Oh Housewives. You always fight on vacation. Except last night you weren't on vacation. You were just here in old Stinktown City, stinking up the place. Why do you do this to us?

The big old book creaked open and our fable began, with Ramona and the ruinous flagellation strop known as Kelly attending a Badgley Mischka show. This is a fashion line run by Dan from Gossip Girl and the ladydetective from Law & Order Rape Squad. So Ramona's cockatoo head perked up and fluttered and cooed, while Kelly cracked and stretched under the hot lights. The Beggin' Strip started complaining about Bethenny, about how they had a fight over arthritis and Bethenny had lobbied the most insulting insults of all insults at her. She sarcastically called her Madonna. Kelly growled that it was rude and talked about jealousy and then kindly said to Ramona, who was wearing a captain's hat and quietly singing The HMS Pinafore in Greek to herself at this point, "I mean, that would be like me being jealous of you. That's ridiculous. Why would I be jealous of you?" So kind, Kelly.

After the show, Ramona had to give a special secret coded message to Penn and Mischka. Then she and the cinnamon stick that's been in the cider a bit too long went to a purple room full of drinks. Ramona tried to talk her off a Bethenny ledge, saying "She's had a hard life..." Kelly snapped back "I don't care. I don't care if she grew up in the woods." Suddenly Ramona's face turned both pale and red at once, as if some great conflict were rising up in her. "What's so wrong about growing up in the woods?" she asked, trying to sound innocent. Meanwhile she was desperately making sure that her pointy ears and curly elf toes were well hidden by hair and special shoes. "You know, it's not so bad. As long as it's not a Buttercup Famine or Snorbinkel Season." She paused, ruminative. She added quietly "Snorbinx killed my whole family." But Kelly wasn't listening, she was busy being packaged as blackberry Fruit Leather and sold to the children of hippies for their lunches.

Jill remodeled her house and fought with a gay person. Everything was over-budget and Jill wanted credit for everything, but so did the gay person. Jill's husband, Limon Zerga from Ocean's Eleven, just nodded and chomped a cigar.

Other remodelings were happening in gloomy, needle-strewn Brooklyn. Alex and Simon found a pile of sticks and plaster and decided to put a name tag on it that said "Hello! My name is House." But it's not much of a house, just a few rats and two little blonde glowworms squirming around in fancy Victorian pants. Doesn't matter to them, though. They had a few designers over so Simon could brag about his wonderful head for numbers and aesthetics. Simon said that he'd bought some art recently. One piece was apparently a gigantic photograph of Alice Cooper with a snake. Sounds lovely. Simon then said something about how, as a kid, he didn't read regular books like Winnie the Pooh or Fear of Flying. He read encyclopedias. He'd always flip through, reading intently... "Pendulum: a hanging thing... Penetration: an invasion... Pen— Oh... Oh dear..." There he'd sit, with his bonny little sailor hat on, in his parents' parlor. Just a boy in Queensland, mesmerized. Some growing something snaking its way around his insides, gripping him tight. "Oh my indeed," he'd whisper.

Then it was time for the main event! In this corner we have, showing up a half hour late, a tall column of burnt craisins. In this corner we have a lady who diets by drinking lots of margaritas. They met at the Brass Monkey and smashed into each other like two puttering Vespas, the clanking of thin strips of metal and leather echoing throughout the Way West Village. Kelly was pissed about the Madonna comment, Beth was pissed that Kellz was pissed and so they just barked at each other. Kelly kept saying dumb things about how they weren't friends and that they weren't kids and why is this childish shit happening, seeming to completely forget that it was her who had called The Meeting in the first place. Bethenny shot back that Kelly only collected famous people as friends and remember that one time when Kelly creak-wrinkled her way up to Beth's man and began flirting with him? That story was sort of fuzzy.

In the end, Kelly thrashed Bethenny in the face and ran away to go beat up her twink boyfriend. And by beat up her twink boyfriend I mean go to the bar downstairs and flirt with some strange European man. He tried to calm her down saying that most people like her (this is actually not true) and that her ugly, stupid, ironically childlike boots "remind me to the Pink Panther." They remind me to Bubble Tape. Bethenny left the bar, dumbfounded by the encounter, while Kelly seemed satisfied yet annoyed that the whole thing had even happened. How dare Bethenny show up to a meeting that Kelly had arranged?

Then, as it always is, it was off to tennis in New Rochelle. Ramona had put on her Zummi hat, taken a big gulp of Gummiberry Juice, and bounced her and Bethenny there in one mighty leap. Her beautiful, be-maned husband was there playing tennis. "It's just amazing to watch him at this level," Ramona mouth-mopped about this terrific tennis event in the most famous town for tennis ever, New Rochelle. I played tennis for quite some time as a youngster, and let me tell you. Mario and his partner? Were not very good tennis players. All this thwacking and thrashing. Ugh. Terrible strokes! Just terrible. Meanwhile on the sidelines, Ramona was playing a zither using only the power of her mind while Bethenny told her the Story of Kelly, which ended in the heartbreak we now know of all too well. Ramona was wide-eyed (more than usual!) and surprised that Kelly had said "I'm up here, and you're down here" but wasn't quite sure who to like best. I guess it will have to depend on the circumstances. Mario and Luigi swished and flitted mightily, but in the end, Ramona put on her toadstool hat and little purple vest, teetered over, and said "I'm sorry, but the Princess is in another castle."

