After last week's recappy episode, we are now really in the shit. Last night was the real premiere of this trundling and delicious mess. And it delivered.
If dreams are the wishes the heart makes, then Ramona Singer is the burps the heart makes. If Gawker investigator John Cook were to run a big top story titled "Exclusive: Real Housewife Ramona Singer Is Actually Just a Beard of Bees," would you be surprised? I don't think you would. I don't think anyone would. The most nonsensical thing about Ramona, and in some ways the most sensical, is her husband Mario. What exactly is going on with Mario? I wonder if you pulled hard enough and Mario's arm came off if he'd just grow another one, like a common lizard. I suspect that's exactly what would happen. Now don't go tearing Mario's arms off to Watch What Happens. This is not an endorsement to do anything like that. It's just hypothetical. The point is, Mario & Ramona are such a strange little pair. They spend most of their afternoons standing very close to each other, poking each other's faces with their fingers, singing a song that goes "This is my fingers on your face / This is my fingers on your face..." And when they are not doing that, they are having drinks with their Real Housewife friends.
First on the drinks roster were Bethenny and her oily variety bohunk, Pebbles. Bethenny and Pebbles are deeply in love and so are Ramona and Mario ("This is my fingers on your neck..."), so it was a nice natural fit for drinks. They didn't talk about much, really. Mario sat next to Bethenny and Ramona sat next to Pebbles and you got a strong whiff of a swingers/key party vibe from Mario, but no one else was really feeling it so they just kept chattering on about jobs and things and the sun set and it was time for bed.
The next day Ramona and Mario, encouraged by their successful Bethenny/Pebbles drinks, decided to try a harder challenge. And who is most challenged of all on this show? Why Alex and Simon, of course. With a brittle creaking and a sound like an army of mice doing a soft shoe routine somewhere in the walls, Alex and Simon loped and lurched over to a restaurant where Mario and Ramona were waiting expectantly, dipping their hands in their water glasses like housecats. Then there was a loud shriek and a waiter dropped a plate of dishes and an old dowager swooned and fell to the ground, because Simon and Mario were basically wearing the same dress. Same big floppy bonnet, same frilly yellow hoop skirt, same tiny booties. "Well I do declayyyyahh!" Mario tittered. Simon smiled weakly and then did a curtsy and stuck out his hand for kissing and said "Enchantée." Alex chortled and squawked and Ramona's eyes turned to strange black marbles and everyone was sort of embarrassed. And I couldn't decide, so maybe you'll help me: Would you be more mortified if you showed up to a dinner dressed exactly like Simon or if you showed up to a party dressed exactly like Mario? Both are pretty horrible! If you had been the third person at that restaurant wearing a white suit and salmon shirt, I think you'd just have to pull out your Derringer pistol and shoot yourself right there. There is no living to be done beyond that point. That is where the sidewalk ends.
Anyway, once Simon and Mario had exchanged courtly pleasantries and taken off their little white ruffle-cuff gloves, it was time to talk. Ramona wanted to talk all about the fearsome LuAnn attack she'd suffered last week. Poor Alex just sat there with her sad little "It's a living..." grimace as Ramona sang a long epic poem about all the grave injustices she's weathered at that bitch's hands. Oh Alex. She's such a pile of sticks that all the other Housewifes just sort of drag her around and do with her whatever they want. "No, you sit here, pile of sticks. Drink your pretend tea. Now kiss kitty. Now go to bed it's night-night time." Alex is basically the cute animal to everyone else's Elmyra Duff. It's both sad and funny in the way this whole show is sad and funny, and I fear that poor Alex's troubles were not yet over for this episode.
But before we get to that, let's take a look here at this sun-splashed backyard, a perfectly groomed lawn brushed by summer winds. This was the site of the most glorious and beautiful reunion in Real Housewives history. It was here that Crackerjacks welcomed her former slave Rosie, now liberated and working as a domestic at another family's house. Ohhhh it was so nice to see them together again! LuAnn sucking down a long Viceroy, eying Rosie with that Indian watchfulness of hers. Rosie sitting a bit timidly, but done up for the cameras, happy to see the kids again. LuAnn barked a lot of things about her own life, about how things had been terribly hard, and Rosie smiled and nodded and said "Jais, jais. It is true." Oh how LuAnn missed her dear friend, her dear
Filipina sounding board. Oh how Rosie had missed Robbie, the cute grip with the russet brown eyes and the cat-like grin. She just sat there, robotically saying "Jais, jais. I know. So hard." over and over again while LuAnn made embarrassing jokes.
