Last night's episode of our favorite self-help series was all about communication. How do we interact with each other? How do we relate messages? What is the internet and, more importantly, why is it? Let's go in search of answers.
We began our journey with that flickering, waning Housewife known as Bethenny Frankel. She's not long for this Housewife world and we're beginning to see why. Well, we've known why for a long time — she's a careerist, very up front about it, and this show doesn't really create "real," respectable careers — but the really tangible reasons are now becoming manifest. You see, Bethenny got frankeled by her boyfriend, Pebbles, and now she is pregnant. Good for them. The thing is, there's usually a standard wait-to-tell time period, just in case something happens. It's a grim little tradition, but it makes sense. So imagine Bethenny's horror when she (or her assistant) went on Perez Hilton's Celebrity Semen Digest and saw news that... she's pregnant. Someone spilled the baby beans! Who was it? Oddly enough, no one spent really any time investigating that mystery last night, because, I suspect, it was done by the evil overlords at Bravo. ("Perez... ish Andy," Dame Cohen slurs drunkenly on the phone sometimes, late at night. "I've got a hot scoop for you. Hot scoop, hotscoop... I want some fuckin' ice cream, y'know? You ever want ice cream, Perez? Hm? Hmm?") So Bethenny was really upset, understandably, and knew that she'd have to tell Pebbles right away so he could head off the rumors and tell his parents before the internet called them on the phone to tell them.
Pebbles was very upset and the two had an interesting conversation about her life in the public eye and how that affects their relationship. It affects it... not goodly! But they both seem to have decent heads on their shoulders, so I think they'll make it through. Anyway, after telling Pebbles, Bethenny's next move was to call her new Housewife bestie, Alex. Poor scatter-skeleton Alex.
She's been better of late, as has previously been noted in these horrible Friday recap novels. So it was with a meek kind of pity that we watched her last night throw some of her progress to the wind. See, after Bethenny told Alex about the baby, Alex was all "Well, are you going to Ramona's party?" Ramona was having a party for her new line of boutique facial acids, and all the girls were going. Bethenny told her that since Jill was going to be there, she wasn't going to go. But, oh, actually... Bethenny had a favor to ask Alex: As long as she was going to be at the party, could Alex just tell Jill that Bethenny is "done," just doesn't want anything else to do with Jill. The Zarin had, after hearing about Bethenny's knocked-upism, decided to keep the story quiet by talking to every newspaper in the world and telling them to keep quiet about it. Well done, Jill! This obviously didn't please Bethenny, so hence the order for Alex the Huntsman to take Jill into the woods, slay her, and return to Bethenny with Jill's heart in a box. Or at least that's how Alex heard it. So Alex screwed up her courage and said "Yes. Yes I can do that for you," so happy was she that somebody had entrusted her with a mission, that they had turned to her, scrawny Ent her!, and said "You do this for me, this noble and sacred thing." Alex gushed on the phone "Oh gosh Bethenny, yes I can do that. Yes I will be brave and do that. Oh god, what am I gonna wear??? Oh my, I have to go tell Simon. Yes, Bethenny! Yes! Oh, I am going to do the shit out of this. I am going to deliver this message so hard. Oh jillikers, what a day. What a day! Oop, I've soiled myself. It's OK though! It's really OK. Oh gosh. Simon! Simon! Oh where is he, he's going to be so excited..." She went on like that for another half-hour, not realizing that Bethenny had long ago drifted off and was having strange dreams about a scarecrow waving to her from a distant field.
Elsewhere on the island, K.C. was worried that the new hip basketball coach was maybe getting a little too close for comfort. He kept giving him beer and once was like "Hey, want to watch a porn?" and then hired a hooker for him. His ex-girlfriend Clare, whom he'd just left for the Boyfriend Stealer, knew that something was bothering him, but he wouldn't tell her. But in the end he did the right thing and told Snake and the principal and the coach was led away by the police.
