Thursday, August 7, 2014

Off Season Post: Courtney Robertson Book Review.

Hello, Readers.  

Look, I know you're all willingly distracted by the Petri Dish that is the is the Bachelor in Paradise.  For you die hards, you'll know that I live Tweeted during that mess last week. I'll try and do it again this week but don't hold your collective breath.  @someguyinaustin  

Fortunately for you, my knee has been hurting lately and I decided to forego my individual run and make it home to watch.  Unfortunately, I think live tweeting is as far as I'm going to go with that show.  I'm already tired of Marcus, the guy who looks like Thor's brother has almost slept with the entire cast already (including the men), and if Lacy were any dumber she'd be seaweed.

Frankly, I'd rather spend my time reading thoughtful, beautifully crafted prose.  I read Courtney Robertson's book, I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends instead.  Why, you ask?  Good question.  Because I am a man of my word.  I also committed to a blog post on my thoughts regarding the book.    Here goes nothing.  

First off, I don't think it's too much to demand a bit of accuracy in the title of the book. War and Peace is, after all, about war and peace.  Allow me to elaborate. 

It took Courtney all of 3 pages to name drop and even fewer pages to bring up her vagina.  "Fine," I thought.  "It's her book.  Just keep reading."  

After another 10 pages of superfluous facts about her "giant bush," shaving her "giant bush," (sort of) losing her virginity in a swimming pool to some dude before shaving her giant bush, and then having another dude head south of the border before telling her to shave her giant bush, we finally get to stuff about The Bachelor.  I couldn't figure out if I was reading a landscaping book or a book about a reality show.    

The book should have been titled, I Didn't Come Here Before Shaving My Giant Bush.  At this point I began to become confused as to what the word "come" actually meant in the title.  

And another thing, when she does finally start discussing The Bachelor she lets us know that she isn't, "going to lie, she had a strategy going in."  

That strategy, you ask? On page, 76 she tells us,  "[m]y goal was to win the girls over, even if I didn't like them, AND MAKE FRIENDS WITH EVERYONE."  Notwithstanding the fact that the emphasis is mine, so much for the title of the damn book.  

The entire contradiction was frustrating to me.  I can't imagine she meant the title ironically, which means her editor sucks.  It reminded me of that chubby hack, Jason Aldean's video for his "country" song, Chillin' on a Dirt Road.  Look at a picture from the video.

First. Class. Douchebag.

It appears he's Chillin' Next to an Asphalt Road, doesn't it?  There's not even a dirt road in sight.  That fact alone makes him an idiot.  We won't even get to the pseudo-beard, colored bracelets, or the tough guy look-away-from-the-camera-for-effect gaze.  

If you're not actually going to chill on a dirt road, then don't name you're song Chillin' on a Dirt Road, dipshit.  If your strategy is to "make friends with everyone", then don't title your book I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends.  Apparently, she did.  


Look, I realize that this book isn't intended to be Pulitzer winning material.  However, my guess is that Courtney never heard of Freytag's Pyramid.  

Remember this from high school?    


From the content of this book, this is a more accurate representation of every date Courtney has ever been on rather than a representation of the plot line of some Greek or Shakespearean drama.  

The only changes I'd make to it based upon reading the book is that the Climax portion of the graph would be a plateau instead of a point and the Falling Action line would read "Post-Coital Regret."  Courtney seems to enjoy spending a great deal of time there but never seems to figure out how to stay away from Rising Action, if you know what I mean.  Other than that, it's completely accurate. 

Before I go any further, let me make a point that might surprise some of you.  I'm glad she wrote this book.  In fact, I think it was a genius move.  In 2012 (yes, 2012), I wrote this about Courtney's WTA apology. 

Courtney clearly realizes that the fun she had being the bad guy this season is coming back in a big way. Although she attempted to own what happened—and I’ll give her a bit of credit for at least trying to admit it—it appears she’s about to learn a couple of life’s toughest lessons. Unfortunately for most of us these lessons are not often learned without a steep price.

By the way, the “steep price” I’m referring to here doesn’t include ruining a chance to sort of marry Ben after a loose engagement period and a lot of public exposure. She’ll win that battle but whether she’ll win the one after her 15 minutes are long gone is still up for debate.

Courtney begins to understand that certain mistakes have permanent consequences. Put another way: some doors can’t be reopened once they’re closed no matter how much we apologize. Second chances are a gift, not a foregone conclusion and getting one should never be assumed. Short sightedness is a raging red flag of immaturity. For her sake, let’s hope her apology was sincere and let’s hope that whether she gets the big heave ho or not next week that she’s learned her lesson. I, for one, am not holding my breath. 

Prophetic, isn't it?  What's my point?  My point is that this book is indeed Courtney's second chance. Somehow, I think she realized that before hiring a ghost writer to write it.  I'll get to what I think is the "big takeaway" after I go through the book; however, by writing the book when she did Courtney accomplished a few things that no former contestant, much less any "villain" has heretofore accomplished. 

