Welcome to Big Brother

Going into this week, I resigned myself to the tedium of the little guy getting squashed. Nine against three—the poor sods never stood a chance. My underdog sympathies crossed a tipping point: I wanted it to be over, to see the three picked off summarily so that the true battle could begin. I was ready to write off three weeks of the game.

This is what Battle of the Block does to you. But then the word came down from on high, and the people rejoiced: Battle of the Block is over!

Here’s what follows: Shelli makes an eleventh hour deal with James to protect her and Clay, and Shelli surrenders the HOH to him. James then immediately breaks this deal by nominating both of them on the block.This, my friends, is Big Brother. No meaningless nominations, no thrown team-competition, not even a backdoor. Just straight-up unadulterated O.G. shit: two targets on the block, one of them goes home.

“. . . I was under the impression that winning HOH would not have been good for me, and it obviously would’ve been.”—Shelli

The are a few components of this radical week. We can champion James for making a bold move. We can criticize Shelli for being so naïve. (These deals are always bogus.) But none of this would not have been possible if Battle of the Block were still in play. Shelli would’ve nominated a pawn to throw BOB, and she would’ve remained in power.

And it would’ve been boring.


Welcome to the Real (Fan-Fictional) World

“Remember when John Lennon, said ‘All you need is love’?”

The voice was Lidia’s. Austin didn’t even notice her presence at first. He had just woken up and was working on his morning protein shake. Ah, protein. Always coming through in the clutch. He carefully put on his glasses as he scanned his apartment. There she was, the back of her head at least. She was installed on his pleather sofa, watching Three’s Company.

He shook his head to get his bearings. “I mean, I wasn’t there at the time. But yes, the song—I am familiar with the song. It’s kind of beautiful and totally reductive.” He took a swig of his protein shake and placed it on the kitchen counter next to his copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. “I thought you were a Paul McCartney girl. You said he’d always be the Cute One to you.”

“Sure. Paul is great. I like John too, though. It’s a lovely song.”

“All you need is a lovely song,” he said with cheap smile. Austin walked around the sofa to look at her face. He sharpened his gaze and began to study her. “Who are you?” he blurted out, staring inquisitively into her eyes.

“Ha-ha,” she said with mild amusement, still watching Jack Tripper clumsily make his way around his apartment. “Ha-ha.”

“No, I’m serious. Look, can we turn this off?” he said, motioning to the television. Without waiting for her to respond, he switched it off. “What is going on? You need to tell me what is going on.”

Silence hung in the air like a Damoclean sword. Beads of fear materialized on Austin's brow. He considered taking advantage of this adrenaline surge by getting in a super intense workout at the gym. No. He could not leave now. This was important. Something was happening here. He suddenly became aware of a faint knocking sound. It sounded like it was issuing from within his skull, like he was on the verge of a great discovery.

“Oh Christ, are you still stuck on this twin thing?”

“Look, it was a very traumatic point of my life.” He took off his glasses and rubbed his temples. “They swapped out surreptitiously, you understand? Nobody told me. I was in love with one of them. Do you know how damaging that is to your psyche?”

“You know I saw the show.”

“Just tell me you don’t have a twin.”

Lidia tilted her head back and let out an exasperated sign. “We’ve been through this.” She held her right hand aloft as if in sworn testimony. “I do not have a twin.”

“OK. OK. I believe you.” He did believe her—for a second. “Wait, then why are you quoting John Lennon all of a sudden? That was a very un-Lidia thing to do. John fucking Lennon!” He threw his glasses down on the ottoman emphatically. “This can’t be happening again.” He wasn't talking to Lidia anymore. He was now muttering to himself. “I can’t go through this again.”

“You’re acting crazy right now,” Lidia protested. “They were in the same band!” She hiked her feet up so that she was now standing on the sofa and took his head in her hands, making sure her words were received. “I was just trying to say that I love you, you idiot! This isn’t Big Brother, OK? There are no twists. That’s over. This is the real world, and, in the real world, people are full of surprises. That’s what makes things interesting.”

Lidia's voice began to trail off. It was muffled by a thunderous thumping sound. Thump, thump, thump. Thump, thump, thump. It was the same knocking sound from earlier, but this time it sounded external. It was coming from the door. Austin's focus telescoped to that door. Thump, thump, thump. In a trance, Austin wrested his head from Lidia's hands, picked up his glasses, and walked toward the knocking. He felt disembodied, like he was watching himself from afar. He reached for the door knob. The door opened.

No. It couldn’t be. Austin turned around and there was Lidia. He turned back to the door frame and there was another Lidia. “Did you tell him yet?” the girl at the door said.

“Oh Mylantis.”