Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Some otherwise healthy people go wild on boxes of Twinkies; some perfectly intellectual students read “Twilight”; some generally amiable techies troll strangers on /b/. Me? I watch “The Bachelorette.” In my defense, though, the daft dancer-slash-dentist Ashley and her harem of identical, clean-cut white boys have got a lot to teach us (mostly about how <I>not<P> to go about the dating world).
To catch you guys up: this year’s bachelorette is Ashley, and she’s about a thousand times more annoying than Ali; her personality is built on insecurities, and her behavior is based around mind games. So far this season, she’s made out with just about everyone, “fallen in love” with the only guy completely disinterested in her within a week of having met him and then cried about it for the rest of the season when he decided to leave. You’re now officially caught up; I just spared you literally 10 hours of viewing in two sentences. You’re welcome.
This week, the primary lesson learned was that, despite what Ash and the boys so persistently tell us, not every tacky tourist destination in America can be the perfect place to fall in love – eventually you’re going to have to pick one. Regardless, the guys did their best to convince us that Chiang Mai, Thailand was in fact the dreamiest damn setting on the planet. Harvard boy Ames waxed eloquent on the romance in the air as the camera panned through crowded, stinking street markets, with an instrument that must have been the lovechild of a foghorn and a bagpipe blaring in the background. Be still my heart.
The one-on-one date also taught me something new: namely that watching two people pretend to make out is a good deal more uncomfortable than watching them actually go at it. The date was with Ben F., who has so little sex appeal that Ashley has to spend 100 percent of her camera time trying to convince the cameraman that he is, in fact, oozing with sessuality. In one memorable moment, the pair was sitting in front of a temple and Ben leaned in for a kiss, only to be told in Ashley’s nasal whine that “this place is too sacred for that!” Instead, the two leaned in close and shared a “mental” kiss: “I’m picturing kissing you;” “I’m picturing it too.” It was like watching a couple having phone sex while sitting next to each other. I still shiver at the thought of it.
The group date didn’t have a whole lot of life lessons, but it was one of the more fantastic moments this season: in a rare and highly appreciated bit of fan service, the suitors were stripped down and oiled up, given a brief lesson in Thai boxing and then thrown into a ring and told to kick the crap out of each other. Viewers were then subjected to Ashley’s little worried cries – if you didn’t want them to hit each other, Ash, why did you create this challenge? – as the guys gleefully wailed on one another. Inevitably, Harvard-boy Ames discovered that no amount of fancy schooling can help you guile your way out of a fight and was sent to the hospital for a mild concussion (perhaps the world’s least glamorous injury). Ashley was distraught, of course, but not distraught enough to go check on Ames in the hospital.
And from the rare two-on-one date (in which one man gets a rose and the other gets sent home), I was finally able to reach the conclusion that Ashley was actually, genuinely, legitimately awful. We all knew that she was insecure, and we all knew that she was fairly annoying, but today, I learned that she was flat-out stupid. On her date, she told William (a snake) and Ben C. (a really nice, sincere guy) that she would be sending one of them home. William made a couple of awkward attempts at excluding Ben (“here, pal, you sit over here 10 feet away!”), then gave up on subtlety and took Ashley aside to tell her that Ben was completely disinterested in her and was looking forward to online dating after the show. It was the most blatant attempt at subterfuge I have ever seen, but little Ashley’s jaw dropped. She proceeded to race back and send Ben home, despite his insistence that he had said no such thing, obviously. On the bright side, he was just spared a grim future with Miss Insecurity.
General conclusion of the night: Chiang Mai is in fact not the perfect place to fall in love.