simply have everyone do a shot whenever you head the word “Bentley.” You may want to go ahead and call a cab, because you’ll be hammered about thirty minutes in.

The highlight of tonight was Ashley’s voice over. After each date, kiss, and conversation with the various bachelors, she would exclaim, “(Insert name here) is exactly what I need to get over Bentley.” Come on, Ashley, Bentley will magically appear again next week to mess with your head some more. And we all know what you will say…”Phuket, I think I’ll take him back!”

Bachelorette: Episode Two

My pizza was delivered just as the episode was starting, and I’m glad I didn’t order it with extra cheese, because there was plenty enough cheese coming through my television screen.

Ashley went on three dates on this episode, one of which she claimed was the best date of her life. I guess that means that it blew her carnival date with Brad, which she claimed at that time to be her best date ever, right out of the water. And how could it not? After all, it did take place in the middle of the fountain at the Bellagio hotel and casino. For me, personally, I think this was the weirdest date ever, but maybe I’m just not used to planning a wedding and then sitting in the middle of a giant bird bath while large amounts of tourists stand around and watch me eat and yell stuff at me.

The group date was another excuse for Ashley to show us her dance moves and run around in a mid-drift baring outfit. I was having flashbacks of Roberto and Ali in the Lion King and was left once again wondering just how pissed off the members of the audience were considering they paid to see professional dancers in one of the best dance shows in Vegas, but instead were subjected to Ashley prancing around while six not so rhythmic bachelors got their grove on.

The last solo date was a real gamble as Ashley and her date flipped a coin to determine everything they did, including whether or not the bachelor would get a rose. Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my – oh, wait, let me flip a coin – yep, it’s on heads – you are indeed fine. Here’s your rose.

Just like last week, this episode left me with several unanswered questions:

Did William do a bad George W. Bush impersonation at the cocktail party?

Did Mickey have that raised eyebrow look on his face at the end of his date because he was super excited or because he had no clue who Colbie Caillat was?

Is Jeff growing a beard because it’s impossible to shave with that mask on? Or is he growing out a beard because he is determined to keep a portion of his face covered at all times?

Did the Jabbawockeez wears masks so that Jeff wouldn’t feel so isolated?

Do guys really sit around the pool and talk about relationships with other guys?

Why is Bentley the only male cast member utilizing confessional footage? Is it because the other guys are just so honest that they simply say everything out in the open? Or is it because he’s a giant human bottle of Summer’s Eve that makes previous bachelor, Wes, seem as innocent as kittens and rainbows?

Does Ashley really think she’s a good judge of character? Hey, West, sorry about your dead wife, sure that was hard to talk about, but you know, Bentley left his daughter that he probably only sees every other weekend to go on this journey, so I think I’ll give the group date rose to him.

Why would anyone name their little girl Cozy? Sure it’s cute now since she’s a little girl, but did they not think of all of the terribly inappropriate pick up lines and nick names that men are going to use on her when she hits puberty?

How does Chris Harrison keep a straight face every week?

The bachelors sent home this episode were the hair stylist with Shawn Cassidy hair, the sticky note salesman, and a random good looking guy with a decent job and no ulterior motive.

I’m hoping Ashley figures out how to play this game soon. After all, it’s not her first rodeo. I’m thinking Constantine will make it to the end. After all, he’s from Georgia, and there’s nothing like a good southern boy. Ivy Leaguer, Ames, will probably stick around as well as the dude from the Josh Groban School of Vino. With all that hair in the mix, she should probably keep JP around just to balance things out.

And there you have it; episode two in a nutshell, in case you missed it.

Episode 11, The Final Rose and Beyond

There really isn’t any reason for you to have missed the most dramatic rose ceremony ever last night on ABC’s the Bachelor. I mean, they drug the thing out for over three hours. But in case you missed it, here is my weekly re-cap.

I don’t know where you’re from, but I grew up in the South. And back in Sweet Home Alabama, as soon as a girl comes into this world she starts thinking about Football and Fantasy Dates. (She also gets excited about firearms, but we try to tone that down these days. It seems our love of guns has hindered us from advancing in the Fantasy Date department and we end up on an all girl tackle football team, not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

I had the distinct honor of watching the most dramatic rose ceremony ever with the Nashville Bachelor Fantasy League. This group watches the show religiously and makes their picks and predictions bracket style much like a Fantasy Football League. I’ve got to say, I haven’t been around this many crazed fans screaming at a television since my Alma Mater won the BCS Championship game back in January (War Eagle!). There was excitement in the air, and with good reason. This was the night that we would find out the outcome of the most controversial season ever of the Bachelor!

The episode began with the traditional summary footage of what has happened so far and Chris Harrison’s narration of what is about to come. Cape Town, South Africa got their money’s worth again with breathtaking views coupled with the Lion King soundtrack. Brad oozed about how important it is for his family to meet these women and we see Mom, his two brothers and their wives make it slowly up the mountainside through the lush vegetation. Luckily, there was a minuscule trail already there, so Mrs. Womack didn’t have to use a machete to make her way to her giddy son who stood on the balcony yelling for them to hurry up. Mom dressed the part in a leopard print sweater set and Brad started bawling like a baby as soon as he saw them. His twin, Chad, looked less identical to him this season, but I assume if I looked exactly like someone who every woman in America hated, I’d drop some pounds and change my haircut, too. The family rallies to express to the world that Brad is a changed man and that this time it is for real. He tells them that he is going to propose this time around and everyone just couldn’t be happier.

Chantal comes to meet the family first, and Brad foreshadows the Good vs. Evil theme when she arrives and he says “speak of the devil.” She meets the family wearing an odd, backless potato sack shirt and immediately tells them that she is in love with “Bradly.” She tells the brothers that she would marry Brad right on the spot if he asked her and they ate that up. They think that since she was married before that she must be taking this seriously. The brothers have a tribal semi-circle on the rocks below the house to discuss Chantal while she sits and talks with Brad’s mom. She tells her that she would rather be alone than with the wrong person. She said her favorite times with Brad have been their real world moments. Although everyone was drinking white wine before Chantal’s arrival, now everyone has switched to red wine – switching to the dark side. On her way out, she tells Brad that it’s over and he’s hers. He tells her “Easy, I don’t want to tell you that.” To which she responds, “Don’t then.” Whoa, personal foul, fifteen yards, still first down. If they hadn’t been smiling, that dialog would have almost seemed like two kids fighting in the sandbox.

Emily shows up in a very tasteful dress and Brad jumps up with excitement when the doorbell rings. It takes about four seconds for things to get awkward when Brad’s brother asks about her family and it comes out that she has a daughter. This is a game changer for everyone. Whistle blows; too many  men on the field, five yard penalty, still first down. Wes asks if Ricki’s father would mind if they moved to Austin and Emily shared with them that her baby daddy was dead, although the word dead has still never been said. It is always explained as “the plane didn’t make it there.” Emily gets extra points for courage and perseverance and has already won the game as far as Brad’s family is concerned. Back at the tribal rock, Chad points out that if Brad chooses Emily that it will be an instant family and that there would be no more quiet nights at home watching T.V. and Brad tells them he’s ready. His brothers are blown away that Brad lights up when talking about both Emily and her daughter. Emily and Mrs. Womack bond as mothers and Pamela slips into her Team Emily jersey as she cries in confessional about how great Emily is. As Emily leaves, the camera catches her bracelet with the letters JRH in diamonds. (Before you jump to conclusions that it stands for her boyfriend that didn’t make it there, Joseph Riddick Hendrick IV, her daughter’s full name is Josephine Riddick Hendrick, so I’m going to go with that.)

During some family time, after meeting both women, Brad tries to be nice and say he has his work cut out for him, but it’s clear that the Womacks are all on Team Emily. The women like that she’s a mom and on their level. Chad gets two points for calling Emily poised and Pamela says that Emily is the whole package and says that she thinks Emily is the girl that he’s going to marry. Even though Brad says that his family has made it clear that Emily is the girl for him, we still have over an hour left so it’s time to go on some dates.

Brad decides to take Chantal’s fear of water up another notch and plans for them to swim with the sharks. By swim with the sharks, he means get in a wetsuit, climb in a cage secured to the side of a boat and have somebody lure a shark over to them by dangling a giant fish head on a hook in front of them. None of this was dangerous enough to make it to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, but they act like it was the most amazing thing since the invention of fire. I’m sure they had some typical lovey dovey conversation afterward, but I couldn’t focus on anything but Chantal’s cleavage. I haven’t seen that much boob protruding from behind a single zipper since Tara Buckman and Adrienne Barbeau got pulled over in their Lamborghini Countach in Cannonball Run. That night they share some wine and Chantal gives Brad a little map she made charting their journey together. She gushes the whole time about how amazing everything is and how she loves Brad. It is so over the top desperate that I’m surprised Brad doesn’t break out into hives. Penalty, intentional holding, ten yard penalty, still third down. As Brad leaves the date, his body language makes it pretty clear that Chantal will not be getting a after the half time show proposal.

