Welcome back, Readers. It’s Episode 9 of the most dramatic Bachelor season in the history of Bachelor seasons. Well, at least until next season. Over exaggeration aside, we’re headed to South Africa this week along with Brad and the final three ladies in search of true love or a connection or a journey worth taking or a something ‘huge’ or whatever Brad calls it this week. With just Emily, Chantal, and Ashley remaining, it’s Fantasy Suite time and we all waited in breathless anticipation to see who would be the first to put out in hopes of winning the grand prize.
Before we begin, I realize that I owe you the results of the Brad Womack Haiku Contest. First of all, thanks to all of you who submitted an entry via the comment section, Facebook, or email. All entries were strongly considered and my decision was a difficult one. For those of you with less than the 15 minutes worth of patience it takes to read this blog, simply scroll down to the end of this entry to see the results and the fabulous prize.
For those of you who have taken your Ativan, I’ll announce the results at the end. All in all, the contest provided many laughs for me. I appreciate it. I really do. Truly. I mean that. Now, can I give you a recap? Thank you. I meant that. I really did. No doubt about it.
On another note, tomorrow, March 2nd is Texas Independence Day. That’s a big deal here in the Lone Star State. Don’t forget to drink a beer or two for me. With that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Yogi Berra once quipped, “this is like déjà vu all over again.” The same could be said about the first 15 minutes of this week’s episode. Back in New York we see Brad brooding and packing while sporting his first of three long underwear shirts. I suppose the Manhattan Fruit of the Loom Outlet Store held a sale which Brad attended after kicking Shawntel to the curb despite meeting her formaldehyde-loving family in Chico, California and then dragging her back across the North American landscape in order to dump her and send her back to her formaldehyde-loving family in Chico, California.
Brad busts out the Church of the Latter Day Saints Thesaurus he found in his hotel nightstand and proceeds to use every synonym for the word “excited” in order to adequately describe his feelings. I turned to my personal thesaurus and yelled every synonym for the word “bored” at my television before freeing up a hand and popping the top off my first Lone Star of the evening. “Get on the plane, A-hole!”
We relive the same detail as Episode 8 Brad’s “journey” with Chantal, Emily, and Ashley and see each in a positive and negative light in an attempt to make us wonder who’s on the bubble this week. Is it squealing Ashley and her giant forehead and fake dentist degree? Is it the human roller coaster that is Chantal and her recognizable weight gain? Or is it the lovely and stable yet emotionally distant Emily? I was already on my second Lone Star.
After another few minutes of recycled footage and audio coupled with unedited shots of Brad pretending to think while looking out the window of a South African Air jet for the entire 15 hour flight, we finally land in South Africa. I knew this because of the terribly expensive ABC graphic showing the fake plane headed from New York to its destination and also because of the canned National Geographic footage of the indigenous wildlife and bongo music that would be—you guessed it—recycled for the remaining hour and forty minutes of the show.
After artfully describing South Africa as a “vast land full of exotic animals” (perhaps he also had the Church of Latter Day Saints Almanac) we see Brad brood some more in flip flops as he arrives at the Lion Sands Wild Game Preserve in Sabi Sands and prepares to view some tail.
CHANTAL FANTASY DATE
Looking ridiculous and knowing it, Brad leaves his bungalow dressed in a green, multi-pocketed safari shirt and a foolish looking safari hat. I imagine the pockets were for the condoms and wet wipes doled out by the show’s production crew in anticipation of the Fantasy Suite dates this week. That beats carrying a satchel, especially in the event of an animal attack. I’d hate to see Brad tangled in his man bag while trying to evade a charging Rhinoceros, for instance. Speaking of a rhinoceros, Brad’s first date is with the emotional and physical roller coaster we’ve come to know as Chantal, although Brad seems to still think her name is “Shon-tail.” Perhaps he was being optimistic about the impending overnight.
