Words can't describe what I was feeling when I arrived at the mansion the first night. I was so excited, so nervous, so anxious. My biggest fear was how I was going to be received by the women when they found out it was me again? Would they be disappointed? Happy? Would they turn around, get back in the limousine and fly back home? My questions would soon be answered.
Which brings me to ... THE SLAP. ABC has been running promos in order to grab the viewers' attention and to give a little insight as to what the new season holds. Well, as my luck would have it, "The Slap" was included on almost every single one of those damned promos! I have been asked about "The Slap" more times than I care to count. Let me answer some of the questions: YES, the slap was VERY real. NO, the producers did not add a sound effect to make it louder. Unfortunately, they didn't have to – Chantal O. has one hell of a right hook. And lastly, no, I did not know it was coming. My thoughts immediately afterward: "This is going to be a very long night." Thankfully, Chantal and I did clear the air a little bit later that evening.
There were so many different first impressions made that evening. I remember thinking, as women got out of the limousine, how beautiful they all were. Some incredible personalities, lots of smiles, and some pretty good dialogue (as good as can be when you first meet someone while surrounded by 30 cameras). Quite a few were skeptical and made that very clear to me. Like I said, I understand the concerns. These women are all very accomplished and had left incredible lives back home to be here. I was worried at first, because the response was more negative than positive, but my luck started changing as the second group arrived. I was given a "clean slate" by a couple women. When I first met Emily, she said, "I'm so happy it's you." It made me so relieved to hear that. Same goes for Michelle. When she said, "You're exactly who I wanted to see," I began to realize these women were going to give me a shot.
Elephant in the RoomWhen I got the chance to address the entire group, I wanted to not only thank all the women for being there, but also address the elephant in the room. I explained my first stint as The Bachelor and how it did (or didn't) work out, how much I've changed, and then I did something unorthodox. I gave all of the women the chance to leave if they didn't trust me or if they simply wanted another Bachelor. That may have been the longest few minutes of silence in my life. I'm so pleased that everyone stuck around and I was able to breathe a very big sigh of relief.
The cocktail party was a complete whirlwind. So many different conversations, so many amazing women! I spent the majority of the evening explaining why I made the decision to walk away single last time, the changes I've made as a man, etc. I can honestly say I didn't mind doing that – the women deserved an explanation.
So many women stuck out that night. I will try to briefly describe some of them:
Jackie sang to me (not a bad voice, and if the song was "written" on the spot, job well done).
I found out Michelle has a 5-year-old daughter that she loves very much. Her daughter is a blessing – I want kids very badly!
Rachel waxed me – thank God it was only my wrist.
Between Renee and Ali wanting private conversations, I didn't know if I was going to have time to speak with any of the other women that night.
Madison is a very beautiful yet mysterious woman. And she also wears fangs. Yes, fangs. I'm not sure I understand. Maybe I'm too plain or not edgy enough. However, she seems to be this very vulnerable and interesting woman.
My conversation with Emily went really well. "A coal miner's daughter." A stunningly beautiful woman with a Southern accent that's thicker than mine – the first impression was incredible.
Rose CeremonySpeaking of first impressions ... I gave Ashley S. the first rose. Ashley S. is the kind of woman who just makes everyone feel good. She's a truly sweet and caring human being. I want Ashley S. to stay around for a very, very long time.
I don't like saying goodbye to anyone, much less after just a first impression. The only thing I based my decisions on was my gut feeling. I'm lucky enough to have been here before, and I used that experience to thoroughly think through each of my decisions at the rose ceremony.
Well, that's it for the first blog! I can promise you that my next one won't be so long-winded. There was so much to cover after the first night.
For more on The Bachelor, check out Chris Harrison's blog on EW.com