Oh finally some fun! After unending episodes of grim cloudy skies and sad rubbery faces, we finally got some Housewives joy last night. I mean, sure there was also fighting and weeping, but there was also laughing. So much laughing.
But before we get to the laughing, we have to start with the murmuring. Do you hear it, in the trees? Whispering through the leaves like the creepiest parts of Lost? It's got a low, lazy timbre, a hum like dragonflies. And it's getting closer. Closer and closer and now it is joined by the sound of feet shuffling along and the growls and breath of a ferocious hell-dog and closer and closer and — oh don't worry! It's just Lynn.
Yeah, Lynn went out to the park for a dog-walking/serious discussion-having outing with Gretchen. See, remember last week's episode when Gretchen decided that the best thing to use to wash the blood off her hands was someone else's teenage daughter? Yeah, because everyone hates her because of Jeff, she decided to impress everyone by counseling Lynn's daughter Tamela (or whatever) about the Teen Sadness epidemic that's been sweeping teendom since the dawn of human civilization. Tamela, like any normal person, was a bit befuddled by Gretchen's sudden, camera-followed interest in her Teen Blues, so she went to her mom and was all "Why does that blonde rabbit want to send me to McLean's?"
This made Lynn angry. And Lynn angry is much like Lynn anything else — same face, same voice, same brackish, deep-pooled eyes — except she gets kinda snippy and says bitchy little things. Mostly she said to Gretchen that Gretchen just can't possibly understand anything about anyone because she's not a mom. Which is true. Gretchen is not a mom. Unless you count Doug "Slade" Smiley, who is like an overgrown, hairy, Ed Hardy-wearing child. A child with his own children. Yeesh.
But yes, mostly Gretchen doesn't have any kids. That doesn't mean that she doesn't understand kids, but that wasn't what Lynn was saying. Lynn, in the grand fashion of these housewives, wasn't talking about her kid or looking out for her best interests. No, Lynn was talking about herself. Lynn was annoyed that Gretchen didn't understand why Lynn was mad that Gretchen had talked to her kid. That's what it was about. These women are never not talking about themselves. Yay. Anyway, Gretchen and Lynn were at loggerheads and they couldn't figure out what to do, so they just took their dogs and walked off in opposite directions. Gretchen mad that she'd been found out as a self-promoting sneak, and Lynn mad that someone had noticed that she doesn't so much pay attention to her children's needs as try to superficially mimic them, standing the way they stand, wearing jeans the way they wear jeans. Lynn doesn't have kids. She has role models.
Ah well. They were to meet again and hash things out once more, this time with their men in tow, all dopey and flatly offended. Doug Smiley was acting all snaky and gross like he always is, trying to lecture Lynn about various bullshit that didn't mean anything. He got a wild look in his eyes and said something about how he and Lynn are friends and if they're friends he's going to tell it to her straight and Lynn and everyone else just seemed so confused. Because, wait. Lynn and Doug are friends? I don't think Doug knows what that word means. Either way, Lynn pretty much emerged the victor. Because, yes, anyone who's allied with Doug loses by default, but also because despite her brain being nothing more than a half-eaten Pot O' Gold appetizer sampler from Bennigan's, Lynn is quick with a cutting remark. Though she says it so daftly and dumbly that I wonder if she's being clever or if she just has no filter. Like if words just sluice out of her mouth and she has no control over it. Whatever the case, she said appropriately mean things about Gretchen appearing nude or whatever on the internet and getting sooo drunk at that dinner party that one time last season. You know, Gretchen stuff. Boingy boingy rabbity Gretchen stuff.
I wondered if Gretchen was sad that she didn't have kids or what the F was going on. And then I thought with a shiver about Gretchen with kids. A cozy Christmas morning, the kids giddy, even in sleep, curled up in their snowman pajamas. And then suddenly Gretchen kicking the door in wearing a sombrero, brandishing two bottles of tequila, crisscrossing bandoliers of shot glasses and salt shakers lashed across her bouldered chest. She'll dance a manic cha-cha for the kids for a moment, shrieking "Margaritassssss!!!" only to stumble down the hall and pass out a few minutes later, sitting on the carpet with her head on a couch cushion. How special Christmas will be in the Smiley household. I mean, it's already so pleasant for Doug's existing kids. Where are they, by the way?
Moving down the sunburnt pavement, we come to Tamra and her curdling life. Husband's being a shamed grump — useless now that he's broke and his trophy wife wants to learn how to cut and chew her own food — and her oldest son from a previous mistake just can't get his life together. He's facing jail time for unpaid parking tickets, he stole Tamra's car while she was on vacation and now Simon hates him even more, and worst of all he looks like a shark. Tamra just doesn't know what to do with this broken life that she broke. Ryan swears he's going to get his act together, but haven't we heard that before from everyone on this show and they never really do.
