Memories of Yonder Years – Starting Over, 02-03-05

by LauraBelle

Yesterday the Starting Over women learned of the pitfalls of living in the past or future as compared to the present. Today two women delve into more of their past and another makes a huge step to finally moving past it.

Cassie opens the door first thing in the morning, and a man greets her holding flowers and an envelope for her. He tells her the flowers are from John Davidson and the envelope is from Rhonda. Inside the envelope is a pink plaque that says “Courageous Cassie”” with a picture of a school and a house, and a note from Rhonda wishing Cassie luck on her GED test. Cassie takes the plaque and a small pink rose from John’s bouquet and heads out for Part One of her GED exam.

Dr. Stan wants to meet with Bethany to discuss her memory loss. And he, along with all her doctors, has a hard time believing her loss of memory is due to her case of viral encephalitis when she was seventeen. Seeing that the doctors don’t believe the memories were erased, but have been actually rendered inaccessible, Dr. Stan suggests to Bethany that it may have come from some type of traumatic event. Bethany cries and says she has never seen anything but love from her family, and believes that was the case before her amnesia.

Bethany is asked by Dr. Stan if it’s possible that she was somehow hurt and has since blocked it out. She begins to cry and says that would mean she had done all this to herself and that it’s her fault. Dr. Stan offers to help Bethany to recover those memories and determines if this was a traumatic event, and if so, what it was, but urges that it has to be Bethany’s choice and not his. She insists it is; she wants to know. When Dr. Stan tells her she needs to be the captain of her ship, she laughs and says that was the words to the song John Davidson sang to Cassie. Dr. Stan says he wasn’t aware of that, and ends the meeting with a hug for Bethany, who says the other women are getting jealous that Dr. Stan never hugs them.

Rhonda gathers all the housemates minus Cassie who is still taking her GED exam, and says they have a special assignment to do for Bethany. To help recover some of the memories, she wants the women to put on a play tonight for Bethany. Renee will be Bethany’s brother, Caleb; Rachael will be her sister, Jessica; Candy will play the dual role of Bethany’s parents; and Denise will be Bethany. They will be required to call Bethany’s family to research their role and get some memories to reenact, and perform it for Bethany, Dr. Stan and Rhonda that night. Everyone starts practicing Bethany’s native North Carolinian accent. Bethany hugs Rhonda this time and the hug nearly swallows Rhonda.

Iyanla walks into Group wearing a gorgeous shiny outfit. She wants to talk about the perception of beauty today. The women laugh as Rachael is having a non-beautiful day feeling fat. Iyanla says she doesn’t get the size problem. As long as there is a size larger than the one she is wearing, she’s okay. On a more serious note she says that bodies are organic and asks why size needs to dictate beauty. Bethany says she doesn’t think being overweight is beautiful. Candy points out clothing stores aren’t made for overweight women.

Asked what makes them beautiful on the inside, Rachael says her heart, Denise says her energy and spirit, but Bethany still can’t seem to separate the inside from the outside. Asked how to develop inner and outer beauty, Bethany’s first thought is still losing weight, because it makes her feel better about herself.

Asked if she is beautiful now, Bethany says no. Iyanla tells her she thinks she is absolutely exquisitely beautiful now. When Bethany doesn’t believe this, Iyanla asks if she thinks she is telling her a lie, and goes on to further say she herself can’t be ugly; her soul won’t let her anymore, but she used to be. Candy and Bethany will now become workout buddies to help enhance their idea of beauty, Iyanla tells them. Every woman has a right to feel beautiful.

Cassie finishes with Part One of her GED test, and when she leaves the classroom, Rhonda is waiting for her. She tells Rhonda she wasn’t nervous, and Rhonda replies after twenty-five years of waiting, Cassie deserves some ice cream. Cassie feels she did well on mostly everything, but was hesitant with the Social Sciences section. Rhonda asks her if she ever believed it would feel like this, and Cassie replies that she never thought she would feel this free. She realizes it is just the first step to achieving her goals, and knows that first step is crucial.

Rachael, Renee and Candy make the required phone calls to Bethany’s family, but it’s Denise that is having the most fun with this. It gives her an excuse to use her humor and drama. She is practicing Bethany’s accent throughout the day, and saying it’s great to be the start. Candy is growing very irritated with the fact that Denise is always “on.” Denise points out that she has nothing else to do, by the way. Bethany even sits down for a one-on-one North Carolinian diction lesson with Denise, and instructs her on how to draw her words out and use phrases like “over yonder.”

Iyanla and Candy meet in Candy and Denise’s bedroom. Asked if she is experiencing a short temper after not being allowed to clean or cook, Candy says she is frustrated. Iyanla says she doesn’t even see a mess, and is led into the bathroom where there is a lump of clothes on the floor. The attitude from Iyanla is more or less, “So what?” and is called evil by Candy. She also discusses her growing irritation with Denise, and how she tries to avoid her, but it isn’t always easy.

Candy and Iyanla move outside for an exercise designed to allow Candy to let our her anger in a safe manner. She takes water balloons, labels them with the name of someone she is angry at and whips them against the wall of the house. She is angry at Denise, her ex, Debbie and her self, but mostly she is angry with her father. She cries out, “Where were you when I needed you most? If you cared, this wouldn’t have happened!” and fires the balloon at the wall. She enjoys the needed release and tells Iyanla she feels much better, only to have it pointed out that this is only the first step.

Meanwhile, Denise realizes Candy is very irritated with her, and does her best to draw that anger out of her, only to be rebuffed by Candy either walking away or rolling her eyes. Eventually Candy tells Denise to please leave her the hell alone. Still using Bethany’s accent, Denise tells Candy soon she’ll be a four foot body walking around with no head, as she’s going to explode. Candy retorts that she thinks “Bethany” is picking up bad habits from Denise. Eventually Candy admits she has an upset stomach and headache and just doesn’t have the strength to deal with Denise, and Denise says that next time Candy should just be more upfront if she isn’t feeling well and admit it.

Candy moves on to a one-on-one with Dr. Stan to discussion her relationship with her dad. She is angry because of her disappointment in her dad. She was given the role of a son, even though there were eight boys of the fourteen children, but she was the oldest, and thus treated like a boy. She was only a girl when it was convenient for her dad and he needed her to take care of the house and kids. But when she was a teenager, she was told she couldn’t wear makeup, as only whores do that. Dr. Stan advised her to unmask her dad to see he wasn’t knowledgeable about those things.

The women present the play the have prepared for Bethany of her younger years, an Denise has titled it, “Memories of Bethany’s Yonder Years.” Denise as Bethany and Candy as her father act out when Bethany quit basketball practice and hid the fact from her parents. When it’s pointed out that she lied, the authentic Bethany is shocked. She can’t imagine her ever being that deceitful. Rachael as Bethany’s sister and Denise as Bethany act out driving in the car and Jessica teasing Bethany about her crush on Kevin, the drummer. They then get into an argument over what type of music to listen to, with Bethany saying they need to listen to God’s music, as dad would approve of that. Renee as Bethany’s brother and Denise do a small skit of Bethany tattling on Caleb. In the end, the real Bethany is very shocked she had all those facets to her original personality. She says it’s still not coming together, and Dr. Stan and Rhonda tell her not to worry, as it will. It’s just pieces of a puzzle right now. Rhonda drops the bomb that in four days they will be leaving for North Carolina to revisit this place Bethany has such a hard time remembering.

The more these women can understand their past, the quicker they can move past it and towards their future, yet if they dwell in it, they will be stuck, unable to move forward. And only after they understand it, and how it relates to the women they have become, will Candy and Bethany realize they are beautiful and have been the whole time.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

“Some Rules are Made to be Broken … Or Not” – The Apprentice 3, Episode 3

“Some Rules are Made to be Broken … Or Not” – The Apprentice: Season 3, Episode 3

By: Cori Linder
clinder@realityshack.com

Romper room, filled with a quitter, slacker and an indecisive free spirit, moves into the boardroom in this week’s episode.

Listen children, there’s music! Tune into Danny, wistfully strumming his guitar, delighting in Vern’s return to the show. Upon learning that Brian was immediately fired, Michael confidently remarks, “Rules can be broken. There are no rules in Trump’s boardroom.” Well, there is one, Michael, but you will find this out later.

Next, let’s take some time out for athletic sport so that the candidates can practice their indoor basketball techniques. But wait, poor Verna needs a hug. She can’t play very well with the other children for she has a tummy ache. We’re all here for you, Danny says. You just rest while your support group does all the work. Get real, thinks Erin. “This isn’t the Apprentice; this is clearly kindergarten,” she says sarcastically.

They all sit in a circle while Verna says she just cannot cope with it all. Apparently, she needs her mommy. To Danny’s dismay, Verna quits, and I wonder if this causes the show’s producers to scramble to modify the season’s episode schedule. Based on the exciting preview that ran all week advertising that somebody has quit, this whole situation involving hugs and sugar-coated words is a bit anti-climatic.

The challenge:

The candidates get to play outside on the streets of New York. “Does anybody want to quit?” asks Mr. Trump. “No!” shout the candidates. I’m sure this inspires a sigh of relief from the show’s producers.

Their task is to work with Nestle’s Nescafe’ Taster’s Choice coffee (get your free 2-week supply at www.tasterschoice.com) and will have $75,000 to create a marketing campaign. Ideas should be big. The team that generates the most buzz wins.

Assigning project managers:

On the Magna team, Danny seems the best person to project lead for he’s experienced with creativity and marketing. Costumes, a big coffee mug, mopeds, strippers, and a beautiful European model (courtesy Michael) are all ideas that are tossed around to promote the coffee. Stephanie is horrified. Do everything my way, implies Michael. “We’re here for you, Michael,” says a sarcastic Danny. “We’ll make it all happen…just for you.” Okay, boys, play nice.

On the Net Worth team, everybody is getting along with Ms. Sandy as the stern teacher, I mean project manager, standing in the front of the room. “Hey, everybody,” she commands, with a snap of the fingers. “Let’s focus.”

