The Bachelor Photograph by Erin Patrice O'Brien
Josh Wolk
October 28, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Bob meets the parents

Tonight was the installment of ”The Bachelor” where Bob meets the four finalists’ families, and I think we were all a bit nervous for him: Would he be able to keep his instincts in check and not make out with everybody’s mother, sister, and grandmother?

First came Tampa, where Mary’s Cuban folks barely spoke English. This wasn’t too much of a handicap, as the only words you need to know for this show are ”connection” and ”awesome.” Bob said he felt bad for the language gap, because he wanted to tell Mary’s dad that he had the best intentions. In other words, he wanted to lie in Spanish. At one point, Mary’s dad said that ”If he can’t do something good for you, he should do you no harm.” The baby-crazed Mary, who has sex dreams about Bob’s fertility count, translated this optimistically as ”He loves all of us, and wants us to be happy,” lest she introduce any ounce of conflict that could keep her from Bob’s sperm. This whole encounter probably made Mary’s father quite conflicted: Fidel Castro may be a Communist despot, but at least he keeps the reality TV away from your daughters.

Then it was off to Illinois to visit Kelly-Jo’s mother, who was gas-leak giddy. I’m never sure why parents go so bananas on this show when their daughters arrive — did these women stop off to be on ”The Bachelor” on their way home from a three-year stint in the Peace Corps? — but Kelly-Jo’s mom outdid herself, leaping into Bob’s arms. She was even thrilled to hear Bob tell how he kissed her daughter the first night they met! Guess what, future mom-in-law? Yer daughter’s easy!

When he was in Portland to visit Meredith, we saw a rare spontaneous moment when they weren’t having cookie-cutter discussions on love: he spit water in her face, then brayed like a mule. That Bob, he may have lost weight, but he’ll never lose that charm! But then, sensing that he was losing her, he started dwelling on her dead grandmother again.

I was uncomfortable with the way they both used the late relative: He seizes the opportunity to be Sensitive Guy, but she likes the attention, and brings him to her grandma’s grave to keep that funeral party going. The most horrific moment came when she said, ”Maybe Grandmother had a better plan for me, and that’s why I’m here.” So her grandmother died as a way to bring her closer to getting married? Grandma couldn’t have just bought her an account on Boy, the whole afterworld revolves around Meredith, doesn’t it?

Finally, it was off to Beverly Hills for Estella, who is a younger version of ”Will & Grace”’s Karen. Same high-pitched voice, same smile that seems to mask an icy demeanor. (In her Rose Ceremony tape, she told Bob, ”I am ready to succeed with you,” as if they would achieve world domination with their union.) When her mother came over, Estella yelled, ”You’re so cute!” and was as patronizing as if she was talking to a retarded sister. But there was a way she hovered slightly menacingly over her mother that made me think that if Mommy happened to say something wrong, Estella would mutter under her breath, ”Look, old lady, do you want to be put in the basement again? No? Then DON’T? BLOW? THIS.”

For his part, Bob seems to be getting more and more arrogant with every passing week. He asked Estella in front of her mother whether her crying jag last week over him dating her friends was still a problem, or whether it was just a momentary lapse. It was a loaded question, coming off like, ”Are you going to bitch every time big Bob wants to paw another lady, or can I count on you to be a good wifey and just swallow your anguish and make me some damn eggs?”

When Bob arrived at the Rose Ceremony, he told Chris Harrison that his decision hadn’t bothered him until that night. The women, however, had likely been burning through their stomach linings with worry all week. And then when he does talk about his feelings, it’s usually along the lines of, ”You women don’t know how hard this is for me,” as if they’re supposed to pity him.

When he finally dinged Meredith, I hoped she would suddenly see him for the phony that he is. Surely she would punch him in the groin when he looked in her eyes and said, ”You are such the lady!” But no. She just got in her car and said she regretted not telling Bob how much they belonged together. And then she likely went home, went back to her grandmother’s grave and said, ”Nice work, Nana. Now what’s your Plan B?”

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