After applying his Nonoxynol-9 infused Axe Body Spray, Brad arrives to pick up the least likely of the women to contract a sexually transmitted disease this week, yet the most likely to pass one on to the girls in her wake. Congrats on drawing the longest straw in the boarding area at JFK Airport, Chantal. Oh, and congrats at getting the first crack at Brad’s longest straw this week. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. We assume she threw her weight behind the victory.
Chantal awaits Brad in jean shorts and the female version of Brad’s safari shirt, making him look even more ridiculous than when he was the only one wearing it. They were like a South African version of that overweight couple we see at every theme park who, despite being childless, go to the park anyway. In a show of solidarity and a display of the uncontroverted evidence of their otherwise sedentary lifestyle they wear matching t-shirts and fanny packs while holding hands and enjoying the rides.
Chantal hits Brad with a “nice hat” as his jeep pulls in front of her. “You can’t be in the bush without a safari hat,” he replies. Clearly, that was plug for the maker of the condoms in his shirt pockets. After all, disease is rampant in sub-Saharan Africa and it’s imperative to always wear a “safari hat” when entering the “bush.” I’d be willing to bet that Harrison had a bowl full of “safari hats” on the coffee table in the Mandela Suite at whatever luxury high rise hotel he chose to stay at in lieu of the game preserve.
Brad dismounts the jeep with the same grace he dismounted his horse a few weeks ago and announces to an inexplicably shocked Chantal that he has a safari planned for the first part of the day. Why was she shocked? Going to a wild game preserve in South Africa and not expecting to go on a safari is like going to Charlie Sheen’s house and not expecting to see hookers and blow all over the place. By the way, it is me or is that guy a hell of a lot more stable when he’s drunk and high? The guy makes Lindsey Lohan look like the Dalai Lama for crying out loud.
I mean really. Going to a game preserve in South Africa and being “surprised” by a safari is weird. That’s like—oh, I don’t know--getting divorced after an awful mistake of a marriage and then listening to your wealthy, latently homosexual step-father’s suggestion to apply for a reality dating show immediately after the divorce that quietly but not so subtly demands starving yourself on a liquid diet six weeks before going on the show in order to draw the affection of a total stranger 15 years older in hopes of beating out 24 other women and falling hopelessly and permanently in love within 28 days after a series of short, meaningless dates with the aforementioned man all the while crying and stressing so much that the only comfort available is the free beer and junk food offered in large quantities at any time of day and then being “surprised” by an inordinate yet substantial weight gain. Oh wait . . .
Surprised, Chantal jumps aboard the jeep with Brad, a driver, and some guy strapped to the front of the car. Upon closer inspection, I believe that guy’s name tag said, “Bait.” Brad “thanks for being heres” Chantal. He really does. Truly. He means that. They both compare the danger of the safari to the danger of a relationship as Chantal views sleeping lions, apathetic giraffes, wildebeests, monkeys and, of course, the jackass next to her.
Chantal and Brad--painfully oblivious to the fact that the hippopotamus is literally the most dangerous and aggressive animal in Africa (besides Harrison)--proceed to picnic by the river in front of several of them. Look, I’m not a cynic and contrary to the way this next sentence is going to sound, I don’t like to be deliberately mean. However, based on the Producer’s treatment of Emily with the private jet and the race car dates and some of the other unmemorable girls this season, is it a coincidence that Chantal got the hippo date? I’m just sayin’.
Chantal uses the opportunity for another poor metaphor and as I took a sip of Lone Star number three or four I wondered if one of the hippos also had a confused father who secretly loved Brad. Failing to find a hippo in a purple shirt with a glass of pinot noir, I brought my attention back to Chantal and imagined that she probably felt cramped by the quaint confines of the game preserve considering that it was smaller than her parents’ living room. Regardless and in spite of the fact that there was no homo-erotic art in sight, she coped and earned a kiss from our potential soon-to-be groom.
Brad meets Chantal for dinner in plaid as she sports an unfortunate choice of a full length cotton tie die dress. It’s clear that her lack of confidence in her appearance has been affecting her wardrobe choices. However, I did think that she looked very pretty at dinner. I was thankful for that because listening to the unbelievably awkward conversation was like being eaten by lions.