Strategies:

Stephanie on the Magna team decides to hire an event planner who wants over $47,000 for the project. Wait, let me think, pleads Danny. “As a group let’s vote.” He cannot make a decision much to the other members’ dismay. Finally, he decides to hire them. “What does everybody think of giving out iPods?” Danny asks, again recruiting group consensus. I just want everybody to like me and want to play with me, he seems to really be saying.

Michael is definitely reveling in his exemption this week and decides to become the unfunny and useless class clown, complete with a platter on his head. “Michael is just a plain jackass,” remarks Danny. “Where did he come from?!”

Michael and Danny begin to argue. “Don’t bother me,” says Michael. “I’m making the priorities around here,” answers Danny. Teacher, teacher, put them both in time-out! Soon they exchange curses and insults, and I’m wondering if their time-out should turn into a spanking.

Meanwhile, the Net Worth is doing well on their assignment and is engaging bystanders in a political debate about the benefits of cold or hot coffee. “To drink your coffee hot is cool,” cheers one man. I am suddenly craving a Starbucks Frappuccino®—decaf…no, caffeinated.

As the Magna team optimizes their event planners, Michael takes much pride in his ability to pass out fliers and mimic the mime. He knows he is safe this week, so why should he even bother? Michael, haven’t you seen the show before? Don’t you know that The Donald will do anything for ratings?!

“Who feels lucky today?” asks Danny to the crowd. I’m thinking, Danny, it probably won’t be you.

The two groups meet with the Nestle executives who decide that the Net Worth team won. Net Worth team members get to ride in a helicopter and sip wine while they tour New York. Back in the suite, however, the Magna team wonders if Danny or Michael should be fired. Michael, who slacked off during the project, has exemption; does he still deserve this? Only Mr. Trump can decide.

In the boardroom…

In the principle’s office, known to many as the boardroom, the Magna team debates with Mr. Trump whether Michael’s exemption should hold. We have to stick by the rules, says Mr. Trump. Erin, the lawyer, argues that there are exceptions to every rule. Michael abused his gift of exemption, and I’m hoping at this moment that smug Michael will be kicked out.

However, to Danny, Mr. Trump says, “You’re the team leader…sort of…like…a little bit…I don’t know…you’re not much of a leader, unfortunately.” This unscripted comment from Mr. Trump feels more real, more entertaining, than those other one-liners he has to memorize or read off the teleprompter. He is disappointed that Danny brings in Stephanie (who made the smart decision about the event planner) and Michael (who is exempt) back into the boardroom. Apparently, the exemption rule cannot be broken. Poor Danny is fired.

In the taxi, Danny breaks out in song again—too bad it’s on a sad note.

Until next time…

Quotes of the week:

“I’ve rarely seen a leader that has been able to lead by consensus. A leader is somebody that oftentimes goes against everybody.” – Mr. Trump

“Nestle is worth more than $100 billion dollars. So that is $96 billion dollars more than I am worth. And I’m not happy with that.” – Mr. Trump “Maybe you’re not,” I answer. “But I would be.”

“Take my idea and make it reality…that’s the best thing I can tell you.” – Michael (proposing a stripper/European model idea for the marketing campaign)

“There I was, strung out in the boardroom…” – Danny (strumming the guitar in his taxi ride home)

Udders and More – American Idol 4 – 2/2/05

By Annie

More American Idol auditions. This time in San Francisco with the ever lovely Brandi as the guest judge. And – *wow* – what an interesting array of auditions there were!

Albert Minero was first up and most notable to be unnoticed. He touted himself as a quadruple threat, singer, dancer, actor and good looking. Well, you can forget singer!

Next up was a dainty Mathew Miller. Is it woman or man? Simon asked if it was Mathew or Martha. Brandi was confused. Paula suggested another song (right, Paula!). Whichever – it was a no.

James Koehler (what a smile!) crooned a gorgeous version of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (It was bound to happen). He sounded great and the judges agreed. Come on down to Hollywood, James.

Another crooner sang “Mood for Love” with shades of Sinatra. The judges were in agreement, giving him thumbs up, except for Simon (and I agree with Simon on this one) but he makes it through to the next round. It’ll be interesting to see how versatile these crooners are. Their voices were heavenly!

When it comes to a beautiful woman, Simon is as transparent as plastic wrap. And so it was when Elizabeth Pha entered the room looking very much like a stripper. The judges gave her a lot of grief about her clothes. She then sings “I Have Nothing”. I wasn’t impressed. Neither was Randy or Brandi. Paula gives her a yes. Simon puts her through and she’s on her way to Hollywood. And that’s what trashy clothes will get you.

Justin Clark sings next with “My Cherie Amore”. Although his voice is rather ordinary, he makes it through to the next round.

Michael attempts to sing two different songs. Brandi covers her face. Randy suggests he drop singing. The world will be better for it.

Christopher Noll is a nanny. One doesn’t usually picture a white boy as a nanny – nor a rapper. It was a really tough decision for all the judges but the kids will be keeping their nanny.

Nadia Turner is up next with the craziest hair ever! She sings “Until You Come Back To Me” and sounds like a voice from heaven. Here is one of the top 12!

Victor Ricardo sings “Build Me Up, Buttercup”. Victor gets a resounding “NO” in chorus from the judges.

Next is cutie Jessica Murphy who sings “I Have Nothing”. The judges agree that she’s good but needs training. Jessica exits to the waiting area and announces to everyone how much the judges adored her singing. Someone get the girl a Q-Tip.

Chris went to a school for opera and has sung on cruise ships. He sings “Chain of Fools”. Everyone abandon ship!! It’s a no.

Ivan Ganchev is a Freddy Mercury sing-alike. The judges (minus Simon) really like him. Even my best buddy, David likes him! Ugh. I predict he’ll be leaving Hollywood first!

Everyone gets a giggle out of the lady singing in the cow costume – complete with udders. Although no one said she was udderly awful – she truly was. What was so comical was that she took herself so seriously and seemed offended at the cow puns. Let’s mooooove on to the next contestant. (*sorry*)

Last up is J.P. Molfetta who sings “Never Keeping Secrets”. We saw him earlier in New Orleans performing with his brother. His second and solo attempt is better but not good enough.

And this brings us to – guess what???!! The end of the auditions. Can I hear a collective sigh of relief?
:whoohoo:

I welcome your comments. annie@realityshack.com :heart:

Repeat … Or All New? You Decide!: The Apprentice 3, Episode 3 Commentary

REPEAT.. OR ALL NEW? YOU DECIDE!
The Apprentice: Episode 3 Commentary
By: Tony Roach

Seven days of waiting, numerous promotions, and a promise of someone quitting. That was the hype leading up to tonight’s episode of The Apprentice. So who quit? The same person who tried to walk off last week, Verna. What did Carolyn and the producers say to Verna; “ wait until after the boardroom to leave so we can squeeze out another first time ever promo.” Well, I guess it worked and you had to figure that sooner or later Donald Trump would have given her the boot anyway. I think we can agree that we have spent enough time on Verna and “her breakdown”, but what else is there?

In Thursday’s episode of The Apprentice the two teams, Magna Corp. and NetWorth were supposed to promote Nescafe-Tasters Choice by creating a marketing campaign. NetWorth came out on top once again, by staging a “mock” election regarding consumers right to choose. On the other hand, Magna Corp seemed to think that setting up some folding tables and handing out coffee would land them the win. That was not the case. The team trusted Danny as project manager of this marketing mission; you know the same guy who used Bozo buckets as his marketing campaign two weeks ago. For a group of candidates who pride themselves so much on their college education, this sure was a weak performance. But then again, this is the same team who can’t think of anything better to say than “Unbelievable” when they get pumped for missions. It seemed that in this episode of The Apprentice, less time was spent covering the missions and more footage shown of guitar playing and Verna’s “breakdown”. My theory is that producers and editors are starting to realize that maybe the tasks and flow of the show are starting to repeat themselves. Remember Burger King two weeks ago? Wasn’t that the same exact mission?

Overall, I felt that this latest episode of The Apprentice did not have much to offer. The cast is slowly morphing into the bickering entrepreneurs from the past two seasons and the missions seem to be all too familiar. Maybe Martha Stewart is exactly what The Apprentice needs to stay fresh. I know it is only the third episode of the season, and I’m sure there is plenty of life left in this popular reality show. However, all I’m saying is that it felt like watching a rerun of a previous show, instead of an exciting February sweeps episode that we should have seen. The promos are the same, the cast, who at one point seemed relatable, are becoming predictable, and although an exempt candidate was brought into the boardroom in an attempt to spice things up, we all knew Danny was getting fired. Bring back the suspense, the tension, add a twist…we need something. But, I’m sure like most of you viewers I will still take the bait of next weeks’ previews and continue to tune in to see who will succeed, who will fail..who will be the next Apprentice!

Email comments to Roach@realityshack.com

Behind The Scenes at American Idol

by LauraBelle

Many of us have wondered what it is like to be behind the scenes as a contestant on American Idol – how much you have to go through before you get face to face with the three judges, and what it’s like to actually hear Simon’s remarks directed at you. Through Miranda Tozier-Robbins experience, we get to find out.

Twenty-two-year-old Massachusetts native, Miranda, was working in Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom for one semester of a college program and living in the housing at Disney. She left the confines of Pinnochio’s Village Haus to test her fate with auditioning for a spot on American Idol. Miranda wanted this badly enough to leave at 2:00 AM on August 25th, and walk two hours to the Orange County Convention Center. She waited in line for two hours before the first contestants were let in. But for someone from Disney World, waiting in line is nothing new.

Once inside, Miranda showed identification and received a wristband. After the registration process, everyone was herded into a big large empty room while more people were continually registered and added to the mix. There were to be no auditions that day, but there was Karaoke going on, and small groups of people would gather in song.

The first round of auditions began the following day, and everyone was seated in rows of chairs. Eventually they were led, presumably without a cattle rod, into another room with twelve tables. Each table had two unknown judges, and the contestants were sent in groups of four to the tables for their first audition.

