It happened again last night! Six strange women crawled, Ringu-like, out of my television and nestled their weathered and brittle frames against me. It was both terrifying and oddly pleasant. Let me describe.
When an episode of the Real Housewives begins with people fighting over who should hold a bag of shit, it might be time to pack it up, turn off the lights, and lock the door. Because you've just summed up the entire show in one two minute segment. "Here you take the shit." "No, you." "Not in the Porsche!" "Aieee!" In the Hamptons, on the side of the road. Arguing about dog shit. Really, there's no need to go on. But I will anyway!
Those two shit-arguers were none other than Ramona—a wisp of the magical Golden Fleece that Jason absent-mindedly snipped off, that flew into the air, and over thousands of years mixed with rain particles and the dried-up wings of mud daubers to become a lady, animate—and Bethenny, the skinnygirl cook who spends a lot of time complaining about women she spends a lot of time with. They were enjoying a late summer stroll, before the Hamptons shutters for the season and all the townies emerge from their hurricane hideaways and tornado shelters to see what damage has been wreaked. (One fall, they thought they were free, but then they heard a low Jurassic moan and out of the bushes stomped the Barefoot Contessa. And she never left.)
Also enjoying the Hermptinz was the Countess Crackerjacks, who was walking around her house, which was full of dead animals. Much like the scene in the O.G. Texas Chainsaw Massacre when the girl who eventually gets impaled on the meat hook runs into the house and sees all the bones hanging and screams and screams and screams, poor Rosie the Maid (Misssstah J!) had to wander the manse, screeching at carcasses and then burying them in the yard with makeshift crosses, as if they'd died in some inglorious battle. Which, in some ways, they had. Crackerjacks eyed the bones and flesh and skin of the hamster and fish and dog and cat and old man husband slumped over in an armchair and ferret and beetle and Rosie hanging from a noose in the pantry and the guinea pig, but she did not feast upon or bathe in the blood, as she so longed to do. Instead she packed her daughter up in a steamer trunk and sent her off to boarding school. More time to go to Celine Deeeyon! ("Do you like her Rosie? You do? I should have brought you. I had an extra ticket. Oh well. Go dust something.")
Over in the Zarin Zone, Jill was horrified that her gay hack interior designer was acting like a gay hack interior designer by getting rid of her furniture and suggesting she put shutters on a window on the 143rd floor. So the zeppelins can't look in! Why was Jill slaving through this horrible, terrible renovation, perhaps suffering more than anyone else in these worrisome times? Because seven years ago she was a classical girl, or something, but now she's a "mid-century modern" girl. Which. Sigh. I was unaware that "mid-century modern" meant "I was standing in the kitchen scratching my ass and watching Desperate Housewives and I liked Bree's couch so I googled it and that's what a website said." But still, good for her. She deserves it.
Alex and Simon returned from St. Barth's, miserable and wretched as ever, squawking and crawling over each other like a pile of horseshoe crabs. Nothing got done at their house while they were gone. They were away for like a week, and they seemed to expect a brand new mansion when they got back. But no, it was just exposed beams and nails and dust that they happily let their two young sons tromp through. Little Johan looked terrified, and kept murmurng things about The Floor People. Alex just chuckled softly and said "Oh honey, you know we haven't seen any of The Floor People since they took your sister, Madeline. They probably won't come back anytime soon." But Johan wasn't so sure. He'd noticed that things in his room seemed to move overnight. His toy firetruck that he swore he left by the nightstand would be across the room, pointed eerily at the closet. Waiting. He also awoke one night to hear scratching on the floorboards and he swore he almost heard a faint, nasty, tiny cackle. But Simon and Alex said no, it was impossible, that gypsy had blessed the house and rid it of Floor People once and for all. They were sure of it. Also, sometimes, in the late afternoons, they missed Madeline.
