Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Juan Pablo #8-9: The Art of Argument

There are a lot of cats where I live. In Riyadh, unlike my home in Denver, there are no predators, so the cats roam freely. They climb the trees and hop the fences, hunt, lie in the sun, passing from one property to another with nobody batting an eye about it. It's a good life for a cat. Sadly, however, people tend to live here for a lot fewer years than you find in the lifespan of a cat. The cats that get left behind without being neutered make new cats, which then turn into a "cat problem." The resources start getting slim, the turf starts getting too small, and then the fights start. I'm new to cats, and the term "catfight," used to be only an expression to me. (And I'm not alone--my image search on "catfight" brought up only pictures of women fighting. I had to switch to "cats fighting" to get actual cats.) Anyway, whether you call it a catfight or cats fighting, zowie. I'll show you serious up in here.

Nevertheless, the terms of engagement are clear, and both sides understand the vocabulary, no matter whether they came from English-speaking, Afrikanns-speaking, or Turkish-speaking houses. So the fights are fairly straightforward, and when they're over, they're over. (Even when the "end" involves me going outside and shoeing the perps away.)

Not so The Bachelor! Fussin' and feudin' can happen in ALL sorts of ways, the victor is not always clear, and what, exactly, somebody was doing in the first place can remain a puzzle long after the tussle is over. We humans could learn a lot from the cats about how to disagree productively.

I usually like the hometown dates. Like cats, the girls have less to fight over when there are fewer of them and they can spread out over their turf a little more comfortably, so the drama starts to sag at this point in the show. But then--genius!--we get a whole fresh batch of characters trotted across the stage to answer the questions that have been plaguing us about how some of these girls got to be the way they are.

This shot, for example, did a lot to help me understand Princess Nikki:
And interiors to match. No, it may not be Versailles, but that's a 1% upbringing right there, folks. Brings a certain sense of privilege, I'm sure. Add a slammin' bod, a pretty smile, a bottle of peroxide, and a flare for just the right combination of negativity and well-timed theatrics to make people feel grateful you're paying attention to them, and bam. You have a Nikki. Next!

On to visit Andi, who picked up a bit of an accent I hadn't heard before in her hometown of Atlanta. That's not all she picked up, though. Question: If Renee didn't have time to reunite with her son before JP got there (a top priority, one must assume), how did Andi have time to do that over-the-top ombre haircolor? But I digress. Mostly, I need to talk about my deep and abiding love for Andi's dad. Despite the pre-show hype, he didn't come out on the attack against Juan Pablo, but took the very reasonable stance of saying that Juan Pablo was asking the wrong question at the wrong time. The blessing he sought should come later, "after you're done with this thing you're doin'." A serious gift should only be given when it's asked for, well, seriously. And the Final Four Bachelor Hometown Dates is not a serious moment. I mean, come on. How seriously are any of us taking them? Next!

Oh, dear doomed Renee. The cut after the hometown date is always the unkindest cut of all. It says "I liked you until I saw you in a real setting." Which was dead true, and probably a mercy. I suspect the reason Renee got sent home was because her son made everything way too real for Juan Pablo. He had at least enough decency to realize that whatever fun he was having and hoped to continue having should not involve a kid who's not only ADORABLE (Norman Rockwell, anyone?) but the best ball player on his team. (If you've never been around youth baseball, tip: The kid who plays pitcher, catcher, and shortstop is your best athlete. By a mile.)

When Juan Pablo said to Clare that he "can't wait to see why you are the way you are," I don't think he appreciated all that he was saying. Perhaps what he wanted to learn was "why you have that Cupid's bow lip, and whether your figure is genetic and will stay that way forever." No, the surprise bonus discovery (one hoped) would be why Clare is cray-cray. Answer: The doted-upon beautiful orphan baby in a crowd of girls learned early that she was the center of the world and that she "deserved" all kinda of good things, including not having HER evening upended by her bafflingly awkward older sister. Deserved? No, honey. If this is your family, that's gonna happen. Sister Laura is one weird cat, who can't seem to interact with other cats in a way the cats themselves can understand. Speaking for Mom while Mom just sat there? Getting annoyed when she got called on it, to the point that she took that Drastic! Alarming! Threatening! step of standing there with her arms folded? "I have no choice, Clare. If you're going to act like that, you leave me no choice but to do THIS."
And then, from a bigger distance, to do THIS."
I'm guessing Kitty Laura spends a lot of time lurking around in the bushes by herself. This is a cat that doesn't know how to fight, just how to convince all the other cats she's really weird. This is not the way to conduct productive arguments, people. But clearly, we have a family with widespread communication problems. There's a whole web family dynamics at work here that we got only the tiniest tease about. I'm frustrated and intrigued. And I REALLY wanted the camera to follow Clare inside after Juan Pablo left and she had free rein to freak out on her sister.

