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OMG you guys, we are almost done. The sun's broken through the clouds and the birdies are chirping and we are almost ready to fall into the sweet embrace of summer. But first, there's this. Cruel, country this.

So, we knew that a Scotty and Lauren finale would be bad, right? We knew that having two country teens who are essentially the same person except one has a dingle and the other has a sissy was a baaaad idea. Maybe worst Idol idea ever. But did we know it was going to be that bad? I didn't know it was going to be that bad! I thought, sure, it won't be great, it won't be Kris Allen triangle-mouthing his way into my heart while a gay Frankenstein shrieks and breaks crystal stemware next to him. That was pretty great. It won't be Fantasia Barrino wailing a note so big and so powerful it blows poor Diana DeGarmo through a wall. Hell, it won't even be David Cook lite rock blasting a trembling David Archuleta's porcelain face off. I knew it wouldn't be any of that. But I thought it could at least be slightly more entertaining than the Jordin Sparks vs. Blake Lewis whimperfart or the Taylor Hicks/Katharine McPhee (girl, you already been introduced, tell Smash to quit lying) boondoggle. But no. No, t'wasn't. T'really t'wasn't.

Scotty the Body Lockthemdoors McCreery

In this dingy corner, weighing in at 98 weakling pounds, we have the Country Crooner, the Pardner from Garner, Scottyyy McREEERryyy- Eh. Nah, let's not get all that excited. It's just Scotty. Just ol' Dumbo-eared Lock'emdoors. What did he sing last night? Nonsense, that's what. His first song was about honkytonks and the internet is telling me it's by a fellow name'a Montgomery Gentry. Hahaha, really? Montgomery Gentry? I much prefer the musical stylings of Mobile Proletariat myself. Montgomery Gentry. Ha. Anyway, it's a fast thing and was apparently Scotty's favorite song of the season, probably because he gets to wiggle around and feel cool, even though if the Sun was cool, Scotty would be Pluto because he is the farthest thing from it. I guess that's fine, let the poor square feel cool one time before he retreats into a life of aggressive squareness.

And, as it turns out, that life began with Scotty's second song. The second songs of the evening were chosen by the contestants' singing idols (Idols, get it?) and Scotty's is Peaches George Strait. And Strait picked for him a song called "Check Yes Or No," which was just about the ham-handedest goo drop of a song that's ever been sung on this deeply cheesy show. (Someone sang "Butterfly Kisses" once, and that song always takes the cake, every time.) It was all about "I was a schoolkid and she had pink ribbons in her hair and I followed her around and we kissed and I sent her a note saying 'Do you like me? Check yes or no'." And it was such a dumb, simpleminded appeal to Scotty's fever-loined youngster fanbase that he might as well have sang a song called "I'm Straight And Young So Vote For Me." It's a song with alarmingly dopey lyrics that is for some reason not an uptempo silly song but a sorta slow ballad, infused with seriousness and long-held notes. Those notes also said "Do you like me?" and no, Scotty, I am checking no on those notes. I do not like you. I do not like you for being boring.

The next disaster was not really Scotty's fault. See the third song of the evening was the First Single song, the tune that has been crafted and tailored to their specific "personalities" and will be their first big hit should they win the kitty. And holy crackers this song they wrote for Scotty. It's called "I Love You This Big" and literally, LITERALLY is about someone holding out their arms, like a child, and saying "I love you this big." Hahah! Hahahahah! Oh heavens. It starts out like "I know I'm young..." And do you get that? Because Scotty is young! He's seventeen years old, that perfect loose age, and now he's singing about this fact, that he is young, but he loves you, YOU dear girl quivering in the audience, he loves you THIS BIG. He loves you a million billion times! Country music's continued infantilization of sex and love continues, thanks to you, evil Jimmy Iodine. Yeah, it were bad. The judges were are all just pretending at this point, trying to drum up a little enthusiasm from the audience, so they complimented everything, but you could see in their dead, tired eyes that this was not the whizbang finale they'd hoped for. Ah well. What can you do.

Lauren Alaina

Lauren's big thing last night was this totally ginned up scare about her voice and how she maybe couldn't sing because she'd strained her voice during rehearsal or something. That news somehow leaked out to the internet earlier in the day, but I'm sure that Idol producers, desperate for a little excitement and buzz, had nothing to do with that information getting out there. Nothing at all! So that was a stupid fake controversy, faker than the moon landing I tell you!!!, and they even trotted out a dumpy doctor to explain the whole thing and though Ryan smiled, though he stood there regally in his tuxedo, you could see a ripple of shame coursing through him. This was all so silly.

