Saturday, April 13, 2013

Forever Young: Episode #3 "Food Fight"

What happens when you throw five people under thirty in a house with five people over seventy?

Attitude and lots of it.

This show is full of laughter and...tears. Let me tell you, if a reality show can bring me to tears, it's a winner in my book because it means I've learned something.

This week the juniors and seniors were tested on their business savvy. They were divided into two teams. Team 1 which I affectionately refer to as Team Taco consisted of Shirley, Angelina, Mike, Eugene, and Sam while Arthur, Andree, Emileen, Lou, and Christian made up Team 2 also known as Team Hot Dog.

Which team can create a strategy that will earn them the most money? And in the end, can they do it without killing each other?

Under the watchful eye of a professional chef, the teams were assigned to their own food trucks and given two hours to come up with a plan to sell their product during the lunch rush. They got busy organizing the ingredients and materials, setting prices and implementing advertising strategies. Immediately they got busy organizing their respective game plans.

When all was said and done, Shirley hit the streets dressed as a rather brightly decorated taco while Christian paraded around as a hot dog. Frankly, given their outgoing, no-holds-barred personalities, I can't think of two more appropriate individuals to be dressed as fast food and running around the streets of L.A.

Shirley and Christian "ham" it up!

Remember, both groups went into this experiment with preconceived notions so it should come as no surprise that one of the first things the seniors said on-site was that the juniors had no idea what they were doing because they never worked a day in their life.

I wonder if the juniors got sick of hearing that. I know when I was their age, I did.

From the outset, Team Taco appeared to be kicking ass. Everyone on the team was participating in the effort and things were flowing smoothly. However, with the great advertising by the Taco-donned Shirley, things suddenly changed. Angelina, who, despite all her hard work, was bustling throughout the tiny kitchen burning the meat and getting behind in the orders. Suddenly a lot of people were waiting outside the truck and not getting any tacos. Then it's announced to the crowd they would be eating tacos on hamburger buns.

What? I suppose necessity is the mother of invention.

Meanwhile, there's Mike, who is also shirtless showing off an amazing set of arms and he's got himself a megaphone and went to town. 

Angelina, Sam, Mike, & Shirley getting the job done!
Mike's idea of marketing is shouting all kinds of rude and obnoxious things about hot dogs, hoping to steer the traffic to the taco truck.  Well this pisses off Arthur, who thinks Mike is attempting to win the competition by taking cheap shots. However, there's a remedy for that.

Enter Andree....and her breasts. You gotta love Andree and her willingness to sacrifice one for the team. Under the watchful eye and encouragement of Lou, she tucks the hem of her shirt into her bra and begins using sex appeal to take business away from Team Taco. One thing is for sure...some things haven't changed since Lou was in his twenties....and that's "sex sells".

Andree runs out in the middle of the plaza and yells,

"Come get your hot dogs!"

At that moment, all eyes were on her. I was laughing my ass off when Mike turned around and saw her...and all that skin...and his jaw dropped.

"We're screwed!" He said.

Yep Mike, I'd agree. 

Meanwhile, supplies were low, time was running out and both teams were desperate.  When the lunch rush was over, the chef instructed them to count their earnings. The results?

Team Hot Dog: $200.
Team Taco: $366.

Team Taco wins!

But wait...something's fishy...

At $1 per taco that would've meant 366 customers. Recalling the small crowd, Arthur and company concur there's no way there were that many people out there. When the group returned home, Arthur demanded a recount. That's where find how the inexperience in running a business kinda sucks. Apparently Sam, who counted the earnings for Team Taco, didn't realize you don't count the bank. Sorry, Sam. That's right, both teams started out with a bank of $250. Lou, the accounting guru, placed Team Hot Dog's bank underneath the register before opening for business, whereas Team Taco did not. This means that in reality Team Taco earned only $116 while Team hot dog cleared $200.

Team Hot Dog wins!

It's all in good fun and a lot was learned from the experience. All were reminded that strategy, salesmanship and hard work makes a winning combination. The seniors and juniors both had something to bring to the table here. The seniors have years of experience and the juniors have new ideas.


Sometime later, Mike was seated at the dining room table with Arthur and Shirley. He decided to share something about himself with them. He battled cancer when he was seventeen years old. Both Arthur and Shirley were stunned as Mike opened a photo album and showed them pics of himself on the day of his first chemo appointment. He was young and full of life, as was so evidently displayed in the smile on his face in the photographs. Mike, ever the athlete, was in no way ready to give up on life and give in to his cancer. He fought with everything he had and talked fondly about how his friends and family helped him through it. Then he stunned Arthur even more when he told him that Arthur reminded him of his grandfather, who was his role model. Mike went on to tell Arthur and Shirley that he just wants to live his life the best he can. You go Mike!

