Episode Five of this Mid-Atlantic torture chamber descended upon us last night and it was as crazy (or crazier?) as everything that came before it. Accusations were hurled, wigs were worn, and someone went to the hospital.
If you remember from last week: Tareq had lured everyone into his basement of terrors to sip his stinging-sweet rotten plum wine and fight with each other. He closed the heavy wood door and said "It begins..." and begin it did. Mary and Michaele started going at it, skinny bones and lumpy faces flying in a melee of nonsense. Poor Stacie and Rudiger watched from across the upturned barrel they were all sitting at and they just did not know what to do. (Rudiger was mostly just playing the movie Ghost Dad over and over in his head, chuckling softly to himself. "I am Satan!" Hoo hoo hoo.) So basically Michaele and Mary were goin' at it and goin' at it for what felt like years until Tareq squished his face into an angry ball and Mary looked at him with her dumpling eyes and said "You have something to say. Say it. I can tell. You have something to say."
That is the worst thing you can say to Tarblick. Never, EVER: 1) Get in a San Francisco taxicab with a Satanist or 2) Imply to Toepick that he has something monumental to say and then ask him to say it. Ohhh didn't Tareq just love that moment? Didn't he simply adore it? This was his moment to shine. And at Mother's vineyard! When he was a boy he used to stand in the dingy brown kitchen watching his mother peel cold, small potatoes and he would try to talk to her but she would always shut him down. "M-Mother??" "I haven't got time for chit-chat, Tareq. Stop bothering me and go get that mangy dog of yours. It's tangled in the fence again. Been there since last night. It's probably dead or dying, so take the shovel with you." And poor little Tareq would shuffle outside, the brown crabgrass crunching under his feet, and there would be Fido or Wendy or whatever other doomed hound he'd had as a boy, whimpering and caught in the barbed wire Mother insisted on ringing around the property. That's what he would get for trying to talk to Mother, so when Mary said "You have something to say. Say it.", it was as if someone had thrown open the cellar doors and he could finally crawl out and experience the sun. This was his moment. He didn't want to screw it up.
But of course he did screw it up, because he's a screw up, because Mother was right, she was always right about Tareq. "You'll never amount to much of anything, I suspect. Just like your father. I should have taken a coat hanger to myself when I found out about you. That's what I should have done." Yes, Tareq screwed up. He took Mary's decent good will and soured it, slopped it back in her face. He really was his mother's son. "Well... there's an investigation. FBI!! Everyone's involved. Everrryyyone's going to jail. Y'see, our charity, our POLO CHARITY, someone took a little joy ride with our car and STOLE MY GEAR. MY GEAR! That's my GEAR they stole and MY RIDE. MY CHARITY. Goddammit. I'm gettin' angry here." And Michaele could see that it was true. Tareq was getting angry. And though the situation made her nervous, it made her excited too. So she urged him to continue. "Oh yes," she said "They really offended our charity by stealing it." "FACEBOOK," Tareq yelled in a strained, caught way, his round toad face turning the deep red of years of rage finally, like volcanoes, burbling to the surface. "I saw it on Facebook. The FBI has been reading emails for six months." Then he turned to Mary, innocent dumb Mary who had just asked him a question, and like Mother used to do with neighbors who dropped by to say hello on holidays, Tareq said a terrible thing that made Mary's knot bread face darken and crumble. "Your daughter's emails!!"
Yes at the friendly basement wine-tasting Tareq decided to tell Mary that her daughter was being investigated, by the FBI!, for being part of a group of dumb kids who took a TareqMobile joy riding and took some polo gear. Or something. Stacie and Rudiger were horrified. Who cares about "gear" when you're talking about someone's child? Which, yes, normal people would not so upset about "gear" that they would threaten a friend's daughter with FBI arrest. But Tareq and Michaele are not normal people, so they were that upset. "It's not cool to take a guy's gear," Tareq said, and you got the impression that all of his Things, his Gear, meant so much to him, that everything, every little piece, needed to be perfect and accounted for or else all was ruined. Mother used to make him clean his room every Saturday ("Not like you have any friends to play with, is it?") and when she came in to inspect it, pacing the room and filling it with her tarry mildew smell, she would find one thing out of place — a water glass ring on the bedside table, a tangled curtain — and she would tear his sheets off his bed, knock things off the shelves, and yell "Start again! And do it right. I should have thrown myself down the stairs when the doctor told me about you. I should have swallowed poison." So Tareq is very particular nowadays about everything being just where it needs to be. And someone messing with HIS GEAR is just such an insane violation of that that he just couldn't handle it.