Emily arrives for her date with a pair of boots and the world’s shortest shirt-dress. Not only is this the windiest day in the history of South Africa, it is the first recorded partial lunar eclipse in the middle of the day as Emily jumps out of the helicopter and exposes her right butt-cheek. Offsides on the shirt-dress, penalty is declined, the play stands. Brad continues his streak of ho-hum dates with Emily and they spend their time chatting on the side of a cliff. Brad sits awkwardly to the front of Emily so that the camera man can film her without being exposed to her Southern Hospitality. (That looked like blocking to me, the refs must have missed it.) That night, Brad goes to Emily’s room for some more conversation. It’s at this point that I notice that Emily constantly tugs up the left side of whatever top she is wearing. Is her left boob larger than the other? What is the deal with this? She did it earlier with Brad’s mom in the purple dress. She does it later in the white dress. She does it at the After the Final Rose show. She has done it every single episode in every single outfit. She does it constantly. Oh my goodness, Oh my Lord, I just missed half of what they were saying because I was so concerned about the size of her left boob. Brad tells Emily that he’s all in and wants to be a real father to Ricki. He all but gets on one knee. Emily wants him to make sure that he is serious and points out that it will not all be fun and games and that it will not be coming home to watching football every night. Brad starts to have a panic attack and excuses himself to get some water. Emily fears she may have screwed the pooch (as they say back in her neck of the woods) and everyone in the Nashville Bachelor Fantasy League breaks into mild hysterics. Look, I’ve got kids. I see where she is coming from. Plus, isn’t this the same thing that Chad said to him back in the tribal semi-circle? What’s the big deal? False start, proposing without really proposing, fifteen yard penalty, fourth and long.

We’re getting close, kids! Brad spends some time at his favorite place, the balcony and the recap with Brad’s voice-over begins. We see Emily wake up like a fairy princess in her sleeper set with little hearts all over it and then we see Chantal heave open her curtains in her sports bra and wife-beater. Their journeys unfold before our eyes and the voice-over is edited in such a way that we think Chantal may have a chance after all. All the while, Chantal soaks up the sun with a stout beer, Emily stares up into the heavens and Brad walks around taking a lot of really deep breaths. Neil Lane shows up with some pretty impressive bobbles and Brad selects one of the most fantastic engagement rings in the history of man. Brad tells Mr. Lane about the first time he went through this and about how he didn’t pick anyone. The jeweler just looks at him like, “Dude, I’m just here for the free air time, I really don’t care,” and then Brad heads back to the balcony for more heavy breathing. Chantal spends her afternoon crying in her room to the camera, while Emily spends her afternoon thinking about possibly trying to cry, but tugging at the left side of her dress instead.

Brad puts on one of the most impeccable suits I’ve ever seen off of the red carpet and heads to the rose ceremony site. Chantal and Emily finish up their make up and slip into their dresses. Chantal picks out a devilish, black, one shouldered number with a feather flower detail at the top. One of the NBFL members, pointed out that this was a good choice since black is slimming. Emily chooses a creamy white, draped dress suitable for the Greek goddess of goodness that she is. Even though white is not slimming, she still looks like a million bucks. As Brad waits at the ceremony site we listen to more voice-over and wonder who it will be.

Chantal is the first to arrive, and although they certainly can edit this anyway they want, it’s pretty clear by the look on Brad’s face, that she isn’t getting the rose. She walks down to Brad thinking about how thin the black dress is making her look, completely unaware that the hangar strap is protruding out of the top left side of her dress. Brad is trying his best to smile, but all he can muster is a grimace at best. About four seconds into it, it’s pretty clear that Chantal can just hang it up. Luckily for her, the hangar strap is just about completely out of her dress now, so hanging it up will be relatively easy. She cries her eyes out as Brad tells her that he loves someone else more. She is gracious enough and says that Emily is a lucky girl and he walks her back to the limo. Once in the limo, she has a complete come apart; partially because she just got dumped and partially because the Spanx she’s wearing make it impossible for her to breathe. Whatever brand of  mascara she’s wearing is some serious stuff, because she’s got tears under her nose, below her chin and rolling down her cleavage and that stuff hasn’t run a bit.

As soon as Chantal has left, Emily arrives in a cloud of love and light. Rainbows burst into the sky and little bunnies hop along the walkway as she makes her way to Brad. Butterflies dance about and birds sing as Brad stands at the end of the walkway waiting for Emily. He cannot contain his happiness. He tells her how wonderful she is and how great she makes him feel and asks her to spend forever with him. As he drops to one knee and pulls out the ring, he asks for her hand and she says yes. The both get caught up in kisses and I love yous, and the fans go crazy! It’s Emily for the win! It’s Emily for the win! It’s Emily for the wiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnn! And with one final highlight reel of Brad and Emily’s best plays, we are ushered into the post-game wrap up show, After the Final Rose.

After the Final Rose:

The audience is all a flutter as Chris Harrison welcomes everyone to the show. He wastes no time in bringing out the first guest, the girl who didn’t win, Chantal. The girl must have taken her heartbreak out on the Treadmill, because she looks amazing. Break-up’s been very, very good to her, as it looks like she’s dropped about thirty pounds.  It takes her about 2.4 seconds to start tearing up and express that she still doesn’t understand why she wasn’t the one. But she says that she doesn’t have regrets at all. They bring Brad out to join the interview. I haven’t witnessed anything more awkward on a sofa since Tom Cruise jumped up and down on Oprah Winfrey’s back in 2005.  Chantal pushes Brad to tell her when he knew he didn’t love her. He told her he didn’t want to hurt her and was as respectful as he could be, but she kept pushing the issue until he basically told her that he just didn’t love her. Late hit, unsportsmanlike conduct, fifteen yard penalty, and you’re out of the game. Brad realizes that Chantal is crying and not laughing and they hug it out. Next Chantal reveals that she has a new boyfriend anyway, and that if not for the process through the Bachelor, she probably wouldn’t have been in this new relationship. Wait a minute. Why is she sitting here scrutinizing game footage when she has moved on to another sport? If you watch this later on video, this would be a good time to fast forward. After a commercial, The crowd gasps as they find out that Brad and Emily have broken up, gotten back together, set a wedding date, changed a wedding date and may or  may not still be engaged. After small talk with Brad and another commercial, they bring out Emily (sans engagement ring) and she glides across the stage and sits next to Brad. She has taken a makeover cue from Ashley H. and her hair is the slightest bit darker. She has transformed from Barbie Fairy Princess to Grace Kelley. They discuss how the media has blown things out of proportion or in some cases just made things up. Brad expresses that he is in love with Emily and that he will marry her. Emily says that they are still engaged as she tugs up the left side of her dress, however, she is not ready to get married right now. Delay of game, half the distance to the goal, first down. She tells the world that Brad has a temper (Although it doesn’t seem to be as bad as Jake Pavelka. Of course, in Jake’s defense, that Vienna chick could make Mother Teresa want to punch somebody.) Emily talks about how hard it was to watch Brad go through the motions with the other girls on the show. She also pointed out that she seemed boring on T.V. because she had dates that consisted of flying kites and having picnics instead of jumping from cliffs and swimming with sharks. Chris Harrison brings up that perhaps she is once again trying to sabotage this relationship (like she has confessed is an issue with her) and Chris brings out some past Bachelor couples. Am I the only person that feels like the Bachelor just did a crossover to that Intervention show? Holy crap, it’s a live intervention for Emily right here on ABC! Pass interference, five yards, spot is at the goal. Chris asks her what it is that she questions and has the other couples try to talk some sense into her.

Jason and Molly point out that bloggers (such as myself), the media and even the shows as they air don’t really matter and that they should focus on each other and Ricki. Since Jason had a child prior to doing the Bachelor, and since he was once “the most hated man in America” after “the most controversial moment of Bachelor history,” they certainly are qualified to start off the intervention. Ryan (of Trista and Ryan) says they need to move forward together. He brought up some analogy about being in a row-boat together and paddling toward the island of utopia. Alli shares how Roberto always reminds her that it’s “just us” and that no one else in the world matters, nor do the things they have to say. Roberto shares how seeing things on the show really confused him, but that he had to just trust that in the end he is with his soul-mate and the show didn’t matter. Chris points out again that the Bachelor contestants of the past are really a family and that they are always there for each other.

After the break, Emily and Brad get to watch the footage of their proposal, which they have not yet seen. They utilize the screen in screen option so that we can watch Emily melt into Brad like butter on hot toast. (Kudos to one of the NBFL members who pointed out that in the show footage, the ring box carried the Neil Lane logo inside, but in this footage the rig box did not.) Emily seems to have come around and Brad pulls out the amazing Neil Lane ring (that has been properly sized) and slides it once again on her finger. Everyone is smiles and giggles and it seems like the Bachelor franchise is back on top in the Championship of Love. Chris Harrison thanks everyone, reiterates that the couple are indeed engaged and does a quick plug for the upcoming Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad.

But wait, there’s more! Flash forward to Jimmy Kimmel Live!