In short, Chantal lets us know that she “hopes to prove her love” for Brad. Translation: I’m going for broke in the Fantasy Suite and I don’t care who knows it. After a litany of “at the end of the days” “I mean thats” and “I like that about yous” Brad offers the Fantasy Suite Card and Chantal immediately chooses to forgo her individual room along with her scruples and be the first one to enter the sex portion of the Future Mrs. Womack Contest.
Brad and Chantal wander aimlessly in the bush while searching for their tree house so that he can wander aimlessly in the bush. A tree house? Did the Producers expect them to forage for berries in the branches and throw their feces at each other all night before waking up and checking each other for parasites? And where was the pisser in that place? What if Mother Nature called post coitus? Incidentally, why does Mother Nature call a person’s bladder? Is she not aware that we have cell phones? Regardless, Chantal drops some overt references to rocking Brad’s world and I think we can all fill in the rest of the blanks. You know what they say: Ha-Poon-a Matada.
Yes, I realize that half of you are laughing at that reference, while a quarter of you are scratching your heads and the other quarter is deleting me from your Favorites page. I just made the most entertaining song in The Lion King dirty and some of you will never forgive me for it. Annnnyyyyhooo . . .
EMILY FANTASY DATE
After more Marlon Perkin’s Mutual of Omaha lead ins, we see Brad waiting around for Emily to emerge from the jungle in order to embark on whatever adventure “he” planned for them.
After washing off the remaining Chantal and applying liberally his African bush scented Axe Body Spray, Womack waits anxiously dressed in a blue t-shirt, gray cargo shorts that bordered on Capri pants, and low-top Chuck Taylor sneakers.
Dude, you’re the star of the show. At this point, it’s alright to say no to a wardrobe selection. First the ridiculous Jack Hannah outfit and now they dress him like a six year old? I don’t care if Old Navy did sponsor this portion of the show or if he’s going to drop the hammer on three attractive ladies. Dress like a guy, for God’s sake.
In sharp contrast to Brad’s playground fashion Emily steps into frame in her own version of the safari shirt rolled and unbuttoned in all of the perfect places. She accents it with a large, but tasteful turquoise necklace with a matching bracelet and ring and a pair of activity-appropriate, leather, calf-high boots. The entire outfit, however, revolves around perhaps the best fitting short white denim shorts in the history of any garment of clothing ever worn. Ever. Period. I mean that. I really do. Truly. No doubt about it.
Did I mention the shorts? Good Lord. I’ve seen coats of fur on live animals fit worse than those shorts. The paint on the guys in The Blue Man Group isn’t as snug as those perfect little shorts. I haven’t been that excited since Ms. Clare dropped her chalk in front of my desk in seventh grade Earth Science class. Ms. Clare was the Emily of her time. I’d be willing to bet she’s still hot. I’m still upset that she didn’t have the same proclivities as that Mary Kay LeTourneau lady. Ms. Clare would be out of prison by now and we’d be living happily in obscurity raising our children and spending our royalty money. Sigh . . .
At any rate, after hugging her and getting a closer look at those shorts, Brad leaves in order to manage his erection and obtain appropriate transportation. As Brad duck runs away (WOMACK!) Emily hopes aloud that a lion doesn’t come and eat her. I began wishing I was a lion.
Brad arrives looking like some sort of dopey, white Mowgli atop an elephant and Emily lets out an “Oh, my goodness gracious” and an “Oh dear Lord” as the elephant drops down to its belly to manage its erection and reflect upon Emily’s shorts.
After helping Emily aboard the luckiest elephant in Africa, the guide steers the elephant to an elephant watering hole and leaves to manage his erection after seeing Emily’s shorts. Emily, Brad, and Emily’s shorts enjoy a glass of chardonnay on an observation deck that was hopefully up wind from the watering hole. On second thought, Brad’s Axe Body Spray probably would have eclipsed the stench of the elephant urine and dung. I found it comforting that they were protected either way.
