There were many viral moments during Colton Underwood’s season of The Bachelor. But one of the most memorable ones is undoubtedly when Hannah B. made her now-infamous "Roll Tide" toast. And in Underwood’s new memoir, The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV, he finally dishes on what he was actually thinking on the date.
After appearing on the 14th season of The Bachelorette as one of Becca Kufrin’s suitors, Underwood starred in the 23rd season of The Bachelor, where he met his current partner, Bachelor winner Cassie Randolph. But before he settled down with Randolph, he went on dates with a wide array of his suitors — including former Miss Alabama USA Hannah Brown.
During the date, Underwood asked Brown to make a toast, causing her to grow flustered and say, "Roll Tide." (The trademarked slogan of the Alabama Crimson Tide.) When Brown later went on to star in season 15 of The Bachelorette, her suitors greeted her with many, many "Roll Tides."
Find out what Underwood thought of Hannah B.’s "Roll Tide" toast in this excerpt from his new memoir, The First Time:
Excerpt from The First Time, exclusive to Bustle
Episode 2 — What No One Saw
The following afternoon I met with my producers. The team — Nancy, Eileen, and Penny. Or, as I nicknamed them, Colton’s Angels. They were my pillars throughout the season: guiding and supporting me when I needed it and offering assistance even when I thought I had things under control. What I learned? I never had things under control. And never ignore a well-meaning woman’s advice.
These three women were a formidable, impressive group whose talents complimented each other. Nancy was mission-oriented. Eileen was my free-spirited sister who would be able to open me up in an interview like no one else. And Penny was a sparkplug of a human being, all spirit and emotion, who just loved love.
I was eager to sit down with them and recap that first rose ceremony. I felt like the host of a big party; I wanted to hear it went well. They were pleased. We gossiped about the previous night and talked about all the girls, who were at that moment moving into the mansion. They reviewed the schedule for the rest of the week, which was crazy busy and included my first one-on-one date with Hannah B. That put a smile on my face.
I was less enthusiastic about the first group date: a trip to the theater where husband-and-wife actors Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman would headline a night of telling stories about our “firsts.” Each person could define for themselves what so-called first time in their life they wanted to talk about, though I knew what it meant for me.
Nancy saw me roll my eyes. The point, she said, was for me to address what she referred to as “the elephant in the room.”
“I have to think that elephant is pretty tired by now,” I said.
I heard Chris in my head: pick your battles. Grumpy but ultimately agreeable, I did my part the next day at the theater. Megan and Nick warmed up the audience with some risqué stories about their own first sexual experiences. I stuck to the “First Comes Love” theme of the show by recalling the time I stood up in front of a squad of San Diego Charger linebackers and revealed I was a virgin. Ay-yai-yai, I was glad that was done.
I’m Sorry, I Suck at This
Hannah and I climbed into a battered old Jeep eager to get to know each other on the forty-five-minute drive to Vasquez Rocks in the mountains north of LA. Excited about this first one-on-one date, we were mic’d and seated in front of a GoPro camera positioned to capture us getting to know each other. I kept glancing at her, hoping to see if she was enjoying herself. I was nervous. I think she was, too. Was this what I missed out on in high school by not dating?
We saved most of our conversation until we were at Vasquez Rocks, which was tough considering how eager both of us were to ask questions and share details about our lives. But then it was game on. It was Hannah’s birthday, and I wanted her to have a good time. She made me feel good by saying the date was a great present. We rode horses through the dramatic desert scenery until we arrived at a strategically placed hot tub, which was a perfect setup for a very happy birthday celebration.
After changing into swimsuits, we got in the hot tub and opened a bottle of champagne that was chilled and waiting for us. Both of us were smiling, getting into the vibe. I went through the process of forgetting I was on a TV show; as far as I was concerned, it was just me and Hannah, surrounded by bubbles and ready to sip glasses full of stars. Everything was perfect — that is, until I suggested she make a toast. I saw her eyes fill with fear. I knew what was happening to her. Her mind went blank. She lost it. The poor thing froze.
“I’m sorry, I suck at this,” she said.
I felt bad for her. I tried to help.
“Don’t look at the cameras,” I advised. “Just talk to me.”
I understood what was going on with her. From the beginning of our date, Hannah was more concerned with how she looked on camera — her hair, the light, the camera angles, the sound — than anything else. She paid attention to every little detail except the most important one: enjoying herself. To succeed on this show, you had to ignore everything around you: the cameras, the producers, the sound people running wires down your back or inside your pants, the competition, and the show itself. Hannah did the opposite, and she was overwhelmed by all of it, until she was paralyzed.
“Take a moment,” her producer said.
I wished she would’ve stayed in the moment, too. As a way of getting herself together, though, she fell back on questions she’d prepared earlier. She asked about my decision to remain a virgin and followed that with one about my relationship with Aly.
“I know you used to date Aly Raisman,” she said. “Why don’t you ever talk about that relationship?”
She had done her homework, and I suppose there would’ve been nothing wrong with that question if we’d known each other better and didn’t have cameras pointed at us. But our situation wasn’t either of those and she saw my face curdle in the wake of her query. I explained that the producers and I had agreed to keep mention of her off-limits.
“Got it,” she said.
I liked Hannah, but in my first ITM assessment I said she needed to loosen up. We were scheduled to have dinner later that night aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, and I urged the producers to encourage her to talk to me instead of the people behind the camera. She needed some friendly coaching, which apparently she received. In a beauty pageant, you’re modeling; on The Bachelor, you have to be yourself. To her credit, Hannah pulled herself together for the dinner portion of the date and was a thoroughly enjoyable companion — clever, inquisitive, bright, beautiful, and totally deserving of the rose she received.
