Because I Ask The Tough Theological Questions
As the birth of daughter next month, Lynda and I have been busy preparing for the life changing experience of being parents. We’ve
• Chosen a name: Maria Rosa Guadalupe. One of the great things about being married to a woman of Mexican descent is that when naming your child, you don’t have to settle on a first and middle name; you just pick the names you like and string ‘em all together.
• Been rearranging the house: the baby will get what is now the little room where the dog sleeps. We will move from the upstairs master bedroom into what is now the guest bedroom, downstairs right next to the baby’s room. This means the dog will now occupy the master bedroom (which has its own bathroom). Geez. Maybe we should get a little red velvet throne for the dog to sleep on…
• Been buying baby furniture. Lynda changes her mind on what she likes about twice a week. All I know is that I will be putting it all together. Therefore, when she asks me “What type of furniture do you like?”, my answer is “Assembled.”
• Been reading baby books. I’m currently working on The Baby Whisperer. Though I don’t believe the author is any relation to Cesar Milan (The Dog Whisperer), I am prepared to discipline the child by yanking on a leash that I’ve put around her neck.
• Been watching a lot of TV, as we anticipate that this particular activity will become a rare occurrence after next month.
In regards to the last item, Lynda and I have just finished watching this season’s edition of The Bachelor, the first time I have ever watched more than a few minutes of any episode of any season in the long-running franchise. It is from this experience – especially last night’s finale (when he picks the “one”) and the “aftershow” which was taped in mid-January (the finale had actually taken place last November) – that my important theological question arises. I invite anyone with advanced theological training to ponder and respond to my question, as it is of monumental spiritual complexity and importance.
For those who have not been viewers, this season of the show featured Jason Mesnick as The Bachelor. Jason is a single dad of a three year-old boy, Ty, and lives in Seattle. Mr. Mesnick was last seen on his knees last summer in the finale of The Bachelorette, proposing to Deanna Pappas, who turned him down. Jason was a gentleman about it, thanking her for the opportunity “to learn that he could love again.”
Apparently, truckloads of single women all over America and Canada simultaneously went “Awwwwww”, as he had been a very popular contestant. The producers of The Bachelor scooped him up rather quickly, and this season was the most anticipated one ever.*
* - Just getting into the spirit of the show here, folks, where every week is “the most dramatic episode yet!”, every “Rose Ceremony” (where women who don’t get roses are eliminated) is “the most dramatic rose ceremony ever!”, and each season finale is “the most exciting conclusion ever!”
Among the 25 women Jason had to choose from was Melissa Rycroft, a Dallas gal and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader in 2006 and 2007. She appeared prominently on the Country Music Network's The Making of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in 2006 as a rookie candidate, and was by far one of the most down-to-earth of the group. So Lynda and I were kinda rooting for her. There was also a Canadian lady named Jillian, a restaurant designer, who seemed the most “put together” of the group of 25 – looks, brains, personality, maturity, down-to-earthiness, lack of bitchiness – that Lynda and I were also rooting for.
So, take a fellow who seems like a “good guy”, a couple of women you think would be pretty good choices for him (or pretty much any guy that likes attractive, intelligent women), a host of other gals among whom there also some good choices, and what transpires? Ugh.
• By the end of the second episode, Jason had narrowed it down to 12 women. On the third episode, he made out with (on camera) each and every one of them at one time or another. This would continue for the duration of the season: every woman still on the show would be in passionate lip-lock with him at some point every week. Then he would talk on camera about what a great “connection” he had with whomever he had just French kissed. Later, when he had eliminated her, he would claim “I just didn’t feel that connection.”
• Jason seemed to sense whenever one of the women was “being reserved” or “was putting up a wall”. He would confront her, and the poor girl would feel the need to apologize, as if there was something inherently unnatural about being uncomfortable about “dating” a guy who’s simultaneously “dating” multiple other women, all of whom you are currently sharing living quarters with. Once the girl had reassured him that she possessed the required level of adoration for him, he would ram his tongue down her throat. Ah, romance.
• Jason's three big test questions: Are you ready to settle down? Are you ready to be a stepmom? Are you ready to move to Seattle? Sweet leaping Moses on buttered toast, man, do you really think any of them would even be on this show if their answer was “Nope. Not really.”? (And if they show the slightest bit of hesitance, refer to the above point.)
• Jason showed no reluctance or even hesitation in exploiting his son for TV “moments”. Broadway musicals are less “staged” than Jason’s repeated on-camera time with Ty.
