America's Next Top Model
The Girl Who Is America's Next Top Model

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Mercedes Bends

"I wasn't expecting April to be eliminated," Yoanna tells us in a pink-scarf-clad (I know! I barely recognized her) confessional. "At any given time, someone could leave." Except for right now. And now. And whenever April is learning that the plural of "woman" isn't "woman."

Upstairs at Il Zolofti, Mercedes places a phone call to her mom, a somewhat low-voiced woman who pauses when she hears Mercedes's voice as if to say, "Am I on speaker-to-America phone? Take me off that thing." She sounds more familiar to us than Mercedes sounds to her, and at this late point in a very long season, I can't remember if we once met her or not. Oh, wait. We did. And we were all very moved. Trust me. Y Tu Mama Tambien asks her daughter how she's doing, and Mercedes -- bedecked in the finest hatwear that Hooray Beret Haberdashery has to offer -- says something in response that I can't give my undivided attention to on account of still being somewhat distracted by that hat. I know our poor Colgate girl is trying to be more high-fashion, but the only "high" locale in which that hat works is "out of reach of human grasp, preferably in deep space or heaven." Unless it's Jenascia reaching for it. And then it only needs to be on top of a matchbox. Mercedes tells her mom she's "feeling good," and then reminds us through the helpful advertising power of dizzying repetition why she might not have been feeling good: because ugly hats are the scourge of the well. Oh, and also because Mercedes has lupus. No. I know. Return your Dropped Chin Of Shock to its proper locale just under your Pursed Lips Of Incredulity. She's sorry she didn't tell you. She just didn't want to make a big deal out of it, is all. Because it's the final episode, the girls are speaking in broader, reflective terms, as if they all joined a recovery group and have to frame everything in terms of the higher power. Before Mercedes moves on to "Step Nine: Apologies For The Ways In Which My Hat Has Hurt The People I Love," she wants to share with us what she's learned about the so-called "three L's" we learn so much about growing up: life, love, and lupus. And here's what she says: "What I've learned the most from being in this competition and dealing with lupus is that it's about maintaining my disease." Once, I was in a pizza place in Brooklyn with my brother, and a guy walked into the place wearing that exact hat, and much more loudly than I had intended, I sarcastically barked the words, "Oh, la la! Un belle chapeau, monsieur!" And the guy turned around? And it was totally John Turturro. So the lesson I've learned this season is that if you're going to make fun of someone's gaylord hat, just make sure they're on TV where they can't hear you or hurt you.

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America's Next Top Model

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