Jill's apartment was still being remodeled. The gay person was there, trying to flirt with delivery men. Then there was a problem with the TV. "Liiiiiiimon," Jill whined into her pink phone. "Send some men over to pick up this TV." In the background, the gay person got tangled up in his rainbow suspenders and accidentally hanged himself. "Liiiiimon, send two more men over to pick up this gay person."

Back in Ramonaville, she and Mario were enjoying a fancy dinner and talking turkey about tennis. There was still some ongoing ridiculous fight with Jill about a rematch and who Jill would be playing with and Ramona didn't understand because Mario invented tennis and why couldn't anyone understand that? Then she got mad at Kelly because in her widely-read (by Kelly) PageSix Magazine column, she'd said that she was introducing her RHoNYC friends to the world of fashion. Which was not true in Ramz's case! See, she'd been a buyer for this company and that company and this fashion concern and this U-Haul by the side of the road selling oranges and partially-soiled blouses. Her resume, if true, is actually sort of respectable, but it was weird that she rattled it off to her husband, Mario, who presumably, already knew these things. It's not like there were television cameras there or anything. Anyway, Ramona changed the subject by saying "Oh, hun, I want to show you something." She reached into her enormous purse and pulled out a little velvet étui. She opened it up and inside was a bright red kazoo. She smiled, widened her eyes (more than usual), delicately played one loud, honking note, and everyone in the restaurant fell over dead. Heads in soup, ears in spaghetti. Ramona beamed. "Neat, huh?"

Kelly, still fuming from not being treated as wonderfully as she demands, decided to commiserate with Countess Crackerjacks. So she had her black chariot pick her up at her house and then tried to tell her the tale. Crackers was actually pretty cool about the whole thing. She chastised Kelly for calling The Meeting in the first place, and then chastised her again for being egregiously late to The Meeting that she had called. Kelly said "You know, after what she said to me...You know, calling me Madonna (ha ha, as if I were that famous! Ha ha, I mean but I am kind of famous right, so like it sort of could be true, right?? Ha ha, right??? Madonna. Me. A comparison), she could have waited all night for all I care." Lunzie smiled and leaned back in her seat. She reached into her purse and pulled out a flask. She took a long pull. She offered it to Kelly. "You want? It's Rumplemintz and grape Juicy Juice." Kelly reared back, shaking her head. "Suit yourself." Lunz took another pull, then lit up a cigarette. She looked at Kelly, hard.

"Did I ever tell you about the time I was living in Coeur d'Alene, doing odd jobs? Well, I was shackin' up with my girl Mikki and her brother Ray Ray in the single-and-a-half wide their aunt'd left them when she died in a hitchhiking accident. I was doin' odd jobs. You know, cleanin' gutters, midwifing shadow babies, givin' rub and tugs on an old mattress I kept out behind the Food Lion. Anyways, so I'm at this bar we used to go to, The Fur Trapper, one night and this girl's workin' there. She's got like real big puffy honey blonde hair and little jean shorts with studs in 'em and this Seger t-shirt cut up to look all sexy, you know the type. So we get to talkin' and she's a cool chick, name 'a Ginger. Ran away from home, back in Kalispell, had some drunk fuckin' stepdad or whatever who used to take a drink in the pink every so often, if you catch my particular meaning. Anyways. We got to talkin', got to be friends. Until this one night. I'm just crawlin' out of a three-day K hole and my hands are chapped from workin a double out at the Food Lion mattress and I go up to the Fur Trapper just lookin' for a few drinks, a few laughs. Well Ginger gets to yappin' and just won't shut her damn trap. So I snap at her, 'Hey Ginge, why don't you shut that damn noise hole of yours.' And she slurs back at me 'Well why don't you just shut yer damn legs.' So I throw an ashtray at her and she gets out the soda gun and before we know it this old drifter Mel was basically dead on the floor and I got kicked outta the bar. I said I was never gonna talk to her again, never ever. Well I moved on, you know, mama's gotta keep on keepin' on, and was doin' cocktail at the Tail Feather in Bend when I got this phone call. It was ol' Ginger. Don't know how she found me at Darryl's place, but she did. She was all cryin' and stuff and I just said 'Hun, I'm still mad. And I don't want to talk to you.' She was carrying on about bein' in real bad trouble but I just hung up the phone. 'Cause I was fuckin, you know, mad as hell."

The Countess paused. She turned to look out the window, smoke curling around her face.

"Well, turns out she went missin' a day or two later. They didn't find her for 'bout a year. I was engaged in a brief commonlaw marriage to a lumberjack up in Humboldt at the time, but you know, Mel the drifter, he tracked me down. Showed up at my door with that sad little hat of his in his hand. And I'll never forget it. He just came out and said it, you know? 'Ginger's dead, Loony. She's dead.' Yeah. Well. They'd found her, mostly bones at this point, out near the Caldor's they started building but never finished. Out by the highway. You know. One of those places. Guess it was that boyfriend of hers, Trent. Or her stepdad finally caught up with her. I dunno. I guess I just wish. Well. I wish..."