Later in the episode Ryan talked about how his buddy was going to get him a job as a "brand manager" or some such nonsense and we all groaned and rolled our eyes and thought "Suuuuure." And we were right to think "Suuuuure." We weren't being sarcastic and we didn't even know it! Because Ryan DID get this coveted brand manager job from his buddy and Tamra was awfully proud and Simon raised his orange eyebrows and he seemed vaguely impressed, because at this point Simon doesn't really have a job himself. I mean, sure he runs bootleg tequila across the border, but that's not something you can really put on your tax returns. So Ryan the Brand Manager is now the breadwinner for the Barney clan. (Isn't it just perfect that Tamra's last name is Barney?)
Godsy St. Jesus, nee Juggs Jackson, showed up for a bit to get a massage and talk about "me time." Yes, she does need a lot of me time. Because she's got those three little people that are always making noise and she only has two nannies to take care of them. Plus her husband Ed Hardy is always wanting to put strange powders in her drinks and then she wakes up and all she remembers is the sound of bologna being thrown at salami and for some reason she's got a new diamond ring and a thank you note lying on the pillow next to her. So yes, she really does need her religious massages. It gives her the energy to go and get her necessary manicures and face treatments. It's hard out there for a simp.
All of these above paragraphs are just preamble to last night's big, laugh-filled event. Vicki had a sleepover. Yes even though Vicki really hates all these women and she'd rather be playing a game she and Donn invented called Pogo Sticks, she signed this damn TV contract and has to hang out with the goils. But she really doesn't want to leave the house. So she invited them all to come stay over for a slumber party and it just brought back such memories.
Remember when you were a kid and sleepovers were like the best thing ever? (I mean, they're still the best thing ever, but for very very different reasons.) And remember all the sleepovery activities you'd do? Like scream and shriek a lot and make jokes. And pig out on delicious food and stay up late. And get completely puke-in-your-pants shitfaced? That last one especially. Oh, such memories! Well that's exactly what these ladies did. They all showed up with their rolly suitcases (for a night) and immediately started glooping jell-o shots down their gullets and slurping wine and Gretchen got out her El Margarita Mariachi outfit and it was just a big hootenanny. Everyone did a pretty good job of pretending they were having fun.
One of the best things that happened was that Lynn was late. Of course Lynn was late. She is always late and getting lost. One time she didn't come home for three days and finally some squeaky-voiced stockboy found her buried under a pile of cabbage at the supermarket, slowly trying to gnaw her way out. "It tathetht purple," she said, cabbage bits dribbling out of her mouth. Another time she said she was going for a jog and a week later they found her running a small, modestly-successful stationery store in Spokane. "Oh right..." she said softly when the police told her all about her life in Orange County on the long car ride home.
When she finally showed up all the other girls were tittering about her and Lynn said "I just walked into the screen door! Did anyone else do that??" And the others just sort of giggled and said "No..." and Lynn shrugged her shoulders. "Well I've gone right through 'em before. Just right through." And I really, really believed her. I fully believed that Lynn has spent a reasonable amount of her life walking clear through screen doors, barging and stumbling into the house like a monster or zombie, "Oh... for God's... oh... door! There's a door here... Oh jeez... Not again..." If Lynn was Polish, she'd be the first one out of the submarine.
After everyone laughed at poor old Lynn, Vicki said she had a surprise. Gretchen, I'm sure, eagerly expected a stripper. Tamra hopefully imagined Vicki handing them all huge sacks of money. Lynn frustratedly tried to figure out what "supper eyes" could possibly be. And Juggs smoothed her hair and straightened her dress, sure that Jesus would soon come crashing through the screen door to take her to women's heaven. But only Vicki knew the true surprise. And the surprise was...
Oh. Wait. No, I'm sorry. It wasn't that Doogal. It was a gay psychic named Doogle who could read auras. Hm. All the girls, but especially Gretchen, were all "What kinder name is Dooooogle! Dooooogle! Hee hee hee." Because they are mature women. Most of them were skeptical of the psychic, but for different reasons. Lynn didn't trust him because she considered herself psychic, and she could use her psychic abilities to see that Doogle the Color Reader wasn't actually a psychic. Sounds scientific to me! Gretchen didn't believe in it because he said not very nice things about Doug Smiley, so... deal, broken. Godsy didn't like him because she doesn't believe in "that kind of profession", which is Jesus code for "witchcraft." After wrestling poor Doogle out of Godsy's arms while she tried to throw him in the pool to see if he'd float like a witch, the gals all had their colors read.
Most of the readings were fairly accurate, because I'm sure Doogle just watched past seasons of the show on DVD before coming over that night. Also, you can kind of meet any of these women and immediately decipher: "Oh, they are completely dependent on their husbands, terrible to their children, and wildly insecure." I mean, that's like reading a picture book. Poor Doogle just really needs another job. Though, apparently ditzy Orange County women are willing to pay him big bucks to show up at their ladyadult sleepovers, so, actually... Keep on truckin', Doogle. Keep on truckin' along.
During the seance, Tamra broke down and cried and said "I'm scared my son is going to die young" (she hadn't seen the rest of the episode yet and didn't know that Ryan would soon be a highly successful brand manager for a nationally-managed brand!). Doogle frowned concernedly and said "He's not going to die young." Which, whoa whoa whoa Doogs. What if he does? You're going to feel pretty awful if he dies young and then Tamra shows up to your house and pounds your chest with her be-ringed fists and shouts "You were wrong, Doogle! You were wrong! Oh, Doogle..." But whatever. He probably hopped in his gypsy wagon right after this and rolled off into the night, the rainmaker shuffling on to the next rube-filled, unsuspecting town.
