The Two and a Half Men Project: Judd Nelson and the deaf prostitute

(Courtesy of CBS)(Courtesy of CBS)I will be recapping episodes from this season of "Two and a Half Men", in an effort to learn more about in the culture of the American Man, while also watching TV. We all know the ideals for a woman in this age: thin, powerful, obsessed with fashion. But what are pressures and fantasies of the guy? I'll be reporting every Tuesday after returning from the Monday night prime-time trenches.

The actual title of the episode was "Hookers Hookers Hookers" but there was only one. Her name was Silent Betty, she costs about $1000 an hour, looks like a Victoria's Secret model and only speaks in sign language. Man Lesson 1: In the cochlear implant debate, guys vote no. In Nerve Personals terms, quiet is sexy, deaf is sexier.

I'm starting to think the show is ripped from a routine by a Borscht Belt comedian entertaining the troops in Viet Nam. For one: Betty? I'm pretty sure the last prostitute with that name retired in 1965. Then there's the matter of the term 'hooker.' It's quite dated, with roots in war stories, from men whose moments of tenderness during battle were business. Their love, far away and long gone. I'm starting to think something very dark and very painful happened to Charlie in his past.
The character, not the man.

In a lot of ways, he represents a generation who grew up with Archie Bunker dads who drank on a Laz-e-boy, cursed at the TV, told war stories and kept a lot of secrets. It's a generation that, as adults, delved into therapy, learned to talk about their feelings, and attempted to work through the fear that they'll never be good enough in the eyes of their father. Look at Charlie: gruff as a father figure but as open about his sex secrets as anyone in the Prozac nation. Man Lesson 2: Men have serious dad issues.
But let me backtrack.

In the last episode, Alan moved out of Charlies house and in with his new girlfriend, played by Courtney Thorne Smith. Then he accidentally leaves a pipe smoking all night. Ding dong! Alan, charred and wrapped in a blanket on Charlie's doorstep, with his new blended family in tow. Yup, Charlie's got a full house again. Fuller than ever.

Meanwhile Alan's relationship is deteriorating in part because of the burnt house, in part because his girlfriend keeps farting at him. He points out that it's a hostile fart. Man Lesson 3: It's not our farting that upsets guys, it's our decision to let one rip. They know in the beginning, it's our worst fear, so when we start to do it without apologies, it's a sign we've given up on them. Man Lesson 4: They're smarter than we realize.

All of a sudden Charlie has to go back to Alan's burnt house because he left his Blackberry there. (It's a stretch but I'll bite.) He really needs to get it even though it's late at night; it has all of his hooker numbers. This was the first hooker joke of the episode. Right smack in the middle. So I thought it might be the only one. Charlie's joking right? Or does he really get late night hooker urges that he acts on? The answer is yes--which is compelling.

So he goes to the burnt house, finds his phone and decides that night he wants a hooker who won't talk at all. Ol' Silent Betty at your service. But wait, is someone else in the dark, charred remains of Alan's former future life? Holy Brat Pack! It's Judd Nelson.

It's a dimly lit scene, which may have been in Nelson's contract, but I will say he looks mighty fine. He's lost the "Suddenly Susan" depression pudge. His sexy angular face is starting to sink in well and offer clues to how Mickey Rourke might have fared had he not fallen in a vat of toxic waste.

Judd is Courtney Thorne Smith's ex husband (not in real life, unfortunately). He's drinking from the proverbial bottle and reminiscing about his old life and where it went wrong. Here's where: he slept with the babysitter.

Go Go Gadget brain parallel: Babysitters = Hookers in the strange world of sitcom men. Judd's a legend among the suburban male neighbors for hooking up with this hot young girl at the expense of his marriage. Man Lesson 5: The age 19, a.k.a babysitter age, is a sweet spot for married men.

Charlie joins Judd for a drink and in walks the goofy guy from that awkward improv show and that awkward Drew Carey show. He's a side character, who's married to Alan's ex-wife. He's the guy who's a good catch for women but a weakling in the eyes of men. A doctor who doesn't cheat but would give his right arm for the chance, he idolizes Charlie's daily-STD-test-requiring lifestyle. Man Lesson 6: Men consider their ex's new partner castrated.

The three guys talk about screwing a hot, barely legal babysitter and how awesome it would be. Charlie, the only perpetual bachelor, takes a moment to infer that being married and having kids might be better than being single and screwing hookers and then quickly changes his tune. Somewhere in here, Alan comes to the burned house.

So now we've got representatives from "Ferris Bueller," "Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink," all sharing a bottle of booze and bemoaning relationships. It's a good moment. And a cause for me to play the game Screw, Marry, Kill. Here goes: Judd, Jon, Charlie. (Feel free to play your heart out in the comments section.)

Alan gets drunk and calls his girlfriend to cry. "You farted at me!" he accuses, between gasps of shoving pizza into his maw. (There's my Duckie.) Enter girlfriend who was just on the phone. Everyone's hanging at her burnt down house, even her ex-husband. Turns out she wants to play my game too, and leaves Alan and Charlie to screw Judd.

Now Alan and Charlie are left to sit on the burnt couch alone. Cue Silent Betty. With a big, earnest, never-been-kissed smile she arrives (10 minutes, people!) in a red dress, all sexy like. And Charlie's off. What a strange thing to do in the middle of the night. Order a deaf prostitute, who luckily is gorgeous and has teeth, to come to your brother's burnt down house. Where were they going? Back to Malibu, where Alan's teenage son lives? Or to a hotel? What led a deaf woman to turn to the sex industry, and has it been a long, tragic road for this young woman? Where are her parents, did she run away from an abusive family or foster care? Is she hooked on some pricey painkiller prescribed after a painful cochlear implant operation that her body rejected? Is she high on then now? Is that why she seems so well-adjusted and pleasant entering a drunk man's burnt down house? Is there a big demand for deaf fetishists? Are most of her clients deaf or sign language adept? Does Charlie really know sign language and if so, is there a chance they'll hit it off and become more than just business associates?
Up until this moment, I figured all of Charlie's hooker talk was never backed up by actual characters playing hookers. I figured you'd hear about them but wouldn't see a woman arrive in the middle of the night to bone the rouge right off this aging drunkard. Because that would be heartbreaking. But once again, the show surprised me. And taught me Man Lesson 7: Eh, it's just sex.