Once in front of those two judges, each of the group of four were asked to sing a few lines of a song. Miranda chose “Everytime” by Britney Spears. One of the judges asked if she could sing something else, and she did “Us Against The World” by Play. After all four were done singing, their wristbands were cut off, and all were dismissed but Miranda, who was told American Idol was looking for something different. She was given a number and a piece of paper and sent upstairs. Miranda had made it through the first round of auditions.

Once upstairs, Miranda was interviewed by a journalist who was writing a book about American Idol. Her picture was then taken, and she had to fill out more paperwork, and then sent to yet another room. Hopefully she left bread crumbs to find her way back to the beginning.

This room was about the size of a classroom, and everyone was given the words and music to “Crocodile Rock”. They were told to remember as much as they could as they would be asked to sing it later and it would be used as a “funny excerpts” montage. I had previously thought that when they did montages like that, that all those people had sung “Proud Mary” or “The Star Spangled Banner” on their own, and the editors had just collected them and edited them together. I wonder why they picked Crocodile Rock as these sixteen- to twenty-eight-year-olds weren’t even alive when Elton John did it in 1973. Their only reference to it would have been John Stevens singing it in last year’s American Idol. And well, let’s just not go there.

Eventually twenty people filled the room, and they were moved to wait in chairs outside another room. Inside the room was executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, who were the last stumbling blocks before the onscreen judges of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell. Everyone was asked to sing their song from the beginning, and Miranda chose “Everytime” again. Asked to sing something faster, she moved on to her other choice of “Us Against The World.” Miranda was asked a few questions, given a green sheet of paper and asked to return September 7th to go in front of Jackson, Abdul and Cowell.

Before Miranda could return, though, the collection of hurricanes began hitting Florida. After Hurricane Frances struck, the auditions were postponed. Eventually she received a call asking for the airport nearest her home, as not everyone that was to audition was from Florida. No explanation was given as to where or when they were going. A few days later she was called and told because of the fast approaching Hurricane Jeanne, they needed to get all the Orlando contestants to Las Vegas, Nevada where stars and crew were already setting up for the regularly-scheduled Las Vegas auditions. Miranda and other others arrived at the MGM Grand on Sunday with meal vouchers, were given Monday to use at their disposal, and auditioned on Tuesday.

The auditioners were told to pretend they were still in Orlando, as the producers figured this was easier than explaining to the viewers the need to move everyone to Las Vegas because of the hurricanes. Personally, I feel we are a smart enough audience to understand that, but apparently the producers don’t see that in us. Before each contestant auditioned, they had to speak to the cameras in the confessional, and then were seated in a row of chairs outside the room where the judges were.

Miranda remembers the first guy in to see the judges and a few others that made it to Hollywood. She wasn’t so lucky. After all the waiting in rooms and lines too numerous to count to see the famous judges of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, Miranda was told to have two songs prepared, and her choices were “Upside Down Bouncing off The Ceiling” by The A*Teens and “Blame It On The Weatherman” by B*Witched. After hearing her audition, Randy told her he felt like he was back a high school on the playground. Miranda took this as a compliment as that was the effect she as going for, even wearing a microphone headset and shades to complete that pop star look.

Paula told Miranda she felt like she was watching cartoons, and after Blame It On The Weatherman, Paula asked if Miranda was going to blame the weatherman for her performance. After Miranda’s jaw dropped, Paula told her she looked shocked. Miranda admitted to being a little hurt. Simon was the next to speak and asked Disney employee Miranda if she really believed Dumbo could fly. After Simon followed with asking her to remove her shades, Paula told her the competition wasn’t for her and she should go back to Disney. It’s funny, but we never see Paula’s hurtful comments on the show, only Simon’s.

As for Miranda’s future, her semester at Disney now complete, she is back in Massachusetts, holding an Associates degree in Sciences in Broadcasting and Telecommunications. She is taking some classes for personal growth, and will be interviewing soon for an advanced intern position at Disney. She hopes to be able to still pursue a singing career.

I’d like to thank Miranda for her courage in sharing her experiences with me, despite the fact her audition didn’t go the way she had planned. I wish her much success in the future.

I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

Samantha's Happy U-Haulin' Barbeque: Queer Eye for the Straight Girl Episode 1.4

Hoppin’ on into the SUV for some more make-over fun…but wait! Through the magic of television, the SUV morphs into a U-Haul on the parkway and the Gal Pals appear in pink jumpsuits. It’s moving day! The lucky gal? Samantha, a twenty-six year old wife who lives in a spare room at her in-laws. That sounds fun! She and her husband Dan (what’s with the Daniels this season?) have just bought a house and they need to move because they currently sleep in a hide-a-way. Damon happily suggests, “They play hide-a-wiener in a hide-a-way!” And Samantha has big boobs and can’t cook. The mission, they decide, is to get Samantha “movin’ and groovin’.” I love a mission that rhymes.

Credits. Robbie is very Mission Impossible-like when he drops down to the animated house with a hairdryer.

The Gal Pals pile into Samantha’s in-laws’ house. She’s got on a red shirt (again, another motif this season for all the straight gals), a black cardigan, and glasses. She wears her hair in a ponytail. On the couch is grandpa who speaks no English. Of course, this means everyone has to stand directly in front of him and shout “Hola!” Dan the Husband is there too. Thankfully, no one yells foreign hellos at him.

They find the hide-a-way, a plaid fold-out couch that Honey quickly folds up never to be used again. Then everyone starts grabbing stuff and bringing it outside to load into the U-Haul. Grandpa better watch out before they pack him in, too. Hanging outside is one of those decorative flags. This one has patchwork flowers on it and is pretty tacky. Danny grabs it and says, “This is a freedom flag gone wrong!” but then adopts it into his color guard for the gay pride movement. Basically, he spends the next five minutes wielding it at anyone within five feet of him.

Inside, Damon and Robbie had packed Honey into a box. However, since she’s supposedly the only one who knows how to drive the U-Haul, they decide to let her out. She pops out, referring to herself as a “dyke in the box.” To be sold at toy stores soon.

As Robbie and Danny wrestle on the floor over a stuffed animal, Honey steps over them, muttering something about how the lesbian has to do all the work.

Next there’s a shot of the grandfather hanging up the phone, but we hear Damon’s voice saying, “Hi. There are all these people in my house. They’re taking all my stuff.” Then the camera cuts to Damon. He immediately picks up a plastic dinosaur and asks, “Are we taking this with us?” Heehee.

Outside, Robbie is having a terrible time trying to fit stuff into the U-Haul. The futon frame just doesn’t want to go in. Honey tries to instruct him on how to do it, but he doesn’t listen and continues trying to jam it into a space where other crap already is. He yells, “I know about dresses and shoes!”, not about packing. Ha. Finally, they get everything into the U-Haul and wave good-bye to Husband Dan. Because there’s room for only four in the front, they pack Robbie into the back with a flashlight. He cowers and says, “I’m scared of straight people” very Blair Witch.

Up front, Danny asks Samantha to describe her family in one word. Samantha says “loud.” Then Danny relays the message to Robbie by yelling through the wall of the truck. They arrive at the new house and finally let Robbie out of the back.

The house is a giant blank slate. Damon loves that the kitchen has all new appliances. Danny and Robbie do a little chant in the bathroom. Damon goes out to the backyard. He loves it. There’s a nice patio. He says they just need to trim back the plants.

In the front yard, Danny wants to sift through the crap and have a YARD SALE!! Now everyone has to start yelling YARD SALE at three second intervals. Danny then hammers a YARD SALE sign into the front lawn with a pink pump. He says to Robbie, “Weren’t you finished with these?” Robbie finds a large orange cone and yells that there’s free stuff. Well is it a sale or is it a give-away?

Samantha peeks outside and is shocked, embarrassed and a little bit pissed that they’re selling her possessions. Danny now has on a pair of black panties over his pink jumpsuit. He goes through some lingerie with Samantha and asks her if she uses any of it still. She says of course she does, so he tells Robbie to stay away from the lingerie and not to wear it or steal it (I guess he’s caught on that Robbie’s a klepto). Says the man wearing the panties.

Cut to Honey making lemonade. Lesbian Lemonade. No secret ingredients. Only a lesbian’s touch.

Danny gets the dirt on Samantha’s relationship. She was dating Husband Dan for about nine years. They’ve been married for about a month. Samantha says she wants to create a home by the end of the day to repay Husband Dan for supporting her throughout law school.

Cut to Robbie with his big orange cone. He screams, “Samantha and Dan just got out of lock up and they just moved in!” Heeheee. Then, to call more attention, “And Honey is a lesbian!” Because lesbian is a rabble rousing word.

Back to Danny and Samantha, who has no clue this is all going on outside. She talks about their family’s tradition of gathering and barbequeing. Danny is going to help her host the family BBQ.

Robbie, who will not be ignored, is now toting his big orange cone door to door. He approaches the house of someone named Shamus, which I thought is a boy’s name but a woman is at the door. Two little kids run outside. Robbie asks if they want to meet the neighbors. The woman says sure, in a way that means “I’m going to agree with everything you want so that you’ll leave me alone.” Then the little girl pipes up, “What’s a lesbian?” The Shamus lady laughs all embarrassed and Robbie giggles all cutsie. Robbie leans over and says, “A lesbian is a woman who is in love with another woman.” Sex ed on the porch! In the background, Damon and Honey can’t believe that he’s teaching the little girl what a lesbian is. Honey tells him that he’s said quite enough and Damon asks, “Is she crying now?” Ha.

Robbie abandons the porch and takes up his big orange cone once again. “Lesbian for show and tell!” Heehee. Never give up, Robbie. Live the dream.

Out on the front lawn YARD SALE/GIVEAWAY, Danny dons a crocheted pink poncho over his pink jumpsuit. “What is this?” he asks all appalled. It is semi-ugly. The whole neighborhood arrives to steal Samantha’s stuff. They make some girl put on a black dress. Then she takes it off. No one buys anything. The GP decide to load everything into the house. They want to keep one shelf that’s Husband Dan’s and start out everything else from scratch.

Samantha’s friend says that Samantha is a bargain shopper.

Husband Dan says she dresses up to her neck. Sexy!

