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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sole Survivor

May 18, 2005

If I’m ever stranded on a desert island, I hope Survivor Tom Westman is with me. And not for the reason you’re thinking.

Yes, the New York City fireman is smokin’ hot, but more importantly, he proved he could survive just about anything, during his 39 days in Palau. The rats, starvation, lack of toothpaste, and abundance of attitudes would have sent me paddling out to sea in a matter of days to flag down a cruise ship, but not Tom Westman.

He won $1 million earlier this week, when he snuffed out the competition to become the ultimate survivor, proving that nice guys sometimes do finish first.

I don’t normally watch Survivor. I prefer to spend my Thursday nights with Joey Tribiani or The O.C. gang, but I did catch a couple episodes here and there and was rooting for Westman.
He caught fish. He built fires. He proved he was the superior physical force on the island, despite being twice the age of some of the contestants.

And he was polite. I know manners don’t seem to mean much anymore, but they do to me. So, I was rooting for the 41-year-old to outlast the other 19 survivors, especially the lazy, ill-mannered ones.

Not only did Tom play the game with integrity, the man is tough. He set several Survivor records, including winning the most individual immunity challenges (five out of seven) and being the oldest winner in the show’s history.

In the last challenge, Tom proved he was invincible. (And maybe a little nuts.) He crouched on his toes, bobbing on a buoy in the ocean for almost 12 hours, as he tried to outlast Ian. I can’t imagine doing something I love for 12 hours, let alone something as uncomfortable as that must have been.

Ian, the 23-year-old, finally gave up and forfeited his shot at $1 million. He said it was to redeem his friendship with Tom, to make up for lying and double-crossing him earlier. I think the seasickness must have turned Ian’s brain to mush. But whatever.

It was Tom, after all. I wouldn’t want such a nice guy mad at me either.

Originally published 5/18/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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