Monday, November 7, 2011

Finding A Hair On An Elephant's Butt

Africa, where all life began and lions (and beds) attack. Specifically, Malawi. Madonna's shopping mall. Mountainous and controversial, Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world with a seemingly endless list of problems on it's docket: HIV runs rampant, homosexuality is punished with harsh prison sentences, economic aid reeks of corruption, and piggyback riding is the number one form of transport. Yet, amongst this lake of melancholy, children frolic freely and the singing is contagious. There must be something in the air in Malawi. Something candied and sweet that not only makes everyone suspiciously happy, but squishes good old-fashioned competitive mean-spiritedness and makes $15K float away like bubbles on the breeze. *shakes head* When life hands you a U-Turn, you use it, dummies! Let's recap, shall we?

We pick up this cockamamie race around the world in the Kumbali Village where our weary travelers have just spent the night with malaria nipping at their toes. Since those annoying Jesus-loving Snowbunnies (Andy & Tommy) once again stumbled into first place, they are now the first team to depart. Teams must now travel by bus to the town of Salima. Caution! *lights blink yellow* A Double U-Turn looms ahead. *thunderclap* U-Turns are The Amazing Race's one invitation to evil and I embrace everything they stand for. It's a chance for teams to flex their competitive muscles and take out someone threatening, someone stronger. The only problem is... no ever uses these golden tickets! It's like having an Immunity Idol and throwing it in the ocean or finding a million dollars in ones in your mailbox and then using them to start a bonfire. U-Turns should be relished and savored, not ignored and skipped by. Finger lick a U-Turn for crying out loud! Taste it's tangy sweetness on your lips and then go back for more, more, more! Note to future racers: Consider the audience watching you. The last thing we want to see is you passing by a major game changer. Do it for us, not for yourselves. After all, we're all that matters.

Team Fresh Prince (Carlton/Justin & Jennifer) leaves second and it is here that we learn how Carlton actually had to come out to his family a couple years ago. Seriously? Dude, if I was your sister, I could have saved you an uncomfortable conversation and given you a rainbow flag when you were 6 years old. How could Jennifer not know?! Team Grammer (Camille/Sandy & Kelsey/Jeremy) and Team Gilligan (Laurence & Zac) depart next followed by Team Bert & Ernie (Cindy & Ernie) and we're whisked away to the local bus depot where all teams end up on the same bus to Salima. A sweaty cramped jalopy of suffocating bodily odors. Marcus finds it all quite magical while Bert covers her face with a scarf and searches through her backpack for a bottle of Febreze and her travel Purell. Hey, I don't hold this against Bert at all. I was once on a bus from Verona to Venice with a festering German couple who smelled like they ran a marathon in 1996 and still hadn't gotten around to showering. Sometimes the smells of world travel smack you in the face like a bubbling cauldron of cumin and bleu cheese and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it.

The bus finally arrives at its destination and we encounter a Road Block. One team member must use the local bicycle taxi to deliver a passenger carrying fish. Once the passenger is delivered, you must return to the start and hand over your earnings to the dispatcher. Bert, Laurence, Andy, Cathi, and Camille take off while Jennifer flounders and proves that it actually is possible to forget how to ride a bike. Meanwhile, Team Armani (Amani & Marcus) have a Speed Bump to attend to: Finish an easy peasy slide puzzle to reveal the new Malawian flag. I fell off my bed from rolling my eyes too hard as visions of Team Geritol (Bill & Cathi) having to untie a knot danced in my head. Does Phruity Phil have kids, and do they ride the short bus, because I think they're the ones coming up with these dumb ass Speed Bumps? Speed Bumps should be difficult and perhaps dangerous. Didn't those awful showgirls have to bungee jump? My god, was that this season because it seems like years ago? Anyhow, that was a decent Speed Bump. These current crackerjack box puzzles that don't even elevate one's heart rate are, what I'd like to call, "ridonkulous". A child could slide the flag into place! Or maybe not...

Out on the road amidst wayward trucks and goats, Camille covers her eyes and hopes for the best while Andy is popping wheelies and reminiscing back to when he won his fourth Tour De France. He does that cutesy little boy stoner sideways talking thing and I couldn't help but scrunch up my face and hope he'd get flattened by a runaway elephant. Speaking of elephants, Laurence thinks finding his destination is like finding a hair on an elephant's ass. I'm not exactly sure what that means because I thought elephants had unsavory little wisps all over their bodies, but I thanked Laurence for my title and chuckled to myself when his man parts got abused by a poorly made bicycle seat and the deep divots in the rocky dirt road. My chuckles were replaced with horror as Camille and Laurence made a haphazard alliance and agreed to help one another find their destinations. Here's the thing, I like Camille. With Laurence as the king of mistake making, he's the last person I want her teaming up with. She'd be much better off asking the olive in her martini which way to go instead of that nautical know-it-all.