To bring this up, to throw in this insanity about a federal investigation into some missing polo gear and then implicate Mary's daughter in it, clear out of left field, was blindingly insane. Stacie just fell straight back in her chair to the floor, petrified with embarrassment. Rudiger pulled his turtleneck sweater up over his face and issued one loud, long "Oh helllll no." And Mary reacted as most of us would: She burst into tears and said, so overcome with the surreal psychological mania of the moment, "I have have no idea what the fuck is going on."
She meant in general, I think. Just in a big general sense: What the fuck is going on? Was that whole thing not the craziest, most psychically harrowing social interaction you've ever seen on a Housewives show? I mean that was some next level shit. That was like deeply, deeply crazy. There in that basement with the cobwebs and the eerie clanking of chains or something, Michaele whispering softly to herself in a language that didn't sound like English, the knowledge of that moldering corpse in a dress still propped up in a rocking chair on the porch. The whole thing was straight out of some really, really dark psychological horror movie. It was Mania come to life. Stare into Tareq's wine-soaked eyes and See, dear audience, See madness in its truest, darkest form! Then gaze upon this goat-bearded woman he's taken as a bride! They don't make freakshows as good as they used to, that's for sure, but Tareq and Michaele sure are giving it the ol' college try. Stacie could barely move and Rudiger was openly weeping, his tears soaking through his fuzzy toitleneck sweatuh and it was just so sad. "We can't anymore, we can't," said a cameraman to the rest of the crew, blood dripping from his eyes and ears. "Turn them off, turn them off. Gary, I'm serious. Gary? Gary?" But Gary the boom mic operator was dead. Stiff with rigor mortis, still standing. They buried him under a crab apple tree and Rudiger whispered the kaddish, the wind blowing through their hair, whorls of leaves circling around their feet.
So that was that. That was madness. Pure and undiluted. What else happened on this episode?
1) Oh, I just remembered this. It was really funny when Mary ran out of the wine basement after Tareq was crazy and, ha ha ha ha ha, she was still carrying her wine glass. "I'm so upset!! I have to go home!! With this wine. I'm taking this wine with me." Yay, Mary. Later on Mary had a chat with her daughter and that overgrown baby she's glued some chest hair to and called a husband and you know who the sane, rational one was? The daughter. Weren't you so anticipating the daughter to be petulant and awful and childish and irrational? I mean, aren't all girls like Bouffant from Stink Jersey: A Housewives Tale? Apparently not! Mary's daughter was all "Well, just don't get upset about it. The Salahis just want attention, so don't give it to them." What're you, girly, like a PhD Mensa astronaut? Some kind of rocket surgeon? She was being far too sane and reasonable to be the true daughter of a Real Housewife. Mary, fess up: Did you find your "daughter" in a basket on your doorstep six months ago? It's OK. We won't tell anyone. But honesty will feel better. At least we got the moment with Mary's other daughter where she confessed to "falling asleep on a Ho Ho", which was silly enough to calm us down after the unexpected rationality of the older girl. Watching this show is like falling asleep on a Ho Ho. No, actually, watching this show is like waking up after you've fallen asleep on a Ho Ho and you're covered in food-chemical mess.
2) Lynda found her house. Remember how Lynda is moving to Virginia and Stacie is surprised because living in DC is so hip and cool and trendy (it is not) and Lynda was all "OK, I'm going to buy this house in McLean" and then we went to see the house and ZZzzzzzzzzZZZzzzzzZZzz........... Ding dong, boring calling. Special delivery: It's boring! Attention passengers: Boring. Hello, will you accept collect charges from: Boring. I hate to tell you this, but you have Boring. The tribe has spoken: Boring. You boring! You really, really boring! Mama always said life is like a box of boring. You want the boring, you can't handle the boring! Boring. Lynda is a lizard who is boring. Why is this woman on a television program that's meant to be entertaining? You know what happened at her little house tour? They were filming the outside and Lynda was talking about her dog and she was like "Oh Bitsy is just so happy here" and they showed the little pug running around and peeing on a wall of the new house. Which, whatever, fine. Dog joke. But then? Then the camera like lingered on the spot of pee on the wall. Just hovered there for a pregnant moment. Ha ha. "Hm... I should really zoom in here on that spot of pee. We might want to use that later." That's how cameramen for this show are forced to think. "A splash of pee on a wall. Make sure you get that, George. That's dynamite right there. Urine. On a wall. From a dog. I smell a raise in our future. I also smell urine." Well done, everyone. Please be sure to turn your keys into the RA and make sure all the red tabs are still on your windows. I'll see you next fall, but for now I'm going to go lie down here in this ditch and sob.
