After a fantastic family day, the icing on the cake last night was a glass of shiraz (okay, two), my laptop and Brad’s hometown dates.

 Initially, I thought for sure we’d be saying goodbye to Ashley last night, but I think it was pretty clear after Shawntel showed Brad his eternal resting place inside a dusty trophy case that she wasn’t gonna make the cut.

 I have to say overall, I thought hometown dates went pretty well.  It was nice to see Chantal had her mani redone in honour of Brad’s visit (not sure if you noticed her middle finger was polish free last week, not at all noticeable against the fire engine red of her other fingers…).  Not sure why Brad was wearing what looked like a quilted bullet proof vest when he met up with her in the park, but she didn’t seem to mind. 

 So once we see the gorgeous slate feature wall in Chantal’s house, I’m thinking how does she afford this on her own?  Guess she did well in the divorce.  Not that I was a fan of her mustard yellow and purple colour scheme or mismatched furniture, but still a pretty nice house.  Then, as the majestic wooden gates to her parent’s home swing open it all comes together.  This girl is friggin’ loaded.  Jackpot Brad!!!  Now you just have to decide does the family money outweigh the adoption of two cats and one sheep-ewok-raccoon disguised as a dog???  Gotta say, and I’m sure there will be haters out there, but I stand firm:  The cats are a deal breaker for me.  Don’t like em, don’t trust em, wouldn’t be able to sleep with those evil, selfish, ulterior-motive-filled eyes staring me down planning all the ways to kill me in my sleep.  There.  I said it.  Hate me if you must but give me ten dogs any day.

 I don’t think I took any notes from the time those wooden gates at Chantal’s house opened.  I was too busy picking my jaw up off the floor.  I was able to put my feelings for the sofa tassles aside and focus on the task at hand; the conversation in the LOBBY of their home.  Who has a lobby???

 By the end of Chantal’s visit, I actually thought maybe Brad and her dad should be dating.  Anyone else?  I was a bit confused about whether or not her dad was a self-made’man or came from his own family money, so thank goodness her father commissioned a sculpture to set the record straight.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I would marry into that family just for the wine – OMG.  Overall it seemed to be a great home visit all around, and you could sense the joy on all their faces…well, except for her mom who is only able to smile about 43% since the surgeries.

 Onwards to Maine, home of the bubbliest Bachelorette contestant ever and a horrific pronunciation of the word poutine.  Seriously, I almost threw up in my mouth every time anyone said it.  I don’t know if it was sad or cute to see the no-tell-motel restaurant Ashley grew up working in.  Clearly this town is pretty small because it was mentioned on more than one occasion that Ashley is very driven and dedicated to her career.  I mean I get that she’s proud of what she does and don’t get me wrong, I love my dental hygienists and my teeth are very grateful, but they make it seem her professions is akin to shooting for her dreams and becoming the next American Idol.  It even found its way into her flirtation… as she finger-fed him gravy-soaked fries (what do you think this is, chocolate covered strawberries???)  ”I can see your crown” is right up there in awkward dating phrases with “I carried a watermelon.”

 And really Brad, why did you look so weirded out by the concept of poutine?  Do you hate good food? Are you better than us?  What is wrong with this heavenly treat?  Fries?  Good.  Gravy?  Good.  Cheese?  Gooooood.  Sack up.

 After the honour system at the produce stand, I thought for sure Ashley’s dad was gonna be a shotgun- wielding redneck, but instead, her family was as sweet as the pounds of sugar they must have consumed right before their arrival.  Have you ever seen a more hyper family???  At one point I think they were all sitting on Brad’s lap and when they weren’t they were scurrying all around him like a colony of ants on a raisin.  Honestly by the time he left and we watched Ashley’s mother spying on them from the door as thy said goodbye, I was completely exhausted!

