The Bachelorette remains television’s most reliably cringe-inducing show.
In these troubled and divisive times that strain to the breaking point the very fabric of this great nation, perhaps the one thing that still unites us is that making a move on a girl you like is a universally terrifying experience. No matter how many times you’ve done it before, or how confident you feel, or how carefully you’ve rehearsed those magical deal-sealing lines in front of the bathroom mirror as your roommate silently seethed outside, that last step is always preceded by feelings of crippling self-doubt at best and sheer terror at worst. What if I’m moving too fast? What if she’s not into it at all. Oh God, am I sure this is even a date in the first place?
Now, imagine that you’ve been preparing for this moment for the better part of two decades, because this is the precarious situation in which Fred found himself on The Bachelorette on Monday night. Fred, you may recall, is a few years younger than Rachel, and in a wild coincidence, she was his camp counselor when he was a little kid. This may shock you, but while Fred has seemed quite taken at the prospect of falling in love with his favorite counselor, Rachel has been a bit less enthused, frequently making awkward jokes how she remembers “Frederick” as one of her less well-behaved campers. When asked if she had had a crush on Fred back in the day, she responded as follows: “I did not. That might have been a little bit illegal. But I do remember him. It’s bad.” Yikes.
After learning on this week’s group date that several of his competitors had already kissed Rachel, a crestfallen Fred vowed to set his residual youthful nervousness aside at last, confidently telling the camera, “I’m a man, I’m not a boy anymore.” And that, friends, is where everything promptly went to hell.
FRED: I’m taking this extremely seriously. I was very surprised to see how many guys have kissed you—not to say that I was at all
jealous, because in my mind, I’m all about timing.
Bravo, Fred. Now is a good time to kiss her. You did it.
FRED: And so I guess my thing is, like, I haven’t kissed you yet. I’ve been waiting for the right time to.
Cool. Now is also a good time to kiss her.
FRED: So instead of waiting, I can’t really wait.
Seriously, man, it’s perfect. Go for it.
FRED: It’s more about creating that moment.
FRED: So I just want to ask—
FRED: …that you feel…
At this point, my fiancée was staring in silent horror at the TV, and I was trying to suffocate myself with with the nearest available throw pillow so that I wouldn’t have to endure Fred’s public agony any longer.
FRED: …That I can kiss you?
[something like 71 hours pass]
RACHEL, VISIBLY DYING INSIDE: You’re asking me if you kiss me?
FRED: I’m going to ask you. I’m going to ask you because I want you to feel comfortable.
How…how did you possibly think that this was the strategy most likely to achieve that particular outcome?
RACHEL: Well, now I feel awkward.
RACHEL: I’ve never had anybody ask me. They just do it.
FRED: Right, but listen, if I just do it, I want you to know—
Finally, mercifully, Fred inched close enough to her face to bring his extremely rational dialogue about a spontaneous romantic moment to a close, and they shared what had to be the world’s emptiest kiss. Our tragic hero was thrilled, but from Rachel’s reaction, it was clear that she was not having any of it, and her heartfelt explanation to the camera for her decision to axe him from the show was absolutely devastating:
After my conversation with Frederick, I see a man, but I still see a
boy. And that was even evident in the kiss. It was like a little boy
was kissing me.
Damn. Gentlemen, it should go without saying that kissing someone who does not want to be kissed is an ill-advised maneuver that you should never attempt. But if you’re out here asking permission in the same way Fred did, it seems likely you’ve already deduced from her body language and your conversation and everything else that goes into analyzing a delicate social situation that you already know she’s not into it anyway.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been paying attention and reading the cues and you think that everything looks good, show some backbone and take the plunge! (And as you lean in, keep your eyes peeled for signs that she’s not actually picking up what you’re putting down, because if she feels that way, she will make those feelings immediately and abundantly clear.) Fred failed so you could succeed. Don’t let his efforts go to waste.
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