LuAnn was pouring Rosie iced tea and laughed and said "Well this is a switcheroo, huh?" And it was just... LuAnn, you had this woman serving you drinks? What the fuck is wrong with you? I thought she'd just been the nanny and did some laundry or whatever. But no, apparently she was a full-on old-timey maid who came running when LuAnn rang a bell and was passive subject to the Count's more sinister sexual whims. Terrific. Then LuAnn made a funny ha-ha joke to the cameras. She said "Well we brought in a new girl, but we had everything the way we liked, and now I have to train the new girl and it's like... twice as much work! Ha ha ha." Hahaha! Twice as much work! Training your new slave to warm your shoes to just the right temperature in the morning. Training your new slave to never look you in the eyes. Training your new slave how exactly you like your ass wiped. Such hard work. LuAnn, please, take a breather. You work too hard! I honestly thought last night that she was going to ask Rosie, just for old time's sake, to make her a drink. Oh how I wish that had happened.
The children visited with Rosie, and she was very glad to see them all growing and gangly. Noelle has turned into a shaggy teenager, all monosyllabic mumbling and disinterest. And the other girl, the daughter, well.. she fell off the roof. This is an actual thing that happened to someone. LuAnn suspects, and she would know about this sort of thing, that the girl was trying to sneak out of the house. Oh man. Can you imagine that?
You're in the Hamptons, it's summertime. You've just finally met some friends your age, you're feeling finally like a cool kid, like Lisa in that wonderful beach house episode of The Simpsons. And one day they ask you if you want to come to a nighttime party on the beach, and Adam will be there, he of the puka shell necklace and newly deep voice. He asked you, you!, specifically if you were going to be there. And you were breathless and said yes, totally, absolutely, nonchalant, no big deal, dying inside. But then you get home and your mom says you can't go, she needs you to pick up some of the new maid's slack, and your heart plunges miles deep in your chest and life is dark and over. But then! Suddenly your heart lifts back up. A plan. You will sneak out. You will sneak out through your window and climb down the rose trellis and quietly get on your bike and you will pedal fast all the way to that wonderful waiting world. You wait until it is 10, when your mom is passed out snoozing on the couch with a rerun of Grace Under Fire playing loudly on the TV. You put on your cute tennis skirt and Avril Lavigne mini-hoodie and your "casual" (most expensive pair you own) flipflops and you lift the screen and put one leg out and just before you swing the other one up and out of the house you stop to see the indigo sky flickering big and impossible above you and you feel that swell that only people your age feel, that there is something coming, that anything and everything is on its way and you want to run as fast as you can to meet it, even the sad and sinister things are exciting, this incredible journey of being alive in the world is really about to begin, you cannot wait, you cannot wait, you cannot wait. And with a nervous, thrilled smile you close your eyes, balance yourself on the windowsill and promptly fall off the roof.
That's it, night's over. Sorry, beach. Sorry, stars. Sorry, puka shells. You just fell off the roof. That's it. You're lying in the bushes, injured. And now the lights are coming on in the house and you'll have to think up a lie, quick. Goodbye life. Hello Brett Butler. Oh well.
So that was that with Rosie's visit. It was kind of sad to see the kids pulled away a bit, but I suppose that's what happens with teenagers, what happens at that age. Rosie seemed to understand. LuAnn was just so happy to see her old friend. She briefly considered whacking her over the head with a mallet and chaining her up in the basement so that she would never leave and someday her spirit would be broken again and she would become LuAnn's most trusted slave again, but she remembered that Robbie and the rest of the crew was there so she'd have to kill them and that would be a huge mess and who was gonna clean that up, the new girl? Ha! Ha. LuAnn laughed to herself. The new girl. Ha.
Jill Zarin was doing things in this episode! Oh boy was she doing things. She and her husband, Limon Zerga, went for a drive with her daughter Alex (is her name Alex?). Alex is learning how to drive (isn't she in college?) and is having a tough time of it. I mean, I don't blame her. Can you imagine trying to learn how to drive with Jill Zarin? The car ride scene was fun because we got to see Jill marvel at all the cute poor people fishing. "Look at that, hun! They're fishing for little fish over there. How funny. Look at the ducks!"
Other than driving, Jill was having meetings with people. Housewife people. She and Lunz met up and were talking about having a little party. It was Labuh Day, afterawl, so it'd be nice, just have a little party, nothin' fancy, just a few friendz. LuAnn was curious about who to invite, especially because she'd gotten a mysterious voicemail the night before. Oh right! I forgot to tell you. After Bethenny/Pebbles and Ramona/Mario had drinks, they went freakdancing. No one can freakdance quite like Ramona, it was marvelous. And it was either during the freakdancing or during the later meal with Alex/Simon that Mario, with drunken abandon, had called Loony Tunes and said "Babes, I'm so sorry I said you were Countless. Let's be friends?" Jill listened to the voicemail and LuAnn sat back and arched her eyebrow and said "Right?" Jill figured what the fuck, let's call Ramona and invite her. Bad idea. As soon as the women mentioned Mario's little mea culpa, Ramona flew into a wild, inexplicable, profane rage.
