Mideast edition, Thursday, May 24, 2007

CHATAN TOWN, Okinawa — They plop down on the couch and pop candy diamond rings on their left fingers.

“We’re all getting proposed to tonight,” Meghan Capp says. “Rings for everyone.”

It’s a special night: the finale of “The Bachelor” featuring Navy doctor Lt. Andy Baldwin.

Two Okinawa-based nurses who knew Baldwin when he was an intern at the naval hospital in San Diego have gathered with some other nurses weekly to watch him search for true love on a reality TV show.

Neither Lt. Jill Maddox nor Lt. Erin Mohan ever watched the show before, but they just couldn’t resist checking out Baldwin’s quest for a wife.

“The show’s starting,” Mohan, 27, calls.

Clips of previous episodes play on the television, showing Baldwin’s courtship with the two women, Tessa and Bevin, the last of 25 hopefuls. And tonight the nurses get to see whom he asks to marry him.

The group chatters through most of the show and reveals a bias for Tessa. They don’t think Bevin would hack it as a military wife.

“She couldn’t handle him being gone all the time,” Maddox, 30, says.

A clip comes on showing Bevin hurting her ankle and Baldwin diagnosing it on the scene as a fracture.

“Then it was just a sprain. He doesn’t know nothing. What kind of doc is he?” jokes Lt. j.g. Julie Cavaners, 35, who hosts the weekly gathering.

First Lt. Laura Perazzola, 26, the lone Marine among the group, groans at Baldwin wearing dog tags as he splashes around on the beach with one of the women.

“I love how he’s wearing them in the water,” one of the nurses laughs.

“So they can identify his body if he drowns,” Perazzola jokes.

As Baldwin takes both women to meet his parents, the nurses decide by a show of hands that they definitely all like Tessa best.

“I can see him with Tessa more,” Mohan says.

Both Maddox and Mohan say Baldwin’s good guy persona is no routine for the cameras — they think he acts the same on the show as he did in real life, even his penchant to be a little corny.

“Honestly, he’s a good guy,” Mohan says.

A few corpsmen had crushes on him, but “there was no hospital gossip surrounding him,” she says. “Which is pretty shocking since there’s normally a lot with the intern classes.”

The nurses did, though, make fun of him for being picked one year by Cosmo magazine as California’s top bachelor.

The group quiets — a little — when it comes time for the proposal.

“If he doesn’t pick Tessa I’m going to e-mail him on global mail and tell him what I think,” Maddox laughs.

Luckily there won’t be a need for any nasty e-mails. He chooses Tessa.

“It’ll be interesting,” Maddox says, “to hear if they make it.”

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