Monday, December 12, 2011

I Give A Damn

We've been whisked around the world hither and thither, to and fro, and it all ends here bitches... in Atlanta. Home to housewives, Scarlett O'Hara, zombies , and The Pollards, Atlanta, Georgia is a bustling metropolis where southern traditions hold strong and hip hop records are made every minute. Thankfully, along the way, we've learned many lessons. We've learned about religion - there's only one true God! We've learned about linguistics - those Africans can't speak English! And we've learned about maritime happenings - if you plan on circumnavigating the globe, Laurence can sail you into outer space. Our final three is unlikely and unexpected. Whether bickering, tightly wound, or bumbling over Pit Stops, this trio is a trio we never would have imagined. They're the Larry, Curly, and Moe of The Amazing Race. It's a miracle we made it out of LAX oh so long ago. Let's recap, shall we?

We continue this mad dash across the globe where we last left off: Panama. As Team Grammer (Camille/Sandy & Kelsey/Jeremy) was the first team to arrive, they are now the first team to depart. Fly your way to Atlanta, bitches, so Colette Lala can get her Sunday nights back. Camille crinkles up her nose and declares, "That sucks!" At home I scratched my head and wondered what it is that sucks exactly. Is it that the race is ending? Is it that they've just now gotten into a winning groove and want a chance to collect more prizes? No and no. It turns out that Team Grammer has never been to Atlanta while Team Armani (Marcus & Amani) are actually from there. I agree Camille... that sucks! Those Armani's will know all the byways and highways, the ins and outs, where to get the best barbecue, and which supermarkets double coupons. No fair!

Team Bert & Ernie (Cindy & Ernie) depart second and Bert is similarly horrified. She didn't force Ernie into biweekly Portuguese sword swallowing French cooking class only to end up with those Armani's having an unfair advantage sitting in their laps! With tiny little fists clenched, Bert grabs Ernie by his fauxhawk and chucks him into the back of a cab. To the airport and step on it!

Last to depart and clutching a football is Team Armani. They read the sparkling word "Atlanta" and know that this race was meant for them. They deserve to be here. They've worked so hard for this. If by "deserve", you mean "lucked into a nonelimination leg" and by "worked so hard", you mean "talked about football incessantly", then, yes, this race was meant for you. Marcus grins broadly as we learn that everything up until now were just scrimmages. Flag football in the park on a Saturday if you will. This here is the Superbowl of legs. It's the 3rd down in the 4th quarter on the 10 yard line and this party is almost out of 7 layer bean dip. I don't know what that means, but I think Marcus wants to win. Good luck.

Our three finalists tumble into Atlanta and it's mayhem trying to get a cab to Flight Safety International. Bert is having as much luck getting a driver as Danny Glover in Manhattan while Kelsey refuses to hop into a cab unless it's tank is full. Meanwhile, the Armani's spot one of their cousins and speed off into the distance. Once at Flight Safety International, teams must learn the intricacies of a flight simulator and land the aircraft without killing all 186 passengers. Camille gingerly tiptoes into the flight simulator capsule and erupts into a fit of dry heaves. Unless she's spinning around a stripper pole on a Wednesday in her pole dancing class, Camille hates anything that moves. On the other hand, Maverick, I mean Kelsey, is stoked to fly. He's saluting the instructors, requesting fly-by's, and following Viper below the hard deck. The guy's a pro and he lands his aircraft on his first try.

Unfortunately, the other teams aren't having the same kind of luck. Bert refuses to give the plane any gas and they drop right out of the sky while Marcus gets himself into a flat spin and heads out to sea. He killed Goose! Meanwhile, the Grammer's have graduated Top Gun and are now headed to the next clue: find the former residence known as "The Dump". Teams must now figure out that "The Dump" refers to Margaret Mitchell's former home where she wrote Gone With The Wind. With the grand sweeping score from the iconic film playing in my head, I tore down my curtains and made a fetching velvet jumpsuit specifically for this challenge. I may not know nothing about birthing no babies, but I do know how to make a hat out of gold tassels.