I have to say, I was secretly hoping they would choose Madison as the next Bachelorette. They could film it in Forks and the winner would not only win her heart, but they would get to become immortal. But I guess the producers at ABC figured there would be a bigger draw for plates of cheese fries with gravy and free dental work. That’s right, Jimmy Kimmel announced the next Bachelorette is Ashley Herbert. (You know, she’s from Madawaska, Maine, up there next to Canada where there is a huge French influence. She told us that on her hometown date. So try to remember that her name is not pronounced as the American Herbert, but the French way, with a silent H and a silent first R and a silent T: like “A Bear.” Here, I’ll use it in a sentence. “Don’t poke a bear.”) Ashley walked out in a foil embellished swim suit cover up and took a seat next to Jimmy. Apparently Ashley didn’t get the memo that you only highlight either leg or boob and never both simultaneously, or she just figured that since her boobs are not yet fully developed that it didn’t count. Jimmy clarified that she was not yet a dentist and asked her how many dates she’d been on since birth, but honestly I was in such a state of shock from being exposed to her nether-regions as she tried to unsuccessfully sit in a lady-like fashion in her beach-wear, that I could hardly pay attention. If Scotch brands wasn’t backstage after the show to film her for a commercial for double stick tape, they missed a golden opportunity. She was taped into that outfit like J-Lo in that green Versace number she wore to the 2000 Grammys. Who dressed this girl? Isn’t this considered part of a press junket by ABC? Doesn’t she have a stylist? Good grief, she looked like a ten-year-old choir boy in drag! Jimmy had her swear on a People magazine to say “amazing” eight million times and to not pick any cry-babies or total jerks, and then officially pronounced her the nest Bachelorette. Immediately after the interview, Guillermo brought out a wheelbarrow filled with long-stem red roses. He quickly gathered them up while trying to look away and handed them to Ashley. I’m still not sure if it was simply a nice gesture or if he just wanted her to cover up.

And that’s what you missed on the Bachelor.

Episode 10: The Women Tell Off, I Mean, All.

In case you were one of the .0000001 million people in America high on the new designer drug, Charlie Sheen, and were too blitzed out of your mind to watch the Bachelor, here is what you missed.

The episode began with a video conversation between host, Chris Harrison and Bachelor, Brad Womack. They did a quick review beginning with the first night in order to catch us all up to speed. They featured Chantal O. emerging from the limo (twenty pounds lighter than she was by the time they got to the fantasy dates) and promptly slapping Brad. Ashley H. was shown on the carnival date, which still ranks as Brad’s best first date ever. Madison bore her fangs and Brad reiterated that he liked the fangs and he liked her. He commended her for leaving on her own when she knew she wasn’t the one for him. We were treated to his roof-top “steak and leakage” date with Shawntel N. and Brad gave himself a pat on the back for being a trooper. Chris pondered how Michelle got that black eye and Brad told us all that “she had game and I was blindsided by her beauty.”

We returned to the live audience filled with women of an average median age of 45, wearing argyle sweaters and sporting the latest in Botox technology. There was enough Aqua Net in the room to pierce the ozone immediately above the studio in about 20 seconds flat. There were a few middle-aged, overweight husbands speckled throughout the audience that had given crappy Christmas gifts or forgotten anniversaries that were there to serve out whatever penance or punishment due them as a result of their erroneous ways.

Before I could wonder how they would stretch this episode out to two hours, Chris Harrison announced a Bachelor cast reunion and we were treated to footage of a party and a promise of Bachelor Pad 2 to air this summer. The previous contestants downed alcoholic beverages while they talked about “instant bonds” and how everything with the Bachelor was “easy.” Some touched tongues while others made out in the swimming pool. We were treated to Casey who is now looking for someone to guard and protect his heart instead of the other way around. Rozlyn reviewed her inappropriate relationship and Vienna oozed about how she would do well on the Bachelor Pad because women may not like her, but men always do because she is a schemer. Gia explained the “Rule of Skank” and Chris called them all “one big bizarre Bachelor family.”

Next we were reintroduced to the women of this season. Raichel flashed a double peace sign and Marissa gave us the classic beauty queen wave of elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist. Ashley H. debuted her Going Rouge look with long dark hair; cementing her future as a Sarah Palin impersonator by giving a two thumbs up. Madison was fangless and looked a little more blonde. Chris pointed out how quickly everything seemed to escalate at the house this season and we were treated to video of the girls talking about how hot Brad is and then going into confessional footage of all the girls talking about each other. They did a small box in the left corner of the screen with the live reactions of the girls as they watched it unfold. They each took turns making shocked and embarrassed faces as if they were seeing the footage for the first time. Then everyone starts talking about Michelle as she is shown in the little box.

After Lisa makes an attempt to defend Michelle, all of the other girls start busting on her and saying she was even meaner in confessional than in person. This many screaming girls haven’t jumped on one person since Elvis took America by storm. Jackie calls her creepy and scary like a spider and Michelle starts crying. She tries to defend herself and apologize, but no one will let her. Then Ashley H. starts crying and defending Michelle saying she’s a good person. Madison jumps in to defend her for at least being honest.

After a break, Mellissa is in the “hot seat.” We review via video the drama that is Mellissa and learn what it means to “pull a Mellissa.” Everyone enjoys bashing her, especially Raichel who says she was sent home because of Mellissa. Chris asks Mellissa what went wrong (other than her onion breath) and she claims that she didn’t initiate any of it. Raichel then calls Mellissa about 20 adjectives, none of them flattering. Jackie points out that Brad didn’t want to be with either of them because they acted like fools. Mellissa wishes love and light to everyone while tearing up. At this point, I’m wondering if they passed out estrogen tablets before the show started. I realize they all lived together for a month; maybe they are all still on the same menstrual cycle and are all just heavy into the PMS. Kleenex should have been a title sponsor of this episode. They would have gotten their money’s worth for sure.

Next Michelle is on the sofa next to Chris. She talks about how she was there for the right reasons, how she left her daughter to be there and how she thinks she was misunderstood. Chris says he thinks her strong side is a defense mechanism. She agrees to a point but claims she isn’t really strong while other girls roll their eyes. Chris found her to be entertaining and says that he enjoyed her narration of the show. Michelle then explains sarcasm and defends herself again. The girls don’t seem to understand the concept of a defense mechanism and Michelle starts sobbing uncontrollably. She regrets leaving her daughter resulting in a collective “Awwwww” from the audience. Michelle says that she really wants to find love (perhaps vying for the next Bachelorette spot?). Stacey acts as ring-leader and the other girls start jumping all over Michelle and claiming that she put herself before her daughter. They are so mean and ruthless that Chris Harrison has to chastise them like little children. He tells them to lay off of her and they cut to commercial so she can pull it together. Most of the women continue to sit there like heartless bitches, and damn it if my maternal instinct doesn’t kick in and I start feeling sorry for Michelle. I wish the “ladies” would cut it out so I could go back to hating her for the crazy that she is. Michelle tells Stacey that she has no right to judge her as a mother. At this point, I notice what Michelle is wearing. It’s like this Flintstone’s tank top with an orange faux grass weave print skirt. I can’t even hear words anymore because I’m so distracted by her outfit. Chris tells Jackie that “you have a problem with Michelle because Brad didn’t – isn’t that your real problem?” A few girls defend her again and say they like her. Michelle closes by saying that Brad needs someone like Emily and says that Emily is the opposite of her. Finally, Michelle seems to have broken free from the crazy and has seen the light.

Ashley S. is now in the hot seat. Video plays of her relationship with Brad up until she got cut in Vegas. She talks about how she said she was giving up on love, but says that she knows there is someone for her. Her accent is so thick that she needs subtitles, and I’m from Alabama, so that’s saying a lot. She wants more closure from Brad and would like for him to point out specifically what is wrong with her so that she can fix it. Really? This chick needs therapy. Maybe she and Michelle could get a two for one special.

Ashley H. gets her turn on the couch. Video of her time with Brad plays on the giant jumbotron. As it plays I am preoccupied with her pronunciation of words. Ever since a fellow Bachelor blogger pointed out how she puts the letter A into words that don’t have A’s in them, all I can do is listen for them. She says “I’m a hagger” instead of “I’m a hugger.” She is “upsat” instead of “upset.” She refers to herself as “mysalf” instead of “myself.” “Strang” for “strong,” “exat” for “exit,” the list goes on and on. Or as Ashley H. would say, “the last goes an and an.” During her video, they show her face in the little live video box in the corner. All I see is her red lips. She never wore red lipstick on the show. This must be part of the new and improved Ashley H. After the video, Chris asks her about a hundred times why she didn’t believe Brad when he said he had feelings for her. He then tells her that he feels bad for her. She says she has regrets and feels like she messed everything up. Chris asks her if it was love and she finally admits that she was in love with Brad, but she’s moving forward and excited to date again (as the next Bachelorette?). She addresses her hair color and says it’s her natural color. Then she does this odd deep voice thing and says she feels like a changed woman. Huh? Did she not get one of those estrogen pills they were passing out before the show?

Brad comes out and Shawntel sneers at him. He mentions his significant other and then notices Ashley H’s new look. He admits that he cried (while eating quiche, maybe?) when he saw Ashley S’s exit on television. He tells her that she would make a good wife, but he was just feeling more deeply for other women. Too bad he couldn’t have just told her that when he dumped her. He said he would defend Michelle until he was blue in the face and that he thought she was funny. He stated that the reason he let her go was that he thought they were too much alike. Ashley H. thanked him for everything, he told her she was exceptional and that she helped him know that this process could really work and they hugged.

