It’s all relative

A rough weekend coupled with a rough yesterday morning equals a reflective night. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the feedback I receive on this silly little website I started eight years ago. I read your witty comments, your heartfelt emails and charming Facebook messages and find myself humbled by the assurance of complete strangers.

“We read and write because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering…these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But writing, music, romance, love…these are what we stay alive for.” — Professor John Keating, Dead Poet’s Society

Thank you Vicki for reading my entry on Harry Potter and sending me a poster in the mail. It’s hanging in my office. Thank you Grace for stopping me at church to tell me that your sister Christi is my biggest fan. Please tell her that I’m her biggest fan. Thank you Tracy for sending me a pic of you and Greek Groban at his restaurant watching party on Monday night. Goodness he is handsome!

Thank you all for reading. Thank you for giving me a platform to share my opinions, my stories…my life with you. And even though I make up half of the drama on the infamous Bachelor recaps that were the catalyst of launching this site, thank you for laughing along as I poke fun at my favorite reality TV show.

A great philosopher once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Okay that was Yoda, but my point is that I promise to entertain you to the best of my ability with the hope that when you finish reading the random musings bouncing around in this head of mine, you will feel at least some of the gratitude I feel for you. My cup runneth over.

SIMPLE DISCLAIMER
The following information you are about to read is of personal opinion. However, if you or someone you poked on Facebook happens to personally know, sort of know, is friends with the nephew/former classmate of someone who is obsessed with the Hunger Games trilogy and looks exactly like one of the contestants on the show…none of this is personal and I’m sure they are all lovely people.

We’ve finally reached the ever popular hometown dates. I was super excited at the anticipation of some resident crazies on our television screens! Perhaps we will see stuffed squirrels in the basement or the burial of dead birds in the back yard. Wouldn’t it be fun if someone’s mom demonstrate Pilates on the floor in the living room or maybe Roberto would come back for a cameo in his baseball uniform.

I’m going to need a moment after that last sentence to reflect on the greatest hometown date ever recorded in the history of the Bachelorette. Talk among yourselves. Instead of a topic, I’ll give you a visual:

Si. En fuego.

Alas, there was no Roberto, no dead animals, no weird uncle or wayward brother. Ashley’s wardrobe was uncharacteristically understated and the one thing that sticks out among the families is how charming and warm they all were. Plus, one of the Grobans sort of made me cry.

WHAT THE HECK ABC!?!

Needless to say, the episode was 90 percent boring. It’s hard to fill two hours with conversations and life lessons learned from nice, sweet families. I think the last time that happened on prime time, Laura was running down a hill to the open arms of her Pa and everyone was saying goodnight to John Boy.

Even Ashley seemed disinterested as she sipped a cup of coffee over a meager pile of junk mail in the staged apartment ABC rented for the hour. After packing four scarves and a toothbrush in her tiny rolling suitcase and bidding adieu to her two pound pocket dog, she’s ready to travel the country in search of something that is close enough to love so she can fake it for the contractually obligated first few weeks of the morning talk show circuit. She even provides those of us who haven’t been watching since the Phantom days (remember him?) a run down of the remaining four suitors.

We learn that Groban is a real guy who paints and has long hair. Apparently, this makes him a man and she can definitely see herself living a rich and exciting life among rows and rows and rows of wine vats. Cheers!

She thinks Greek Groban is very sexy and physically has everything she wants. She said they had chemistry and then contradicts herself by later hoping to feel “that connection” when she visits him. However, she and I both have total faith in their pee-soaked love lantern. OPA!

Ashley says…twice…that Ames is unique. Then ABC chose to roll the b-roll package of that awful kiss in the elevator. LYLAS!

Finally, she feels like she’s known JP forever. This makes her feel relaxed and confident in their three week old relationship. She notes for the billionth time that he has a talented tongue. MAZEL TOV!

GREEK GROBAN
Atlanta, Georgia

The Greek One hangs out with a mama duck and her babies by the river before running up to Ashley in the middle of an adjacent meadow. He picks her up, she wraps her legs around his waist and before I can become concerned that her business is going to be displayed for all the world to see, I notice that the girl is wearing pants. And a cardigan.

Something is not right in suburbia. Where are the four-inch heels? Where is the micro mini? Where is the Build-A-Bear skirt? Does that shirt have a back? I don’t get it.

