Helsinki Syndrome

Some seasons you’re on top of the world, the cock of the walk. You’re out there grinding, from the backrooms to the bars, rubbing elbows with everyone from the highest of highrollers to the lowliest of lowlifes. It doesn’t matter if they’re fronting a couple stacks of high society or they’ve barely got a sawbuck to their name; they’ve taken their chances on the boards and you’ve put them in the books, just waiting for that final rose to be accepted so you can figure out how much of that couple mil’ you’re sitting on is going to clear.

This ain’t one of those seasons.

No, this is one of those times where all colloquialisms would indicate that I was on the receiving end of a night in the Fantasy Suite with Chris Harrison and Jimmy Kimmel – and that I’m certainly not emerging in the morning to film a montage implying I got my jollies.

(Which, side note, this bookie ain’t buying about Raven for a second. She was pretty clear on her stance that she’d never had an orgasm in her life prior to her night in the Basically Public Sex Room, and clips of her playing in the snow the morning after aren’t going to make me believe that fact has changed – especially when she hasn’t specifically stated it. And, for what it’s worth, doll, you don’t need a man – or anyone else for that matter – to help in that department. Allow me to paraphrase at least one ancient Greek sage when I say: [wo]man, know thyself.)

But even the blindest of squirrels can occasionally find a nut. On a season where Jimmy the Geek robbed me of a regularly-scheduled Bachelorette announcement, Chris Harrison robbed America of a watchable Bachelor, and I robbed myself of credibility by stating in print that Danielle M. was a front-runner and that Corinne/Taylor getting eliminated on the same two-on-one was a done deal, “Women Tell All” was a night of redemption for ol’ Clint Jackson.

If you look at the lines, they speak for themselves. Corinne and Taylor were at each other’s throats shortly after the opening gun, Liz was a huge payout on both first in the chair and first to cry, the shark costume certainly qualifies as Alexis’ shark-themed gift, Rachel was our eliminated guest of honor, and the final tally for “nanny” mentions was 9, making holders of both the under and over sweat bullets until the credits rolled. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but: beep beep.

So it was a good week financially speaking, which has been hard to come by in the era of Nick. Thankfully there’s only one more episode left in his tyranny of terror, but that doesn’t mean things’ll magically reset for your friendly neighborhood reality bookie. The Geek and Harrison put me in a sizable hole this time around and they’re anxiously waiting to start piling on the dirt. They caught me flat-footed out of the gate, but even if they hit the ground running next season I plan on already being one step ahead of them. All I need is an ally – and I think I know just the guy.

Whole Lot of Nothing

“We’re throwing you a bone, Jackson.”

Even via voicemail, Chris Harrison’s a smug son of a bitch. I haven’t stopped screening that prick’s calls since he announced that Rachel would be the next Bachelorette several weeks ahead of schedule. As far as I’m concerned, the bastard still owes me money.

“The season’s boring. Nick’s terrible. I get that. Hell, I had to share a mansion with the guy. But ‘Women Tell All’ is right around the corner. That’s pretty good, right, Clint? Easy money to be made.”

Yeah. Easy money. So long as he doesn’t drop a bootlegged copy to the public a day before show time. Considering that he seems to be teamed back up with The Geek, I wouldn’t put it past him.

But he’s not wrong. The “Women Tell All” episode will drum up some action to help carry me through this lemon of a season. Not that I’m especially interested in seeing what any of these gals are up to; Nick spent so little time investing in them that he didn’t give the rest of us much reason to, either. If I had to guess about the state of things, I’d venture that Danielle L.’s nail salon is doing just fine, Danielle M. is still performing actually important work, and Kristina has realized that bullets were dodged but will act like she’s still hung up on Nick in the hopes of getting on Paradise (which this bookie hopes she passes on – you can find better men for less hassle, sweetheart).

Oh, and we’re almost certainly in store for one more hour of the manufactured Taylor/Corinne beef. If there’s a patron saint of hard liquor, may that blessed person save us all.

There was one positive moment in Monday’s episode (beyond the continued tradition of Chris Harrison offering two people a literal handwritten invitation to have sex with each other): the unceremonious – and extremely overdue – sendoff of the Belle of Bar Harbour. Corinne had long overstayed her welcome by most rational peoples’ standards and the only disappointment of her farewell was that it wasn’t more dramatic. Sure, she cried, but what emotionally stunted twenty-four year old who still relies on a nanny wouldn’t? Especially at the prospect of losing an entire staff of people responsible for bringing her food, booze, touching up her makeup, and catering to her every need.

