From time to time, I like to give my mom a little vocabulary lesson in popular slang and terms that might appear on the website, UrbanDictionary.com, or in the conversations of young adults. She enjoys being "in the know" and "with it," and I enjoy her humorous reactions to my explanations. In the past, I have told her about "cougars" (ie. older women who like younger men) and "douches," and most recently, I gave her a run-down on "tools." The sanitized UrbanDictionary definition is "someone who tries too hard," but I prefer the following version, "A person, typically male, who says or does things that cause you to give them a 'what-are-you-even-doing-here' look. The 'what-are-you-even-doing-here' look is classified by a glare in the tool's direction and is usually accompanied by muttering of how big of a tool they are."
Last night, as I was watching the second episode of "Top Chef" season 5, every time Fabio, the Italian-born cheftestant and current LA resident, came on the screen, I engaged in the aforementioned glaring and mutterings. Even his name, reminiscent of the severely overexposed male model who used to appear bare-chested on the covers of all those trashy romance novels, set off my tool alert alarm. His accent, immature banter with fellow European, Stefan, and over confident camera confessions only furthered my impression that Fabio belongs in a Craftsman shed rather than in the kitchen.
I spent the entire episode plotting his demise in my head and shooting eye daggers his way when he pooh-poohed Jamie's chilled corn soup as too pedestrian compared to his fancy spherical olives. I had all but convinced myself that I hated him and his over-the-top accent, but as the show went on, I found myself starting to find his toolish behavior slightly endearing. In an episode that was rife with predictabilities -- ie. Jill going home for her Ostrich egg disaster, and Hosea landing on the chopping block due to his unfortunate decision to use canned crab in his uninspired dish -- my opinion of Fabio made an unexpected turn.
As he stood before Tom, Padma, Gail, and guest judge, Donatella at the end of the show, I found myself actually rooting for him to win the elimination challenge. I realized then that he had attained a status that few men of his creed are able to achieve. Over the course of the episode, he had somehow managed to become a cute tool. His earnest defense of his winning dish (ironically more compelling than the abominable defense Jill offered for her ostrich quiche disaster), was a classic moment in the history of the "Top Chef" judge's table -- one that is sure to be replayed during the recap episode at the end of the season. I laughed out loud when the judges corrected him -- informing him that he didn't need to defend his appetizer -- he was there because they loved it too. The moment was incredibly disarming for the Italian stallion, and he seemed genuinely humbled by their praise.
Despite my initial affections for the tattooed Hawaiian, Gene, who many already predict will be this season's fan favorite, Fabio has hammered himself into my heart. I might even like it if he'd hammer his way into my kitchen too. For a tool, he sure knows what to do with a knife.