Unstapled, Episode 4: Gimme Sympathy.

By | February 8, 2010

“This week, on a Very Special Unstapled….” Trigger Warning: This week’s recap touches on both alcoholism and WLS.

Last week: Carnie is a giant fatass (though she says it like it’s a bad thing). Dallas tore through Carnie’s pantry. Carnie went back to work at The Newlywed Game. There was farting.

We begin this week’s episode with Carnie confessioning that she woke up this morning feeling as though her whole world was “wrong”. And if that weren’t bad enough, Dallas is here, and he’s wearing a shirt with the sleeves still attached. OH MY GOD now I feel as though MY whole world is wrong. Dallas, sleeves? Why?

They head out to the back deck with their yoga mats and begin the pre-workout stretching. Dallas asks Carnie if she’s been doing the workout without him. She says no. In fairness, in my experience, doing that kind of choreographed workout by oneself is boring at best. This makes it an exercise form very unlike, say, putting Lady Gaga on as loud as your neighbors can stand and free-form dancing around your living room in your underwear, which is a workout best done alone. Not that I would know. But following choreography without a leader can be frustrating and seriously unfun. (Here, I almost made a joke employing the word “CHORE-eography” but I have refrained. Be grateful.) At least with a DVD or something there’s a pretend-person there with you, shouting encouragement with a deranged smile.

Carnie says she hasn’t been doing the workout because she hasn’t got the time, which may in fact be true, but I maintain that if you’re doing a workout that you enjoy then you tend to make the time, just like we often make the time to do the things we really want to do, and the things that are most important to us. Dallas has picked up on Carnie’s propensity for complaining during exercise, and explains in confession that as soon as they began, Carnie was in fulll-on whine mode. “The first move we did, she started complaining immediately,” says Dallas. “I had her in down dog, a simple down dog.” That’s downward-facing dog to those of us who don’t say it frequently enough to require an abbreviation. As Dallas pushes Carnie into position and she groans, he tells her, “That doesn’t hurt you,” and she says, emphatically, “Yes, yes it does!” He calls her a liar, and Carnie gets angry and asks why she’d say it hurts if it doesn’t. And damn it, Carnie is right — her trainer shouldn’t be telling her if something hurts or not; he should be supporting her and trying to work with her to find a routine that she is happy with and wants to do, not working against her by forcing her into positions that are painful and expecting she simply ignore her dislike for her workout and do it anyway. You don’t get disgusted and disbelieving when someone says they’re in pain; you say, okay, let’s try something that doesn’t hurt you. Because exercise, contrary to popular belief, can actually make you feel good, really really good! But only if you’re doing something that works for you, and what works for you may be very different from what works for other people, and it’s just possible that nobody else will be able to tell you where you’ll find that exercise holy grail.

But what do I know? I’m not a former professional wrestler.

Dallas then says he doesn’t even want to finish the workout. Carnie’s all, “But we just started!” Dallas proceeds to make this all about him and his hurt feelings, guilt-tripping Carnie into just swallowing any pain she feels, or, as he puts it, “You have to breathe through that uncomfortable [bleep], and do the [bleeping] workout, or not!” Carnie says, “You’re being a little bit hard on me today,” to which Dallas sighs dramatically and rolls his eyes. Do they teach this kind of emotional manipulation in physical-trainer school, or is it something you pick up on the job? I have to side with Carnie on this one; I’d be wary of any trainer whose primary interest isn’t making sure you’re comfortable with every movement, as that personal trainer is going to drive a person further away from exercise, not closer to it. Guilt and shame may work to an extent as motivational factors, but they’ll never work as well as helping someone find their individual drive and desire to do the thing in question. Having said that, drive and desire come from within and don’t require a personal trainer on the payroll to maintain, but guilt and shame do.

Dallas’ hurted feewings aside, they move on. He keeps asking Carnie, with thinly-veiled sarcasm, whether this hurts, or that, it seems every few seconds. Finally Carnie says, “You’re making me [bleeping] crazy right now! Who [bleeping] cares, let’s just do it!” Dallas laughs at her. Laughs. At her. Carnie’s not laughing. Here’s an idea: trust the client to tell you when something is painful. Clearly Carnie has no problems whatsoever with expressing her discomfort. Let her tell you when something isn’t working. Bleeping hell.

