Hello, Readers. Welcome, yet again, to another week of Ben's Amazing Journey into Mediocrity. I'll give the guy some credit. If he's nothing else, at least he's consistently dull each week. I'll still say that I like the guy but I'm becoming less and less convinced when I hear the women fawning over him like bees on a lavender plant seemingly intoxicated by his charm and charisma. "Safe" guys are sometimes appealing, but there's a fine line between "safe" and "boring" and Ben has certainly been inching over it this season.
Before we begin, look for a bonus "off season" type post coming soon. Let's get to it.
We begin as we always do. Tropical vistas sprinkled with bursts of colorful flowers and waterfalls set the tone on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico amidst a voice over of our heretofore rejected Bachelor looking for a "real" chance at lasting love this time around absorbing the majesty of America's unofficial 51st state. Of course, the women soon arrive via Flipcam flight in their locationally appropriate travel attire with some still hanging on to the 30 foot scarf look despite the sub-tropical climate. Hey, planes are cold and one never knows when a giant piece of silk might need to be fashioned into an over the shoulder sarong/skirt combination in a pinch (Nicki). As expected, Puerto Rico is soon Christened as an "amazing place to fall in love." . . . and we're off . . .
After the standard woo-hoos for the W Resort and Hotel Suite Emily begins teeing up her impending "I hate Courtney" speech to Ben. As bored as I am with that scenario, I have to admit that I was anxious to see it play out considering the fact that Courtney is clearly inside Emily's academic head and it appeared in the previews that she was poised to make the exact same mistake that should have got her sent home last week yet again.
Not one to reject a tropical bungalow, Harrison shows up with an index finger ring for some reason and states the rules that we all know before dropping the first date card and splitting to grab some Puerto Rican Rum down at the trendy W Bar.
The usually mute and always well-mascara-ed Jamie puts her shiny shirt to good use by taking center stage and reading the date card aloud. "Nicki, Encontremos un nuevo amor en el Viejo San Juan" it reads as the women struggle to process something like totally written in Porto Reecan. "Let's find a new love in Old San Juan" Emily spouts off in translation, proving that her pre-Ph.D. foreign language elective hours did not go to waste.
I found it comforting to know that Emily speaks three languages: English, Spanish, and Crazy Person. As we'd learn a bit later in the show, she's also intimately familiar with Desperation; however, we all know that's simply a dialect of Crazy Person and, therefore, cannot count as its own language. At any rate, Nicki is excited to learn that she gets to encontremos some amor with Ben and heads out to blow dry her hair and turn her 30 foot ubiquitous scarf into a Winnie Mandela-esque sarong-miniskirt combination as Courtney gnawed on her lip implant while wearing her "Be Nice" shirt ironically.
Ya estaba muy aburrido.
Ben shows up in an inexplicably poor wardrobe choice of a hot pink v-neck and those soon-to-be infamous gray cut off shorts with flip flops. I'd rather see Ed's green swimsuit. Prior to me digesting his getup he then proceeded to refer to Old San Juan as "so rad" before escorting Nicki and her yellow nails to the Bachelor-copter and heading out to walk around, fake an understanding of the Spanish language, and buy her a phallic-shaped snow cone.
As if on queue--and I'm sure it was considering the fact that all of the one-on-one comments were made while their clothes were dry--a big rainstorm "surprises" the two would-be lovers and they throw caution into the crystal blue ocean by "spontaneously" deciding to go buy some new clothes with a local flair.
Nicki emerges from the dressing room in another 30 foot ubiquitous scarf turned fashionable silk dress that sadly clashed with her yellow nails. Ben, on the other hand, decides to go with the post prison escape Hannibal Lecter meets Tito Puente white Mexican restaurant bus boy shirt and pants with a matching white hat look.
Far from looking like "locals" they both reminded me of the German tourists I see here in Austin on South Congress Avenue on the weekends sporting their newly purchased "cowboy boots" and weird fitting euro-jeans trying to be Texan until their tour bus leaves for Fort Worth on the next leg of the Tour of the Southwest vacation excursion they purchased at the John Wayne Booth at whatever beerfest was happening in Munich that week. The last thing anyone needs is a bunch of Germans marching around their town in knee high boots. Annnnyyyyhooo . . .
Ben proclaims himself as having "Latin swagger." Actually, a different word starting with "F" and rhyming with "swag" came to my mind. Regardless, he pretends to not look like an elongated version of Tattoo from Fantasy Island as they watch a fake wedding of ABC interns and extras at a local church before heading to dinner and busting Nicki's balls about her three year failed marriage while sitting uncomfortably in a papasan chair and sipping chardonnay. She eventually earns a "You Did Enough to Stick Around" rose. Ben seemed genuinely interested in her crap; however, he's simply boring to watch. I won't even comment on the gray pants, white long underwear shirt, and suspenders he was wearing that date. He was dressed like a 1920's circus strongman for crying out loud. Frankly, he didn't look very rad.
