Reality Bites: My Strange Addiction

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There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

We're all of us addicts. Often it's fairly innocuous, like caffeine or tentacle porn, but some of us dunk our heads rather than dip our toes in the River Lethe and are carried away by dependency on alcohol or drugs, sometimes never to return.

And then there are the weird ones. TLC's My Strange Addiction chronicles the fringes of addictive behavior, and unlike some similar shows, they provide a bare minimum of lip service to the idea of seeking treatment for these people. The message is pretty clear: Ain't no money to be made in normal, well-adjusted folks.

"My name is Nathaniel, I'm 27 years old. And I'm in a serious relationship with my car."

Hearing these words spoken by what appears to be an actual human being (terrible rudimentary porn 'stache and Cosby sweater aside) leads me to believe we, as a society, have failed young Nathaniel. Not too long ago, somebody like him could have lived out his life in Royal, Arkansas, enjoying carnal relations with his economy sedan to his heart's content and no one but his immediate neighbors would've been the wiser.

But this is the 21st century, and networks are so desperate for content they'll run any old objectophile up the flagpole and hope he doesn't fellate it.

It's our own fault. We've become so desensitized to the sight of hoarders or bedbug infestations or Bethenny Frankel we don't even bat an eyelash when some dude decides to slip it to his Chevy Lumina. In short, we have not given Private Pyle, er, Nathaniel the "proper motivation."

If this sounds like I'm calling for the citizens of greater Arkansas to administer what is known as a "sock party," sight unseen, to Nathaniel...that's because I am. We're not even a minute into this farce and I can't prescribe violence fast enough.

Nathaniel has been in a -- *sigh* -- committed relationship with his car "Chase" for five years. He takes the car on dates, enjoys sexual relations with "him" and pines for his presence when they're apart, just like all young lovers. His roommate Kim worries about people ridiculing her friend for French-kissing a car.

Lady, I'm not making fun of him for groping an automobile (you should see the girl I hooked up with in France), I'm doing it because I think "Nathaniel" is full of shit.

Why? Because he says he's "worried that it may affect his job" if word got out about his relationship. This explains why he allowed his unaltered face and voice (as well as his hometown) to be broadcast to millions of homes, I guess.

I feel sad I'm devoting so little time here to the show's other subject, Houston's own Jaye, who's addicted to snorting baby powder. Hers is a sad story, and one with actual potential health ramifications (though I suppose Nathaniel could suffer genital burns should he not let Chase's exhaust pipe cool sufficiently). Jaye's story elicited more of an emotional response, because it's obvious her addiction is something out of her control that has negatively affected her life.

The big dramatic moment for Nathaniel is telling his father about his relationship. Bless his heart, Dad worries that maybe his and Mom's divorce caused this (Nathaniel allows it may have "played a small part"), but is ultimately accepting.

Again, I have to call BS. Hey, dad: Your son just told you he FUCKS HIS CAR. Either you wrote that kid off years ago or my own father overreacted slightly to my getting my ear pierced.

At least put the kid in NASCAR, where automobile fetishism is accepted, if not encouraged. Hell, maybe enjoying sexual relations with your stock car helps your chances. I mean, I'm not saying Dale Jr. would have won a championship by now if he was riding that Chevy Impala in the Biblical sense as well as the competitive, but who knows?

Both principals end up seeing doctors. Sadly, Jaye gets no negative feedback regarding her habit, and so seems unlikely to stop. Her lonely existence will continue, with few friends and a house limned with talcum dust. Nathaniel, he who is so concerned about negative ramifications, is likewise undeterred.

I'll say this for Nathaniel and his ilk: At least "Chase" is an inanimate object. Skeevy as the thought of a guy laying the pipe to something with actual pipes, it's light-years better than the weirdos who do it with their pets, most of whom I'm guessing aren't really comfortable with the idea of inter-species romance.

That's the closest I can offer to acceptance, pal. Take it or leave it.

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