Mike has a zest for life and much of that comes from having gone through such a traumatic ordeal at a young age. At seventeen, he should have been looking forward to graduating high school and preparing for the rest of his life, not going to doctor's appointments and enduring brutal chemotherapy. He has amazing strength and the more I get to know him, the more I like him. His story and the bonding moment he shared with Arthur, where he told him he loved him touched my heart deeply. 


 Later, the group sat around the fire and at that point it was evident the juniors and seniors seemed much more comfortable around one another. Lou opened a box left for them containing $5,000 in cash. Their mission was to decide, as a group, which individual should receive that money. Given the camaraderie they've built so far, it should have been easy yet it wasn't.

Eugene, who grew up very poor, said he could use the money.

Sam thought they should donate the money, insisting there are a lot of people out there who need it more than they do.

Shirley, who at 83 is a widow three times over, stated none of her husbands left her anything when they and she's had to work her whole life with no one to take care of her in old age.

Someone made mention of Angelina's college debt.

Mike, talked of his family, and how they owed a lot of debt because of the medical treatment he'd received for his cancer.  He wanted to give that money to his mom to thank her for all she's done for him. Though Mike wanted the money for his mom, he realized that sometimes there are others out there who may need it more and he puts his own needs aside when he said determinedly, "I came here without it, I can do without it. I want Angelina to have it."

Let the tears commence. Bravo Mikey, Bravo!

Arthur then chimed in that he wants it to go to Mike as well. He says, "I deeply respect and love you."

More tears commencing. Guys what are you doing to me?

The juniors were very vocal about how the seniors don't need the money as much as the juniors. Emileen understood the juniors feelings about needing it more than the seniors but she insisted that it's more difficult for the seniors because there's no one take care of them. In the end, she voted for Shirley.

Lou remarked that the kids would survive, that while they struggle now, eventually they would be okay. He really wanted Shirley to have it but in the end, he made the decision that it should go to Mike. There were hugs, tears, and then Shirley, who has become very fond of Mike tells him that he's like a grandson to her.  Mike and Arthur embrace.

I still haven't stopped crying at this point! I am so proud of these people!

It was touching, emotional, and heartwarming though I didn't like the last segment of the episode. It was a very awkward situation and I feared that the bond that was being forged would be put in jeopardy with the choice they had to make. It's a hard thing for a proud person to come out and say they need something, especially when that person grew up believing they had to work for everything and that nothing would ever come easy.  I was sure it wasn't easy for Eugene and Shirley to say they could use that money. I don't fault them for it, I mean in this day and age, rarely do we get anything just handed to us. These seniors grew up in an era where it was prevalent that if you wanted something you worked for it. Who of us hasn't faced the dilemma of taking something for ourselves, something that we need, versus giving it to someone else who might need it more?

As the debate ensued, I asked myself what would my grandmother May have done in this situation. Grams is 95 years old and if you sat her in that room, with those individuals, in that situation, she most certainly would not have made a case for why she needed the money. Even if she did need it, she would have advocated it be given to the most worthy young person in that room. My grandmother's attitude to her family is that she had her chance in life to do all the things she wanted to do and now it's our turn. Grams isn't concerned for herself, she's concerned for us. She says that's the way it's supposed to be. I suppose you get to a point in life where, you don't give up, but you realize what you want and need isn't as significant as it once're content with the littlest of things. I imagine that the seniors in this group have those very same thoughts too.

In the end, when the cash was given to Mike, when the juniors and seniors hugged, I breathed a great sigh of relief that there were no hard feelings.There shouldn't be either. Voting for yourself is not selfish, it's self-preservation. It was obvious the decision of who should get that money was difficult and that the members of the group discussed it rationally, thought about it carefully and then came to a decision is a great feat in my book. Much progress is being made here.

There's so much to be learned from this episode. These young people, who are dismissed all too often because of their youth, have each endured their own share of experiences and hardships in life that have made them who they are and it's wonderful that the seniors are coming to recognize that and respect them for it. Sometimes we all forget we were young and inexperienced at life. Listen, the only way you can get old is to be young first. We've all been immature, inexperienced, naive, and made stupid mistakes. It's just part of the experience of getting older. I think all too often we forget that as we age.

When they came together in the very beginning, both the seniors and juniors were like "oh hell no!" immediately forming opinions and judgments about one another. Slowly but surely though, the preconceived notions and prejudices are being pushed aside. Attitudes are changing and hearts and minds are opening. They are giving to one another, considering one another's feelings and attempting to understand what it is like to be in each other's shoes.

If only that were done more often, what a wonderful world it would be.

Next week: Episode #4: Date night. The group tries internet dating.

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