Back at the Rainman Suite at the W Elyse, Jennifer, Blakeley, Rachel, Courtney, Lindzi, Kacie B., Jamie, and Emily sit shoulder-to-shoulder on one love seat despite the vast expanse of the room and plenty of alternate lounging space. The Group Date Card arrives and Emily again uses her brain to explain the "Process of Elimination" Rule. I think we all realized that whoever failed to make the card was going on the one-on-one. There's nothing like being collectively condescended to by some nameless ABC staffer. I sighed as I sipped my final Lone Star realizing that if I failed to go to the store I'd have zero Lone Stars in my refrigerator. I wished Emily had called me and explained that.
"Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" the card reads and the women proceed to slobber like Man's Best Friend at the thought of Neil Lane inspired jewelry. Elyse gets the one-on-one as Blakeley and her raccoon tan complain about it. What both of them failed to realize is that getting the second one-on-one date on the first tropical excursion is tantamount to being given the keys to the Don's Cadillac and told to head out to the driveway and see if it starts. Oblivious, Elyse revels at the possibility of escaping the close confines of the love seat and heads out to put on more eye make up and bronzer. She makes Lindzi look like an albino.
The group date begins with a school bus ride to Roberto Clemente Stadium. I realized that Blakeley, who's--cough cough--34, was the only one old enough to realize who Roberto Clemente was but too self centered to appreciate it. The closest these girls had ever come to anything Puerto Rican was sipping Red Bull and vodka on the dance floor of some neon lit, chachi-infested night club while Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" blared over the sound system. Even he ditched Ricardo Martinez in favor of its WASPY equivalent.
Incidentally, for years my mother insisted that Ricky Martin was a heterosexual. My response was usually a smirk followed by "that guy is the George Michael of the 2000's." Think of how happy I was when he came bounding out of the closet like Errol Flynn in those pirate movies. Back to Ben.
Ben dons a Carolina Gigantes' uniform as Lincee Ray sighed uncontrollably and made a note on her laptop that he didn't look like Roberto in his baseball uniform. Please post your "Amens" on her site at www.ihategreenbeans.com.
We learn that we'll have two teams vying for the right to attend a cocktail party with Ben contingent upon winning a baseball game. Since there's an odd number, we learn that we need Ben to designate a girl who's comfortable playing for both teams---Where was Monica when you needed her? Apparently, the "Odd Number Rule" was too much for even Emily to wrap her Courtney-infested head around because Harrison showed up with a bullhorn to explain it and implement it. Solid day's work, CH. Solid.
This portion of the show was entirely too long; however, it did yield one of Courtney's best lines of the night. Regarding Blakeley's surprising athletic ability and competitiveness she quipped, "who knew that strippers could play baseball." Priceless. Look, I know most of you hate her because that's what ABC expects you to do. However, watching her be the bad guy this week was a lot like watching Nicholson as the Joker in the first Batman. Sure, you're supposed to hate him. After all, he's after Batman and he's mean to Vicki Vale. However, he's just so damn good you can't help but root for him a bit.
Red wins, Blue cries. Blakeley shows her sensitive side. Jennifer unselfishly gives Blakeley credit for not having had a one-on-one and Courtney talks trash about everyone on the show save Harrison because she realizes where her bread is buttered. Losers bus it back to the W and the winners clean up and hit the tiki bar to mingle.
Kacie B. gets "stolen" by Ben and eventually gets a Safety Rose. We see Courtney worry a bit about her competition during her one-on-one camera time before hatching a plan to skinny dip. Before I address that last part of the sentence, allow me to address the first part. Why, you ask, does Ben fawn over Courtney and seem increasingly less attracted to "normal" girls like Emily, Nicki, and (as we'd see later) Jennifer? Surprisingly, it has a hell of a lot less to do with looks and sexual energy than it does with how he's treated. Still not getting it? Watch the tape.
Courtney's interaction with Ben is brief, focused totally and completely on him, flattering, and confident almost to a flaw. She doesn't bog him down with drama about the other girls, her past, or how "hard" the process of lounging around five star hotels and drinking free booze until the helicopter arrives can be. She's a master of the uncomfortable silence and assertive without looking selfish in front of him. She plays a very convincing game and she also allows the other girls (Emily) to dig their own graves, albeit slowly, with Ben. The truth may eventually come out, but I'd be willing to bet that Courtney is well on her way to the Fantasy Suite. The skinny dipping stunt wasn't even necessary. In fact, it was more like the sprinkles on top of the icing on the cake.
As Courtney retires to the suite to shave her cha-cha in anticipation of her skinny dipping plan, Elyse gets the "Let's Find Somewhere Private" Date Card and as I pondered possible locations for the date in my head I quickly eliminated Courtney's pants and Blakeley's bra. A nervous Elyse cries a bit before the date (that's a first) but fails to soften the layers upon layers of mascara around her tear ducts. Frankly, that would require sandblasting, but that's neither here nor there. What's important is that she's excited about the date. What's more important is that Ben wasn't.
