I saw a study a while back that found that people with sisters are happier than people without. It doesn't matter if the subject is a man or woman, whether the sister is older or younger. The existence of the sister is the only thing that matters. I wonder if Sean appreciates how much happier he is today because he has a sister.
But there's so much more to talk about! It's not ALL about Tierra, contrary to what she thinks, and contrary to what we do actually tend to talk about. Let's start with the Bachelor "rules." What are they, exactly? Is there a book? A contract? It must be secret, because I Googled and came up with nothing. I'm used to rules being, you know, RULES. I'm a rule-follower. When I was about five, I spent a week or so at a day care center while my mom had jury duty or something. I was terrified of breaking some rule other kids knew about and I didn't, but one in particular was very clear: Eat everything on your plate. I hated peanut butter, but remember choking down a gluey peanut butter sandwich on white bread, and then miserably gnawing through a dry lettuce leaf meant to be garnish (garnish? For preschoolers? What was this place?). Clean the plate meant clean the plate. So I did it.
As an adult, I ran into this nailed to a fence in Croatia:
It bothers me that I never have figured out what it was I was not supposed to be doing.
So imagine my SHOCK when the show opens with Sean saying he wanted to "break the rules" and fly to St. Croix with all six girls. There are travel rules? They must be really important! But...what happens if you break them? Could you get ejected from the show? Get no snack service? Forfeit the bride at the end of the show? Be made to pay for your own ring? Well, what about the other rules, like that people are not supposed to crash other people's dates, or visit the lodging quarters of the Bachelor/ette uninvited, or use hide-a-beds, or overrule the reward for a date competition so that everybody's a WINNER!
I think we've just had a peek behind the Bachelor curtain and found...there are no rules. It's starting to look as if they make up rules after somebody does something unexpected so we can think it's more scandalous. Rats. I really wanted to find that book. Then I could kick up a holy fuss anytime I caught somebody breaking a Rule.
(By the way, here's a rule I'd like to see: When someone interrupts a private conversation by saying "Can I just steal him away for a minute?" the Bachelor is required to say, "Excuse me. We're having a conversation. I'll be with you in a minute." Sometimes folks need help to do the right/normal thing. Meant to mention this weeks ago.)
So...finally, the dates. I'm going to run through them without Tierra interrupting, though that's not the way the show's narrative went. First Ashley. (I'd like a still picture of Tierra's bitter face when Ashley's name was read. Oops. You see how these people manage to steal the spotlight no matter what?) I'm worried about Ashley. She's really really all in. ("I love Sean! This is my husband!") For someone who claims to have abandonment issues, I find it surprising that she's chosen the least safe, least trustworthy environment as the place to finally abandon caution. Self-sabotage? As in, if this goes south, then it proves I really can't trust anybody? I love her. She has the kind of elegance I've always only dreamed of having. And I'm afraid her heart is going to get badly, badly broken.
I'm very glad that Sean brought up the Tierra issue himself in his conversation with Ashley. (See? Again she's at the center of every other interaction.) It took the burden off the other women to bring it up themselves and risk being seen as catty, and it showed a dawning awareness that there's such a thing as character, which you judge best by figuring out what somebody's like when you're not looking. I remember a very wise thing Kirstie Alley, of all people, said along these lines: In a partner candidate, look at what their life is like without you. People have enormous capacity to reflect what they think the other person wants. But someone who claims to be spiritual without already being involved in some spiritual activity is, at best, only wanting to be what you want. At worst? Lying. Someone who actually loves animals has a pet. Someone who loves to travel has been traveling. Someone who loves people has a lot of friends. Tierra, by these markers and the sum total of her behavior, only wants to be the center of one person's attention. I hope her desk at the auto dealership is in the middle of the showroom. To her credit, Ashley didn't beat around the bush--at least in what we saw she was clear and fair about it. And Sean recognized her as someone truthful. Hope dawns.
In other news, we learned that Ashley married and divorced while still in high school. To look at her now, you'd say she appears to have done an extraordinary job of pulling herself together from a broken childhood. But has she? She's chosen a terrible time to give herself wholeheartedly to someone, which suggests that under the poised exterior she's an emotional train wreck. Even if she ends up with the final rose, there's a LOT of work to do on that relationship, you can be sure.
And finally, we have Tierra's designated moment on stage, as opposed the scene-stealing, date-interrupting, tantrum-throwing moments she's had before now. She should be thrilled! Elated! Delighted! Happy, you'd think, finally. But in her own words, "I'm so excited, however, being attacked by bugs, and the sweatiness, and my makeup dripping off, like, that's not either fun or cool." She'd hoped for boating, perhaps, being on the water. So...she finally gets what she wants but it's still not enough. Nothing ever will be. Trying to meet the unending need of someone like this is (in the words of someone who did) like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with a shovel. Except the Grand Canyon has a bottom.
