''The Bachelorette''

Seventh Heaven

Meredith asked for an extra rose. But even though SHE couldn't narrow it down to six, Jennifer Armstrong has already decided on the One

Meredith Phillips | SIX, SEVEN, WHO'S COUNTING? Meredith is breaking all the rules
Image credit: The Bachelorette: Bob D'Amico/ABC
SIX, SEVEN, WHO'S COUNTING? Meredith is breaking all the rules

Meredith asked for an extra rose

As I watched this week's ''Bachelorette,'' the strangest thing happened: I could've sworn I saw two reasonable people genuinely clicking on a truly romantic date. Could Meredith really be this cool? Could I love Ian any more? Could they just get together now so my fiancé and I can double date with them?

If tonight's only one-on-one date is any indication, all couples should be required to take whatever psychological compatibility test determined who'd get alone time with Meredith. As she said, ''Ian just kind of blew me away. I was like, 'Where have you been all my life?''' How much did he blow her away? Over a candlelit dinner, he honestly admitted he has no intention of proposing if he's her chosen one (somebody's been reading his tabloids and logically deducing the success rate of those other so-called engagements). And, yes, she swooned anyway. So did I, if you haven't noticed.

Next came Mr. Second-Most-Compatible and Mr. Third-Most-Compatible (we don't know which is which), Todd and Ryan M., for a lovely two-on-one at the Santa Monica Zoo. There we learned that Ryan M. likes not only letting birds nest in his wavy locks and being licked by giraffes but also talking. And talking. A lot. Unfortunately, Meredith likes ''peace and quiet and not someone so energized all the time.'' To indicate this, she giggled nervously. A lot.

Ryan interpreted this his own special way: ''Half the time I say things, and she's laughing. Then I have to process what I just said, and I think, 'Wow, she thinks that's funny.''' He keeps right on talking through dinner, tattling on housemate Rick, who supposedly told some other guy who told the other guys that he sees this whole thing as ''a game.''

Not to worry, Ryan M.: Rick got iced thanks to his game-playing during the seven-on-one extravaganza at the Anaheim Pond. (Is there a point at which we should stop referring to the dates as whatever-on-one? Because seven-on-one just sounds like... too much.) We'll get to Rick's gaffe in a sec, but first there was the delightful girl-dates-multiple-guys-show tradition of a sporting contest with the ever-coveted alone time as a prize. And Lanny was the lucky guy who managed to score on a pro goalie, landing himself in the penalty box with Meredith. That whole sporting-guy thing seemed to work -- he got some hand-holding action and Meredith's moony declaration that ''He's a MAN.''

Maybe so, but it seems manliness has nothing on manners. During the pro hockey game later, she went out of her way to take Matthew aside and tell him, ''I notice the little things you do, even if it's just opening the door''; then go in for a kiss. When they returned to the group, Rick came up with this swell party game: Each guy put a question about himself in a cup, then Meredith picked them out and tried to answer them. One was ''Which guy in this room did you kiss first?'' She declined to respond. Another was ''What's Lanny's brother's name?'' She couldn't remember. When it was over and Rick asked, ''Can I have some alone time with you?'' she finally knew an answer: nope. So for those of you keeping score: It's Guys Who Open Doors with a slight lead over Guys Who Are Good at Hockey, both WAY over Guys Who Deliberately Embarrass the Bachelorette.

On Rose Ceremony Night, Rick tried to apologize, but it was clearly too late. Still, that didn't make it much easier for Meredith to decide who'd get those six boutonnieres. ''It's a little too early for this,'' she cried when Chris Harrison solemnly informed her it was time to decide. Then he intoned, ''Let's go to the deliberation room.'' There, our take-charge gal asked to hand out an extra rose. WHAT? Does she think she can just change the rules whenever she wants? Does she think the producers have extra rose boutonnieres lying around in case she decides she wants seven, not the preordained, set-in-stone six? WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS???

Harrison would set her straight, right? He sternly scolded her as he left her to her decision making: ''I'm going to need to know how many roses you want to give out.'' Oh. So apparently they DO have a refrigerator full of roses on the premises, just waiting for a star to request an extra rose or two. No big deal. ''I'm looking for the love of my life,'' our Bachelorette told us, ''and I don't want to send him home.'' (I love you, Meredith, I do, but if you're sending the dude home and keeping six others, I'm guessing No. 7 is not the love of your life. Just a thought.)

No matter. Harrison was almost giddy (well, giddy on his scale of, like, zero to one) with the possibilities. ''For the first time, I don't know WHAT'S going to happen,'' he told the gentlemen. ''She just told me she might need … A SEVENTH ROSE.'' Yes, this could be the most dramatic rose ceremony. Ever.

Turned out she did go for the full seven, keeping Ian (yay!), Sean, Chad, Ryan M., Brad, Matt, and Lanny. Meanwhile, Ryan R. lost it over his rejection, throwing a bleep-infested temper tantrum outside the house. Getting cut even with an extra rose thrown in -- it's gotta hurt.

Originally posted Jan 29, 2004