• Any poor soul who participated in a The Bachelor drinking game - in which one had to take a drink every time Jason said the word “amazing” - is now in detox. Jason, go to the bookstore and buy a Thesaurus. “Amazing” is under “A”.
Fast forward to the second to last show: Jillian and Melissa are among the final three, along with Molly, a pretty, intelligent gal who doesn’t seem to have any personality whatsoever. Not that I really fault her for this though, considering the emotional squeegee of living in the artificial world of The Bachelor, where you’re
a) living with other women who are chasing the same man you are
b) aware that he’s making out with and then eliminating one of these women every week,**
c) now halfway around the world in New Zealand (for the remainder of the show), so just in case you are eliminated, the plane ride home will be that much more excruciating.
** - Which, of course, begs the question “Why on earth are you interested in a guy who would make out with you, then turn around and make out with numerous other women?” However, I made a rather generous share of "Why did you pick her?" mistakes in my pre-Lynda lifetime, so I'm not in a position to judge.
As a result, each of these three women is a shell of what they were a few weeks ago. Every time Jillian is on camera without Jason, the most “put together” of the group looks like she’s about to burst into tears. Melissa seems to have regressed a year in age for every week she’s been on the show, and now seems more like an 18 year-old girl than a 25 year-old woman. Whatever personality Molly had has disappeared entirely, along with any sense of identity: whatever answer Jason wants to hear from Molly, she hopes she says it.
On this second-to-last episode, Jason has a date with each woman that includes a steamy make out session in a hot tub and an overnight stay in his bed. The women are not lodging together, so they have no idea that Jason had the need to change the sheets every morning. Jillian’s turn in the hot tub was particularly creepy, as a) describing it as “soft porn” would not be a stretch, b) we had just met her parents in a lengthy and somewhat endearing segment the previous week, and c) Jason eliminated her at the end of the show, claiming he thought of her more of a “best friend”. Needless to say, none of my “best friends” and I ever had evenings in a hot tub that Cinemax would be interested in.
So, I went into viewing last night’s finale knowing that Jason’s tongue would spend a generous portion of the evening massaging both Melissa’s and Molly’s tonsils, that he would yammer on about “being in love with two women” without anyone calling “bulls#&t” on him, he would propose to one of these two and they would accept, and a few “amazing”s later I would call it a night. However, little did I know what was in store; for though the field is crowded and the history of ‘reality’ TV short, Jason Mesnick would secure his claim to the title of “Biggest ‘Reality’ Show Schmuck Of All Time”.
His accomplishments in the finale:
• Both women get to meet his family. Melissa’s parents had declined to meet Jason on camera a couple of weeks ago, saying that “meeting their potential future son-in-law is a private, sacred thing”. Jason continues to harp on this, framing "Melissa's parents don't want a bunch of television cameras in their faces when they meet their potential son-in-law" into "they wouldn't meet with him." Couldn't he have offered to come by on his own? Generally, making the extra effort when meeting the parents is a good idea, isn't it? I mean, that and not being simultaneously involved with numerous other women....
• He continues to attempt to turn every on-camera moment with his son into a freaking Hallmark moment. I spent the entire episode wishing Ty would ask his dad “Daddy, what’s the word for the male version of ‘slut’”?
• Jason repeatedly gets all choked up. Or, more accurately, Jason repeatedly pretends to get all choked up. When I can see a guy checking for camera placement out of the corner of his eye, I’m not really buying it.
• Deanna Pappas, who turned him down as The Bachelorette, shows up to tell him…uh, something. She had broken up with the guy she chose over Jason, she regretted her decision not to pick Jason, that she had followed her heart and her head and it didn’t work out…um, so what on earth is your point here? I couldn’t really figure out what the hell she was trying to say, other than “I want to be on TV again”. Jason takes this as another opportunity to talk about his love for two women, when he should have been asking “You came all the way to New Zealand for this?”
• After telling Molly that he doesn’t “know how I could ever let you go”, he tells Molly that he isn’t choosing her. Molly leaves, and Jason cries his “look how sensitive I am” tears. Jason proposes to Melissa, who reacts like she just got asked to the prom. He tells her he fell from her from the start (which he demonstrated by making out with and groping a dozen other women).
Now comes the After The Final Rose show, in which Jason puts on his lead boots and presses the “I Am A Complete Jackass” pedal to the floor.
Normally on this show, the host, Harrison, would talk to the happy couple and "celebrate their journey to love," he says, but there's no audience here, because what's happened is so "dramatic" and so potentially "emotionally difficult" that they wanted to make things as intimate as possible - as intimate as it can possibly be in front of television cameras recording you for millions of people to watch.