She got to tell her side of the story without being interrupted by Harrison, yelled at by alcohol-soaked former contestants with giant axes to grind, or being contradicted or condescended to by Ben. 

She got paid (well) to talk about herself.

She got to redefine who she was (is) to everyone who watched the show.  

She got tons of exposure long after a time when the press was tired of her.

She got to make amends (in writing) in a very public format with the contestants who she actually liked but offended.  

Like I said, genius.  

The book is essentially a big Bounty picker upper for every spill she made on The Bachelor and during the press extravaganza afterward.  Let's not forget she also got to make her ex-fiance look like the bad guy and herself look like the victim who took the high road.  Whether her version is true or not, it's currently the only one out there, which makes it as good as the truth--or even better.  

The first half of the book--up to the obligatory color pictures for effect--is less contemplative and more disorganized than the post-Bachelor engagement portion of the book.  I found that telling.  Ironically, it's likely an appropriate metaphor for her life up to that point.  

There are gems such as her lament that she'd already dated a guy two weeks and they hadn't had sex yet.  Her mother once told her not to date a man with an ass smaller than hers or to marry a guy who won't pick up a check or has a horrible last name like Dick.  She can hem and haw all she wants about that but that's pretty solid advice if you ask me.  

There are strange contradictions throughout the book including that fact that she portrays herself (honestly, I think) as a loyal, loving person yet she seems willing to mount anything from Southern California to Arizona that is longer than it is wide.  She seems thoughtful and introspective, almost to the point of shyness but tells us she's never afraid to walk around naked and even less afraid to re-engage in destructive relationships with men she objectively knows are bad for her--even horrible.  

There is good gossip throughout despite the fact that she hated her life being plastered (often falsely) across gossip magazines from coast to coast; something on which she blames the failure of her engagement. 

We learn first hand how little interaction there actually is between the Bachelor and each woman leading up to the Fantasy Suite.  We learn that there's even less interaction between the "happy" couple in the four months subsequent to the "happiest day of their lives." 

I've said many times that Wes Hayden is the only person to ever go on this show and be honest.  Until now.  Sure, there are some embarrassing life regrets in the book--both before and after the Final Rose--and there's a bunch of stuff in there a lot of people would not put in an email much less in a book about themselves. 

The book is honest and I respect that.  She owns her faults and her strengths.  She doesn't hide from her mistakes, rationalize them away, or blame anyone else for them.  In fact, she forgives when she's not required to do so.  Can we say any of that about Ben or the vast majority of the former cast members, including the ones hurling insults at her from the safe confines of the WTA panel?  

My favorite part of the book was the brilliantly placed jab after jab after jab she was able to land squarely on Ben's jaw without coming across as bitter or bitchy.  I'll give the ghost writer credit for that.  Clearly, whoever footed the bill for this nonsense knew that in order to sell books, Courtney would have to remain in her post-villan, somewhat rehabilitated, cuckholded fiancĂ© persona.  

Ben was, and likely remains, a self-involved a-hole.  He peaked when he got dumped by Ashley but even then we got glimpses of his condescending nature, disdain for rejection, sense of entitlement and his unreasonably bitchy mother.  

Courtney simply states the facts without taking shots at the groin.  

"Ben had some pet peeves when it came to me . . . like I believed in luck, I shopped at Whole Foods excessively . . . and I was always complaining about being cold.  He didn't think I was sophisticated or smart.  He even told me I was naive once for not realizing that he'd done the show to promote his winery. . . --but for more about what he didn't like about me, he'll have to write his own book." 

What's that saying about the pen being mightier than a winery leasee (yes, he leases and doesn't own) with a bad haircut and a poor attitude?  

Ok, so my big take away?  Courtney did a lot of thinking sitting alone in her apartment while Ben was out cashing in on free stuff and cheating on her in public.  She got a lot of good advice too.  Is she perfect?  No, of course she isn't but she seems to have done something that the vast majority of the ex-contestants will never do:  grow a little as a person.  

On page 227 Courtney says, "It's funny how you repeat behavior, even when you know it's bad for you, because it's the only thing you know.  It's like a comfortable misery."  

Truer words have rarely ever been written in such a mediocre book.  Good for you, Courtney.  Congratulations on taking something really positive away from what became an all-encompassing negative time in your life.  Regardless of the situation, that's a tough thing to do.  You're now as free as you were wandering the beach in your yellow bikini prior to the show.  Remember that feeling and seek it in your life.  Oh, and stop returning Metcalf's texts.  

As for your quote on page 227, I think I speak for most of my readers and a large part of Bachelor Nation when I say we feel exactly the same way. . . about The Bachelor.  Comfortable misery, indeed.  

Well, there it is.  I've officially gone above and beyond for all of you.  You're welcome.  The truth is, I actually enjoyed it (a little).  Until next time, take care of yourselves.  In the meantime, if you need me, I'll in my front yard trimming my huge bush.  DP