Housewives! Everywhere you look there are Housewives. Under the bed, skittering around in the walls, creeping and creaking under the stairs. And worst of all, they're migrating, they're expanding. Last night the Orange County wraiths headed North.
No, not to the frozen wilds of Nunavut, where they would have enough space and crabby tundra grass to graze for years unmolested. No sadly the Housewives don't know much of Canada — they think it's simply the town where ginger ale is harvested and dried ("Wait... but how does it get wet again?") — so they shan't be heading across the border anytime soon. Rather the girls hopped aboard a Virgin America (oh were America actually virgin — innocent and untouched, still young and dreamy, instead of the worked-over mess of a nearing-middle-aged thing it is now, tired and fat and smoky, pleasuring itself with grim abandon) aeroplane flight and went up up up to San Francisco, descended upon California's taut, brown midsection like the creeping fog.
But before we get to that, we have to go back. Down the highway called five, all the way to the curdled grundle between Los Angeles and San Diego (why must every city in California have two names?). This is a magical place called Orange County, where these hissing shebeasts live. Where they spend their days bobbing for limes in giant vats of sticky-sour booze potions. Where they are often tangled up and snared in plastic-slatted chaise lounges, left to lie awkward and stranded on the patio, calling plaintively for their husbands. It is a place where they are losing their houses.
Mostly I am speaking of poor Lynne. Old Lynne. Stuck, muddled Lynne. Poor stinkhat Lynne, just sittin' there all frustrated, diggin' at the dirt with a stick, sayin' "Aw shucks," and kickin' at pebbles. Squinting her eyes and covering her brow with her hand and looking out over the hilly expanse and just feelin' sorta small and swallowed-up, just tryin' to dimly comprehend all the big, groaning mysteries that exist in this rotten old world. You see, Lynne has become something of a hobo. At the thrilling conclusion of last week's potboiler episode, a mean old Money Man came stomping up to Castle Greylynne and issued her sleepy daughter an eviction notice. Yes, eviction. The sun looked hard and burnished in the sky, like the bottom of a tin can, and everyone gasped and the curtain fell.
Act Two began last night, curtain up and lights on Lynne, standing like a little dustbowl bride at the edge of the stage, wringing her hands in worry. How had this happened? How could her beautiful husband not tell her that they were in danger of losing their rental house? It was all so confusing. Lynne decided to confront her husband in a public park, because that is where Lynne feels most comfortable, near the ducks and the grasshoppers, her aunts and uncles tweeting in their nests in the trees, her cousins blind and wriggling through the earth. And one should always feel comfortable when talking about Money, all-important evil Money. Lynne wanted answers, mister. Give 'em here, buster brown. Her husband shrugged his shoulders and said "I didn't pay a deposit." He really seemed to have thought that he could keep the whole money issue from Lynne, that she'd just trudge on in her oblivious way like always and he'd work his backstage magic and all would be well. But that's not the way this cookie crumbled, and now they've got a big old horking stupid smelly mess on their hands.
But enough about their daughter. She's not the focus (although, "I'm so hungoverrrrr, is this a dream?" did not indicate that good things are going on in her life). The house is. Hubby said he missed the deposit payment and that's why the Kool-Aid man burst through the wall and handed Drunky the walking papers. But doesn't that seem a little suspicious? I mean, do you really get evicted from your rental house after missing one payment? I don't know. If yes, then it must be a really important payment, not just like a late rent or something. I dunno. The whole thing seems a little fishy. The whole thing seemed a lot befuddling to Lynne.
