Well, here we are. We’ve enjoyed yet another most controversial season of the Bachelor ever and I don’t think we’re any better for it. Engagement-bound Brad Womack, our two-time bachelor from my beloved Austin, Texas, heads into the final episode ready to break one heart and guard and protect another. Thanks to all of you or literally making this my best blogging season ever. I greatly appreciate every one of you who takes the time out of your day to read what makes it from my brain onto the page. I take as much from this as you get out of it. I hope you will all stick around for my off season posts. More about that later. First, a couple of housekeeping items and then the big recap.
Our big winner from the metaphor contest last week is (drum roll) none other than our gay friend from South Beach, Derek. His “watching Brad kiss Emily is like watching straight men dance” metaphor was simple, to the point, and something we can all picture. Thank you for all of your entries. This one made me laugh out loud and that’s what it takes to win. Send me your address, Derek, and I’ll get you a signed Lone Star six pack holder. I also owe one more to the guy who sent me the picture of Emily’s shorts last week. Be patient, I’m drinking as fast as I can. I’ll get both out next week and I’ll expect a picture on my Facebook Guy in Austin fan page of you holding the aforementioned prize.
Incidentally, I did want to clear up the fact that every simile is indeed a metaphor but every metaphor is not necessarily a simile. It’s the presence of the word “like” or “as” that makes a particular metaphor a simile. Just like every square is a rhombus but not every rhombus is a square or every Bachelor is a douchebag but not every douchebag is a Bachelor rings true, it is the same with metaphors and similes. With that point made, let’s get to it.
We begin as we always do with sweeping vistas of the exotic destinations visited this season as we listen to the sweeping, romantic music in the background. We are reminded of Brad’s climb from the depths of emotional paralysis and isolation into his current stage of semi-emotional, canned therapy banter and dimwitted sincerity. He’s “grown up” and he’s “ready” for love and commitment and there are two very different women left to take a shot at being the potential temporary fiancé-in-waiting in order to possibly become the first Mrs. Stephen Bradley Pickelsimer Womack . . . maybe.
We see zip line dates, emotional break downs, romantic walks, and moving fireside chats. We see Chantal’s red bathing suit and Emily’s white shorts (thank you, editing guy) and relive Brad’s draft picks as we prepare for the final selection in mountainous Cape Town, South Africa where we will finally meet the Womacks and imagine Brad’s sisters-in-law complaining to their husbands behind closed doors about ogling Emily as they let out a “come on, honey, that’s my brother’s potential temporary fiancé-in-waiting in order to possibly become the first Mrs. Stephen Bradley Pickelsimer Womack. Besides, no one is prettier than you” all the while praying that Emily will bring her daughter over to their backyard pools for some play time.
Brad broods in capris pants and a t-shirt on the bastion of Bachelor brooding: the balcony of his hotel. His family emerges from the hotel landscaping like Ewoks from the forest. An emotional Brad urges them on with a “hurry, please, truly” and we know he means it. He really does. Truly. Brad’s gray pearl snap shirt flutters with anticipation as he emotionally hugs his mother Pamela, his twin Chad, and his chubby, less appealing brother Wes.
Learning from past focus groups, the show cuts immediately to the chase as Brad drops some heavy—yet predictable—proposal talk. Brad mentions both women but it’s as clear as the South African sunset that Emily is going to be the big winner. Still in denial, I popped a Lone Star and prayed for Chantal to rally. “Perhaps her dad will show up and offer Brad a new car and a trip to Fire Island with him after his engagement to Chantal,” I thought. Fat chance. No, that’s not a fat joke. It’s a coincidental choice of words.
We get the usual reaction shots from Brad’s family as his mother, Pam, tells us that if she smells a rat, she’ll point it out to Brad. She was actually a very attractive woman and seemed very sincere. I’m about to give the entire family a hard time, but they are all lovely and sincere people. I suppose they were used to the drill and appreciated the free trip to the exotic location, but they seemed to have Brad’s interest in mind. My mind flashed back to Fivehead’s attention-seeking sister and I dreaded next season even before it became official. Of course, I’ll discuss that later.