Hm? What's that? Oh. Oh fuck, sorry. That was the plot of the most recent Degrassi: The Next Generation episode. I... I must have drifted off myself there for a moment. Um. What were we talking about? Katherine Heigl or something? Ohh no! It was Housewives. OK. Uh... Bree is mad at Lynette because the other one, Eva Mendes, said something about — Ohhh the Reeeeal Housewives. Right. Right.
After Alex was given her huge Tell Jill Bethenny Hates Her assignment, the cameras wandered over to Sonja and LuAnn. Sonja was showing LuAnn her apartment in preparation for a big partay, which I believe is occurring next week. For now, they just toured the premises and LuAnn oohed and aahhed and ashed everywhere. Sonja showed her all of her favorite rooms. "This is where I keep my knives. My beautiful, beautiful knives. And here's the iron maiden room..." LuAnn whooped loudly. "Iron Maiden? Baby you are speakin' my language now. I ever tell you about the time I gave Bruce Dickinson a hander at Lotte Lenya's house? Weirdest Christmas ever." Sonja looked at LuAnn, lips pursed, eyes two cool flames. "No, not that Iron Maiden." "Oh," LuAnn said, knowing after years of practice when to shut up when one finds oneself in a particularly creepy person's house. Keep cool, Lu, she thought to herself. We don't want another Gein incident.
After the parlor, the Refreshioning Chamber, and the Meating Room, Sonja led a tryin'-to-keep-it-cool LuAnn to the backyard where they nattered on about the party until Lu said "Oohhh, ohh! Bethenny's got a papoose in her pouch!" Sonja snapped to attention. "Really? Do you know what she's planning on doing with the cord blood?" LuAnn raised an eyebrow. "No, uh, Perez Hilton didn't mention what she's doing with... the... uh, cord blood. So..." Sonja's face turned dark for a second but quickly took on its typical fake brightness. "Oh, haha!" she tittered. "Just making a little joke. Anyway." LuAnn desperately wanted to leave. "Anyway..." They stood there in a chilled silence for a moment and then the cameras cut away.
So everyone knew about the baby and of course everyone was furiously jealous but would never admit it. To distract themselves, they decided to focus on the various bullshit things they like to pretend make up a life. Jill and her husband Limon Zerga went on a local New York news program to discuss Zarin Fabrics. The history of Zarin fabrics was actually one of those nice American stories about small things becoming big, but we barely got to hear any of it. Mostly because Limon was nervous while on camera so he was kind of sputtering out the story a little too slowly. This left an opening for Jill — who had previously promised that she was just there for support, this was Limon's thing — to swoop in and just run her mouth until the segment was over. I mean, she was right that Limon was talking wayyy too slow, and she did get the selling points out there to the enormous audience of six drunk people in a taxicab, but it was still just such typical motormouth Jill stuff. No wonder that dog of hers shits everywhere all the time. It just wants someone to pay attention to it for once.
What else did the gabby gams do? Oh, Red Sonja shanghaied Ramona into going to a creepy plastic surgery meeting with her. Well, actually, in her typical Ramona trickery way, it might have actually been Sonja who got shanghaied. The whole adventure was really just an excuse for Ramona to prove the existence of her various knowledges. See for whatever reason, I really can't understand why, Ramona seems a little insecure about her intelligence. I mean, sheesh. You fall off the balcony at Cipriani Dolci a coupla times and all of a sudden people think you're some sort of disaster-prone nincompoop. You let your curiosity get the best of you and press one big red button marked "Don't Push" at Lehman Brothers one September morning, and all of a sudden this whole recession thing is your fault, you dummy. You fly into one plane and make it crash land on the Hudson and you're some ditzy old bird. It's just not fair! So in preparation for this plastic surgery meeting with the befanged Red Sonja, Ramona hit the books. Oh did she hit the books. She was going to show that fancy doctor type that she's got a brain rattling around in that head of hers, you just can't always see it depending on if the bats that live in there are having a family reunion.
