Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Bachelor Ben Episode 8: Ben Loves Harry Cox
Bachelor Ben Episode 8: Ben Loves Harry Cox
Hello, Readers. Welcome back to this week's break down of Episode 8 in what has turned out to be—for me anyway—a horribly uninspiring season. I hate to admit it, but I had a hell of a lot more fun when we had the likes of vertically challenged, ego driven “pilot” Jake, the generally challenged Wes, and the motor neuron challenged Gia running around rooftop bars a few seasons ago. Despite ABC’s attempts to breath life into this “cast” I think the gunpowder has soaked up way too much moisture to provide an explosion. Who knows, however? We could be in for the most dramatic ending in Bachelor history, but I doubt it.
Regardless of the blank canvas I was given this week, I’m now going to do my best to make sense of it all for you. It’s Hometown Week, after all, and it’s nice to make sweeping, unsubstantiated judgments about other people’s families rather than wallowing in the reality of the well-formed ones we make about our own families on a daily basis. Escape is not necessarily always a bad thing. With that predicate adequately laid, let’s get to it.
It seems like just yesterday our newly crowned Bachelor Ben was standing clumsily in front of the fountain on the neon-lit, freshly washed driveway of the Bachelor mansion awaiting the arrival of the 25 young women (and 1 septuagenarian) vying for his undeserved attention and a shot at marrying him and making him change his ridiculous haircut.
Alas, time flies like the wind but fruit flies like bananas. It’s time to separate the wheat from the really hot wheat and, in order to do that it’s time to drag unwilling family members in front of the camera in order to feign support for this ridiculous scenario and pray that their deepest family scars escape the watchful eye of the ABC cameramen invading their homesteads. Fat chance.
We head first to Lindzi’s hometown of Ocala, Florida. I’m pretty sure that’s East of Los Angeles; however, without the crutch of that giant fake plane graphic I’ve grown accustomed to seeing each week it’s difficult to be sure. Despite listing her “home” as Seattle all season, we end up just about as far as we can get from there if we remain within the confines of the contiguous 48. Details. We’d later discover that Lindzi—GASP—moved from her parents’ giant horse farm to cohabitate with a member of the opposite sex—a scenario much frowned upon for the adult children of Clarksville, Tennessee natives. I’m getting ahead of myself. I also found myself wondering if Lindzi and her parents ever ventured off their property to visit the Ocala Hooters where they’d have an opportunity to enjoy some beer and wings and tip Vienna. Annyyyyhooo….
We see Ben and his straight leg Levis arrive to find Lindzi riding a horse on her parents' blue blood horse farm wearing jeans, a western belt buckle, and some boots. It’s common knowledge that this combination “does it” for Some Guy and I have to admit that it was easy for me to look past the bronzer here. Anyone can throw on a fancy dress and tuck themselves into a few layers of Spanx in order to pass for attractive, but not everyone can throw on a pair of Levis and a pair of old boots and look great. Simple things often reveal the most complex things about a woman. She looked great.
Realizing that it’s difficult when your “girlfriend” is more of a man than you are, Lindzi lets Ben off the hook by offering to forego the traditional horse riding in favor of a carriage ride. After walking him through the complexities of the harness buckles, she drops “Let me take the whip” before climbing on the back of the carriage and letting Ben “drive.” Usually, a bachelor has to wait until Fantasy Suite night to hear that sort of thing.
While watching this unfold, I was reminded of the days when as a little boy I’d sit on my father’s lap in the driver’s seat of his truck in the back of my neighborhood and he’d let me “drive” back to the driveway. Props to Lindzi for making him feel at home.
After the cursory “what can’t I say in front of your parents” picnic and some really “imporT-Tan-T” vulnerability talk from Lindzi, wherein she revealed the aforementioned sinful cohabitation, Lindzi suggests they mount up and head for the stable before meeting the parents. Again, such talk is usually reserved for Fantasy Week, but Ben seemed to take it all in stride.
