Riding Coattails: Second Helpings

I read somewhere that Jen Schefft is a lot like Marcia Brady. The writer drew this comparison based on Jen’s appearance, especially her smile, her voice, and her overall wholesomeness. Having missed out on season three of The Bachelor, in which Ms. Schefft was wooed by Mr. Moneybags, Andrew Firestone, my curiosity was sufficiently piqued to watch ABC’s third bachelorette in action. I mean, Firestone had a lazy eye and she left her home and friends in Chicago to be with him, so clearly there was some real love going on. And after viewing the premier last Monday, I can further understand her appeal. Jen is a very likeable girl next door. On many levels, I can relate to her, being a Midwesterner and former San Francisco transplant myself. Plus, I moved to New York last year, so I wanted to see romance blossom in the town I now call home.

While I was happy to see that ABC’s leading woman is a real person and not some stick-thin space alien, I couldn’t help but sense that something about Jen was a bit off. Maybe it was her too perfect, rehearsed answers to the show’s host, Chris Harrison, about why she and Andrew Firestone broke up. Or the way she spoke wistfully about “getting it right this time.” Or maybe I found her grammatical and mathematical errors distracting, such as when she recalled the thrill of “walking into a room with 25 eyes all on you.” I got confused. Had the guys all donned eye patches after they entered the cocktail party? Was it pirate-themed?

Sadly, no. I haven’t been this disappointed since Bob dumped Kelly Jo.

The line-up of suitors was filled with the predictable mix of teachers, fire fighters, attorneys, pro athletes, and businessmen, all upstanding citizens doused with too much hair gel and tooth bleach. I was pleased to see that a few live wires were thrown in for entertainment value, such as Fabrice, the French guy, who felt the need to remind everyone of his nationality each time he opened his mouth, and Chris C., the cocky, boozing hairstylist from Kentucky. Despite the fact that he came off as a giant dickwad, Fabrice made it through the first rose ceremony, while Chris was sent back to his tiny town with the state-of-the-art post office. I felt a little sorry for him, but frankly, I think he needs someone who can kick his ass. You never can tell, but Jen doesn’t look like the dominatrix type.

After the first rose ceremony, I have a few predictions about who will probably stay in the running for a while:

Keith, the 28-year-old welder and self-described surfer bum from Encinitas, California, won the First Impression rose from Jen’s best friends, who were working undercover as drink servers at the cocktail party. I respect their choice, since Keith is adorable and seems like a nice, down-to-earth guy. I also noticed that like Jen, he has some verbal/math issues. On the ABC website, he was asked to describe himself in three words. His answer? “Active, thoughtful.” Maybe their children wouldn’t have great SAT scores, but Keith and Jen could probably be happy together.

Ryan S., who is 28 and works as a teacher in Manhattan Beach, California, totally had me at hello. He was very cute and very sweet and I loved the way he was all worried that Jen wouldn’t like him because he wasn’t a rich guy. Jen’s response was very endearing, when she said that she thought teaching was a great job.

Matt M., the 32-year-old firefighter from Staten Island, instantly charmed me with his accent and friendly smile. However, when I investigated him further on ABC’s website, I found out why he really wants to get married: “I’m getting older and I’m not pulling the hot chicks anymore, so I better get them while the getting’s good.” Um, what exactly is that supposed to mean?

Wendell, 32, is an entrepreneur who already has the hometown advantage of living in Chicago. He also looked like a very solid guy who would be willing to change diapers and carry Jen’s purse while she shopped. His appearance was slightly Opie Taylor-esque, but I thought he was cute.

Michael, the 31-year-old middle school teacher from Monroe, Michigan, was my favorite. He distinguished himself by giving Jen the teddy bear from the college fraternity that both of their fathers belonged to. This tall, broad-shouldered guy appears to be something of a teddy bear himself, as was evidenced when he said, “Hug?” after Jen gave him a rose. If Jen lets him go, she’s crazy.

The ones who cracked me up:

Jason, the motivational speaker, and Josh, the pro marathoner, who both claim to be saving themselves for marriage. Good job, ABC! You found the two of the three virgins over the age of 25 left on the planet (the other being Jon Dalton from Survivor: Pearl Islands). Will Jen ultimately choose one of these guys? Doubtful. After all, she’s the one who was talking about having a fire in her pants.

The one that got away:

Andrew, the 37-year-old bartender from New York, was far and away the hottest guy in the running and Jen eliminated him before she even talked to him. Was it because of his name? Hey, that could have been an advantage. Jen wouldn’t have had to worry about calling out the wrong name in the throes of passion.

The wild card:

Jerry, the 29-year-old gallery director from L.A., was unarguably a very good-looking man and the chemistry between him and Jen was apparent. I saw him as a front runner until he made the mistake of carrying Jen down the stairs. What was that all about? I have a feeling that he will probably be one of the final four at least, because if I were in Jen’s shoes, I’d at least get him in the hot tub before chucking him into the reject pile.

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