Cassie Wants to Talk to You About Something
For the week’s second group date, twelve girls were divided into two teams for a day of games and competitions. The winning team got an overnight with me. Comedian Billy Eichner was called in to provide the commentary. This activity was more my speed than a night of embarrassing confessions at the theater. During a break in the action, one of my producers walked over to me with a second producer. He worked with Cassie, the blond from Huntington Beach. She wanted to pull me for a private conversation, he said.
I asked if everything was okay. Neither producer commented one way or the other.
“Have the conversation,” my producer said.
Soon Cassie and I were walking to a bench where we could talk by ourselves. I liked her confidence. She looked me in the eye and said she was concerned about the impression she made — or didn’t make — when we talked at the cocktail party the first night. “I felt a little off and I want to let you know I’m normally pretty outgoing,” she said. “But sometimes I struggle. And with that whole situation and everything being new and unfamiliar, I felt like I was awkward and I don’t want you to think I’m awkward. So I just wanted to clear the air.”
I assured Cassie that nothing about her or our conversation that night had been awkward. “Good,” she said, without offering anything else but leaving the door open for me to keep the conversation going if I wanted, which I very much did.
I was delighted to get to know her and see that she grew more comfortable as we talked. She’d played soccer and volleyball in high school. She’d attended Biola University, a Christian school about an hour from her home. She liked board games. With a tiny bit of embarrassment, she said that she’d watched Becca’s season of The Bachelorette and her friends and family were a little obsessed with me.
“That’s why I started blushing halfway through our introduction,” she said.
“You did?” I said.
“Yeah, I was thinking, I could like this guy.” She smiled.
I wanted to kiss her right then, but she was pulled away before I could muster the courage. It was probably for the better. Good things shouldn’t be rushed, right?
I kept my eye on her the rest of the afternoon as the girls were divided into red and yellow teams and competed in various events, including a canoe race and tug-of-war that ultimately decided who won the overnight with me. The red team, which happened to have all my favorites, emerged victorious. It gave me more time with Cassie, who, it turned out, had a first kiss on her mind, too.
Later that night, as we sat around the campfire, she orchestrated an egg-and-spoon game for just the two of us. She planned to drop the spoon from her mouth as she passed the egg from her spoon to mine and kiss me. The idea was as cute as her. But I screwed it up. When she turned around after getting the egg and spoons, I was standing right behind her and… I’ll just say we will never have to wonder which came first, the kiss or the egg.
A Word About Kissing Lots of Girls
This may shock you, but I was fine with it. I was aware that on The Bachelorette, I was kind of skeeved out on group dates with Becca when I was the second, third, or fourth guy kissing her. Now, standing on the other side, I had no such qualms. Was I guilty of a double standard? Yes. Was I apologetic? No. But I was sensitive when Heather, at that night’s campfire, informed me that she was not only a virgin but she’d never kissed a boy. She received the group-date rose for her courage and honesty, and both of us knew that down the road, when the time was right, we’d wade into virgin territory and kiss.
Demi Scared Me
I had no idea the cocktail party would be the equivalent of a bartender calling, “Last round.” I saw Demi coming toward me wearing a white terry-cloth bathrobe with God only knew what was — or wasn’t — underneath it. I tried to hide my unease with her behavior as she tore me away from Tracy Shapoff and took me upstairs to her so-called fantasy closet for a private massage. She intimidated me. When I met girls like her in high school and college, I ran in the opposite direction. She forced me out of my comfort zone. Such things would’ve never happened to the Bachelorette. She had to always be in control. A different standard was applied to me. I wasn’t aware of people commenting on this, if they did. I had a cherry popped in my face. I was propositioned. In the end, I suppose it was my call, and I was okay with it. I trusted my producer angels to never let things go too far or to hear me if I said I was too uncomfortable.
We Have a Problem
In a meeting with my producers mid-week, Nancy intimated that someone in the house was stirring up trouble. They were keeping an eye on her, they said. I’d heard rumors about conflict between Caelynn and Hannah B. I knew some of the girls with pageant backgrounds had speculated they weren’t BFFs anymore, but whatever additional details were floating around had escaped my ears, and I was assured that neither of them was the problem anyway.
With my concerns alleviated, I left the behind-the-scenes kerfuffle to production and went to the cocktail party. Demi came down in a bathrobe and gave me a massage in a closet, which had the opposite effect of relaxing me. I think there were more sex jokes cracked in the room that night than bottles of white wine. Onyeka blasted an air horn and declared she was horny. Then Sydney came into the room pounding a spoon on a pot. Was that a joke about banging? My head was spinning from all the clamor that night.
The four girls who came up short in the next rose ceremony were Annie Reardon, Alex Blumberg, Erika McNutt, and Angelique Sherman.
Afterward, in my hotel room, I sat up questioning myself: I saw the possibility that at the end of this I could definitely fall in love and even lose my virginity, but I wondered if Entertainment Weekly’s Kristen Baldwin might have been right: Would I be making decisions due to the pressure of being on a TV show and wanting to please people, or because the emotions I felt were genuine? How would I know for sure? I had a lot to figure out on my own.
But few secrets stayed secret for very long on The Bachelor. If there was a rumor, trouble, an argument, an outburst, or hurt feelings, it got out and traveled fast.
You can also listen to this exclusive excerpt, here.
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