Speaking of silly, Lauren's songs. She first sang a Carrie Underwood song because she looovvesss Carrie Underwood sooo much because she's a teeeeenager and Carrie is young and prettyyyyyy and oh god, please turn this girl off. Turn the whole thing off. It is so dull. All this gosh-golly countryness was way too much, far too saturated. Had their been a ballast, someone in tight leathuh pants screeching about dirtier things or a soul singer booming away, I could have stood either Lauren or Scotty in the finale. But the two of them, just the two of them, singing their favoritest Carrie Underwood songs with all the spark and artistry of a pound cake? No, no good. Return to sender. Check no. Do not want. What is there to say about anything that Lauren ever sings? If I melted three sticks of butter and poured it into my iPod (I don't have an iPod) and pressed "Play," I think it would sound exactly like Lauren Alaina. All buttery blurble and nothing else.

Same goes for her next song, which her idol Carrie Underwood picked. Carrie, who couldn't pick one of her own songs because Lauren had already picked one, chose "Maybe It Was Memphis," a ballad about feelings and the South. Oh good, one of those! Haven't had one of those since three minutes ago. The most notable thing about this particular performance was that they'd dressed Lauren up to look like a child beauty pageant contestant (thanks, Jerin) who'd just died in a terrible carousel accident. I mean, Lauren has been styled obscenely badly this entire season, she absolutely got the worst wardrobe of any of the contestants, but this penultimate ensemble was really the glaring worst. Dressing Lauren up like a big stupid baby only makes her dullness and complete lack of creativity (seriously, has Lauren done a single thing all season that was risky or a stretch or remotely against type?) shine through even brighter. She teetered around in her stupid Nutcracker costume of a dress and everyone sighed and rolled their eyes and the judges pretended to love her and everyone checked their watches.

Lauren's final song was disgusting. Scotty's original song was all about children being in love (gross) with each other, and Lauren's was about Lauren really loving her mommy. Who the fuck wrote these things? Lauren and Scotty are young, yes, but they're teenagers, not six-year-olds. Lauren's shameless and shameful song was called "Like My Mother Does" and it was clearly designed to push Lauren over the top and have her win this thing, because I guess they've decided they really do need a girl to win this year. The camera cut to Lauren's mom weeping like a buffoon in the audience and Ryan took Lauren down to hug her and Ed Harris up there in his skydome control booth smiled and figured his masterwork was complete. Lauren would win this thing. Just in case, they had the judges hand the victory over to Lauren, declaring that she had, in their eyes, won the evening. Who knows how the voting will go, I mean they're basically the same exact person with the same exact fanbase so I anticipate everyone will just explode from confusion, but if Scotty loses this thing at the last minute when he's so clearly been ahead the entire time, that'd be a real nutter for him. A real kick in the berry farm. But it looks like it might happen. Ah well. Who really cares, huh? I hate to sound all blah and defeatist about it, but who really gives a shit?

Do you think Ryan gives a shit? I think he's probably more concerned about what happens after tonight. He's been thinking lately about the summer, thinking about Stefano going out on the tour, thinking about it being just him and Tim alone in the house again. While getting ready for the show yesterday, Ryan stood in the mirror for what felt like hours, just trying to figure out the next step. This was always the hardest part, wasn't it? Existing in this nothing place between the last thing and the next. He stood and worried and wondered, could they make it just the two of them, just he and Tim. And then, like he'd conjured him up, there was Tim, standing in the doorway. He smiled at Ryan standing there in his tuxedo, sunlight dancing in through the balcony doors. "I can't believe it's been a year already," he said, walking over to Ryan, standing very close. He reached up to straighten Ryan's bowtie and Ryan caught Tim's hands with his and gently rested his head on Tim's and they stood there in silence for a moment, almost looking like they were dancing.

"What are we gonna do?" Ryan murmured. Tim squeezed Ryan's hands and said "We'll figure something out, we always do." Ryan sighed, feeling right then that he maybe could stay like that, just like that, with the smell of Tim's hair, the warm grip of his hands, forever. "Come on," Tim said after a moment, breaking the spell and walking over to the bedside table. "I'm rolling us a joint." Ryan didn't usually indulge, especially not before a show, but he was so full of nerves and knots he thought it might calm him down. Tim rolled the joint and lit it and passed it to Ryan who took a big long pull and as he exhaled he leaned back and lay down on the bed. Tim lay down next to him and they passed the joint back and forth, staring up at the ceiling, the light-blessed afternoon rolling along outside. Ryan managed to feel almost peaceful for a minute or two, before the anxiety jangled its way back in and felt the urge to check his watch. He turned to tell Tim that he'd better go, that he was going to be late, but when he did he saw that Tim had fallen asleep, that he was off somewhere new. Somewhere in a dream. Something good, Ryan hoped. Something from which, Ryan wished then, they'd both never wake.