September 22, 1998
This week: Chock Full O' Nuts!
Okay, my little chickadees, we all know that Miss Irene is sick with Lyme disease. So, it seems that the producers of "Real World" want to make their viewers queasy as well. Never have I witnessed 27 minutes so crammed with outbursts, hissy fits, and generally inexplicable behavior. I started to think that Pier 70's water supply was doctored with goofy dust. Imagine, mes amis, not one moment of rationality! And, it wasn't even fun; it was just icky.
Irene is searching for down time. She feels like she has to be "on" all the time, and that her roommates are "good people", but not people in whom she can confide her problems. She recognizes that everyone, in the merciless glare of the MTV cameras, has to protect herself. Of course, Janet and Rebecca are willing to be Irene's confidants, and are hurt by Irene's emotional distance. Lindsay calls Irene "irrational" and then backpedals; Janet tells Irene not to get defensive. "We feel you pushing us away," she claims. None of this brings Irene, who is like a trembling, skittish fawn, any closer.
Spring is busting out all over Seattle, dears. Just witness the wily robin, the magnolias in bloom, the hormonal tiffs. Stephen's chatting on the phone, and Irene commands him to make way for her video-call to her family in New York. Impatiently, she tells him that she doesn't give a bleep about him. Stephen, as is his wont, is offended. It's Easter, for heaven's sake! And she's a Catholic! And she's being mean! Thus sets in motion an argument guaranteed to make your palms itch with discomfort and befuddlement. Stephen tells us, "If you're sick, and you want sympathy, you need to have sympathy for other people." He also tells us his own sob story about how none of his family or friends will visit him. He tells Irene to "kiss my ass, bitch." Always the diplomat, aren't you sonny?
So, Real World tradition dictates that the boys and girls now have to confer separately. Stephen claims that he's been "a considerate little dude" about Irene's "nerve problem" (maybe Irene should take Mrs. Eastman's Female Nerve Tonic! Available from apothecaries everywhere!), and he doesn't appreciate Irene's treatment of him. Irene cries and giggles angrily about Stephen's use of language to her. Nobody makes much sense.
Irene tries to engage Stephen in a round table discussion about hurt feelings, but he's utterly unresponsive. He "doesn't play childish games" (such as deep emotional discussions) with "bitches" (such as Irene). Irene attempts to elaborate, but Stephen doesn't care; he doesn't want stress in his life, and she's stressing him out. He even makes sure she understands by spelling stress. "S-T-R-E-S-S!" he bellows. Neither one even attempts a sincere apology for their pissy behavior- the only possible remedy. They just push each other's buttons instead. Irene brings into the argument a measure of media awareness previously unseen on this program. She points out that Stephen's stubbornness will make him look like a chump, and that the cameras haven't been able to figure her out.
The roommates all blame Irene's Lyme disease and her medication for the tension in the house, for their impatience, for Irene's sudden displays of emotion. Janet, Lindsay, Dave, and Nathan all sit in a dark booth and discuss Irene's alarming transformation. It's clear that they have lost all patience with her.
As soon as Irene gets home from her first session of relaxation therapy, she tells her roommates that she's leaving the house as of tomorrow. That's some fast-acting medicine, kids! Almost quicker than Mrs Eastman's Female Nerve Tonic. She has big plans- San Francisco, Los Angeles, summer school abroad, but her excitement rings somewhat hollow. Everyone else just stares at her; it's clear that this is Irene's escape, and the other housemates are too confused to care. Lindsay initally thought she was being sarcastic. Stephen takes this opportunity to reiterate that Irene is full of coo-coo ca-ca and to call her more mean names. Even after learning that she only has one more day in the house, he will not relent.
Dave tells us that he thinks Irene's "good people, solid people", and that he tries to remember what she was like before the relapse. Besides him, Rebecca is the only RW kid who doesn't hate her guts. Even Janet is exasperated by the farewell breakfast, feels that it was a "big production". Indeed, Irene stands up and makes a rather bizarre and tearful speech about how she doesn't believe in this project, how art shouldn't have to hurt. She, loopy as a lemur, apologizes for not comunicating and thanks them for their ineffectual efforts. Stephen says that she's crazy, and Irene disagrees, then exclaims, "And that's why I'm so happy!" It doesn't help matters that she's bawling as she says this. You're not exactly making it easy for your roomies to digest their French toast, girlie! Irene has officially had a nervous breakdown.
The goodbyes are bland; no one seems to be reacting much at her departure. I get the feeling that everyone just wants peace. Irene tells Stephen to meet her outside one last time. She explains that she's given everybody a little gift, and she wants to leave him with something, too. Then, in an explosive denoument, Irene tells Stephen that he's gay and he should just face it. This little present doesn't exactly lead to a cuddly resolution, dearies. Stephen, in his rage, throws Irene's beloved toy dog in the water and even chases down Irene and slaps her in the kisser. She giggles in that charmingly insane manner of hers.
You know what I think, folks? I think that since Irene has left a vacancy in Pier 70, they should replace her with someone new. Just think of some poor soul entering that Bedlam for the first time. It would be like throwing a puny martyr to the starving lions! Ha Ha! So you see, my friends, Mrs Filthy can be cruel.
Number of times Dave appears shirtless: Zero.
The most annoying character? I have to go with Stephen this time, gang. Who knew that he had such a potty mouth? This guy does not know how to let go, either.
Next time: One down. How many more to go?
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights reserved.