This week Ali embarked on a journey across the country to meet the families of her potential future husbands. And what a journey it was.
First stop: Team Roberto in Tampa
Roberto had Ali meet him at his old college baseball field, so he could show off his skills. He gave her a Jersey with his number from college and Ali was overjoyed. "I'm like a proud wife," she said. Not only are they not dating exclusively, Roberto's not even on an actual baseball team.
But that didn't stop Roberto from putting on the old uniform and tossing around a ball with Ali. He even showed her how to bat, from behind. How kind. Ali concluded that the date "sort of had all the elements of what I want in life." (Balls and polyester clothing?) Then she moved on to worrying if Roberto's family would accept her. (Note: creation of conflict to distract from the fact that Roberto is clearly the winner.)
When she arrived, Roberto's dad sat her down in a room full of his son's trophies and told Ali, "You just met a tremendous human being." I guess he likes his son. Then he asked about her personal goals, and when she mentioned her career, he worried about how much she was "willing to give to support Roberto." Daddy Roberto asked if she would sacrifice her own personal goals and Ali answered surprisingly well. She said she wanted to make Roberto happy and in order to do that had to make herself happy first. She hoped they would "team up" and make decisions for their family together.
Both Roberto's parents gave him their blessings and then the family had a dance party in the living room. Ali decided, "It's getting really serious"
Cape Cod with Chris, who has been upgraded from his former title Chris L.
Chris met Ali on the beach, where they took a picturesque walk with his dog in tow. Chris talked about his dead mom, and how it was tough that she wouldn't be able to meet Ali.
At his house, they waited for Chris' family to arrive and looked at pictures of his mom. Then they sat on the front porch and pretended to be an old married couple. Chris talked about how he was "jealous" of his married brothers and he wanted to find someone. (This was the first of many times I wondered if Chris was there for Ali, or just someone.)
Chris' dad, brothers and sisters in law arrived and lots of hugging ensued. When asked what made Chris different from her other suitors, all Ali could come up with was "the Massachusetts connection." Chris' dad Ed was very sweet and excellent with the sound bites. I think someone should give that guy his own reality show. We'll call it Chris L.'s Dad, because it had a nice ring to it. Anyway, he told Ali all sorts of clichéd/ profound things about love and loss.
Chris kept talking about how he wanted to be like his brothers and get married. He really thought, "She'll fit right in." Oh Chris, you are so cute, yet so desperate, which diminishes your cuteness so very much. His sisters in law worried about him. Everyone just wanted him to find love -- really, really badly.
Kirk and his Wacky Wisconsin Family
Ali showed up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and called Kirk "Kirky", which I found very unsettling. Ali found it unsettling that Kirky came from a divorced family, which meant he had trust issues. (Never mind that Ali is from a divorced family too.) They started at his dad's house. In the first of many weird moments, Kirk called his sister "my little adopted sister" which seemed like a strange way to address her.
Then Kirk's dad took over and escorted Ali down to his basement taxidermy workshop. She saw all sorts of dead stuffed animals and even some dead ones in a freezer, pre-stuffing. Kirk's dad told Ali his son was ready for a relationship and had just been waiting for someone special. He told Ali, "You seem like a great gal" and Ali decided Papa Kirk was a "warm kind caring guy." Then Ali and Kirky went outside to play soccer with the little adopted sister.
At Kirk's mom's house, everyone seemed to have more exaggerated Midwestern accents than at his dad's. Ali worried Kirk wasn't ready for marriage, because he'd never experienced the "heartbreak" and "conflict" of a long term relationship. Then it was on to dinner with his mother, sister and grandmother, who was very into cheesy potatoes. Kirk decided he was "a thousand percent on board" and "ready to give."
Mama Kirk had a chat with Ali and they talked about when Kirk got sick, which made Mama Kirk all emotional. She told Kirk she liked Ali and he left the hometown visit "10 times more confident." Ali left sure that Kirk would be a great family man, because he had such a supportive family.
Frank's Chagrin Takes Chicago
Frank, in his understated way decided, "Today's probably the most important day so far." He and Ali took a boat ride and, when they came up for air from all the drinking, they talked about their relationship. Frank started freaking out because everything was "really hard" and "this is the biggest decision potentially of our lives." Frank had "the awesome feelings" when he was with Ali, but questioned things when they were apart. That did not make Ali too happy. She said she couldn't figure him out, even though all he did was talk about his feelings, and talk, and talk... Ali decided she (yet again) needed Frank to step up.
Ali loved the "big hugs and laughs and just warm energy" at Frank's parents' house. Frank's mom said she felt like he and Ali had been dating for a year. (A dog year?) Frank wondered aloud to his sister, "Is what I have a forever time thing or is it just another amazing relationship that ultimately we decide this might not be the best?" He told his dad, "love is such a complicated thing." His sister told, Ali, Frank was a scared, vulnerable emotional guy.
Ali left the hometown date with the assertion that there was a good possibility she and Frank would end up together. Frank decided they were meant to be together and could see himself proposing. I have no idea how either of them arrived at those conclusions.
Back in L.A...
Ever the gentleman, Chris Harrison greeted Ali as she got out of the car in front of the house. She was wearing a strapless chiffon pastel poof that looked like she'd escaped from a bridesmaid photo circa 1989 with a flower situation on the chest that I can't talk about. The hair was better.
Ali told Chris that Roberto was "like this fairytale guy" for her. Meeting Chris L.'s (not Harrison's) family was "the biggest surprise" for Ali and she "fell for him in a different way." She said that Kirk "certainly has a great family that gives him so much love and support" and was ready for a relationship, but she wondered, "is that the guy that I need." (Clearly not or she wouldn't be asking.) On the other hand, she loved Frank's family but wondered, "Is he ready to be with me right now?" She told Chris she was scared because she felt stronger about some of the guys than she'd felt about Jake. Then she cried and in the hopes of prolonging it, Chris reminded her, "there's a lot on the line"
Ali got all choked up before she even started. The first rose went to Roberto and it came down to Frank and Kirk.
Booted: Kirk. Ali cried and apologized. Kirky was having a rough time because he'd never been dumped before. Kirk exited saying, "It hurts a little more knowing I gave like all of myself to you." I think Ali was trying to help Kirky. Now he's had his heartbroken so he's ready for marriage. Right, Ali?
Two More Points of Interest
1. It should be noted that 2 of the 3 remaining PFHs (Potential Future Husbands) are over 30 and live at home with their parents.
2. I've gotten some questions about where the drinking game went. I've put it on temporary hiatus to try to set a good example for Ali.