What if she got picked?

Ball State graduate Cathy Grimes experienced Hollywood life last winter as a finalist on ABC's reality television show 'The Bachelor'

That was Susan Grimes' biggest fear when she learned her daughter, Cathy, was to compete for the affection of a successful young management consultant on the ABC reality series "The Bachelor."

"It makes for good TV," Susan said. "But does a few weeks make a relationship. Does it have anything to do with family or true love? Very little."

Apparently Cathy thought so also.

A Ball State graduate, Cathy Grimes experienced the Hollywood life last winter, living in a Malibu beach house among the stars, traveling by limousine and private jet with ABC catering to her every whim. She competed against 24 other women for the affections of Alex Michel, a 31-year-old San Francisco Bay area native. But matrimony was far from her mind.

"I was there to have a good time, rather than hooking up with the bachelor," she said in a telephone interview. "I was definitely not there to get married."

A native of Terre Haute, Cathy, 23, graduated magna cum laude in 2001 with a degree in exercise science. On the diving team for three years, she received two letters in addition to the MAC Commissioner's Award for Academic Excellence. During her freshman year she was named most improved diver.

Cathy was attending Northwestern University last fall pursuing her doctorate in physical science when she walked into a Chicago bar and on a whim decided to try out for "The Bachelor."

"The producers of the show happened to be there taping, and a girlfriend and I just thought 'Let's do it, It'll be fun,'" she said. "At first they said it was a dating game and didn't say anything about marriage. But I was just excited about being on a reality TV show and not necessarily marrying an eligible bachelor."

Friends who describe Cathy as a free spirit, unafraid to try anything, said her decision to be on the series made perfect sense.

"It doesn't surprise me she would be on the show, because that's just the type of personality she has," swimming and diving coach Laura Seibold-Caudill said in an interview last semester. "She was the type of person who always wanted to try something out of the ordinary."

"When she told me that she had put an application in I wasn't really shocked," said her roommate and fellow Ball State graduate Andrea Russell. "It was just something new and fun for her."

During her Christmas break Cathy flew to Los Angeles to face extensive questioning and background checks.

"They tested us for every single disease, made sure we didn't use drugs, and of course they wanted to get the scoop on our past, the types of guys and experiences we'd been through" she said. "There were a lot of sexual questions, a lot of things where I thought 'I don't want Grandma to know about this.'"

Taping began in January. The women accompanied Michel on romantic outings, meeting his friends and family along the way. At the end of the week he would give a rose to each woman he was interested in knowing more about.

"When Alex did the first rose ceremony whittling it down to 15 from 25, he couldn't remember everyone's name," Cathy said. "So he would literally do two at a time and then look down at his notes."

Cathy made it into the final eight, and her personal dates involved horseback riding in Malibu and a cruise in Santa Barbara.

"I was very impressed," she said. "He was very attractive and very charming. In terms of his personality and getting to know him and developing a relationship with him, it was pretty difficult since there were 24 other women involved.

"If he would've picked me I definitely would have dated him for awhile, but I wouldn't have jumped on the wedding bandwagon."

Parties in the Malibu house where the women were sequestered would sometimes run until 6 a.m. Cathy did make a few friends, but described most of the women as "prissy and stuck-up."

"A lot of the girls were people that I probably wouldn't want to be friends with or surround myself with in real life," she said. "They would just kind of hang out and gossip all day, talking about this girl or that girl."

The show wrapped up in May when Alex presented a diamond ring (only to snap the lid shut) to Amanda Marsh of Kansas City, Kan. According to a recent TV Guide article the relationship hasn't lasted. Marsh is currently working as a DJ at a Kansas radio station, alleging that Michel used the show as a platform to launch his own acting career. He has since quit his job and is taking acting lessons, having made an appearance on NBC's "The Rerun Show."

Some critics have dismissed "The Bachelor" as sexist and degrading, but Cathy has a sense of humor about it, brushing aside such accusations.

"They're just jealous," she said. "They just wanted to be a part of it."

Her mother, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Terre Haute North Vigo High School, is a bit more pragmatic.

"If I hadn't had a daughter on it I probably wouldn't have thought that much of it," she said. "But there were a lot of people I knew who were hooked."

Looking back on the experience Cathy said she would have enjoyed doing something wilder like "Fear Factor" or "Jackass."

"After the show they realized I was a pretty dynamic person and one of the guys in charge of the show said he wanted to create a female version of 'Jackass,'" she said. "That would have been my show. I would have loved to have been out there doing crazy things. I talked to a couple of people and they were like 'Oh yeah, I'll call you.' Did I ever hear back from them? No."

Currently working as a personal trainer at a 24-hour fitness center in Colorado, Cathy enjoys the fame the show brought to her, but has little interest in returning to Hollywood. Having taken a year off to work on "The Bachelor," she plans to go back to Northwestern in January. For now she just wants to enjoy the single life.

"The Hollywood life was exciting, but it's all about having these nice things, and not what's in your heart," she said. "I'm all about living my life, and Colorado is a great place. I love my job and playing around with attractive men all day. I'm out having a good time and enjoying life. I'm not necessarily on the prowl for anyone. If somebody happens to come along then so be it."


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