A Certain Romance

Growing up, the phrase: “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see” was used often by my father. Unfortunately, most of the wisdom contained within this simple phrase was wasted on my young ears. It was only later in my mid 20’s that I began to appreciate the truth of such simple words placed in a specific order. I laugh as I write this knowing that all the training he gave me about being a complete man probably did not include the application of his life lessons as a way to make sense out of The Bachelor. Well Pops, I hope I can do you justice as I try and sort out exactly who this “new” Courtney girl is and where she hid the “old” Courtney.

Ben, no doubt is champing at the bit (Ha, horse pun!) to redeem himself from his last encounter with a horse. Ben first visits Lindzi at her parent’s Equestrian reserve in Ocala, FL. full of concern knowing that he will be only the second “boyfriend” that Lindzi has ever brought home to meet her family. Fortunately for our Bachelor, Ben’s anxiety is quelled immediately as he is offered a glass of wine by Lindzi’s father Harry, who seems comfortable from the beginning with Ben being his Son in Law. The evening passes with very little to suggest that Ben wouldn’t be welcomed into the family if he decided to “Tebow” in Lindzi’s presence.

It was entirely too easy to lose track of the very laid back and seemingly low maintenance Lindzi early on as a result of our favorite character “Drama” rearing her distracting yet addictive head in seemingly every scene of every episode. To her credit, Lindzi disappeared at times during the season when chaos reigned, which was great for her reputation but often left us wondering who was this quiet girl who kept on getting roses at weeks end. Through mental mud and emotional manure, Lindzi managed to keep her blinders on and her vision focused toward the finish line (second horse pun!) Overall, Ben’s first taste of Southern Hospitality was as sweet as a Vidalia Onion as he gained Lindzi’s parent’s approval to sweep her out to wine country if he so choose.

Well, you can’t have “sweet” without “sour” and things got a tad bitter on Ben’s second Southern stop.

It was a rainy day in Clarksville, TN. as Kacie grandly materialized from the center of the local marching band as they made their way towards Ben in the high school grand stands. Her love for Ben is evident as she almost plows through him in greeting but not before doing a couple of twirls with her trusty baton.

The soggy couple takes shelter in the bleachers overlooking the football field that is actually named after Kacie’s grandfather for a bite to eat. As they sit and discuss the mutual hope of finding true love it’s evident that Kacie’s desire to mimic the everlasting connection her grandparents shared has been tempered by the other ominous cloud following her around that day, her father. Kacie quickly briefs Ben on the ultra-traditional, straight shooting federal probation officer who she happens to call “dad.” As if the uphill battle didn’t already seem steep enough for our brave wine maker, we soon find out that dad doesn’t drink either. Welcome to the Bible Belt, buddy!

Later in the evening Ben sits with Kacie’s dad, Denny and attempts to instill confidence in his possible future Father in Law regarding his worth as a suitable husband. Denny proceeds to ask very direct questions of Ben and it wasn’t hard to imagine Denny using the same tone he used with Ben with his typical murdering and felonious clientele. Denny seems unconvinced with any answer that Ben gives to his queries, which makes me believe that his opinion of Ben was decided upon prior to actually meeting him. It’s obvious that the words “Wine Maker” and “San Francisco” have unnerved Denny enough for him to request that Ben let Kacie go sooner rather than later if his intentions are not to marry her and the tone he used during this request reeked of “not gonna happen.” I applaud Denny for ignoring the blinding lights of Hollywood and sticking to his guns realizing that he probably has made life for his family uncomfortable in the short term. Denny’s main priority as a husband and a father is to protect his family, everything else be damned. You do not have to agree with her father but you do have to respect his actions because love can make you short sighted and someone needed to be there to make sure that the less pleasant side of love was addressed in regards to his young daughter. It’s my opinion that Denny felt his daughter was ignoring the fact that she had only a 25% of ending up with Ben regardless of her 100% feelings and any further continuation of the process would only lead to greater heartache. At the same time, Kacie seems completely invested in the idea of a life with Ben and appears ready to go against her father’s wishes to follow her heart. Unfortunately for Kacie, she has few allies at home as her mother also has reservations about the relationship specifically as to where her daughter would live if she did end up engaged to Ben. I thought that this conversation was hysterical because Kacie’s mother, Martha suggested that Kacie and Ben would have to live apart in San Francisco. It’s quickly apparent that Martha does not keep up with US housing trends as most people in San Francisco can barely afford to live in one home and the thought of two mortgages/rents in the 94123 Zip Code almost made my head explode and my wallet faint.

Ultimately, Ben’s visit to Clarksville, TN served to pose more questions than answers for a possible future with Kacie and quite honestly all you need to do is a little math.

Daddy loves Kacie, Daddy hates San Francisco. Ben Loses.

It’s been my experience and that of my friends (many themselves who are still looking for love) that opposites do indeed attract but opposites do not last. A long term relationship is fraught with enough danger and pitfalls without having to fight against In-laws for the rest of your life. How could Ben ever expect to earn the respect of a father who feels that his daughter is being supported by a man who makes his money immorally? There is no right answer here and no one is wrong; it’s just different tribes.