 The room that Brad was chatting to her dad and sister (did anyone else think her tattoos were a statement necklace at first?) was a far cry from the comfort of Chantal’s wine room.  Let’s see, we had bags of gravel, artificial plants, a deer head, exposed insulation, some basic household cleaners and yes, graffiti…couldn’t have tidied up a little before the cameras arrived?

 Okay raise your hand if you did not love the commercial for Shawntal’s actual funeral home as a precursor to Shawntel’s home date?  The quality was right up there with Cellino and Barnes.  Do you think they paid for it, or the producers let them air it for free?  I imagine ad rates for this high quality show and prime time slot would be quite pricey.

 I get that Shawntel wanted to make sure her boyfriend was cool with her profession before she took the plunge, but she pretty much sealed her fate with the day of fun she planned for him.  First of all, is it really necessary to show your partner every aspect of your profession?  I’ve never taken a boyfriend on a tour of my office to make sure he was cool with press releases and product launches and the layout of my cubicle.  A simple ‘I’m in PR’ has always sufficed.  Clearly Brad was super uncomfortable with every minute he was with her and I actually thought he was going to get sick when she took him to the crematorium and has him on the table with her SARS mask on.  Not hot.  If that wasn’t bad enough, it’s not like she broke up the day with some fresh air and a picnic or anything.  Nope, she takes him from a house of death straight to her parent’s house where she awkwardly crushes her father’s hopes and dreams while chugging wine as fast as she can.  Perhaps this was a conversation she could have had privately with Daddy instead of Brad having to sit there while her father shot ‘you did this’ eyes at him? 

 Thank goodness for the comic relief of Shawntel’s mom actually hitting her father upside the head when he says ‘no rose for you” after they reveal Brad’s visit to her workplace.  Thanks Mom, and here’s a free tip…florescent box lighting in a kitchen doesn’t get more attractive by outlining it in green to match your wallpaper border.

 Onto Emily’s date.  I’m sure all of you, like me were expecting based on the editing for the entire date with Emily to be a complete disaster (way to edit, producers), so I was almost disappointed to see that Ricki’s awkwardness only lasted for a few minutes in the park and she actually ended up besties with Brad by the time the kite (which by the way I am positive is from the dollar store, I have the same one) hit the air.

 Still, I felt super bad for Brad and for Emily for that matter with all the cricket-chirping in the park on the beginning of the date.  That kid sure did make him work for it.  Maybe if Emily had stopped using the phrase “Mr. Brad” every five minutes, (creepy!!!), Ricki would have warmed up a bit earlier.  What was that?  In the end the date was very sweet and normal as they played games in her room and I was very touched (like lump in my throat touched) when Brad tucked her into bed and stroked her hair.  You could tell he was pretty moved by it too.  By the way is anyone else a bit confused by Ricki’s room?  Did Emily give her the master bedroom or something or is this one of those suburban American houses in the middle of nowhere that costs eight dollars and are like 3500 square feet on 200 acres or something crazy like that? 

 Once Ricki was in bed, things got awkward to the point where my husband was no longer asking me to punch him in the face.  His exact words this time were “Please punch me right in the balls”.  I didn’t oblige.  That’s just not nice.  Still, I don’t see a problem with Brad wanting to honour the sage advice of Cuba Gooding Junior circa Jerry Maguire that “you don’t shoplift the pootie from a single mom”.  But, then again, if the single mom was offering a freebie like Horny Barbie seemed to be, I think it’s okay to sample the goods.  And Emily, you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t be begging for it one night and then holding back on fantasy suite night…you know that card is coming, sister.  This ain’t no Season One.  Figure it out.

 Shawntel, despite your creepy profession and the fact that you’re from a place called Chico, I wish you well.  You’re a cool chick and you deserve to be treated as such.  I think it’s pretty obvious that Emily is the front runner…it pretty much has been all season.  If Chantal keeps it together emotionally next week, I’m sure she’ll make it to the finale and we’ll have to watch Ashley and her Ritalin-infested family fight through the pain of rejection.  In honour of the upcoming episode locale and the words of every South African I have ever known; Shame.


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