Re: Interview with Gary "Pappa Smurf"
- From: "Steven L." <sdlitvin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 03 Mar 2007 18:41:44 GMT
On Mar 2, 12:28 pm, "Barbara L Sherrill"
BY ROSS RAIHALA
Fans of "Survivor: Fiji" spent the last two weeks watching local contestant
Gary Stritesky in very obvious pain. He took a nasty tumble during a
challenge and spent most of his subsequent screentime holding his head in
his hands and mumbling incoherently.
But during a phone interview Friday morning from New York, it was clear that
the 55-year-old bus driver from Ramsey is not the suffering type, even if he
did exit the show on a stretcher. His booming voice and amiable, energetic
personality suggested that his teammates affectionately dubbed him "Papa
Smurf" for reasons beyond his white beard and blue shirt.
Here's what he had to say about his time as a Survivor:
So Gary, the big question - what happened? Did the medics figure out what
was wrong with you?
At first they thought it was a heat rash, but I knew it wasn't. You noticed
all the bug bites I had? It was an allergic reaction to the bites. That's
why I had the loss of breath and the nausea. Oh, man, I'd never had anything
like that happen to me. I couldn't focus. I couldn't stand up straight. But
once they got the anti-toxins in me, I was in pretty good shape.
Your tribe was the first on "Survivor" to live in relative luxury, with an
elaborate shelter, a kitchen, a bathroom and plenty of food.
We were definitely the "haves." I couldn't complain at all. I anticipated it
was going to be a lot tougher out there. It was still hot, and you don't
always know what's going on. And it's not like you're eating at Perkins
everyday. But you were eating with silverware, and I didn't expect that on
It seemed like you got along well with your tribemates.
I met some good people. Most of them were my kids' age, so it was a lot like
being at home with my own kids. There's a lot ways you can upset people. You
don't want to be the bossy old buzzard. That's not going to get you anywhere
but sent home.
During one challenge, you had to eat pig snouts. How'd they taste?
We had them when we were kids. You'd take the head and tail and ears, chop
it all up, put it in a gel, chill it and put vinegar on it. So that was a
cakewalk for me.
Why do you think the show's producers chose you?
I think it's the wide diversity of things I've done and my ability to get
along with people. I've always dealt with people. (On the show) your
inhibitions disappear after two, three days and you start talking about a
lot of things. My communication skills helped, along with the ability to
sell ice cubes to Eskimos.
Was it a good experience, even though you were forced to leave the show?
Yup, it was. The people at CBS were fantastic. Everyone along the way was
really good. It's a page in my life that will never be forgotten, no matter
what. It was an absolute thrill.
Putting aside any insider knowledge you might have, do you have any personal
favorites to win the $1 million?
You know, I got along with a lot of them really well. There's only a couple
I might not have beers with now. It would be a toss-up, to be honest.
There's about a dozen or so I could see winning.
You're in New York today, doing press and living it up. Is it back to
reality next week?
Oh yeah. I'll be back on the bus Monday, picking up the kids. But maybe this
summer, I'll get out that Harley.
So perhaps in "future" seasons they'll have Benadryl handy for the
Benadryl isn't enough for the kind of severe reaction he was having. That qualifies as an "anaphylactic" reaction, which requires IV antitoxin.
And there's no way to know in advance who's highly sensitive to those toxins and who isn't, making it impossible to prescribe Benadryl in advance unless you give it out to all the Survivors as a matter of course. Most folks get a bee sting or two and it's no big deal. But I have a friend who carries an Epi-Pen with him at all times because he's so sensitive that just one bee sting will cause him to collapse.
Steven D. Litvintchouk
Remove the NOSPAM before replying to me.