“Hello. And thanks for coming to the Inane Television Program Watchers Therapy Group. I’m KeeKee and I’ll keep things moving along. Would anyone like to come up and start today’s session?”
An uncomfortable 15 seconds went by. Nobody was willing to bite. I sheepishly raised my hand. No one else seemed to want to, might as well be me.
“You? Yes, great. Come on up, if you would please …”
I got out of my seat and sauntered to the podium and shook KeeKee’s hand. “Tell everyone your name, if you would, then you can say whatever you like …”
I cleared my throat and faced everyone seated. They had hopeful looks on their faces, as if they wanted – needed – someone to break the ice, to get things started. It was as if I was the scapegoat, the one on which the bar would be set. The fall guy who would trip over the flubs and blunders and make the mistakes they could learn from if they, themselves, somehow got the courage to stand up and do what I was about to do …
“Hello. My name is Michael. And I watch The Bachelor …”
The room had one hundred people in it. Of those, it seemed a majority reacted to the statement. There were audible gasps. Half the room took in its breath at what I’d said. I saw a few people jerk their hands to their mouths in shock. One guy clasped his hands together and doubled over in his seat as if he were praying for me. I saw the eyes of most of the rest widen and stare at me. Very few had no reaction whatsoever. For anyone else up there behind the podium, the reactions might have been daunting. And I could have easily been cowed, intimidated by them.
But I mentally hitched up my jeans, stood a little straighter and soldiered on.
“… yes … I watch The Bachelor. Some might call it a guilty pleasure. Some might call it the perfect counter to a mind-numbing day where your brain needs something to flood out the memories of the last 8 or 10 hours. You want nothing more than vacuous, meaningless, cotton candy vapidness. And where can you get it? The Bachelor, your handy, dandy, go-to program solution.
“I mean … who says you can’t get lost in something like The Bachelor simply for the emptiness of it all? A program where you don’t have to think. When you want something entertaining but doesn’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things. You follow me?
“For example: Right now on the show? My favorite player is Olivia, the 23-year-old news anchor from Austin, Texas. If any of you have been watching (I saw a couple almost imperceptible nods in the group), this is a woman our Bachelor Ben Higgins should be running from in the opposite direction with the utmost speed. After Monday’s episode where she displayed her “talent” while in Las Vegas (a talentless Vegas showgirl all dressed up and that’s it), Ben should be able to catch a clue as to what makes her tick … which is obsessive, unadulterated, Fatal Attraction-like infatuation for him.
“‘Ben is like my piece,’ Olivia stated halfway into the episode. Her piece … ?!? Wow. Trust me … she didn’t mean her “peace” as in a calming effect. Her statement should have automatically raised a red flag calling Ben to action to do whatever he can to nix her from the competition.
“But it appears he’s caught in her web of intrigue, such that it is.
“Other quotes she spewed were just as disturbing. Take when she talked in the third person about herself: ‘Olivia’s here to stay. She’s not going anywhere.’ Isn’t that a sign of split personality?
“Or, ‘I read a lot of romance novels where everything just comes together. That would be Gigantor for me.’ Now maybe I’m reading a little too much into the statement, but if anyone knows anything about Gigantor, including Bachelor Ben, you’d best high-tail it out of Dodge. Gigantor is an old television cartoon following the adventures of Little Jimmy Sparks, a 12-year-old boy who controls a huge flying robot, Gigantor, via remote control. See the signs, Ben? Olivia wants to own you, control you! You’re doomed to be her “piece” unless you wise up, buster!
“Now, out of fairness, let’s call a spade a spade: Bachelor Ben’s no prize. He’s all white bread and milquetoasty and he’s trying way too hard to be accommodating to each and every contestant on The Bachelor. (And if I hear him utter the word “like” again 12 times in the same sentence like a 13 year-old, I might reach through my television screen and strangle him.) At least he had the forethought to eighty-six bonkers Lace last week, but he continues to have his hands full with eleven ladies still competing for his affections. And let me tell you: Olivia isn’t the only loony tune on the show. Jubilee has got some interesting mannerisms (and I use the term loosely) herself.
“But it’s Olivia who is my television crush right now, with her gaping Alien xenomorph maw and mortifying cankles and ugly toes we have yet to see and have only been teased with on the program.
“See? See how easy it is to get lost in a show like The Bachelor? At the end of an episode you’re spent, exhausted at all the drama that’s been thrown at you for two hours. But take a couple deep breath, understand it doesn’t make any real difference in your life and, suddenly, all is right with the world. What’s the matter with indulging yourself like that once a week?
“Besides … when Olivia says stuff like ‘I don’t want to be hurt again … and I just did. It’s so stupid.’ complete with genuine tears and anguish? How can you not become infatuated?”
I paused and looked out over the crowd. Then I turned and looked at KeeKee who’s been standing right beside me for support throughout my speech.
The look on her face was telling. I don’t think she’ll be asking me to start things off again in any future Inane Television Program Watchers Therapy Group sessions …
… but …
… I could be wrong.