Second Verse, Better Than the First

Yesterday was my flight home. I applied the lessons learned from last week: I was prepared for the TSA agent to ask me to lower my mask and I approached the counter at the gate before picking my seat.

At the security screening, the agent asked me to put my sweater (tied around my waist) on the belt. Obviously I couldn’t understand what he was asking, so I told him I was deaf. Through hand gestures, I figured it out. He told the agent by the scanner that I was deaf (he pointed to his ear as he spoke, so I could tell), which I appreciated.

When at the gate counter, the Southwest employee pulled down his mask during our interaction. He printed out a new boarding pass that identified me as deaf and told me when pre-boarding would likely start.

When it got closer, I realized I was waiting at the wrong door. I approached the right one as the Southwest employee was making an announcement. I introduced myself afterwards. She lowered her mask and explained there was a ground delay. She gave me an update after her next announcement, and then let me bypass the long line of wheelchairs to board the plane first.

Upon boarding the plane, I told the first flight attendant I saw that I was deaf and read lips. When a woman asked to sit in my row, I could tell she was talking to me, so I gave her my short spiel. She was sweet; she showed me some adorable photos of a grandchild or great-grandchild and offered me hand sanitizer and a hard candy.

After everyone boarded, the plane door closed, and we moved a little. Then, nothing. I tried using my text-to-speech app to transcribe some of the announcement, but realized I couldn’t without internet. As we waited and waited and waited, I grew increasingly frustrated not knowing what was going on. Finally, one of the flight attendants opened the bulkhead in the row ahead of me, so I got her attention. I told her I was deaf and asked what was going on. She asked if I read lips, and pulled her mask down to explain that we were in line to take off but only one flight was being allowed to leave every half hour due to air space. She estimated another half hour wait.

The next time there was an announcement, she came over and told me we were leaving in about 10 minutes. Now THIS is what I wish happened on a regular basis — remembering to update passengers who can’t hear the announcements! In the past, I’ve told flight attendants to please let me know of any announcements. Either they don’t remember, or if I say “important announcements,” they don’t deem any of them important enough to share.

This flight attendant said it wasn’t until masking that she realized how much she lipreads people when taking their drink orders. She also said in a previous job years ago, she used sign language, though she doesn’t remember much now. I told her I only know a little myself.

It was a long day, but could have been a lot worse. Here’s hoping for more travel in the future. Hear that, COVID? Stay away!

Flying with Masks

The last time I boarded a plane was when I returned to Pittsburgh from my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah in Atlanta – in October 2019.

Two days ago, I flew again. Only this time, everyone was masked (At least, the ones who followed regulations and cared about their fellow humans.). As someone who is deaf and depends on reading lips to communicate, I was nervous.

It didn’t help that a friend of mine recently had a horrible experience flying. Her husband wore a Kn95 FaceView mask so she could lipread him. He was told to take it off. Other passengers were wearing cloth masks or not wearing their masks properly, yet they weren’t confronted. Even a flight attendant often had her mask below her nose. Spirit refused to leave until her husband complied. Finally the pilot granted a “one-time exception to policy,” even though my friend and her family had followed policy. They were also harassed during the flight by one of the flight attendants. The whole experience was humiliating and infuriating.

Because I flew solo, I knew I wouldn’t have a similar encounter. But that also meant I was on my own communication-wise.

Thankfully, everything went relatively smoothly. Having pre-check helped. But when the TSA agent asked me to lower my mask so she could match my face to my license, I was too busy trying to pull up my boarding pass on Apple Wallet. When I glanced up, she looked exasperated. “I’m deaf and read lips,” I told her. She then gestured to pull down my mask.

My plan was to tell a Southwest employee once I got to the gate. I didn’t realize there was a counter between gates, so I picked a seat near my gate. Because it was a good seat, I figured I’d wait until someone showed up close to boarding.

The flight time kept changing, which got people talking. This resulted in an awkward interaction, but that can’t be avoided.

After a Southwest employee spoke into the microphone by the gate, I approached her. When I identified my deafness, she gestured to a piece of paper to ask if I wanted her to write. I told her I read lips and she could pull down her mask, which she did.

While in line waiting for pre-boarding to start, I noticed people staring at me. Then one man pointed behind me. I turned around to find an employee trying to get by. I don’t know why they hadn’t tapped me, or how long they’d been there. “I’m sorry, I’m deaf,” I said to her. I hope the others heard so they knew I wasn’t being rude.