Incidentally, my version of this little chat with a lady friend (including the current and most respected Special Lady Friend) includes questions such as, “do you have any gay people in your family,” “are your parents sensitive to French and German jokes,” “how well are anatomy jokes received in your family,” and “where do they stand on the Pope?” I like to cover all of my bases when making a first impression and there’s no need to start out on the wrong foot. Back to Ben.
As they pull up on their chariot Lindzi ironically drops “this is my boyfriend, Ben.” And this is where it gets good.
Ben meets Lindzi’s parents who have the common courtesy to step away from their copies of the New Yorker and Horse Breeding Quarterly and put down their mint juleps in order to play along with the game. Ben meets Margie and Harry and they all bond about Jack Russell terriers and spontaneous City Hall marriages in San Francisco. “We got married at City Hall where you had your first date,” says Harry. “What are the odds?” naively responds Ben. Actually, pretty good considering the fact that Lindzi was probably asked that in her pre-production interview. And this is where it gets REALLY good.
Harry then challenges Ben to a chariot race in his front yard. Apparently, this is the sort of thing that rich people do for fun. Prior to putting on racing helmets and going at it like Charlton Heston in Ben Hur Lindzi’s father refers to his homestead as “The Cox Household.” Needless to say, Some Guy’s ears perked up like Courtney’s upper lip after a Botox injection.
Harry Cox? Did he just say his name was Harry Cox? No wonder Lindzi wants to get married. Why do they make it so easy? I wondered. I’ve learned a few lessons in my lifetime. One of them is not to question things when life throws you a giant, slow moving, ready-to-be-smacked-out-of-the-park softball like that. So be it, I said grinning from ear to ear into my Lone Star. So be it. My only regret is that I didn’t know that little tidbit earlier in the season. For the record, I will operate under the assumption that it’s Cox with an “x” and not a “cks.” I’m certain Mrs. Cox will appreciate that. I’d hate for things to get Harry.
Here we go. Ahem.
Ben races Harry Cox around the yard and after pushing hard from behind Harry Cox finishes in front of Ben. Harry Cox insists on rubbing it in. Thankful that he’s impressed Harry Cox, Ben agrees to share a glass of cold chardonnay with Harry Cox, who’s itching to get to know Ben, before watching Lindzi and her mom walk off to have a mom/daughter pow wow about Ben, leaving him alone with Harry Cox. Ben doesn’t seem to mind. It’s been quite awhile since he’s had any alone time with Harry Cox and he’s been looking forward to it for some time. Seemingly in tune with Ben's desires, it appeared that Harry Cox shaved for the occasion.
Ben does get some alone time with Lindzi’s mom and they discuss Lindzi’s dating history. As engaged as he attempted to be, we all know that Ben couldn’t stop thinking about Harry Cox. Regardless, he reassures mom that his intentions are good and that under no circumstances would he prevent Lindzi from seeing Harry Cox; in fact, he'd insist upon a regular visit to Harry Cox. After all, Harry Cox appears to make her happy and, frankly, after the loss of his father, Ben would appreciate a big dose of Harry Cox a few times a year.
At the end of the visit it was clear that Harry Cox liked Ben, which I think we all were relieved to see. After all, it's been apparent to me from way back in Ashley’s season when Ben showed up for his date in that effeminate yellow sweater that Ben would love Harry Cox. Come to think of it, I’ll bet Jake Pavelka would love Harry Cox too.
You’re welcome, folks. I’ll be here all week writing about Harry Cox. It’s not often I get to step into the gutter that easily.
All kidding aside, (well, most of it) Lindzi and her parents seem like great people. They’re clearly a close family and are successful at what they’ve chosen to do. Unfortunate name aside, it must be difficult to have your only child—a daughter nonetheless—bring home the man she could possibly marry. It was obvious that Ben was touched by her openness and her family’s acceptance. The giant horse farm and abject wealth probably didn’t hurt his analysis either. I think we'd all admit that it’s better to have a Harry Cox than a Harry Flanjik.
We head next to Clarksville, Tennessee to some football field at Stratford High School to meet Kacie B. and her baton after seeing her walk around town in some weird shirts and Mary Poppins shawls for a few minutes.