The U-Haul has been traded in for the SUV and the GP are finally out of their jumpsuits and in normal couture. And you know who else is back? Damon’s Hunky Helpers!! They walk into the house in slow motion. Hooray.

In the SUV, Honey and Robbie ask Samantha what she wants to look like at the end of the make-over. She says she wants to be sexy again.

Cut to Hunky Helpers in slo-mo, moving things. Sigh.

Back to the SUV, Samantha explains further that she wants to be sexy but not too revealing. Robbie clarifies, “Not a prostitute.” Ha.

Back to one more shot of the HH! Slo-mo sweaty, tattooed biceps. I want to date that arm.

In the SUV, Samantha says she loves being girly. She loves pointy shoes. And for this, Robbie loves her! They get out of the car at Planet Bunk (or Funk?) because it has a wide variety of jeans. Robbie wants to accentuate her curves because she has nice hips and he loves “the twins.” Samantha says she likes straight legged jeans but can never find ones that fit right. That’s because, as Robbie says, she’s buying the wrong cut. No tapering dammit! He wants flare! He wants four inch heels! I think he wants these things for himself more than for her.

Robbie puts her in a dressing room and says that if she needs help, he’s can help without looking. He’s good at “turning [his] back and closing [his] eyes.” But then he peeks around the dressing room curtain anyway. Why is Robbie constantly hitting on the straight girls? Samantha asks, “Should I take off my bra?” Immediately, Honey yells back, “Absolutely!” Heehee. Samantha walked right into that one.

Now we see why Samantha asked that. Her new shirt is a brown tank with a racer back and a flowy scarf thing down the front. She can’t wear a regular bra with this top. She’s wearing the flare jeans, too, with heels. The pants are a bit long; Robbie says that she should get them fixed so that she can see the tip of the toes and heels.

The next outfit is a clingy black shirt with a very wide neck that’s almost off the shoulder but tight enough so it won’t fall off as if she’s Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. She is wearing another pair of jeans and red shoes. Awesome.

Honey compliments everyone’s ass as Robbie pushes Samantha out of the store to meet Damon at a modern furniture store. The store has furniture that’s “young, hip, and cool.” Obligatory couch sitting. The couch is, as Robbie says, “like butter.” It’s a butternut squash color and leathery. Damon says that to keep it looking fresh, she can occasionally switch out the pillows and use different color combinations. He goes off on a pillow tangent, realizes that he’s lost everyone, and says, “Okay, so let’s move on then!” Heehee.

They discuss Samantha’s really small bedroom. “Have you seen the size of my closet?” she moans. They find a bed that has drawers underneath for storage. Damon loves the bed but suggests getting it in a lighter color. The dark wood would make the room look smaller. Ooh, even I knew that!

Robbie skips over to some oddly-shaped chairs and slides across them. Then he curls himself into a fetal position to lay on one. Damon scoops him up and sends him over to the beds. “I’m giving you a time out.” That doesn’t last long because it’s “hugs all around!” and Samantha leaves to go see Danny. The gay one, not the one she’s married to.

At the gym, Danny is wearing a muscle shirt. I’m gonna have to say that again. At the gym, Danny is wearing a muscle shirt. One more time, with feeling: AT THE GYM, DANNY IS WEARING A MUSCLE SHIRT. Okay, it’s out of my system now. And he has on TIGHT PANTS. NOW it’s out of my system. He shows Samantha around the gym a bit but says that they’re not going to use any of that equipment. “We’re going to use this!” and he makes a sweeping motion at a rock wall. Samantha is less than thrilled about rock climbing as Danny tells her that she’s going to work all her muscle groups.

They meet James the Expert Rock Climber. James is cute! And he can climb rocks as well as boost people up onto rocks. I love a man who’s multitalented. Danny tells Samantha it’s time to “chalk up!” and he claps some chalk on his hands. They stand at the base of the wall and Danny, who is twelve at heart, suggests racing up the wall. Samantha deadpans, “Can I get a twenty minute head start?” Heehee.

James the Expert Rock Climber gives her some help by pushing and spotting while Danny directs her as to which hold to grab next. They finally finish and slouch against the bottom of the wall again. Danny gets all Jane Fonda and asks, “Did you feel the burn?” Samantha looks as if she did. Somehow, she finds the strength to get to her feet and leave while Danny stays behind “to play some more.”

Samantha meets up with Honey at Alex and Friends Salon, which she calls “Beverly Hills in your own backyard.” She and the make-up artists talk to Samantha about the essential things they need to put on when they go out. It’s all about the eyes. Since Samantha has big eyes, she needs to use concealer, base, and mascara. The Secret Key To Beauty: Q-Tips. Use them for everything. EVERYTHING. Except for when blending in the concealer; in that case, you have to use your ring finger because it’s the weakest finger. Aww, poor finger.

Next it’s mascara. Use Loreal because they sponsor all of Bravo’s shows along with the Crest White Strips that we haven’t seen in a while. One side of the Loreal mascara moisturizes while the other magnifies. Ooooh. The make-up artist says to wiggle it at the base. Ha Ha Ha! Oh, wait, she’s talking about the mascara. Nevermind.

In the mirror, Samantha likes what she sees. Her eyes really stand out. But that could also be because she’s taken off her glasses. Seriously, she wasn’t that much in need of a make-over. This is a classic rip off your glasses and shake out your hair and you go from librarian-school-marm to Claudia Schiffer in one fell swoop. Anyway, her eyes are great.

Over to the hairguy who Honey asks about thinning hair. Samantha’s hair has been thinning in the past few months. The hairguy says to use mint conditioner because it stimulates hair growth. And you get to smell like gum. Hairguy loves Samantha’s oval face and it’s a perfect face and hooray for her face. He plans to cut the corners of her hair to accentuate the oval perfection that is her face. How you cut a corner of hair, I have no idea.

Husband Dan says Samantha always likes to be in control.

Mom says it’s the first time Samantha is on her own. I guess she means the couple.

In the SUV, Honey says Samantha’s hair is amazing. It’s angled around her face. It’s lovely. Samantha thinks Husband Dan with love it because it’s a natural look. If she had come home blonde, he would divorce her apparently.

She’s excited about her first night in her new home. She tells Honey that she doesn’t expect to get any sleep. She thinks that she and Husband Dan will be running around the house looking at all their new stuff and the new walls and sitting on the new couch. Honey asks, “Is that ALL you think you’ll do?” Does Honey think about anything aside from sex?

Damon welcomes everyone back to what is now a home. The living room has soft yellow walls. The butternut couch is there with some matching cushy chairs. Green plants accent the room. She also has built-in shelves under the divider between the living room and kitchen. Samantha tears up. “I can’t breathe!” She’s all “omigod!” as she points to the new shelves. Damon says she’s now “chachified” which I’m pretty sure translates to, “She’s got a lot of crap on her shelves, but it’s nice crap.”

They bring her into the bedroom and Samantha exclaims, “You guys are good!” The GP laugh the “I know but you’re sweet for saying so” laugh. The bed has taupe bedding with matching subtle irredescent curtains. Husband Dan’s shelving unit is along one bedroom wall. The walls are off-white. The room is as spacious as it can be, and Samantha is very happy.

Next, they head to the backyard. Damon has installed a BBQ grill on the patio, and Robbie points out the landscaping with pretty plants. Samantha loves the long table, perfect for a family gathering. Along the perimeter is a bamboo fence. There’s also some dinnerware on the table and we hear Damon’s edited in product endorsement voice over. Why do they do that?

Over in the kitchen, Danny and Samantha have on two-foot-tall white chef hats. They’re going to make pesto-spinach stuffed tomatoes (to-MAH-toes, as Danny says). They sauté some spinach, throw in some cheese, do another 80 steps. Samantha asks, “should I be writing this down?” Heehee. Danny mocks frustration, “No, I’ll do it for you.” Next is pork-corn marinated kebabs. He shows her how to cut the corn into inch-long pieces that are a lot longer than an inch. “I’m overestimating, but I always do that with inches,” Danny smirks. As Samantha watches, she says that she thinks it’s something she can definitely do.

Next they make a marinade, which is also a fun phrase to say out loud. Red wine, olive oil, chiles. A lot of chiles. More than necessary. Samantha says that Husband Dan likes it hot. I think all the GP do, too.

They head out to the grill. Danny places two kebabs down and the flames start flaming. Samantha says, “Whoa.” Yet, she agrees that the cooking is simple and doable. All this fun and a chef’s hat, too.

Robbie steals Samantha away to talk about accessorizing. Accessories are Robbie’s favorite thing in the world. Probably because they’re the easiest things to steal. He shows her how to take a fuchsia striped scarf and turn it into a belt with some brooches. Also, he has a belt that gets wrapped around the waist a few times and then can hang down like pants jewelry. Metallic leather boots. An olive shrug. Earrings galour. He shows her a million combinations she can do with what she has.

Next, Honey kicks Robbie out of the bedroom, sits Samantha down, and has a heart to heart about seduction. Seriously, she really doesn’t think about anything aside from sex. Love it. She pulls back the comforter to reveal satin sheets. Oooh. The easier to fall out of bed when they’re sleeping. Then Honey gives her a gift basket. Of sex toys. Lotions! Foreplay cards! Edible oils! Sex as a game!

They all gather into the living room and Danny brings on the champagne. Samantha comments that she’ll be drunk before the party’s even started. Honey gives her a Kate Spade bag with all the make-up she’ll ever need, ever. Danny gives her a cook book with an inscription. I love how they give each gal an inscribed book at the end of each make-over. That’s seriously one of the best presents to ever give someone, period. She doesn’t want to read the inscription because she’ll start crying again. They tell her she has to read it. She does. And she cries. Then she says they’re incredible.

Then Samantha thanks each one of them individually. To Danny, “I wanted to kill you when I saw that rock wall,” but she’s grateful that he challenged her. To Robbie, “You put new life back into me and my clothes.” Robbie gets all teary-eyed. To Honey, “thanks for the make-up lesson because it’s better than any keepsake” because she’ll now remember how to be beautiful. To Damon, “you put your heart and soul into my home which is my heart and soul.” They all say “you’re welcome.”