Team Grammer hops into their cab trying to figure out what the hell "The Dump" is while back at flight school Marcus has just landed his plane on a shopping mall. Hundreds dead. Do over. Bert & Ernie take off again and this time, they stick the landing. Bert hollers, "That was so whack!" and then upon seeing that the Grammer's have already left, she beats up the pavement and her cab driver. Back at the flight simulator, passengers are leaping out of an open door figuring it's better to die in a free fall than crashing head first into an elementary school. Weirdly, while her husband kept crashing plane after plane after plane, Armani sat in stony silence with eyes glazed over. It's like with all the football talk, she knows her husband is a bit of a buffoon so she keeps quiet and tolerates it. It must be love because I would have been smacking him upside the head and plotting to pop all his footballs the second we got home. This type of thing must happen to the Pollards all the time. Marcus crashing their SUV into ice cream stands, taking up 3 spaces at the Safeway because he parks horizontally, flying through the window at Taco Bell while picking up a chalupa. Par for the course.

While the race might be over for Armani and her crash test dummy, it couldn't be going better for the Grammer's... or can it? On the streets of Hotlanta, they pull over to ask a local how to get to "The Dump". How could they have known they'd meet Stanley? That's what I've named this ne'er-do-well. Stanley the handy man. So, Stanley is sitting in his Ford Explorer making a list of 2X4's and wrenches and whatnot for that kitchen remodel he has on the books for next week when up approaches Camille. "Do you know where 'The Dump' is?", she asks. Stanley knows exactly where "The Dump" is! It's up the road apiece where the old Home Depot used to be. When Stanley's Fix-It was just a fledgling company building decks and gazebos and fixing the odd banister here and there, he used to live at that Home Depot. They tore it down though - back in '96. Now Stanley has to drive an extra 15 miles for all his nuts and bolts. Anyhoo, after they tore down the "Depot" (that's what insiders like Stanley call it), they put up "The Dump" in it's place. Camille thanks Stanley and calms her nervous hands with a gin martini and a handful of Prilosec. Her stomach acids are having a rave in her tummy right now and homegirl can't find the Rolaids she keeps in her bra.

Conversely, Bert & Ernie did not run into Stanley and that made all the difference. They get the correct directions to the Margaret Mitchell house and sit in the back of their cab musing over how much it would suck to lose to the C students they're racing with. *bites fist* It's a comment that pissed off a lot of people over on Facebook, but I just sort of laughed. I mean, look at who we're talking about here. Bert & Ernie took classes for this! They dumped their savings into Rosetta Stone's and practice trips. On those Thursday nights when Ernie wanted to watch Project Runway and bake red velvet cupcakes, Bert was dragging him around Chicago to trapeze class and that weird horrible smelling cheese making workshop. If I put in a third of the effort those two did, I'd be pissed off at losing too. How could you ever face your friends again if you lost to Team Armani?

Our dark horses in this race who've neither been stellar nor weak, but have remained steady throughout are just now arriving at "The Dump". There may not be a clue box anywhere, but there is a "Free ottoman with every sofa" sale going on. I mean, come on... what are the chances?!? The Dump and The Dump. Stanley, my man, you better run and hide because if the Grammer's don't put out a hit on you, I will. Watching Kelsey and Camille go up and down aisle after aisle mistaking red and yellow curtain samples for clues was just so sad. Stan-ley! Ughhh. After getting an estimate on a bedroom set, it finally dawns on Kelsey that maybe they're in the wrong place. I don't blame them at all for lurking and searching armoires for clues because, again, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!?

Bert & Ernie pull up to the proper "Dump" and it's a Road Block: Who gives a damn? Working with an old fashioned typewriter, teams have to type out their next clue and figure out that the number "1" is missing. In place of the number "1", they must use a lower case "L". Since Ernie has also made clothes out of velvet curtains (jodphurs and chapeaus), he'll do the challenge. The second he opens up the clue and sees that it entails typing, Bert starts kicking him in the shins. She came out of the womb typing! She can type 8 trillion words a minute while Ernie types with his pointer fingers and stabs the keys one by one. Ernie shrugs his shoulders and enters the Mitchell apartment prepared to tackle the challenge while Bert waits outside and beats her head against the pillars repeatedly.

