Confessions of a Bachelorette
Diablo’s insider reports from the frontlines in the war for ABC’s new reality Romeo
I’m on a plane to meet my prince in a land far, far away when I experience a bout of emotional turbulence. The Bachelor is filming in Paris and, until now, all I had been thinking about was the free trip and the opportunity to meet an eligible hunk.
I was confident that ABC TV would find a Nielsen-friendly stud and that I’d find a wholesome way to out-vamp the 24 other bachelorettes vying for his attention. But now I’m having a few last-minute doubts about any man considered my “perfect match” by Hollywood producers. What if he’s an incurable morning person? And what if I make a bumbling fool of myself on national television? These anxieties quickly disappear as I cruise through customs and enter the City of Light.
Glorious Paris! I’m soon sequestered in a hotel with only a television, a disconnected telephone, and a bathroom where I devise my strategy. Four nights later, I’m dressed to kill and riding in a limo en route to a cocktail party at the Bachelor pad, a 14th-century château. At the entrance stands my supposed soul mate, a doctor from Nashville, who at first glance is a living mannequin.
A split-second assessment of his uptight demeanor and the surrounding obstacle course (mossy stairs and cobblestones) tells me the odds of falling on my behind are greater than the chances of falling in love. In any case, I’m nervous. I get out of the limo and, doing my best goddess-walk, make my way toward the show’s thirtysomething star. Maintaining my balance is a real feat, but I arrive unscathed. We exchange a hug, and I dart inside the mansion, where my heart rate slows from “hyperactive hummingbird” to “calm human being.”
Making friends with the other women is easy. We’re from the same mold and share a distaste for our Bachelor’s name. Travis Stork? Upon saying this aloud, I’m summoned to give an on-camera confession outside. That’s when my glass slipper (it was actually a gold, strappy Stuart Weitzman) slips—down the stairs. The entire weight of my being lands on my ankle. (Fortunately, The Bachelor’s editors left my fall on the cutting room floor when the show premiered on January 9.)
The swelling is immediate, and the pain is unbearable, but I can think of nothing except the cameras and how I must keep up appearances for my public: “I’m not crying! I’m a brave soldier!” I’m candid about my aching ankle when the editors would have favored tales of an aching heart, and I fear my sound byte will be used out of context. I limp back inside on my perilous heels in search of ice.
The gals want to know how I got so beat up, but Stork is more concerned about our possible “hometown date” in Walnut Creek. I mention fried chicken at McCovey’s. Full disclosure: When I’m not pursuing love in Paris, I do publicity for the restaurant. But fried chicken is an honest means to any sane southerner’s heart. Stork, however, calls my product placement “cheating.” Excusez-moi? Bachelors pretending to live in other people’s mansions shouldn’t throw stones.
Later, the ladies assemble for the climactic elimination ceremony. We gather around a pedestal bearing precious few roses (symbols for romantic potential and a guaranteed appearance on next week’s episode) for the Bachelor to distribute.
Thus commences the largest contestant exodus in the show’s eight-season history. Thirteen of the 25 women will be dismissed, and I can’t keep a straight face: My ankle looks like an eggplant, and I’ve been standing so long that I’m now swaying. Stork sighs as he makes eye contact with me then offers the final flower of the evening to the woman in ringlets next to me.
Cue the Prozac commercial.
Luckily, it’s impossible to mope when released into the charms of a foreign city. Never one to underestimate the healing power of champagne, I propose a toast to new friends dismissed by the same incorrigible punisher: “We’re so over it. Hiccup!” We eat and drink our way up and down the Champs Elysées with the 100 euros left over from our room service stipends. I can hardly contain my joie de vivre, nor my sympathy for the “chosen ones” still at the mercy of the cameras.
Now that I’m back in Diablo Country (with my ankle still sore to the touch), I’ve decided to take a more proactive approach to romance. After all, I can’t expect another prescreened specimen to suddenly materialize again.
My experiment in romantic roulette did force me to confront the question, Is the possibility of finding love worth the risk of looking like a fool?
My answer is a resounding oui. And if that means living with people approaching me to ask, “Didn’t you get snubbed by The Bachelor?” so be it. I may not have the storybook romance to tell my firstborn—yet—but I’ve been granted a new appreciation for the power to compose my own happy ending.
The Bachelor: Paris airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC.
Stephanie Simons is a Walnut Creek-based freelance writer and restaurant publicist. She interviewed supermodel Carré Otis in the July 2002 issue of Diablo.