The employee at the gate brought me and three others onto the plane. After they boarded, she pulled down her mask to let me know that she was going to tell the flight attendant about me. Then she told me I could sit anywhere except the exit row. I told the flight attendant that I read lips, and he said to just press the button if I needed him.

It was frustrating having to hear announcements without understanding what was being said – both in the airport and on the plane. Normally I’d summon up the courage to ask a seat mate, but with masks, forget it.

So, I definitely had some social anxiety (thanks, COVID, for bringing it into my life!), but I got through it. The destination was worth it!

And now I have to do this all over again next week…

BIP E11 The Finale

The prom-goers get suspicious when they realize they haven’t seen Noah and Abigail in a while. That’s because they’ve been busy breaking up!

When Abigail finishes her crying jag in the bathroom, Noah asks if they can at least finish chatting and puts his arm around her shoulder. She takes it off. He says he wasn’t trying to blindside her. She asks why he waited until now. He explains that part of the struggle was that he wanted it to work out.

Finalllllly, Abigail tells him that she was actually planning to tell him she was falling in love with him too. He pushed her to open up, she says. “Like, that [bleep] hurts!”

“At the end of the day, I wasn’t your person,” Noah says. Abigail responds, “You’re right. You’re not my person. I kind of just want to forget about this and just…move on.” She’s emotional and puts her hands over her face. When she says, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” she must not have been speaking clearly because subtitles are provided on the screen.

The drawn-out drama ends when they hug goodbye. Noah leaves Paradise with dramatic music and no regrets. He denies having lied to Abigail and calls their time together fun and effortless. They were great, but not each other’s soulmates, he adds.

Abigail, meanwhile, returns to the prom where she tells Chelsea that she and Noah are going home separately. Chelsea, Serena, and Mari (Abigail’s friends from Matt’s season) console Abigail as she tells them what happened. She calls out Noah for getting to walk out of BIP without having to face anyone. Abigail feels humiliated. Serena says Noah should be, and Mari reassures her that she did nothing wrong. They all wonder why Noah waited until the end of Paradise. The girls are mad on Abigail’s behalf.

Abigail leaves the prom and walks up the stairs barefoot. Serena reels from the news, because they’ve been attached at the hip the whole time and she can’t imagine being at Paradise without her.

In the car, Abigail says she’s numb and it’ll take some time to process everything because she was blindsided. “That’s what hurts the most about all of this is he was the one to say he was falling in love and for him to just give no indication that anything was wrong or having doubts, it fucking hurts,” she says. “Why would he get me all happy and excited just to take that away from me?”

Abigail’s theory is that Noah is scared, which is causing him to hold back and use his gut feeling as an excuse. She knows she can’t convince him to stay with her and work it out; he needs to figure it out on his own.

Word spreads about the breakup, leaving everyone in shock. They were all inspired by a relationship that started on Day 1, but now they’re scared because if a couple doing that well can crumble, what does that mean for them? Thomas calls Abigail one of the sweetest people he’s ever met. Joe calls the break up a reality check for everyone.

The breakup remains the topic of conversation for a while. Serena and Mari fill Wells in on the drama. Mari says you never know what’s going on in someone’s head, which is why you need open and honest conversation.

The rest of the episode is predictable. The cocktail party is cancelled, couples have serious conversations about whether they want to stay together, continue on to the Fantasy Suites, or even possibly get engaged. I still don’t understand why it seems to be an all or nothing choice. But several “couples” break up, yet a new couple leaves Paradise together: James and Aaron, BFF Forever. That part is clearly staged but hilarious.

The three remaining couples are Riley and Maurissa, Mari and Kenny, and Joe and Serena. They all have Fantasy Suite dates, which basically means they get alone time without cameras. You know what THAT means! We’re treated to an unnecessarily graphic preview before they close the doors.

The remaining six people all say ILY to each other. They all get engaged. But before Joe proposes to Serena, his ex shows up to talk to him. Totally unnecessary producer manipulation and a time filler.

In the end, we’re provided with some cast updates. Two couples got back together after BIP, including Abigail and Noah, who are now “taking things SLOWLY!” Um, how much slower could they get?

Abigail posted a video montage on Instagram (which I can’t share because it’s a Reel), with the caption, “I love you, @noah_erb.” Looks like they’ve made lots of progress, though I wonder how they got over what he said to her. Hopefully this match made in reality TV heaven will last…

And now we know deaf people really can do anything – even survive a break up on national TV!

https://twitter.com/realitybysteph/status/1445587611997728772

BIP E10 Worst Prom Ever

The Aaron-Ivan fight continues. So does the macho slang: Bro, dawg, dude, etc. Add grammatical missteps like “him and I” and sentences populated with “like,” and you have me needing a stiff drink.