I know that Lincee Ray of www.ihategreenbeans.com will undoubtedly love her entrance, so I won’t belabor the point. I was embarrassed for her and it didn’t get any better when she executed her own version of the run, jump, wrap, and squeal greeting once perfected by Jillian a few seasons back. To be fair, her execution was flawless and Jillian was likely proud. Harry Cox would have probably approved as well but that’s not important right now.
Kacie and Ben relive all of our high school experiences by smuggling booze into the football stadium for a few pops before going to meet her controlling, Federal Probation Officer father and her subservient Southern mother making us realize that this entire exercise is an overt rebellion from her father’s controlling tendencies and unwavering judgment.
A terrified Ben and an anxious Kacie arrive at Mom and Dad's to meet Martha and Denny along with Kacie's equally repressed, albeit less rebellious sister Allison. They drink iced tea and enjoy a the giant fake centerpiece that Kacie's mom crafted after the pattern on her shirt with plastic flowers from the local Garden Ridge Pottery where they had a three for one sale on plastic mums after church on Sunday. After all, nothing completes a Sunday like cold iced tea and floral arrangements after a good snake handlin', talkin' in tounges session under the shade of the giant tent on the outskirts of town.
As they continued to enjoy the entire meal from the same side of the table I wondered if they hadn't commissioned Leonardo Davinci to paint what, ironically, would become Kacie's Last Supper. It was clear that Dad was a control freak, mom was the passive obey my husband type, and the daughters did a bunch of sneaking around after mom and dad went to sleep in the separate twin beds on either side of the nightstand in the marital bedroom.
As if we needed any further affirmation of that situation, Kacie meets with her sister and passively agressively lashes out against her father by referring to him as "people" and "everyone" before making it abundantly clear that her sister is the only one in that house who is aware that Kacie's no longer a virgin.
To be fair to mom and dad, that's probably the way things work there in Clarksville and, frankly, Kacie probably has a good head on her shoulders because of it. They undoubtedly view shows like the Bachelor like they view the Moonies: Our angel Kacie left home a perfectly good Christian girl and came home with a long haired hippie hell bent on polluting the population with the evils of alcohol and taking her away to the capital of all evil--San Francisco--to indulge himself in unforgiveable sins of cohabitation and fornication.
Whether we agree with them or not, that's likely the way they see things and I'll give them credit for even humoring ABC by letting them into their home much less letting them mess with Grandad's legacy. Those are big deals south of the Mason-Dixon and even more so in the good ole Bible Belt. They're probably solid people, if not just a bit out of touch with their twenty-something daughter.
She's at the age (24) where she's going to disown everything she learned in the name of finding herself anyway. She'll make her life mistakes and eventually realize that the core of those values--no matter how flawed the way in which they were hammered home--is what will serve as the foundation upon which she'll construct the rest of her life.
I'd like to give Ben enough credit to say that he realized this, but I think the old man just scared the hell out of him. Unfortunately, her father's rigid adherence to life's rights and wrongs and his focus on the wages of sin contributed greatly to Ben's choice this week. That sucks for her and she'll have to wait a bit after truly leaving home in order to face her father as a true adult.
Dad has a forced one-on-one with Ben and both looked about as comfortable as an intern who forgot the extra sugar in Harrison's morning coffee. Ben looked more comfortable atop that horse in Utah for God's sake. Her father eventually drops a tactful, yet clear message. "If Kacie is not the one, I'd hope that would be communicated to her to maybe keep her from getting hurt more." Translation: Dump her before you bang her. Point taken, Dad.
Mom, who looked like Kacie with a Bieber cut, meets with Ben and tells him that her adult daughter and he are going to need to seek their permission to move out of state. Guess what, mom? That's not your decision anymore. It's tough to let go of your child, but good ole Kacie is an adult who can make her own choices. Ben realizes that. It's too bad Kacie hasn't yet. It was at this point I belive her goose was cooked.