Elsewhere on the trail, Cathi is doing her requisite "crash and burn" while Bert is very concerned why the happy children in the village aren't in school. Maybe Malawi has one of those progressive school systems where they're on for six weeks and then off for three. *shrugs shoulders* Even more concerning to Bert is why these people don't speak English, the official language of Malawi. First off, how the hell does she know that English is the official language? I swear her backpack is filled with every single copy of Frommer's or Let's Go. For the record, I once shared a room with a guy from Let's Go. They only stay in their assigned destinations for 24 hours where they hit up the local Visitor's Centers and then sit in a cafe and take notes from the brochures. You're better off planning your trips by your wits than by Let's Go. Anyhow, during her practice trips to Africa, Bert has never come across any countries quite as primitive as Malawi. *scratches head* Really? My experience with Africa is pretty much National Geographic based (and that one time America's Next Top Model went to Cape Town) and never once did I see booming towns of industry. I think Bert might be a little cranky. She's a planner and when a planner's plans don't plan out, you can plan on plan B being called "throw a hissy fit".

So while Bert was busy accosting children demanding to know where their teachers were, Andy was busy cycling the crank right off his bicycle. I let out a "Yippee!" in between sips of my gin fizzy and hoped this was the end of those Bible-quoting Snowbunnies. I figured this little setback would allow another team to pull into the lead and then U-Turn those assholes. I mean, surely that's what everyone was thinking, right? "Must U-Turn Snowbunnies. Must U-Turn Snowbunnies." Right? Surely! Unfortunately, Andy was pedal-less for only a smidge and he quickly got back on the bike trail. However, his ordeal did allow Bert to cruise into the lead and reach the Detour first.

In this Detour teams must choose between: Dug Out or Lugout. In Dug Out, teams must partake in a canoe race on Lake Malawi. In Lugout, teams must transfer a small apartment of furniture and an entire village of people on piggyback from ship to shore. Bert & Ernie quickly choose Dug Out and I giggled with excitement in anticipation of the big bad U-Turn. Man, those Snowbunnies are gonna be pissed! Haha! *waves Team Bert & Ernie flag* Speaking of those wretched Snowbunnies, Andy slides into the finish line and sprays dirt in Kelsey's eyes while shouting, "Dude, my bike fell apart!" Die.

Back at the Speed Bump, Armani is just now solving the puzzle. No offense, but Marcus & Armani have the uncanny ability of turning everything easy into something impossible. No way that puzzle should have taken that long to solve. Meanwhile, Jennifer delivers her guy to his destination only... she's forgotten her clue. Carlton held onto it for safe keeping and now Jennifer has no idea where to go. Call me crazy, but she's got to hook up with Carlton again in order to proceed in the race so WHY NOT PEDAL BACK TO HIM NOW? No, that would be silly. It's much better to just stand in the middle of rural Malawi and hope that an Amazing Racer speeds by. With a lackadaisical shrug of her shoulders, Jennifer mutters, "Hmmm interesting." Hmmm interesting?!? You're trapped with nowhere to go and a million dollars on the line and all you can say is, "Hmmm interesting"? As a panicky sort of gal who'd react with a temper tantrum, I have to wonder what pharmaceuticals Jennifer is on. Maybe Carlton slips Xanax shavings into her water bottle as she sleeps in order to get her to stop tying his shoelaces together every morning. Sisters! I don't know if Jennifer is over the race or what, but it takes her an excruciatingly long time to make the decision to finally pedal back to Carlton.

The rest of the teams are finishing up the bike challenge and everyone (except Team Armani) chooses Dug Out. Through a forest of happy monkeys, teams make their way to the canoes and discover that their asses must fit into a mere sliver of the fashioned wood. The Snowbunnies are hot on Bert & Ernie's tails and I shouted at the screen, "Use your Express Pass and U-Turn those losers! What are you waiting for?!?" My bedside bowl of glitter tipped over as I waved my arms maniacally around hither and thither. Despite their quirky idiosyncrasies and novel length to-do lists, I enjoy Bert & Ernie. They beat up a lady in Thailand and they like to party with lady boys. What's not to like? Ernie thinks they're mistakes in the race have to do with poor decision making and I'm going to say to Ernie, "Right on buddy." Decision make your asses into U-Turning those hopalong stoner freaks already!

Navigating those traditional canoes was about as easy as navigating a bathtub. Teams were tipping over, the singing on the beach (while lovely) was insanity to the nth power, and when you paddled to the right you ended up going backwards. Paddle to the left and you went in a circle. After spinning around more times than she cares to count, Bert asks Ernie if they should use the Express Pass (yes!). Ernie, the color of pea soup and clutching the side of the canoe trying not to hurl in the middle of pretty Lake Malawi, agrees and the two hastily paddle back to shore. At home I danced a little jig and whipped up a t-shirt in honor of what was about to go down. This is gonna be awesome! *evil laughter*

Bert & Ernie turn in their Express Pass and are instructed to go to the Jamaica Shop where a U-Turn awaits. *giggle giggle* Those Snowbunnies have no idea what's awaiting them! Mwahahaha! Unfortunately, getting to the Jamaica Shop proved about as effective as a Benny Hill skit. It was just Bert & Ernie running in circles while jaunty music played in the background. Meanwhile, the Snowbunnies are finishing up the paddling and heading to the Jamaica Shop too. *gasp* PLUS, those pesky old timers, with the Grammers and Team Gilligan behind them, just showed up. Run straight, Bert & Ernie, run!