Not to be outdone by Oprah, we were shown some random footage of Chris Harrison and Brad Womack, Humanitarians at Large, as they visited a preschool in South Africa. They donated a solar-powered hot water heater and pledged to sponsor some kids. They sang songs and played soccer with the kids. I suppose it was nice to know that the Bachelor gives back instead of just romping around on elephants and having sex in trees.

Brad tells us that he knew in South Africa that he had found his wife and that he is now happier than he has ever been in his life. He says the unannounced winning lady has changed his life and he falls more and more in love with her every day. He proceeds to get all choked up and Chris congratulates him and adds that he’s glad it worked out considering he wasn’t going to be given a third chance.

They aired the annual blooper reel that included some random naked guy walking around on the beach behind Brad and his brothers. Brad says he has no regrets and they roll a video about the two “incredible women” that Brad has to choose from as Brad narrates his feelings in such a way that if you really tried hard, you may actually believe that Chantal O. stands a chance, even though we all know she doesn’t. My dad knew this guy once that described his second wife in relation to his first wife as “Betty covers Susan like a quarter covers a dime.” Three guesses between Emily and Chantal who is the quarter and who is the dime.

The episode closes with previews of the final rose. We see Chantal and Emily arrive at the cape; Emily in angelic white and Chantal in a feathered black number. Good vs. Evil…who will prevail? Thank goodness this episode is over. I feel like I needed a Xanax. It’s like I just watched my kids fight over the last brownie for two hours straight.

And that’s what happened on the Bachelor.

Episode 9

In case you gouged your eyes out last night when James Franco appeared in drag at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony, here’s what you couldn’t see on tonight’s episode of the Bachelor.

We begin with Brad packing in the concrete jungle of New York for the jungle of South Africa. Considering the heat and the fact that most of his time will be spent in a fantasy suite, I’m not sure why the hell he needs two full-sized bags all of a sudden. He confesses that he is scared and that he has trust issues. Where is the shrink? Is Dr. Phil going to meet him under a jackalberry tree on some game reserve once he arrives? What happened to his Austin doctor? What happened to his L.A. doctor? Will they be on next week’s After the Final Rose? Will they appear on the show The Doctors with former Bachelor and Nashville hottie, Dr. Travis Stork? Anyway, on the plane he laments his strong connection with the final three girls. With Chantal he had immediate chemistry, but she cries too much. Ashley is comfortable but she is insecure. Emily is one in a million and makes him a better person, but he is intimidated by her past. He arrives and they roll the tourism footage of stinky animals and golden sunsets as the Lion King soundtrack plays in the background.

Date one is with Chantal. She is busting out of her safari shirt. She and Brad wear matching hats and they tour the land on a safari. They hang out next to some sleeping lions (a dream come true for Brad) and the whole time they voice over how awesome everything is and how awesome the other is. I wish Emily had been there to say “shut up” every time they saw an animal. Brad brings up the danger of Africa for the second time as their guide walks them to the riverside with a gun in his hand. There are hippopotami all over the place and I am reminded of a statistic I read once about more people in Africa dying as a result of hippo attacks than of cancer. Chantal is trusting Brad to keep her safe (I personally, would take the gun, but whatever) and they sit by the river and cheese about how great they are and voice over metaphors about their love and how they have come a long distance and braved heart-ache, blah, blah, blah. When they start kissing, the hippo starts eying them. I think it is a little jealous; thinking Chantal is one of its own.

After an outfit change, Chantal starts her voice over about hoping for a happy ending later that night. They discuss getting married and Brad used the adverb “badly” for the eight millionth time during this journey. He gives her the key and note from Chris Harrison explaining the fantasy suite. She compares the fantasy suite to Vegas, as in what happens there; stays there, although it’s pretty clear what she intends to happen there. She says she’s ready to skip dinner and go straight to the suite. The suite is an elaborate tree house with a bed in it. Is there indoor plumbing? Because if I had sex in a tree, I’d sure as hell want a shower afterward. After they make out for a bit, the cameras leave them alone to do whatever it is that people do in a tree overnight. In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion may sleep tonight, but I don’t think Brad will be getting any shut-eye.

The second date is with Emily. She rocks a pair of Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots like only a Southern belle can. Brad says he forgot something and leaves almost long enough for Emily to remember he’s a putz. Then he returns on an elephant at which point she says “shut up!” She says her life long dream has been to go to Africa and ride an elephant. (Seriously? Where do these people come up with these dreams?) I’ve got to tell you, my son rode an elephant one time at the circus. He was on it for maybe five minutes, tops. Afterward, he smelled like feet. Bad feet. Really bad feet. You know how a horse will just do it’s business while you’re riding it? I’m guessing an elephant will, too. That is not my idea of a romantic Saturday night. Emily says this is just like the Lion King, only better. She’s right; it is better. Can you imagine if we had to endure Whoopie Goldberg voicing an animated hyena right about now? Emily asks Brad if he’s ready for an instant family and he says that he is. He says that he loves that she’s a package deal and they make out as elephants shriek in the background.

After a clothing change they go to an intimate dinner. It appears to also be in a tree. I’m hoping this isn’t the same tree as the night before. Brad can hardly speak because of the partnership between Emily’s cleavage and her short skirt. Emily confesses that she’s falling in love with Brad and hope she will be able to tell him how she feels. She struggles to get it out, but does manage to tell him that she likes him. Brad confesses that he wants her to go to the fantasy suite so they can talk off camera. He gives her the card and she says that she needs to set a good example for her daughter. However, she wants some more time with him and will go. She makes it clear that they will continue to take things slow and there will only be talking going on at the suite. Brad seems thrilled that she said yes, even though she basically said “you ain’t gettin’ any.” Their fantasy suite is indoors. Emily doesn’t waste time telling Brad that she loves him and he starts stuttering and breaks the rules and tells her that he is falling in love with her also.

The last date is with Ashley. This whole day is the worst thing to happen in South Africa since apartheid. She shows up in some cheeky uneven cut off shorts with the pockets hanging out of the bottom of them. Brad confesses that he has concerns about Ashley after meeting her family. They walk through the brush to a helicopter. She promptly begins to freak out and run away because she is scared of helicopters (shocking). Brad says he will take care of her and she agrees to go. She freaks out as they take off but then confesses how safe she feels with Brad. Brad confesses how proud he is of her conquering her fears. They arrive in the middle of nowhere to a place that locals call “God’s Window.” They sit down for a picnic and the train wreck becomes more gruesome. Brad toasts her family and uses that as a segway into asking her about her goals. She doesn’t appear to have made any plans past next Tuesday, and doesn’t really answer his questions. She confesses that their conversation is a wake-up call. Brad confesses that they need to have another serious conversation because he is even more concerned.

Before we get to their outfit change, ABC interrupts programming for a “live press conference” to announce the cast of Dancing With the Stars. We learn that “boxing’s best” Sugar Ray Leonard will be a part of the program. Also, “Disney Dream Girl” Chelsea Kane (don’t worry, I haven’t heard of her either) will star. “Master of hip hop’s son” Romeo will be along for the ride, as will “the original karate kid” Ralph Macchio. And although she could not be there tonight because she was speaking at the U.N., “super survivor and supermodel” Petra Nemcova will join the cast.

To stretch things out like only ABC can, we return to the date. The couple has changed clothes and is at dinner by a fire in the middle of the woods at a table and chairs made out of tree stumps. Ashley brings up that he really made her think and that she does want balance in her career and life. She sits there swatting invisible bugs and tries to explain that everything is compromise, yet she isn’t really listening to the questions or what Brad has to say. She wants him to just have faith that things will work out, but he doesn’t think she’s getting it. He sounds like he’s breaking up with her and she again says he should do what’s best for him and that she feels like he’s “just looking for a wife.” Let me repeat that, she said “I feel like you’re just looking for a wife.”  Um, can you turn those cameras off for a second. Yeah, I need to see the producer. Um, do you think someone can explain to Ashley what the premise of the show, the Bachelor, is all about? Because apparently, she’s smart enough to get through 80% of dental school, but she hasn’t grasped the whole point of why she’s sitting in the middle of the freaking jungle in hot and more than likely humid South Africa. At this point, Brad gives up and just asks her how her food tastes. He confesses that he needs more from their relationship and then gives her the fantasy suite card. She acts all shocked about the key and card (maybe she really doesn’t know how this show works after all), but says yes and that she hopes they can move forward. This suite is a mix between the first two. Although it is indoors, it has trees inside of it. They go straight to kissing, but then they just sit around soaking in the awkwardness.

I don’t know about where you are, but in my area, every other commercial during the Bachelor is for Beyaz birth control. Another one of those airs at this point. Is Beyaz just a redo of the old birth control Yaz? You know, the one that was supposed to be hip and clear up your zits, but really turned out to like rot your insides and make all of your future offspring have two heads or something? And is it just me, or does anyone else always think of the slang word Biotch every time you hear them say Beyaz? Anyway, just curious about that one. At least they aren’t singing the days of the week and diving into a stupid swimming pool.