Whew! After Ben’s sour trip to Tennessee, he seemed REALLY happy to be in Texas where he met Nicki and her family. The entire date has a very fun and playful vibe and Nicki uses this cheerful time to share her strong feelings about Ben directly to him. Nicki is a self-admitted “daddy’s girl” who seems very comfortable at home, which makes it easier for her to discuss the failure of her first marriage with Ben and the lessons she took from the painful education. We learn that Nicki guarded against the prospect of new love for a long time but she no longer harbors the feelings of doubt and skepticism that paralyzed her for so long. After Nicki’s intense discussion with Ben I realized that all three girls have gone “all in” on Ben during the Hometowns which means that 75% of the remaining girls (Courtney was “all in” form day one) will leave this show completely destroyed; pretty heavy stuff.

Nicki parents have been divorced most of her life but appear to join together fully to support her latest chance at love. You can see Nicki glow when describing Ben to Laura, her mother who seems equally happy to see her daughter in love again. Nicki’s father was a bit more reserved
during this time confessing that he might have given away his daughter to her first husband much too easy. In a touching moment Nicki reassures her father that Ben is a much better man fully capable of loving her deeply and raising a wonderful family.

Prior to the date’s end, Nicki uses the “L” word in Ben’s presence. Nicki has truly blossomed during the show and we should commend her for being fearless in her search for new love after coming to grips with a past heartache.

In what turns out to be the most pivotal hometown date of the episode Ben visits Courtney’s hometown of Scottsdale, AZ. At this point in the season we have seen very little from Courtney that has shown her in a positive light with my personal belief being that she never really felt comfortable in her surroundings. I’m not going to make excuses for Courtney’s previous behavior instead my goal is to simply try and understand the girl currently under America’s microscope.

As Courtney awaits Ben’s arrival she reflects on her time spent away from home stating: “I feel badly. I feel disappointed in myself for treating the girls the way I did. I’m not proud of everything I’ve said or done”. I viewed this moment of regret as a huge step in the right direction for Courtney who thus far has done nothing to show us that she was more than just a pretty face. Ben is anxious to meet Courtney’s family with the hope that they can reinforce the good he has seen in her in contrast to what everyone else thought of her: “My relationship with Courtney has been interesting. She’s always been the one from the beginning who caught my eye”. He then goes on to say how he has acknowledged the fact that she hasn’t gotten along with the other girls stating: “I would be devastated to be with someone who rubs people the wrong way”.

In a conversation with her sister Courtney explains the impact Ben has had on her life stating: “I’m so happy. I feel like I’ve been with the wrong people only to appreciate the right person”. I’ve used this exact phrase myself when describing how I felt when I realized I had met the love of my life. It’s not something you can come to terms with unless you’ve found true love. This is a dramatically important statement that I feel shows Courtney has true feelings for Ben.

Later as Courtney sits with her mom she reveals the agony being away from home saying: “I’m happy that I hung in there, I almost left at a few points. It was stressful for me at times but I think he’s worth it.” She follows this statement with an explanation on why Ben has won her over and made her feel deserving. It’s apparent that Courtney like many women has been hurt by the actions of past men in their lives. We all know how difficult it can be to get back to a point in your life when you can trust a complete stranger, never mind just making eye contact with a member of the opposite sex for the first time after hating the whole gender. With this in mind, you can imagine the fear Courtney must have felt as she started to develop feelings for someone in a format that isn’t sensitive to insecurities. I am not defending her past behavior but her revelations have certainly made it easier to understand the origins of it.

Ben left Courtney and her family with his self-confidence recharged believing that Courtney was actually the person that he first thought she was and not the trouble maker the other girls previously made her out to be. The warm visit and parental approval was a polar opposite of the feeling I got after seeing him leave Tennessee and I started to have a feeling that Kacie would soon be shown the door.

Courtney has never explicitly told Ben that she “loves” him but there’s nothing like a mock wedding complete with hand written vows to connect the dots. My fans have pointed out that Courtney’s vows were actually borrowed from a Sex in The City Episode. I don’t understand why this matters at all? I for one have used lyrics from many songs that expressed the particular emotions I was feeling at a given time in letters and notes written to those those I’ve loved. Courtney is a model and never claimed to be a poet so to chastise her for this is trite and borne from the desire of many fans to see that Courtney is punished for the sins of her past transgressions regardless of the fact that she might actually be taking a serious attempt at redeeming herself. In the fervor to witness the wicked witch die as a result of her HBO vows many viewers missed the significance of Ben’s. As Ben read his vows it was evident that Courtney was his “idea of beauty” from day one. Ben spoke openly and clearly about his feelings for Courtney and she was obviously floored by his sincerity.

Courtney finally tells Ben that she loves him and if we can all just be objective for one minute, it was clear to me (and all of you) that the strongest overall Hometown date was this one. Ben and Courtney’s connection is undeniable but I am curious to see if she can maintain the confidence that her family gave her as she is jet-setted off to another exotic location.

I’m choosing to bypass Ben’s conversation with Chris and instead speak briefly on why Ben was correct to let Kacie go. In all honesty I was pulling for Kacie from their first date in Sonoma right up until she described her dad to Ben. Kacie seemed to be such a sweet, honest, open and loving woman who was able to keep her composure, never giving in to “Drama” choosing only instead to express her opinions in private interviews. I do respect Kacie for the way she handled herself and take solace in knowing that Ben wasn’t the right man for her. Instead I feel that Kacie will mature tremendously from this experience which in turn will lead her on a path to finding the proper match at a time and place of HER choosing.

Questions & Comments?