Is Bertram Van Munster using The Amazing Race to clandestinely give me marriage counseling? Four weeks ago, my wife gave birth to our second daughter, and as anyone dealing with an infant and another child knows, things get tense. We’re handling it well, but the combination of stress and sleep deprivation does spur the occasional foolish, heated argument. But after this week’s Amazing Race, I proposed to her all over again. I dropped to my knees and said, ”For never declaring your hatred for me on national television, won’t you marry me all over again?” And my wife said, ”For not acting like a petulant teen who receives every bit of constructive criticism as if I’d just mass e-mailed my workplace a note stating that you have a small penis, you’ve made me the luckiest woman on earth.” And when we have the service, I want the justice of the peace to declare, ”I now pronounce you Not Nate and Jen.”
This couple did pretty well at the beginning of the leg, considering how chaotic it was at the Vilnius airport. Trying to get a flight to Croatia was like a giant game of travel-agent poker, with every team first trying to keep a spot in one line but then, as soon as they saw the Goths visit a different office, all dashing to try a different one, only to inevitably return to the first. (”They’re all pointing and looking at us,” said Vyxsin. ”We’re used to it,” said Kynt. Why? Because they’re Gothity Goth Goths. Honestly, they self-reference more than Smurfs. If they switched to wearing blue instead of pink, I’d spend half my time watching this show worrying about the entrance of Gargamel.)
It was Hendekia and Azaria who seemed the most self-destructive at the beginning of the show. After his idea to abandon the line to go call Polish Airways backfired, Azaria snapped at his sister, ”Just remember who works his ass off. You stand here and think you’re all badass. One decision, now you think you’re on top of the world….I make one bad decision, get over it.” Jeez, the ’86 Celtics’ defense wasn’t that ferocious. How did the party in Hendekia’s pants (the one local phrase she knew from her Bosnian friend) get shut down so quickly? This was the dark side of calling your sister ”baby girl”; if you got beat by a baby, you’d fly into a rage, too.
Ultimately, a travel agent was the one to blame for their trailing so far behind; the siblings arrived at their flight’s gate at the last minute only to find out that they’d been issued business-class seats, a no-no on the show. I’ve never seen a less penitent travel agent than the one they returned to after she screwed up their tickets. Apparently in Lithuania, the customer isn’t always right, but he is always a nuisance. And why didn’t Azaria give her the business about remembering who works his ass off? Is his browbeating like donating blood platelets, in that it only works on a genetic match?
Ultimately, it was Jen and Nate, the Goths, and Ronald and Christina who were the first to arrive in Croatia, and the show was divided largely in half between following them and the later-arriving teams. I’m not sure how far apart they were: Donald and Nicolas and TK and Rachel’s flights must have been pretty far behind for the producers to give up all pretense of editing them into a dead heat. This made for kind of a letdown, though, as once Jen and Nate’s relationship had deteriorated at the finish line, we still had about 25 minutes to go. Talk about your anticlimaxes.
When they arrived in Croatia, Nate and Jen both raved about the scenery (”We have never seen a view like this,” cooed Jen) in the only positive example so far of their tendency to use superlatives. The first roadblock involved somebody trying to fit one stone out of a pile of rubble into a wall that was being reconstructed. Phil explained this job was to help out with the renovation of the city walls, which were bombed in Yugoslavia’s civil war. There are plenty of people from that region who probably harbor lingering resentment about America’s tardy involvement in their country’s dark period, and it’s probably best they never watch a U.S. reality show whose idea of American help is putting one rock back. I’d hate to see the challenge Van Munster has planned for Baghdad in 2017.
Ronald chose to do this task. Had it been a detour, Phil could have summed up the pros and cons for Ronald this way: ”The work is tedious, so it’s perfect for an obsessive-compulsive personality. But the rocks are heavy, so people with hernias could find their lower intestine slowly pouring out onto their shoes like a magician’s endless handkerchief.” After the roadblock, teams took a tandem zip line over water to a detour, and then I really worried about Ronald. I pictured his hernia blowing somewhere over the water, and people on the rocks below thinking it was a fireworks show.
The detour involved either rappelling and then climbing up a rope ladder or taking another zip line and then rowing a boat. The Goths opted for the wall climbing; Kynt pointed out that Vyxsin did it well because she has a dad in the military. Oooof, Papa Vyxsin must be thrilled about Kynt as a future son-in-law, that’s all I’ll say about that. Although I’m not so sure about their romantic status; when they arrived at the pit stop, they did the most awkward high five and half embrace with each other. The two showed about as much romantic sparks as a eunuch with a traffic flare shoved up his ass.
But then came the rowing. Over my years of covering reality TV, I’ve mentioned countless times my frustration with contestants who don’t know how to either row or paddle a canoe. You know it’ll come up, people! First, Christina urged her dad to sit backward when he had been in the correct position. (Damn, I can’t stand it when Ronald’s right.) Later, Nicolas — who is one whiny grandson — micromanaged Donald’s rowing, when not only did he have no idea how to row himself, but how dare he make his grandpa row in the first place after just bitching how the exhausted Donald was so slow hauling rocks? It’s like the old restaurant joke: ”The food is terrible. And such small portions!” Except it’s ”My grandfather’s age is really a detriment. And he’s so slow at dragging my ass around the Croatian seaside, too!”
NEXT: ”I hate you I hate you.”