They sit on a picnic table and discuss the day’s festivities which include a trip to the family restaurant and then dinner with the parents. Greek Groban continues to maneuver this weird situation with an equal amount of caution and confidence as Ashley adjusts her bangs.

They head off to Giorgio’s Italian Restaurant which makes me feel like a total chach because I’ve been calling him Greek Groban this entire time. Fortunately, he sets the record straight and confirms that even though they are Greek and eat the eyeballs out of a sheep’s head on Christmas, they do indeed own an Italian restaurant. OPA!

The staff is waiting in anticipation for either the couple to arrive or the early lunch crowd. It’s hard to tell, but what I do know is that they all seem to adore Greek Groban and that one chick had an adorable head band on.

Greek Groban commands the kitchen and invites Ashley to make her own pizza. He instructs her to put all of her favorite ingredients in the pie. She flirtatiously pretends to grab him and put him in her pizza, but she weighs 12 pounds and had trouble lifting his arm, let alone his entire body. I would have kissed him and then immediately spit in the tomato sauce—Greek style. OPA!

This did not deter Greek Groban one bit. Instead, he tells Ashely the most beautiful salad in the world is being held by the most beautiful girl in the world. As I’m about to roll my eyes or stick my finger down my throat, he follows that amazing line by picking up a handful of mozzarella and asking her, “Is it cheesy in here?”

That my dear is how you endear yourself to me. By calling out the cheese. Go on and squirt it straight on to the Ritz cracker with gusto! You go Greek Groban. OPA!

While the duo retires to the outdoor patio to eat their delicious, hand crafted meals, the female staffers have been strategically placed in a drill team line according to height and are asked to make lovey dovey noises on the count of three. They “oooooohhhh” and “aaahhhh” for approximately 12 takes and then return to their morning rituals of buttering bread sticks and filling napkin dispensers.

Ashley notes that Greek Groban seems to be relaxed, happy and more himself than she’s ever seen him and I agree. He had a certain joy that was palpable even on camera. And that spark ignited further when they reached his parents’ home in Cumming, Georgia.

Insert snickers and giggles from those of us with the maturity of 14-year-old boys. I said cumming!

With that said, what an unfortunate name for such a darling little town.

Ashley: “I’m so nervous to meet your parents. But look! I brought wine! From your vineyard!”

Greek Groban is too impressed with the fancy welcome home banner and excited to be reunited with his clan to remind Ashley that the Other Groban is the wine guy. We meet various Greek Grobans, including the mom Elleni, the sister Maria and my favorite father Dimitri. They eat, laugh, eat, drink, eat and promise to throw a huge party for the family when she returns while informing Ashley that Greek Groban loves kids.

Mama Elleni sweeps Ashley away for some alone time and gets right to the point.

Mama: “You get to see wonderful places with my Greek Groban. It is all very fast. My question to you is…are you ready for this?”
Ashley: “Ready for…?”

Mama: “Me? Dimitri? Us? The family? Cousin Niki? Uncle Nick? My sister Toulah? The Kostupolos’ down the street? The Parthenon? The church? Relocating? Here?”
Ashley: “I’m more than willing to relocate and move for my husband.”

The mother is so happy, she rushes off to peel some more potatoes and throw another log in the spit for the pig roast later that night.

Meanwhile, Dimitri and Greek Groban discuss the secret of marriage over cocktails in the study. The best part of this dialog was Dimitri’s thick accent.

Dimitri: “My boy. My son. Every parent wants best for their kids. Is he happy? You like Assley? I dunno?”
Greek Groban: “I was skeptical at first, but I think y’all know me better than anyone in the world. Your input will help me decide.”

Dimitri: “I like Assley. She smart, pretty. It takes time. Don’t rush. It’s not perfect but the beginning should be. That’s what love is all about. Assley is nice girl.”

It’s time for Assley to go now, but the doorbell rings and an entire gaggle of Greek Grobans come traipsing in with babies and food and hugs and kisses and hair touching and plate throwing energy. Uncle Nico pulls out a guitar, napkins are passed around and we have 30 people dancing in the living room. Grandpa Pappou makes it rain singles on Ashley (awkward). He got a paper cut on his finger but Dimitri fixed that right up with a few squirts of Windex.

Ashley escapes out the front door with Greek Groban, they kiss and cheers of OPA can be heard from the front door.