Courtney gets in a few tiny jabs in order to set up her Jersey Shore smack later in the show. Ben drops "Elyse and I's" relationship proving that he still carries with him remnants of Ashley. Speaking of Ashley, Elyse apparently earned that Master's Degree she talked about from the Ashley Hebert School of Diction. She and "Ban" jump off the yacht an enjoy a salt water enema before she tells him she's "sick of being single" and he responds by kicking her and her mascara to the curb. Note to Elyse: "Sick of being single" is a rotten reason to get married. If that's the case you'll quickly be "sick of being divorced."
A tuxedo clad Ben walks Elyse to the ocean as Seal Team 6 arrives in a zodiac and takes her and her purple luggage back to whatever gym in Chicago will now plaster "Come train with Elyse as seen on the Bachelor" posters on its front door when she returns to put her Master's Degree into good use by coaching overweight women on how to use that giant rubber ball to "strengthen their core." She was quiet all season and I gave her a hard time for being a bit hermaphroditic; however, she seemed really nice and she is an attractive girl. She'll do fine as long as she stays away from over-supplemented meatheads who use more bronzer than she does at the gym. Chin up, Buttercup. You'll do fine.
Back on the sittin' couch, the girls congregate like arctic penguins and agree that "something in the air is not right." I assumed it was the rich Puerto Rican cuisine that caused that problem; however, some guy in white shorts shows up to grab Elyse's mascara bag and Courtney drops a "maybe she drank too much and the Jersey Shore came out." Wow. That was funny. Mean, yes. But funny nonetheless.
Courtney downs yet another Gigante glass of wine before leaving the pity party and heading over to Ben's room to ensure a place on next week's show. She drinks quite a bit, doesn't she? In fact, if she's not careful, all of that drinking will lead to the need for a liver transplant later in life. I suppose she's not worried about it, though. There's no possible way that Courtney's body is capable of rejecting a strange organ. (Thank you. I'll be here all week).
"I'm a sight for sore eyes and after a date with Elyse I'm sure his eyes are pretty sore." It's like I was tasked with writing her dialogue this week. Courtney lies in wait for Ben as he returns to his room and pretends to be surprised to see her in her robe with a bottle of wine ready for some action. She lays it on extremely thick. I thought Ben was about to cry. He proved me right when he dropped "I'm not so sure this is a good idea." How is that NOT a good idea, you homo? I screamed at my television. Maybe Ben is the George Michael of the 2000's.
Watching Ben handle that situation was like watching a monkey at a chess board. "You only live once," is Courtney's closing line and Ben (wisely) takes the opportunity to skinny dip with a model. Pulling a stunt like that won't get you married, Courtney, but it might get you to the Fantasy Suite and it sure as hell will get you through to the next episode. Nice work.
Ignorant of Ben's recent exploratory dive in Courtney's Great Barrier Reef, the girls doll up for the cocktail party attempting to conceal their sunburn. Jennifer looked pretty and so did Casey S. Kacie B. and Nicki? Well, they showed up. Ben uses "rad" a few more times as he one-on-ones with everyone while simultaneously thinking about Courtney's little stunt. She's now in his head too.
A newly minted Blakeley literally bumps herself from getting bumped by laying it all on the line and giving Ben the hard sell in a one-on-one, or, as Blakeley usually refers to it, a lap dance. I had no reason to doubt her sincerity this week. She did look a bit horsey though. I was afraid Lindzi was going to try and ride her.
The girls discuss the producer-suggested topic of skinny dipping while huddling on the outside patio love seats like arctic penguins. Courtney drops "she sucks" about Emily and I smiled broadly as I quickly realized that Emily was about to prove Courtney right.
After swearing that she was over the drama Emily proceeds to bring up more Courtney drama to Ben and he shuts it down quickly with a diplomatic yet clearly annoyed "drop it," "tread lightly," and "be careful." Nice job, Ben. You should have had the balls to send her home.
After referring to Courtney as "shallow and vapid" Emily laments, yet again, her poor judgment. Ironically, her behavior has been far more shallow and vapid over the past two weeks, but what do I know? Let's face it, Emily from North Carolina is no Emily from North Carolina.
The Rose Ceremony kicks off and goes down as follows:
2. Kacie B.
7. Casey S.
9. Emily (weak)
Sent packing is Jennifer. I couldn't disagree more with Ben's choice this week. Then again, I don't own a pair of cut off gray jeans, suspenders, or a series of vests. Let's hope he ends up happy. Jennifer was cool and normal. Alas, that usually means doom on this show.
Well, there it is. With the Amazing Count at 37 and the Journey Count at a stagnant 13 we head into next week. Take care of yourselves. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be skinny dipping with Ricky Martin and George Michael. DP