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer gal. And if nothing else, at least we get to gamble against her one more time on “Women Tell All”:

First to Cry:

The standard-bearer of WTA props. Not throwing a little coin at this one is like going to a ballgame and not having a hot dog:

Kristina: +150

Corinne: +180

Liz: +200

Jasmine G.: +225

No Tears: -120

Field: -105

 

Time of Tears:

Look, if you’re gonna bet that there are tears, you might as well bet when they’re gonna happen:

Within the first 30 minutes of the show: +150

After the first 30 minutes of the show: -180

 

Time to Cringe:

Liz is going to be present. This might be an assumption, but it’s also closer to a fact than anything said by Trump’s staff since the big buffoon took office. The question is, at what point in the show will Jade and Tanner’s wedding be brought up?

Within the first 18 minutes: -300

After the first 18 minutes: +200

It won’t get brought up: +1000

 

Going the Distance:

It’s become a weird tradition that Chris Harrison parades the “successful” relationships the show has spawned during the “Tell All” episodes. I’m not sure to what end besides fulfilling some contractual obligations, but I do know we can wager some money over who will be in attendance:

Jade and Tanner: -250

Ben and Lauren:+300

Kaitlyn and Shawn:+400

JoJo and Jordan:+500

None: -150

Field:-120

 

Nanny cam:

 Corinne has a nanny; even if she did care who knew, it’s a little late for that. The question is, how many times will we hear the word? This is an even money bet – mentions of Raquel don’t count:

Over/Under: 9.5

 

Loud noises:

I’m pretty sure Taylor and Corinne will each have a PA tell them, “You’re off the chain tonight,” while plying them with champagne shortly before taping. So at what point does one start shouting at the other?

Within the first 13 minutes: -140

After the first 14 minutes: +120

 

First in the chair:

Usually synonymous with first to cry, but given that Nick is the Bachelor this season, I think the girls will be smart enough to separate these two acts.

Kristina: +230

Taylor: +280

Corinne: +320

Liz: +600

Field: -200

 

Sharknado:

Alexis really didn’t get enough airtime this season, but that’s what happens to one-trick dolphins. For good or ill, what’re the odds that she receives some kind of dolphin or shark themed gift during WTA?

Yes: -150

No: +120

 

Which of the final three will be on “Women Tell All”?

They’re running the other half of Fantasy Suites next week, likely before WTA, meaning one of them is getting sent home. Think you know who it’ll be? Put your money where your mouth is:

Rachel: +145

Raven: +170

Vanessa: +245

Memento Moron

Hometowns: the hoop we’re forced to jump through in order to get to the Fantasy Suite. This isn’t news for the initiated, especially considering it’s how every prior season has gone, but I am surprised at how often I forget the mind numbing absurdity of the process. But maybe I shouldn’t be, considering nobody else seems to have much in the way of memory these days.

Let’s start with Raven, because the show did too and that’s good enough for this bookie. She spent most of her interviews panicking about telling Nick she loved him for the first time, conveniently forgetting that she already let that piece of information slip back in New Orleans before Nick handed that date’s rose to someone else. Granted, I’m sure there was a bit of alcohol involved, but I would have expected a PA to intervene and casually mention that they’ve already done this storyline once and maybe they could come up with a new angle.

We followed up the Humdrum in Hoxie by making our way down to the Ft. Worth area, where Rachel seems to have forgotten that even though it’s important be aligned on faith in a relationship, a house of worship is a weird place for a date. Not to be outdone, her sister appeared uninformed that Nick – a living, breathing human and not Luke the War Robot – is the Bachelor, and has not only seen food before, but has also presumably consumed it and is able to identify it.

But the gig keeps getting stranger, because as we followed Nick to Miami we found out that the producers thought all of their viewers might forget that Corinne has spent the entire goddamn season being absolutely terrible. Despite an afternoon that saw the pair sipping champagne as Corinne dropped thousands of dollars on clothes she might wear once, those bastards tried to give her as much of a normcore edit as they possibly could. After shoving every one of her awful qualities down our throats for the past seven weeks, did they really expect us to just shrug it off and say, “Wow, maybe Corinne really isn’t so bad”?

Of course they did. This country elected Trump, after all.

And let’s also not omit the fact that Corinne was bothered by the fact that the girls teased her about Raquel, stating (with over the top eye roll): “They said I had a ‘nanny.’” Look, the champagne flows pretty freely at the mansion, I get it, but Corinne specifically referred to “[her] nanny Raquel” so many goddamn times it’s basically her personal mantra. At least the one thing Corinne didn’t forget is that Corinne likes to talk in the third person.