Bethenny meanwhile was preparing herself for a date by having lunch with Crackerjacks. I guess subjecting yourself to abject misery for an hour or two is a good way to get psyched up for something, anything, else. Just so you might get the horrible Dementor chill of LuAnn out of your bones. Though she did not ask for it, Bethenny was served a heaping plate of advice from Lunz about how to date men. You see, they don't like being "too equal" to women, much like gay people appreciate not being able to get "quite as married" as straight people. Bethenny blinked at Crackerjacks, eyes glazed over and replaying the 1994 Michael J. Fox film Greedy in her head. Cracks' advice: "You want to lean in really close... And speak softly... And ask him a lot of questions... And when he isn't looking, you just dart your hand into his pocket and steal his wallet. Then you wait for him to go to the shitter, and when he's gone you haul-ass outta there. You hotwire his Datsun and drive all the way until you hit Idaho. Then you let a drifter grope your left titty in exchange for a hit of crystal. Then you end up, after a fuckin' four day fuckfest bender man, whooo boy, you end up in Crescent City, Northern Cee Ay. And you cocktail there for a little while, dance at one of the no-beaver places for a bit. Then you hitch logging trucks all the way to Baja and spend a few weeks baked out and listening to the Allman Brothers and just mellowing the hell out. Then you meet a rich old dude who's throwin' money around like a Count or something at the Playa Club and trick him into marrying you by slipping some 'ludes into his Daiquiri and dressing your friend Tito up like a priest. Works like a goddamned charm. Man I fuckin' miss the 80's. You know what I mean, man? Do you know what I fuckin' mean? Goddamn." She sat back and lit up a Doral, blowing the smoke out in huge gushes. Bethenny smiled and nodded.
On her date, with a doughy chef from STK or whatever, it was basically an audition for a cooking show, as he explained in chipper! cheery! detail how to put lettuce on top of a cube of watermelon. Bethenny complimented how clean the counters were, then sat on one while eating. Which is fine. Next time you're at STK, remember this: the secret ingredient is Bethenny's butt. The date went fine. He was nice, but a sort of a nerd. He liked people to have "cool factor" or some such phrase that he read in the Burger King Kids' Club magazine. Bethenny played along but seemed less than thrilled.
Which is what she said, essentially, to Alex when she was giving out cupcakes to strangers in Central Park for something called the "Salute the Sun" festival or whatever. Alex graciously came to help stand around and talk at the cameras. Bethenny said that she wasn't really so into the STK guy for like dating or whatever and Alex said "Well, you never know." Then she relayed the story of how she and Simon met while trolling the internet (of course! of course), looking for "one night stands." Which. I. Oh. OK. Has this ever happened to you? You're watching a TV show and someone says something gross that conjures up images of two windsocks made of human skin billowing into each other and all of a sudden, blood starts pouring out of the faucets and you hear a strange scratching on the floorboards and a acrid wisp of sulfur and clove cigarettes smell fills the air? Oh, you have? Good me too.
I appreciate Alex's candor, which went even further to mention that she and van der Beauf beauf'd on the second date, but Holy Clams there are certain things you just do not talk about on television. Your weird Francophone children might see this someday, Alex! Bewaaaare! Bewaaaaare!
Ack. OK. At some point there was a party hosted by Sting and some other idiot and all the Housewhines went to seem fancy and bullshit. Ramona dragged her OMIGOD SO HANDSOME, HE LOOKS LIKE THE PALM-SIDE OF A REALLY NICE SUEDE GLOVE husband, and had an awkward encounter with the Duchesses McCord and van der Beauf. Basically, she ignored them. Which is fine. Almost respectable! But Ramona's reasoning makes little sense, as she's not really in a position to call them out on anything. Earlier (or later, who the fuck knows) she went shoe shopping with her
life-sized doll daughter Avery. She put some sexy black fuck-me heels on her thirteen year old and then described her as "sexy." Sigh. Avery was clearly horrified and Ramona's reasoning was that Avery was uncomfortable having an attractive mom type. Which. Hrrm. I think, and I'm just venturing a guess here, I thiiiiink that Avery is probably more upset with the fact that her mother was the star of the documentary on which the landmark film Mannequin is based. And that when Ramona talks it looks her English has been dubbed in from the original Dutch or something. But what do I know? Ramona decided to buy boots with clear rhinestones in them. Outside of the store, Avery wept while Ramona stood, softly singing "Greensleeves" to a parking meter.
