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The Bachelor: Hometowns and heartache

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Posted at 2:20 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 16:11:43-05

It is the night of hometown dates. Bring on the cute – and the crazy!

In an episode without group dates, there is a refreshing absence of whine. In its place are many glasses of wine. And spotless houses with perfectly made beds.

Is it too soon to say I miss Emily’s bubbliness?

The moms are ready to plan weddings. The dads are skeptical of Ben’s intentions and the Bachelor process. It’s as if the four families Skyped before Ben arrived.

Ben and Amanda reunite on Laguna Beach, in a slow motion run and hug similar to a classic Dirty Dancing scene. Then her beautiful daughters in beach wear and pigtails arrive. One admits she’s shy. The girls let him chase them and seagulls, and soon they warm up to him and build sand creatures.

Back at her house, Ben meets her parents and sister. Their chats get interrupted by Charlie’s much needed nap time. It’s a tender moment. I loved it.

As a mom of a 2-year-old daughter, I’ve been rooting for Amanda since week one. Also as a mom, I’ve been thinking she should have waited to make her reality TV show debut until the girls are in college. I’m very conflicted. These are the precious years, when they want to cuddle and color with you. In college, they will simply text “don’t forget the tuition check, tell dad hi.”

Her dad is less than enthusiastic about the situation. He says “thinking you want children is very different than having children… You can’t just go to the gym with your buddies.”

Ben agrees. He and Amanda read bedtime stories to the kids. Upon departing, he tells Amanda her family is awesome and incredible.

Lauren shows Ben around downtown Portland and they pass a billboard that says “Keep Portland Weird.” The date itself gets weird, in my opinion.

They get lunch from various food trucks and end up at a whiskey lounge. He repeatedly pets her hair and I can’t follow their conversation. They begin to make out and I begin to wonder, what are the other Laurens doing right now? Maybe home watching and celebrating National Margarita Day with a drinking game?

Lauren’s family seems to like Ben. Even though he can’t articulate why he’s attracted to Lauren, he wins sister Mollie’s approval.

Lauren later tells Mollie: “I feel like Ben’s my person. I was meant to meet him.”

Ben and Lauren kiss good-bye. Neither says the “L” word out loud.

Caila and Ben meet in Hudson, Ohio. They conversed on a wooden swing and she took him to her dad’s toy factory. No, he isn’t Santa. He is a CEO and during the date they design and build their dream house. Ben is turned on by her wearing a hard hat and using power tools.

They go home to meet her family. She tells her mom, and later the camera person, she’s ready to tell Ben she loves him. At date’s end, she simply says “I’ll see you.” Ben replies, “Yeah.” For real!

Her next audition should be for a shampoo commercial. She has perfect hair.

His final date is with Jo-Jo. This whole date was reminiscent of a romantic comedy movie. She arrives to find roses and a letter from ex-boyfriend Chad. She calls him to get closure and tell him how happy she is with Ben. Chad, did the producers put you up to this? How did you perfectly time the roses’ arrival so that they didn’t wilt?

Her mom drinks wine from the bottle. Her brothers are very defensive toward Ben. Her dad reminds me of Dr. Phil in appearance and attire, not his words of wisdom. He has few of them.

The brothers do most of the talking and cross-examining. A kitchen brawl would not have surprised me.

Ben admitted it was the most unpredictable hometown and Jo-Jo admitted she might lose him.

Back at Bachelor Mansion, all were in evening attire and ready for the rose ceremony. Amanda did not receive one. Instead, he politely walked her outside and they sat on a bench. He attempted to apologize.

“Don’t be sorry,” she said. “If you had doubts, I wish you would have sent me home there.”

Despite seeing how genuine and authentic she was during her hometown date, he felt their relationship wasn’t progressing as fast as the other three.

No Ben, you just aren’t as mature as Amanda. She honorably wears the badges of a previous marriage and motherhood. You and the three remaining ladies lack such life experience.

You would have been a great stepdad had you tried. I hope a Laguna Beach seagull poops on your head!

Final thoughts: Amanda, call me for a play date. I have a few single friends who would love to be a stepfather.  Are these houses still spotless and the wine limitless? Ben’s McDonald’s commercial made me hungry for breakfast.

Guest blogger Staci Gower is a PA-based writer and Bachelor fan since its inception. A friend of ABC2 staffer Allison Bourg since 2007, Staci is trying to teach her 20 seasons of Bachelor trivia!