Stephen the King

Stephen (center) copped an attitude.

This is what The Real World is doing to our city's reputation:

This past weekend, I had some guests in from out of town -- a former roommate, her close friend and her close friend's childhood friend, a sorority girl from Fulton, Missouri. While I was at work, the sorority girl decided she wanted to explore the city and set off on her own. I was home when she got back, and I asked her what she managed to see.

"I saw everything," she replied. "I saw the Real World house and I saw a couple of the bars they went to." Yes, Denverites, in the eyes of sorority girls from Fulton, you can see "everything" in Denver with a short stop to Monarck and that one building on Market Street. Sad. Really, really sad.

You know what else was sad? Episode 21. Not in the shed-a-tear sense, more in the holy-shit-when-is-this-going-to-be-over sense.

Stephen has to go to the airport to drop off Darnell. Saint Chris is coming to the house, however, so Steve is going to miss part of Chris' presence -- pretty much like missing work, again.

Cut to a snippet of conversation between Davis and Tyrie. Davis feels like Steve is never at the house -- and when he is, he's on the phone or the computer. This somehow moves to a new topic: the difference between Stephen and Tyrie as black men.

"Me and him are from two different walks of life," Tyrie explains, saying that he has a harder time being friends with white people than Steve does.

"He's a white black guy," Davis offers. I wondered how long it would take for someone to say that about Stephen.

"He's an acceptable Negro," Tyrie responds. Tyrie says he feels like Steve is more accepted in the house than he is, to which Davis replies that no one in the house really likes Steve at all, but they all love Tyrie.

Meanwhile, Jenn is expressing no regret about her hookup with Darnell. "I know for a fact that Stephen is bothered that I'm hooking up with Darnell," she says. "Me and Steve are not the best of friends." So who cares, right?

In the car on the way to the airport, Darnell tells Stephen that he loves Jenn. Steve tells Darnell that Jenn is just out for a good time. "She like a man when it comes to sex," Stephen notes. "She's not a slut, she's just free. It's not hard to fuck her." Why, have you tried, Stephen?

Jenn and Colie are talking about how awkward Steve made Jenn's goodbye to Darnell. "He runs from conflict, he avoids it, and he doesn't like to address issues that maybe he's not comfortable with. "And there's a lot in the house that he's not comfortable with," Jenn observes.

"I just really don't want him in my group," Colie says. Apparently, they'll be divided into groups on the Outward Bound trip, and Colie and Tyrie got stuck with Stephen. Bad luck for them. Colie feels like Stephen judges her. I feel like these people talk mad shit behind each other's backs -- it's like high school, only there's a lot more alcohol available and everyone lives together.

Chris arrives and greets everyone, asking what their emotional and mental disposition is toward going back to work. Tyrie spills his guts. "I had a humongous fight with my girl that didn't end well at all, and that's all I'm going to say," he says. "I'm just at the point where I'm not even sure I want to be here." Saint Chris calls for a break, and he and Tyrie have a heart-to-heart.

Tyrie is upset because he feels like everyone is going to remember him for his squad-car, detox episode. I want to remind him that pretty much every season of the show features someone getting arrested, and it gets to the point where no one remembers who was on what season, let alone who got arrested. "I play to win in life," Chris tells him. "Packing up your bags and leaving doesn't seem right, doesn't seem like who you are. Anybody can walk out the door."

I love Chris. I can't believe he hasn't had a nervous breakdown yet, having to deal with these people.

Tyrie decides to stay.

Back at the table, Chris gives everyone a strategy for dealing with conflict. He wants all the issues out in the open before they start taking kids up into the wilderness. Colie and Jenn both admit that they have some problems with Stephen.

Stephen, in turn, thinks Colie exhibits "unmerited bitchiness" toward him. He and Colie discuss this and come to the conclusion that their personalities clash. "Good talk," Steve tells her. But Colie feels like no progress has been made; she's still pissed at Stephen.

Chris divides the group up: Two (Colie and Steve) will pick up the kids at the airport, while five will head up to the campsite and set everything up.

They're really going to do it. Outward Bound is really putting these people in charge of young lives.

In the car, Tyrie spills his guts to Alex. He's mad at himself for grabbing Jazalle's arm: "I never should have put my hands on her. I don't know why I got that mad." I'm impressed -- he's realized that he's done something wrong. Personally, I think it took him a little too long, and I still think Jazalle is an idiot for continuing a relationship with someone who manhandled her once. He could easily do it again.

Alex tells Tyrie that it's not how mad he got, it's how he reacts to his emotions. This is why Alex won our Best Of Denver award -- sure, he's an alcoholic playa, but he's got some insight as well.

All of a sudden, the five headed toward the campsite realize that they are not where they need to be -- they are in Boulder. Confused as to whether they needed to get on 36 or 70, they're now an hour in the wrong direction. Nice work, jackasses.

At the airport, six boys show up: DJ, Thernel, Patrick, Christopher, Tyron and Parker. The girls' course will follow in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, back at the campsite, Chris is furious (I mean, for Chris). "There's five of you. You got seven copies of directions. The job started three and a half hours ago," he tells them. "The students have flown from New Orleans with anticipation to have this positive experience, and we're not set up to do that." Like I said: jackasses.

But then everyone gets to work -- Brooke is actually doing something and not yelling at someone for asking her why she's being a dumb, lazy bitch! I'm shocked. They manage to get the site set up in record time.

The students arrive and Chris greets them. He wants them to be challenged because it will make them stronger. Tyrie has turned into a giant Papa Bear -- joking with the kids, having a fantastic time with them. It's kinda heartwarming. Let's just hope one of them doesn't piss him off so that he has to grab their arm.

Steve is only up there for a short time; his sister's getting married, so after two days he gets to leave the course. He, Colie and Tyrie are leading the group's rock-climbing adventure at Monitor Rock. Actually, Tyrie and Colie are leading it. Stephen is standing around with his thumb up his ass, looking bored and as if he couldn't care less about these kids. But he doesn't like the way Tyrie and Colie are teaching, naturally.

Colie, on the other hand, thinks that Tyrie is being a great motivator.

At the end of the climb, Stephen heads out -- practically sprinting toward the car and getting in. Colie and Tyrie are not impressed. Colie can understand that he needs to leave, but she thinks the way he's leaving is demonstrating a lack of caring; the boys can tell he's disengaged and doesn't really give two shits about them.

And Steve backs this up: "I'm glad. I'm going home, and I'm gonna see people who I actually care about, and that's gonna be nice." I don't think I can call Steve a hypocritical Christian anymore -- I've said my piece. Numerous times. It's just difficult for me to understand how he can talk about God with a straight face, then turn around and consistently be the biggest asshole in the house.

To be continued ...

And next week, Stephen asks Tyrie this loaded question: "Do you think I'm whitewashed?" If by "whitewashed" he means a namby-pamby, flip-flopping, insensitive bigot prick, then I'd say Tyrie has no choice but to answer yes. But even if he says no, this is one confrontation I can't wait to see. -- Amber Taufen

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen