Ian, who said he wouldn't propose, did! And for Meredith, who said all along that she wanted the proposal, it was a fairy-tale ending, says Jennifer Armstrong

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated February 25, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
The Bachelorette: Meredith
Credit: The Bachelorette: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Ian, who said he wouldn’t propose, did!

Who do we think loves Ian more, Meredith or ”Bachelorette” producers? (Or me?) Definitely a toss-up. That former-New York investment banker made for some fine television during the two-hour finale, and that’s not just because of his thick blond locks and killer cheekbones.

The guy was a bad boy and Prince Charming all wrapped up in one yummy package, and we truly didn’t know until the end whether he’d give us the perfect happy ending — the prize proposal at the end of the dating game.

Down-home boy Matthew looked like he had this thing locked up when Meredith took him home to Portland to meet Mom and Dad (and brother Matt and Uncle Steve). The fam couldn’t get enough of him and his bland, if sincere, professions of adoration for Meredy (as they call her). I, on the other hand, had to muster superhuman self-control not to hit the remote and catch a little of ”The O.C.” instead. But I stuck with it.

Of course, the only time I felt any passion was when I was moved to scream at the television as our girl cooed to Matthew during a moment alone, ”I would be honored if it ended with a ring.” Yes, yes, we all like the idea of a stable, calm (BORING!) guy like Matthew. We all like the idea of some ice on the left hand — it makes us feel all wanted and grown-up and loved and cozy. But her little remark sounded awful close to a hint — a promise, even — and I knew what would happen the minute she was near Ian’s cheekbones again. Then again, I thought maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was merely considering what would happen if I got near Ian’s cheekbones. Maybe she would be far more sensible than I.

Or not.

The minute He of the Impeccable Bone Structure arrived, she was rationalizing away all of his negatives. Sure, he refused to allow her to meet his parents on his hometown date — but he did say he now wished he’d flown them up for it. Sure, he’d repeatedly told her he wouldn’t propose — but, geez, that chemistry? As Mom said: ”As much as she likes Matthew, with Ian he’s sweeping her off her feet.” As Meredith said: ”I could be in a shoebox and be fine with Ian.” And, really, that little moaning sound Meredith made after she kissed him good-bye said it all.

”You couldn’t have made two better choices,” Meredith’s mom told her. ”It’s unfortunate that you have to pick.” Ah, but was it really unfortunate? ABC execs eager to milk a hit show during sweeps would have to say no. And we still had more than an hour to kill before the most amazing, incredible, mind-blowing, earth-shattering, life-altering rose ceremony ever. Or whatever it was they said in the teaser before, like, every commercial break.

So she went ring shopping for herself, which seems a little weird, but whatever. This guy at the jewelry store pulled out some boulders, she oohed and ahhed, he inexplicably congratulated her. (For what? Letting 25 guys court her for several weeks?)

After that came gratuitous dates-at-the-mansion with each guy: Ian still insisted he wouldn’t propose while preparing and then burning a homemade pizza, after which Meredith decided ”we should make the best of the situation and eat it up in my bedroom.” (Yes, honey, that would clearly be the ”best of the situation,” but I don’t think extra-crispy crust had anything to do with it.)

Then she appeared to use the leftover mozzarella and tomatoes for a salad and some pasta the next night with Matthew, who brought her chocolate-covered strawberries and elicited gushing statements like, ”I know that with Matthew I’d have nothing to worry about for the rest of my life.” (Of course, such grand sentiments almost always foreshadow an elimination — it’s like that glowing recommendation letter your boss gives you after firing you because he feels guilty.)

But, God, we still had a half hour left. What to do? Hey, how about the guys go choose from among Meredith’s favorite bling at the jewelry store? FYI: Matthew passed up what the jeweler called the ”five-table ring” (You can see it from five tables away! Get it?) for the ”elegant” choice. Ian, on the other hand, went for the one that was ”fit for a princess,” and, blinded by the reflection off all those carats, started wavering on his antimarriage edict. Then came some lingering shots of Matthew’s banging bod stepping out of the shower barely wrapped in a towel, and some briefer peeks at Ian’s lankier (but just fine, thank you) frame while he shaved.

Finally, finally, finally, Matthew arrived in his limo first. And we all knew what that meant. Just in case we didn’t, she brought out all the accolades: ”You are a wonderful man ?” blah, blah, blah. She cried, he got misty, he said nice things about wanting her to be happy.

The truly brilliant part, though, was that the suspense wasn’t over. We still didn’t know if Ian would give her that rock. He arrived still blathering about how he’d do it ”only if it felt right in the moment,” etc. But when they saw each other, it was clear she’d made the right choice — basically, they both turned into blithering, almost incoherent idiots, he hit his knee, joyful tears were shed. Granted, not the most effusive and/or eloquent proposal (”Will you…?”), but absolutely heartfelt.

And yes, even I indulged in a few tears of my own, even though I’ve loved Ian the whole time specifically because he was reasonable enough not to expect marriage from this whole thing. Essentially, I fell for him because he was so noncommittal, but in the end I couldn’t wait to see him pop the question. Meredith did what most women secretly dream of: She took a chance on the passionate adventurer instead of the sure thing — and her love tamed him into submission.

The stuff of fairy tales, folks. And some damned fine TV.

The Bachelorette: Meredith

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