After some final lip-biting and eye-rolling from Juan Pablo about how HOT all these women are to him TO THEIR FACES, IN FRONT OF EACH OTHER, and Renee's merciful dispatch (classy to the end), we got a 24-hour breather before the final dates in Saint Lucia. I needed it. The full week would've been better.

First up, Clare the Entitled, who told us it's "finally time for MY love story." Overall, their date just made me uncomfortable. We got the creepy exchange of her making sure she was being noticed enough by asking him whether he liked her dress and then him making a show of checking her out. Don't get me wrong--this is an entirely normal exchange between two people flirting with each other, and there would be nothing disturbing about it at all without the context of him being equally involved with two other women. But both he and Clare seem oblivious to this context, which is a job requirement for the show. Do what makes you happy, but I don't want to watch. Thank goodness the cameras had to leave.

Andi and Juan Pablo wound up having two very different dates, we learned later. What we saw of the date itself seemed routine enough, but by morning, he was delighted and she was disgusted. And HERE'S where I got really enthusiastic about Andi. Does she leave? NO! She's in St. Lucia, for heaven's sake! No emotional jumping on a float plane and disappearing over the horizon crying! Not for this girl, no sir. She's going to claim her full extra day on the beach, under the palms, enjoying little drinks with umbrellas, make her final video, save the big scene for the final moment, and then catch the plane she would've been on anyway. Cost-effective for the show, more fun for her. That's some savvy resource management there, folks.

But while Andi was stewing over the events of the previous night (at great length, it appears), Princess Nikki claimed her final date. And claim it she did.
WHO WEARS THAT? Well, a girl who's used to manipulating people, that's who. She said she hoped he "hasn't forgotten about me." Oh, that'll remind him, all right, but only of the same stuff everybody else has, and which you just want to make sure he knows are available to him. I don't ever want to hear her say "I just want to be taken seriously" or "Why can't I ever find a GOOD guy?" Juan Pablo (remember? the guy with the daughter? the one who wants to set a good example of what kind of man she should seek?) went on at great length about how sexy she is. ON TELEVISION. So I think these two are really well suited to each other.

At last, we came to the final argument. Andi and JP, one cat wandering blithely across the patio while the other was already bristled up and ready to pounce. This whole interaction was fascinating, and the kind of psycho-study I wait for in reality TV. Just guessing here, but seeing how things have played out I'm imagining that Juan Pablo's final four of choice would've been Sharleen, Andi, Nikki, and Clare. Two dark, cerebral, serious women; two blonde (let's not quibble about roots), emotional, dramatic women. Do we notice the coincidence that the two thinkers left under their own power? (Do we see the connection between Andi and her level-headed dad?) Looks as if Juan Pablo has found his level and wound up with two of the same model he's probably always gone for.

But, back to the argument. Andi started out very graciously, saying she appreciated all she'd learned and experienced, said she was leaving as a person who knew herself better. Then her calm-and-rational switch flipped when JP took her announcement of departure as nonchalantly as if she was a friend of his daughter saying she didn't like what you were serving for dinner and wanted to go home now. HERE is where the two cats start misunderstanding each other. I believe when he says "That's okay," he thinks he's saying, "It's right for you to do what you need to do. I'm not angry. I understand." When she hears "that's okay," she's hearing "I don't care. Doesn't bother me a bit. I'm just having fun, here." And so ALL the stuff she's been ruminating over for the past day, all the sins he committed over the night they spent together--the talking about himself, the name-dropping, the other-woman-mentioning--now she can't let that go. She genuinely cared! Her sacrifices, her investment are wasted! So now she has to prove him WRONG.

And he may be. (Evidence suggests yes.) But that doesn't matter. What she wants now is to MAKE him see how wrong he was, and how much that hurt her. But here's the thing: You can't make somebody see things your way. And when you're reduced to arguing facts ("You said default!" "I don't know that word!") you're clawing at a lot of fur and not getting anything done. She wanted her wounds miraculously wiped away, which was always impossible, no matter how much he might have groveled and apologized. The fantasy suite evening was reality, and no amount of fighting over what actually happened was going to remake it. She had to forgive herself for being there, stop trying to remake the night better in her own mind, and realize that the only story she had to tell was this: "I saw over the night that we don't connect well. When you talked about Clare that hurt my feelings so badly I had a hard time getting past it. That you don't get that means we just don't function on the same page. I'm leaving now." THE END. Here's what I'm doing, here's why I'm doing it, and here I go to do it.

I have to credit JP with maintaining a calm demeanor through the whole thing. Yes, they're both right. And both wrong. And both totally unsuited to each other. That they got this far is evidence of how bad this show is at enabling people to find genuine relationships. Let's remember--whoever he picks has to listen to an entire season of him lip-smacking over how hot the other women are before stepping onto the After the Final Rose stage to say how Wonderful Everything Is.

So we are left now with mirror image drama queens who, predictably, HATE each other. You don't need to know which one he picks to go ahead and choose your breakup date. It'll all be the same. But if you enjoy a lot of cats bristling up at each other, stay tuned for the Reunion show next week. Should be a doozy.