I never watch shows like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Okay, that's not entirely true: I really liked The Girls Next Door because at first I couldn't figure out if they were serious or what and by the time I figured out that they were serious I couldn't look away. But then all the girls moved out and moved on and while Kendra's new reality show is watchable, I can not stand Holly's new show. There is so much screaming and drama and I'm not entirely sure they're not pretending that all the screaming and drama is real. Plus I think Holly's gay best friend is actually straight but that he's just playing the gay best friend and it's kind of odd.
But anyway. Except for the part of the The Bachelorette when it was Trista and I wanted to know if she was going to pick decent Ryan over asshole Charlie, I've never seen either show. But I read about them in general ("What's her name gave a rose to that annoying guy") and when they get down to the hometown visits I read the recaps because I can't believe people actually go on this show thinking they will find actual, lasting love.
I was reading the recap on the home visits on The Bachelorette this week and the recapper was talking about how the home visits are all staged: the families all gussied up in things they wouldn't normally wear, rooms redecorated, stuff cleared out and put away. You know, beyond just vacuuming and dusting. And everyone on their best behavior. I got to thinking about how things would go if I were one of the potential suitorettes (on The Bachelor, in case you were wondering) and after I stopped laughing I thought I'd share.
My parents have been divorced since I was about seven and neither lives in what I would consider my hometown anymore so we're off to separate locations. Let's visit Mom and stepdad first...
We're off to the middle of the state of Washington, to the lovely little town of Cashmere -- Home of Aplets & Cotlets! But they don't live in Cashmere proper so we wind our way several miles outside of town to the ranch. It's nice. It's ranchy. It's one of those log cabin kit houses where everything is done elsewhere and then they ship it to you and their team assembles on site. There's a barn with a couple of horses and a goat. There's a pool. It's on a good chunk of property except the majority of the land is all straight up because it's a canyon. So you have neighbors but not. I like it there.
After we've convinced the camera crew that the huge black lab will not eat them, the first things you notice when you walk in are (1) the amazing view out of the back wall which is almost all glass, (2) there are a LOT of dead animals everywhere, and (3) the carpet is teal -- TEAL, people -- because it's my mom's favorite color and I can't convince her that that fact does not result in a good carpet choice. Thankfully there is not a lot of carpet in the house.
We meet my mom who is pretty cool and my stepdad who is not. Honestly, even when he is speaking to me and when he's not mad at me he is an asshole. He has issues. They can be weird and they can be unpredictable. Like once when I was in grad school I came to visit and my mom said I could take a Costco-sized jar of spaghetti sauce home with me. He got pissed off and didn't talk to me for six months. I am not making this up. He thinks his issues are everyone's else's problem to deal with. They're not. That's why he's not speaking to me and he's mad at me right now. Which should make for an interesting home visit, yes?
My mom is a little warped and will likely always look as if she is in her early 40s. First comment to be made is that we look like sisters. Cool when I was in my 20s and 30s. Not so cool now that my mom is nearing 60. But hey, the guy is earning points with my mom. We get the "nice to meet you, sir" and my stepdad either grunts and lies back down on the couch to start scrolling through the cable menu to see what's on, or he starts talking about all of the things he owns. Another cabin outside of Leavenworth. An airplane. An airplane hangar. An RV. Oh, another RV. There's like six cars in the driveway. Also snowmobiles. A horse trailer. Two tractors. An ATV. A partridge in a pear tree. By the way, if you're reading this and thinking my parents' place would be great to go and rob, they also have lots and lots and lots of guns. Handy. As in they each sleep with a firearm nearby because bears and coyotes come walking through the yard on a regular basis and they have livestock. If the guns don't work there are some nice razor-sharp bows and arrows on the wall behind you. My parents are the type who would shoot you on the porch and then drag you inside to bolster that claim of self defense. So would I, by the way.
While my stepdad takes the bachelor and the TV crew on a tour of his dominion, my mom and I chat. Do I like the guy? Is he emotionally stunted or is he actually normal? Because I come from and was raised with the emotionally stunted male. But is he too emotional? That's bad too. Basically my mom will say that I'm going to do what I want to do and best of luck to you. Get a prenup. Kids would be fine but she's also happy with having only granddogs.
On the tour, stepdad tells bachelor it's damn time somebody took me off his hands and to watch out because like my mom I am a double-breasted wallet grabber. Knew it from the first time he met me. When I was eight. So get a prenup. By now, he's also moved on to how awesome he himself is (never went to college! self taught!) and that I can work on cars and drive a tractor. He'll now go get the BBQ started because he is the chef of the house, while we go sit in the great room. And eat Aplets & Cotlets.
