Is it permissible to continue reviewing The Bachelorette? Is that all right with everyone? Is it an irresponsible use of my time as a journalist, a job which can be defined as someone who chronicles the things that happen around us, in an age when the main thing that's happening around us is dread?
We need information. We need to know the score. I read updates all day, every day, here and overseas, and none of it's good, none of it's reassuring, none of it's anywhere in the vicinity of being able to think oh well things don't sound too bad. All of it's bad.
I came up with a new game to play with my daughter on Sunday. We stood on either length of the swimming pool and threw a ball to each other. You had to catch it with one hand; fumbling it meant a point to the opponent, and so did throwing it short of the person, and into the pool. First to five. Minka introduced a bizarre aspect to proceedings by setting a new rule where we had to solve maths equations out loud while catching the ball. She called it The Wrath of Math. Such is life with a genius.
There were some spectacular catches – I'm really gifted at catching – and you could have cut the tension with a knife. All of it felt like a vast, silly joy and at no time did we think or worry about what's happening around us.
The Bachelorette fulfills that role for the entire watching nation. It's light relief, as dumb and fun as throwing a ball across a pool. It's a sport, of sorts; a gormless Kiwi bachelor has to catch the affections of an eligible woman. If they fumble it, they're out. Only five men remain.
You could cut the tension with a knife, or use the knife to stab yourself in the head to stay awake.
There are strict rules. The women have to meet the bachelors' parents. The bachelors have to tolerate the women seeing other men. God, that must be gutting. In romance, hell is other men.
All of it's marvellously distracting, a wonderful innocence, a harmless pastime that takes your mind off what's happening around us. Good luck to Bachelor Richie in Wanaka. Good luck to Bachelor Quinn in Napier. As for Bachelor Jesse in Tauranga, he doesn't really stand a chance, does he? He's a volatile little guy, always giving someone a bit of grief, and there's something bitter about the way he curls his lip.
They're all chasing Hottie Lily. Hottie Lesina is being pursued by Bachelor Logan in Auckland, and Bachelor Aaron in Tauranga. Good luck to Logan. As for Aaron, whatever.
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Last night's show was a prolonged kind of Meet the Fokkers without the laughs. All the parents seemed very nice. They really cared for their sons, and didn't want to see them get hurt. They put on spreads of food – grapes, cheese, wine – and welcomed Lesina and Lily into their homes. They hugged and kissed them, held them close.
The touching of strangers ... It was the only time I thought about contagion, and what's happening around us. The rest was a pure, mindless joy. I like watching The Bachelorette. I like writing about it, too. I don't know for sure but I think that's an all right use of my time before the crisis worsens.