"Motherfucking clamdick cuntbananas. Mothersucking shitfisting cockfelching fingerdick. Hamslapping rootiehuxtable assbarfing. Slutfarting mayhem. Gargoyle taintsnatch." (Translated from the Ferengi by Robert Pinsky.)
The women looked at each other. "So I guess she's not coming?"
I didn't really understand Ramona's outburst, but I don't think we're supposed to. I don't think we're ever really supposed to get Ramona. She's like a Rothko or a Pollock. She's sensory, not sensible. So that's OK. Needless to say, these ladies are all totally still in a fight. They didn't have time to ponder or discuss this, because suddenly there was a sound like a million horses breathing and they looked up and Kelly was there, a tall strip of bacon wearing hoop earrings. "Oh hiiiiii," Jill droned, fakely. "'Sup," LuAnn said, raising her Tecate can in salute. What was Kelly doing there? Well, Kelly had an announcement.
I thought maybe she was going to leave the show. Honestly, I did! But it was foolish of me to hope. Oh so foolish. Do you want to know what the actual announcement was? It was that Robert Pattinson dies in 9/11. No, wait. It was that she's a secret dwarf. No, not that either. Oh! Right. She's posing for Playboy! That's the big announcement! There's gonna be a whole article about her and everying!
Hold on a sec, my nose just fell off. Oop, and there goes an ear. And, what's this? Huh, my eyes seem to be leaking blood. Does anyone else smell toast? Hmm... I don't remember bile pouring out of my belly button before, that's strange. Anybody out there just burst into flames? No? Just me? Huh. I don't know why all of this could be happening... Oh, right!
Kelly Bensimon is posing for Playboy. (Did she already pose for Playboy? I don't read that magazine, for various reasons. Mostly I'm not into the articles.) Kelly Bensimon is going to disrobe and have a photographer, a human person, look at her naked and take pictures and then those pictures are going to be reproduced thousands of times, stuck in a magazine, and sold to the over-18 public. Some young man's (or young woman's, it is the '90s!) first sexual awakenings could be set against the backdrop of Kelly Bensimon's nude body. I don't. I can't... Can someone just go drive Hugh Hefner out to a field and shoot him, because he's pretty much done. (John Cook Gawker exclusive: "Did a Gossip Blogger Incite Someone to Murder Hugh Hefner In An Empty Field?") Kelly Bensimon. Breasts. Remember those light brown M&Ms that they stopped making? Just imagine two of those, bigger. Merry Christmas.
So that's insanely terrifying, but I suppose nothing's to be done about it. And at least it led to one of the greatest sentences in this show's forty-six year history. LuAnn turned to Kelly and said "Have you ever seen my Playgirl?" And — excuse me while a whole new universe bursts gloriously into being inside my heart — that's just perfect, isn't it? Of course LuAnn has a Playgirl. "You wanna see it?" she asked, not bothering to wait for an answer. So she ran inside to get the mag while Kelly sought sad approval from Jill. On the surface Jill pretended to be into the whole posing nude thing, but in the little interview things she was being all bitchy about it. Nice. Then LuAnn came back!
She had her modeling portfolio with her. She started flipping through it.
"Let's see... snuff, snuff, American Rodeo Brides Weekly, snuff picture, The Economist, I don't remember what this one was, here's Chinaman Fancy (that's a great one, remind me to tell you a story about that one), aha! Here it is. My Playgirl."
It was a younger LuAnn with big Brillo hair hugging a hairy leather daddy beefcake from behind. Of course that would be LuAnn's Playgirl. That's all it could ever be.
"Yeah, summer of... '85. Me and my girl Rina were livin' in a bungalow out in Tarzana for a while, workin' the last of the rollerdiscos, livin' on pretty much maraschino cherries and cocktail olives. But it was a fun coupla months. Anyway, one night Rina meets this real hardcore roller name'a Joe-John Beretta, real slick type, nice white suit, salmon colored shirt. Anyshit, he and Rina start doin' the chicken dance, if you catch my meaning, so he's over the house once in a while when they can't be at his place, they sprayin' for potato bugs or somethin'. One day Rina's conked out in bed and Joe-John's sittin' on the couch watchin' CHiPS and I come outta my room and I'm wearin' my favorite purple spandex bodysuit, headin' off to work an early shift at the Galaxy Rollerama over'n Calabasas, and I hear him go 'Hooo boy, you got a can on you like a Warhol painting.' He's a cool dude, don't mean nothin' by it, so I say 'Baby, you ain't kiddin'.' And we get to talkin' about modelin' and stuff and he says he knows a guy works at Playgirl, would I like a connect. I say hell yeah I want a connect. So he, I don't know, mentions my name a coupla a times and about a month later I get a phone call from this guy over at the mag, real fancy fruit type named Whisper Willows or somethin', made-up name. Anyway, he says would I like to come down do a shoot, nothin' nude, real legit, y'know? So I say hell yeah and sooner'n you can spit or swallow, I'm in some fancy studio place snappin' this photo you see right here in front of you today. Felt real good, y'know? Somethin' on the up and up. At that particular time this was the classiest thing I'd ever done, so it was nice. It was a nice little moment for me, back then. Man. Rina 'n Joe-John are married now, livin' in Reseda. Have a freeway runnin' through their backyard. Have kids in college. You believe that? Man, time do move, don't it? Time really do move."
