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The guys pose for a calendar, Ali goes on individual dates, and the season's first villain emerges

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June 01, 2010 at 04:00 PM EDT

Such a satisfying process, The Bachelorette. It is around this time in the season — when there are still lots of bachelors vying for our starlet’s attention, but they’re all starting to take on distinctive personalities — that I realize how much I would like to date this way. Why is it that it doesn’t work this way in real life? Remind me, would you?

Since it doesn’t, let us get on with dissecting the highlights of what our lucky Ali got to deal with:

Frank, Individual Date No. 1

He got a sweet ride in a vintage convertible… only to have it magically break down on the side of the freeway. (How overly cynical does it make me that I assume this was rigged for some reason?) Frank took it as an opportunity to show his fun-loving ability to roll with the punches, and it must be said: While I was sorta wary of Frank and his unclear employment status and his residence with his parents in suburban Illinois and his hyperactive tendencies last week, I was a bit charmed by him this week. Both feelings may be due to my history of dating struggling artists — and the difficulties they have caused in my life — but it might also just be because Ali started to visibly, sweetly warm up to him, as well. Or it might just be because he got a damn cool date with her.

I could do without the part where they walked on Hollywood Boulevard with tourists and endured paparazzi attacks, but being up at the Hollywood sign at sunset isn’t a bad way to spend your dusk. They got a little deeper into his Paris story — apparently he lived there for a month and a half, and is now managing an unnamed retail store (what, not a sponsor, ABC?) while he writes screenplays. ”Everything I do is kind-of based on that gut feeling I have,” Frank told her, and scored. ”I feel like because I’m so career-driven, sometimes I lose track of what’s more important, and that’s love and family,” Ali told us, in a nod to her continuing major guilt-trip for leaving the show last season. ”I feel like if Frank was in my life, he would remind me of that every day, and I love that.” This sentiment precipitated — yes! — our first major kiss of the season.

Since the car was now magically fixed by mechanical elves (who also, it seems, deliver the car directly to wherever you currently are on your loooong date), they headed on up to the top of the Hollywood Hills and had a cupcake-and-champagne picnic on the hood. (While this is my dream come true, I couldn’t help hoping they’d also had some food along the way. They should’ve been hungry for more than cupcakes by now, and I don’t mean that as a double entendre.) Here, Ali noted that Frank was funny, smart, and quirky. ”There’s nothing, like, normal about you,” she said, accurately. ”And that’s good.” She also pledged, to the camera, that she would stop the game-playing that had heretofore plagued her dating life and ”let each guy here know exactly how I feel about them.” Do you know when it’s really easy to stop playing games and let guys know exactly how you feel? WHEN YOU HAVE MORE THAN A DOZEN MEN VYING FOR YOUR AFFECTION. Just saying.

NEXT: Rated ”give it up already, Craig”

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