The next day, Brad waxes poetic in voice over while he gets dressed and heads to the rose ceremony. He sits down with Chris Harrison to chat. He tells Chris how difficult this is because he doesn’t want to say goodbye to someone. He says he knows he will more than likely be engaged at the end of this. They talk about how the date with Ashley sucked and Brad all but says that he’s going to send her packing, but he wants to talk to her one more time to make sure. Chris re-caps to the girls about their journey and introduces Brad. Ashley looks seriously worried. Brad fumbles around and asks her to come talk to him. They walk up to a patio while Emily and Chantal wait below to sweat it out; literally. She looks pissed and he apologizes that their date was so rotten. She asks what happened and he says he just wanted to work everything out. She says she wanted this and he asks, “then what the hell happened?” He says she doesn’t feel like he fits into her life. She says she just doesn’t know how to do this any better and she seems to be counting herself out. He realizes that she’s not the one and he says that he needs to tell her goodbye and doesn’t want for her to have to go through a rose ceremony. She says she’s not going to beg him for a rose and gets all bitchy with him. He walks her out and helps her into the car. In the back of the car, she cries but doesn’t really say anything worthwhile. She thinks they were “lost in translation.”

Brad goes back into the house where the rose ceremony is to take place and spends some alone time pondering life and love. At this time, we get to go back to the live press conference.  The next contestant on Dancing with the Stars is the “bunny next door” Kendra Wilkinson. Thank goodness, now she will finally be able to lose that baby weight. There is no applause whatsoever for Stealer Hines Ward, as even the audience members don’t know who he is. From the Love Line is Mike Catherwood. He’s the guy that you saw earlier this season when the Bachelor went to the Love Line show. He was the one that wasn’t Dr. Drew. The “queen of all media” Wendy Williams will also be on the show along with WWE star Chris Jericho. Last but certainly not least is “Hollywood’s most outrageous actress” Kirsti Alley. Time for some questions from the press (i.e. the two people who work for ABC that are on the shit list). Right off the bat, one has to wonder if Kirsti Alley is stoned. And why didn’t she answer the questions? She has been approached before to do the show; why did she say yes this time around? Just say it, Kirsti, just tell everyone that you need the money for liposuction and be done with it. Own it, sister! And how about Ralph Macchio? where the hell has he been? And will someone please give him Ashley’s number now that she’s been cut from the Bachelor? Those two need to hook up because his teeth were looking all sorts of shades of nasty.

Back at the rose ceremony, Brad finally comes back to Emily and Chantal. He talks about how great Ashley is and how he is looking for forever. He presents a rose to Chantal and she accepts. Then he presents one to Emily who also accepts the rose. He tells them they are going to stay in South Africa and will be meeting his family in Cape Town. Although I was hoping for a group hug, he hugs them individually and they raise a glass to love.

And that’s what happened on the Bachelor.

Episode 8

This episode started with Brad telling us about the four remaining girls. Chantal is different, like no other girl. He has so much fun with her, but he thinks she’s emotional (um, she’s a girl, dude, seriously) and that worries him. He feels like his time with Ashley is spent reassuring each other and not moving forward, and this is a big concern. With Shawntel, things are easy because they had an immediate connection and things are consistent. And according to Brad (and the rest of the population), Emily has set the bar high. He is scared, however because it is deeper than just them because she has a daughter. I am pleased when Brad gets into his car to head off to the hometown dates. He now is carrying a nice leather satchel instead of the stupid gym bag he used in the first episode. The stylish bag almost makes up for his ill fitted pea-coat and page-boy hat. I realize it is cold in Seattle, but that whole look was nothing but Rocky Balboa arriving in Russia in Rocky IV.

When Brad gets to Chantal’s he is glad that she is happy and not all tearful (emotional) and that she seems stable. Apparently Brad missed the fact that happiness is also an emotion. He makes it clear to her that he would love to visit her hometown, but that his home is and will continue to be in Austin. They arrive at her house where he meets her animals. She has two cats and a dog that wears clothes (don’t get me started). For the second time in Bachelor history, we see beer being consumed straight from the bottle (why, this is the most controversial season ever!). Is this because Brad owns a bar and realizes that real people drink from the bottle? Or is it that Chantal just got home and didn’t have time to prep a frosty mug? Brad admits that he needs to buy a bigger house. He currently lives in a loft in the downtown area, and there would not be room for all three pets, and the two of them, plus there would not be enough closet space for Chantal (especially since her clothes are bigger than all the other girls). She makes it clear that if her pets and parents don’t like him, then he is out. Glad to know the pecking order.  They arrive at Chantal’s parent’s house. Of course, it is very nice. After all, her father owns O’Brien Auto Parts and is a former Seattle Seahawk. The whole family is attractive, unlike some of the other families (they say you should always look at a girl’s mother to see how she will turn out) and Chantal and her dad go off to talk. Her dad seems thrilled that she slapped Brad upon meeting him. She tells him that she loves Brad and all is well. Dad and Brad then go out and talk next to this statue of a “self-made man.” The learn that they  both come from a family of masons and both built their own way from nothing. Chantal’s dad didn’t see his own father for the last 15 years of his life, so he empathized with the fact that Brad has no real relationship with his dad. This looks like the start of a beautiful bromance and Mr. O’Brien gives Brad his blessing. Mom and Chantal have a little chat, well Chantal talks and mom sits there, and finally mom is able to get in a few words and tells her daughter to trust her heart. At this point, I’m thinking Emily and Chantal will be the final two.

Next, Brad arrives at Ashley’s hometown. She lives in Philadelphia, but she grew up in upper Maine, so they are in Maine. One of my favorite shots is of the driver when Brad arrives. you can see him in the front seat behind the two as they reunite and he looks super serious, like he’s thinking about dead puppies and nuclear bombs so that he can keep from smirking. She uses the term disconnected right off the bat (will this girl never learn?). She takes Brad to the diner where she had her first job. Here she educated him about the French influence on the area. Brad continues to say over and over how he could live there, but he already made it clear he’s not moving, and she doesn’t even live there anymore, so unless he’s planning on moving there with Emily, it’s really a moot point. The waitress comes up and says something in French and Brad answers her with Si instead of Oui. They immediately cut to confessional footage of him saying what a moron he is that he answered yes in Spanish instead of French. Too bad politicians don’t have confessional footage. Think of all the heartache that could have been avoided if a few of our Presidents could immediately cut to confessional footage and say something like, “Oops! I don’t know why I said I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman! I guess I was really hungry and couldn’t think straight because I was thinking about that stuffed crust pizza at Pizza Hut.” Anyway, they order French (not Spanish) fries with cheese and gravy on them. Brad wants to use a fork, but Ashley insists they use their fingers. As she is feeding his big open mouth, she points out his crown to the whole world (very sexy, Ashley) and then she brings up that she wants to move forward instead of wasting time reassuring each other of their feelings. They go to a seafood shop and buy lobster and then to a road-side produce shack that uses the honor system. Next they go to the welcome sign at the city limits and take self portraits. When Ashley can’t think of any way to put it off any longer, she takes Brad to her parent’s house.

I was a bit surprised by her tattooed sister. Ashley seems the wholesome type and I didn’t see that one coming. Her dad lets us know that she’s actually not really a dentist, that she is in dental school. Brad tells her father that he wants kids, but her dad isn’t sure that she does. Brad begins to wonder if he will hold Ashley back from her full potential. Her sister says she thinks the time is right for Ashley to start a life with someone. It makes sense to take a leap now and then begin to build her practice. Her mother awkwardly asks if they can sleep over and then Brad leaves with a large paper bag filled with stuff. Did he get parting gifts? What’s in the bag; disposable toothbrushes and mini dental floss dispensers?

After the break, the show starts with a commercial for Shawntel’s family’s funeral home. Did they pay for that commercial? They just got a national spot in prime time television. Then Chantal is at the funeral home instead of some park and there is organ music playing in the background. Could they make this any more creepy? Answer: yes, they can. Brad arrives at the mausoleum and they walk through the crypts. He sees the crematory which is like a giant pizza oven. When they come to the prep room, Brad says it’s fascinating, but his face reads total freak out. She explains embalming along with visual aids while he continues to freak out. Brad admits that he doesn’t handle death well. Shawntel tells him that it is a good and a bad thing, what she does, and he is impressed with her passion for her job. She lets him know that she can pick up embalming work just about anywhere (have job, will travel). Then they go to her parent’s house. They have dinner and her dad tells Brad that Shawntel helps them all loosen up. He tells Brad that he has been preparing Shawntel to take over his business. (I wonder what he has been preparing the twins for…a twins themed photo shoot at the Playboy Mansion, maybe?) Shawntel says in front of everyone that she is falling for Brad and that he lives in Austin and that if things worked out for them that she would move there. You could have cut the awkward tension in the room with one of Shawntel’s scalpels. She and dad excuse themselves for a chat. He tells her that she is in line for the business and puts a guilt trip on her about someone who died while she was away filming and whose family specifically asked for her. He acted like their grief was compounded by the fact that she was not there to drain their loved one. He thinks that if she leaves, she will be leaving the business high and dry. Did they not think about this before she went on the show? And why do they keep referring to the family business by its full name over and over? Was this all a ploy to increase business? Did she come on the Bachelor to find love or to shoot an infomercial? When they join everyone else in the living room, Dad just looks pissed off. He gives Brad his blessing, but I don’t think anyone buys it. When she walks Brad out, she tells him that she loves him and they kiss.

