I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain, page 1
For my hero, my dad, the one man who’s never let me down
PROLOGUE: The Proposal
1. Birds, Bees & Birthday Suits
2. Catwalking & Starfucking
3. Malibu Barbies & Ben
4. Whine & Roses
5. Buffets & Breakdowns
6. Fly-Fishing & Fighting
7. Doody & Dipping
8. I Do’s & Don’ts
9. Boning & Babs
10. Back to Reality
11. Paps & a Smear Campaign
12. Ranting, Raving & Cheating
13. Engaged & Dating
14. Building & Breaking
15. Rebound & Renew
Tell Your Friends!
About the Authors
About the Publisher
I’d been staring out the window at the majestic Matterhorn in Switzerland for at least ten minutes, a camera hovering mere inches from my face. I was filled with anxiety but tried as hard as I could to look both calm and pensive. I pushed aside thoughts of the camera filming me to focus on the man I was here for, the man I hoped was about to ask me to marry him. By the third take I felt on the brink of tears, but we needed these contemplative shots for the finale episode. I wanted to get it right quickly—and avoid having America witness “the high-stakes drama” of a very public meltdown. On his proposal day, former Bachelor Jason Mesnik felt an irresistible urge to run to his balcony and wail like an old Italian woman at a funeral. When I watched it on TV, I thought he looked ridiculous, but now, as I sat in his place, I understood why he was moved to man-tears.
It didn’t help that I kept catching glimpses of my face in the window reflection. Ugh, I didn’t look pensive. I looked like a loser! I cursed myself for not practicing in the mirror last night. I remembered from past modeling jobs that if I looked straight ahead at this exact angle, the camera would only catch the whites of my eyes and I’d look like a zombie. On national television. Perfect. So I shifted my glance away from the Matterhorn toward the camera a tiny bit. At least now I couldn’t see my goofy reflection. And I wouldn’t get snow blindness.
What else was running through my head besides avoiding bad angles? Ben Flajnik. My love. My soul mate. My future husband—if he proposed today. I’d know in just a few hours whether this would be the happiest, or the most humiliating, day of my life.
I’m not the kind of person who normally gets nervous, but on this morning I was wracked with nerves, my stomach twisted in knots. I thought about our first date in Switzerland, when we flew around the very mountain I was staring at in a helicopter. It was so romantic, but also pretty scary. While safety is a must, to win the Bachelor’s heart you have to do more than look hot in a bikini. You have to be able to participate in an extreme sporting event—in a bikini. Let’s be real. Nobody ever says, “No, I absolutely will not swim with sharks,” because it pegs you as totally boring, high maintenance, and unable to handle adversity in a relationship. It’s an automatic ticket home in Bachelor-land.
But I wanted to go home that minute. With Ben as my fiancé. I was truly in love with him. Wasn’t I? A few nights ago, someone had given me a strange warning. “Courtney, Ben’s a snob,” she proclaimed. Why would she say that? I’d never seen that side of Ben. He did use the word “lovely” a lot, and not ironically. And when I met his mom, Barbara, a few days earlier at Ben’s chalet, the first question she asked me was, “Why didn’t you go to college?” which made me feel totally inadequate.
“Okay, we got it,” the crew announced, and, finally, my Matterhorn selfies were over. Thank God. I’d been doing interviews all day, every day for almost three months and I felt like a caged animal. This suite at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof in Switzerland was a total mind fuck, too. It wasn’t relaxing or soothing at all. The room was creepy and old and depressing, like a haunted house. A bell tower across from my bedroom went off every thirty minutes. Since I didn’t have a cell phone, computer, television, or music, it was the only sound I heard. The bell was not only deafening, it was driving me insane.
At this point, I was also getting totally paranoid. It was so hard not to start bawling just thinking about the possibility of Ben and Lindzi ending up together. The whole time I was on The Bachelor, twelve long weeks, I rarely broke down on-camera. I held everything in until I was in the only truly private place available to contestants—the shower. Finally alone, I would weep like Jason Mesnik. “Never let them see you sweat” was my motto. But thinking about Ben proposing to Lindzi had me on edge, prepared to lose it at any given moment.
As I got ready that morning, I tried not to think about Lindzi and her super cheesy jokes. She had a weird habit of talking in the third person, starting every sentence with “Cox believes …” or “Cox loves …” I think she enjoyed shocking people with her last name and even threw her dad, Mr. Cox, into many conversations for good measure. I didn’t want to think about Lindzi. Instead I thought about Ben and his—cox. We’d had sex three times in the Fantasy Suite at a hillside chalet in the beautiful Swiss town of Interlaken, so I couldn’t wait to be with him again.
My stomach dropped for what seemed like the five hundredth time. What the heck would I do if he didn’t propose to me? I couldn’t imagine it not happening. I deserved a fairy-tale ending. I had started to seriously think of Ben as my boyfriend after I’d introduced him to my family in Arizona on our Hometown Date, and I was convinced we were together. If he broke up with me, it would be the ultimate betrayal, especially since he secretly told me on our Fantasy Suite date that he was madly in love with me. I knew I was head over heels in love with him, but could he possibly have been lying to me? It had crossed my mind a few times that maybe Ben was only doing the show to promote his winery in Sonoma.