CHANTAL MEETS THE FAM
Chantal is the first up to bat to meet the Womacks and as she rings the bell Brad leaps from the sofa. Presumably, he wanted to just get it over with so he could bring Emily over to meet her potential in-laws, but I tried to remain optimistic. I actually felt bad for Chantal. The poor girl talked like she had a shot at the prize but we all know she slowly but certainly proved herself to be an emotionally immature bag of nerves over the past ten weeks. Not even Harrison was tapped to make an early appearance and pretend like she was in the running.
Arriving empty handed, Chantal enters after dropping a Womack-esque “please do” on the family. She meets Wes and his wife Dylan, Chad and his wife Prima, and Pamela. A nervous Chantal tells the family what we’ve been watching for the past 10 weeks and the family’s spokesperson and self-appointed inquisitor, Wes, busts her metaphorical balls for a bit before dropping the meaningless adjectives “lively,” “vibrant,” and “attractive” in an effort to be nice. That was the equivalent of a woman responding, “she has a really great personality” or “she’s super fun” when being asked to describe one of her frumpy friends to others who don’t know her.
Chad and Wes carry their wives' judgment about Chantal’s divorce—we didn’t see that on camera, but trust me, it happened—into their ocean side rock pow wow and they all “really do” and “truly” each other as Brad pretends like Chantal has a shot. Mom bats clean up as she drops a “how did you fall in love so quick” on Chantal. We assume she was referring to falling in love with Brad and not Chantal’s starter husband.
Chantal delivers a well-rehearsed answer to a polite but unimpressed Pamela. Clearly, being on her own for the past six months after her failed marriage in her ready made, close to mommy and daddy’s house condo has taught her a lot. Chantal sums it up by referring to her relationship with Brad as “La La Land” and attempts to conjure up moments of normalcy. Pamela does a respectful and wonderful job of playing along and drops an “I truly do” proving that Brad’s diction is indeed hereditary. Disappointed that she didn’t get fed, Chantal leaves to Brad’s “extraordinary woman” overtures and returns to her hotel to steam her Carmen Miranda dress in anticipation of the rose ceremony.
My thoughts on Chantal. Look, I’ve given her a hard time about the weight gain, but that’s more of a statement about the state of our “reality” shows than it is about her natural body weight. She eats when she’s nervous and she drinks beer. Big deal. I have and do find her attractive but she is hardly mature enough to handle a marriage. I believe her early divorce is an indicator of that and while it shouldn’t define her permanently, she’s clearly demonstrated that she’s not past the issues that come with the end of a marriage. Six months is not long enough to “start over” and it sure as hell isn’t long enough to “start over” on a reality dating show. I’m certain her father can give her tips on dating eligible men when she returns home.
EMILY MEETS THE FAM
Ding dong. Emily arrives with either a bundle of flowers wrapped in tissue paper or a giant hoagie sandwich from Subway for Brad’s family to enjoy as she gets to know them. She looked lovely in her conservative purple dress as she nervously meets mom and the rest of family.
Bitchy Wes describes her as “more reserved than Chantal.” Come on. More reserved would have been the last thing on my description list if Emily walked through my door. Of course, his wife was probably within ear shot and it would have been inconsiderate of him to drop an “Emily is smoking hot. I pray that my brother marries her” on camera. Wes wouldn’t have been getting any until next Arbor Day. I’ll give him credit for playing his marriage cards appropriately. He’s clearly been trained and broken like that horse that Brad Pitt saddled and rode into submission as Julia Ormond watched from afar in Legends of the Fall.
Showing that being unprepared and uninformed is a wonderful way to make an ass out of himself, Wes expresses deep concern about Little Ricki’s father’s opinion about Emily moving to Austin. Cruel set up and Brad knows it. After wiping the egg from Wes’ sunburned face, Emily handles it wonderfully and finally shuts Wes up while simultaneously winning the hearts and minds of the sisters-in-law and mom as she pulls out her trump card.