Jason tells Harrison that “since this all ended, things have been different.” Really, genius? You mean after the cameras and stylists and free lodging in exotic locations and free, extravagantly staged ‘romantic’ dates, that the dynamic of your relationship with Melissa……changed? Oh, do tell.
Jason says things have been “different” for him (without explaining what he means by this), and that Melissa senses this. Then comes the moment when he crosses the line from “sleazy, opportunistic jerk”, wanders through “what an a#%h*@” territory, and takes up permanent residency in the land of “Deserves to be eaten by a pack of feral dingos”: he informs Harrison that over the last few weeks he hasn't been able to stop thinking about Molly, and that when Melissa comes out for their ‘couple interview’, completely unbeknownst to her, he’s going to end things with her.
On national f#&*ing television.
Jason says he needs to talk to Melissa first and give her a chance to be mad and hate him and all that. Oh, don't worry about that, big guy - you didn't propose to or dump either myself or Lynda, and we’d like to beat you senseless.
Give it a view:
• Part I- Jason tells Melissa, “You have every right to be irritated.” No, Jason, she has every right to punch you in the mouth.
• Part I – Jason repeatedly says “If I could control my heart and my head [in regards to his inability to stop fantasizing about Molly], I would give you the world.” Dude, men who cannot ‘control their heart and head’ - when it comes to thinking about women they are not engaged to - aren’t worth a damn.
• Part I- Melissa starts talking about herself in the third person, though in the context of the conversation it doesn’t come off as pretentious, just angry. She recovers nicely, though, and calls him a bastard. Good for you, honey.
• Part II – Jason starts off by saying “I hate myself for what I’m doing to Melissa.” [You’ve got plenty of company there, dude.] “Nothing matters now except what she’s going through.” Please, dear readers, pardon my language...but this, for me, was the last goddamn straw with this guy. This would have been the opportune time for him to just shut the hell up, and instead he’s still trying to sell Melissa and the viewing public on him really being just a great, sensitive guy.
• Part II – Harrison decides to give them “a moment alone”. Presumably to get some sponges and soap in case he needs to clean Jason’s blood off the walls.
• Part II - When Melissa says, "Don't call me. Don't text me anymore. Leave me alone", I thought the candles and filtered lighting just added to the sense of romance and wonder.
• Part II – The Clincher: After Melissa walks out, Jason goes into his “I’ll shed some tears now to show you how sensitive I am and how hard this is for me.” act. That he thinks he can do this and that anyone on earth is going to a) believe it or b) give a flying fig about he feels at the moment speaks volumes about the depths of his vacuousness.
I thought Melissa held it together pretty well for being ambushed on national TV. The last time I got dumped, it only received some regional media coverage and was just a brief item on CNN a couple of days later, and I was a wreck.
Molly comes on, and Jason hits her with “I just dumped Melissa and would like to try things with you.” Molly is shocked, and judging by the expression on her face for the next couple of minutes, viewers all over the country were offered the briefest hope that she would tell him to go jump in a lake. But she admitted that she had daydreamed that this would happen, and though she can’t quite believe that it is actually taking place, gives him a kiss and tells him that she’s open to “seeing where things go”.
Tonight, there is a “follow-up to the follow-up" show, where we will get updates on the whole drama since the events of last night's show. Hopefully 6 weeks of reflection has given Molly enough time to realize that she would be the 3rd woman Jason will have proposed to within the last year, and that Jason is a jerk for even trying to weasel his way back into her life.
So here’s my important theological question:
Tonight, during the “follow-up to the follow-up" show, would it be theologically permissible to pray that either a) one or both of these women kicks Jason in the balls and tells him to shove his ring up the orifice of their choice, or b) Jason spontaneously bursts into flames?
I admit it's a tough one. Where's St. Thomas Aquinas when you need him?
Just watched the “follow-up to the follow-up" show. No testicle punting or bachelor flammability exhibited, just a fawning Molly and a host of the eliminated women along with a majority of the interviewed studio audience members commending Jason for "following his heart" and "his courage in making a tough decision". Melissa was not present, ostensibly because (according to the host) "it was just too emotional for her", but more likely because she now has good enough sense to stay as far away as possible from the steaming pile of manure that is The Bachelor. Personally, I would rather watch David Gordon's 1993 field goal that enabled Boston College to beat Notre Dame 41-39 (costing the Irish the national championship) on an endless loop for all eternity than to watch one more minute of this travesty.