Oh ye accursed dark clouds, why have you returned to Orange County? After a few slightly-less-than-tragic episodes, we were greeted last night with the crumbling of a family at the happiest place on earth, a Southern California shopping mall.

Yeah, I'm talking about Lynn. Poor sand-blasted Lynn. When God saw that lonely woodchuck sitting glumly by the riverbank, all by itself, softly sighing and diggin' in the dirt with sticks, and he took pity on it, and made it human, so it could meet other humans and be loved, do you think he knew that Lynn would turn out the way she has? Do you think he ever wishes he'd just kept her that solitary woodchuck, so she could have just a nice confused and woodsy life, instead of the weird and garbled (and confused) Orange County existence she's leading? I know that God is infallible, but maybe this was his one mistake. Lynn the Woodchuck should have stayed Lynn the Woodchuck, lo those thousand years ago.

Haha, oh I'm joking. There is no God. But! There is a Lynn and there is an Alexa, the teenage daughter of all of our nightmares — a girl whose looks aren't quite sufficient enough to make up for her bratty, petulant whining. A girl who will just up and leave the damned house even if you told her not to, because she's a teenager and no one has ever been a teenager before, she and her friends are the first ones ever, so Lynn just don't understand. For her part, Lynn doesn't do much but bug her beady little eyes and softly moan in the general direction of her daughter, hoping against hope that the strange dull sound will be enough to bring her back to the nest. Of course it isn't, so the two got in a fight in a shopping mall.

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After picking Alexa up at her friend Britches' house, Lynn drove them over to a mall where they were going to go shopping for various brown-toned clothing items and maybe they would get iced coffees and lazily slurp them like all pretty disaffected women and girls are supposed to do. But before they could even set foot in the Agnes B., Lynn wanted to talk to Alexa about why she didn't show up to the house when the Teen Counselor had been there to do Lynn's parenting for her. Alexa made some decent points about how Lynn just wanted the easy way out and about how Lynn should be doing the parenting herself, but as much as I agreed with her, I just don't think that was the real reason Alexa was upset. Alexa was mostly upset because she doesn't like being told what to do. Because, again, she's the first teenager there's ever been, so how can anyone tell her what to do? It's not like they know anything about how to be a teen.

Lynn and Alexa were just on two different sides of the river and they would probably never come across halfway to meet each other. So instead Lynn kept murmuring and Alexa said horrible nasty words like "bitch" and "kiss" and "my" and "ass" and "fuck." To her mother! In a shopping mall. This greatly distressed Lynn, as it should have, but nothing was more distressing than when Alexa said "All you want me to do is stupid commercials for your cuffs!" And then she hurled one of Lynn's precious cuffs across a table. Lynn was horrified and grabbed the cuff and softly cradled it and her feelings were just so hurt that Alexa could be so careless with something she loved. She'd poured her heart and soul, her time, into this cuff, wanted great things for this cuff, wanted to send this cuff out into the world strong and beautiful and loved and valued, wanted it to be a better cuff than any of the cuffs Lynn had ever had. She believed the cuff was the future. And Alexa had just tossed that spangly shit clear across a damn table. Daughters be good to your mothers, or else John Mayer's gonna come around and masturbate all over you. More swears were said, and then the scene was over.

We move on. We go to Tamra and Simon, who are packing up their mini-mansion to move to a shack down by the dunes. Tamra isn't feeling quite so divorcey about Simon these days, mostly because financial no-moneystorms are harder to weather alone. Plus they've got those kids, good kids, who are now so old they ride bicycles to school. Sure they go slowly and sometimes Simon follows them in his car, but for the most part there they are, pedaling away, faster and faster, while Tamra stands on the doorstep and watches them go, shielding her eyes from the bright bright sun, and she thinks, "You know, it's true. That old thing, that old joke. About them growing up so fast. They really do." And then the kids have turned the corner and the block is once again quiet and still. At least the third one is still young and immobile, so Tamra goes into the house to find it, to scoop it up, to hold it close and never let it go.

