The Bachelorette: Bob D'Amico
Jennifer Armstrong
January 14, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Boy, do these men have marriage fever!

Watching the ”Bachelorette” debut, my first thought was: If only Bob’s baby-lusting castoff, Mary, had gotten the gig. Man, these guys have got some major marriage fever — and some ticking biological clocks.

But it’s another of Bob’s rejects, 30-year-old makeup artist/model/culinary student Meredith (remember, the one whose grandma died?). And she better not fear commitment, or these men will be one disappointed lot. Good news, boys: Meredith told host Chris Harrison that she wanted to star on the show because ”Trista, the bachelorette before me, she got married. I mean, hello? Obviously it works.” (Sure, if you don’t count the four Bachelors who never made it down the aisle.)

Maybe they’re pumped from watching Trista and Ryan’s televised vow-swapping. (Who wasn’t?) But they truly can’t shut up about the kids and the minivan and the romance and the happily-ever-after. And they seem to think all of these things can be theirs with Meredith. ”I hope this is a fairy-tale ending,” swooned Ryan M. ”I’ve just been daydreaming about what it would be like to be married to her,” mused Brad.

As the first-episode parade of 25 possible paramours emerged from the limos, the men’s voice-overs repeated the same themes: ”family,” ”mother of my children,” ”can’t wait to be a soccer dad.”

Anyway, once they all got inside the house for the traditional first-night cocktail party (where one guy joked, ”I feel like a sperm,” thus winning the ”most apt description of this ritual” award), some early favorites emerged. ”I felt like there was something there,” Matthew said after his tête-à-tête with the fair maiden, and we believe him for one reason: He’s a ringer for Bachelor Bob himself.

Rick took the sensitive-guy schtick to a whole new level, presenting Meredith with a pair of pink slippers emblazoned with red roses made by the company he owns. (Bonus points for subtly pointing out that he owns a company.) ”Ultimately, I wanted her to see through the slippers to my heart,” he explained to the camera. Then he showed shades of Ryan Sutter with the cheesiest line since the Shamu poem: ”I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

Some other poor guy gave her a rose, while some even poorer guy gave her wind-up toy monkeys. Nice, but those are no pink slippers emblazoned with red roses, boys. Keith, for one, was a little annoyed by the present-bearers. ”I think I’m the gift,” he scoffed. Sorry, but when a girl has 24 other ”gifts,” she’s not going to miss one.

So it’s no surprise that Keith, along with Aaron, Andy, Anselm, Brian, Chris, Cory, Justin, Jeff, and Trever, went home without a rose. And the slipper-giver, Rick, got the special white rose, which means he gets the first one-on-one date. Looks like this competition will go to the Ryan-est of them all.

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