Last is Emily’s house. We see Emily as she is reunited with her daughter, Ricky. They share big hugs and Southern sweetness. She tells Ricky that she has met some new friends and that one of them is coming to meet her. Brad shows up with a gift wrapped in pink wrapping and bow. He is clearly nervous. Ricky is shy and hides behind her mom. When she sees the gift, she takes it and finally open it revealing a butterfly kite (a nod to Brad and EMily’s first one on one date when they flew a kite?). Brad has never dated anyone that has a kid before (which is evidenced by the fact that he picked out a kite). He is trying very hard to bring Ricky out of her shell but as Emily says, “she’s not having it.” After giving her some sugar, they get out the kite and she opens up. Soon they look like a happy little family, except that Brad stands about five feet away from them when they walk down the sidewalk. Emily’s house is amazing. It’s clearly not paid for with the salary from the hospital. I assume that having Rick Hendrick as a grandfather helps little Ricky live in luxury. They play games with Ricky and then tuck her into bed. Brad and Emily then have some alone time with big glasses of water and unidentifiable food on a plate. Emily is dying for him to kiss her, but he doesn’t even try it. Could it be that this whole day was alcohol free and he needs a little liquid courage? He is all weird because her daughter is upstairs asleep and he is scared she may come down at any  moment. Emily explains to Brad that if they got together that she would always be upstairs and that he needed to grow a pair and kiss her. He confesses that he should have kissed her and not been such a pansy. She confesses that she’s disappointed that he didn’t man up. Brad really let us all down here. Emily has a kid; get over it. She also used to date Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and I’m sure Little E didn’t have a problem throwing it into high gear. Come on, Brad, this respect and honor stuff is getting tired. When she walks him out, she does what he can’t seem to do and kisses him. Of course, he reciprocates.

The rose ceremony is in New York City. Brad sits down with Chris Harrison (who has obviously watched the footage from the hometown dates) and they talk. Chris brings up his bromance with Mr. O’Brien, about how at home Brad felt with Ashley’s family, Shawntel’s love for her job and the importance of meeting little Ricky. Chris points out that he seemed most comfortable with Ashley’s family, however she is the only one that hasn’t told him that she loves him. Brad says he is making his decision based on how he feels and not how the girls have indicated that they feel towards him. During the rose ceremony, Chantal looks like a Spanish soap opera star. Shawntel looks like she knows she’s going home. And what’s up with Ashely? Did she not have time to fix her hair? Rose number one goes to Ashley. Rose number two goes to Emily. Rose number three goes to…make sure you pronounce it correctly…Chantal. As she goes to accept her rose, I just want to text her “red satin isn’t slimming, honey,” but I don’t know her number.

Shawntel looks shocked and confused. She and Brad go off to the side so “no one can hear them.” Um, isn’t this on television? So no one can hear you? have you lost your mind? He tells her that he didn’t feel the way a man should feel when a woman says they love them. He assures her that it has nothing to do with her family. In other words, it’s not them; it’s you. Way to let her down easy, Brad. He walks her to the car and they hug. After she leaves, she confesses that she didn’t see this coming and continues to ooze about how great he is and how no one ever treated her so nice before. She says he treated her like a princess. First of all, ABC paid for everything and you flew all over the world and stayed liquored up at all times. Of course, no one has ever treated you like that before. Real people don’t take six girls on a date, hire a helicopter and have “Mr. Seal” sing private concerts for them. Give me a break.

Back in the ceremony area, Brad tells the girls that they are all going to South Africa! The usual squealing takes place and they all raise a glass to the future.  And that’s what happened on the Bachelor.

After the Final Rose: Anticipation

I was thinking today about the soon to be aired After the Final Rose episode of the Bachelor. These are always pretty lame and just seem like a way to drag out the season. I suppose that some good has come from them. Bachelor Bob Guiney met his wife (now ex-wife) Rebecca Budig (the first Skating with the Stars winner) when she hosted the wrap up episode of season two of the Bachelor, “Aaron and Helene Tell All.”  We had Jason dump Melissa and say he really wanted the other chick, Molly, in one episode of After the Final Rose. We got to watch this season’s bachelor, Brad Womack, squirm to try to explain why he didn’t pick anyone back in 2007. But all in all, it’s a stupid show.

However, I’m looking forward to it this year just to see crazy Michelle. You know they will have her tucked away back stage and bring her out to face the women right after showing a montage of her wishing black eyes and killer monkeys on the girls. The question is how will she react? Will she embrace her inner (and often outer) crazy? Will she pull a Camille Grammer and claim it was editing (which is basically pulling a Jessica Rabbit and saying, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way”)? Will she wear a sequined hug me jacket and will they pad the walls of her back stage waiting room? Will the other girls wear head-gear and bullet proof vests for protection? Will ABC hire the same security used on the Jerry Springer show? How many of the girls will still be sporting the Emily side braid?

There are just so many questions. For once, the After the Final Rose may be more exciting, um, i mean “controversial” than the actual final rose!

Oh, and does it shock anyone that Michelle Money has an IMDb page with multiple acting credits prior to being on the Bachelor including a movie, Midway to Heaven, that was released this month? Which brings me to the next topic. Will ABC ever just have a season of the Bachelor with normal people?  Only time will tell.

P.S.    ARGH!!!!! I realize that everyone wants to be a star, but why did ABC tell us she was a hair stylist? Why not just say she was a hair stylist/aspiring actress? i suppose she was crazy enough that they didn’t need to stir the pot by having the other girls accuse her of being there to further her career.

From the Midway to Heaven website:

Meet the Cast:

“Michelle Money plays Carol in Midway to Heaven. She was born and raised in Holladay, Utah. She has had a passion for the arts since her earliest memories. In her younger years, her creative expression was found in musical composition and poetry but as time went on her artistic mind evolved into something much more. Her career started at the young age of 14 when she landed her first music video for the then superstar boy band, The Backstreet Boys. From then on her career took off. Michelle started booking numerous modeling and commercial work for companies such as McDonalds, Reebok, Franklin Covey, Master Card, Verizon, Union wireless, Jolt Cola, NuSkin, Intel, Morgan Jewelers and many more. After 13 years in the Industry, Michelle began focusing more on her love of acting. She has since booked numerous roles in television and Film such as: The Eleventh Hour, Justin Time, and Blank Slate.”

Episode 7

In case you couldn’t make it to your television because you were camped out at the magazine stand waiting for the latest Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue to go on sale, here is your weekly re-cap of what happened on ABC’s the Bachelor.

Ah, Anguilla, a tropical paradise where anyone could fall in love. Except for two lovely ladies, that is. This episode started with the Anguilla Tourism Board getting their promotional consideration. The girls hopped on a plane and headed over separately from Brad. They showed a little map with the icon of a commercial airliner flying over from Costa Rica to Anguilla. It reminded me of Indian Jones movies, except he wasn’t on a Delta 747. Where the hell did that plane land? Anguilla doesn’t look long enough to have a landing strip for a plane that size. I found myself daydreaming about the plane crashing into the water and the girls having to use their breasts as flotation devices. That’s when Ashley said that Anguilla felt like it was “straight out of Bay Watch.” Right then I knew this would be the “most controversial season ever!”

Someone has never told Chris Harrison that if you roll your clothes before you pack them that they will resist wrinkling. Nor have they taught him how to use an iron. He meets the women and tells them that this week there will be a total of three one on one dates and one group date. The individual dates will not offer a rose, but the group date will. I’m sure he probably said other stuff, but I spent the whole time looking at Michelle’s shirt. Was that Spanish moss on her boobs? What is that? Why would she wear that? It was like a poly-cotton Rorschach test.

Emily got the first one on one date. She starts out with her new signature side braid. Brad picked her up and she was wearing a swim suit with a cute, little, sheer, black cover up. They were having a glass of champagne when the helicopter arrived. She told Brad to “shut up” for the first of many times during this date. Her continuous use of the phrase is just one more reason to like her. Those other chicks that break out with the “oh my good gosh gollys” just get on my nerves. He also says the word ass in front of her. When they are together it feels like he is less censored and more genuine. Anyway, after their Magnum PI tour of the area, they go to their own private island named “Sandy Island.” It’s this island about the size of my kitchen in the middle of crystal blue water. They are dropped off alone (except for the camera people, sound guy, whoever the hell cooks their dinner, the dude that makes the fire, etc.) and have a picnic. Brad is all tense and nervous. Both of them are wet during the conversation so either they went swimming and we didn’t see that part or they are both just very sweaty. Brad tells her that he cares for her more than he should say. The sun goes down and they have a private dinner by a fire on the beach. It looks like they’ve showered and changed clothes, although I’m not sure where they did that on the 10 by 10 square foot island. Brad asks if he would be able to meet Ricky if he went to her home town. She just isn’t sure. She’s very torn over it. Brad says that he knows he isn’t supposed to do this, but he doesn’t care about the rules. He wants her to know that she will be getting a rose this week and that he wants to come to her hometown. I guess she was happy with this because they make out in the surf.