There in the park she sputtered and moaned and demanded to know just what the sam hill was going on and hubby tried to explain it to her in as small of words as he could, but she still wasn't getting it. So finally he took out a piece of paper and a crayon and drew a little picture of a house, square base and traingle top, a little pig's tail curlicue of smoke coming from the upended top hat chimney. Lynne smiled. She looked at her husband and then back and the paper and quietly said "House." Hubby nodded and said "Yes," pointing to the picture. "House." Lynne said it again, this time a little more sure. "House." Hubby nodded his head. "Yes, yes. Good, good." He then pointed to the house and then shook his head. He did it again. And again. And again. Finally Lynne looked in his eyes and he saw her face crumble and she said "No... house?" Hubby nodded his head sadly. "No house. No money, no house." Lynne let out a whimper that turned into a wail. She was so confused. Hubby felt bad for her, but he was mad because Lynne's is a kind of willful confusion. She just liked to spend and spend and let him deal with the money and if she never heard about their financial woes, then they weren't really real. Sometimes if she's being chased by neighborhood dogs (which happens often) she'll hide behind a street sign and press her face up against the pole and figure that if she can't see the dog, it can't see her. The nurses who do the stitches at the hospital call her Cujo on account of all the dog bites.
So this is a mess. A total shitfuck of a mess. Lynne was just furious at her husband for not telling her about their money problems when she had expressly asked him to not tell her about their money problems. She shook her head and shuddered her body and said "Nunh unh, ohhhh no. Nunh unh. I need to... I'm not going to get over this. Whatever, I'm over it." Did you catch that there at the end? Lynne really said that last night. She will never get over it. Whatever, she's over it. This woman can't speak. This woman is so touched in the head — painkillers? my sister thinks maybe she dropped too much acid in her wayward youth — that she doesn't know what she's saying. Lynne says gobbledygook and then contradicts her own gobbledygook. As a final kiss-off before storming right into the flock of geese that lives in the park (and are Lynne's nieces and nephews), she turned to her husband and icily said "Chicken bone finger dance, husband. Chicken bone. Finger dance." She looked satisfied and Hubby just shrugged his shoulders and turned out his pockets and a little moth flew out and flitted around and somewhere, far off in the distance, a lone accordion began to play, an ancient and mournful gypsy hymn. Hubby sighed. The sun twirled and burned.
Let's move on. Enough about Lynne. ALEXIS. We're always loving to talk about Alexis. She's the one who goes by the street handle of Funbags Jackson, and she is a very lovely and pious person who everyone loves and is beautiful. This week she and Gretchen decided to go for drinks so they could be perky and blonde together and discuss the other Wives. There's so much to be discussed! About how Vicki has a cobweb face and smells bad. About how teacher says that every time Tamra farts an angel dies. About whether they should ever have taken that scarecrow named Lynne to that off-brand Mexican Wizard of Oz in the first place, because the pig's brain he gave her isn't really doing any good ("We should have known then. I mean who follows The Corrugated Tin Road?"). These are all important matters, but none more important than alcomohol.
Sweet, sweet luscious booze. Giver of fun and good times, deliverer of evil and joy, the only friend you'll ever need and the best enemy you'll ever have. The girls started talking about the Mai Tais at the Oceanside Grille or whatever Grille they were at (they are always at Grilles, everyone is always at a Grille. They should add the world Grille to everything to make it sound fancier. "Have you had the roast beef at Arby's Grille? I literally wrote home about it. Sat down and wrote a letter to my parents. Who are dead. ... I'm so very sad, Jill. I'm so very sad. But that roast beef!"). Both Gretchen and Tuggles agreed that the Mai Tais are delish, but that's not what they ordered. Do you know what these two brilliant Bravo bitches done ordered? Skinngirl Margaritas. Like what's from that other show that Bravo done air. Two iterations of Housewives converged and it was surprising and sad and wonderful and I'm pretty sure that Jerry O'Connell and Sallah from Indiana Jones finally found their home dimension.
Oh, hey! Speaking of San Francisco! (The show Sliders that I just referenced took place in San Francisco, so now you don't have to go back in time and spend your Friday nights watching mid-'90s Fox sci-fi programming.) The gals always like to have fun activities arranged for them by the producers, and this one was a biggun! They were getting in that horseless air carriage and zooming out of Orange County! This is a big deal. One Housewife will often take a little trip — to one of the Turks or the Caicos, they can never decide which, or to Italy (and, actually, both of those were lil' traveler Vicki) — but all together? Oh man must the rest of Orange County have breathed a huge sigh of relief. Just iinnnnnnnnn and outttttttt. The whole region pulsating with a big satisfied breath. From space it looked like a volcano or an earthquake, but really it was just beautiful joy borne on the back of the wind. The Housewives were gone, if only for a weekend.