As a side note, one of the couches in the great room is also where my stepdad sleeps. My parents have temperature differential issues. My mom likes lots and lots of heavy blankets and sleeps somewhat normal hours. My stepdad is always too warm and keeps vampire hours. Before he got his Miracle Ear it was common to awaken at 4:00 a.m. by the sound of planes taking off in yet another war movie that was cranked all the way up because once he's laying on his good ear he can't hear a thing. I did not realize it wasn't normal to have your dad sleeping on the couch until I brought a friend home my freshman year in college. He asked if my parents were fighting. I couldn't figure out why he was asking. For the show, the blanket will be folded on the back of the couch but otherwise that's his bed.
Now we're off to see my dad! We whisk away to an even tinier little town in southeast Idaho. Population: 206. We pull up to my dad's trailer and let me clarify. I don't mean his manufactured home. I don't mean his double wide. I don't even mean his single wide. I mean his trailer. We could go camping while we visit him and we'd never even have to leave the trailer. But hey, he likes it. He is a man of few needs.
We open the door and, after the smoke clears, step inside. Two at a time. The cameras are filming through the nicotine-stained windows because there sure isn't any room for them in here too. First thing you'll notice is that yes, this is a damn small trailer. Second thing you'll notice is it's filling up with smoke again; is he really on his second cigarette since we got here? No, it's fourth by now. Third thing you'll notice is the sweet computer setup in the back of the trailer (i.e., two feet away). And the DVDs. Hundreds of them. The you burned it yourself kind of DVD. And then the list. Of the DVDs. Because you must have a list. Otherwise how would you know which DVDs you want to get from my dad in return for letting him copy your DVD collection? And how would he know which DVDs you have that he doesn't?
The list is pretty great (from my perspective at least) because it has my dad's entire collection. And his collection is half regular movies, half porn. But not the porn with delusions of grandeur and titles like "Good Will Humping" or "Wet Dreams May Come." No, it's primarily the porn with titles like "Busty Back Door Babes 29" -- because they don't know how to use roman numerals beyond "III" -- and the budgets and acting talent that go with them. It makes looking through my dad's DVD list fairly interesting. Hey, he asked me to see if there were any movies I wanted. Some of the titles are of the "Romancing the Bone" type and I have to read very carefully before making my choices.
Because my dad's trailer is so small and full of porn movies and cigarette smoke, we walk next door to my grandparents' place. Which is also a trailer but a very nice manufactured home type. It's very clean, and not just for the show. Once we convince the camera guys that their basset hound will not eat them (it's iffy, really), we take a look around. It's very clean. Grandma takes me aside and says if I want to marry this guy, go ahead. If not, just live in sin and avoid all the paperwork. My grandpa has early stage Alzheimer's so we decide to move this thing yet again to my dad's pharmacy. Or as the rest of the town calls it....
.... the world-famous biker bar that is the main claim to fame of this tiny little Idaho town. It really is world famous -- there's an Urbanspoon entry and a Facebook page -- and why they put it here I have no idea. The ceiling is covered in women's underwear. Bras and panties, all shapes and sizes and varieties. Behind the bar is a collection of sex toys. The kind where you're trying to figure out just what is that on the microwave back there and then your mind finally makes sense of what you're looking at and now you're wondering if it winds up and walks across the bar. They have a rock chuck derby each spring ("No wet or frozen rock chucks"). Dad says women get up on the tables and dance topless. Not the waitresses. The customers. Still not making any of this up.
By the way, my dad calls the bar his pharmacy because he has peripheral artery disease and consequently is in frequent pain. He thinks the doctors are trying to kill him so he won't take meds for it. Instead, he drinks. I'll have to explain this in one of those talking head interviews in between scenes.
He'll pull up a stool at his pharmacy and talk real serious with the bachelor, telling him how I'm his only daughter and that the guy better treat me right or else. You know, with that tone that implies he'll either give the guy a stern talking to or gut him on the side of the highway one dark night. It's not really clear. Dad tells me that I don't need to get married, that he was married twice and now he's over 60 with no money and no property. But that his two kids made it totally worth it, though in retrospect he'd have skipped the whole marriage part of the deal. Although he would really like grandbabies before he dies. Which, he reminds me, could be any moment. Or he could live forever. Grandbabies. He wants them. Oh, and I need to keep my last name. But have grandbabies.
I am not given a rose. America is stunned. My dad cleans his pistol.
Yep, that's how it would go if I were on The Bachelor.