Britt gets super upset when the date card comes for Shawntel. At this point, Britt is the only girl that has not had a one on one date. Shawntel is excited to get the date and confessed that if she were like Britt and hadn’t had a date that she would “go crazy like some of the girls here.” For their date, they start with a bike ride to the farmer’s market. Shawntel acts like at trip to the farmer’s market is her end all, be all idea of the best date ever. But this chick hangs out with dead people, so I suppose we shouldn’t expect too much. Oh, and she is rocking the Emily side braid. They drink something out of some sort of fruit or vegetable (vodka, maybe?) and then we see them jumping rope on the street and playing dominoes. I’m confused. Are they still in Anguilla or did they ride their bikes to Harlem? Anyway, they meet Aunt Jemima on the side of the road and she imparts a precious pearl of wisdom to them, “hold hands and kiss and tell your parents before you get married.” Thank you oh wise one. We shall all take that clever insight to heart. Next we see the couple walking with nice wine glasses into a little area with baby goats (aka next month’s street vendor gyros) where they have a picnic. Shawntel tells Brad that she’s falling in love with him. Brad then confesses that all other girls are now compared to the sliding scale of Emily.

At dinner, Shawntel reiterates that she’s falling for him. Brad talks about his father leaving him when he was four years old and then confesses that this is eye-opening to him. He is surprised that he can talk about personal stuff with Shawntel that he can’t even talk to his brother about. It starts raining (Wait, it’s the wrong Chantal) and they make out. Then they are treated to a concert by Bankie Banx, a reggae singer, known as the “Anguillan Bob Dylan.” Apparently, he’s not into intimate performances like “Mr. Seal” because all these random tourists show up for the concert as well. For the first time I can remember in Bachelor history, we see the couple drinking beer directly from a bottle and then they go for a dip in the ocean. When they strip to their swimsuits, I was momentarily blinded by the sequined top Shawntel had on, but then I clearly focused in on her lower back tattoo. I was magically transported to the SNL skit about lower back tattoo removal and souvenirs from Jamaica.

Britt gets the last one on one date of the episode which prompts Michelle to start her crazy analogies about sinking ships. Brad picks her up on a yacht which makes all the other girls jealous. Michele confesses that it’s a waste of a one on one date and that she doesn’t even think Brad and Britt would be Facebook friends, much less husband and wife. As soon as the two are on the boat, they are in swimwear with drinks in hand. They start the date with some cliff jumping. Britt is terrified “as normal” but has to “do it for the relationship.” After jumping, they swim back to the boat. We are treated to a shot of scurrying crew in black outfits ducking down at the top of the boat. It was like they were being attacked by secret service. I was hoping it was going to turn into a Jason Bourne movie, but instead it was just Brad and Britt sitting on the beach. Brad tries not to yawn while Britt provides voice-over about how she is scared of rejection. Why the hell did she come on this show if she is scared of rejection? Is it like people that sky dive to get over a fear of heights? Brad confesses that they are in an amazing, romantic place but he has no urge to kiss her and hope that they will find a romantic connection over dinner. However, even though Britt is wearing a slip at the dinner table, they continue to talk about the weather. Brad confesses again that she is really sweet but that there is no romantic chemistry. He tells her that it was a nice day, but wants her to know that he doesn’t have romantic feelings for her and doesn’t see a future with her. Of course, she interrupts him about fifty times, so it takes him a million years to get it out. He tells her it’s time to say goodbye. Poor girl went from thinking “no rose; no pressure” to see you later, alligator. Or in this case, see you never, alligator. The girls greet Britt at the door and she tells them that she needs to pack because it’s not there for them. She starts crying, packs her stuff and leaves.

At this point, we are treated to the highlight of the entire night. We get to see an awesome commercial for a cell phone. In the commercial, there is this chick in a tree outside of a guy’s bedroom window. She looks remarkably like Michelle and starts the voice-over with “Brad and I just had the best first date, I think he’s the one” or something to that effect. But dude’s name is Brad. She then talks about using her phone to stalk him on his Flickr account and Four Square check ins, follow him on twitter and send her mom pictures of him. The tag line: Go Crazy on Android. Best played and placed advertisement in the history of man.

At 2:07 a.m., Brad goes to the girls’ house and wakes up Ashley, Chantal and Michelle to leave for the group date. None of them is thrilled with being awakened or being filmed without make-up. The girls find out they are being photographed for the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue. The girls get their hair and make-up done and Chantal starts freaking out in confessional voice-over about feeling fat. At sun up, they all go down to the beach and meet the photographer. They photograph Ashley and she takes her top off and covers he non-existent boobs with shells. Chantal continues the voice-over about feeling like a lard. Sure enough, when she takes her top off with little to no encouragement, she really does look tubby standing there. When she is laying down, she looks fine, but she’s looking pretty preggers in the side shots. Brad declares it all awkward and Michelle claims she is not so easily persuaded [to take her top off]. She also decides she wants Brad in her photos and the two of them set out to recreate the famous beach scene in “From Here to Eternity” while the other girls stand there watching them wondering “what the hell?” Michelle claims her photo was a 15 on the hotness scale of one to ten. Brad realizes quickly that this date is going down hill and admits he went too far by kissing Michelle in front of the other girls.

He spends the afternoon doing damage control with Ashley and Chantal. We discover Chantal also has a back tattoo which consists of some oriental lettering. (Oh, by the way, in case you care, Brad’s tattoo of a cross has the word Prosapia over it. This means family in Latin. Either family means a lot to him, or he’s hoping to hook up with sisters at some point.)  Brad tells Michelle that he thinks they may be too much alike and that he thinks she may be too volatile. She gets defensive, but agrees they are a lot alike. Brad tells Chantal that he’s trying to be respectful and not closed off. He confesses that he knows the girls’ walls are going up and he is fearful that giving a rose will do more harm than good.  After calling it the date from hell, he talks again to Ashley.  She says she doesn’t want to go home from there and is freaking out that he’s going to send her packing like Britt. He excuses himself and she flips out even more. He returns with the rose and she becomes all smiles and rainbows, calls him Babe and runs to hug him. He tells her to trust in what they have. Meanwhile, Chantal and Michelle are beyond pissed off. Chantal starts crying. Brad begs her to talk to him while Ashley whispers sweet nothings in her ear. Michelle and Ashley exit and Chantal tells Brad that if he can’t choose her over two other girls then to just send her home. He tries to encourage her and tells her it is all about timing and reminds her that there are more roses coming that night. They hug it out and she waddles off.

The girls arrive for the cocktail party barefoot. Apparently, none of them have ever heard of hookworms. They settle in with some wine and start to wonder where Brad is. We see Brad chatting with Chris Harrison (thank goodness, he is no longer in that wrinkled shirt). Brad tells Chris that he doesn’t need a rose ceremony because he already knows who he is sending home. Chris tries to reason with him, but Brad’s mind is set. Chris goes and tells the girls to meet him on the beach as there will be no cocktail party that night. Michelle confesses that she needed the time to “pull Brad back in.” Chantal is scared out of her mind and feels like she’s going home. Ashley is wearing pants. Smart girl; she already has a rose, so why waste a good dress.

Brad tells the women that he promised them in the beginning that as soon as he knew for sure one way or another about them, that he would tell them and this is why there was no cocktail party. He says his goodbyes to the unnamed girl before giving out the roses. He also tells them that he is 100% confident in his decision. As Chantal freaks out and Michelle  blinks her eyes in slow motion, the roses are handed out to Emily and then Shawntel. Chantal looks like her head is going to pop off and Michelle is now slow motion blinking with sideways glances. The final rose goes to Chantal. Michelle looks stunned then smiles. She hugs the girls and walks past Brad. He follows her out, darting around her like a puppy, trying to hold her hand and talk to her. She ignores his attempts, says she doesn’t want to talk and gets in the car. Brad confesses that there was a ton of physical attraction with Michelle, but that he knew it would fade and he’d only be left with crazy. As the limo drives away, Michelle lays down in the back seat and blinks herself to sleep.

Brad returns to the beach to toast with the women. They all raise a glass to their families in anticipation of the hometown dates.

And that’s what happened on the Bachelor.

(P.S. The annual Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue hits news stands Tuesday, February 15th.)

 

 

 

Episode 6

In case you are still recovering from the Super Bowl and missed last night’s episode of ABC’s the Bachelor, here is your weekly re-cap.

The crew packed up and headed to Costa Rica for this episode. We were treated to standard shots of beautiful ocean water and lush greenery while Brad talked about how fantastic the place was and fulfilled their contractual obligations for their discounted or free lodging. The tourism board got their money’s worth in this episode as they continued to showcase their product when the girls arrived and rode in on a bus while filming the countryside with home movie quality film. Emily started talking about a rain forest, but all I could hear was Kathleen Turner asking, “Is this the bus to Cartagena?” as they looped around the winding roads passing cows and peasant people. Then they see this amazing volcano and all I can think about is when Ally left that freak that wanted to “guard her heart” at the top of the volcano. How cool would it be if they just tossed Michelle right into a volcano? Just thinking about it makes me feel awesome. The airlines must have lost Brad’s suitcase that contained his thesaurus, as the only adjective he used in the entire opening voice-over was “really” as in, I’m really excited to be here, it’s really beautiful, I’m really emotionally invested, it’s really a lot harder this go around, etc.

