For years, I've teased TBG for his obsession with The Bachelor. It started when Little Cuter was in college; her addiction to the show drew him in instantly. Like watching a train wreck in slow motion, they would dissect and inspect and judge the contestants. This one was creepy, that one was odd, those needed personalities and the one who went home had serious issues. He found it to be a window into her soul.
We listened, fascinated, as she learned lessons from the idiocy on the screen. Despite the nails-on-a-blackboard quality of the show, I enjoyed their conversations the morning after. Why did she.... how could he.... what if they.... she was working out her own issues while watching reality tv.
For the most part, the show left them feeling quite smug. Neither of them would fall for that line. Nobody would expect them to believe that. If someone said those words to her, she'd turn and head for the hills. Obviously, my favorite fans were quite superior to the participants in their Monday evening trash-fest. Perhaps that was part of the allure.
I fell into and out of watching the shows. Some seasons were more interesting than others. We loved Allie (who really seemed to care about Roberto, breaking our hearts when she dumped him) and laughed at Deanna (the original media whore) and cringed while Vienna made trouble and Tanner caressed Jillian's feet. Most of the time, I sat on the floor in front of TBG as he rubbed my shoulders and I manned the fast forward button. I could share the moment, but pretend to be uninvolved.
I picked JP for Ashley before she did. I thought Ben was a dork before the girls noticed, too. From my perch behind Nellie the Laptop, listening with half an ear, I could pretend that I didn't care. And then, this season, Emily returned.
Emily was the bane of Ashley's existence last season. Ashley spent most of her time feeling that she wasn't as pretty, as popular, as wanted as Brad's ex might have been. The fact that many of the men expressed exactly that sentiment made her seem less paranoid and more reality based than most prospective brides on the show. Still, her whining got real old real fast.
Mostly, TBG and I were fascinated by the way that Emily held herself aloof from it all. Her moonlit kiss on the beach in Season 15 was about as romantic as reality television gets, and I was sucked in... all the way in... and spit out on the other side, believing that she'd found true love.
Guess again, Ashleigh. Their less than amicable break-up, the ill-will and distrust and sadness was more than I could bear. I let TBG watch alone for a while, but then Emily came back and I gave it one more try.
I was prepared to dislike her as I got to know her. I was prepared to be disgusted with her over-the-top Southern Belle-nitude. I was looking for evidence of shallowness. I was certain that I would not be disappointed.
Guess again, Ashleigh. It turns out that Emily is actually someone I think I'd like as a friend. Her first date on Monday night was spent unloading the groceries from her car, baking cookies and taking them to her daughter's soccer practice. It was a typical Mom afternoon, familiar to anyone who was ever a team parent or on the Snack List for a classroom. She was sending a message, loudly and clearly, that parenting is her number one priority. It didn't seem contrived; I bought it hook line and sinker.
Though her totally pink with too many mirrors bathroom is somewhat over the top for my taste, Emily's a girly girl and that's her prerogative. I've always had a blonde friend whose likes and tastes were different from my own. I can appreciate it as long as it's not imposed on me. I worried that Emily might be too much of a fashion plate for me, too tall and gorgeous to be real. For a while, I wavered.
She invited her daughter in to share as she put on her make-up. Her blush brush barely skimmed over Rickie's cheeks as Mom reminded her that she was pretty enough without needing any help. There was no glittery eye shadow or bright red lipstick applied to that 7 year old face, there was just a shared moment and then poof the kid was gone, off to another adventure. I remember doing the same thing with my kids, too. I knew, as Emily knows, that it was less about how they looked than how much they wanted to do what I was doing. It wasn't a lifestyle choice, it was a small moment in time. I began to admire her parenting.
Then, the show took us to a picnic bench in a park where we met the most important women in (her) life - her best friends, the women with whom she's raising her daughter. They were an eclectic bunch, all colors and ages and sizes. I watched their faces as she joined them, as they made plans, as she thanked them for help with carpool. Whatever you need.....Just ask us.... Take care of yourself....those phrases got me through the worst of child-rearing nightmares when my Cuters were young. Hearing her friends reassure her with the same words made me realize that youth and beauty aside, Emily and I were living similar lives.
She's involved in her community. She's in love with her daughter. She's looking for fun, but knows she must stay grounded because a little one depends upon her. She's chosen her friends not for looks or jewelery but for the sageness of their counsel, their willingness to support her choices, the comfort their presence provides. It was just the kind of catch up and plan afternoon most moms can remember.... moms who realize that they can't do it all alone, that is.
I agree with her first date - she looks as good in Mom clothes as she does in those fabulous long gowns she wears at night. The show has Kermit and Miss Piggy and enough G-rated scenes that little Rickie might even be able to watch some of her mom on tv. And some is just enough.
There will be too much kissing and too many squeamish moments, I'm sure. There will be times I cover my eyes and times I scream at the screen. But Emily seems like a grown-up looking for love. The fact that she's searching on television in front of millions of viewers is, I am trying to convince myself, merely a fact of the 21st century and not the breakdown of the moral fiber of our lives.
In any event, I'm commited... for the long haul.
I'll keep you posted, if you promise not to laugh at me .... too hard, anyhow.