Carnie then tells Dallas pretty much what I just said above: “You know me, if it hurts too much, I won’t do it.”

After her workout, Carnie’s late to meet Rob and Lola for lunch at some sandwich shop. Rob is frustrated and feels like they’re “low on her list of priorities” when she’s late like this. After a series of comments to his young daughter about how annoying it is that mommy’s always late, he gets sick of waiting, orders food for himself and Lola, and they start eating. Carnie’s on her way, apparently being driven to the counter-service sandwich shop by a car service, like she’s Edina bleeping Monsoon. She arrives, apologetic, and Rob is in full-on passive-aggressive snit mode. He doesn’t want to fight in front of Lola so he suggests they leave. Carnie confessions that it’s clear Rob is feeling resentful but he’s not expressing it to her. No shit, sherlock.

Carnie’s off to see DanielBrian at the salon. She confessions: “I don’t drink anymore, I can’t overeat, I have all these boundaries in my life and really the only place where I don’t feel those boundaries is at the salon with the bubbies.” She alerts 50% of DanielBrian to a patch of grey hair, and he’s on her with a coloring brush before we can blink. Carnie asks DanielBrian if he and DanielBrian would be willing to come to The Newlywed Game this week, as they’re having their first same-sex couple. Of course, because all gay couples are automatically interested in every other gay couple in the world, just like straight couples! Oh wait. Carnie identifies the gay in question as “the guy from Star Trek.” (link) DanielBrian says, “Who knew that he was gay?… Spock looks like the one that would be gay.” LOL.

Carnie’s back in the car, now being ferried to the studio to do a promo interview for the gay-happy Newlywed Game episode in question. As she’s prepped to go on camera, she makes mention of a “tiny penis microphone” which, okay, is funny. They’re both via satellite to some morning show, George Takei from New York, and Carnie from LA. They do their little morning-show dance, and again it’s impressive how tear-the-roof-off-the-sucker vivacious Carnie is in front of the camera. George Takei, of course, just talks in that amazing voice of his and I’m rapt.

Commercial. Oh, it’s the talking frosted mini-wheats. I seriously can’t eat that cereal anymore because the animated wheats in the commercial are so unbearably cutesy.

And we’re back. “Here we go for a pressure-packed day on The Newlywed Game,” says Carnie in confession. It’s Gay Day! Carnie confessions further: “I love gay men.” So much that she collected two of them! Oh, but I kid. Carnie and George meet in the hall at the studio, where George says something lovely about Carnie’s charm, and Carnie informs George that with his voice, he could say, “[Bleep, bleep, bleeper, bleepybleeping, bleeperbleeper, bleeped, bleep bleep bleep] and it would sound great.” It’s sort of a compliment.

Elsewhere Dee Dee and Carnie’s Mom are taking Lola out for a snack. Dee Dee confessions that they talked with Carnie about her desires to cut back on Lola’s sugar intake… and evidently they decided that respecting Carnie’s parenting decisions was a dumb idea, because they’re taking her to a frozen yogurt joint and loading her up on candy toppings. Carnie’s Mom says: “I want her to remember me as grandma giving her fun things, not just with a piece of celery or a carrot.” Huh. True story: as a child I was never big into candy. Even Halloween candy failed to hold my interest after the first day. But give me some celery or a carrot or a piece of green sweet pepper and I was yours til the rattle. It’s just possible that kids crave sugar and consider it “fun” because we give them so much freaking sugar. Dee Dee confessions that when Lola’s with her and her sister, “it’s kind of like our job to break the rules.” Great. Dee Dee and Carnie’s mom coach Lola in how she should lie to her mother about what they ate. I wish I was making this up, y’all, but sadly I am not. It’s seriously bleeped up. And then, as Lola is finishing off her candy pile, we get a shot of Dee Dee and Carnie’s mom looking at the kid all wide-eyed, like, OHNOES, WE GAVE HER SUGAR. They realize Lola will soon be bouncing off the walls. Carnie’s Mom says, “We’re in trouble!”