AMES
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

We meet darling Ames standing in front of an adorable cottage, anxiously waiting for Ashley to make her way around the bend made from cobblestones. They run and meet each other in the middle and when Ames picks up the tiny pocket person, his lumberjack flannel rides up to reveal light blue boxers. He loves this shirt, no? It was the same one he wore when he was Brawny on top and Spice Girl on the bottom in Taiwan, but tonight, he’s stuck with Brawny and opted for a more gangsta old school Ludacris from the waist down. Why this is important to mention, I do not know. Mint juleps for everyone!

We meet his sister Serena, his mom Jane, a few dudes and half dozen children. To the untrained eye, one might mistake this gathering for an advertisement showcasing the fall 2011 line for Ralph Lauren. Everyone was just so pretty. And smart. Emily Post would be proud. Like Ashley, I would have kept my mouth shut and just sipped my mint julep while trying hard not to bring up anything funny I just happened to see on The Soup. I think my sarcasm would not bode well on the estate. Then I would have slipped away to the bathroom and memorized whatever popped up on the homepage of CNN from my smart phone.

Ames tells the tales of their adventures in Asia. The brother is quick to point out that Ames just ADORES Asia and the Mom is glad he looks happy and healthy. Serena is a bit more reserved and requests a private audience with Miss Ashley by the pool. The indoor pool.

Great. Now I can’t get that song from Annie out of my head… “I think I’m gonna like it here!”

In a nutshell, and rightly so, Serena is concerned that she doesn’t see a spark in Ashley. In her defense, Ashley admits that there hasn’t been a spark but she really thinks Ames is cool and digs the way he dresses and makes her laugh. This sends a major red flag to Serena who immediately tells Ashley to keep peeling the onion layers and then runs to tell her brother to pull up his pants and turn on the charm because Ashley is not feeling it. She instructs him to go “full on Ames.”

This Ames isn’t full-on Ames? Now that’s something I’d like to see!

Later, Jane reveals to us and Ashley that Ames’ father died when he was 10 and then his step-father later died of cancer. That poor Mom! That poor family! Obviously, this has shaped him into who he is today and why he may be moving slower than the other suitors. Then she tells Ashley that he was always there for her during the tough times.

I heart Ames.

He takes Ashley to his favorite tree for a picnic and begins to pour on the compliments. He loves her energy, intelligence, independence and sense of humor. Then he talks about how he was the unpopular kid in school but he embraces his nerdiness with a certain passion.

Ashley: “You and are the same.”
Ames: “I will take that as a compliment. Isn’t it nice when you don’t have to stretch yourself to have a good time?”

Ashley: “I think you’re cool.”
Ames: “Well, I appreciate that. There’s an Italian Renaissance way of being romantic. They call it sprezzatura, which means that you try and be as romantic as possible, but through your ordinary life.”

Ashley: “You mean like how Greek Groban has an Italian restaurant?”
Ames: “If that makes sense to you, then yes.”

Then they shared a kiss that looked just like the one Tasha Keasler and that boy from Mrs. Gaddis’ class shared when they got married on the Hallsville Elementary School playground in first grade. I was a witness, so I know.

Ames continues in full-on mode by taking Ashley on a jaunty carriage ride around Chadds Ford. Fifty bucks says that it was the ABC intern’s idea to have real horsemen in powdered wigs drive the buggy. Another 50 bucks says that Ames’ dad’s name was Chadd and he owned all the fords in Colonial New England.

GROBAN
Sonoma, California

Bless Groban’s heart, he’s wearing the grey Levi jeans again. At this point, all I can say is that the ABC wardrobe department is so impressed that they actually found a pair of pants from 1989 without using a time machine that BY GOLLY they are going to make him wear them all the live long day.

The ABC audio crew cues up some romantic cello music as b-roll footage of voluptuous grapes, perfectly manicured vineyard rows and Groban walking among several towers of wine barrels. Ashley is eager to get her drink on, offering to stick a straw she brought from home directly down into the vat hole. Groban laughs, suggesting she swirl, sniff and sip from a glass as he explains the complexity of the bouquet. Ashley nods her head, sips and says something about cherries and tobacco before telling him that her mother would LOVE this place.

Groban: “She can visit during the holidays!”

Way to set up boundaries early Groban.

Since it’s raining, the intern is forced to move the vineyard picnic to the porch of a quaint log cabin. Groban talks about how his Dad would have loved Ashley. He warns her that he hardly ever brings women home to meet his Mom and sister and that he really hopes this works out and they end up liking her. Otherwise, it doesn’t work for him.