Danny guarantees everything should be lovely. Kisses. Hugs. It’s a love fest. Robbie calls out, “You’re my favorite! I love you!” as he leaves. Samantha, by herself, continues crying, but just a bit.

Hip Tip: Change your hair color, change your make-up. We knew that already, Honey.

Husband Dan says Samantha needs help in the kitchen.

Samantha’s friend says that Samantha’s really good at reheating things.

Instead of the Critic Couch, the Gal Pals gather round Danny’s ultra-modern kitchen for some kebabs and kvetching.

Samantha begins by doing her eye make-up. The GP are impressed with her technique. Danny gives her a 12 out of 10. Then Samantha shoves all the sex toys into a drawer under the bed. Honey calls out, “It’s easier if you take them out of their boxes!” Samantha doesn’t.

Then there’s an accessory crisis. Samantha has out every piece of jewelry she can find. Damon says, “I think five brooches might be too many.” Heehee. Samantha finally chooses a minimal amount. Crisis averted.

She puts on a tight red tank and blue jeans. The tank still has the tag on it. They wonder if she’s going to return it. She checks herself in the mirror, decides she likes what she sees, and then expertly tears the tag off the back by blindly reaching back for it and yanking.

Over in the kitchen, a new crisis arises. Danny shouts, “NO!” but it’s too late. Samantha has started combining ingredients without first sautéing the spinach. Maybe she should have written it down. Not so simple and doable now, is it? With food on the stove, the doorbell rings and Samantha leaves her kitchen post. Robbie says, “She’s running to the door like a crazy woman!”

Husband Dan is outside. He grins when she opens the door. “Look at me!” she yells all happy. Husband Dan loves the way she looks and loves his new home. The food starts burning so she runs to the kitchen with Husband Dan yelling after her, “You’re cooking?” in disbelief. She’s sort of cooking. She shows him outside, leaving the food to burn once again. They keep kissing each other. Love, love, love.

Samantha returns to the kitchen and stirs a globby, green mess around. “I did this wrong.” Danny says it looks like “something that passed through me last Thanksgiving.” That’s so gross. Samantha then makes Husband Dan do the pork-corn kebabs and multiplies the marinade amounts by eight for no apparent reason.

Honey says, “She’s still stunning.” As if that makes up for the ruined food. A pretty face does not feed a family.

Samantha continues to run around. At one point, she clanks and carries three vases outside and Damon just about passes out. Husband Dan cuts himself while cooking, and Robbie goes Monty Python, “It’s just a flesh wound!”

The family arrives. Danny says Samantha has a “glam mom.” The whole family loves the house. The GP check out the gay friends. Damon yells, “The queers are here!” The gay friends love the couch and the bed. More family come. And more. And more. And everyone loves everything and everyone.

The food? Still not on the barbeque. Danny points out that the grill isn’t even on yet.

Samantha drags her girlfriends into the bedroom for a fashion show. Then she shows them all the sex toys. One of the friends says that they should come with instructions. Damon asks annoyed, “What’s wrong with them?” Honey says she thinks they’re kidding.

Danny is still harping about the uncooked meal. Cut to Samantha’s parents pitching in with the food in the kitchen. The entire family joins in. Danny now thinks it’s great that they’re all helping. They’re all hungry!

Husband Dan and Samantha come outside, and he thanks everyone for coming to celebrate their housewarming. Samantha then thanks everyone, too, and wishes the Gal Pals were there because they’re loud, just like the family. She invites the family over to enjoy the house just as she will enjoy it with her husband. Cheers! Clapping. Kissing.

Danny said that they got Mom’s stamp of approval so it all worked out, and he hopes that Samantha will cook on her own some day. Damon says they all did a phenomenal job. Cheers again.

Danny says that you can barbeque fruits for dessert.

Honey says to keep your mascara tube closed tightly.

Damon says that you should wash leather furniture.

Robbie says that you should replace the plastic heels with rubber heels to be safe in high heels.

And that’s how to go from dowdy law student to uber model sex goddess with some mascara and just a few kebabs.

–Christina M. Rau/GatsbyGirl

What exactly is the secret ingredient in lesbian lemonade? Email me at christina@realityshack.com

I Am A Ship – Starting Over, 02-02-05

by LauraBelle

Today’s lesson on Starting Over is one we all need to keep reminding ourselves. Live for the present, not the past or future. If we dwell too much in the past, we never give our future a chance. If we only live for what will be in the future we miss the enjoyment that today could bring us. As Rhonda mentions, when looking at the past, present and future, we need to look at the present in terms of it’s other meaning, to live for today like it’s a gift, as it truly is.

Cassie starts her day at the GED test center signing up for the big test. She signs up to take it the next day. The GED is finally here. It’s finally here in her present instead of her fantasizing it in her future.

Rhonda starts talking about the dangers of living in the past, present and future in Group. She points out that if we compare now to the past, we let it dictate our future. Just as damaging as beating ourselves up and living in the past is living in an airy fairyland. If we only live for what we will do in our future, we’re not doing it in our present.

Bethany admits to not thinking about her future. She lives in her past differently though. With her amnesia, she doesn’t live in her guilt remembering the things she has done, she lives in her guilt not remembering the things she has done. She is so fearful of not having memories, she is afraid to create new ones. Rachael admits to denying her past and living for the future. She often tells herself when she has her own family, her children won’t know the abandonment she knows, yet she refuses to admit being abandoned in her past.

Cassie believes she doesn’t live in her horrifying past, as she’s too afraid of being stuck there. She says doing what’s in front of her is the only way she can get by, but feels like she is about to crack, as she is dealing with too much. Asked if Cassie is doing too much, no one else agrees with her. Rachael believes Cassie is so concerned with what her future will be after meeting her birth son that she doesn’t live for herself in the present, and doesn’t focus on getting that GED now to better her future. Why these women can figure each other out so well, but never themselves, continues to be a mystery for me.

Iyanla and Renee meet and discuss Renee’s awareness that she feels stupid much of the time. Trying to get to the bottom of what part of her intelligence she feels deficient in, Iyanla asks Renee a series of questions on when she feels stupid, and Renee realizes she doesn’t retain information well. Iyanla points out that the other women in the house feel Renee isn’t a good listener, every small distraction takes her away. When Renee was violated as a young child, her mind went somewhere else to be able to deal with that emotional pain, thereby training her mind to shut off during upsetting or stressful information.

Iyanla gives Renee the assignment of working in a shelter for the day feeding the homeless to work on those core values of communication and confidence. Renee will be required to listen effectively to do her job there, even when upset or stressed while learning. She works in the kitchen preparing the food, then moves to serving in the soup line. Renee feels a sense of achievement after finishing her work.

Realizing Bethany has never allowed herself to be angry over the memory loss of her first seventeen years of life, Rhonda meets with her to try and bring that out. What if Bethany didn’t lose her memory but actually had it stolen from her, Rhonda points out. Bethany admits to never putting it in that perspective, but also admits to it all making her feel helpless and she doesn’t like that feeling at all. Rhonda tells her that unless she feels all those things that are stuck inside her, she is just waiting for them to erupt.

Rhonda leads Bethany into a room filled with Caution tape. She wants the room to embody a crime scene, so Bethany will realize what happened to her is a crime and not a simple loss. The room is filled with blank things such as a diary, appointment book and photo album. Bethany begins to cry and says this is just how her first day back at home after her amnesia was. Everything blank. She begins to let go of the pent up anger and cries saying it made no sense. She just wants to know her family. Rhonda leaves Cassie in this crime room, and tells her to write in the diary what she knows about herself.

When Rhonda comes back to the room, Bethany tells her she was surprised at how much she did know of herself. She started writing about her brother, then her sister, and it became easier to see what she really did know of herself. Rhonda says Bethany wasn’t just robbed of her memories, she was also robbed of the ability to connect with others. She needs to begin facing people she wants to love and facing what she knows. Bethany will decide her life, not her past or amnesia or parents. Rhonda leaves her with an empty birthday gift bag, and instructs her to fill it with something she wants to receive on her next birthday and then share it with her housemates.

Cassie meets with her tutor one last time before taking the GED test. She knows that when she feels anxious, she too quickly goes to her past and why she quit school in the first place. She knows she needs to work through that to pass her GED. She needs to stay clearly focused in the present. The tutor leaves her with a care package for her testing tomorrow. It includes an energy bar, eraser, aspirin and gum. A study has shown when students chew gum, they can stay more focused.

Rhonda calls Cassie and tells her to gather the women in the living room and wait, as she will be getting some support for her GED test the next day. The women wait very anxiously. There is a knock on the door, and in walks John Davidson, Cassie’s hero. Candy notes that since she’s been at the house, nearly every day Cassie has talked of John Davidson and her admiration of him. John asks for some private time with Cassie, and the other women all move to the dining room where they can still eavesdrop.

John asks Cassie how she knows of him. Cassie relates that when she was nineteen, she saw him on TV, and felt something very spiritual about him. She has always wondered where he found his strength and wrote him a letter. He sent her back a picture of himself that was inscribed, “Dear Cassie, You’re incredible,” obviously harkening back to his That’s Incredible days. That picture always brought her such inspiration to continue on in her life, but she has since lost it. She began writing his website recently asking for a new picture, but has now amended that to taking a picture of herself and writing “You’re Incredible” on it.

John sings a song about a young couple out on a boat alone with the chorus, “I am a ship. I’ll set my course. I’ll be the Captain. I’ll be a force. I’ll take the Glory, and I’ll take the blame. I am a ship.” John tells her after the song he feels the couple were all lone, just like Cassie. Her passing her GED and finding her birth son is not up to luck, but up to her, something inside of her. He tells Cassie it is amazing what she has done already in her progress and she realizes she is an inspiration herself. He tells her we all have to start over at some point. John leaves, and all the women scream. Cassie says, “I am incredible.”

Cassie says tonight she is totally in the present. Renee comes home from the shelter and can’t believe she missed Cassie’s special visitor. She discusses her work at the shelter, and Rachael believes Renee has made a huge step developing her character. She finally feels more connected with Renee and feels more compassion. Bethany shares her birthday gift bag with the other women and it contains a heart, as she wants a man by her birthday, not any different than most other twenty-one-year-old women. For the first time she is thinking of her future.