Brad and Emily chat and she worries that he’s not ready for a five year old. Frankly, after seeing those shorts, I’m not sure he was ready for a 24 year old. In the “Give Credit Where Credit is Due” category, I would like to personally commend Brad for providing his first unequivocal, straightforward, and crystal clear response to Emily’s concern by saying that he fully understood that Emily and her daughter were a package deal. That’s a big deal for a mother to hear and Emily was clearly moved. “I’m not a smart man. But I know what love is,” said a forlorn Forrest Gump after Jenny refused to accept his proposal. Indeed. Nice job, Brad. If she says yes, it’s because of that speech. Let’s just hope you are, in fact, ready for a five year old.
At that point, Emily was putty in Brad’s hands. I would personally like to thank the production crew, camera man, lighting technician, location team, catering team, the Producers, editors, all of the wildlife, Nelson Mandela, the South African Embassy, the guy Matt Damon played in Invictus, and anyone else who even remotely had any part in that wide angle shot of Emily and her shorts. I believe her face was kissing Brad’s, but I’m not entirely sure.
In a tribute to Emily’s necklace, Brad shows up for dinner dressed in his skin tight turquoise muscle sweater. Emily arrives in a sparkly mini skirt and an open shirt looking stunning as I pictured the ABC interns nervously searching Emily’s room in an effort to temporarily secret Emily shorts away and win Harrison’s “I’ll pay fifty bucks to the first one of you who makes it back here to the Mandela Suite with those shorts and then gets them back in her suitcase before dinner ends” wager.
Brad beats around the African bush as he tries to tell Emily how he feels. She does the same and they both seemed to be trying to open up while at the same time respecting their contractual limits and the creepy “I banged Chantal last night and am going to try to bang Ashley tomorrow night” atmosphere.
The Fantasy Card arrives and Emily brilliantly handles the situation by saying that she wants to set an example for her daughter but would like more time to take things slowly and talk alone with Brad. Translation: I’m not going to slut it up on national television but I’ll go back to the room with you. If you play your cards right, you might get an Old Fashioned but you’re not taking pole position in the Emily 500. Nicely played, Emily.
Brad recognizes that her acceptance of the Fantasy Suite key is the only time he’ll have to “talk to Emily in private.” Translation: See her naked. They talk in private and both seemed happy with the result. All in all, it was his best date of the trip.
ASHLEY FANTASY DATE
Still thinking about Emily’s shorts, Brad prepares for the least exciting of his three dates as he awaits the arrival of Ashley and her Fivehead. Sporting khaki cargo pants and a gray long underwear shirt, Brad greets Ashley by telling her that he missed her. We assume he meant her incomplete dental degree but not her forehead, as that thing is impossible to miss.
In her signature red tank top, Ashley arrives in a light sweater and jean shorts sporting a medic alert pendant hanging from her neck. I found it comforting to know that if she was eaten by one of the bush’s many predators she could be identified by either her medic alert necklace or by her giant forehead bone.
Brad duck walks (WOMACK!) Ashley through the trees and she wonders aloud if they are going to attend a South African carnival. A humorless Brad follows his cues and shows Ashley what, up until now was her biggest undisclosed fear: a helicopter. After dropping “Ash” on her several times Brad—undoubtedly along with the help of the production crew—gets Fivehead into the helicopter. “Finally,” I thought as I sipped the final suds from my remaining bottle of Lone Star. “Show Emily’s shorts again,” I pleaded. No such luck.
Ashley actually says that Brad makes her feel safe in the helicopter. Really? He has a better chance fighting off a hippo than he does at making a disabled helicopter regain the power of flight after it lifts off. Safe my ass. Speaking of wrestling with a hippo, Chantal got the short end of the deal on her date. Ashley got the copter ride, Emily got the elephant ride, and Chantal got a ride in a jeep. Equity is clearly not a part of the package this year.