Anyway. Sonja wanted to get a tummy tuck, because she's got a little pooch. "Pooch" being the most horrible word for one's stomach since "belly." Ramona urged her to just do more planks and sit-ups and to run more space marathons, but Sonja admirably confessed to us, the viewers, that homey don't play that, that she's real lazy-like. Just like us! So instead of exercise she's going to have an old man dig around in there and pull some stuff out that she doesn't need. The doctor seemed nice enough, just your typical wealthy Upper East Side older guy. But Ramona didn't care. She went in for the kill with all her newly acquired WebMD information. "What hospitals do you work out of? When's the last time you were board certified? How many people have you killed? Why is a raven like a writing desk?" The doctor looked at the camera as if to say "The fuck are you doing to me here?" Ramona looked very pleased that she'd stumped/embarrassed him on some questions (last time he was board certified? 1973. Yeesh), but Sonja didn't give a hoot. She liked the guy and what does she care if something goes wrong, it's not like she can die or anything. She didn't eat all those voodoo corpses in the '80s for nothing. So she's gonna get at pooch-pucker. Or anti-pucker. I don't know. Gross. All of it is gross.
Next up it was LuAnn's turn to have a moment ruined by the other Housewives. She wrote a book (and a song!) about being classy, and a book requires a book tour. Sadly LuAnn is no longer legally welcome in most states west of the Mississippi, so her tour had to be relegated to the local Bloomingdales. The book event involved her being interviewed about manners by some fool, while Jill and Kelly sat in the audience and made loud small talk (big talk?). Yeah, they were really rude, as is their wont. LuAnn saw them yammering out of the corner of the eye and turned to the interviewer, whose name was Tim.
"You know, Felicity, lemme tell ya a story about manners. You ever been to Emblem, Wyoming? Tiny little place, population ten. Well, it was eleven one crazy April many moons ago, and yep you guessed it, Diane, I was the lucky double-ones. I was carryin' on with a rancher out there, nice fella name'a Holton who could get real whiskey-mean, and there was this one girl in town, Gina, from one of the two families lives there, and she had a real sweet spot for ol' Holt. So we're all out drinkin' one night, all eleven of us, sittin' in the bed of Frisco Lincoln's pickup, and Gina she turns to me and says 'Hey Lu, what was that you were tellin' me about that rancher you got, Holt? Somethin' about how he likes to play Busty Bronco in the sack?' Busty Bronco's a little game involving a saddle and an open mind, and she knew that was a real dig at me, because the other nine had been whisperin' about me all month, seein' as I was an outsider. And any chance they got, they'd run me right outta there and Holt'd be ripe for the pickin'. And, well, you know, it worked. I remember old lady Lincoln starin' me down in that pickup and I swear to this day a dust devil whipped up when she gave me that look. Mrs. Lincoln had some powers, some real powers, and I'll admit it, I was scared.
"So I left town and a coupla months later, I'm dealin' underground blackjack in Twin Falls at the time, I heard Gina went and snagged Holt and they'd gotten hitched. And I was mad, real mad. One little thing she said about me and she got all that ranch money and got to live in that big old house Holt had out there near Burlington. (Reception was at the damn Burlington Bar, you believe that?) Gal had no manners, man. There's a way to get a girl's fella that's fair square, you know? But Gina played dirty pool. And in this little book here, you ain't gonna see any of that business.
"Gina got hers in the end though, yessir. Year or so later, Holt took up with some chicky from the high school and got her knocked up, so Gina was out on her ass pretty quick, to make room for the new baby and the new little blonde wifey. Last I heard, Gina was livin' down in Rawlins, flashin' tit for nickels out behind the Frontier Prison Museum. So that's yer lesson for the day, chickadees. Rude ain't gonna get you nowhere you wanna be, 'less you wanna feel what a Wyoming wind feels like on your bare nip. Sandpaper, baby. That's how."
She lit a cigarette and turned a mean crow eye to Jill and Kelly, who were sitting in stone silence, scared in the way they always get when LuAnn talks uninterrupted for a while.
LuAnn smiled, chuckled to herself. "Well, I guess I got my point across, eh Lucy?" Tim nodded and the interview was over.