I tried to push the thought out of my brain, but that night I prepared myself for the worst-case scenario—having my heart smashed into a million pieces. In my mind, I forced myself to rehearse my answer if he dumped me or said he just wanted to keep dating casually. I couldn’t just stand there, mouth hanging open. I decided that I would simply say, “Never contact me.” Then I’d walk off in silence and completely ignore him.
The uncertainty of what was going to happen kept me up all night long. I tossed and turned, only getting a measly few hours of sleep. I didn’t want to be out of it or groggy on the potential day of my very public engagement, but I just couldn’t fall asleep.
Honestly, I probably could have taken horse tranquilizers and it wouldn’t have affected me. Though my eyes were burning from a restless night, when the cameras swooped in at 6:00 A.M. to film me getting out of bed, I was wide awake and already pumping with adrenaline. Luckily, I was warned about the ambush, so I’d borrowed a floral, booby-revealing nightie, since I usually wear old T-shirts and sweats to bed. A few minutes before the crew came in, I sprang out of bed, brushed my teeth and hair, and splashed cold water on my face. (I’d wished I had an ice cube to rub all over my face. It’s the oldest trick in the book on modeling shoots to not look puffy and like you just woke up.) Then I crawled back into bed, and waited for everyone to come in and “surprise” me.
After shooting me getting out of bed—and gazing with concern at the Matterhorn (again!)—they started to film me putting on makeup and my proposal dress. After a few interviews, I took
Under normal circumstances, I would not have been caught dead in that outfit. If I had known that there would only be a few dresses to choose from, I would have brought my own. I had pictured myself in a white gown, with long sleeves and a low back. I never would have dreamed of getting engaged in this! C’mon, black leather gloves? Cary thought I should take them in case it was freezing out. I practiced taking the left one off in one quick motion, if Ben kneeled down. (Funny enough, the one thing Lindzi and I got to keep from the whole Bachelor experience was our finale dress. I’m saving mine for a future Halloween party. She sold hers and gave the money to an animal shelter charity.)
So, I thought the dress was an epic fail, but should all go according to plan my ring would be gorgeous. My handler told “jeweler to the stars” Neil Lane exactly what I liked—cushion cut with a pave setting. Also, like a gift from God, Chris Harrison’s makeup artist walked into my room and worked her magic on the day of. I was so thankful for this. The only other time I had my makeup professionally done was on the first night of filming at the mansion in Malibu. Other than that, the girls did their own hair and face every day. I certainly know how to do my own makeup for modeling assignments, but I wasn’t sure how that would translate to high-definition, wide-screen television. I was hoping I didn’t look like a hooker or a drag queen the whole time. I was actually concerned for some of my housemates, like Blakeley Shea, who spent three hours getting ready every day, and Lindzi, who had thick, black eyeliner tattoos, which unfortunately made her look like she slept with her makeup on 24/7.
Okay, that was kind of mean. I’m not going to lie. I was a bitch to some of the girls in the house. Hindsight is 20/20, right? After the proposal, I ultimately owned up to my behavior on “Women Tell All,” when the cast came together to rip me a new one and make me cry on-camera (well played, ladies). But I’d just like to say that at this point during filming, I honestly did not know I was going to be portrayed as the worst villain in Bachelor history, a.k.a. “America’s most hated.” I genuinely thought I was being funny. It’s sort of like those contestants on American Idol, who really have no clue that they can’t sing. I guess I found out the hard way that stand-up comedy is not my forte.
Back to the Matterhorn. While I was in the makeup chair, I overheard one of the producers say that the makeup artist had just left Lindzi’s room. I realized one of two things: either they gave me the later time slot for makeup because they knew I hadn’t been able to sleep or—even better—Lindzi was starting filming first, which would mean Ben was going to propose to me after he sent her trekking back down the mountain.
Wow, this is really almost over. Today was officially the end of “the journey” and the last day I would see all the people I had spent every day and night with for the past twelve weeks. It was bittersweet. The crew and producers had become like family to me. I was sad and, at this point, so nervous I could barely speak. But I had one last confessional to do. They brought me into an empty hotel room, decorated with the requisite display of burning candles. My favorite producer walked in. He was the only one I’d been able to open up to. He asked me, “What are you thinking about?”
“My family,” I said. I had a huge lump in my throat. I couldn’t swallow or breathe. My heart actually hurt. Every emotion came rushing to me, like a flashback of my life. I thought about what my dad would say if he were here. And of my ex-boyfriend Chris.
Although I’d lost track of the date, I realized it was very close to Chris’s birthday, and I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I may end up engaged on the very day. But Chris had his chance. After locking eyes at a stoplight in Scottsdale in 2000, we had ended up dating on and off for seven years. I wanted to get married but he wasn’t ready. We saw each other before I went on The Bachelor and he told me he loved me but wanted to support my decision to move on.
