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On Wednesday I was out and about at lunchtime, at the market across from the office building where I was attending a governmental meeting. Low and behold there were fresh Louisiana strawberries, freshly brought in from Pontchatoula. They’ve been around since Christmas, but as the season progresses, the berries get deeper in color and sweeter in taste, and truly beat the pants off any Californian or Mexican berries. I just wanted to throw that out there so that you all don’t think that the only thing of note in the Pontchatoula area is Marguerite Perrin, the infamous God Warrior from last season.

Are you there Fox? It’s me, Marguerite.

After being “treated” to numerous flashbacks to the last time ole Mags was on the show, tearing up the Distribution Letter of Doom, we catch up with her. She tells us that she prayed about it, and ultimately decided to take the money. She had gastric bypass surgery and is down 72.5 lbs, to 295 lbs. She’s trying to be more active and lose the weight. She believes she put the money towards life and is living a great one with her charismatic family. These family members include her husband Barry, her eldest daughter Ashley, her younger daughter Brooke, and Ashely’s little girl Abigail. Ashley is 24 and still living at home; she’s apparently quite shiftless and does not get out of bed until late most days. Barry has changed jobs since we last saw the Perrins because the warehouse he operated was flooded during Katrina. Marguerite says she’s tried to learn patience since her last appearance. She claims that seeing herself on television acting like a raving loon made her hid in her bed for weeks…until Jay Leno’s booking agent called and she fame whored it up in LA.

Drawing the short straw.

The family unlucky enough to draw the short straw and swap with the Perrin clan are the Brown-Malone family from St. Petersburg, Florida. The neighborhood that this family lives in is shown to be working class, but with cute older cottage style homes. Latoya and her husband Abasi are fervent believers that African Americans are owed reparations for the years spent in slavery. She is also interested in building a strong African-only community in her area that celebrates all aspects of African culture, including dance and arts. Abasi is a host on a local talk show which focuses on expanding black power. Abasi says he’s not prejudiced against white people, but prejudiced for black people. That logic doesn’t quite sit on all four legs, but he comes across as a fairly standup guy in that, when he met Latoya she already had a daughter, Shachaamah. He said he’s pledged that if he ever had kids, he’d be around them as a stable father, and he’s doing that for Shach. Latoya says the family is not well-off, and they work hard to get by, sometimes living from paycheck to paycheck, but they also work hard in their community to motivate people to build a strong African community.

Finally, a sign!!!!!

After all these polite introductions to the families, it’s time for the moms to wake up early and get on planes. It’s a short flight between St. Pete’s and New Orleans, and soon enough Barry is off to the airport to collect Latoya. Having been through this before, he and the girls have the foresight to make a sign to find the new mom. Abasi hasn’t been through the process before and he doesn’t have a sign. He’s resigned to the fact that he’ll probably be stuck with some white woman, but he’s going to suck it up and deal.

Latoya finds Barry pretty easily, on account of the sign. Her immediate impression is that he’s very country, which is indisputable. He informs her that they’ve been on the show before and that his wife was the God Warrior. Latoya reacts with an “Oh, my poor, poor husband.” Barry then proceeds to act the fool, rattling off all the black celebrities that he met on Marguerite’s tour of fame whorery, including Flavor Flav and Shaquille O’Neal. I’m quite sure this impresses no one, especially given that Flavor Flav is a big-time fame whore and Shaquille O’Neal went to LSU and is frequently around these parts. They eventually get to the house, and Latoya says it is very different from hers. She says the kids seem friendly and the family seems set financially.

Marguerite is having quite the different experience in the car with Abasi. He immediately launches into race talk, and asserts that Hurricane Katrina was a weapon of mass destruction unleashed on the poor black communities by the United States government. He also mentions one of the bridge incidents where the evacuees who made it across the bridge to the West Bank were turned away with shotguns. Marguerite, amazingly, has little to say and tries to just not engage him in his rant. They get to the house after a long ride, and Marguerite meets Shach, who is the same age as her grandchild. Marguerite inquires what they do for fun, and then Abasi gets a beverage, chugs it down, and belches. He then goes on and on about belching, passing gas, and using the bathroom. Marguerite is overcome with dry heaves, and mercifully a commercial comes on. Abasi is apparently very rude to guests in his house. You’d think for 5 days and $50K, you could refrain from belching on your guest.

Oh my god, she did NOT just pull that old story out of the bag!

On the second day of the trade, Marguerite gets up and gets dressed and decides she is going to make an effort to get to know Abasi and have a nice conversation about what he likes to do. She innocuously asks him what kind of music he likes. She says she likes hip hop music and then says she met some musicians who are decidedly not hip hop. She then claims she likes Eminem and wonders why Abasi doesn’t like him. Give me a break—trying to bond with an admittedly militant black man by bringing up the 2000s version of Vanilla Ice? That’s embarrassing. Abasi does not like Eminem at all and generally takes umbrage with any white person performing black music. Marguerite does not share this view, and asserts that she is color blind and does not see races. She then proceeds to say that when she was a child, they had a black maid and treated her like an aunt. This is the oldest southern belle story in the book. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this story as some sort of proof that the teller isn’t racist. They may not be, but clearly this isn’t the best evidence. Abasi says that the maid was just a slave to her family and goes on a tangent about millions of blacks being held in jail, and that blacks are more likely to do hard time than whites, and so on. He then says she should try being black for one week, but she’d probably kill herself. She retorts that she’d love it and would be hip hoppin’ around and eating gizzards. Why yes, that’s not racist at all.