It is amazing to me that this show always seems to coincide with something I need to learn that day. I was beating myself up over something I had done, and wondering how it would affect my future. Now I know what to do. I am a ship.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

Interview With Frank B of The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott

Frank B
Age: 21
Occupation: Construction Worker
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

By: Chantae Benson

The majority of your bus mates voted for Melissa to be eliminated from the competition. Why do you think you were eliminated?

I was doing something I don’t do. If I got kicked off the show for doing something I do, I would feel bad. I was ready to go home. The show wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t really get to showcase my talent.

Do you think it was fair for you to be eliminated based upon your performance in Tennessee?

Nothing is fair. It’s just a show, it’s just making a tv show. I wasn’t bitter at all.

What is your most memorable experience during the show?

The junkyard was cool, everybody got a chance to open up.

What was the most difficult part about being on the road?

Being on a tight bus with 12 other people. It was just so tight, everyone was on top of each other.

Are you still going to pursue a career in the music industry?

One hundred percent. I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I opened up for Shaggy at the Cancun Spring Break 2002. I opened up for numerous acts. I’m working on my album now in the bay area.

Which contestant do you feel has the best chance of winning the competition?

I think Akil is the most talented if they are looking for a triple threat. He’s just an all around talented kid.

Do you have any advice for the remaining contestants?

Good luck, I don’t know what is in store for them.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to write to me at cwriter@realityshack.com

It's a Rap!

“It’s a Rap!”
by Mrs. Agnello

It is amazing the kind of influence the Gotti name can have. We are all aware of the Gotti influence on rap but this week the Gotti household welcomed a new Gotti. A rapper from Chi-town who gave himself the name ‘Gotti’.

At the beginning of the episode Victoria says that her boys’ friends use their house as a hotel, and I agree; Larry and John practically live there! Do these kids have parents? But she told us that so she could tell us that this week they were getting a new house guest: Gotti. Jeff was sent on a mission to pick-up Mr. “Gotti”. Knowing Jeff however he was late. Forty-five minutes late! Jeff stood outside the airport with a sign that said “Gotti”, he looked like an idiot!

Meanwhile Victoria explains to her friend/assistant Robert who Gotti is. She says they met him at the MTV music awards when she noticed a rapper with the name “Gotti” tattooed on his neck! She introduced herself to him and he was flattered to meet her. The boys have kept in touch with him since then and he is coming over for a visit.

Back to Jeff and Gotti, on their way to the Gotti home. “Gotti” gives Jeff a little “playa” speech and wants to hook Jeff up with Victoria. Jeff is obviously scared of this idea but comments that she is a “pretty lady”; which she is. At first Jeff disagrees, but Gotti convinces him that he will get him with Victoria. Yeah right, we’ll see how that works.

They finally arrive at the house and they go inside to greet Victoria and Robert (the boys aren’t home from school yet). Victoria still is not sure really what he is all about and why he is so interested in her family but she will find out later. Shortly after sitting down, Gotti pushes Jeff to tell Victoria about their little plan in the car. Jeff hesitates and tells Victoria that Gotti thought they should go out on a date. Victoria cringes slightly and says “right!”. Like that’s gonna happen!

The boys soon come home and Gotti jumps up to greet them. John and Frankie (who are still in their school uniform! But they looked cute) are obviously happy to see him. And Carmine comes in slightly after them in a hot track suit. Yummy! Gotti comments on Carmine’s bling and Carmine, who is obviously proud, smiles. Now I begin to question what is he really trying to get?

Now to the dinner scene. While everyone is using their forks to eat their pasta, (is that what they eat all the time?), Gotti is eating with his hands. Robert asks him if he always eats with his hands and Gotti says yes. Wow! He’s already not fitting in with Victoria’s tight etiquette, but she overlooks that minor detail. Victoria asks him when he took on the Gotti name as a stage name and he says since he was 14! And he’s 26 now. After that Gotti asks the boys if they knew at that young age when he was still alive what it meant to be John Gotti’s grandsons. John answers yes. He tells him of an instance when Frankie was born and he came to visit them at the hospital. Aaaw!

Gotti comments on how John is a comedian when he mentions something about them knowing how to use forks.

After that Gotti decides he wants to take the boys into the recording studio to record them “rapping” on his next song entitled “Gotti for President”. John laughs and asks him what they should talk about and Gotti tells them they can talk about anything, then he says: “Talk like you John Gotti Grandson.” (I love this guys’ grammar by the way!)

I can understand Gotti’s view, and his influence from John Gotti. I am a person who is attracted to powerful people. And one of the reasons I admire and respect John Gotti (may he rest in peace) is because he is a man who came from humble beginnings and became very powerful. That is the kind of person I look up to.

The next day, the boys go outside to play basketball. To make a long story short: Gotti basically whooped their butts, but all of a sudden John, the referee, decided that there were several fouls and they in fact won. Gotti doesn’t take this well and goes inside the house. Come on John!

Gotti tries to rush John but Robert explains that it takes the boys forever to get ready and Gotti once again, does not look happy. As Robert is explaining the boys’ getting-ready rituals John comes out and asks Robert why he’s talking “sh*t?”

As the boys are getting ready Robert asks Victoria if she is “cool with the boys doing this rap thing?” She comments that Gotti knows that if there is something bad on the tape he will have report to “mama bear”. That is so cute.

Meanwhile, upstairs Gotti is planning out with Carmine and some other kid (I don’t know his name) what they are going to say in the recording studio. The kid, as he will be referred to from now on, has a great line he wants to say. I could not repeat it because it said the f-word probably ten times in it. (You could barely hear it since it was bleeped so much).

They move down stairs and Gotti informs Victoria that the kid has a great line he will say at the beginning. Victoria wants to hear it and the kid hesitates but does it. Victoria is not pleased. She says she doesn’t want any “potty mouth” rap coming out of her son’s mouths. Surely she won’t have to worry right?

They finally get to the recording studio and Carmine goes first. His speech goes a little something like this: “Hey, I’m Carmine Gotti vote for my cousin Gotti, (blah blah)” And each boys’ part goes similar. Frankie adds “or else” on his part and I begin to wonder if Victoria would approve of that.

John is a little timid and is kind of laughing at the concept. Gotti wrote a really dumb line for him to say that was similar to Carmine and Frankie’s. John makes fun of it and asks: “You want me to say ‘I’ll kill your [explicit] mother! (blah blah)” John then reminds Gotti that Victoria probably wouldn’t be happy with them saying stuff like that when she is trying to clear up their image.

I have to say, I was so proud of my baby John; he was very responsible and stood up and basically said I’m not going to say this stuff, although he did have a small part in it. I wonder if he had Victoria’s voice in the back of his head the whole time telling him to do that?

The one thing I was baffled by was how the boys used Gotti at the end of the their names, even though their last name is Agnello, not Gotti. I wonder what Victoria would have said about that?

After they come home Robert plays the song that the boys recorded that day. First of all, it has a really cheesy base and music. Victoria listens to it, and even though they cut out a lot of stuff the guys said (she should have heard what they were saying in the recording studio! Yikes!) she says she is not impressed and not happy. Now how would I have guessed that?

Overall, this episode was about everyone finding their inner “Gotti” because I’m sure everyone’s got one. Is the boys’ song going to be a hit? Maybe when Paris Hilton learns some morals. In other words, never.

Disclaimer: The name Mrs.Agnello, is just a writing name. I am not in any way related to any Agnello.

Dr. Darin's Magical Mystery Scavenger Hunt: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (In Britain) Episode 3.4

Dr. Darin’s Magical Mystery Scavenger Hunt

Get ready for one more hour of international high-jinks! (I really have no idea of exactly what high-jinks are, but I’m glad I finally got to use it in a sentence). The Fab Five find themselves on a plane yet again. Huh? So they’re flying from London to . . . London? Only now, instead of champagne, the flight attendant serves tea. And instead of earplugs, they have eye cream. Okay, I’ll buy it.

Ted whips out his handy-dandy laptop and shows the boys Darin Dobler, which sounds like a character from a John Hughes movie. Darin is getting his Ph.D. in London in molecular biology while Julie, his wife, is putting him through school. Carson wonders if he can invent a really, really strong hairspray. Perhaps, that’s what he’ll do as his dissertation. And Darin is messy! He leaves Julie to clean the house. And Darin isn’t romantic! So he’s the typical Queer Eye guy. Ted explains that Darin is also an “ex-pat.” He’s an American living in London. Or the outskirts of London, really, and apparently the couple has never been into London for fun although they live right there.

Their mission, they decide, is to set up a romantic scavenger hunt for Darin to give Julie around the streets of London. I’d rather go back on the Jack the Ripper tour. The FF suggest they make Julie Queen for a Day. Unlike the FF, who now proclaim they are Queens for a Lifetime! Carson changes into his gray airline pajamas.

Monty Python London credits. Oh, Thom and his Inspector Gadget cell phone inquisitive face. Followed by the Union Jack. Cause we’re still in London.

The Fab Five take over the science building. They run into Darin’s lab with beakers and stuff. Is this sanitary? Darin has on protective eyewear. Ted holds up a jar of an apple juice colored liquid and tells everyone to watch out for radioactive substances. Which is why he very well should be tossing around jars of mystery liquid. The guys strip Darin of his lab coat, pile into a cab, and come home to Julie, who’s washing dishes and may need her own make-over.

As they enter the house, Ted exclaims, “Jai, look at this hunk of a sofa!” The place is very white, much like the lab. The sofa is a futon, and yet again, this season I cringe, for it is the very same futon that I am curled up on at this very moment. Julie is a lady with long blonde hair. Carson continues to wear his sunglasses in the house, I’m assuming from the glare of the whiteness. Darin is a tall, lanky guy with short dark brown hair and some stubble. Julie wears a vertical striped blouse that matches the décor. Darin opts for a blue collared shirt. The dining table is white with a light wood top and chairs.