Later in the episode, Tamra and Simon were cleaning out their big garage of memories and mysteries, and the littlest Barney was wailing and whining about all the stuffed animals she had to give away. I sensed an astral connection between the little Californian thing and the older Jerseyian thing, Dina's daughter, and the episode where she had to throw out stuffed animals. I also thought about Hoarders, which is also about people weeping over old things being thrown out (only the weeping is a much, much creepier kind of weeping). Hoarders is a show I watch while sitting on the edge of the couch, clutching my chest, and then when it is over I feel terrible and know I need to clean my room. Hoarding old Parliament Light packs isn't even a terribly good thing to hoard, is it? Anyway. After a spell Tamra was digging around in the garage and said "Aha!" and out she came with an enormous knife. I mean this thing was like... forged by a Klingon blacksmith. And of course, with a shuffling of scales and the smell of sea brine, sharkboy Ryan walked up and claimed the knife as his. Of course Ryan would have an enormous spaceknife in his mom and stepdad's garage. If you look up the word Ryan in the dictionary it says: "Ry-an [rahy-uhn] Noun A grownup individual who keeps gigantic spaceblades in his stepdad's garage and comes to get it when they're cleaning the garage out because they can't afford their house anymore." That is what Ryan means.

If you looked out into the distance during the garage enema, you'd have seen Gretchen zooming by on her motorbike, that present from Jeff that she didn't know how to use until very recently. Yes today was the day that Gretchen would finally actualize herself, would strap that hulk of metal and slurping gasoline between her legs and rumble off into the Negroni sunset. It's like at the end of How I Learned to Drive when Lil' Bit is talking about recovering from the pains of the past and moving on with life and she says, her last line, "And then I floor it." Gretchen's Motorcycle Moment last night was basically that. Just pure rush and speed and thrusting forward, that past hard and sharp and gravely behind you, and never forgotten, but still behind you. Gretchen looked like a glorious beacon of hope there on her blood-red Harley, wearing her little leather shrug and leopard-print riding shirt. She's the real deal. A real biker chick. And a makeup designer!

Yes, Gretchen puttered back to her house after her Breaking Away-style fast ride through Indiana, where her friend was waiting with a sack of makeup. See, Gretchen used to be a successful real estate agent, "the Madonna of Real Estate" they used to call her apparently. But when she met Jeff she stopped working to take care of him. But now that he's gone and she's broke — she had been willed two and a half million dollars but, um, Jeff was in three mill of debt when he died it seems — she's decided she needs to be self-reliant again and start her own business. And the only "business" any Housewife can ever come up with is to either make cuffs or start a makeup/skin care line. That's it. And, um, isn't starting a makeup line kind of hard and scientific? Where is this makeup coming from? I think it's just cheap Mexican makeup that Gretchen's friend Britchina (I think she's Britches' mom) smuggled over the border. Now they're just going to slap their name on the El Boca-brand "makeups" and that will be that. Gretchen wants something fun and flirty and sassy. Britchina wants something classic and universal. This business is going to fall apart.

Vicki and Donn are the opposite of falling apart. They are seventy years old and doin' great! Vicki has gone from being kind of awful and annoying to just being hilarious comic relief. In this episode of That's Our Vicki!, Vicki and Donn went to oceanside supper and everyone got pooped on. Well, mostly the waitress got pooped on. While she was doing her best "Hi my name is Britches and I'll be your server. Our specials today are..." lame, overly-enunciated, smack-lipped spiel that all waiters who are trying to be perfect do, some unseen heaven-bird pooped on her head. Vicki's eyes grew to onion size and she started sputtering "Poooooo...ppppp....Poooooopppp....!" and pointing wildly at the waitress's head. The waitress suddenly went ashen white and her mind flashed horridly back to that day in sixth grade, that day when Mr. Fluke the janitor had been cleaning the girls' room for an exceptionally long time and she'd had something weird to eat for lunch and all of a sudden there was nothing she could do and suddenly she heard Trini Moxon, that horrible girl, shriek in that crackling wail of hers, "Pooooooooooopp!!!!! Ms. Cranberry! Britches poooooooooopppppped!!!" And then all the kids, even her beloved Timmy Woods, had pointed and shrieked and laughed and held their noses and said "Poooooooppppp." And Vicki slobbering there, chortle-barking "Ppppp...ooop... Don! Poooo..ppp..." just brought it all back.

So she scurried off and Vicki and Don chuckled and then Don gave Vicki what was basically a small private airport's landing strip completely covered with diamonds and then turned into a ring. It was just like an inch of diamonds. It was horrifying. Vicki leaned over the table and her forked tongue darted out over Donn's face and while she was leaning, her billow sail dress dipped into the scrimps cerktail serce. Oops! And then when she sat back she managed to spill some of her wines on herselfs and Donn chuckled and Vicki chuckled and everyone chuckled louder and louder, so loud that you could almost not hear the pained cry and subsequent gunshot that rang out from the waitstation. That's our Vicki!

