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SMILE, WHAT'S THE USE OF CRYING? Desiree grins and bears it through a long night.
After James the burly salesman from Georgia gives Des an intense speech about loyalty, an ER doctor named Larry attempts to teach her a dance move -- but the lesson is cut short when his suit snags one of the sparkleberries on Des' dress. [Insert exaggerated riiiip sound effect here] "Ohhh-kay," says the Bachelorette. Larry, you are dismissed. Desiree is far more impressed with Nick R.'s sleight-of-hand, in which he turns a flaming cocktail napkin into a white rose. Zack K.'s sneakers-with-a-tux look is completely overshadowed by the previous stunt, though Diego's choice of attire -- a full suit of armor, complete with limited mobility and vision -- gets Des' attention, in a there is no chance in hell that guy is getting a rose kind of way.
Good Lord, Chris, did you just say there are still ten more men to meet? At least the next dude, Chris, has a sense of humor: His proposal fake-out on bended knee ("Will you... mind if I tie my shoe?") elicits the first genuine laugh from the Bachelorette all evening. Mike the dental student arrives wearing his white smock; even sadder is he thinks it makes him look like McDreamy. Once out of the limo, Robert sheds his tie in an effort to be all I'm-so-cazh, but Juan Pablo quickly one-ups him by arriving sans neckgear and oozing Venezuelan charm. Even his awkward attempt to teach Desiree how to say his name -- "Say who. Juan. Juan Pablo. JuanPablo" -- is somehow sexy... though maybe I'm just responding to the fact that his pockets are full of chocolate. Brandon roars up on his Overcompensation-mobile; Brian the banker's most distinguishing characteristic is his soft blue jacket; and Micah's self-designed suit of motley madness makes him look like the adult love child of Rick and Vyvyan from The Young Ones.
Dammit, we almost got all the way through introductions without some asshat pulling a poem out of his pocket. Thanks for ruining the streak, Nick M.! (Also, sir, waves in the ocean do not "flutter.") Next we have Dan, who makes absolutely no impression, but perhaps that's because he's followed by an excruciatingly adorable little blonde boy named Brody in a tiny gray suit who toddles out of the limo clutching a yellow daisy. "Did I do everything?" he asks his dad Ben. "I gave her the flower." My inner awwwwww was cut short, though, as soon as I remembered that Ben is the guy Team Bachelorette painted as this season's King Douche in the mega-tease at the beginning of the episode. (The good news is, Brody will never lack for conversation starters with his therapist.)
At last it's time for the night to begin. Nick R. gets the competition started by announcing to the room that he's going to make Des "disappear" -- which he does by pulling her outside for a drink. Nick's trick is quickly trumped by Brandon, who interrupts and very efficiently drops a lot of information in the Bachelorette's lap: His mom is seven-years sober, he chose meeting Des over attending his own birthday party, and he prays. (He also gives Desiree a coin his mother gave him, which is either very sweet or incredibly insensitive to his mother -- I can't decide.) Brooks, James, and Mikey take their shots next, but the first guy to score is Ben. The dude's already got momentum thanks to his preternaturally cute kid, and once Des learns they share a mutual love of camping and road trips she can't wait to give him the first rose.
NEXT: "We're looking at, like, a very large love tank"