Somehow Chelsea missed the brouhaha despite being the subject of it. Everyone rallies around Ivan, who’s a big fat liar. Chelsea speaks her truth. Luckily Ivan gets his comeuppance when Wells calls him out at the start of the Rose Ceremony. The group watches their conversation from a distance with much conjecture, which I can’t imagine Abigail being able to follow.

Turns out Ivan spent time with Alexa — who was probably going to come down to the beach in the next day or two — at the hotel, which is against the rules. They gloss over the fact that it’s likely a set up, as Ivan says he found out her number from a producer’s phone left in his room, with the number being the first thing on the screen. He comes clean to the group, says he doesn’t have the mental space to be on BIP, and leaves.

Abigail tells the camera she thinks she and Noah would work out in the real world because they want similar things out of life. She sees a future together and thinks they’re on the right track to leaving together.

The guys going home: Demar, Dr. Joe, and Blake. Buh-bye, we hardly knew ya!

Noah offers a cheers for everyone: “Cheers to pursuing what we all deserve. Cheers to honesty and for finishing what we started.”

Another Abigail-Noah-pool-kiss-shot.

As everyone heads down to the beach, Noah makes Abigail laugh as she takes his arm. The new host is — surprise, surprise! — Wells. But don’t worry, he’ll still be bartending.

Mari tells Serena and Abigail that she’s worried about Kenny, who’s acting weird. The quicker they have the conversation, the quicker they’ll be able to work through it, Abigail advises her. Too bad she doesn’t take her own advice. She admits that initiating the conversation is the hardest part.

Another strong-couple-mention-Abigail-Noah-pool-kiss-shot.

Anna from Matt’s season arrives. Wells tells her she smells amazing. She says it’s pheromones, and actually has a pheromone-perfume-like stick. Okaaaay. Her first two date choices are taken, so she asks James, who hasn’t been on a date yet. Their date involves becoming human churros and yellow snakes (named Brendan and Pieper on Twitter) on their backs for a “massage.”

Abigail tells Wells she’s just trying to spend time with Noah this afternoon, trying to spend time while they still have it, and have fun. Wells tells her they’ve been one of the strongest couples, which has to feel kind of nice. He’s really only here for her at this point. Abigail says the whole experience with Noah is very different for her, because everyone sees them as a very secure relationship, but she doesn’t think they’re as locked in as people think they are.

Wells reassures her that Noah likes her a lot. “I do think it would go a long way for him to hear from you, like truly how you feel about him,” Wells says. Abigail asks if he thinks she’s the one preventing the conversation from happening. Wells admits he thinks she’s holding back a little bit.

“Couples are saying they’re falling in love with each other,” Abigail tells the camera. “We haven’t talked about that yet. It’s the elephant in the room for us.” She knows they have to talk about it, but it’s a little scary.

Wells is afraid they’ll neglect true happiness because they’re both scared of doing the thing they’re not good at, which is being serious or vulnerable, or telling people how they really feel. Abigail squishes her nose in response. She’s holding back on telling Noah she’s falling in love with him, but he’s not telling her how he’s feeling, which makes it scary.

Sigh.

Mykenna from Peter’s season shows up; she was at the VIP party. The poor girl has been stuck at the hotel this whole time and then shows up so late everyone’s pretty much coupled up. She asks Aaron on the date, but he turns it down saying he wouldn’t be in the right space emotionally. The group sees that Mykenna is upset, but no one does anything about it until Ed checks on her and invites himself on a date. He has to try hard to convince her to go out and have fun, but ultimately succeeds. Their date is rollerblading, which actually looks fun – a rare normal date.

A priestess shows up to help Kenny and Mari with their rough patch. They do some spiritual stuff that seems to help. You do you.

Meanwhile, Noah tells Joe and Serena that he and Abi definitely like each other a lot, but this week is about being vulnerable – for better or for worse – and seeing if it will work out after the show. He tells the camera they’re one of the strongest couples on the beach right now, very close to something great and deeper. He wants to use the week for serious conversations. Serena approves of the relationship. Noah says he hasn’t told Abigail yet he’s falling in love with her, but he’s ready to do so and hopes she’s feeling the same way.