Do you see that bobbing glow over there? Do you see it? Well, if you follow that celestial light, let it guide you like the silver doe patronus to the Sword of Gryffindor in Deathly Hallows ("NERRRRDDD!!!!," that terrible Trini Moxon screeches), then you will eventually be led to the holiest of holies, the mecca of Coto de Cazual. It is, of course, the home of Juggs Jigglesby and her horrible husband Ed Hardy. They are so very pious. In the morningtime, Tits Frazier has been up for hours boiling eggs and then her boiled egg of a husband comes sauntering down in his all white outfit (because he is both religious and in a boy band) and she serves him eggs while asking his permission to have the girls over for a party. He grumbles and guffs and gives her sage fatherly advice and then he lays hands on her candied cans and yes, she is allowed to have the party. Then they go and get their son's hair cut into a mohawk, while Ed lurks weirdly in the corner, barking orders at the hairdresser. Boulders Blixen says "is that the hairdo you want?" and Ed Hardy says "Honey, guys don't have hairdos. They have haircuts." Yes, because such shit-mouthed semantics really matter when this kid is like six fucking years old you ugly fucking caveman fuck. I HATE HIM SO MUCH. Later Lumps Lindehan says about her cute little son, "He's like a mini-Ed." Oh terrific. Can't wait for him to grow up and hate women as much as his daddy!

Anyway. The party in question was a gourmet cooking party, where all the girls come over and there are all these delicious ingredients laid out before them and they put on their aprons and... have a gourmet chef cook their food for them. Oh well. As if any of these women would know real gourmet food if it rang the doorbell, walked into the house and said "Hi, I'm Gourmet Food." All these women taste is lime and salt. This food is wasted on them. But oh well! That wasn't the point anyway. The point was for Gretchen and Tamra to be in the same room as each other and not fight. This was what Mounds Merciful wanted to do. This would be her legacy. As Clinton made Arafat and Rabin shake hands in the Rose Garden and then make delicate love to each other in Lincoln's Bedroom, Flops Findley would smoosh Gretchen's and Tamra's faces together and say "You're married! You're married now. You love each other." Then she would grab the screeching cat and shove it in Tamra's hands and say "Kitty's your baby. That's your baby now."

But sadly this grand peace accord didn't happen. Gretchen and Tamra are, after all, perfectly capable of being in the same room together and not yelling their heads off. They've proven this several times before. I'm not really sure what Bulges Birmingham was on about. The real conflict ended up being between Gretchen and Stinkface, known also as Lynn. Once again the whole thing with Gretchen taking Alexa on a weeping therapy date came up and Lynn was just frazzled and at wit's end, so she just ended up shrieking "Bullshit!!" to Gretchen. Like daughter like mother. Gretchen kept telling Lynn how to parent and finally Lynn just burst into a blubbering mess, wailing to Funbags Fletcher about how her kids were so little and perfect and "just watching TV." Lynn wanted to go back, she screamed, back to when it was easy. She scratched at her face and ripped out her hair, she keened wildly, she tore at her clothing and hurled herself through the sliding glass door. Out on the lawn, bloody and staggering, she wept some more and then crumpled into the grass, saying the word "teenager" over and over again, interrupted only by wet watery coughs. All the other Housewives walked out into the yard and formed a circle around Lynn.

They joined hands and closed their eyes and began intoning soft, witchy Housewife words. Lynn's cries began to quiet and soon she was just lying in the dusky grass and softly whimpering. The Housewives chanted more, faster and faster, louder and louder, and Lynn's front teeth began to grow. Fur started popping up in strange places, she was shrinking. After a bright whir of light and a rumble of earth, there was a silence. The Housewives opened their eyes and looked down. There on the lawn was a pile of clothes. Clingy dress, knee-high boots. No Lynn to be found. But then a rustling, a movement from under the pile. And out poked a woodchuck's head. It looked skittishly at all of them and then darted away, into the bushes.

"Goodbye Lynn!" Gretchen called out, waving goodbye.

"God bless you!" Gongs Gordon yelled.

Tamra stayed quiet, just silently waving her arm as she watched the tiny brown creature scurry off into the distance. She thought of her own little ones, pedaling their little bikes, small legs straining, the wheels turning faster and faster.

Those wheels spinning and spinning and spinning, the whole world moving forward, the great symphony in full swing, the electricity and swell of all things pulling her along. Pulling us all along, further and further into the night.