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Arissa bloodies a stranger in a drunken catfight. Trust, schmust -- Arissa gets busy with a rude name-caller while Irulan betrays Alton AND Gabe, says Josh Wolk

By Josh Wolk
Updated December 18, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
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The Real World
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Arissa bloodies a stranger in a drunken catfight

Imagine finding out that penicillin no longer kills bacteria, or that chemotherapy has no effect on cancer. Rocks every faith you have in science, doesn’t it? Well, watching the Dec. 17 episode of ”The Real World” similarly turned everyone’s world upside down by revealing that TRUST FALLS ARE NOT A SUREFIRE CURE FOR TRUST ISSUES.

But…but…what about all that research in the new-game lab? It was all — gasp — bunk? Yes, because even though Awesome Ann had made Arissa fall backwards off a ladder (and that was from the third rung, the THIRD RUNG!), just two weeks later her trust issues were back in full flare-up.

Arissa’s boyfriend Dario was coming to visit, so it was an opportunity to see her softer side. And we did, as she cooed softly to a slot machine that she wasted $100 on, trying to raise some money for his visit. So she doesn’t trust people, but she does have a deep faith in dumb luck. ”Oh, random icon generator, you won’t let me down this time, and…huh? Lemon, Double-Bar, Cherries? Well, if I know you, you won’t do that twice! Here’s another dollar, my coin-hungry friend 4-eva!”

We then got a little taste of the trust issue when Dario arrived late from the airport. A peeved Arissa smoked a cigarette like she was waiting to jab it in his eye when he arrived, and said, ”A normal person would assume the flight was delayed or couldn’t get a cab. Not me. I’m like, Why is he doing this to me?” I’m not sure whether that’s a trust issue or a pain-in-the-ass issue, but on the ”Real World,” potato potahto.

Things were going dandy between the two lovebirds…until the big Hawaiian party at Rain. They were handing out leis, and Arissa was clearly in good spirits because she thought of the clever slogan, ”You need to get lei’d!” In Vegas, this is considered brilliant, but keep in mind that ”Wassup” was almost made the city’s slogan.

Then a random woman had to go and destroy Arissa’s night by calling her a bitch, right into the camera. Now you can call a ”Real World”er all sorts of names, but when you take their camera time, the gloves come off. Arissa lunged forward, yelling, ”You think I’m a bitch?,” pinwheeling her fists, and, as we found out later, giving her name-caller a bloody nose. In catfights we trust!

When Arissa sobered up, she was penitent to angry manager Marc. It was a very businesslike summit…if you ignore the fact that Arissa was wearing zebra-striped slippers and Marc a muscle-T and camouflage pants, neither of which outfits will you find anywhere in ”Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” Arissa was given a first and final warning, and it seemed to be a wake-up call. She said she needs to be able to walk away from fights, because ”I’m a grown-ass woman.” I have neither the time nor the column space to get into the many ironies of someone using that terminology to proclaim their maturity.

At the end, Arissa confessed that she always talks about the things about herself she needs to change, but has made no movement toward changing them. This was the first time I’ve heard a ”Real World”er show a glimmer of recognition that their self-help vows are usually baseless. I wondered if she would then start having other ”Real World” epiphanies like, ”Hey, I don’t HAVE to have sex on camera, and me and my roomies don’t HAVE to scream at each other, we could speak rationally…” But if that happened, ”1984”-ish Bunim/Murray goons would likely burst in to drag her to Room 101 for reprogramming.

While Arissa tried to figure out how to live a better life, Alton was busy setting up a future miserable life by getting involved with Irulan. Their flirtation escalated, and when she set up a tent in the living room to sleep in while Dario was visiting, the erotic lure of camping proved too much for Alton to resist. ”That damn tent!” Irulan said after he crept in and they spent the night together. Just be glad there was no hole with a tarp over it: you’d probably be pregnant by now!

Steven counseled Alton not to get involved, since Irulan is still in a relationship — an open one, granted — with Gabe, and Alton would only end up getting hurt in the end. Irulan would get to that later, because this week she was busy hurting Gabe. ”I want hugs and kisses!” she babytalked to him when he called, but then proceeded to tell him about how she and Alton cuddled in the tent and how she loves him… albeit in a nonsexual way. Wow!

She managed to emasculate both Gabe AND Alton in one comment! And in the process she made herself an example to Arissa that perhaps people shouldn’t be trusted. Trust falls may not work, but the science of Irulan’s weasliness is undebunkable.

The Real World

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