Finally, there was Vanessa, who appears to be completely unaware of what reality show she’s on. Meeting her special education class (and kudos to her for doing what is truly meaningful work) and running the gamut of her extended family was fairly innocuous, but things got a little dicey with her old man, who is hands down the best person featured on the show this season (narrowly edging out the bayou boat driver). Besides making Nick squirm for the entirety of their visit, he let slip the non-spoiler to Vanessa that not only did Nick ask for his blessing to propose, he asked the blessing of each of the other girls’ fathers as well (minus Mr. Lindsay, who was notably absent with “a work obligation”).

Now, if you were a normal person operating within the boundaries of societal dating norms, you might be upset to find out that a guy asking your father’s blessing for your hand in marriage was also soliciting this approval from other parties. I know I would be. But if you agree to go onto a reality dating show – by choice – in which, during the week of home visitations, the show’s titular character has always asked every girl’s father if he has his permission to propose, you should forfeit the right to get upset about it.

Look, maybe that’s shortsighted of me – and that’s fair, you’re entitled to that opinion – but it’s been such a relatively short amount of time that I was really hoping Vanessa wouldn’t have forgotten where she was: on a television show in which a single solitary guy dates multiple women at once – in front of cameramen, a lighting crew, sound guys, producers, PA, interns, and Chris Harrison whenever he feels like showing up to the set – foregoes sexual relations with anyone until a pre-appointed time where he can bag three of them over the course of a seventy-two hour period, then ultimately discards one woman shortly thereafter so he can propose to one of the two remaining ladies in a location that is generally only accessible by helicopter.

We can’t all have a mind like a steel trap, but if you are a contestant on The Bachelor and aren’t aware that’s what the show is, you either need to start playing Lumosity or you haven’t done your homework. Those’re the only two answers I’ll accept.

To add insult to injury, there wasn’t anything remotely resembling worthwhile betting action this week. I’ve gotten a few calls about leaving Rachel on the winner’s board, the theory being that she could be the last gal standing before giving back the ring, but I’ll take those bets on a case by case basis. You open that kind of line up to the public, and there’ll be people claiming they never even heard the announcement already naming her as the Bachelorette. I don’t have the necessary patience for that amount of bullshit.

And I’m not putting any other names on the board just because Andi Dorfman showed up at the end of the episode. People are showing up on episodes all the goddamn time and it doesn’t mean a thing. Especially when they’ve written books about their experience on the show and have specified that they had zero sexual chemistry with the current Bachelor. But the producers are hoping you forgot about that, too.

Maybe there’ll be something worth laying money on next week. But with the way this season’s going, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre

Spoiler

Noun

  1. A person or thing that ruins something for everyone else (origin – Spoil, to diminish or impair the quality of)
  2. Chris. Fucking. Harrison.

On mornings like this, where I wake up with bloodshot eyes, the smell of cigarettes still on my breath, and a five o’clock shadow that got into town ten hours early so it could hang out with its pal hangover, I’m left searching for reminders of why I got into this game in the first place. It sure as hell can’t be the money; otherwise I wouldn’t still be punching a clock in this racket after all these years. My only explanation is that I’m addicted to the uncertainty, a junkie for the drop of the other shoe. It doesn’t matter what numbers you’ve crunched or what odds you’ve given, the roses still have to be accepted and suitcases collected – and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.

Especially when the other shoe turns out to be a goddamn nuclear bomb.

The last six months hasn’t just been the season of the underdog, it’s been the season of the left for dead. Most news agencies had Trump in the cold hard ground well before election night, but that stump-fingered tube of fake-tanner come to life is sitting in the Oval Office and still trying to figure out what even one leg of the nuclear triad might be. The Patriots were playing so stiff it looked like rigor mortis was setting in when they were down twenty-five points with seventeen minutes left to play, but now those R-dropping goons will be parading the Vince Lombardi Trophy around for another twelve months (though thankfully some of them have the sense and self-respect to skip the obligatory trip the White House). And now, with hometowns fast approaching and just four three ladies left on The Bachelor, we have to reckon with the fact that Corinne is one of them.

Much like the aforementioned events, this is both completely shocking and yet wholly unsurprising if you’re willing to dig just beneath the surface. If we’ve learned anything about Nick this year it’s that he doesn’t do complicated, which is fairly problematic for a show whose one selling point is drama. As soon as he experiences any form of turbulence with any of the women he’s ready to bail and pull the ripcord instead of ascending to smoother skies. So it was no shock that Kristina – who ate lipstick as a young child in order to stave off hunger, fled home in favor of an orphanage in order to survive, left Russia for the U.S. at twelve for the opportunity of a life with possibilities, and still struggles with complex feelings of abandoning/abandonment as a result – was not going to be one of the last women standing. Nick’s from a large family in Wisconsin. They could talk about that and the weather. That’s about as much as he deep it was going to get.