After Doogle flourished his cape and disappeared in a puff of smoke (you could see him diving through some french doors and stumbling away through the bushes if you used DVR on the high-def), it was time for the evening's main event: The TP'ing of Jeana! Yes, mean old Jeana who quit the show and tried to make everyone else feel bad because she thinks she's too fancy for this show and she doesn't know what she's talking about so we'll show her. Luckily she lives next door, so it was the perfect crime. "Hey, Vicki, was it you and your sleepover guests who came running onto my front lawn throwing toilet paper around, chased by a camera crew, at midnight last night?" "Um... no... that must have been a different old lady sleepover being filmed for a different TV show." "Oh, OK. Makes sense to me."
All the ladies dressed up in their black costumes and luckily Tamra had brought some masks (though she supposedly didn't know about the TP'ing before she showed up? Were the masks for something else? Hm. One word: Fidelio.) Before they left the house, they barged into Vicki's son's room (Lynn was glad he didn't have a screen door) and he was lying there shirtless with his laptop open on the bed. Which... Oh dear. All the ladies just giggled and screamed and the little baked potato wrapped himself more snugly in his tin foil and dreamt of his own place where he can do his... nighttime word prcoessing... in peace. Then it was time to go on their mission!
I'm sure Godsy felt wildly awkward, because she didn't know Jeana from Eve. (Eve Kretzler, who lives down the block.) But whatever, it was part of the deal she'd signed. So they all shriek-whispered and skittered over to Keough Farms. Vicki said it was mostly a harmless little prank, because she and Jeana had the same gardener and Julio would probably just take it all down. Because yes, that's the agreement most reasonable people have with their gardeners (if most reasonable people had gardeners): "Hm... OK. Well let's see. Lawn needs watering about three times a week if it isn't raining. And these azalea bushes can get a bit unwieldy so you'll need to keep those trimmed. These thorny bushes should be kept small because the kids keep tracking the prickers in and then the dog or someone with barefeet steps on them. Oh, and you'll occasionally need to clear a lot of toilet paper out of everything because some drunken middleaged women will have thrown it up there during a sleepover." Perfectly sensible.
Once the ladies got back from their big adventure, the sleepover fell apart. Usually there's one whiny kid at the slumber party who can't make it through the night, but today there were four. Everyone wanted to go home to their own beds and Vicki didn't want to sleep down on the floor anyway, so she said goodbye to everyone and they all drove off in their enormous cars, drunk as monks, and no one thought anything of it. Vicki stood in the driveway, waving goodbye. Up above her a blue glow in a window finally turned off and her son went to sleep, sans light but still blue. Vicki padded back into the house, shut the huge mahogany door, and crept up into her enormous bed. As she lay there falling asleep, she swore she could hear the lapping of waves. "Oh, Donn..." she said as she drifted off. He was staying in a hotel that night, but she'd see him tomorrow, once the sun rose again, as it does every day.
In the morning, with the faraway dogs barking and the sprinklers pfitz-pfitzing and the birds darting noisily from tree to tree, Jeana trundled outside to fetch the San Diego Wealthy Patriot, the area's political paper of record, and she saw the whole mess. Toilet paper strung and draped over everything, wet and sticky now from dew, bits of it fluttering in the breeze. Her mind flashed back to Halloweens many years ago, the sharp wicked thrill of those nights, all the things she'd done back then, or rather all the things she'd watched slouch-shouldered boys do, snickering to each other, while she and the other girls waited passively in the car, smoking cigarettes and inspecting mirrors. She wasn't sure why, but something about seeing that toilet paper that morning made Jeana's chest feel tight with sadness, with the loss of ages and time.
She knew it was Vicki and her sleepover friends, had seen them creeping around doing something the night before. As she stood regarding the damage, Vicki came stumbling out of her own house, on her phone. Jeana could hear her saying "Donn? Donn? You're breaking up..." She finally gave up and ended the call and as she looked up she saw Jeana standing there. A guilty look flashed across her face but then it quickly morphed into a smile and she gave Jeana a big hearty wave. Jeana smiled wanly and fluttered her hand in return and turned back inside. She'd need to call Julio.
While she waited for him to come rumbling up in that rusty old truck, she sat in the empty house and thought about waking up at slumber parties when she was a girl. How decadent and perfect the night always seemed, all the possibility of the eternal gap between two days laid out before you. But then in the morning how strange it was, to wake up not in a bed, not in your home. How suddenly faraway you felt, how disconnected and lost from all that you loved. All you wanted was to return, to go back go back go back. To something familiar and easy. Fun was fun, but life was life. And life was more important. "I don't miss the cameras," she said out loud. To no one. To herself.
Outside the sprinklers were done and the sun had come out to warm the world, to shine ever brightly and evaporate all of it.