On the daybed, Noah talks to Abigail while they’re side by side. She doesn’t look at his lips at all. Maybe it’s quiet enough and he’s close enough that she’s able to follow. He tells her he wants to be completely transparent and put it all out there. He more than likes her, he’s falling in love with her, and can see it working in the real world. I swear I see her wink at him; I forgot to rewind to confirm. Regardless, she doesn’t say anything back. Noah thinks she just froze. He felt she had a guard up but was hoping she’d push past it. It’s hard for him to continue if he doesn’t get much of a response (does this sound familiar?) and isn’t sure what to do.

The next day, Noah tells Becca he didn’t sleep well the night before. Becca asks about the relationship. Noah says he’s trying to figure it out, that he told her how he felt, and she just froze. He’ll still try to make it work but has a gut feeling. To the camera, he says it’s a red flag. To Becca, he says his mind isn’t made up, but he has to make a decision and stick with it because things will get more complicated real fast.

Abigail and Serena see a sign for Paradise Prom, totally 80s, and jump up and down in excitement. She asks the group who’s never been asked to prom and raises her hand. She tells the camera she’s never been asked, so she’s never gone with a date. The only prom she went to, she got stuck in the elevator for almost the entire time and was only at the prom for 20 minutes.

Some of the guys do promposals. In case you were wondering how BIP would actually pull of an 80s theme, they get clothes and accessories to choose from. Abigail wears a pouffy, ruffly purple dress with a scrunchy or ribbon in her hair.

Joe knows about The Conversation, and that they’re struggling. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen but acknowledges they’re in trouble.

Noah tells Abigail as he puts a corsage on her wrist, “You’ve never been to prom. That’s a shame. You should have been to many proms. You deserve all the proms.”

To the camera, Abigail reveals, “I’m super excited. I feel like I’m definitely falling in love. [Don’t tell us, tell him!!] I’m not in love yet because I know him and I have a lot of things I want to talk to him about.” She’s just looking forward to establishing how they feel about each other and having a good time.

Wells spikes the punch and tells everyone they’ll be voting on superlatives and Prom King and Queen later. He holds the microphone right up to his lips – a pet peeve when I’m trying to lipread. Tia is lonely because everyone else is paired up. But Aaron grabs her, gives her a corsage, and they end up full on making out. Where did that come from‽

Riley says if he doesn’t get Prom King, it should be Noah and Abigail, as they look good together.

Superlative time! Abigail and Noah are voted most likely to live happily ever after (which of course means they won’t). Abigail is excited, as this is the validation she’s been looking for. “Apparently [Noah] said he was falling in love with me last night and I didn’t register it until later,” Abigail says. “He said it so fast that I thought he accidentally said it, so I think I want to tell him tonight when we’re slow dancing or something.”

OK, I love Abigail, but dafuq? Once it registered, why didn’t she say something to Noah? Why didn’t he realize if he’s going to tell her something monumental that maybe, just maybe, he ought to make sure she hears/sees?

https://twitter.com/beekayreynolds/status/1443038373766107139

Joe and Serena are crowned Prom King and Queen. Everyone watches them slow dance, which is awkward.

Watching them, Abigail feels she’s definitely falling in love with Noah and plans to tell him tonight. But they slow dance, and she doesn’t follow through. ABIGAIL!

Noah is conflicted on what he should do. He asks Abigail if she wants to chat. She doesn’t catch it, so he says it again. THIS IS A CLUE, NOAH! Get with the program!

Right now there’s two sides of Noah, he says, both convinced each is right. One is based on emotion and starting to fall in love, and another’s based on a deeper feeling and intuition that’s kind of hard to ignore.

He tells Abigail — this time looking right at her (good job, bro!) — that he has strong feelings for her and feels like he’s falling in love with her and deciding what to do with that. He tells the camera that Abigail’s who he wanted to meet on BIP, but just before they’re about to get more serious, he feels he should listen to his gut which says she’s not the right choice. It might have worked out had they talked about it last night, he tells the camera, but now he knows what he has to do and has to try not to hurt Abigail.

They move to a quieter area, where he essentially breaks up with her. He does a good job of it, telling her how much fun they’ve had and how surprised he was at his feelings. However, he feels he’s been trying to force something when deep down he isn’t sure if she’s his person. She hinted at the situation the other day when she asked if they were just prolonging the inevitable. The feeling he’s had since early on, he hasn’t been able to ignore, and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to get to where he wants to be.

