Waxing Poetic on The Amazing Race Or: Advice to Lenny
by Susan Schechter
Poor Lenny, dragged halfway around the world by the woman he loves, only to be dumped at the end because of her Type A personality. Famous poets have often mused on love and loss, and some of their wisdom applies here.
Watching the latest episode of The Amazing Race was like an English teacher’s absolute fantasy, or dream. I don’t know how else to explain it. Between the imagery my mind thought of with Margarita and Frank at the Castle Ferrera, where Byron wrote “ To My Last Duchess”,. To Lenny and Karyn and their relationship, my mind is working overtime. I have not had these thoughts since I did my student teaching. So I wish to offer the following advice to Lenny, with best wishes for a happy life. Either that, or I just have too much time on my hands.
If of all words of tongue and pen, The saddest are, "It might have been," More sad are these we daily see: "It is, but hadn't ought to be."
-- Francis Brett Hart (or John Greenleafe Whittier, "Maud Muller")
I was on vacation this past week. Vacation, the most wonderful word in the English language where you get PAID for not working. Can you imagine? I went into the city and stayed over there, something I never did before. After all, I want to go into the city, it’s a spit away by train or bus. But I figured, what the heck, lets boost the economy of the city of my birth. I hooked up with a friend of mine, who is a brilliant playwrite, and heard some real cool jazz. I did the museums, shopped and had a manicure. Life is good. And I stayed at in a hotel, where Nicola Tesla died. And this got me thinking of energy, as well as geniuses. And as someone who is a struggling novelist/poet, I take my energy when I can get it, where I can get it. My muse is not fickle. Besides, what worked for a genius like Tesla can’t be all bad.
I did not see The Amazing Race until I got home. A friend of mine – another reality writer – called me in the hotel, and told me the sad news, namely that Karyn and Lenny didn’t make it (no surprise) and, can you believe this, she dumped him! She dropped him like an old shoe in India. I knew the tape was waiting for me , nestled in my VCR, unless of course the power went out. I pondered what could have made Karyn dump Lenny, and in all places, India? What could have made her go into a histrionic hissy fit right there? And why didn’t Lenny tell her to get stuffed?
“‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam.”
Hang on to your hats folks. Yes, Tennyson is my all time favorite poet I would pick if I was on a desert island. Yes, everyone quotes this when you break up with someone. But it has a sinister side, something so interesting, you can spring on your high school or college English teacher, and I guarantee they will not know this about this line (well, unless they’re reading right now, too). And in return, you can shower me with money when you get your “A” in class. The line was written by a homosexual man after his boyfriend, Arthur Hallam, died. Kinda puts a new spin on it, doesn’t it?
Anyway, Lenny, take heed. I also like the line Paul Simon wrote sort of the same thing, “If I never loved, I never would have cried.” (“I am a Rock”).
In the beginning of the show, Karyn says “A lot of couples have their differences but if you love each other you can work through them. That’s what we have been doing.” ( Emphasis added.)
Karyn, you didn’t follow your own advice. Yes, being in a relationship isn’t all great sex. Well, reverse that, you can be in one and have that, but these are the types that do not last long. You gotta have a bit of empathy, compassion, and concern for the other person. And here is my take on your now ex-boyfriend Lenny. Just like Paul, in the Paul and Amie couple, your Lenny did not want to participate in this game. He did it for you. I realized this when he was trying to find a clue in Paris and misread it in the Eiffel Tower, taking you to Notre Dame instead of the Arc De Triomphe. He never wanted to do this. He did this for you. How many people would be willing to do something they did not want to do for someone they love? I cannot think of many, especially to spend three weeks of his life doing it. He really loved you. On the very first show, he said he was taking the prize money and buying you a rock the size of Pittsburgh. (Well, maybe not Pittsburgh, but a dang big ring anyway.) And what do you do? You treat him like a dog throughout. “Come here, Lenny, Nice boy! Want your head scratched?” Wake up and smell the Starbucks! That is not love!
Now I understand India is a far cry from the U.S. I have a colleague who spent three years backpacking through India. He could have told you what you encountered would happen. And the Taj Majal is way way way in the sticks. It is not going to be like what you encountered in Europe. And I am surprised that you did not realize that people are going to behave differently, and your losing your cool over things, like you did when you told a driver, “You lied to me!” is not in your best interest. He did not lie to you. He just did not speak English. Amazing fact, out of 7 billion people in the world right now, not everyone speaks English. In fact, most people do not. You adapt. I was in Rome this year, I know Spanish. I do not know Italian. I adapted, picking up Italian words, and in a pinch used the Spanish ones I knew. I found out people who told me they were fluent in English, at best were not. Should I expect THEM to tailor their lives for me? No, I was in their country, I had to adapt. Either that, or get a real good map. I even found that American English is so different than European English, but that is another story, best told after 10 :00 because it involves a Yorkshire Police officer and a man who thought I was… Well, I said the word “Fanny” in a sentence, and he drew a wrong conclusion. A totally innocuous word over here, means something 180 degrees over there and I was almost arrested for solicitation!
So you have to be careful.
And here you are, confused and upset. And you lashed out. Okay, again, I can understand that. But couldn’t you see that your boyfriend was willing to do all this for you? He loved you. I can tell you that. Anyone could have.
And in the end, to paraphrase a column on “why so and so lost,” written by my erudite editor, you lost. Not only did you lose the race, which frankly, shouldn’t have been that much as a shock, since you were coming in last almost every time since the game started, but you lost a real man. A gentleman. Someone who really loved you and cared for you.
Lenny, I wish you well. You are a kind sweet man. Just stop being attracted to Type A personalities. Find a girl who more like you in disposition. You are a real mensch, and a keeper. I sincerely wish you every happiness in the world. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you get deluged with letters and e-mails from women who saw your final episode. Count me in as one of your fans.