She trailed off, took another pull from her flask.


Kelly just shrugged and they kept on driving. She couldn't be bothered to consider another side, because it was time for a PageSix Magazine party! (Their first and, maybe, last!) Everyone was there. That lady who wrote Sex and the City and the Countess and Kelly and Alex and Simon, begging photographers to take their picture. Everything was going fine. There was an awkward conversation about how Crackerjacks almost became a Duchess (a higher title). She didn't, because the Count's dad or whoever turned it down.. But oh it doesn't matter, right? Countess sounds better anyway, right?? No. Actually. Duchess is much cooler. But yeah, everything was going swimmingly until Jill and Mario started talking about tennis. She shrieked at him for being annoying. He bellowed at her for being entitled and thinking she was way more famous and important than she is. And they were both right! Husband Limon just stood on the sidelines, awkwardly, trying not to wrinkle his fancy purple suit. Eventually Jill tried to treat her driver, Wayne, like security. Because he's a black person, I guess. Wayne just shook Mario's hand. Secretly you could tell that both Mario and Jill were having fun, so that was actually amusing.

Then Ramona teleported over to a tent where Simon and Alex were arranging each other into interesting poses. "If you put your leg here, and your neck... here. Perfect." Simon decided he wanted to talk to Mario about being friends with Jill and Mario just sort of nodded awkwardly while Simon yapped on, sadly. He just wants some man... friends. Just some friends, I think. So everyone was getting along perfectly nicely until Simon had to go and say "See, we're getting along tonight, just like the first time we hung out." And then Ramona's tea kettle boiled over and Gummiberry juice dripped from her pores. "No we did not!!!"

See, Ramona was embarrassed because only one short day after she'd taken the von Kempen Dorfs to a fancy religious jewelry party and introduced them to all the fancy religious people, she'd found out that Alex had nude photos that were being released in the prestigious InTouch magazine. What an outrage! An embarrassing disgrace! When, at the fancy religious party, Ramona began talking to the ice sculptures and hired a shrimp cocktail platter to babysit for Avery, that was one thing. But when someone went to the party and then a while later that same someone was found to have been naked once, that was just the end all. Simon shot back that Ramona was a hypocrite. See there was another time when Ramona was running around making out with some Playboy model (shudder) who is like naked all the time. That was different though, because they're weren't crazy religio's there! But one side wasn't listening to the other side so everyone just yelled at everyone. Simon eventually stormed off, calling Ramona a hypocrite. Ramona grumbled "I am so not a big-toothed amminal that lives in the mud and eats black people."

So the party ended and the blood was mopped up and everyone returned to their houses to stew. Mario and Ramona played a game they invented called Sex Tennis, which involves a fresh can of Wilson balls and the soundtrack to Pirates of Penzance. Jill wandered around her fancy new house and, once again, determined herself the winner of all of it. Bethenny poured herself another SkinnyTini and left another nasty comment on Kelly's blog ("ur not Madonna, ur not even Ace of Base").

LuAnn, the Count off somewhere, opened a bottle of wine and got an old, worn shoebox out of a top shelf in the hallway closet. She sat in a chair by the window and opened it up. Inside were ticket stubs and parking tickets, photos and postcards, buttons and cigarette butts, beer caps and old lighters. She sifted through the things until she found what she was looking for. It was a yellowing Polaroid picture. In it were two girls in their late 20's. One was a younger LuAnn, the other a skinny, nervous looking girl with huge blonde hair. In the photo they were brandishing cigarettes and shot glasses, clinking before they gulped. In the background was an old fellow sitting by himself at the end of the bar. LuAnn ran her hand over the photo. "Goodnight, Ginger old gal," she whispered. She put the photo back in the box and sat, looking out the window, the city humming along as it has for years and years and years.

Kelly, still angry, had driven, through the night, to the Hamptons. She arrived very late. As the first tiny slivers of dawn began streaking into the sky, she stood in her kitchen, angrily flipping through magazines, looking for mentions of her name. Then something caught her eye. Some quick, bright something moving outside. She looked out through the window. There, at the far edge of the field, was a skinny blonde girl, twenty-six, twenty-seven maybe. She was standing, almost teetering, in too-high heels and a sad little acid-washed denim skirt. Kelly knew. She knew who this person was. "Ginger," she whispered. The girl in the distance raised a wobbly arm, and waved. Kelly, astonished, quickly waved back. And then she disappeared. Into the trees or just up and into the sky, into thin air. Kelly couldn't quite tell.

Scared, exhilarated, she ran to the phone. She dialed LuAnn's number.

"Hey Lu, you up?"

"I am. I am. What's up? What're you doing?"

Kelly stood, holding the phone, looking in the hallway mirror. How had her face gotten this angry, she suddenly wondered, this stiff and hard? It seemed so strange to her all of a sudden, such an alien thing. A bug. A magic trick. A joke told out of place.

She sighed. Gulped.

"Nothing," she said quietly into the phone. "I guess not doing anything at all."