”The Amazing Race”: Some guys have none of the luck
As it’s directly on the other side of the globe from us, Australia serves as a Bizarro U.S.A. Everything is an opposite there: Their sinks drain the other way, the foul-tasting Vegemite is considered a cherished treat, and — according to country spokesperson Crocodile Dundee — what we think of as a knife is not a knife at all. So if there was any place where The Amazing Race should have been turned upside-down, it would be here. But alas, after the constant flipperoos of last week’s Oman leg, all the trip to Perth did was put the race right back where it started.
We did start back in Oman with one new wrinkle: Where did the animosity between Mojo and the hippies come from? It’s not like I don’t understand it: Mojo are just looking for someone to blame their awful ”luck” on, so why not focus on two blue-state long-hairs who would never have been allowed within spanking distance of their sorority and fraternity? There was some talk about the hippies swearing to yield them, but how could you take anything personally from those lovable scamps? They’re like Santa’s elves, just taller and filthier.
To stick it to the hippies, Mojo didn’t leave them any traveling money, unlike two other generous teams. Not that leaving cash was the smartest move… unless it was given with the hopes that the hippies would get distracted and spend all night shopping in Oman’s infamous patchouli district. (The frat guys also jabbed them by leaving a note reading ”IOU $100,” a trick that probably lost them some time as they argued about how to spell it.)
But there was no stopping the hippies, who spread good cheer — and possibly head lice and three different species of backpack mites — wherever they went. They picked up a Bedouin hitchhiker, who paid them back in gas and candy, and they all rubbed noses at the end and parted friends. Makes you think that maybe we’d be living in a more peaceful world if hippies were in charge, doesn’t it? There’d be no war, and all religions would coexist peacefully… but then again, we’d have to listen to Phish all the time and instead of the World Series we’d have endless televised hacky-sack tournaments where there were no winners because winning is a construct that harshes their mellow.
On second thought, I’ll take world war.
After a little false suspense about whether or not the hippies would make the flight to Perth (did anyone actually think they’d miss it after they ate the Bedouin’s magical Snickers?), it was all even again. Proving once again that the whole ”Phil takes all your money” gambit is just a meaningless charade, the hippies came away from the flight with over $300. Wasn’t that a bit more than they needed? It takes balls (but more on Phil’s pants later) to beg from trapped airline passengers, but to not stop until you have enough for cab fare and a DVD player is beyond the pale.
Everyone stayed overnight at a hostel, where Fran and Barry were given the shared ”Pleasure Dome” room. ”This race has ruined our sex life,” said Barry, which didn’t do much for my libido either. You try thinking about Fran running her fingers through Barry’s shoulder hair and see how aroused you get.
In the morning, after a long tandem bike ride during which Mojo — Surprise! — bitched at each other, it was time for the Detour: Sand or Sea. The fratters picked Sea because it would give them a chance to strip down to their skivvies and possibly catch the eye of the old fisherman who collected their crayfish. (We also learned that Eric has pierced nipples, perhaps the least surprising fact ever. If he took off his shirt to reveal a library card, now that would be a shocker.) Every other team opted to drag branches except for Mojo, who showed their lack of reading comprehension once again when they only caught one crayfish instead of two. ”We’ve got the crappiest luck,” said Joseph, still confusing the words ”luck” and ”brains.”
This season we’ve already seen two people confront their fears: non-swimmer Wanda diving under water, and acrophobe Fran bungee-jumping. It was exciting and redemptive to watch those two overcome, but I got no such warm fuzzy watching Monica face down her terror in the face of a crayfish. ”I have every right to be scared of this,” she told Joseph, holding her skittish ground as he yelled at her to submerge. God bless Monica, the Rosa Parks of wusses.
The prison roadblock would have been interesting, were it not for the distracting Duracell plug. Why, why, why? Granted, it was slightly more organic than the Da Vinci Code product placement, but to what end? Does Amazing Race really do that well in the valued 18-49 spelunker demo?
As for the ending stats, I had mixed feelings about the frat guys finishing in first. I hated to see them on top again, and yet I got some joy in watching them overtake Mojo in the last moments. I thrive on watching their inability to finish first, no matter what lead they have. Damn their luck! You know, the two really slow lucks they both have sticking out of their hips that have shoes on the ends.
Then came the hippies, followed by Ray and Yolanda, whom Phil was so determined to get back together that he let Browsie out for a climb when he saw them approach the mat. See, Browsie? And you thought they were Splitsville, you furry little cynic, you! But when Phil said, ”Looks like you found love again together,” and Yolanda replied, ”Oh yes,” I’ve never seen a less sincere hug or a less receptive welcome for a hug in my life. Many couples stay together for the kids; I think these two are staying together for Phil.
(And on the subject of Phil, what is with the return of his camel-toe pants? Good lord, Van Munster, can’t you get the gals in wardrobe to give him a little more room in the crotch? With those testi-Phils busting out like that, there’s almost no room on the mat for the players.)
Alas, it was Fran and Barry’s time to go. It was touching to see Fran cry, but I am bothered by something Phil always says when older couples finish. He always turns to the husband and says, ”I bet you’re proud of your wife.” It’s patronizing to the women, but also, don’t the men want to say, ”What about me? I’m old, too!” But now they are free to go home and be proud of each other and get it on in a way that will make my own testi-Phils crawl up to a place in my body that it would take a spelunker with 400 D batteries to find.