Jill nodded at all of this and then quietly stood up and backed away from the two women slowly. She almost left, but then she remembered: The Party!
As it turns out, Ramona was having a party too. Both gals were having HUUUUUUGE Labuh Day parties. And by HUUUUUUGE, I mean LuAnn and Jill's party was them and Kelly sitting on deck chairs in their sweats bitching about things. And Ramona's was like four people and Mario wearing a tutu performing little dances for all the guests. Alex and Simon showed up to Ramona's first and made their pleasantries and then decided that they'd like to head over to Jill and LuAnn's. Like an idiot, but a kind idiot, Alex told Ramona where she was going, just so things were out in the open. Ramona's eyes beaded and swirled and her hair took on new volume and Mario stopped dancing, sensing that something awful was coming, and the crystalware in the china hutch began to tremble and somewhere outside, across the street maybe, a dog howled and a baby cried and there was a rainstorm in Thailand. Alex suddenly got the strange sensation that she was about to die so she said "Nevermind! You know what, nevermind. I don't need to go to that silly old party. I'm... I'm gonna stay right here, OK Ramona?" Ramona, who had been hovering three inches above the ground, softly landed back on the carpeting. She smiled and said "Great! Who wants hors d'oeuvres?" Alex had been caught in the middle yet again. Poor thing.
In other news, Bethenny and Pebbles went to a bar and decided to get married or move in together or something. It was oddly nice? I don't know. Bethenny was sort of a nonentity in this episode, aside from the freakdancing, of course. Like the Alamo, one must never forget the freakdancing. Everyone freakdances!
There's Jill, she's freakdancing herself but judging everyone else for freakdancing. Her daughter is freakdancing as she smashes through the guardrail and drives straight into a creek, disturbing all the little fishes that the poor people of the Hamptons eat for their supper.
There are Alex and Simon, doing a freakdance of their own. Limbs akimbo, hair wild and weird, wearing strange, textured clothing. Alex's arms are noodling in the air and she is smiling her J. Wellington Wimpy smile and she looks happy, and that's good. Simon is doing a fashionable freakdance the boys of war brought home from Europe, it's a beautiful lilting kind of freakdance, each maneuver delicate and done with care. And, aw shit, Mario's doing the same exact freakdance! And now they are freakdancing together, getting close, breath hot on collars, proprieties damned and tossed to the wind.
Ramona, ancient inventor of the freakdance, is wearing tap shoes and tapping out a lively freakdance up there in space. Caroming off of Saturn's rings, awash in the fires of Mercury. She's calm and peaceful. For now.
Kelly is freakdancing hopefully in a darkened room with the blinds drawn, because no one wants or needs to see that.
And LuAnn. Thundering around her living room, the Carly Simon blasting, sloshing her Kahlua & Coke on the floor. "Come on, Noelle!" she yells, her son sitting glumly in the corner. "Come dance with your mom! You used to love this song!" And it's true, Noelle really did used to love this song. So finally he lets it go, this new practiced stoicism. He gets up and he dances and LuAnn hoots "There ya go, kiddo!" and they dance until they are too tired to dance anymore, and they plop down onto the couch, chests heaving. LuAnn smiles and sighs, pats the boy's head. "Hey we should go visit your Aunt Rina and Uncle Joe-John, huh? It's been years since we seen 'em. Years."
And upstairs there's the daughter, arms broken and bandaged, listening to the music and the laughing and the clapping and thinking about that beach, that night that she missed, that chance squandered. When LuAnn wasn't around, she had told Rosie the maid the real story. Rosie had smiled and said "Come here, come here." She hugged the girl tight and said "There are so many times in life. So many times. Good ones and bad ones and ones that are... they are just boring, you know? If you miss one? Well you get another one later. There are so many times. You have so much time." It made the girl feel better and she squeezed Rosie back and she missed her so much just then, wished she could stay forever. She had wished so badly, in fact, that she'd reached for a mallet, let it do its heavy work.
Now, sitting up in her room days later, listening to her mom and brother, she thinks maybe she should go down to the basement and make sure that everything is, in fact, going to be all right.