Deep in the heart of DC, some serious history was being made last night.
I’m talking about The Bachelorette season premiere watch party at Stoney’s, of course. Our very own Stoney’s waiter Luke Stone made his debut vying for the heart of Hannah B., and his former place of employment was packed.
The back room of Stoney’s resembled a sorority house living room on a Friday night, with the $5 rosé deals flowing like the neon-lit pool at the Bachelor mansion and flutes of pink bubbly popping and fizzing like Chris Harrison’s cholesterol levels.
As it turns out, ole Lucas isn’t the only suitor from the DMV.
Joey Jones, a 33-year-old finance manager in Bethesda, is described as hoping to “one day have a house with a pool in the backyard and a couple kids running around” because, you know, Montgomery County. And 24-year-old John Paul Jones from Lanham? Well, his bio says he loves champagne and “rarely uses words that are less than three syllables long,” so we’ll leave it at that for now.
Before the premiere kicks off, my table engages in a rousing and deeply intellectual discussion about the contestants: “It feels like The Bachelorette is like the 2020 election,” the person next to me says. “People are just going on it to get their name out there.” (Can we all just take a second to imagine Beto in the mansion?)
“He’s the poor man’s Nick Viall before Nick Viall got hot,” says another of Luke Stone, who, to be fair, does look very similar to the henley-sporting former Bachelor and renowned lothario.
When the show kicks off, we’re treated to a montage of Hannah B. shots: There she is posing by a series of rustic wooden structures, walking through fields of high grass, and sitting on the edge of a dock beside what looks like a retention basin, as if she’s posing for engagement pictures except, you know, by herself. And there she is talking to her dad, who looks like a long-lost member of ZZ Top, and teaching dance to a posse of cherubic blonde children in unitards while she sports a messy ponytail because come on, she’s relatable, y’all!
And then, finally, the moment we’re all really here for: The parade of men.
As the conga line of bros exits the limo to shoot their shots, the crowd is riveted, transfixed. I watch as a girl turns around backward in her seat to watch the stream of dudes while simultaneously eating a chicken wing, and honestly, I’ve never seen this level of dedication before, her head craning 180 degrees, the flesh ripping off between her teeth as the skin crunches like Hannah B. eating the bones of men.
And out come the tech entrepreneurs from San Diego, the real estate brokers from Chicago, the aspiring musicians from Nashville, even some dude who describes himself as “the box king” (ahem), a barrage of men where the pecs gets tighter and the hair more product-heavy from one introduction to the next.
But we’re really here for Luke S.! Give us Luke S.! Finally, we get a glimpse of him in the back of one of the many limos in the fleet, where the bottles have been popped and the men are toasting to their future attempts at love with Hannah B.’s dimples.
Out he pops from the car, a man with nothing to lose, and the back room of Stoney’s goes wild, save for an older couple sitting at a two-top who are trying to have a quiet meal and stare at the crowd of millennials as if examining a grotesquely fascinating species of bug.
“You have such a calming presence,” Luke S. tells Hannah B., standing before her in a brown plaid blazer (bold move, my man). His perfectly tousled and product-groomed hair is as sleek and rigid as El Capitan, as if just waiting for someone to film Free Solo on its face.
Things are getting boisterous on P Street as the show stretches on, and the enthusiasm of the room only grows as a commercial for the live-action Aladdin plays because, come on, it’s a room full of rosé-drunk girls. (“Ugh, I freaking love Aladdin.”)
But, then—what is that on the horizon? Did someone put in an order in the kitchen? Because I smell some drama cookin’!
Apparently one contestant on the show has a girlfriend back home, and the vibe in Stoney’s becomes downright bloodthirsty as the plot unfolds. As Hannah B. confronts him, a chorus of “Yes, BYE!” and “Yeah, girl!” and “Get to stepping, Scott!” echoes throughout the room, and I feel like I’ve been plopped onto the set of Jerry Springer.
The audience’s teeth-gnashing only grows as the First Impression Rose is not presented to our own Luke S., but the other one, Luke P. (because of course there are two Lukes). Hannah B. smooches the lesser Luke in front of a large decorative lantern, the candle flickering on his unfortunate Purple Rain-esque tie, and the room is vicious in its commentary: “Ew!” scream some. “Go lift weights!” says another.
And then it’s time for the Rose Ceremony, time to separate the boys from the men. Luke S. looks very anxious and small and scared, like a lost Pomeranian as he faces the camera. “It’s the hardest situation I’ve been in,” he says to the producers, which is probably not true whatsoever. “I’m freaking out right now.”
He’s not alone: John Paul Jones of Lanham leans into the camera. “I didn’t forgo a promotion” just to be sent home, he says, which seems…like that was not a very prudent life decision, JPJ.
But fear not: Our own Luke S. gets a rose, and Joey from Bethesda gets a rose, and then there’s only one red-petaled stem left, and JPJ stands on the risers amongst the other rose-less, looking sweaty and scared, the flow of his hair like that of an African savanna before a storm.
Who will get it? Who will get the last rose? The crowd starts chanting “JOHN. PAUL. JONES! JOHN. PAUL. JONES!” And yes, there it is—the music crescendoes, Hannah B. breathes deeply, and it’s him, our boy: JPJ.
The bar goes wild, sound reverberating through Logan Circle as if Obama had just been elected for a third term, and we Washingtonians are three for three, baby! The men slap each other on the back, Chris Harrison comes out, and the bubbly clinks and fizzes.
As for me? Well, you know I’ll be watching come next week—same time, same place.