Dudes, I cannot fathom that there are people in the world this stupid — O FUN LET’S GIVE THE CHILD SUGAR… UH OH WE GAVE THE CHILD SUGAR! — so I am going to blissfully assume this is creative editing or something.

Back at The Newlywed Game, Carnie’s feeling amped. Also on this “celebrity” show, though not gay-coupled, are Peter Brady and his wife, and two random people from The Biggest Loser, of whom Carnie says, “God bless, I’ve been in their shoes.” The questions are rolling, and everyone’s laughing and having a grand old time. There’s a short shot of DanielBrian afterwards talking about how difficult the questions were: “We’ve been together 18 years, and I couldn’t answer some of them.” Eighteen years! My hat is off to you, DanielBrian! As an aside, I’d actually been feeling slightly guilty about calling them DanielBrian lately, as surely I should be able tell them apart by episode four, but then I see this shot and feel completely justified, as they really do look like twins. I have no idea who is who. Maybe if I could put an asterisk in Sharpie on one of their foreheads, but without that kind of help, DanielBrian it is and DanielBrian it’s going to stay.

On the show, George and his partner win, so yay for the gays!

Later, we’re back at Casa Carnie, which this week I learned used to belong to Tom Petty, and that Dave Grohl and the singer from Korn are neighbors. In this article, Rob also mentions seeing Mr. T shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond, and okay, so there may be SOME benefits to living in a house with a wall around it.

Carnie’s in the kitchen when Lola and Dee Dee and Carnie’s mom get back. Lola rips through the house like a tornado. Carnie asks where they went, and Lola, being a child psychotically high on sugar, immediately says, “Ice cream shop!” Dee Dee asks her to clarify what she really ate, I’m assuming by this she means the lie they’ve instructed Lola to deliver, but Lola, out of her mind on glucose, says “Candy!” Awesome. Then Carnie’s mom actually confessions, “Lola blew it.” Seriously. Are you fucking kidding me? It’s the child’s responsibility to lie more than it is your responsibility to make appropriate choices for her? Carnie confessions that her mom raised her and her sister “basically alone” and that she appreciates that, but seriously Mom. What were you thinking? Carnie’s mad, and understandably so. She confessions: “I want her to enjoy her time with grandma, I want her to have fun and have great memories, but they don’t all have to be centered around sugar.” I am actually with you, Carnie. Damn, alert the media!

Commericial. Wow, like three credit-counseling services in a row. I guess they know their demographic.

Carnie’s going over to DanielBrian’s place, which, merciful heavens, where the bleep do these guys live? It looks like a hotel lobby. It’s mammoth. There is a giant aquarium and enough sofas to seat fifty people. Carnie sits on one of the many couches with DanielBrian and before long starts crying. She misses Rob. DanielBrian is supportive and kind here, telling her she’s going through a rough patch, and is very sensitive, and finally Carnie sobs, “I really miss having a drink, bubbie.” And this is heartbreaking, unqualified. For those who aren’t familiar with the basics, following her gastric bypass surgery, Carnie became an alcoholic, and eventually went into rehab, motivated by her desire to start a family with Rob, and not wanting to do it as a drunk. What’s worth noting here is that there is a demonstrated connection between weight loss surgery and alcoholism. I’m not going to post links here because of the trigger factor, but if you’re up to it you can run a google search and get a plethora of links, many even from pro-WLS sites, warning against the increased risk of alcoholism post-surgery. There isn’t a clear answer as to why this is the case. Some argue that’s simply an “addiction transfer” from food to alcohol; some say that the surgically-altered digestive tract means alcohol affects you much more powerfully, almost on a level with so-called hard drugs; and some who’ve had the experience think that there is something as-yet undiscovered about the surgery that creates a craving for alcohol where one may have never existed before. There are loads of incredibly depressing personal stories posted online from people who claim to have never been drinkers in their whole lives, until after WLS, at which point they suddenly and inexplicably began to crave alcohol like nobody’s business.