Ted holds an American flag and says, “These just make me sick because they’re nasty and unattractive.” I’m thinking that it might be American flag boxers.

Jai asks Darin if he’s romantic. Darin wishes he could be. But don’t we all?

Kyan holds up some fake flowers. Oh, wait, it’s real but dead. They’re white too. He says, “It’s like a tumbleweed. Look at it!” Hee.

And now Ted and Carson yell about underwear. Underwear are all over the living room. Ted’s like, “It’s drying on the sofa.” Carson auctions off, “Underwear! Hot underwear!” Then, of course, they dump the underwear all over the dining table. And Jai attacks the laundry basket by shaking it.

In the kitchen, Ted holds up ten bottles of hot sauce. “Look, Thom! I think hot sauce was on sale!” Ain’t nothing wrong with that, Ted.

Carson finds a tiny jar of nuts and asks if Darin is a snacker. Julie says, “He has to eat like every hour.” Ain’t nothing wrong with that, either.

Kyan has Darin in his tiny white bathroom. He zhushes Darin’s hair and then asks, “What’s this hair on your palm for?” while stroking Darin’s hand. Darin makes an “oh, you caught me” face, which sends me into a spiral of confusion. I thought the whole hairy palm masturbate thing was a myth to keep little boys from playing with themselves. So if Darin’s not embarrassed about that, then he really has hair on his palms, which I thought was anatomically impossible because even monkeys don’t have hair on their palms. Unless there’s no hair at all and this whole scene is pointless.

In the living room, Thom is tearing apart the futon in disbelief that it’s the living room sofa. He pulls down the mattress part to reveal the steel frame. He yells out, “Were you ever in prison by any chance? This is lovely.” Okay, check that sarcasm at the door.

Back to Jai asking Darin what the most romantic thing he ever did was. He says something about planning a night in London a day in advance and that it wasn’t planned well. It was Julie’s birthday and she wound up planning it.

Cut to Kyan, tugging at Julie’s hair. Wrong person to be messing with, Kyan. He comforts Julie that Darin keeps “this place a shit hole.” Thom comes over and asks, “What do you mean it’s a shit hole? Didn’t you see the American flag?” Kyan half-hugs Julie.

In the kitchen, Jai finds a dairy product in the fridge with “clever” packaging. Okay, it’s phallic shaped and he licks it. We get it. Very funny, right?

Elsewhere, Ted finds the door into John Malchovich’s mind. No, it’s a storage space which he refers to as “Harry Potter’s room.” Heehee. He’s so well-read.

Kyan leaps out of the bathroom with lots of electrical hair equipment. Blow dryer. Curling iron. Flat iron. And lots more. He admonishes Darin and Julie, “You’ve got a problem with thermal styling.” Heehee.

Meanwhile, Thom is now locking Ted in Harry Potter’s room while Carson plays puppets with shoehorns in the closet.

Outside Thom finds a laundry hanger. The boys all grab a rod and dance around a circle as if it’s May Day and time to dance around the May Pole. This all ends with Ted careening into the garbage cans in a dizzy spell. Is this what high-jinks is?

On the purple bed, Jai and Julie chat about Darin’s lack of household responsibility. They miss their American family too.

In the kitchen, Darin says he cooks chicken stuff. Soup mixes and cheese and it’s a meal. He tells Ted he wants “more ideas” to be a better man.

Carson meanwhile reads one of Darin’s textbooks at rapid speed. Thom claims that Carson didn’t have toys as a child and now this is his entertainment.

Back in the bathroom doorway, Kyan yanks up Darin’s shirt to reveal his back-acne. Bacne. Perhaps it’s because he washes his sheets every few weeks or so? He should wash his sheets every week. Everyone should wash their sheets every week.

Then Kyan finds Cleopatra’s secret cream for Julie’s clitoris. Okay.

Carson asks if Darin feels like he fits in. Darin says he feels more like California. Carson points out that Darin likes blue. As in, everything in the closet is a shade of blue. All different textures. But blue. He also has boardshorts and a wrinkly labcoat.

Jai makes Thom sit down at the table for some dress up and hair styling. The price of beauty. Then Kyan sends Julie off for a hair treatment. Come on, Kyan! Leave her alone! But she seems happy.

Jai reveals that they’re flying in Darin’s family for tonight as his surprise to his wife. He’s happy! He’s in shock! Thom calls out that the house is “harrible!” And off Darin goes in a cab.

British Airways? Still flying to London.

Darin’s co-worker says that Darin dresses in blue.

His mother-in-law sees him in a blue shirt and khaki dockers.

Crossing Tower Bridge! Within the year, they’ve come into London only a few times. Cut to Ted speed-cleaning the kitchen and Carson speed-plucking the outdoor clothes hanger. Back in the cab, Thom and Kyan talk about Darin’s family coming.

They get out at London Furniture Store. They’re getting non-American furniture driven by “quality and design.” Obligatory sofa sitting. A plush chocolate-brown sofa that converts into a day-bed with convertible pillows. I. Want. This. Couch. Then they find a shaggy ottoman which Thom says, “is like Carson’s hair.” Ouch. That’s low.

Next, they look at shelves for Darin’s “big long wall.” It’s detachable. It turns the living room into a library. Darin mentions they have a lot of books so it will work.

Pigeons! People! It’s definitely London!

Over at the salon, Kyan and Darin hug. Aww. The Beta Institute is where they are. Bacne is why they’re there. He takes Darin to a chakra room to cleanse his back skin and “maybe do some extractions.” Oh, that does not sound like fun. Some woman digs out his blackheads as Kyan asks about how Julie will react to seeing her mom and sister. Darin predicts crying. Duh. Then the Blackhead Digger smears a mask over Darin’s back with cheesecloth in between.

Darin, dressed, goes over to Jai who is lying in bed at the Soho Hotel in London. The bed is the largest bed I’ve ever seen. They discuss Julie’s complaint that Darin doesn’t know how to clean. Enter Bjorn, the penthouse butler. Bjorn teaches Darin how to make a bed. Take off the pillows, put on some sheets, fold them six inches down from the top, make some hospital corners (for a “nice package”—heehee), and voila! Finished bed.

Next, Darin learns how to pick up after himself. Jai and Bjorn have strewn clothes across the floor and furniture. They teach Darin how to bend down, using his knees of course, and pick up the clothes. Just kidding, about the knee part. But they do make him pick up clothes. This is ridiculous. Bjorn suggests folding clothes in front of the television so it’s less boring. Then they all fold sweaters. Seriously, this isn’t a department store.

Thom speed shops at the furniture store.

Cut to Selfridges Food Court with Ted. Natural, real, delicious, gourmet food. Beginning with cheese. The most famous cheese, cheddar, was created in London. Who knew? They taste some moldy cheese, which is supposed to be moldy. Ted comments about mold that they “usually find in a straight guy’s house.” Heehee. They taste more cheese. They like cheese. Thankfully, no one is lactose intolerant.

Over to fresh veggies. Cucumbers for cucumber sandwiches. Ted stays behind for more grocery shopping while he sends Darin off to buy some new duds.

Darin’s never been shopping at Selfridges, which was started by an American. Carson and Ted with their fun facts. Carson is ready to spend money “like Beckham.” Makes no sense, yet funny. Carson wants to get Darin away from California t-shirts because London is wet and cold. They need “smart” clothes. Darin wants clothes that keep him cool (bacne!). Carson asks if he likes bright colors. Darin says yes, but then looks at a nearby sweater that has a stripe of every color under the sun. He says, “I like bright colors, but maybe not all in the same sweater.” Ha! Darin’s funny. Carson refers to the sweater as “circus o gay.” Double ha!

They find Jai, Kyan, and Ted and have a fashion show. Carson calls the first outfit, “Harry Potter chic” and “school boy chic.” It’s a blazer with chest emblem, a tie, and a top coat.

Next is a horizontal chunk striped brown and navy sweater with darker pants. “Nothing says Mr. Rogers like a cardigan.” For sure!

The last look is a trench coat (Macintosh jacket) over khaki pants and a black and white sweater.

They all jump out of the store with yellow shopping bags. They hail a cab. What fun. This has got to be high-jinks.

Julie wants their house to be a place where people can come over.

The sister-in-law says they have no coordinating furniture whatsoever. Does she mean coordinated or have I learned a new word?

A different co-worker says, “the red, white, and blue theme of the living room is just atrocious.” Now that’s some patriotism for ya.

In the taxi, Darin tells Kyan and Jai that he had lots of fun. They discuss how he’s been preparing for the Most Amazing Evening Ever. Darin has no clue about a plan but he’s excited. Back to the whole, Fab Five Queen for a Lifetime, Julie should be Queen for a Day comment. Which was funny only the first time around.

Meanwhile, Ted is speed decorating. The walls are red. The wooden shelves are awesome along the wall with all their books. The plush couch is in the center of the room and has leaf-patterned pillows.

Out in the taxi, Carson hopes that Thom has “coated the whole place in black latex.” The boys enter the house. Darin drops his jaw and is speechless for a moment. Then, “wow!” The molding is white. The fireplace is white. A huge flat screen television is on the wall. Thom jokes that it’s not real, but it’s art. Heehee. Julie loves red! Thom removed the door to Harry Potter’s room and made the nook into an entertainment center.

All the art is black and white London photos. The shaggy ottoman is behind the couch with a table separating the two. Oh! The American flag that Thom thought was sick before? That was a placemat! I see it now in the before/after shot. I’m happy it wasn’t underwear.

The kitchen is sage green. Thom took all the doors off their hinges and added an island/breakfast bar in the middle. No more dining table.

Ted and Darin put on aprons. Ted holds up smells-like-foot cheese and tells Darin that he’ll have a buffet that night. They also have little flags to label the cheese. They both wave around the little flags and yell out cheese names with bad British accents. High-jinks!

Ted also has garnish. Because nothing says fun like sprigs of rosemary. Then Ted tells Darin to leave the crusts on the bread, unlike traditional English tea, but then make the rest of the sandwich traditionally. It involves spreading mayo, arranging watercress and cucumbers. Done. “How easy is that?” Ted inquires ominously.

