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Irulan and Alton battle it out. She berates him for his cavalier behavior, then tells her boyfriend Gabe about her affair. Josh Wolk explains

The Real World | FIGHT CLUB Irulan and Alton take their sexual frustrations out on one another
FIGHT CLUB Irulan and Alton take their sexual frustrations out on one another

Irulan and Alton battle it out

Okay, I'll admit I got a little too apoplectic about the ''Real World'' last week as the neverending story of Alton and Irulan continued to never end. So I did some meditating and other Zen exercises over the past week to calm myself down, such as pondering the age-old koan, ''What is the sound of one hand giving my television the finger?'' and I think I'm ready to tackle the Jan. 28 episode with minimal use of the phrase ''FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET THESE PEOPLE OFF MY TV!''

Irulan was still threatening to leave the show; she didn't know what her fling with Alton would do to her relationship with Gabe, and ''rather than trying to make sense of that, I'm going to pack my s--- and go home.'' Ahhh, Irulan: mature to the bitter end. The Irulan/Gabe problem occurred because she didn't think carefully about the ramifications of her actions. What better way to react to those very ramifications than not think about them? Irulan is the kind of person who tries to get ink stains out with red wine.

She ultimately decided to stay in the house, but her arguments with Alton continued. At one point he yelled, ''F--- you!'' To which she retorted, ''You already did, really hard! Bitch!'' This is what it would sound like if David Mamet wrote for the WB.

There really is no right side to the Alton/Irulan contretemps. All of Irulan's anger at Alton's actions can be dismissed with the single sentence, ''But you have a boyfriend.'' (It's so obvious even Steven pointed it out.) On the other hand, while Alton technically has no restriction against cheating, his constant declarations of love while hitting on half of Vegas do muddy the responsibility waters. The only way he could send more of a mixed signal is if he were to propose to her while punching her in the face.

Then there's the fact that he keeps denying the threesome that he was caught on tape confessing. When he swore on his murdered brother that it didn't happen, I wondered, Could he have blacked out and forgotten it? Doubtful. Maybe he was too drunk to remember telling anyone, but it's impossible to be too drunk to remember the threesome itself. Isn't that the kind of thing that you tattoo into your brain so you'll always have it to recall when you hit a slow patch?

He told Irulan, ''That'd be cool as hell if I had a threesome in Australia, but I didn't!'' Frankly, if I were his lawyer, I would have advised a different defense: He's essentially saying that it would be fantastic if he screwed her over, but the cards just didn't fall his way. I would have taken the Johnnie Cochran approach: Cite the lack of evidence and say, ''If you can not find two bras, there was no ménage à trois.'' And then, when Alton was acquitted, I would have him vow to find the real threesome guy.

Then Irulan decided to face Gabe and tell him what happened. I was hoping to hear the same reaction that Montana's boyfriend Vaj had back in ''Real World: Boston,'' when he said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- ''LIAR! WHORE! LIAR! WHORE!'' However, Gabe was far mellower, saying coldly but calmly, ''Why did you think I'd be cool with that?'' But why was it ultimately she who hung up on him? When you call someone to tell them you've screwed them over, it's fair to assume that they have call-ending rights, not you. If they want to hang up in your ear, cry all night, or just blast an airhorn into the phone for three hours straight, you just sit there and take it.

After that, it looked like Alton and Irulan were going to keep their distance, but heaven forbid I get anything I wish for. (Whoops, I'm getting angry again. Remember my happy place, remember my happy place...) Alton appeared in her room and the two embarked on a Miz-worthy wrestling match all through the house in their underwear that couldn't have been more a blatant case of sexual sublimation if they had gotten in a food fight and threw salamis and clams. Water glasses were thrown and pool sticks were snapped... all of which, I might add, was touted as a brutal battle in last week's coming attraction, yet turned out to be purely innocent. What happened to truth in advertising? What next, an MTV clip turns out NOT to be truly buzzworthy?

In the end, the battle proved cathartic. The two are friendly again, although Irulan did rebuff Alton when he tried to climb back into her bed. So they both slept alone, and perhaps it gave them time to think, and possibly meditate. I hope so. It certainly helped me tolerate them for another half-hour, so imagine what it could do for them.

Originally posted Jan 28, 2003