Though they're not gone yet! First some things must be attended to. Vicki's daughter was having a health scare and there's nothing funny to say about that so I'm not going to say much, other than that Vicki was just like such a crazy monsterperson when the girl told her. She was like "Oh... I've got a bunch of clients coming in..." when the girl gave her the date of her biopsy. Vicki! Vicki!!!!!!! What're you doing, hon? Why are you doing this? You don't say that. You know what you also don't say to someone who is worried they might have cancer? You don't say "Don't make me cry." You don't make the conversation about you not crying. You just don't. But Vicki and all of these other women are incapable of talking about anything but themselves, especially when those beautiful cameras are whirring in their faces and that blessed furry boom mic is swinging low like a tufted angelic Tribble. Then it is really hard to not talk alllllll about your glorious self and how you don't want to cry! So: Fuck off, Vicki. That's that.
Also happening vis a vis trip preparation is that Bulbous Baggins has to get permission from Earth Jesus, who is her husband Jim. Space Jesus is higher on the religio-scale than Jim, but Space Jesus has been in a meeting in space for two thousand years now, so Earth Jesus Jim will have to suffice. And he does. So Lumps slowly backed into his office on all fours, as she's been instructed to do, carrying a silver tray of sweet meats and nudie mags on her back. Jim nodded lazily. "Earth Jesus is... pleased. He will speak to you. Rise." Tits stood and bowed her head. "Oh thank you, Earth Jesus. Thank you so much. I do hope you'll put in a good word with Space Jesus for me." Jim shook his leathery meat-sack of a head. "Don't worry your pretty empty walnut head about Space Jesus. What is it you want?" And so Jiggles told him all about this wonderful city in the clouds called Sands Francesco and how you can do all sorts of things like ride a trolley cart over the Golden Arches bridge and see the famous confirmed bachelors that roam the Castor and you can go to the top of Telephone Hill and from there you can stare down at all the people who speak Latin that live in Mission Impossible. Oh, Sam Flamingo, you wonderful city.
Earth Jesus fondled his considerable jowls and heaved his gut around the room several times, which is what he does when he's pondering letting the womancreature out of the house. "Wellllllll," he bellowed, gravy tumbling out of every orifice. "I suppose you can go unattended." He then unleashed a great belch and macaroni and cheese went spraying all over Alexis' face and she said "Oh thank you Earth Jesus! Thank you!!!" And then Earth Jesus coughed and an entire honey-glazed ham popped out and he sneezed and it was milkshakes and Earth Jesus bellowed once more, "Now leave me be!!! It's time for my Engorgening!!!" Sacks dutifully backed out of the room, macaroni and cheese dripping off her hair and face, weeping joyfully that Earth Jesus was such a kind god/husband.
So wasn't that nice? Even though Jim doesn't know what to do with the kids and can't be bothered to even learn their names and Alexis is a filthy womancreature who shouldn't go anywhere unattended lest some other male belly up to her and claim her as his, he let her go on her fancy trip for girls. Marriage is all about compromise, guys. We can all learn something from them.
Zooommmm! Whoooooosh! Hiiiiiiiiiiiii. That was the sound of the plane taking off and then that last one was the gay flight attendant. Ha. "Gay flight attendant" is redundant. But whatever! The girls are in the plane and they are flying so fast up to San Francisco and the whole city shudders and cowers in anticipation. Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiine! Broooooommmmmmm! Byeeeeeeeeee. That was the wheels coming down and then the plane landing and then the gay flight attendant wishing them a happy trip. On the plane mostly Vicki and Tamra jibber-jabbered about things and Lynne sat alone thinking about cheese and saying that she needed a break from Hubby and all this money stuff. Alexis was just shocked that this metal beast could fly without Earth Jesus, who had always told her that he was the one making the plane fly, not the pilot or any human mechanics. (Jim had forgotten this little detail. When he remembered it was too late, she was already gone, and he slapped his forehead with his hand a bratwurst shot out of his ear.)