Next is crawfish and arugala sandwiches. Thom says it’s amazing. Ted makes the picnic basket say hello.

Kyan grabs Darin into the bedroom and teaches him how to make the mask they used on his back before. It looks like humus. Kyan tells Darin to have Julie put it on his back. Has Julie been informed of this? Kyan’s trying to take over London in this episode. First it’s make-over Darin. Then send Julie to the salon for a hair treatment and make her smear stuff on Darin’s back. Next, it’s gonna be a dye job for the Queen. Darin is happy about the mask. Kyan says, “for a bio-chemist, it’s a piece of cake.” Then he calls out, “I’m finished. And I’ve got stuff all over my hands.” Carson pops his head in and says, “You should really wash your hands when you’re done doing that.” Okay, a very obvious joke but I can’t help but laugh. I guess we’re all thirteen at heart.

Carson takes Darin over to his couture. A blue shirt with red flowers. It’s very Hawaiian, the way Carson told him not to go. I’m confused. Carson has a gift for Julie and boxes that are patterned and don’t need to be wrapped. Is this shirt for Julie? I’m so confused right now. Carson has also gotten him underwear so he has so many that he’ll never have to wash them and they’ll be disposable. Sure.

Jai and Darin lie in the bed. Jai rips the sheets off. Darin laughs. Jai says that Darin will have to make the bed in front of her when she comes home. Yes, that’s a turn on. Put the sheets on the bed. Every woman loves that.

They head downstairs and gather round the living room with pints of beer. I’ve just noticed Carson’s pants for the first time this episode—they’re black and white checked pants usually reserved for chefs. Nuff said. Jai explains the night to Darin, which Jai calls, “The Magical Mystery Tour.” Umm, no. That title is already taken by a little band called The Beatles! I like my title better: The Most Amazing Evening Ever. Okay, it’s not a great title, but at least I didn’t rip off England’s greatest musical icons.

The night begins with tea at the Savoy. Next, they go to the Damien Hurst boat and sail under three bridges on the Thames. London has about fifteen bridges, so this isn’t a surprise. Then they dock and cab it over to the London Eye with a private pod. Julie’s family will be inside and Julie will be surprised! Carson says she’s going to be hammered. Throughout the night, Darin has to give Julie index cards with clues on them so she figures out the next place they’re going. Because it’s a scavenger hunt! Kyan explains, “you don’t use Savoy in the limerick” but you hint at it so she figures it out. Thanks, Kyan. Be a bit more condescending. I mean, the man is a molecular bio-chemist. I think he can figure out how to write a clue!

Darin is amazed. Skin. Dress. House. Carson says, “And your breath is fresh too!” Darin lists a few more things and says something about details. The FF say in unison, “God is in the details.” Darin toasts, “To the details and the Fab Five.” Cool toast. Kyan says, “We put the tail in detail.” Redeems himself yet again. Jai leaves Darin, saying that the last surprise is that they have a car and driver for the night. Darin is happy.

Hip Tip: Marinate things in beer. Thanks, Ted.

Julie describes Darin as “really funny, really smart.” Add great personality and you’ve got the description of every blind date I’ve ever been on.

Mother-in-law predicts crying and fainting when Julie sees them. That spells party!

Gather round the London Loft. Thom is in a velour red jacket. Ted is ready for the “Magical Mystery Tour.” Ugh. Already, Darin is adjusting things on the shelves. Carson, I think, comments, “He’s stroking his wood.” Heehee. Darin now makes the bed. I thought he was supposed to do it in front of Julie. As he shoves sheets under the mattress, Carson calls it “a mental hospital corner.” Ha!! Jai is panicked that “it’s not looking so good.” Darin continues to shove the sheets around and redeems his hospital corner.

Darin now wraps couture for Julie. Jai asks if Darin will wear the high heels. Carson says answering the door in heels and a smile would be a great idea. Darin wraps the high heels instead. Good call, Darin. He places the presents on the bed. When he’s finished, he wipes his brow and the Fab Five, in unison, shout, “Wow!” Thom mocks, “Are my eyebrows okay?”

In the kitchen, Darin grabs some bread and a knife. Ted calls out, “Your fingers!” and says he always gets nervous when the straight guys have to cut things. He smears, he spreads cukes, and he cuts the sandwich which falls apart. Thom says, “He’s having cucumber problems.” Ted comments in a high-pitched, old lady British accent, “There’s no watercress!” Darin tries to piece the bread back together and the guys can’t believe that he’s having this much trouble with a little sandwich. (Remember when Ted said it was going to be easy?!) Thom says, “It looks like he made it with a lawnmower.” Heehee. That brings on a very real moment where Kyan turns towards Thom and laughs a very real laugh, like he’s genuinely tickled by Thom’s comment. These guys joke around so much that it’s nice to see that they really do enjoy it.

Darin then grabs every cheese known to man out of the fridge and throws it in the picnic basket. Ted says, “He’s packing a picnic hamper,” while Carson comments on his “nice basket.”

Into the bathroom for a shave. “Very nice!” the guys yell as Darin shaves slowly. But then, “oh!!!” He starts shaving the very top of his chest. Kyan says, “That’s a little low,” while pointing and laughing at the screen. Have I mentioned that Kyan is wearing a dark mauve shirt with a black jacket and he looks fabulous and as I have paused the tape I’m watching, he’s stuck in an eyes-closed laughing position which is incredibly endearing? Sigh. Ted wonders if Darin’s going to a swim meet. Heehee. Then there’s a really gross shot of the sink with milky water and shaving cream and stubble floating around. Ew.

Next, Darin takes off his towel and reveals pristine, white boxer briefs. He wears a button down blue shirt with vertical fuchsia stripes and either navy pants or jeans. I’m thinking they’re pants or else the guys would yell at him.

Here comes Julie down the street in a gray fitted jacket and black pants with a Burberry bag in hand. Kyan comments how her hair is done. Arg.

Darin has yet to write down the clues for the evening. Julie’s at the door. Oh, no! High-jinks may be in store.

Julie knocks profusely. He finally opens the door. Julie’s reaction? Speechless for a moment. Then, “Dude, you look so hot!” Kyan says, “I love a girl that says dude.” “Sexy!” Julie continues. She gives him thumbs up and snaps. She loves the house too.

Darin starts to say, “you know how one of the things we talked about was…” but then doesn’t finish because he starts crying and Julie wraps her arms around him. Aww. He finishes, “to show the house is us and we’re Americans in London.” He points out the art. The television. She loves.

In the bedroom, he shows her the bed and reveals he took lessons. Carson says, “She wants to have sex right now!” Because the bed is made.

Next Julie opens her presents. “Love it!” She likes the clothes. Who wouldn’t?

Darin lets Julie get ready while he writes out his clues. She comes down wearing a pink jacket, much like the gray one, with a pink belt and gray pants. Oh, the jacket with flowers was for Julie! Makes sense now. And it matches her bag. Thom says, “They’re going to have to move out of Colchestire because they’re too metrosexual.” Yes, that’s spelled wrong but it’s my best England-ese without looking at a map.

Darin puts on his jacket, grabs his basket, and they’re off.

Shots of London at night. Thom says, “She has no idea she’s going to embark on her whole family.” What? How do you embark on your family? I thought embarking was reserved for boats. Whatever.

Darin gives Julie her first clue: “It rhymes with boy and is a great hotel.” Heehee. The molecular bio-chemist gets an A for effort. She can’t get it! “Savoy!” she yells after Darin whispers it in her ear. They tell Gary The Driver to take them to the Savoy. He guffaws all English-like, but in an amused way, not a mocking way.

And the Fab Five start rhyming things with Savoy. Bok Choi. LaToy-a. Oy-vey.

The Savoy is pretty and has lots of lights. They’re there for high tea. Scones. Cream. Tea. Kyan thinks they’ll make “little baby Doblers now.” They receive a gift from the butler in the room. It’s from Jai. A free night at the hotel for a later date. Cool.

Clue number two time. “It’s not a plane or a train or an automobile, but it will be a magical journey.” Again, Darin says, “Do you have any idea?” Again, Julie’s wrong. “It’s either walking.” The FF all say, “No!” “A horse?” Darin says, “No.” Carson can’t take it any more. “Okay, it’s a boat on the Thames! Let’s go!” Heehee. Darin hints that the Savoy looks over water and she guesses the river. Hooray.

They sail towards the London Eye. Darin says it’s nice out. It looks like it’s freezing. She’s amazed. They love each other. Clue Three: “I spy a giant eye in the sky, or is it rolling along the Thames?” What? Julie guesses, “The London Eye?” Darin says, “It’s the Houses of Parliament!” Heehee. Ted mocks the “tough clue.”

Jai is about to pee his pants. Julie doesn’t know her family is there. Darin and Julie get into the pod. Two women are standing at the far end with their backs turned. When they kept saying family, I was thinking lots of people, not just two. Anyway, it’s going to be great. A mom and a sister! They turn around and Julie covers her face and can’t believe it. Oh, there’s a baby with them too. I’m guessing Julie’s nephew. It’s Jack. Aww.

They have a picnic in the pod. Darin labels the cheese with the flags and Thom calls him “such a scientist.” Darin toasts to family. This guy is good with toasts. Carson toasts to “sleeping babies, my favorite!”

Julie says she had the best day of her life. They love each other.

Ted yells, “Well that worked.” Jai said they reached all their goals of romance, assimilation, and romance. They toast to stinky cheese and family and England. I want to know what they’re drinking because they look like fun drinks.

Carson says carry a stylish umbrella.

Kyan says moisturize and drink water on a flight.

Thom says souvenirs are tacky and not to buy stuff with the name of the city in it.

Jai says go get drunk at a pub to make friends. Well, not exactly, but that’s the gist of it.

Ted says use lots of tea for perfect tea and then serves a Queen.

And Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde (in a good way, not the murderous, pyschopathic way–work with the metaphor) with the help of a few life-long queens. Cheerio!

–Christina M. Rau/GatsbyGirl

Tell me all about your international high-jinks: Email me at christina@realityshack.com

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