The first date card reveals that Chantal will have the first one on one date. Three guesses who starts totally flipping out. That’s right; Michelle. She is flipping out not only in her confessional footage, but is clearly disturbed in the footage with the other girls. She is no longer thinking about giving the other girls black eyes, however. Now she is planning for Chantal to be attacked by wild monkeys or better yet, apes. Mauled by a bunch of apes…is that foreshadowing that Chantal will be the next Bachelorette?

Chantal leaves with Brad looking pretty chunky in layered tank tops and what can only  be described as period pants. They leave in a helicopter and head to the longest zip line in the world. It immediately starts raining which spurs voice-over rain analogies from Chantal and Brad over-analyzes why the hell it rains every time he is with Chantal? She goes first and then he follows down the zip line. Then they go together. Then they go again separately. Then they go together. How are they getting back up the mountain each time? Certainly they aren’t walking. I hope she has one of those pads with wings. Then they start making out because Brad is so happy that Chantal made it through the day without crying. Wait! What is that in the tree? Look out! It’s a monkey! Michelle’s evil minion come to wreck the date. Dammit, it was just a regular indigenous monkey. I was sort of hoping for an attack of the killer monkey moment. For the second part of the date, they arrive at a picnic set up next to the water. Of course as soon as they sit down, it starts to pour down rain again. They run to Brad’s conveniently nearby room where Chantal slips into one of Brad’s white, button down, super starched, dress shirts. Brad is clearly aroused and has to excuse himself to um…change clothes. They talk and then make out and she tells him she’s crazy about him. Brad gives her a rose and then she confesses to us that she “fell in love today.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Michelle is thrilled with they “crazy rain” (she should know) and hopes that it ruins Chantal’s date. The group date card arrives. So far, Britt and Alli are the only remaining girls who have not yet had a one on one date. After the card is read, we find out that poor Britt still will have that status. Michelle tells Emily that she doesn’t like Chantal because she finds her to be “over-confident, aggressive and egotistical.” Although poor Emily just looks at her, you can see by her face that she is doing a mental inventory of nearby sharp objects and charting out an escape route. Back in confessional Michelle admits that she hates group dates. She also hates rain. And she really hates that Chantal came home in Brad’s shirt.

Group date time! The girls put on a harness and helmet and head to a cliff where they learn they will repel down a waterfall. Jackie starts hyperventilating and Michelle throws the crazy switch up to the red zone. She is super pissed because Brad vowed to her (he actually pinky swore) after they repelled down a building that he would never repel down anything with anyone other than her ever again. Now I don’t care enough to go look this up, but I think he actually swore he wouldn’t repel down a building. But I’ll go with it and say he swore not to repel down anything. One by one the girls go down, even the terrified Jackie. Finally it is just Brad and Michelle at the top. She’s super annoyed that Brad is being nice to the other girls. She starts hitting him and calls him an asshole until Brad clues in and tells her that they are going to repel down together and that was the plan all along because he would never break a super special pinky swear. Michelle eats it up, puts her crazy back in her pocket and they go over the edge. The second part of the date takes place at a natural hot spring. Michelle watches Brad as he takes off his shirt and appears to have a mini-orgasm. In confessional, she tells us what she wants to do to Brad, but her mouth has to be blurred and they beep it, so I guess we will only have to guess. She also confesses that the other girls are on her nerves and that they just need to go home.

Emily tells Brad that she really likes him but that she has a habit of sabotaging things with guys. She doesn’t want to do that with Brad and he says he won’t let her. Then they make out. Back at the house, there is a beetle in the foyer. Alli flips her lid because she doesn’t like bugs that crunch. She is screaming so loudly that Brad and Michelle can hear her all the way down in the hot spring. Michelle begins her usual crazy talk about sexy dates with Chantal. Brad tells her that she has to trust him and that he is getting tired of her getting pissed all the time. Brad is so irritated that he doesn’t give out a rose on this date. Michelle tells the camera that if Brad can’t make a decision, then she’ll have to take matters into her own hands. If this show was aired live, the phone lines at ABC would be lit up as family members of Brad Womack called in asking for extra security.

For the one on one date with Alli, Brad picks her up on horse back. Only her horse isn’t a full size horse, it’s like a pack mule baby horse. and there are two little midget horses following them. I’m so confused by this. It’s like a LSD dream. Why the hell were two baby horses following them around on their little petite horses? Anyway, they put on helmets and packs and go into a 40 million year old cave with a water and rock floor. Right about the time Brad tells Alli that she’s doing great, she sees a spider. It’s one of those big ass spiders like people used to have to eat on Fear Factor, or the one that the professor of dark magic did the unspeakable spell on in one of the Harry Potter movies. It was definitely in the crunchy category. Then she sees not just one bat, but a gang of bats. As much a I thought she was actually going to throw up on him (that would have been so cool) she makes it through because Brad is there to protect her. They make it to the natural stairs called by locals “the altar.” Brad says, “Oh my god.” Alli says, “Oh my god.” Brad says, “This is awesome.” Alli says, “This is awesome.” Then they toast with something that looks like that V8 fruit blend crap. I think I’d rather eat the spider. For the second half of the date, they dine by this steaming pool. Alli can’t seem to figure out how to eat her chicken. When she asks what it is and Brad says, “it’s chicken” I swear they had to edit out “you dumb ass” right after that because clearly that is what he was thinking. Brad is irritated that they are making small talk instead of having a real conversation. Alli never makes eye contact with him when she talks. Then she describes her last boyfriend. She says that he was great and would be wonderful for someone, but that he just wasn’t the one for her. Brad thinks funny you should say that and tells her that is how he feels about her and that he can’t give her a rose. She takes it well and he walks her out.

Back at the house, Michelle is psycho copying the odd braid that Emily had in her hair earlier in the day. The girls all vote that Alli will not be coming back and soon her bag is wheeled off; confirming their vote. Brad confesses that he’s emotionally spent and needs some down time. But there’s no rest for the weary, as Michelle shows up at his door. Brad is “stunned” or so he tells her at least four times. You can tell he’s a bit freaked out. She starts kissing him and tells him it was good to send Alli home. The she tells him it bothers her that he kept Chantal. She tells him that she’s pissed that she didn’t get a rose on the group date. Then she tells him that the order he should send everyone home will be as follows: Britt, Jackie, Chantal, Shawntel, Emily and Ashley.  But she wants him to figure this out on his own. This time with Brad made Michelle feel confident, but has left Brad feeling a bit out of sorts.

Cocktail party! Brad says that he’s had a rough day, but that he is in the perfect mindset to make decisions. Emily tells him that she feels like an idiot for saying stuff to him about sabotaging things in the past and addresses all of Brad’s concerns without him even having to bring them up. Brad tells Michelle that she’s scaring him. He feels like they are going backward. Michelle says she only told Brad things because he asked her to. She starts crying because she knows she is supposed to be there. She then confesses to the camera that “I want to be married and have more children. I want someone LIKE Brad.” Then Michelle questions if she is crazy. (At this point, I actually screamed at the television. “YES! Can you hear me, Michelle? The answer is YES!”) The girls ask Michelle point-blank if she said something to Brad and she finally admits that she went to Brad’s room. As you can imagine, the other girls are not thrilled with this. Shawntel tells Brad that her feelings have grown and that she is in love with him. Brad asks her why she thinks that and she tells him that it is because this journey is no more about her; it has become about him. He is so thrilled that she told him because she already has a rose and he knows she had nothing to gain by telling him this. Um, am I the only one that remembers that there is another rose ceremony next week? Of course she has something to gain. Good golly, do these people not think ahead?

Rose Ceremony! Five roses are given out as Shawntel does this weird pucker thing with her mouth. Michelle’s face ranges from incredibly nervous to pure sour looking. The roses go to Ashely, Emily, Britt (oh, you should have seen Michelle’s face – he’s not going according to her plan!!!), Shawntel and the final rose goes to…..Michelle. (Chantal looks like she’s going to cry when he give a rose to Michelle. It’s wonderful.) Jackie hugs everyone and Brad walks her to the car. He tells her how great she is and they hug it out. In the car, she says she wasn’t expecting it and that she was in love. She tries to cry, but doesn’t really and then she blames everything on herself.

The remaining girls and Brad toast and he tells them that they are all going to Anguilla! Yay! Wait. Where? Even Brad has to tell the girls they are going to one of the best places in the Caribbean, Anguilla. In case you don’t want to look it up, I looked it up for you. It is one of the Lesser Antilles. It’s just to the east of the Virgin Islands. The exchange rate is fixed to the US dollar at US$1 = EC$2.68 and everyone speaks English. I’m willing to bet that the Bachelor gets plenty of bang for his buck (pun intended).

And that’s what happened on the Bachelor.