Suck on that, Chantal. Game over. Oh, and Ashley H. is the next Bachelorette.
Watching Emily drop that story was like watching someone fishing with dynamite. Somewhere in a South African resort room Chantal felt a strange twinge nipping at the back of her neck. It was all over but the crying at that point and I wondered how the next hour and a half would be filled.
Brad and his brothers venture out like sea lions to lie amongst the rocks on the shore as Emily takes mom aside in order to add suspenders to the belt she’s already tightened around the family pants. Despite presumably knowing their names, Brad refers to his brothers as “buddy” and tells them that he’s “one happy dude” while again tipping his hand that Emily is getting the Neil Lane sponsorship ring. To be fair, it had been a long time since Brad had seen his brothers. Perhaps their names were not on instant recall. Hell, “Wes” doesn’t even rhyme with “Brad.” And “Chad”? Well, that doesn’t rhyme with “Wes” either.
Emily secures permanent babysitting privileges with mom as she adds glue and nails to the belt and suspenders she’s already placed around the family pants by referring to Brad as her “angel.” I think we all knew that she was probably referring to that ridiculous cross tattoo on his back but mom has probably not seen that and begins to cry at the thought of Brad fluttering around in a silky, white gown with wings and a halo.
Like Brad, she forgot how to pronounce that other girl’s name. You know, the one who just visited the house and wanted to marry her son or something. The entire deal is sealed when Brad, dressed in the same outfit as his mother, meets with the family and the sisters-in-law give their ringing endorsement to Emily instead of that other girl who just visited the house and wanted to marry their brother-in-law or something. Frankly, I was impressed. Emily didn’t even have to break out the white shorts.
CHANTAL FINAL DATE
Excited for the free adventure but in dire need of getting it over with, Brad meets an oblivious Chantal as he duck walks (WOMACK!) across the beach in his Capri pants and linen shirt. Chantal, who looked pretty, gives him a big, fat hug. No, that’s not a fat joke. It’s a coincidental choice of words.
Brad and Chantal chew the fat for a while before putting on wet suits and accentuating their chests. That’s not a fat joke, either. It’s a coincidental choice of words. They watch sharks for a while and in a cruel reenactment of what’s about to happen to her Chantal watches as a beautiful, elegant, overpowering, savvy, experienced, great white shark toys with a chubby seal before devouring it. That shark might as well have been wearing a pair of tight white shorts. I like Chantal and I think the blog will support that. However, Brad’s head was clearly elsewhere along with the rest of his anatomy. Chantal is a nice person and despite the hate mail I’ve been getting about this subject, she’s no Emily.
Chantal shows up in casual attire looking pretty for dinner. After all, purple is the color of royalty and she’s trying to be Brad’s queen. Brad just wears a t-shirt. They toast and if you looked close enough you could almost see the guilt oozing from Brad’s pores as Chantal presented him with her final “please pick me” gift.
Chantal presents Brad with a map of the world marked with all of the places that giant, fake ABC plane has landed this season. Brad takes it and carefully colors in a heart over the place where he met Chantal’s father. Chantal’s letter makes it crystal clear that she wants to potentially be the next possible Mrs. Womack. Props to her for going for broke. It’s not like she can say she didn’t leave it all on the field. Oh, and I won’t even mention the ridiculous “Channie” nickname that Brad threw around. His penchant for doing that is more annoying than his “I really dos” “I mean thats” and “please dos”. I’m reminded of when Tom Cruise used to refer to Nicole Kidman as “Nick” when was married to her before he became a victim of his sycophantic inner circle and went absolutely crazy.
FINAL DATE WITH EMILY
Realizing she has it in the bag, Emily leaves her white shorts back at the hotel and shows up in a long purple shirt and a pair of boots. God bless her. Really. I mean that. I truly do. I wondered if Emily donated the shorts to a charity auction for a starving African village or gave them to that fat guy that helped Roz pack her s*it after getting kicked of the show as a tip for carrying her luggage around for ten weeks. Either way, I’m certain those shorts have a lot of life ahead of them. Annnnyyyhoooo . . .