After throwing an annoying fit, Ashley continues to be annoying as she and Brad take a fabulous helicopter tour of Chantal’s parents’ living room. The scenery was breathtaking. “Like Emily’s shorts,” I thought. Breathtaking indeed.
They land and have Brad’s third picnic of the week in a place called God’s Window. After hearing Ashley melt down into yet another indecisive, insecure discussion about geographic logistics under the hypothetical “if this works out where would you want to live” chat with Brad, I’ll bet even God wished that window was a door. A big, thick door.
I am now convinced that there is a direct correlation between the size of a person’s forehead and an inability to respond to blatant, verbal clues. How in the world did Ashley not respond, “Oh Brad, I’d be happy to move to Austin where you live and start my dental career there,” when Brad asked the question?
Once she swung and missed at that softball, we all confirmed what we’d been thinking since last week; Ashley was headed back to Madawaska, Maine to finish her dental degree and irritate her attention-seeking sister until being asked to be the next bachelorette. She’s a dentist like Jake is a pilot. We’ll see how serious she is about digging around in people’s mouths all day when ABC comes knocking.
Memo to Ashley: When the guy that you’re purportedly interested in marrying Madawasks you Madawhere you Madawant to live if he Madawasks you to Madawed him, you Madawananswer, Austin, Texas. Signed, Some Guy in Madawaustin.
Defeated, Ashley and Brad arrive at dinner. In an effort to boost morale, Ashley ties her silky tank top in the middle of the back like she was attending a summer cheer camp and working on her spirit and stunt routines with the rest of the squad. Brad, of course, arrives in plaid.
I won’t belabor the remainder of the date. It was painful to watch. Ashley stuffed her face and “like, like, liked” all over the place while slowly slipping down the slope of no return. Brad looked visibly frustrated as Ashley again failed to grasp the concept that married people often plan on living in the same city in the same house. “How dense is that forehead,” I thought. Even I was frustrated.
In Bachelor Season 15 parlance, I’m sure that “at the end of the day” Brad and Ashley’s 12 year age difference was their undoing. In perhaps the most ignorant statement in Bachelor history—and I’m not exaggerating—Ashley fumbles the ball on the goal line with an “I feel like you’re just looking for a wife.” No sh*t. Ashley. That little gem warrants silence as Brad chews his meat in an effort to replenish his protein reserves before taking one last run at Ashley in the Fantasy Suite.
The Fantasy Suite Card arrives and Ashley jumps at the opportunity to extend her reality television career. They sit awkwardly in each other’s arms on an outdoor futon and Ashley eventually succumbs to the silence by asking Brad what he thinks of the mosquito nets over the bed. After he rolled his eyes I was rooting for him to say, “they’re the same color as Emily’s shorts.” Alas, he didn’t and the date ends. Sadly, we know that Ashley is destined to join the ranks of Gerardo, Tony Basil, and the Weather Girls. She showed so much promise early but never reached her full potential. More about this later.
Trivia: Paul Schaffer the band leader of David Letterman’s Late Night Orchestra wrote the Weather Girls’ one big hit “It’s Raining Men.” One of the Weather Girls, Martha Wash, later sued the record label among others that released another one hit wonder’s record “Gonna Make You Sweat (everybody dance now)” by C and C Music Factory, which was a #1 song in the early 90’s. She eventually received credit for her vocals on that and other hip hop tracks. Of course, my loyal readers Derek and the Boys from South Beach already know this as they routinely dance to these songs shirtless while swilling cosmopolitans; however, I thought it might interest the rest of you.
BRAD IN THE LAIR OF SECLUSION
A shirtless Brad ponders his future before Axe-ing up, donning a tailored gray suit, and black tie and heading to the Mercedes G-Wagon for a tete-a-tete with the real love counselor on the show, Chris Harrison.
Brad resets some of this season’s themes telling us that he’s “different” now and that it has been an “extremely difficult” week. Right. Any week filled with picnics, helicopter rides, booze, and guilt-free sex with a nubile twenty-something with something to prove in a free luxury location must be exhausting.