Throughout all this, Abigail is listening intently, yet she never makes eye contact with him. She doesn’t show any emotion, yet he has tears coursing down his face. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this blindsided before,” she says. “How do you go from telling someone you’re falling in love with them the night before to this conversation? And you were the one who constantly said I’m not going to say anything I don’t mean and I don’t want to make false promises, but then you ultimately ended up doing that.”

https://twitter.com/BrettSVergara/status/1443043725043765248

Noah asserts that what he said last night is still true. She rips her corsage off and tells him he’s a little too late in being honest. Abigail doesn’t know what he wants her to say. She’s confused and annoyed, because he’s been pushing her to try to get to his level, yet he’s obviously had this gut feeling for more than 24 hours and still chose to tell her he was falling in love. This has nothing to do with her, Noah replies.

“I know it has nothing to do with me,” Abigail says. “I don’t have anything to be blamed for this.”

After Noah says he doesn’t know if she’s his person, she gets snippy and says she doesn’t want to hear it again because he’s said it enough times. It’s just going to hurt more every time he says it. She walks away as he puts his head in his hands.

“My entire Paradise is Noah,” Abigail laments. “I don’t know why Noah picked tonight to have this conversation. Maybe he got hit with the gravity of what he said the night before. Maybe he just went into panic mode. None of it makes sense to me.”

Noah follows her up the steps. Does she hear him coming? He tries to talk to her, but she ignores him. She feels he’s running away from something and isn’t telling her what it is. She goes into the bathroom and sobs.

I think they’re both at fault here, and Abigail’s not as blameless as she thinks. Why did she never tell him how she felt? She had several opportunities to do so. From what I’ve seen on social media, Abigail isn’t garnering much sympathy. She’s even called a robot. Hopefully she learns and grows from this. We’ll find out after the three hour finale next week!

BIP E9 Abigail Becomes a Meme

Noah opens the episode narrating the Joe, Serena, and Kendall situation. Joe and Kendall talk and discover they’re on different pages. Actually, Kendall’s in a whole other book. She displays some smarts by realizing she can’t torture herself anymore, and leaves Paradise.

Becca lists the solid couples, including Abigail and Noah (still) – shown in the pool (still).

Two guys arrive: Demar and Ed. They ask Chelsea and Natasha on dates where they paint each other.

Meanwhile, Noah surprises Abigail with a date. He gives her a piggyback ride and says, “Remember when I told you we’d get a hammock and margaritas?” I wonder if she was able to understand him or if she didn’t get it until the reveal. She tells him she’s very impressed.

Noah tells the camera it’s a week for serious conversations. There’s a lot he and Abigail have to talk about. They haven’t told each other that they’re falling in love. Don’t get your hopes up; if they have a serious conversation, it’s not shown on air.

Kenny gets a date card and takes Mari on a cooking date. The chef says presentation is the most important. The plating will be their bodies. So they eat tacos off each other’s naked bodies, sour cream running down legs and all. It’s every bit as gross as you’d expect, though to their credit, they don’t seem to be inhibited by the chef’s presence.

Kenny and Mari talk about their relationship and admit they’re falling in love with each other. Abigail and Noah are shown kissing in a hammock at night. Maurissa wants to know why Riley holds so much back. He finally opens up and shares about his family, and then they admit they’re falling for each other.

Serena lists the serious relationships, as if we haven’t heard this a million times already.

Then, even more drama! Instead of a rose ceremony or cocktail party, everyone has evacuate because a dangerous tropical storm is approaching. While the crew is notifying everyone, Abigail’s about to eat a French fry and stops it in midair. Thus, a meme is born.

Everyone’s super dramatic. Oh no, Paradise could be shut down for good! I don’t know when I’ll see X again! Civilization will cease to exist! My brain cells will atrophy!

Spoiler alert: No one dies. They all return to Paradise, which is still standing. Despite the daytime, they have an hour to get ready for the cocktail party. With 8 women and 12 men, four guys are going home.

There’s a quick glimpse of Noah who’s wearing even more gold necklaces. Abigail’s seen wiping something off his face while they’re in a hammock, so clearly they’ve reached the old married couple stage of the relationship.

Tia is torn between James and Blake. One gives her the attention she craves, while the other makes her vagina sing. What’s a girl to do?

Aaron walks down a makeshift runway for Chelsea, the runway model. She admits she likes him more than Demar. But then Ivan, desperate for a rose, pulls her aside and they end up vibing. And by vibing, I mean kissing. Aaron won’t have this. He calls Ivan a desperate little bitch boy and calls him out for saying he wasn’t trying to take someone else’s rose. There’s face to face yelling, which we’ll see more of next week in a “three hour extravaganza.” It’s not even the finale, which is the following week. This show…