And then, finally, it was time for Ramona's big skin abrasion party. Oh, she was so excited! She'd just had her plastic surgeon Smarts Triumph, and now it was time for a Business Savvy Success. Her line of products is called tru-renewal. Ramona wanted it to be called tru-reNewal, because it feels New! But then someone had to explain to her that "newal" isn't a word. The products are creams meant to be rubbed on the skin. Which... Survey: Would any of you unfortunate enough to be reading this drivel on a gorgeous Friday afternoon ever be willing to apply a chemical invented by Ramona Singer directly onto your skin? "Sure!" says ol' Boils McFesters, the rash fetishist. (My most dedicated reader.) But the rest of you? No, probably not. And that is wise. There's actually a warning on the back of the bottle that says "Ramona Singer Enterprises is not responsible if upon usage the consumer spontaneously turns into a cicada." It's just not a good idea to use that stuff. Not a good idea at all.
But it's happening, it's being released upon an unsuspecting world, so of course there must be a poorly attended party for it. Ramona stood there at the entrance, her face a map of the Milky Way, and greeted her Housewife guests as they arrived. Ah, there were Jill and Kelly, still looking at bit grave after their LuAnn encounter. And, aha!, there was LuAnn herself, scratching her crotch and puffing on a Salem, humming "Rich Girl" (god I love that song so hard) to herself. The elevator dinged and the doors opened and a wave of blood came pouring out. Ramona said "Oh goody, Sonja's here." Then there was a whoosh and a fanfare of trumpets and Simon entered wearing a ladies doublet and said, in a loud girlish bellow, "Never fear, Alex is here!" And in swooped Alex!! She was there to complete her mission. She was wearing a tablecloth cape and science lab goggles and white underpants over bright blue tights. "I have a delivery!!!" she boomed.
Jill looked up and said "The fuck is she tawkin' aboutuh?" Everyone shrugged their shoulders and kept prattling on to each other. Alex looked crestfallen. She'd expected much more of a hubbub. She finally, finally had something important to do, and no one cared. Absolutely no one cared. Simon looked at her and shrugged his shoulders. But even he seemed distracted as he watched a cater waiter with tousled brown hair and broad shoulders and tight black pants walk by with a tray of fried hors d'oeuvres. He must be hungry, Alex thought sadly.
Not getting the reaction she'd hoped, Alex stomped over to the ladies and said "I have a delivery! I have a delivery! I have a delivery!" No one paid attention. "Hellooooo!!!" Alex said, literally knocking on the ladies' heads like doors or coconuts, "Anyone in there??" Still nothing. Alex sighed loudly. "JILL BETHENNY TOLD ME TO TELL YOU THAT SHE HATES YOU AND NEVER WANTS TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN THE END FOREVER." There was a stunned clearing of throats and the moist fwwwwop of dragons' eyelids opening wide and now Alex had their attention. "She whuttt? Who? Huhh?? Why are-ah you telling me this, Alex?" And suddenly, Alex knew. Knew that she'd been terribly silly to do it this way. This couldn't possibly have been what Bethenny meant for her to do, right? This was supposed to show some sort of conspiratorial friendship between her and Bethenny that all the girls would be jealous of, but instead Alex looked like a prime grade asshole and all the ladies were hissing at her and ohhhh poops, why can't anything ever go poor Alex's way? Embarrassed, she slinked off and over to Simon, who had one hand limply resting on his chest and the other on the waiter's wrist as he told him a story about the nude beaches in St. Barth's. The kid looked seriously grateful to see Alex coming over to inadvertently rescue him and ran off, leaving the two twig people to wallow in their own sad stink. "Oh well," Alex said. "Oh well," everyone else said. "Oh well," God said.
Meanwhile over in Bitchington Acres, everyone couldn't believe what had just happened. Naturally when one is confused about a situation one turns to the very sage Kelly Bensimon, who is always good at unpacking an issue and making it understandable to the common laypeople below her. "The messenger gets killed," she said, referring to Alex. "The messenger gets killed. In literature, they're always killing the messenger." All the hens nodded in assent. They were all just so happy to finally be able to use a (mangled) idiom in the correct context!! ("Don't stab the messenger!" Ramona used to say after getting stuck in the mailbox. The mailman would shake his head and say, "No. Just... no. That's not right.") Good work, Kelly! Thank you for explaining literary devices to us. Fuck off, English and Theater departments! Screw yourselves sideways! I've got Kelly Bensimon doing my text analysis now.