Brad and “Em”—so annoying—take the 50th helicopter ride of the season in order to discuss what it means to be a parent as Brad pretends to know what she’s talking about. Emily refers to herself as “painfully insecure” before they retire to their respective suites to dress for dinner in Cape Town at the One and Only Resort. Brad uses the word “father” 100 times in a ten second period in an attempt to sweep Emily into his grasp. She doesn’t buy it and pushes back on him questioning his understanding of child care. “It’s not always fun,” she drops as Brad fights back the urge to explode, opting instead for an “I have a pretty good idea” what it would be like.
Before getting frustrated and breaking into an uncontrollable sweat, Brad let’s Emily know she’s close to making him mad. Allow me to translate in guy terms what was going on there. Brad went into the conversation thinking that his sincerity and plea for fatherhood would impress and beholden Emily to him. He expected her to fawn like a school girl who has been asked to the prom by the quarterback. When she didn’t he felt “slapped in the face.” Say what you want about Emily but she’s been consistent all season. She’s not a puddle of mush when Brad talks to her. Frankly, I think that’s a big part of the attraction—well, that and the white shorts but that’s not a factor here.
In an effort to create false doubt, the scene is edited to make us believe that Brad left stomping down the hall like a five year old taking his toys from the playground because he didn’t get his way. Props to Emily for driving the point home and looking hot while she did it.
THE LEAD UP
After brief, time filling recaps of Chantal and Emily, we see Brad duck walking (WOMACK!) through the resort grounds pondering his future and regretting the fact that he has to film while his brothers try and take money from Harrison and Neil Lane in a time-passing game of Gin Rummy.
Winnings in hand after throwing a serious knock on Harrison, Neil Lane saunters over to Womack’s suite to allow ABC to fulfill the product placement obligation that he locked up in last year’s Gin Rummy tournament. Brad opens the door and proceeds to “thank you” “please do” and “so much” Neil Lane who looked a lot like Neil Sedaka.
Brad picks out the hardware as visions of one armed African teenagers toiling in the mud under armed guard in search of blood diamonds for Neil Lane to bring home wandered through my mind. After making his selection, Brad thanks Neil Lane for the free ring and assures him that Emily will meet her contractual obligation of wearing it for at least six months. Neil thanks Brad and returns to the Gin Rummy table where the ice cube in his scotch has barely begun to melt.
Chantal and Emily pack their bags and pretend to write something in their fake journals as Brad covers himself in Axe Body Spray after shaving his chest and using a deep exfoliating shower scrub and having a protein shake before putting on his Transporter suit, crying in the limo, and making his way to the flowery I’ll dump you first and propose to you second platform.
Chantal dons her freshly steamed, dump-appropriate, black Carmen Miranda dress as Emily simultaneously puts on her proposal-appropriate pale pink gown and prepares to get her free yet contractually obligated engagement ring. Chantal arrives first and Harrison does his best to maintain his Gin Rummy face so as not to tip her off that she’s about to be dumped like a load of used tires into a landfill.
By the way, why were there no pre-engagement meetings with Harrison on the balcony of the hotel? Harrison’s interviewing skills are second-to-none and that interview always served to build the tension before the big selection. His season has been lackluster and disappointing. He’s been more underutilized than Charlie Sheen’s condom stash this season and ABC should know that the fans take notice. Still, it’s impossible to feel sorry for the guy. I’d love to get paid to go on vacation and show up in order to remind everyone that only one rose remains.
CHANTAL GETS DUMPED
As Chantal walks steadily toward her demise and, sadly, the end of her 15 minutes until she reappears on Bachelor Pad 2, it was difficult not to feel sorry for her as all of her misguided optimistic statements echoed above the music. It’s the Ides of March and she might as well have been Julius Caesar. As she approaches a nervous, but determined Brad pulls on his collar and puffs more than Rodney Dangerfield doing stand up.