Mayhem ensued as Bert & Ernie couldn't find the shop, Laurence creepily yelled at Zac, Bill & Cathi commiserated over how being married for 500 years has improved their communication, and Kelsey told a drunken Camille to "put the thing in the thing". Not now Kelsey! Wait until you get to the hotel, man. Meanwhile, Al Bundy was in the cab telling his driver about the days when he ran with a football. Shut up Marcus! "Our time is now! Get outta the way Miami Dolphins!", he yelled. Huh? Furthermore, Camille tried stirring her martini with one of her oars as a lost Ernie was throwing his hands in the air declaring, "We wasted our lead looking for this place!" Shhh Ernie. It's ok pumpkin. You'll make it up and laugh all the way to the Pit Stop when you stick it to those wretched Snowbunnies. *rubs hands together* I can't wait!

Bert & Ernie finally get some accurate directions to the Jamaica Shop just as the Snowbunnies are hurling off their life vests and headed there too. Oh, the drama! I stuck my hand in a giant bowl of glitter and grabbed a fistful while I waited patiently to see the crestfallen faces of two Olympians. Here we go... *claps hands* Bert & Ernie pull into the Jamaica Shop and say, "We choose not to U-Turn anybody!" Como what? Baking Powder? Rewind. "We choose not to U-Turn anybody!" Ernie adds, "I don't like to be mean-spirited." Rewind. "I don't like to be mean-spirited." Noooooo!!! What the... but... oh, come on! *angrily shakes glitter off hands and onto the floor* They instead rip open the next clue to the Pit Stop as I tore off my bad ass tank top and threw it in the pile with my "Big Brother Rocks!" and "I Love Evil Ernie!" t-shirts.

To add insult to injury, even the Snowbunnies decide not to use the U-Turn. They get the clue to the next Pit Stop and it's literally a foot race between Bert & Ernie and the Snowbunnies. The sun beats down on the two teams as they begin the long haul to the end. Bert & Ernie have a slight lead, but like a moped without any gas, Bert begins to sputter and come to a stop. Ernie takes her backpack for her while the Snowbunnies continue their approach. Bert is huffing and puffing, the Snowbunnies are gaining speed, Ernie is ignoring the sweat dripping into his eyes, and both teams can finally see Phil in the distance. Run, run, run... Bert's legs are getting heavier. Run, run, run... the Snowbunnies dig deep. Then, like true athletes, those blasted bunnies kick it into high gear and shoot right by Bert & Ernie. Ernie exclaims, "That's mean!" while Bert falls over dead into the sand. Team Snowbunny not only win first place... they won $15,000! *kicks sand in Bert & Ernie's faces* That's why you U-Turn people, you freaks! Do you know how many foreign language classes $15,000 buys? A lot!

Back at the Detour, Team Armani is still moving a cargo ship of villagers onto shore. With each additional person, Marcus sinks a little bit deeper in the water - all the while talking... always talking! When will he learn that he can actually save some energy if he shuts his trap once in a while? Meanwhile, seemingly out of nowhere, Team Geritol finishes in third place which is a surprise to both me and Phruity Phil. They claim their secret is communication, but I think it's a glass full of fresh baby's blood every morning. It's almost occultish the way they're slithering through this race.

Speaking of racing and devils and things, Laurence is totally stoked to use the U-Turn. That's the spirit! Here's a guy willing to do anything, but the right thing, to make it to the end. He'll sabotage people, he'll make quirky alliances, and he'll smack around his own son all in an effort to get to the end. If only he put that much effort into paying attention. You see, the Armani's have finished their Detour and decide not to use the U-Turn. They exit the Jamaica Shop just as Team Gilligan is pulling in. The two teams even acknowledge each other in passing. And who do you suppose Laurence chooses to U-Turn? Not the Grammers who are still out in the water. Not Team Fresh Prince who have yet to even arrive at the Detour. Laurence chooses to U-Turn Team Armani - the team who just finished ahead of them. Not only is Team Gilligan failing at all the water challenges, but bad luck follows them around much in the same way good luck follows around Team Geritol. Is it karma? Is it stupidity? I'm leaning towards the latter.

In the end, Team Armani finishes in fourth followed by Team Gilligan and Team Grammer. Team Fresh Prince was never able to make up time from Jennifer's daytime nap at the village and have been eliminated from the race. So, what did you guys think? Do you think Bert & Ernie should have U-Turned Team Snowbunny? Did Kelsey ever put his thing into the thing? Is Laurence's head up that elephant's ass he spoke of? Are Team Geritol part of a mystical evil order? Comment it out bitches and have a great day!