San Francisco glittered and shone like heaven and the girls whizzed by it all in their limo. There was the Embarcadero edging the water like a stern smile. The wealthy brown bulge of Bernal Hill. People standing at Haight and Ashbury, looking intensely at the air, trying to see something that disappeared long ago. It was strange to think of these crooked, knobby wraiths in a city like San Francisco — a storied and cold place, all wind and jaunty history. They stick out like orange thumbtacks and you realize that they can never go anywhere. There is no place in the world for them but the deep, deep burrow they've dug. They're sad and out of place. They embarrass themselves.
Oh how they embarrass themselves! After a little bit of sightseeing, and little more shopping (Lynne bought something! Lynne bought something that was very expensive and I thought about her two daughters and that sad gummy Hubby of hers back "home," sitting on the curb in their tattered clothes trying in vain to send hobo mind-signals to their cousin on the East Coast, the McTattershanty girl), it was time for a big fancy five-star dinner. Ohhhhh. With delicious and interesting food that you will try even if you don't really like the thing on principle because it ought to be very well-prepared and the best example of its kind, you know? Like just try the damn thing. Just try it. That's not a lot to ask of someone who's eating a free five-star dinner is it? Well apparently it is. Apparently it is.
The first part of the dinner involved Lynn drawing pictograms and doing a strange lyrical dance in order to tell the girls that she was a hobo. They were all shocked, except not shocked at all, and they bobbed their heads up and down and slurped their drinks and then Brrrrrringggggggg, Alexis' phone went off. It was Earth Jesus! He was just calling to say hi, to make sure she wasn't currently stuffed under some sweaty man with a gut and a bank account, to tell her that the kids were all either dead or on fire. Alexis smiled as mysterious Hollandaise came burbling out of the phone. The other girls were all "OK, 'evs. He called. No big." But then Brinnnnggggggg. And Briiiiingggggg again! Earth Jesus is so insecure! What a sad twit. What sad twits everyone is.
In one of those short, mid-commercial mini segments they showed Jim at home in the backyard with the kids and a nanny. The nanny was just looking frustrated while Jim was "playing" with the kids. He was trying to shove something stubby and pink into some sort of hole and we all sort of nodded our heads and yet another piece of our soul grabbed its hat and coat and walked out and left us forever and we thought "It's a metaphor for their sex life."
Back at dinner, everyone was crying. Vicki was talking about how her daughter having cancer is really hard on her career and sometimes makes her cry and everyone said "There, there. There, there." And they fed her a martini olive stuffed with blue cheese and she sucked on it and gobbled it like a baby with a pacifier and they all said "There you go, there you go. Olive makes it better, huh? Olive makes it better." Vicki smiled a watery smile and nodded her head and things were OK again. But only for a second! Man oh man these bitches can't go five minutes without crying or screaming, it's really unbelievable. So next Gretchen was eating a delicious cut of poopmeat, a rare San Francisco delicacy (especially in the Castro — hi-o bingo bango horrorshow!), and Alexis said "Hey let me try that," and she put it in her mouth and then was all "Ewwwwwwwwwww poopmeat!" and spit it out with a great gooey slop into her napkin. Vicki was horrified. Absolutely horrified. She started making wretching, horking noises because she thought she was going to vomit and then Alexis was like "Stop now I'm going to vomit!" and they both sat there at this five-star restaurant hacking up hairballs and Gretchen put her head in her hands and said "I'm so fucking embarrassed" and then her chair broke and she fell down on the floor and lolled about and then Tamra was like "What a mess" and then she farted and Clarence the Angel dropped out of the sky, dead as parsnips, and then Lynne stood up and said "Ham salad adventurers club!" and then she just fell asleep standing up, like a common horse, and the rest of the restaurant all stood up in scared silence and then slowly walked out of the place, like Tippi Hedren stepping gingerly through a flock of birds in Bodega Bay.
