I’m Erika & I am a Bachelor SuperFan. Allow me to clarify- I am a fan of the SHOW, not the FabFitFun hawking social media monsters that 75% of the contestants become after the show. I love the raw, vulnerable, seventeenth glass of wine induced “ugly-crying” versions of these people who are fresh out of their humble hometowns & still totally untainted by Hollywood. Think about it: 25 girls are completely removed from society with absolutely nothing to do but drink heavily and obsess over the same guy. No phones, no internet, no TV, no music, no books… just a suitcase full of bikinis & a 24 hour margarita machine *or so I hear.* Entertainment at its finest. Going on this show used to be my DREAM! I thought that my experience with dating a professional athlete or two gave me a competitive edge, as I was pretty much in love with a guy who TOO had 10 other girlfriends… we just didn’t know about each other 😉 I would always quasi joke with my girlfriends about how I needed to be on the show. EXPECTATION: I would waltz in (and get the first impression rose, obvi), maintain my composure & never get drunk, become America’s Sweetheart, make it to the final two, lose to a blonde girl named Lauren, and become the Bachelorette! REALITY: I want to cry when I see a chick post “😍” on my crush’s Instagram photo 63 weeks ago. Come onnnn, who am I kidding I could NEVER be on the show! Too high risk to be made the villain. But I will forever watch religiously each Monday with an overflowing glass of Pinot Grigio in hand. This was by far one of the most boring seasons ever UNTIL Miss Caroline (in the chic white ensemble) called Arie’s ass OUT for something major on Monday’s episode of the Women Tell All. I seriously cannot wait to find out.
Back to my story & the reason why you’re here… Did I have a thing with Arie?! So. Once upon a time, I was a 20 year old college girl working as a receptionist at a super chic, high-end hair salon in Scottsdale at Kierland Commons. This is where I fell in love at first sight for the first time (Kidding, it happens nearly daily) But in all honesty, I will never forget when a crisp 28 year old Arie Luyendyk Jr. strolled into my salon to check-in for his haircut… jet black hair (not quite the salt n peppa situation he’s currently working with), eyes so blue I drowned, and the most gorgeous sweet smile. He had SUCH a presence about him, and at that moment I was so grateful that the owner of the salon made us girls wear a dress code of sexy little black dresses and heels daily. “Whooooo is HE?!” I said to my co-worker as I wiped the drool off of my face. “Oh Arie?” she said nonchalantly, “he’s a race car driver. Isn’t he cute?” CUTE?! Ummmm, a golden retriever puppy is CUTE. A miniature cupcake is CUTE. This MAN was HOT! Dare I say, perfect? (PSA: tall, dark, handsome, and athletic is kind of my thing) Plus he was soooooooo nice and gracious. Swoon. I would check the books like a stalker and see him every two weeks for his haircuts, unable to get words out- probably just the most dopey corny smile you’ve ever seen. A sweet, innocent Kindergarten crush. I stopped working at the salon after a few months (couldn’t handle those daily stilettos, are you kidding me?!) and Arie left town to go be on The Bachelorette.
Fast-forward about a year, and I’m freshly 21, single, and tearing up Old Town Scottsdale every single weekend. Arie too was freshly single and a staple in the nightlife scene except HE was single because the world’s most gorgeous blonde, Emily Maynard, dumped him on national television. You better believe that I absolutely DIED when I found out that my salon crush was going to be on The Bachelorette! I was glued to my tv every Monday and praying to the good Lord each night that she wouldn’t pick him, he would come back to Arizona, I would console him and nurse his broken heart & then we’d live happily ever after, the end! But that’s surely not how this story goes…
Okay, I am certainly no EmMayns in any way shape or form, but I have to give myself props and say that 21 year old EG was killin’ it. It was the era of Bebe neon bodycon dresses, you know, the super tight tank top ones with the giant back cut-out? I had one in every color. It was 2012: the year of the well-vodka cranberry, eating Taco Bell every weekend, and weighing 100 lbs. (How?) Social media wasn’t what it is today, I just had to go out with my girlfriends and pray that one day we would end up at the same location as my future Prince Charming, Mr. Racecar Driver. One fateful day, it happened… My BFF and I were at some club of the moment, when Jef with one F (the winner of that season) spooked me by tapping me on the shoulder and invited us up to his table with his “friend Arie.” The skies parted and angelic beams of light shone down when I caught glimpse of him… There he was, in all of his post-Bachelorette glory, surrounded by 15 ladies simultaneously trying to grind on him to LMFAO’s “Sexy & I Know It.” Charming… 😉 A few minutes later he came over to introduce himself to us, I thought for sure he would remember ME! “Come on boo, it’s me! Your one true love!!!!” My 21 year old mind that consisted of three brain cells thought. But no dice. He was really nice, but had 0% recollection of ever meeting me. Moments later, Flo Rida “Good Feeling” blared through the speakers and his groupies decided he had been gone from their dance floor long enough. Sad and defeated, I went home and drowned my sorrows in a Cheesy Gordida Crunch.
The months to follow, the *very one-sided* sparks dwindled weekend by weekend until this dude became the laughing stock of my friend’s group. Without fail, EVERY weekend, we would run into him. And he would remember nothing. Weeks 1-3 he would walk up and say “Heyyyy girlllllsssss… What’s YOUR name?!” I would politely say “Oh, we’ve met before. I’m Erika” “Cooooooooool!!! Hey, you’re prettttty :)” “Oh thanks.” Cue: Smile and disappear into the bushes Homer Simpson style.
Weeks 3-6 he would approach EVERY TIME and have the SAME EXACT conversation every. single. time. “Heyyyyy youuuuu… :)” I would respond still somewhat flirty like, “You?! Do you not remember my name!? We’ve met like 10 times now, Arie!” *Drunkenly* “Well of couuurrsseee, I know that! Yeahhhh I know you!” Me: “Well we can’t keep talking until you remember my name :)” “Just telllll meeeee :)” I’d flip my hair and walk away, hoping he would chase me… He never would.
Weeks 6-Infinity: Make eye contact from across the bar, turn around to my girlfriends and yell “ARIE!!!! RUNNNNNN!!!! AHHHH DID HE SEE US?!?”
So I guess our love story really never came to fruition the way that it did in my 21 year old daydreams, but that is quite alright. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it’s: admire your Kindergarten crushes from afar- especially when they are bonafide playboys! You won’t change them and they will never ever ever be as good as they are as they are in your head, so you should just go ahead and keep them there!
Fast-forward 6 years and life kinda comes full circle. It was a Wednesday morning at 8 AM, I was meeting my girlfriend Cece for breakfast before heading in to work. I had just decided days prior that I was going to leave everything I knew & loved in Arizona to move to Los Angeles and I couldn’t wait to tell her. We sat down and she could tell I was a little uncomfortable. “You know everyone in here, huh?” “Yeppppp!” #SmallTownProblems. Straight out of a movie, at that moment two obviously tipsy people tumbled into their chairs a few tables over from us, spilling their mimosas everywhere. Mimosas…? At 8 am…? On a Wednesday in Scottsdale? Don’t get me wrong, “a little party never hurt nobody” is my life’s motto, but that’s some pretty odd behavior for an early weekday morning in Scottsdale. I turned around to investigate the situation. Of course… Arie!!! With a young lady sporting last nights smudged mascara. 1 week later he was announced as the next Bachelor. Life really does have a way of coming full circle though… everyone think’s HE is America’s makeout bandit, but in reality… it’s actually me.