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Judgment Day – Starting Over, 11/11/04

by LauraBelle

We are never done learning life’s lessons, not even at sixty-three. After becoming the first graduate to leave the original Starting Over house, Maureen left with a new set of tools to develop her career as a stand-up comedian, fix her relationship with her husband Larry, and began to grieve her children who had died years earlier. A year later, after her home had been devastated by a fire and most of the contents lost, Maureen has found herself in need of a new set of tools.

As Rhonda opens the door for a group meeting, she finds the housemates in quite the festive mood. They tell her they are feeling this way after Maureen’s exciting night of stand-up the night previous. Asked what changes they have seen in Maureen, Kim says she believes Maureen has learned she can’t grieve through her comedy. Asked of their hopes for Maureen, Josie hopes she will lay down the bartending for good, and pursue comedy full time.

The conversation switches to Sommer and her lack of abilities in the romance department. Asked what her challenges are with it, Sommer’s housemates feel she’s too negative about it, and Towanda specifically feels Sommer doesn’t think she’s good enough for romance. They all feel to heal this part of her, she needs self-confidence and practice. Rhonda reveals she will be getting all this tonight during a blind date that Sommer’s housemates will be choosing for her. Some matchmakers from a dating service will meet with Sommer’s housemates to find the type of guy they feel she is looking for.

Sommer begins to get upset. On top of knowing she will be having a blind date that evening, she is also the one responsible for buying and choosing Maureen’s going away gift. She feels very overwhelmed as each of the other housemates has their own idea of what type of gift is appropriate. Rhonda advises her to choose what she feels is best for a gift, and that the picture the six housemates had taken the other day in a beautiful frame would be a great gift for Maureen.

Iyanla meets with Towanda and has brought her a heart-shaped puzzle with Towanda’s face on it. Iyanla takes the heart apart and asks what broke the heart. She answers her parents’ divorce, Tamar splitting from the group, and arguing with her father about his affair. Asked what is needed to repair her heart, she replies courage, love, trust and forgiveness. Iyanla tells her to write those four words on the backs of all the pieces, and put it back together. Later in the day, when she is done, she shares with Iyanla that she felt naked when it was done, like it was taking something off her heart. She know what is missing – she must forgive, and wants to, but doesn’t know how. Iyanla brings out the Judgment bag Towanda has been asked to carry around for several days, and says Towanda must write to her dad and apologize for judging him and her stepmother.

As Sommer leaves for shopping, the others meet with the matchmakers to discuss the type of man they feel Sommer is best suited for. Upon Sommer’s return, she tells the women the gift is wrapped and in the confessional along with two cards, as she couldn’t choose between them.

Everyone meets outside for Maureen’s going away celebration, and Rhonda and Iyanla present her with gift certificates to Linens ‘n Things, Z Gallerie, and Hunter Douglas, and a mattress from Tempur-Pedic, all to help decorate her new home. Each of her housemates leave Maureen with their hope for her life – Kim hopes for love, Towanda for joy, Jennifer for compassion, Josie for room for new things, and Sommer hopes for laughter for her. Being presented with the photo of the six of them together, Maureen feels she is ready to kickstart her life.

As the celebration draws to a close, Rhonda asks, “Why is Sommer on the floor?” Sommer had moved inside, and was laying motionless on the floor. Sommer says her stomach is upset, and all know it’s due to her blind date that evening. Maureen whispers in her ear that she’ll miss Sommer the most.

After some tender moments spent with Chloe, Maureen bids good-bye to everyone and announces she is ready to start over in her home and marriage, and this time she won’t be back.

Sommer brings Jennifer with her to work out, and shares with Marcus, her trainer, her fears over her blind date. She tells him they know she has a crush on him, and thinks the women will choose men like him. Marcus seems to be caught between embarrassment and trying to counsel Sommer.

Driving home, Sommer tells Jennifer her fears of the women choosing “a guy like Marcus.” Asked what she means, she explains she likes Italians and Hispanics, but isn’t attracted to African-American men. She has dated them in the past, but found them to be momma’s boys. Jennifer tells Sommer if they are present with an African-American man, she will do what she can to persuade the other women to choose a different man.

As Sommer goes to her room to prepare for her date, the matchmakers arrive with three attractive men they have chosen as her possible suitor – Chris, Al and Howard. Let’s hope they are seriously looking for a woman, and not just camera time like the man Brenda found herself with last year. Towanda, Josie, Jennifer and Kim begin grilling the men asking how they handle conflicts and what they see as the characteristics of an ideal woman. Al is pretty much discounted from the very beginning. Howard gives such thought-provoking answers he is referred to as Dr. Phil.

The women send the three men outside, and they adjourn to discuss the choices. There is a split camp with Towanda and Josie preferring Howard, and Jennifer and Kim preferring Chris. The problem arises when Jennifer discloses her choice is based on her earlier conversation with Sommer, but refuses to go any further. Towanda says she is talking in “code” and she gets the code. Putting up with racial discrimination all her life, she understands this to be just that. They all decide to go the safe route with Chris, and Towanda is absolutely fuming.

The women call the potential suitors in, and let the others down as they tell Chris he is the lucky one. As Jennifer brings Sommer up to meet her blind date, Jennifer says, “Now Sommer, no having sex.” Sommer says she didn’t shave her legs for that. She meets Chris, and they leave for their date.

Towanda is told Sommer’s exact reasons for not dating black men, and she is furious that Sommer would judge all black men the same. The woman who is required to carry around a judgment bag until she can let them go is furious about another having judgments that would affect her. Towanda, the woman who judged Sommer when she first walked in the house and admitted to sleeping with a married man, is mad at Sommer for judging potential men before she meets them. Towanda makes yet another judgment on Sommer, but is probably correct, when she says, “She only has a crush on Marcus who is black because it’s safe, but she considers other black men that she would have a real chance with, based solely on their race.”

Sommer and Chris have fun on their date, and she calls home to tell her housemates how well it’s going. When Towanda answers the phone and finds Sommer on the other end, she tells her to hold on, and tells Kim the phone is for Jennifer. Kim goes to get Jennifer, but finds her asleep, and gets on the phone and tells her she’s sorry, but Jennifer is asleep. Sommer explains she didn’t want to talk to Jennifer specifically, just anybody, and doesn’t understand why Towanda passed the phone off like that. Kim understands Towanda’s “code”, and declines to explain it to Sommer.

Sommer returns form her date, and ends it with a hug from Chris. With the turmoil in the house right now, it will probably be the last hug anyone in the house gets for awhile, save for Chloe.

Kim is worried that Towanda is so upset she’ll leave the house, but I am hoping Iyanla will use this to get Towanda to see all pre-judgments are wrong, no matter who is judging, who is being judged, or what the judgment is. If Maureen can learn new tools at sixty-three, Towanda is certainly capable of it at thirty-years-old.

I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

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