Dad and Kacie have a chat that turns into a lecture. She reverts to being the little girl that Courtney accused her of being. I'm certain and we witnessed a scenario that's likely gone on in that household hundreds of times. Dad meant well and was understandably skeptical but come on. Guidance is one thing. Absolute control is another. Fair or not, Ben was correct to factor that situation into his choice. Kacie is clearly not out from under the thumb of her family and that's guaranteed to serve as a huge roadblock to any form of relationship. She's not ready to spread her baton throwing wings. Until she is, I'm afraid I have to side with Ben on this one.
We head next to a place near and dear to Some Guy's heart: Fort Worth, Texas. I love Texas and Ben pretends he loves Texas as Nicki trounces about in her ill fitting black stretch pants and off the shoulder striped sweater in the tourist trap to end all tourist traps: The Fort Worth Stockyards. Aside from the presence of the people like Ben who visit Leddy's and the White Elephant in search of a bit of Texas flavor, I love it out there. Granted, it's a tad overdone, but it you're visiting Ft. Worth, it's worth the trip. Back to Ben
Nicki takes Ben to Leddy's to try on some custom boots, buy a pearl snap shirt, and a black felt cowboy hat. Ironically, Some Guy actually owns the Larry Mahan square button pearl snap he ended up buying. For the record, it looks much better on me. All in all, they seem to have a bit of fun down there and I'll have to give the thumbs up to her choice of venue. It's a good place to introduce a non-Texan to Texas. I just wish he could have done something with the hair before he threw on the hat. Oh, and straight leg jeans--especially gray Levis--don't mix with cowboy boots. He might as well have worn a sign that said "Sore Thumb" on the front of that shirt. I'll give him credit for trying, however.
I won't "beat a dead horse" as Nicki put it. I wasn't sure if that was a an unfortunate cliche in lieu of a creative way to express herself or an underhanded jab at Lindzi. Regardless, Nicki's parents seemed like genuinely nice folks. I respect the fact that they were able to raise an apparently well adjusted daughter and a son amidst a divorce and have enough adult in them to set aside their differences to sit together in the same house in support of their child--no matter how ridiculous the situation.
As was the case with Kacie's parents I got the feeling that we were witnessing a scenario that's likely taken place countless times over the years on that house. After enjoying some brisket and beans, Ben enjoys conversations with each parent and they respond by offering their support realizing some that Kacie's parents could (or would) not: their daughter is an adult who doesn't need their permission to act. This scenario is going to run its course regardless of their opinion. Supporting their daughter in the face of expressing their concerns and remaining available in the event that those concerns come to fruition rather than threatening her with disownership is a constructive way to approach a child whose made up her mind. That should come in handy when she gets booted after the Fantasy Suites next week.
My only regret is that we didn't get any camera time for the teenage brother. Perhaps him pulling Ben aside and hitting him up for that sweet, sticky California weed instead of the impotent, stem-filled mess he's been buying from Mexicans just West of town wasn't as compelling as Ben's talks with the parents. Far be it from me to speculate. I'm just saying I would have liked to see the kid speak.
I suppose the choice of order falls under the "Best for Last" rationale, but I have to confess that it was just as uneventful and boring as the other three Hometown visits save the fact that we saw a different side of Courtney in addition to ABC's subtle yet definite attempts to rehabilitate her image in light of the fact that she's a final two choice.
Aside from Lindzi in those jeans and boots (I'll admit, I'm partial) Courtney looked the best of the girls in her white summer dress. It was very Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass although Ben's purple plaid shirt was hardly Warren Beatty's overalls. The entire lead in featured Ben apologizing for Courtney and Hometown Courtney distancing herself from Mansion Courtney. Fair enough, but there's still a C a U an N and a T in Courtney. I'm just saying. I had visions of Emily at home on her sofa in Charlotte biting holes through her throw pillows as she watched.
We meet Rick and his argyle sweater, Sherrie and her reconstructed face, and her very normal sister, whose name I missed. There's a lot of allusion to man hating from both Courtney and from mom but we're never really let in on the secret. My guess is that "Dad" isn't really "Dad" and that Courtney's mom is likely an ex-model who probably slept with Warren Beatty back in her day only to find that he'd been far from honest with her. Still, she seemed to care about her daughters and depsite the pretention that filled the air, they seemed nice enough.