Anyway, Jill burst into tears and was given a roughshod embrace by LuAnn and they stumbled off into the night. Alex's embarrassment and shame passed fairly quickly, actually, and pretty soon she was back to thinking she'd done the right thing. Sure she'd blurted out a fairly blunt and unpleasant personal thing in a room full of people and cameras. Sure she didn't really do what Bethenny had "asked" her to do. But she had stood up to Jill! Alex had finally gotten Jill to listen to her and even though it wasn't actually about her, Alex felt vindicated. So she stilt-walked over to Bethenny's house to tell her the Good News and when she did Bethenny looked pained for a second but then, like the rest of us, said "Oh well," and thanked Alex for the maternity jeans she'd brought over and went back to bed. What can you really do? Well, you can leave the show. Which, I suspect, is happening next week. But who knows, really. Who knows anything!
Who knows what will happen to Red Sonja when she goes under for her surgery, performed by the shaky hand of an old renegade doctor who doesn't need no damn stinking certification. What will he find when he cuts her open? "Why... there's nothing in here but some old license plates and a bunch of gold fillings..." And will Sonja learn a hard lesson about immortality spells, that if you change part of the body it's considered a new body and thus is not protected by the same spell? Watch out for speeding crosstown buses for a while, Sonja!
And who knows if Jill will ever collect her dignity and stop shrewing all over the place. It's doubtful. She was talking too much and thus missed the exit on the turnpike of life and is now headed unwittingly towards the Delaware of life, where nothing good lives. She's joined, I think, by Kelly, who did nothing interesting in this episode other than teach us about the tropes in great literature. Which, I guess, is actually pretty important. She's headed toward the Princeton, NJ of life, that Kelly. If Jill doesn't distract her with all that tawking.
Nobody knows where LuAnn will be by next week. Headed on some tugboat to Montevideo? Face down in a pool of her own vodka in Sonja's backyard? (One hopes.) There's really no telling. What we do know is that she'll do whatever she's gonna do with style and class. And, we'd imagine, with a song.
And what will become of poor Alex McCord? So eager for a friend, for a connection, for something real and dramatic. After giving Bethenny her news, she went home and took a walk with the kids down on the Esplanade. She liked the roar of the cars below her, the thickety hum of helicopters droning by, the boats slow and ancient on the glass-green water. She liked the sensation of certain things moving, of the world being busy and alive, proud of itself and all of its parts. She wondered if she could ever really be like that, could ever really move and talk and live without checking herself, seeking reassurance in a mirror, making several facial expressions until she'd found just the right one.
She thought suddenly that she didn't really know what she was doing anymore, why this show existed, what she hoped to get out of it. For all her talk of living openly, unafraid, she realized she was actually glad to not have the cameras around at that moment. Sure it meant that no one was paying attention to her, but it meant that she didn't have to worry, too. She could just be Alex for a bit. She could just stand there and watch as Johan and Francois ran their hands along the railing and pointed at planes and birds, as runners ran by, as tides swept in. She smiled to herself, a small "I am here" kind of smile, and she knew, without a mirror, without a producer's nod, that it was the right look for the day. Maybe not that night or the next day, but for then it would do.
And above her Ramona's hot air balloon was barely a speck, a peaceful little dot in the sky. What you could not see from down there on the esplanade was the mad scramble, the shrieks and pulling of ropes and dropping of sandbags as Ramona realized that she really, really, really should have gone up with an instructor. The air was getting thin. Ramona felt both panicked and exhausted. Maybe she does do dumb things, maybe sometimes she really does. She sat down in the basket, put her head between her knees, and waited. Usually these things had a way of working out. Usually you eventually touch safely back down to Earth after soaring too high. That's typically how things go in this surprisingly kind world, she'd come to realize.
So she sat there and waited and waited and waited and then, with a loud pop, the cream did its job. She turned into a cicada, and flew off toward home.