I’m not going to get into this any deeper other than to acknowledge that this is yet another example of a potentially life-ruining side effect of weight-loss surgery that nobody talks about in our haste to cut up fat people’s bodies and try to make them thin. I am inclined to think that fifty years from now, we will look at weight-loss surgery in the same way we look at lobotomies today: with shock and horror, and wonder at how anyone could think that kind of destruction would repair a damn thing. (Apologies to my beloved friends who’ve had WLS, but my feeling on this is likely not a surprise to any of you, and is not a reflection of how I feel about you as an individual, nor a judgment on the very personal decision you made, but simply my thoughts on the procedure itself.)

Carnie cries, “I just want to have a glass of wine, and just escape… just escape.” Poor Carnie, man. She doesn’t feel like she can talk to Rob. DanielBrian tells her she needs to express all this to Rob and tell him she needs his support. He’s right, and it’s a good friend who’ll sit with you and sympathize while you cry and stress. Carnie pulls it together. DanielBrian says: “You’ve got a lot on your plate right now,” and Carnie responds, “And I wish it was enchiladas and donuts and chocolate… I’d eat the whole [bleeping] thing!”

Back at the house, Carnie is sitting on the sofa, looking at a picture of herself and her mom “when we were doing Hollywood Squares.” Rob comes in and she shows him the picture, saying, “Isn’t that pretty?” Rob nods. Carnie says, “I think I want to go back blonde.” Rob says he’s told her a million times that he hated her blonde hair. Carnie is says, “I feel like you were hornier when I had blonde hair,” but he doesn’t seem to hear it, or want to, as he keeps cutting her off mid-sentence. He says he prefers her hair brunette, or more natural. Typical guy. A note, to the single ladies in search of straight guys to date: straight dudes NEVER, EVER look at a girl and think, wow, she has beautiful hair! They will only notice when they DISLIKE your hair. Rob says that Carnie doesn’t listen to him.

Rob describes them as ghosts passing in the house, and Carnie beckons him to join her on the couch, which he does, stiffly (not THAT kind of stiffly). She asks Rob if he thinks it’s normal for people to not have as much sex after they have kids, and Rob says sure, it’s normal. Peaks and valleys. Carnie wants to see a sex therapist. Rob reluctantly says okay, though he thinks it’s a judgement on his “character”.

Commercial. Blah.

OH, they’re going to a sex therapist right NOW. Surprise! The sexy lady asks what they want to work on. Carnie feels unattractive to Rob, and, in fact, believes she is “physically revolting” to him. The sexy lady says “those are strong words!” and Carnie agrees that they are. Carnie has a tremendous amount of anxiety around sex, and man, that’s a hot turn-on. Rob says it’s exhausting to have to affirm Carnie all the time, particularly when he needs some afffirming too. The sexy lady asks them to imagine the “perfect sex life”. Carnie says Rob never comes on to him, and Rob says WHOA, no, I’m the only one who initiates sex! Carnie says they’ve “fizzled” and she feels “lost”. When asked what would happen if things don’t change, Carnie says she doesn’t like to think about that, and Rob picks right up on it: “What you’re saying is, if things don’t change, this is the end of our relationship.” Carnie’s all, well, I dunno, hey look there’s a vagina pillow over there. Hmm.

The sexy lady confessions in some zen-garden looking space that though Carnie SAYS she’s upset about the lack of sex, it’s about more than that, and feeling desired and loved, et cetera et cetera. Duh. Carnie just wants to meet halfway. As stubborn as these two are, I am not confident that this will happen anytime soon.

Next week: Carnie talks about her dad, and in a clash of reality shows, gets a tattoo from Kat Von D, or at least someone who looks like her. Til then.

This week’s poll results:
The question was…
Would you buy a Carnie-Wilson-branded vibrator?
No, 36%
EXCUSE ME?, 35.6%
This poll offends my delicate sensibilities, 13.1%
Maybe, 9.9%
Yes, 5.4%

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