I will say that Courtney--like all of the girls but more than the rest, I think--seemed a lot more relaxed and open at home. There is something about visiting "home"--wherever that may be--with a person that always puts them in a different light. The heretofore rigid Courtney is no exception to that rule.
Rick basks in the majesty of his multicolored argyle sweater as he gives Ben the "Marriage is life's greatest gamble" speech he's been rehearsing since Courtney was old enough to say "I'm a model." He instantly softens and confesses to wanting grandkids to bounce on his knee provided they don't spit up on his argyle sweater. Ben pictures Harry Cox in an argyle sweater. (I'm not even sure what that means, but it's funny).
Everyone talks to everyone else and everyone likes Ben. Courtney's mom tries to smile but her face is pulled too tightly. She compensates by attempting to move her lips and tell us that she too likes Ben. After that they visit the spot of her first photo shoot--pah-leez--and have a fake wedding. I will again give Courtney credit. She mustered the courage to tell Ben she loves him (sort of) by reading it off a piece of paper but first made him profess his feelings for her by doing the same thing. Dustin Hoffman was apparently mulling around the set becasue he was recruited to be the mock preacher. Odd. She did well dropping "your happiness is the key to mine." Alas, it might not be enough to get around Ben's affection for Harry Cox. We shall see, shant we?
FIRESIDE HARRISON CHAT
FINALLY, we're treated to Harrison's pinnacle forum--the fireside chat. He's like a better looking FDR without polio. Harrison does his best to ferret out Ben's New Deal and I found that ironic considering the fact that, like FDR's administration and every one since, the success of Ben's choices would likely be determined in the first 100 days. Now THAT'S depressing.
Alright, the FDR schtick is not so inventive. It's better than beating on Harry Cox again.
The roses appear and are awarded as follows:
1. Kacie (Dad will hear about it.)
Ben walks Kacie to the cryin' bench before she's fed a few glasses of wine and put in the limo and reminded off camera of all of the sad stuff she's put in her application to be on the show in addition to being forced to watch a montage of the most poignant scenes in The Notebook before starting her exit interview. He says he's sorry. She cries. I preferred Blakeley's "what else to do I need to know?" What will be worse than this is facing her father and being reminded that she was wrong for the rest of her life.
I'll give her credit for trying. Regardless of the format and the obvious pressure from home, she still had the balls to get out there and try. She's 24. If she can get away from Claksville and figure out that "I'm going to be myself and not what my dad wants" stuff, she'll be fine.
I was a bit discouraged to her her belt out, "This is why I don't love, and "What the f*ck happened?" Bitterness is unbecoming. Let's hope she has it in perspective by the time the Women Tell All rolls around. Her dad will love that last line.
Well, there it is. With the Amazing Count at 61 and the Journey Count at 24 we head into Fantasy Week in Switzerland. I think you all know I'll have a lot of Swiss jokes lined up by then.
Speaking of lost love, I wanted to acknowledge that the world lost a talented person last week. We all know that Whitney Houston died. Like most of you, I'm familiar with her through her songs and--unfortunately--through the trouble she lived with in her life. It's easy to dismiss her death as her own fault or as something that could have been prevented in light of her fame and resources. I suppose there's a bit of truth to both of those things, although I tend to thing that the latter of those two things makes things worse before it makes them any better. For those of us who have either battled addiction on our own or who have lived with someone who has (or does), we know that addiction is a terrible disease that often ends the way Whitney Houston's ended.
Below is an interesting tribute from an unlikely source that was sent to me by a friend. I suppose it's more of a testament to Dolly Parton, who wrote it, than it is to the person who made it the most famous. The fact that the same arrangement and survives essentially three diametrically opposed genres with three incredibly different voices says a lot about the song's simplicity and beauty. Still, Whitney put her stamp on that song and it is inseparable from her as a performer. Rest in Peace, Whitney Houston.
Until next week, take care of yourselves. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be looking for Harry Cox . . . Really hard. DP