Ashley: “This process has put me in touch with the emotional Groban. The introspective one that wears boat shoes and grey Levis. I’m very nervous to meet his mom and sister.”

They arrive at a little house with a red door, complete with white wicker furniture and seasonal appropriate throw pillows. As evidence by the garden, this must be where all the tulips prefer to grow when not in Holland. It was simply delightful.

Right out of the gate, the sister Julia peppers Ashley with questions:

Julia: “What was the first thing that you noticed about Groban? It was the hair wasn’t it?”
Ashley: “It’s ever so dreamy.”

Julia looks to the Mom and shouts “I knew it!” before telling Ashley that Groban’s hair is his thing. We learn that Julia signed him up for the show, yet is very protective of her brother’s heart getting smashed to pieces.

Calm down Julia. He could always write a song about this experience that hits number one on the Easy Listening charts. I think Groban is going to be okay when Ashley chooses JP.

Julia takes her wine and her brother into the kitchen for all the juicy details. Groban admits that he has let his emotional guard down and it is both scary and exciting.

Groban then has some alone time with his Mom. He tells her that he watched their marriage for many years and hopes to model the good example. Then he apologizes for not being a better son during the hard times. The Mom accepts his apology and shares that the Dad’s birthday is the next day and he is certainly looking down and smiling.

WHAT THE HECK AGAIN ABC?! Are these tears welling up in my eyes? COME ON! Where are the swimming pools? Where are the abs? Can I get a helicopter or some inappropriate groping in a hot tub?! I don’t know what to do with these emotions when I’m watching the Bachelor franchise. Could I be actually feeling something for this guy?

Strange and unusual.

Groban: “Dad is always with me. He’s everything that I am today. I know that he’s proud of me, Mom said. I miss him. I do.”

I cried with Groban. His Dad raised him up to more than he could be and I cried. I wasn’t going to admit it until someone at my watching party sniffed. I looked over and we were all snotty with mascara running. We paused, searched for Kleenexes, settled for toilet paper and agreed that this was better than any ab shot we could have seen.

Okay, it was just as nice as any ab shot we could have seen.

JP
Roslyn, New York

JP greets his favorite gal pal wearing a gray v-neck t-shirt, jeans and a huge smile. He decides to take a risk by planning a date at the place he frequented the most as a child – the roller rink.

Ashley OMGs for 30 seconds before confirming that this date is indeed per-fact and I have to agree. There’s something about the ambiance of an old rink that brings back the good old days of yore. Remember ALL SKATE, requesting “I Just Called To Say I Love You” and the inevitable crash and burn while you shot the duck around the curve? Ah memories.

I’m pretty sure JP laced up Ashley’s skates which I think is precious. Then by using only his voice, he utters, “Let there by light!” and a vintage yet janked up disco ball from the 70s drops from the ceiling as the mellow sounds and poignant lyrics of REO Speedwagon swells our heart with the promise of how he’s going to keep on loving me.

Ashley feels like she’s in seventh grade and sort of wishes she had a super cool pom pom on the tongue of her right skate made of yarn. JP busts it when they decide to REVERSE SKATE mid song and becomes extremely embarrassed.

They shove a discarded crate to the center of the rink, right under the limp disco ball and talk about family and relationships and JP’s confidence on this wild ride. He pours her some wine in one of those waxy paper cups from the concession stand and hands her a pretzel with some cheesy dipping sauce.

The most per-fact date ever!

JP: “My family is my world. I’m excited for you to meet them.”
Ashley: “How many girls have you taken home before?”

JP: “Well…not many. About four.”
Ashley: “Wow. That’s not many. I mean, for you.”

JP: “What do you mean?”
Ashley: “Oh nothing. It’s just your age. That’s not a lot for your age.”

JP: “Huh?”
Ashley: “Well, you’re so old. I would think that being over 30, and never married, you would have brought more girls home, you know?”

JP: “Wow.”
Ashley: “I don’t mean anything by it. Just the fact that you’re old and I expected more lady friends parade in an out of Rosslyn in the years and years and years that you’ve been single. Understand?”

JP talks about how his last relationship changed him so much and that if anything, he’s learned to open up, be honest and put his heart completely on the line.