Harrison treats Brad with kid gloves as Brad “I really dos” “I really didn’ts” and “absolutelys” his way through the discussion. He refers to Harrison as “man” no less than five times in a three minute conversation. As over it as we were, Harrison leaves Brad in the Lair of Seclusion with the glossy photos in order to hit the bar for a couple of single malts before assembling the ladies for the most predictable rose ceremony in Bachelor history.
Harrison corrals the women and awaits the arrival of an incredibly nervous Brad. Frankly, none of the women looked their best—even Emily. Chantal looked terrible in her red, ill-fitting cocktail dress, Emily looked alright in her royal blue and black dress with black clunky heels, and Ashley’s selection of a fitted gold number and white shoes left a lot to be desired. In light of her date with Brad, perhaps she should have worn a black dress and a black veil.
As Brad fidgets like he has a beetle in his boxers the women stand there patiently waiting for Fivehead to get the axe. He’d already dropped the hammer on Chantal. Brad pulls Ashley aside and gives her a rare opportunity to save face before booting her to the curb. Again displaying the density of her giant cranium, Ashley refuses to seize the opportunity and gets defensive before Brad ends the conversation with a classic pause and an “I’m comfortable with the decision.”
Emily and Chantal remain standing on the veranda like those two pieces of cereal in that Cinnamon Toast Crunch commercial. I half expected Emily to lick Chantal’s dress twice before Chantal chomped her up in one bite thereby satisfying what must have been severe hunger pangs and ensuring her engagement to Brad.
Brad escorts a shell-shocked, reluctant Ashley to the limo and gets a forced hug before the G-Wagon drives her away. She saved a little face on the ride of shame by saying that she was too hurt to think. My guess is that she’ll return to Madawaska Dental School and forget all about Brad until the Women Tell All show when she’ll be forced to relive the humiliation in high definition television before an audience of sympathetic women. I’d be willing to be that she’d jump at the opportunity to be our next bachelorette, but that remains to be seen.
With Fivehead gone, Brad retires to the bastion of Bachelor realizations: the balcony. He composes himself and returns for the formality of handing out the remaining two roses to Emily and Chantal and announcing a trip to Capetown in order to meet the fam.
Well, there it is. With the Amazing count at an unbelievable 124 and the Journey count holding steady at a relatively tame 22 we head into next week where Brad and the remaining ladies will head to Capetown to meet the Womack-Pickelsimers in hopes of earning their seal of approval.
Alright, the results are in. Before I announce the winners—that’s right, it was a tie—I want to thank all of you who submitted an entry. They were all really good, proving that the audience is more entertaining than anything I could ever write. Thank you. I mean that. I really do. Truly.
After eliminating each entry that broke the 5-7-5 haiku format and paring down the entries that dealt specifically with the show, I re-read them and went with the two that immediately made me laugh aloud. Congratulations to Gretchen and scraptordelight for their winning entries.
Gretchen was chosen because of her use of actual, unedited dialogue from the exchange between Brad and Shawntel in the funeral home. Very clever.
It's so pretty here
It gets even prettier
Oh, I meant Chico
Scraptordelight was chosen for his/her brilliant recognition that Brad could literally be the spawn of Forrest Gump and the late Patrick Swayze—who was also a Texan. Nice job.
Si, or is it Oui?
Forrest Gump schtups Pat Swayze
Born to them—Womack
Both of you send me your address via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly mail you an autographed, empty Lone Star six pack holder to be proudly displayed in a special area of your home or office. First, I have to drink all 12 beers.
Thanks to all who attended the Houston meet and greet and remember March 2nd is Texas Independence Day. I’m off to Birmingham, Alabama—ironically the home state of Forrest Gump—for a work trip but I plan to mix in a meet and greet. Details are posted on my Facebook Fan Page at “Guy in Austin.” I’ll be back next week. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be combing Ebay for a chance to bid on Emily’s shorts. DP