Saturday, November 27, 2004


On Wednesday night I happened to catch the final episode of the latest "Bachelor" reality TV show on ABC. In this version of the romantic reality tv show, the "Bachelor" was Byron Velvick, a professional bass fisherman and as usual over the past few months he has had about 25 women to date, fall in love with and choose to possibly marry. I got bored of this story-line and stopped watching "Bachelor" shows months ago (oh yeah, months), but I would have paid a lot more attention to this one if I had known that one of the 25 women was Mary Delgado, one of the three finalists from the 2003 "Bachelor" show that featured Bob Guiney. I had noticed Mary Delgado on Guiney's show because she was a Latina and she was old: 35 years old, in fact, almost as old as me. Incredible. Who let her on? Well, in that 2003 "Bachelor" show Mary fell in love with Guiney, but he picked someone else and I felt bad for her because she had said she really wanted to get married and have a family and I knew she was 35. Thirty-five. That's a serious situation.

So I tuned in to ABC on Wednesday night for the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, but instead I got this grinning, tall, blonde white guy (Byron) who has narrowed his choices down to two women. In this final episode, only two women remain and he introduces his family to each woman in turn and in the final moments of the show, he'll make his choice. One of the women, Tanya, is tall, blonde and beautiful which is to be expected (she's also 31). But when I recognized Mary, I thought, "Oh my god. That's -- what was her name? Mary! Oh, no she already got rejected once. She's doing this again??"

I couldn't believe it. I guess I expect network producers to be cruel enough to put people through whatever brings in ratings, but I was genuinely surprised to see Mary Delgado going through this again. Now she's even older - 36! - and I imagine even more desperate for a mate. Maybe Mary's chances are a bit better now since Byron is 40 years old (the oldest "Bachelor" yet), but I still don't like the odds: she's up against a younger, blonde chick. In dismay I watched the standard ending where the two women are decked out in their finest and ride separate limousines to meet Byron and find out who he wants to spend the rest of his life (or at least the weekend) with. Of course, both women are in a nervous state as they confess to us (that is, to the camera) their love for Byron and make clear their intention to be his wife. Each says she will be devastated if he doesn't pick her.

So here I am, a 38-year-old Mexican American spinster, watching this 36-year old Cuban American spinster lay her heart on the line again, like a big, swollen watermelon balancing on the very edge of the open bed of a pickup truck and I know that truck is about to lurch. I know this great American fisherman guy is going to pick Tanya the Blonde. How can he not? She's white, they belong together, they color-match. He's going to pick the tall blonde and I'm going to see poor Mary get rejected and humiliated all over again. I can't stand it.

So, of course I have to watch. In the final minutes, I see Tanya willow across the romantic fake setting to where Byron stands with "the final rose." Mary is still on her way in her limo, and the way they edit these things you can't tell who the winner is by the order in which they appear. So I watch Byron look deeply into Tanya's eyes and profess that he's not in love with her. What? Oh, my god. He's not picking Tanya?

Sure enough, Byron escorts Tanya back to her limo (where she looks like she wants to sucker-punch him before she leaves, and who could blame her), and then returns to his post to wait for Mary. When she tremblingly arrives, he asks her to marry him. He even struggles to do it in Spanish because he knows her parents are watching and they don't speak English.

Mary is 36. Thirty-six. She has never been married. She has wanted this so badly, with her whole being, more than anything else in the world. And she got it. The buzz is that their union is so solid that this will be the first "Bachelor" show that actually results in an actual wedding.

I was stunned. I'm still stunned. I don't know if I'm more stunned that Byron picked Mary over Tanya, or that Mary opened herself up to have her guts ripped out again. After all the pain she had been through, this woman actually let herself fall in love again (and under similar national-TV circumstances). She took the exact same risk again. And he picked her.

I'm stunned.

No comments: