As things start loosening up again, as though someone has sprinkled milk of magnesia over the crowd, I find myself right near Matt and Gary. Gary talks about his origins in Minnesota's Iron Range, specifically a small town near Hibbing, named Zim. Which I've never heard of, despite having been to the Iron Range several times, but I'm prepared to take his word for it. Matt is wearing a casual suit, tie, and trucker hat, with his hair dyed purple and down over his forehead. He's not wearing the pre-printed nametag that racers are provided. He's also got his girlfriend with him, an attractive alt-blonde with a lip piercing. I don't catch her name, but according to the pre-printed racer nametag she's wearing, it is also Matt. Wow, what are the chances? That must cause some confusion.
While most of the lead teams (save Brian and Ericka, the former of whom loves mingling with everybody in a ten-foot radius while the latter willingly entertains smaller groups, which makes them the nicest racers there in different ways) migrate towards the back to what I have come to think of as the head table, I spot Justin sitting quietly by himself near the end of the bar and head over there. After expressing my sympathies over how he and Zev went out, I ask what it was like to watch the rest of the season. Of course Justin says it was hard, although he does say he's had a few months to get over it. The worst part, he says, that was that every week, all the way up to the hay bales, another team did something stupid. "We would have been okay if we hadn't fucked it up," Justin admits. Hard to argue with that. It certainly worked for Brian and Ericka. I remark on how great he and Zev got along even when everything came apart at the end, and Justin says Zev's a great guy. "You should go meet him." I mention that I saw him heading toward the back, looking very focused. "He always is," Justin says. He's super appreciative of my remarks, which makes him the nicest racer there.
I overhear Ericka telling someone that everyone has their moments, and they can edit you any way they want. Or maybe she didn't say that at all. Maybe that's just the way I'm editing this.
Any tension remaining between the Americas and the brothers over the stolen cab controversy seems to have passed. Which they demonstrate several times through the night by showing off their matching tattoos for all the cameras. It's under their left armpits, and shows the Japanese characters they needed to find on the license plates in the very first task, at the L.A. River. Remember? That was the one that Steve and Liz didn't finish and therefore got eliminated before even heading to LAX (Man, Steve and Liz were on so long ago and for so short a time that I forgot their names are Eric and Lisa. They certainly aren't here tonight). Brian spends a lot of the night being asked to pull up his shirt for photos of the tattoo. Sam does too. I assume Dan does as well, but his shirt's too tight to pull it off entirely. At least without pulling it off entirely, that is. So to speak.