From the Single Files

What did Vieja Valley’s Ashley Scatena learn on The Bachelor? The reality of life is preferable to TV.

A kindergarten teacher straight out of central casting, Vieja Valley School’s Ashley Scatena is sweet, petite and charming. So what was she doing starring on ABC’s comical catfight “reality show,” The Bachelor?

It wasn’t to meet the man of her dreams.

It wasn’t the money; the women aren’t paid to participate. They even have to supply their own clothes.

It wasn’t the potential stardom; unlike many bachelorettes, Scatena has no ambitions to become an actress or a model.

Scatena was simply motivated by the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at a reality TV show. She said the whole process was fascinating.

“I can’t watch a show the same way again,” she said.

She was particularly struck by how long it took to film a single scene. For example, the rose ceremonies — during which the women find out if they’ve been chosen by the bachelor to go on to the next round — took about nine hours to film and resulted in only about nine minutes of airtime.

Last week’s rose ceremony was the last one for Scatena, since Byron the bachelor did not choose her to continue.

While Scatena felt badly about not staying on longer, she was hardly heartbroken. She said she knew right away that the Las Vegas fisherman wasn’t the man for her, but figured she might as well enjoy the experience.

With 25 women sharing three small bedrooms and two bathrooms, and completely cut off from the outside world — no phones, no Internet, no television, no books, no magazines — it’s no wonder they became close friends.

“We spent 23 hours a day talking and getting to know each other. It was just a great way to bond with women my age,” said the 31-year-old. “And I realized that we’ve all had the same dating experience all over the country.”

Scatena’s looking forward to November, when the women will film a “Girls Tell All” episode and give the inside scoop on their experiences on the show. Right now they are not supposed to be talking among themselves, to help keep up the suspense — as well as the secrecy — of the show.

As for the over-the-top drama of some of the women, Scatena said they were mostly just playing to the camera and giving the producers what they wanted.

But being dramatic was the last thing Scatena wanted. Ever aware of her role model status — especially among her previous students — she was very careful not to do anything she would regret.

“These kids are my biggest fans, and they don’t even care that I was on TV,” she said, as two little girls shyly presented her with some yellow leaves. “Yesterday I got a marble and a paper clip.”

It’s hard to be a diva in a class full of 5-year-olds.

“My students are my saving grace right now,” she said. “When everything else is crazy you can come in here and tie 10 pairs of shoes and blow someone’s nose and open their string cheese, and you forget all about The Bachelor.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on October 7, 2004.