Kathy with a K gets the devil in her eyes.

Latoya’s day starts a bit more pleasantly, but takes a turn for the worse. She wakes up and goes to the kitchen, and Brooke is in the kitchen doing something. Barry has already taken Abigail to school, and slack-ass Ashley is still asleep. Brooke tells Latoya that Marguerite’s friends are coming over for brunch at 10:15. They will be making a green salad and angle hair pasta with shrimp. The rest of the ladies will be bringing a dish as well. Latoya fixes the salad and makes the pasta dish, while Brooke makes sweet tea. Ashley still sleeps. These friends of Marguerite who are coming over are the same friends who harangued the last woman who swapped about her non-belief in a specific god, so you know they are quite the charming group.

They arrive one by one, each bearing a separate plate of food which they’ve clearly purchased from some store. Latoya comments that it’s a real “southern belle type of thing” and she is dead on; I’ve lived in south Louisiana almost all my life, but being from the north originally, I still feel like I’m peering in on some freaky foreign cultural experience whenever I attend a function populated nearly entirely by these daughters of the confederacy types. To get a drop on Marguerite’s friends, imagine The Real Housewives of Orange County, but with far less skilled plastic surgeons. There’s one woman who needs a chin implant so badly, I want to call Dr. Rey for her.

Latoya is, understandably, uncomfortable at the lunch and the conversation rolls around to Katrina and it’s aftermath. Latoya says that she has a friend in St. Pete’s who was displaced from New Orleans and can’t go back because she didn’t have insurance to cover her losses. These women, especially one fake blonde named Kathy, can’t quite understand how this could be, since there have been “major, major donations” made to relief funds. I seriously don’t want to get up on a soap box on this issue, but when the state agency in charge of helping homeowners rebuild processes 3 cases a week instead of the 200 cases it’s supposed to, there is absolutely no wonder why people aren’t rebuilding at a greater pace. That, coupled with the massive gulf coast insurance litigation, prohibits even upper middle class people from rebuilding to the extent they wish, let alone the un- and under-insured. These bitches’ ignorance has no excuse, but they pin their argument on the fact that there was plenty of FEMA abuse going on, and implying that it was only blacks perpetrating that abuse (which is far from the truth). After the lunch is over, Latoya says that she expected as much from the women, because the south has been bred on slavery. Kathy counters in an interview that white people are in the minority now.

Road trips.

Abasi has concluded that Marguerite just doesn’t get what he’s saying, so he wants to take her on a tour of St. Petersburg. He shows her his neighborhood, the formerly black neighborhood that has been gentrified, and ends up droning on and on about gentrification, the building of highways through the black neighborhoods rather than the white neighborhoods and displacement of black people from the original places they inhabited. Marguerite just comments on the pretty pelicans she sees along the beach and tries to ignore Abasi’s tirade. She says he tries her patience, and I’d think he’d try anyone’s patience.

Meanwhile, Latoya has asked to go on a tour of the devastation in New Orleans. Barry agrees and thinks it’s a good idea. They start out in Mid-City and take St. Claude down into the Lower Ninth, out to Chalmette, and likely came back and went out to New Orleans East, like along Chef Mentuer. Sorry to say that a lot of the area looks the same, given the flood and devastation, so I can’t be more specific or certain of where they went. They stop at a house that looks to be in the East, closer to the Lake, since most houses around it are gone completely. They get out of the car and go in and see how high the water got—high enough to fill the light bulb in the ceiling fan. Latoya and the Perrins find this amazingly sad that the destruction has ruined so many homes and lives, and Latoya says that it’ll clearly take more than a year to come back from this level of decimation.

Hot head explosion!

You know it and I know it—Marguerite has been acting too calm up until now. She’s got to get crazy and so does Abasi, because why else would they pair her with him? Finally that moment comes. Abasi says that Marguerite absolutely has not gotten what he’s been saying and he just doesn’t care any more, but he will invite her to come along to the taping of his television show. Meanwhile, Marguerite has been working on a floral arrangement with Shach, who is a cute little girl who actually gets along with Marguerite. Clearly Shach is destined for sainthood. After Abasi tells Marguerite about the show, she asks what the show is about. He says that it’s about bringing issues to the community. She asks if it is a show to address basic municipal things like roads. He says no, it’s all about the black community and representing that community because no one else does. She asks if it is a black-only show. He says no, it is not. She then asks if they’ve ever had a white guest, and he scoffs, saying not to his recollection. She wonders if they’d let a white person on the show, and he says he’s just not interested in what white people have to say. It becomes clear that Abasi is against integration altogether, with a separate African community away from all white people. Marguerite is tired of Abasi’s fixation and obsession with all things racial (as am I—I’d think if the toast burnt, he’d turn it in to a racial rant) and asks him to please not shout at her, and speak in a conversational tone. He gets peeved and starts shouting more and more, at which the old Warrior in Marguerite comes out, and she looses her cool, shouting that she’s not going to listen.

With that, the episode ends, and the promise of more shouting is made. Tune in next week when Latoya calls Ashley on her slothfulness and Abasi declares Marguerite the enemy.