At the outset of the date, she says "I'm hot and gross and thirsty." How about "I'm out with Sean"? Nope. However, on a positive note, "Shopping is definitely one of my favorite things to do." (Who didn't see that coming?) She loves to have things bought for her. (Surprised?) At one point, Sean says her energy is "off the charts." (Would you say "manic," by any chance?)
Narcissists are exceptionally good at reading others' signals in regard to themselves, and Tierra nails it when she picks up a certain "distance" in the way Sean is acting toward her. He cites the drama, and Tierra blames the other girls for being jealous ever since she got the first rose. Logical. I mean, if other people don't like you, it can't be you, can it? No, they must be jealous because you're so awesome.
And then comes Sean's lowest moment of the night, in which it appears he has collected the facts correctly and then arrived at the wrong answer when adding them up: "She's probably not nice with the other women, but she's being honest when she says she's here for me. I don't think she's a bad person, she's a sweet person. And after this week, she doesn't have to live with the other women anyway." What makes him (us?) so willing to blame a situation for someone's behavior? How you act is how you are. Period. If stress (that is, things not going your way) brings out the worst in you, well, you can't handle life very well, can you?
Despite Sean's citing of just "drama" as the reason for his distance--and Tierra quoting that from him as well--her take-away is to jump straight to "I can't believe somebody had the nerve to throw me under the bus." So the trouble's source is not the observable phenomenon of drama and her at the center of it, as they both clearly said. No, somebody must've thrown her under the bus. If things aren't going her way, somebody must be to blame. Somebody not named Tierra.
The Tierra spectacle was briefly interrupted by the group road-trip date, which Catherine described at one point as a Sean-and-Desiree date with a couple of tag-alongs. I think she read it right. From there we went to Leslie's date, where her original discomfort with eye contact proved to be her downfall. She's got my vote for next Bachelorette. She's smart and funny, and I've been longing for a funny Bachelorette. Maybe she'll do better in a setting with men in competition for her, rather than her in competition with other women.
So what rule got broken to bring in the sister ahead of the Family Final Two Take-down? A big one, I'm sure. Scandalous. I hope she gets to see her husband and children again. But if not, it was still worth it. She saved Sean from utter stupidity. It seemed that once he got inside the house and found Tierra curled up with her tears on the hide-a-bed (not just secluding herself from the other women, note, but appropriating the front room to herself and forcing all of them to hang out in the bedroom), he saw her through his sister's eyes and everything snapped into focus. It was time for Tierra to go. He did an admirable thing by saying he didn't want to "put her through all this," which was just another way of saying "It's not you, it's m...y situation." He gives proper credit in the confessional, saying "My sister told me that if a girl can't get along with other girls, that's trouble." THANK YOU. Again, if someone has a problem with everyone, the problem is never everyone. I'm sorry someone had to say it at all, but thank goodness she did.
Sisters are the most important people in the world. I wish I had one.
On her way out the door, shall we review some favorite lines from the meltdown? "Men love me." "I can't control what's on my face." "I'm so sensitive. I have such a big heart." And finally, in response to Sean's "Are you gonna be okay?" We get, "No." Oh, sweetie. It's gonna be okay. Bachelor Pad is coming!
Then we get to the car, and any effort to cover the crazy evaporates: "I can't believe they did this to me!" followed by, "I hope the girls got what they wanted." Huh. That's odd. You'd say that to mean "I hope they're sorry now." Do you actually think that? They're not. They're ecstatic. They DID get exactly what they wanted. That's not what you wanted, but of course you think the drama produces a bunch of people who are sorry for you. Miscalc, babe. Again. To continue: "I hope he knows I'm strong." (He doesn't. No one on earth does.) And finally, the poetic, "Nobody will take my sparkle away."
I love all the sparkle stuff. She doesn't know "sparkle" is a silly word for four-year-olds, and the way she takes it so seriously reveals how far her world is from the functional grownup world. During the argument (angrily): "My mom says I have sparkle. And I shouldn't let the other women take my sparkle away." In the car, (fiercely): "I told myself coming into here nobody will take my sparkle away. I'm not letting that happen." Ah. So our new code word for "narcissistic, manipulative, and volatile" is "sparkly." No, Tierra, no one is ever going to take that away. I think you're safe.
At the end of the evening, we lose Leslie and Tierra, and for hometown visits are down to Desiree ("Bangs"), Catherine ("Low-Maintenance"), AshLee ("EleGant"), and Lindsay ("Wedding Dress"). But if previews are to be believed (always iffy), we don't need Tierra around for drama. Thank you, Des's brother. Looks like he's going to make a plausible argument that it isn't just sisters that can throw a reality bomb into dumb relationships. Next week: Brothers are the most important people in the world!