Because Bravo has a sad contractual obligation to pay some withering attention to her, new and (probably soon-to-be-gone) Housewife Kelly had Crackerjacks over to her home—in Chinatown? Nolita? the Harbor? Who knows!!—for some sort of meal. Basically it was the dreamy Sam Talbot from Top Chef teaching Cracksy, Kells, and two blonde children how to roll chicken up in lettuce. Lunz managed to set fire to her fur coat because, you know, wrapping lettuce around things is tricky. Kelly accidentally impaled herself with a leaf of iceberg and fell over dead. Sam just whistled and backed away slowly, then turned and ran out the door. Cracky was left alone with the two blinking, blonde princesses. "Hellooo...." she said low and strange. "I'm Mrs. De Lesseps... Who are you..." The little girls trembled. "Do you have a house made of gingerbread and candy in the middle of the woods?" LuAnn regarded them, strangely. "And what if I did? Would you want to go there?" "I don't know," one of the terrified little creatures whimpered. Cracky's eyes narrowed to slits. "Oh you would. Trust me. You would." Then she noticed that one of the little ones had cut her finger with a lettuce shard. A small trickle of blood dribbled out. Her eyes flashed red. "Let me help you with that!" she snapped as she lunged for the child's hand. But her bones are rickety and old, and the child was quick and limber. "No, that's OK. I'm fine." The older of the two girls was a smart one. She made a cross with her fingers and said "I think it's time you left." A low growl came tumbling out of LuAnn's throat. "What a lovely home you have," she said disingenuously before disappearing into a mist of shrieks and smoke.
Speaking of lovely homes, Jill went over to Crumblingdale to give Alex and Simon some decorating advice. Her first bit of advice was small but sage: Don't live in a crumbling shithole. She was, of course, terrified by the dirty chairs and the clothes stuffed everywhere and the nails and the pile of dead hobos and the dust and that Francois was lying moaning in a corner, giving birth to a litter of badgers. Then Johann came running out of his room. Jill was terrified. He was wild-eyed, his eyes red with deep purple bags under them. His hair was a ratty mess. He smelled of bologna and applesauce and stale B.O. He was wearing soiled underpants and was draped in a white sheet. "Johan, say hello" Simon urged. "Helllppp me..." the small boy croaked. Alex chuckled nervously. "He's just... Well, he's been having some trouble sleeping. " Johan shook his head. "They're coming... every night... I hear them... scratching." Jill's eyes widened. "Good lord, honey, who's coming?" Johan turned pale white. He leaned in very close and whispered "The Floor People."
Jill ran screaming out of the house into the street, but not before yelling "You live in a shitty neighborhood, so any original detailing you find during your construction is probably shitty tooooo...." Which was nice. So Alex and Simon turned stern again and said "Enough of this nonsense, go to bed." The poor frail boy looked desperate and crazed. "But... But Madeline..." he whimpered. "No. To bed," Alex demanded.
Across the river, Ramona's ears perked up. She detected something strange in the air, like a tuning fork. "Something's happening," she whispered. Nearby, LuAnn sat in her dark, ornate living room, reading a magazine. Her fingernail was running back and forth across the top of the side table. Scritch-scratch, it went. Over and over.
Scritch-scratch. Scritch-scratch. Scritch-scratch.
As they made passionate, gummy, slit-like love to each other, then slept the sound, snoring sleep of lovers, Alex and Simon could not here the scritch-scratch... scritch-scratch...Scritch-Scratch...SCRITCH-SCRATCH getting louder and louder and louder and Johan's terrible screaming and then a great hissing and whispering, like demons coming spilling out of a fissure in hell's marbled ceiling, more terrified shrieks and the sound of bedsheets tearing, of legs kicking, of tiny feet or paws skittering across the floor, a great crack of lightning, one final swallowed "Nooooo..." and then silence.
When they walked into Johan's room the next morning, they saw the torn sheets and nothing else. He was gone. "So he was right," Alex stammered. "They're back." Simon nodded, gravely. "They're back. Well, they're not getting Francois, those fuckers." They ran to his room. He was lying peacefully on his bed, nursing his badger pups. Alex became distraught.
She ran to a window and began to weep. "Oh Madeline. Johan. Oh I'm so, so sorry. My dear sweet babies. I curse you, Floor People! And I curse you, gypsy! Liar. Lying gypsy. Oh Johan. Oh Madeline..." Simon came up behind her, he hugged her tight. After a while, he murmured in her ear, "Come on, let's get started."
So they did. They sat right down and began their book, their easy guide to good parenting.