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Because Pith is far too manly to admit that we've ever watched ABC's drama-fest The Bachelor, we sent correspondent Kathryn Williams to Cool Springs to cover auditions for the reality show's 14th (!) season. Why did she agree to such an assignment? Because she's got a book to promote!
The Lost Summer, her second young adult novel, is the perfect gift for any niece, sister, cousin or inappropriately underage love interest. And we don't just say that because (FULL DISCLOSURE) she's our roommate. Take it away Kathryn!
Nookin' Pa Nub in All the Wong Places
Nashville's no stranger to ABC's feminist-baiting throwback of a dating game, The Bachelor. Doctor
Travis Stork and Sarah Stone, winners of season eight both hailed from Music City, though they had to go to Paris to meet. So the producers must have been feeling lucky yesterday when they arrived at an apartment complex sprung up like an oasis out of the packed clay desert off McEwen Road in Cool Springs for a casting call for the show's fourteenth season.
An hour before contestants were scheduled to arrive for the three-hour auditions (to be followed by a pool-side party where the booze that was prohibited prior to their interviews was unleashed), male residents of Dwell at McEwen and their gawkers guests were already hanging off balconies around the pool like it was MTV Spring Break Headquarters in Cancun. It seemed a little unfair, kind of like shooting fish in a barrel.
As the girls lined up, kept outside in the almost 90-degree heat with the WKRN news team until it was time for interviews to start, there were enough clichés to keep this observer entertained: five inch heels and cocktail dresses (who doesn't wear those at four in the afternoon, I ask?); hair teased, flattened and highlighted within inches of its life; a veritable feast of breasts on parade, like a PG-13 Dr. Seuss book: Big boobs, small boobs, real boobs, fake boobs! From there to here, and here to there, lots of tatas everywhere!
The lobby where contestants filled out their five-page applications and dignity waivers (favorite question: Have you ever had a temporary restraining order issued against you? Perplexed to see Why haven't you found the man of your dreams? got six lines for an answer, but What accomplishment are you most proud of? got two) was decorated appropriately with red roses. I kept waiting for Chris Harrison to step out from behind frosted glass and announce the most dramatic rose ceremony yet.
Some auditioners brought friends or moms for support--or I thought they were moms until they started filling out applications. For those flying solo, a tenuous feeling of camaraderie seemed to congeal. I overheard one potential auditioner explaining the legal jargon of the release form to another girl: "Basically, if they make fun of you, you can't sue them." But I couldn't ignore the feeling that, were it game time, many of these girls would happily claw each others' eyes out while maintaining a Vaseline smile on their shellacked faces. These were pageant girls. They know how to compete, maybe not for love, but for attention.
I was surprised to see a few guys show up to audition (most wearing black; was there a memo?). They were there to audition for World's Luckiest Man, but it got me hoping ABC would damn Middle America and do a gay Bachelor already.
Despite their different looks and, ahem, motivations, all the auditioners did have one thing in common: a naked wedding ring finger. Sadly, they might be lookin' for love in all the wrong places. Only two of the thirteen previous Bachelors are still with their Bachelorettes. None have married them. For now, however, The Bachelorette's Trista and Ryan, who did wed in a small, tasteful, intimate nationally televised ceremony in 2003 seem to be enough to keep the hope alive.