When you consider these factors it should also be no surprise that the last remaining Danielle – a neonatal nurse who was previously engaged to a man with substance abuse problems whom she had the misfortune of discovering after he OD’ed and died – was also sent on her way. It’s probably for the best, though; I shudder at the thought of Nick trying to deepen their connection along the lines of, “That sounds very difficult. You know, I was almost engaged…twice in fact. So I understand that loss.” My God; I need a drink just imaging that.

But that’s not why I’m reaching for the bottle when the sun’s just barely up. No, that honor is coming courtesy of Jimmy the Geek, whose good graces I thought I was finally in.

It was business as usual after the show; I was halfway through a pack of smokes, crossing Kristina and Danielle M. off the boards and updating the odds for the next Bachelorette. I was partaking in some bubbles, because why the hell not? With one front-runner gone, I had the rare gift of counting early money wagered on a front-runner as safe. What’s more, people were calling in early to try and recoup their losses by betting on Danielle as the next big thing. Hell, I’d finally started to forget that Chris Harrison had screwed me out of several hundred thousand dollars before the season began. I was even contemplating sending the bastard a fruit basket (they make a lovely gift).

Then, after an hour of my phone going off like a one-arm bandit hitting the jackpot, the apartment went dead silent except for the scrape of chalk against slate. I shrugged and killed the last of the bubbly, making my way over to the liquor cabinet for a real drink. Whisky splashed into the bottom of a tumbler and my phone let loose a single, lonely rattle against the wooden table. I sauntered over, drink in hand, and read the message: “You better check out Kimmel. Sharpish.”

I grabbed the remote and turned on Jimmy Kimmel Live! I put a fresh cigarette in my mouth and attempted to light it with the butt of my old one, but what I saw caused both of them to fall to the floor.

“A major announcement as promised – we are going to reveal the identity of our next Bachelorette and to help us, please bring in Chris Harrison. Chris?”

You know how I know the times are changing? I didn’t swear. I didn’t scream. I didn’t break a goddamn thing in the apartment – even that stupid sconce I’ve wanted to get rid of for years. I casually walked over to the bar, tripled up my drink, and assumed the position.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our next Bachelorette: Rachel Lindsay!”

And then I watched as Jimmy the Geek – Jimmy fucking Kimmel – literally handed her the keys to the goddamn show. As far as the next Bachelorette was concerned, all bets were off – also literally. I looked at the board and realized that, given the last three women standing, I didn’t know a single thing anymore. I picked up the phone and my thumb moved as if on autopilot.

“Clint,” that double-crossing sack of shit said when he picked up.

“Harrison,” I said back. We waited in silence for what felt like an actual minute before I said, “Was it worth it?”

“That depends,” he said casually. “About how much money do you think you would have moved on the Bachelorette board between now and the end of the show?”

“Two hundred grand.”

“And you lost how much when Nick Viall was named the Bachelor?”

“Four hundred G’s.”

“And how much did you screw me out of last season when you hit your numbers?”

“You mean the numbers you bet against me hitting?” I hissed back. “Half a mil.”

Chris Harrison chuckled on other end of the line. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he actually took the smarminess down a notch. “Sticking it to you for six hundred thousand…was pretty wonderful,” he said.

“I thought you said you were in this to make some goddamn money,” I replied.

“Oh, I am,” he answered back. “But I didn’t mean I planned on making money this season. Come on, Jackson. Nick was our fourth choice as Bachelor two rotations ago. America’s had three opportunities to hate him. You really think we planned on this season being a success?”

“So why’d you do it?” I asked.

“We’re tanking,” Chris said.

“So you’re an NBA team.”

“Exactly. We throw in the towel this year, lower fans’ expectations, and then come back with a blue chip star next year. And boy, Rachel is a doozie.”

“I know, Harrison. I’ve got eyeballs.”

“That’s good to hear,” he said back. “Maybe next time around you can manage to keep them on the prize.” Then he hung up.

I turned my phone off and placed it next to my glass, which I filled back up to the brim. I let out a deep sigh and sank into the sofa before taking a healthy drink. The thing about tanking is that if you don’t have a plan in advance, you’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes over again. Chris Harrison wasn’t about to be outmaneuvered to the tune of four-hundred grand twice, and Jimmy the Geek wasn’t about to spend a second consecutive reality gambling season watching from the sidelines. The bastards had to have a plan. I just needed to make sure I’ve got a better one.

So that’s how I spent my night: planning. That and lowering the odds on Vanessa as far as a self-respecting bookie can. I’ll be going into battle next season, that’s for damn sure, and I need enough in the war chest to drop a few bombs of my own.

And for that to happen, I’ll need my damn head to stop pounding.