Is Ashley Hebert a dozen short weeks away from getting engaged, or should she run for the hills ASAP?
The seventh season of The Bachelorette got underway tonight with the usual promises of insta-romance and shocking twists—-for instance, what's with the guy in the mask?—as the 27-year-old dental student set off on her second quest for love, the first having been a third-place try on The Bachelor.
Right away, Ashley was faced with a dude who tried to move too fast, one who hoped that she could later take his picture with host Chris Harrison, and another whom she had already been tipped off to as being in the game for all the wrong reasons...
But sure enough, Bentley, the guy who "a friend" told Ashley was only going on the show to promote his business, was awfully cute if not quite ready to jump into her arms, leaving Ashley a little miffed.
"Maybe you can poke some holes in him when you meet the guy inside," Harrison, in all his sage wisdom following 21 seasons of Bachelor and Bachelorette hookups and breakups, advised her.
"I am so confused. This story is not matching up with what I'm seeing of Bentley," Ashley despaired after he told her about being a single dad whose daughter (Cozy?!) comes first.
Some true colors came out, however, when Ashley bestowed the first impression rose on the first guy she laid eyes on tonight, Ryan P., a solar energy executive who would love to install solar panels on her house.
"Even though I'm not overly attracted to her, I'm very competitive, so I'm feeling that it should be mine," Bentley said.
But during the limo arrival portion of the evening, there was Mickey, a chef from Cleveland who did indeed try to kiss her as soon as he got out of the limo, calling it "something from every guy in America."
"You're not going to slap me, are you?!" she squealed, referring to Chantal O.'s infamous first meeting with Brad Womack last season.
Then there was lawyer West from Chapin, S.C., who gave her a compass to lead her back to him if she gets lost (awww); Ben C., a lawyer from New Orleans who told her in French that he was glad to see that it was her standing there; and Ben F., a winemaker from Sonoma, Calif., who poured a toast for the two of them right then and there.
Hey, as one of the guys said later inside, "You've got to have guts and nuts" to handle the competition.
"I'm just in sales," said poor William, a cell phone salesman who had already been singled out by the producers earlier for being the guy who ladies meet right before they meet the guy they marry (sob story bonus: his dad died of alcoholism).
At first he didn't abide by the "guts and nuts" rule, but once he loosened up, Ashley found William "damn amazing," even though he admitted to being a "30-year-old boy" who wanted to live the rest of his life "like a little kid."
That could be wonderful or...horrible. (But he is awfully cute.)
Then there was "Awkward Silence" Tim, a liquor distributor from Long Beach, N.Y., who couldn't string two sentences together to save his life—except to tell mask guy Jeffrey to get away from him! He just sort of stared creepily at Ashley, however, and admitted to "probably" being drunk by the time they got to talk.
In fact, Tim only had eyes for Jeffrey tonight, telling the guys that he felt "like I'm about to get in a really good fight" when he spotted the masked would-be Casanova after his "talk" with Ashley.
And after she caught Tim snoring on the wicker love seat that's supposed to only be for making love connections, it was time for him to go.
But when Jeffrey, whom Tim had called "a creepster," got Ashley alone, he actually really impressed her with his reasons for donning the mask: He wants her to get to know the real him, and it's obvious he's got major balls.
Can't argue with that, right?
Still in the running for that free engagement ring after she had axed six more guys: Jeff (he does have nice eyes behind the mask), Constantine, Ben F., Lucas, Stephen, Matt, Nick, Chris D., Ryan M., Blake, Mickey the kisser, Ben C., West, William, J.P., Ames and...Bentley.
So the maybe-jerk is sticking around for awhile.
"If she wants to spend the rest of her life with Batman, hey, what do I know?" stewed Anthony, a butcher from New Jersey who got the boot.