JP: “I know that in the end, someone is going to get hurt.”
Lincee: “Then perhaps you should get out from underneath the disco ball that is hanging by the original thread. Just a thought.”

They leave for his parents’ house and JP’s Mom is literally shaking with excitement over seeing her son. She fills them up with enough carbs to last them through the closing ceremonies at Fiji.

Then the red flags start popping up for me.

Exhibit A:
Mom: “It’s not hard for JP to fall in love. He’s vulnerable and easily hurt. I don’t want to see him heart broken like he was before.”

Exhibit B:
JP: “I never want to feel that way again.”

Exhibit C:
Brother: “JP had another relationship that broke his heart. It was painful to watch.”

Exhibit D:
Everyone in some way, commented on how they couldn’t believe that JP had fallen so fast for Ashley.

If I had to guess, I’d say that JP’s heart was broken and that the ENTIRE family reeled in the aftermath. After coping through the initial depression for a few months, JP thought it would be a great idea to sign up for a reality TV show. Eager that their loved one was no longer moping around the construction site, the family was happy to learn he was going to get out there and experience life in exotic lands and meet interesting people. Assuming he’d sign up for Survivor or Amazing Race, they were concerned to learn he had been chosen to be a suitor on the Bachelorette. But how bad could it be? These things never, EVER work out. And besides, he’s obviously too old for the girl to choose. HAVE FUN JP! SEND A POST CARD OF THOSE SAFFRON DUDES FROM THAILAND!

Needless to say, the family is a little concerned that JP is ready to pop the question if given the opportunity. Trying to deflect some of the attraction, the Mom decides to pull out JP’s poster-sized bar mitzvah photo from the late 80s. He turns a lovely shade of crimson as the brother points, laughs and calls him Kirk Cameron.

Ashley probably does not know who Kirk Cameron is and I weep for the future of this country.

Rose Ceremony
As we return from commercial break, all is in sync with the world again. Ashley exits a black limo onto the freshly watered pavement at the Bachelor mansion. We choose to not comment on Harrison’s hideous tie and instead bask in the glory that Our Host is gracing us with his presence. Ashley has returned to her micro mini dress, recently whitened teeth and fresh hair extensions. It’s good to have our girl back.

OHCH: “Last time we were here…”
Ashley: “I had 12 guys following me around!”

OHCH: “So many devastating moments…”
Ashley: “OMG! I almost forgot about Bentley!”

Harrison calmly turns to the producers with a sly grin on his face. The ABC intern rushes over to hand him an envelope.

Ashley: “What’s that?”
OHCH: “Oh nothing. I just bet my next paycheck that I could get you to mention Bentley’s name in less than two minutes by using no more than 10 words. Don’t worry about it. It’s a gift. So, let’s get on with this, shall we? ABC has 20 minutes to kill before the next commercial. You’re going to have to remind us of all the dates the audience just watched an hour ago. Redundant, I know. I told ABC I could be witty and charming for 20 minutes, but I’d have to negotiate a bonus.”

Ashley: “So we should ask Lincee to skip to the rose part?”
OHCH: “Indeed.”

Ashley tells the boys that she has no regrets, but it is hard to say goodbye. Roses go to Groban (who was sporting a new hair cut!), JP
and Greek Groban.

Ames’ sweet face goes through all five stages of grief in a matter of moments. Shock, denial, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Whether it was the reality of rejection setting in or the discovery of one horrendous lacy back of Ashley’s frock…we’ll never know. She leads him to the rejection bench. Even though he’s dressed head to toe in a fly khaki suit, he sits and gazes into her eyes.

Ames: “I’m typically composed, but right now I’m not. It’s been beautiful and full of unexpected moments even more poetic than I could have ever imagined. I’ll remember it every moment of my life.”

I think we can all agree that Ames dodged a bullet.

With no hug or hand shake, Ashley escorts Ames to the rejection limo.

Ames: I feel numb. I was hoping to share a lifetime of adventures with a beautiful woman and now I’m sharing it with myself, which is less enticing.”

NEVER FEAR AMES! There’s always the Bachelor Pad!

How long before Michelle Money hops on that train? I give it two episodes.

Next week, we explore the tropical islands of Fiji, shirtless Grobans and the inevitable forgo card dates. Here’s hoping there’s at least one hot tub. OPA!

Again, thanks for reading and hanging in there with me. I will do my best to never post a day late again. You guys rock.

All about the shame, not the fame,

Lincee

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