Another ex wasn’t so diplomatic. Desperate Housewives and Dallas star Jesse Metcalfe also called me before taping began and tried to talk me out of it. “Fuuuck, this guy is going to pick you,” he moaned. But his words were hollow. We also dated on and off for six years and had crazy chemistry. I tried three solid times to make my relationship with Jesse work, but he always disappointed me. He’d call me one night and then I’d see him the next day on TMZ on a date with another woman.
All of my relationships leading up to Ben were ultimately disappointing. I’d dated Entourage star Adrian Grenier (sweet but noncommittal), Reese Witherspoon’s now-husband Jim Toth (down-to-earth but too old for me at the time), and “regular” guys like my ex Dylan, who liked to lie passed out on my couch and have me bring home a Subway sandwich for him after I worked my butt off all day. It seems like I’ve gotten around, but the truth is I can count on three hands the guys I’ve slept with. And I’ve never cheated on anyone.
So Ben seemed to be what I’d been looking for my whole life. He said he was ready to get married and knew what he wanted. He was funny, smart, and owned his own business. He seemed like a real man to me (though oddly he did like Justin Bieber’s music more than a twenty-nine-year-old man should) and we had good sex—so far. That was very important to me. If the sex had been bad, I couldn’t accept a proposal. As crazy as it seemed, The Bachelor had truly brought me to the man of my dreams.
AT 1:00 P.M., after hours of waiting and pacing, I finally got escorted to a helicopter decked out in my horrendous cape and gloves (Cary, the stylist, had taken an emergency eleventh-hour train trip to Milan, Italy, to get me matching black boots). I was terrified, but also over the moon in love. I prayed Ben was, too. As the helicopter lifted, I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I looked to the producer sitting right next to me with tears in my eyes, and he nodded his head. The cameraman sitting across from me in the jump seat had tears rolling down his cheeks as he filmed. The pilot looked back at me, and asked, “Are you okay?” He’d been watching me cry, and I think he was actually concerned. I felt a little scared. As we flew over a cliff, I saw Ben standing there, and a sense of calm came over me. He was the reason I was still here. He was worth it all.
When we landed, I stepped out of the helicopter, remembering to be careful of the blades. I mean how much would it have sucked to make it this far and then have my head sliced off? I refused to die in this dress. I saw Bachelor host Chris Harrison smiling, and the look on his face gave it away. I’m getting engaged! Or I’m getting dumped. Help.
I couldn’t see Ben from the spot where we landed. It was really quiet and it seemed to be just Chris and me. I’d worried that it would be freezing outside, but it was warm and now I was stuck wearing that darn cape. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I was channeling Cruella De Vil without the Dalmatian spots.
Chris greeted me with a hug, and asked, “Can I take your cape?” I thought you’d never ask, Chris. I didn’t want to get engaged or broken up with wearing it. I would feel silly. I gave him the cape and he extended his arm for me to take it. Chris had been nothing but nice to me this entire time, and I felt very comfortable with him. He was like a machine. I could tell he wasn’t nervous at all. We started to walk toward the top of the hill. I tried to make small talk with him, to get some of my nerves out.
While we waited, I thought about what I was going to say to Ben when I saw him. I had it memorized and was playing it over and over in my head. We started moving again and finally made it to the top of the hill. I wondered how Ben felt at this moment. I hoped he was in a good plac
But then, just like in a classic rom-com, I saw Ben again, standing patiently in a gorgeous valley in front of, what else, the Matterhorn. He looked so handsome and was wearing my favorite suit, a dark blue Hugo Boss with a skinny velvet tie. He’d worn it during a Rose Ceremony back in San Francisco and I’d told him how sexy he looked. I felt like it was a secret sign that he was wearing it again for me. I just wanted to run up to him and hug him. I was always so happy to see him. He flashed me a big smile and waved. I waved back. Chris pointed out the path, gave me a hug, and said, “Good luck.”
As I walked to Ben, I shouted hello in a voice that came out just a little bit too chipper. My heart was racing, and part of me wondered if I’d even be able to get out what I had to say without fainting. I can do this, I thought. I have to tell him how I feel. We greeted each other with a hug, and I took a deep breath. Here I go: “I’m a little nervous,” I told him.
He took my hands. I took another deep breath. “Ben, I just want to thank you for this amazing experience.” I started crying on-camera but this time I didn’t care. “Thank you for making me believe in true love again. You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I would be the luckiest girl to have you. I will love you forever.” As tears rolled down my face, he gave me a quick kiss. I thought this was another good sign.
He took a moment while I composed myself. “You kind of took my breath away there,” he said, smiling. “What a journey, what a journey. It has been an incredible road getting to this point with you through all of the ups and downs. We have encountered real signs of what life could be, from our first date in Sonoma, where I felt we were on this same path, this wavelength of sorts where we understood each other.