Actually what happened was that Vicki didn't throw up but in the confessional interview or whatever that is, she was like "Alexis is a disaster, you can't take her anywhere" and that was true, but really you can't take any of these ladies anywhere. There should be a spin-off show that's just taking them in a group to various fancy places. "Ladies, welcome to the Harvard Club!" "Ladies, this is a library!" And then two minutes later Lynne is face down dead on the floor and Alexis has somehow managed to get tangled in the chandelier and Tamra's stuffing pens and staplers and anything that's not bolted to the desks down the front of her dress. I would watch that show in a heartbeat. Wait. I already watch that show. That show is this show.
After the dinner everyone went to drinks, where Vicki's daughter met them and seemed OK and Gretchen started crying because cancer makes her sad, and then they all went back to their rooms to vomit and weep and suck forlornly on cocktail olives.
Tamra stood rigid and frowning in her room, wondering why she hadn't been more prominently featured in this episode. Maybe I'll kill Ryan, she thought. That'll get me some airtime...
Vicki mostly just did her olive-sucking and she thought about her daughter, her lovely (hrrmm...$%) precious daughter and what she would do if anything ever happened to her. She'd probably wear black. And she'd just look really sad all the time. And people would see her walking down the street and they'd say "Oh there goes Vicki Funderson-Gunderson. She's always so sad. So sad." And that would be a new kind of a life, a new identity. Vicki the Sad. That's what Vicki would do. If anything were ever to happen. God forbid. Space Jesus forbid.
Lynne was worried in her room, suddenly remembering the house back at home (Tamyra!) and how all was lost. All was terribly lost. Rags, she thought. I mean, she often thinks the word "rags." But this time she was thinking of a person. A special hobo person with, some say, magical powers. Powers to change. Powers to heal. Oh she was giddy. So giddy that when she put on her big nightcap and blew out her candle, she just couldn't fall asleep. She needed to calm down. So she went and stood in the toilet and counted her numbers, which always soothes her. "One. Shoe. Free. Door. Beehive. Biscuits. Heaven..."
Alexis stood on her balcony and she sang "Somewhere Out There," hoping that blessed Earth Jesus would hear her and know that she was always worshiping him, that he always was in her heart, that he was her heart. She said three Hail Jims and buttoned up her nightgown further, scared that the Man in the Moon might be staring at her special love bags. Oh what a world. What a life faith is. It's so much work. So much to do.
She heard music playing somewhere and looked down below to the street. There was some sort of bar patio there, full of men. Those famous bachelors perhaps. She wondered if she should say hello, if she should show them her beautiful saintly face and tell them that all this could be theirs if they just settled down with the right girl. She was about to say "Yooo hoo, boysss!" when she saw something horrifying and terrible. One of them leaned in toward another and kissed him. Not in an Italian sort of kiss-on-the-cheek that always makes Earth Jesus nervous when he's meeting with "associates" way. In a romantic way. They were done kissing but now they had their arms around each other and as she looked closer she saw that many of the other men, the Famous Bachelors, were doing the same. What sort of horrible sinful place was this? What fresh hell?
She was mesmerized, transfixed, couldn't let go. She stood there for hours. Hating them, reviling them, thinking them gross and queer and ugly and strange. But she couldn't stop watching, hearing them laugh and talk, the way they... well, each couple, each reed-like pair... They were almost equal. One would talk and then the other would and there was no bowing or kissing of feet or silent standing in the corner while men did their talking. It was just a conversation, just people in love or in like or in something talking. And then there was music. Music so loud and so wonderful and Alexis, without thinking, started to sway a bit. She unbuttoned her nightgown, just a few buttons, and she felt wild and free and illicit and devilish. She looked up and out at the night, bridges yawning over the bay, the dull twinkle of Oakland, the hushed cry of the freeway.
She looked back down and the men were dancing. Jutting hips and bobbing heads and laughing and clapping and from her strange aerial angle it looked almost reverent, worshipful, like they were praying to something old and urgent and primal. Their elbows out, their knees bent, a careless drunken dance, a wild and wonderful prayer. Alexis watched and felt something hard and dense inside her suddenly begin to thaw, some new genuine warmth being born. Below her the men laughed and hooted and stamped their feet and, with the night humming and strange and eternal around them, threw their hands up toward heaven.