Riding Coattails: Sleeping With Big Brother

Normally, I try to buck the trends. I am the last woman under the age of 40 living in Manhattan who refuses roll up her jeans in 6-inch increments. I eat carbs. Back in the mid-90’s, I eschewed the miniature backpack movement. The only blackberries I come into contact with are juicy and edible. Which is why I feel like a total tool for subjecting Inside Pulse to yet another column about Big Brother, but trust me, o faithful readers, this one is different from the others. Not better, but different. I am not a snob, but merely a salmon in a river of trout, swimming upstream in search of … Oh, just forget it and listen to what I have to say.

Since this is the first season of Big Brother that I’ve been able to watch on a consistent basis, I’ve come to the conclusion that anyone who would sign up to play this silly little game is either deeply unhappy with his or her real life outside the house or studied too much in college and didn’t experiences those lounge-y revelatory 3:00 AM bedroom chats that typically led to tears, sex, more bong hits, or the inhalation of mass quantities of pizza (or perhaps all four). Since the house guests are back on PB&J this week and have only the flavorful smoke of Parliament Lights and Kaysar’s hookah to fill their lungs, the parallel college atmosphere is somewhat dampened. So what is keeping them from walking right out the door and into Julie Chen’s toned, body-glittered arms?

I guess there’s the small matter of that big fat cash prize, but any one of those folks is capable enough of hooking up with some fabulously wealthy 97-year-old a la Anna Nicole Smith. I don’t believe anyone who says that they go on a reality TV show purely for the cash. There are far easier ways of making that kind of dough, and since Paris Squared will probably break up before this column goes to press, the speediest mercenaries will be able to prostitute themselves to someone with taut ass and narrow hips (unless they’re into the whole Harold and Maude thing, of course).

These people haven’t locked themselves away for the money. They’re exhibitionists of the first order and know that fools like me are willing to spend three hours a week watching them participate in spelling bees, slap each other’s asses, and fight over ice cream. The relationship between viewer and house guest is dysfunctional at best, but healthy, mature human interaction rarely spawns a good story. So here we are: you, me, and the dirty dozen that remain in that messed up compound somewhere in suburban L.A.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a stab at guessing who the secret pairs were and managed to score one point out of seven (Michael and Kaysar were the duo I got right)! Yay me! I don’t know why I even bother wasting my time with things like that; all I can say is that my brain was fried from a particularly grueling week at work. So I’m back to my forte, which is observing personal interactions.

I have to start with Janelle, my fellow Minnesota native. Although she’s a bit of a snob (what with her disdain for Ivette’s homemade Slip N’ Slide), every time I hear her round her o’s in that very Midwestern way, I like her a little more. This surprises me, since I have not typically been a fan of ghosts of Janelles past. If she and I had been high school classmates, she probably would have made fun of me for not ratting my bangs as high as hers (another trend I skipped). Likewise, I almost certainly would have wryly complimented her on how perfectly her twelve pounds of eyeshadow matched her earrings, belt, and socks, but let’s put that aside for now. The girl is bright and calculating. I’m sure that in her experience as a cocktail waitress (an occupation I enjoyed for a summer), she’s developed a keen ability to read people quickly. Pair that with a winning smile and generally gregarious nature and you’ve got yourself a red-hot threat. People are right to be wary of her.

I still don’t get Ivette. She has a lot of passion and energy, but I’m not sure what’s driving it. I respected her bravery to come out to April and was intrigued by April’s response (something about how God knew she was meant to learn Ivette’s big secret). As to why Ivette is choosing to keep her sexuality under lock and key, I couldn’t say. Her partner Beau has certainly made no secret of his preference for boys, but that would have been fairly difficult to hide, even if he hadn’t brought his rainbow feather boa.

The loose cannons of the house are definitely Howie and Eric. I’m surprised that they haven’t butted heads yet, but I imagine that they will at some point in the future. Although Eric appears to have a bit more depth and wisdom to him, he’s just as much of an alpha male as Howie. And if Howie doesn’t get laid ASAP (with Rachel, Janelle, Maggie, whoever), I fear he’ll implode and spiral down some peanut butter-coated hole that leads to the Earth’s fiery core. Kind of like what happened to Veruca Salt.

It was a po’ idea for James and Sarah to flat-out deny their preexisting relationship to Kaysar and ultimately led to James’s nomination this week. Sooner or later, their romance will be exposed and everyone will think they suck for lying. Plus, if they just admitted it, they couldn’t do it on that cool round lounge chair in the backyard, then finish up in the Jacuzzi, and everyone would totally leave them alone. Well, maybe Howie would ask to watch or join in, but Eric would probably lock him in the Gold Room until Sarah and James were done.

Aside from Jennifer’s mysterious moment hogging the bathroom in the HoH suite, I haven’t seen or heard much from her. Same with Maggie, although her ties to Eric make her a bit more visible. Both women seem very normal and nonthreatening, although Kaysar’s nomination of Maggie this week will change the other players’ opinions of her.

As for the man of the hour, I like Kaysar a lot. He’s pensive and intelligent, as well as something of a hottie. Although the producers’ choice to add a native Iraqi to the cast was undoubtedly to give the message, “Hey, Iraqis, they’re just like us!”, I see him not as a representative of a country and culture but as a shrewd player who stands a good chance of making it to the end. I respect his game and hope he continues to pull ahead. That is, if Janelle doesn’t crush him with her stilettos.