Brad reminds Chantal that he loves her father in a way that only two heterosexual men in the midst of a gay denial panic can love each other. He makes her promise to drop a penny in the butt crack of the homoerotic statute in her parents’ stadium of a house in hopes that the wish it carries with it will come true for her. Chantal regrets sleeping with Brad and feels stupid for making him a map of giant, fake plane destinations as she begins to come unglued but attempts to hold it together long enough to make it to the limo with her dignity tucked somewhere in her tightly fitted dress.
Brad overdoes it with the “are you okays” and the “do you want to talks” but genuinely seemed bummed out. Look, that had to be tough, but going with the “you’re great but Emily is better” speech wouldn’t have been the direction I would have taken that conversation. Chantal handles the dumping with dignity and laments not buying a pair of white denim shorts on her way to the Seattle airport 10 weeks ago.
Note to Chantal: You have a nice place in a great city and parents with the resources to get you to where you want to be in life. Go home, regroup, and take some time to get your head and your body healthy before trying to get remarried again. You freaked out a little this season, but that’s understandable and you didn’t embarrass yourself to the point of no return. As much as it hurts now, you’ll be happy for Brad and Emily one day whether they make it for good or not. Chin up, buttercup. “Crying is the refuge of plain women but the ruin of pretty ones,” said Oscar Wilde. You’re pretty. Don’t cry. Oh, and don’t waste your time on Bachelor Pad 2. If you want to sleep with Wes Hayden, just book a flight to Austin and call me. I’ll point you in his general direction and he’ll do the rest.
The limo drives away as Brad resumes his post on the platform of love or whatever and waits for Emily to arrive. Chantal makes a mental note to commission her father’s homoerotic sculpture artist to make a marble rendition of a shirtless, naked man opening a limo door entitled “New Beginnings” before calling her father and letting him know she’s going to need a bigger place to live.
Harrison and his giant watch escort a stunning Emily to her post amongst the flora and fauna of the South African coast. Brad pulls at his collar and huffs and puffs like he’s been stung by a hoard of bees. She calms him and reassures him, certain of what’s about to happen.
Brad makes a prepared, albeit, eloquent and sincere speech about his feelings for Emily and even manages to throw in the daughter for good measure. Simultaneously, millions of wine soaked women at watching parties across the country sighed a sigh of breathless romanticism as Brad put the free, contractually bound ring upon Emily’s hot, southern hand after hearing the sweetest “yes” he’s ever heard in his life.
As the cameras panned back in an effort to inject upon them a modicum of false privacy, Brad and Emily reveled in their moment glad that they finally reached the end in preparation for their beginning.
At that moment, it was hard, if not impossible to be cynical. Say what you want about the show and its formula. Say what you want about the validity of finding life long love after just a few weeks of serial dating. Say what you want about the character of the people involved. Say what you want about the Bachelor of breakups vs. marriages. Hell, say what you want about people like me who write this drivel.
Those moments—moments where the entire world and all of the forces in it have seemingly conspired in order to remind you that you indeed have a place in the universe---moments where nothing else beyond what lies in front of your face matters—moments where a true, unabashed, undisturbed, genuine peace enters your heart and everything seems to function perfectly like a newly constructed, well-designed machine with unquestionable efficiency and beauty—are indeed more rare than true, unpolluted love itself.
That was one of those moments for Emily and Brad and I say let them enjoy it. White shorts or not, I sat back and took it in, happy that they made it and envious of what they believed they found. Isn’t that why we all watch? Isn’t that what we believe in? Isn’t that the source of our laughter? Indeed it is. Indeed it is.
Well, there it is. With the final Amazing Count at 140 and the Journey Count at 27 we finish another season of the Bachelor. Incidentally, that’s 12.7 Amazings per show, or one Amazing every 9.5 minutes. That’s also 2.5 Journeys per show, or one Journey every 49 minutes.
Look for my After the Final Rose Post on Thursday, March 17 and send me your ideas for Off Season Posts. Thank you all—every one of you—for reading this season. Stay in touch. Take care of yourselves. Until then, if you need me, I’ll be scouring local Austin bars looking for Emily. DP