February 10, 2005

18 days and nothing's on

Suddenly, March 1 seems just so far away and I find myself in need of an Amazing Race fix.

1. Freddy and Kendra were on Live with Regis and Kelly today. Thanks to the wonder that is TiVo, I got the thrill of seeing it without even trying. (I couldn't care enough to tape their appearance on the Early Show on Wednesday.) As soon as they got settled atop the stools, Kendra's hand shot out and landed high up on Freddy's thigh. I think he decided that wasn't the place for it to be on national TV, so he grabbed her hand and moved it out of harm's way, and kept it clutched in his the whole rest of the time.

We got the story of how they met, how Freddy decided she was the woman for him, blah blah blah, and got insight into their strategy for the Race. Did you know that their plan was to play low-key, not to be too aggressive and thereby not always try to push their way to the front but just "not be last." So, in other words, they only let the other teams think they were in contention, but really these two masterminded it so that no one saw them as huge threats. Gee, guess if they had a plan that clever, they deserved to win. (Can you tell I'm still just a little bitter over the result of this season?)

And, oh, it had to happen. Just as they were about to wrap it up, Regis jokingly offered Freddy another million dollars to repeat his Hungarian soup adventure. Kendra, true to form, immediately turned and offered him what I think is the only encouragement she knows: Go, baby!

2. Isn't this such a nice picture of three of the final four couples?

There's Kris, with her ever-present perkiness, Jon with his never-fail smile. Aaron doesn't quite look like himself there, but he and Hayden obviously haven't imploded under the weight of her hysteria. He looks highly amused by Adam's glasses. And Rebecca, honey, open-mouthed laughs are fine, but ditch the gum. Cattiness aside, it's a nice shot, and clearly everyone is having just a wonderful time.

But you know what's coming, don't you?

Mmm-hmm, you see that bit of camel coat and you can just sense it, can't you?

Mmm-hmmmmm, that's right.

Unfortunately, this is what the uncropped photo looks like:

While looking, out of curiosity, to see how many people were still coming here in search of Team Spousal Abuse on that special next week (Answer: Lots), I ended up clicking on That Couple's Web site. Yes, it was "oh, look, a car wreck, is there any blood?" curiosity, but I couldn't help myself.

Their main page has a pretty thin blog and featured this picture from the night of the finale. Does anyone else wonder why Victoria is the only one who looks miserable? And this is the photo you choose to put up for the world to see how normal and happy you actually are. Right.

3. The difficulty encountered by two teams in trying to get on earlier flights in Japan during the AR6 finale sparked an interesting conversation with a friend of mine. He commented on how implacable the JAL employees were in enforcing the strict "company policy" about not letting them onto the flight even though there were open seats and in the face of a supposed crying, distraught mother. It was clear that there would be no bending of the rules, for any reason.

He said that was a good "example of how we Americans are more flexible when it comes to rules." I think the teams truly expected to be able to cajole them into letting them on, and I imagine most of us thought at first that they would, too. This difference in attitude toward rules reminded him of something a close German friend of his said to him about 9/11, "If this happened in Germany everybody would have died because after the first plane hit they told people all is OK and to stay in the building. Good rule-following Germans would have stayed."

That really gave me pause, because I never gave much thought to following the rules -- or not -- as being a cultural trait. But then I thought about something else that had been intriguing me for a while. I do a lot of surveys for the Harris Poll Online, some of which can be really dull and others of which are very interesting. Every once in a while they have these same standard questions at the end of a poll, and one of them is, essentially, "Do you believe that rules are meant to be followed or made to be broken?" I've never really understood why they ask that one, but since it's an international pool of respondents, perhaps this is something they keep an eye on to see how attitudes change or can be anticipated based on country.

So, where do you fall: Are rules in place to be followed for the safety of everyone, or are rules a flexible guideline that are meant to be broken? What do you think about it being something that varies by nationality?