One afternoon this past August, I drove to Malibu to spend a few hours observing The Golden Bachelor‘s Gerry Turner on his first group date with 12 women. This was pre-contestant announcement, so I had no idea who the women were, what they looked like, or how old they were. As prepared as I normally like to be, the plus-side was having no preconceived notions of who I was talking to, or what their story was. If anything, I now blame myself for being cynical that we’d get the typical Bachelor contestants, just ‘older.’
Enter Susan Noles, a 66-year-old wedding officiant and makeup and hair stylist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dressed in hot pink ‘70s attire with a flower power headband, peace sign earrings, and pink-tinted round glasses, I wasn’t sure if Susan brought this ensemble on her journey, or if she requested it. (As I learned from last night’s episode, it was clothes picked out by production for a romance novel cover shoot, and the ladies had to choose the outfit that most spoke to them.)
Upon meeting Susan, she gave me a big hug before proclaiming with her big, East Coast voice, “I am 66 years old and so excited and enjoying every moment of this journey!”
Having interviewed Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants for a decade, it’s a line I’ve heard many times before, minus the age part. But it felt different coming from Susan. There was a sincerity to her declaration and I felt it.
Perhaps it was because minutes earlier, I met Natascha, a 60-year-old pro-aging coach and midlife speaker from New York (side note: Gerry, we need to talk; why on earth did you send this joyous woman home?!). When I commented how wonderfully festive she looked, Natascha said, “I did not do my own makeup today.” I expected her to say that the show brought in a professional makeup artist, but once again, shame on me. “We have a woman in our house who is a hairstylist, a makeup artist, and she also cooks,” Natascha revealed. “Her name is Susan. She’s done practically everyone’s hair in the house. She did my makeup for me.”
I hadn’t even met Gerry yet, and I can honestly say that’s the moment I fell in love with The Golden Bachelor.