Rick Rowell/ABC
Jennifer Armstrong
July 13, 2010 AT 04:00 PM EDT

Oh, hometown dates, how you amuse me so with your bad upholstery and meatloaf and taxidermy and lawn chairs and suburban tract housing. But there is no time to ruminate here — the most important decisions in the history of the world must be made! So that they can be unmade in a year or less! On with the show …

Roberto’s hometown: Tampa, FL

Roberto has even more smooth moves in his hometown than he does on the road, if that’s possible. It helps to be a former pro baseball player — then you just take the girl to your old playing field. And ”teach” her how to ”bat.” And give her a jersey with your number on it. (Ali’s reaction: ”I love having a jersey with Roberto’s number on it. It makes me proud. I’m like a proud wife.”) And give her a baseball card of you when you played on her hometown’s minor league team. (Ali: ”You are smoking hot.”)

His dad — an ex-Army ranger, it was pointed out — had different plans. The stakes couldn’t have been higher for Ali’s meeting with him (and his entire family, which includes two Olgas, two Robertos, and lucky Peter, who got his very own name). ”I really want my dad to like her,” Roberto told us. ”That potentially could be his future daughter-in-law. It would make it very difficult to continue my relationship with her if my dad says she’s not right for me.” The good news for Daddy Roberto is that he is absolutely right for me — as a dad, anyway. What a very wise summation of reality dating shows he gave us: ”It’s hard not to have a good time when you just came from Portugal.” Then he really laid it out to Roberto: ”You’re a big prize in my mind. I know she’s going to be happy. I want to make sure you’re going to be happy.”

To underscore the ”prize” idea, Daddy Roberto led Ali into a room dominated by Roberto’s trophies, then asked her about her personal goals. She gave a good interview answer: ”I want to own a business. I want to be very successful in my career.” This information excited me, as it was the first major tidbit I’ve gotten about her since this show started — yeah yeah, she’s ready for love and she favors off-the-shoulder tops, but beyond that I don’t feel like I ever hear about her. It’s all stories about the dudes’ touching relationships with their mothers and battles with asbestos poisoning. Anyway, I was dying to know more about what kind of business she would start — helping people narrowly avoid getting into relationships with creepy, overbearing reality stars? selling hair extensions? — but no, we were done respecting Ali’s personal goals. Now Daddy Roberto turned on me, going all Ty about the little woman and her little goals. ”I do have concerns that Ali has a lot of things she wants to do,” Daddy Roberto said, wondering ”how much she’s willing to give to support Roberto.” (Seriously, why is everyone acting like she’s Hillary Clinton on this show? The girl just wants to sell ads for Facebook and maybe start a website that sells crafty jewelry or something, not stage a hostile takeover of Microsoft.) She gave what I thought was a spectacular answer, almost to the point where I felt bad for thinking thoughts about hair extensions and crafty jewelry: ”For me to make him happy, I have to be happy. So I would need something that fulfills me, too. For me the question would be first and foremost what’s best for our family.” And if that means running the State Department, so be it.

NEXT: Onward to Cape Cod!

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