Ernie takes a piece of paper and searches the room for the Epson. "Uh, is there an instruction manual somewhere?" No Ernie, there is not. With carousel carnival music playing in the background, Ernie pokes at the keys and giggles while back at the flight simulator there's a plane full of passengers aflame. And while Ernie searches the desk drawers for White-Out, Team Grammer is finally leaving "The Dump" and commandeering a Smart Phone. They quickly figure out that The Dump they're in isn't the right Dump. Luckily, their cab driver knows exactly where the Margaret Mitchell house is - too bad he didn't know it was called "The Dump"!

Inside "The Dump", Ernie has now reached the number "1". He searches the keys and finds nothing. He looks under the table and on the windowsill, but there is no number "1" to be found. He starts pushing the letter "I" and hoping for the best. Again, nothin'. Finally, he decides to check the type face key things to see which one looks the most like a "1". He quickly spots the lower case "L" and passes the challenge. Teams must now figure out that the numbers on the clue have something to do with Hank Aaron and will direct them to the outfield wall at Turner Field.

Bert steals her cab driver's phone and I don't know who she's talking to, but she asking someone on the other end what the numbers mean. Did she call a relative? Phone a friend? I wonder... Ernie decides they should go the nearest hotel and ask someone to use their Google. I realize it's a technological world we live in, but let's imagine for one minute what this race would be like without phones or the internet... awesome, right? So much better! Maybe consider that for the next time Bertram Van Muenster Cheese. Just a thought.

So Team Grammer arrives at "The Dump" and Camille gets to typing. She too looks around the room for the missing "1". My favorite part was when she turned to Colonel Sanders, the guy standing there, and says, "There's no number one." We don't get to see Colonel Sanders reaction because we're whisked back to the fiery wreckage at the flight school. Amongst the burning embers, the flames shooting up into the sky, and the thick smoke filling the tiny capsule, Marcus finally lands his plane and blames his kerfluffle on dropping a pass in the end zone. *smacks self in head*

At the hotel, Bert & Ernie have googled their way to an answer and head to Turner Field. Camille figures out the lower case "L" thing, but I think we all kind of know that it's no contest at this point. Stanley screwed Team Grammer and now Bert & Ernie are at the final challenge all alone. One team member must get rigged to a giant map while the other team member shouts instructions to them mapping out their entire trip around the world. Bert knows the order (of course she does!) so she'll do the challenge while Ernie sits down and files his nails. He occasionally shouts, "You got it!" or "Good job!", but this challenge is all Bert. She scales the wall like SpiderMan or a girl who's been taking map climbing classes and in what I can only assume is record time, she passes with flying colors.

It's off to the Pit Stop at the historic Swan House where two rows of familiar faces are standing and clapping. You know in their heads they're all thinking, "That should have been me!", but it was nice to see them faking it I guess. Trick editing aside, this was no close finish. Stanley saw to that. So with no one on their heels and, let's face it, no one else even close to Turner Field, Bert & Ernie make the victory lap into one million dollars. Phruity Phil embraces the winners and asks them what they're going to do with the money. It was a weird moment when Bert delivered a prepared speech about global market conglomerates and the economies of developing countries. Honestly, she probably should have just said, "We're going to Disney World!' Everyone loves Disney World. On Live With Kelly! this morning she said they're going to help fat kids or something like that. Uh, ok, I guess. Seriously though, get a kick ass apartment, have a beautiful wedding, and get some new velvet curtains for Ernie to cut up.

And that's that. That concludes season 19 of The Amazing Race. A big congratulations to the winners and a super special thank you to Cindy Chiang, Ernie Halvorsen, Sandy Draghi, and Jeremy Cline for reading my cockamamie drivel every week. They're all good sports and didn't mind me picking on them for the past few months. Sandy says she'll even let me buy her a martini. Gee, thanks Sandy. ;-) Call me when you want to go Stanley-hunting. I'm so there.

So, what did you guys think? Are you happy with the outcome? Who did you want to win? How much do you hate Stanley right about now? Comment it out bitches and have a great day! If you've enjoyed what I've done this season, I ask that you please click on my PayPal button and show a girl some love. Thank you so much to everyone for reading and I'll see you back here for The Amazing Race 20. Yup, I'll be back. Brendon and Rachel... come on! How can I just ignore that? A bitch's work is never done.