August 29, 2000
You know that when the mailman brings A Very Special Package to the Real World cast, that it's that time of year again; the housemates get to leave the drudgery of their New Orleans life behind and go on vacation. This season, the kids aren't allowed to pick their own destination (after all, consider what happened last time!), but judging from all the hugging and hand-slapping, they seem thrilled enough to learn that they'll be trekking in South Africa in two shakes of a springbok's tail.
Well, actually my dears, not everyone is happy about the destination. Someone in the household would rather visit the local mall instead. After all, Melissa has already seen lots of animals at the zoo, and she doesn't relish the thought of sweating or having to swat mosquitoes. Even her self-proclaimed "Nature Sensei," Jamie, is unable to convince her that she's headed for a good time.
Even the people who do want to go on the trip are a wee bit tentative about spending all that time with their roomies . Julie goes culinary on David's ass, and asserts, "The true quality of the oil is shown when the olive is pressed. We could all be pressed on this trip." But, David only stares at his reflection in the mirror and murmurs, "I can see myself growing." This young man really does say some mighty strange things, mes amis.
They arrive in South Africa, and Chris the tour guide meets them at the airport. We get a little bit of a artsy-foreign film feel as his speech is translated via subtitles for us. Tres exotique! Right away, the kids get to ooh and aah at the poverty-stricken citizens of a ghetto, and then at some antelope and zebra, before crashing at a "pretty dapper" hotel. So far, so good!
But that's not all. Just so that no one can accuse Bunim/Murray of being superficial (Bunim/Murray? Mais non!), the kids view the firsthand effects of apartheid in District 6, which was razed to the ground, rendering thousands of inhabitants homeless. "It's almost like Harlem," David quips. We also learn about "the pencil test," in which inhabitants of District 6 were told to put a pencil in their hair to determine whether they were black, white or colored. I just stuck a pencil in my hair to see which category I belong to, mes fleurs, but all the Aqua Net I use has confounded the results. I don't know if I'll ever get the pencil out of my 'do now!
After their obligatory serious history lesson, the kids are then encouraged to jump off a cliff. Oh, I know I've been encouraging the youngsters to jump off a cliff for a long time, but they seem to listen better to tour guides with all sorts of ropes and other equipment. Melissa almost balks, but seems to feel better once she's asked the guides some important questions such as, "Has anybody ever vomited on here?" And, even then, she cannot miss a single opportunity for gasping, shrieking or other assorted attention-getting maneuvers. The others descend the cliff with varying degrees of pleasure or concentration. Julie whoops. David mutters, "What's my name?" repeatedly (My heavens! I almost expected him to say, "Who's your daddy?") Danny is the sole exception. Even with his trusty security-blanket grey sweater on, he just cannot overcome his fear of heights.
By the time the kids go on safari, Melissa has been softened up enough to admit that the adventure hasn't been a total loss. Whether it's the heat, or her new triumph over the cliff that did it, her roommates are grateful. The relative lack of whining frees them to enjoy the sight of various animals indulging in hanky-panky. Melissa even concedes that she's never seen that in the zoo! She doesn't even mind the odor of bug spray or the flat soda, she's actually noticing the world around her and enjoying herself. That she can do this comes as a revelation to her.
The only fly in Melissa's ointment, or mosquito in her netting, is the fact that David remains as unreachable as ever. Earlier in the episode, David had audibly resented, with countless "Whatevers," Julie and Matt's attempts to fix a flat tire themselves, instead of waiting for the vehicle to be towed. Kelley and Danny had also complained about David's impenetrable façade. And, now that Melissa wants to share her Very Special Experience in South Africa with the only non-white housemate, he doesn't seem interested in talking to her, either. David would rather chat with complete strangers than his housemates. While alarming to the Real Worlders, I can't say that I don't understand the impulse. Is it David's own version of apartheid, or just common sense? Bien sur, there must be a confrontation, and that, my sweets, we'll see next week.
Does anyone know any good remedies for getting a pencil out of one's hair? I just don't know what the ladies at the fabric store will say to me tomorrow!
Did You Know? Melissa and Gary Coleman, the new power couple? Our little miss caught the eye of Mr. Coleman on the set of "The Jamie Foxx Show." Unfortunately, she turned him down.
Who's Shirtless: They're young, they're in a foreign country, they all keep their clothes on.
Who Cries: Overcome with emotion after visiting District 6, David weeps into the plush upholstery of the bus seat in front of him.
Most Annoying: Hmm, David's self-imposed exile or Melissa's pouting route to self-discovery? Judging by sheer volume, Melissa receives the prize this week.
Best Quote: Oh, but dearies, there are so many to choose from this week. Melissa sums up her excitement about the trip by saying, "Lions, mosquitos, zebras and the aftermath of apartheid- woo hoo!" What, she would rather have visited during apartheid?
Next Week: David feels like crap!