3) Edwina died. Ha ha ha ha. No, I don't think she actually died. Did she die? Something happened. Do you know who Edwina is? Remember the insane woman with the insane hat at the Salahis' big polo fag party? With the wide, wild eyes? That's Edwina. Well she was having a big health care party (y'know, just a health care party, because sure) and she wanted Cat to come. So she took Cat to lunch. Basically Edwina wanted Cat's husband to come, but whatever. Cat said that Edwina is "one of the most powerful [Republican] lobbyists" in town. !!! Edwina is a crazy eye-monster from the planet Eyemakillyou who only has one facial expression: Terrifying grin. That's one of the most powerful Republican lobbyists in Washington? Ha ha. OK, everyone bring it in, you Dems in the outfield c'mon, come close, these guys aren't going to be hitting very far. If, I mean, that's one of the most powerful Republican lobbyists. Edwina. Haa. Terrific. Anyway, Cat said some correct things about health care and Edwina grinned terribly and Cat slowly got up and backed away, Edwina's grin still fixed on a specific spot. At night the waiters just drape a sheet over her and turn off the lights. Edwina's big party was in a low-ceilinged room in some dumpy hotel somewhere. And it was a small room. A bartender stood at a small table and brought out three or four bottles of wine and Edwina cooed "Oohhhh, they're in for a treat aren't they!" Yes, a real treat. A half glass of wine and then that's it. The party was pathetic. Luckily everyone on this show is pathetic, so they all showed up. (Well not Mary, she was busy driving like a madwoman for the Canadian border, her daughter saying "Mom, you really don't need to do this, the Salahis are crazy." But Mary wasn't listening. "We're gonna have a whole new life on Prince Edward Island. You'll see, you'll see. The Salahis can't get us there. It's an island.") Stacie and Rudiger were in politicking mode and started to chat up some dude what's in congress or whatEVUH. I could care less about your raggedy old politics ya DC jerks. And then Cat showed up dressed like Sarah Palin, because that's what grownups do at parties. Oddly Cat's husband came and he was in on it and that was strange and everyone was uncomfortable and shifted around and Cat got in a fight with Michaele's assistant and Stacie fell over again and Michaele acted as if the most insane thing ever in the world had not just gone down in her husband's dead mother's wine basement and Rudiger said "Ohhh, I've got to try that chicken" and I thought "No, sweet Rudiger, do not eat the chicken in this dingy room full of no one." So the party went on and on until a man in a shiny black jacket — seriously, there was some sort of glittery something threaded throughout the jacket, he looked like Steve Martin in Leap of Faith — and he informed everyone that Edwina had been called away to attend to something important. Aha. Then Bravo showed us some tiny crumpled blonde mass in an ambahlance and it was Edwina, I guess. "Episode Note: Later that night, Edwina died." Poor Edwina. 1845 - 2009.
It's a good thing Tareq didn't run into Edwina, though. If he had met her, he would have remembered something from years and years ago. A shiny, glittery black jacket hung over a chair. Some strange thumping coming from somewhere up on the darkened second floor of the house. A "knock knock", not an actual knock, just a sickly sweet voice saying "knock knock". And at the screen door a blonde woman with a tight grin on her face, a single streak of mascara marring an otherwise pulled-together appearance. "Knock knock little boy" the woman with the sickly sweet voice said. "Could you please come here for a minute?" Tareq, always a dully curious child, walked across the creaking floorboards over toward the door. "Oh thank you sweetie. Now, pet, I wonder if you could tell me... Is your whore mother upstairs fucking my husband right now? I can see his jacket right there on the chair and I can hear her whore moans from all the way down the road, sweetie." Tareq didn't know what to say. "M-Mother? There's a woman... At... the door." The woman stood there, still grinning, her eyes wide but empty. "M-Mother!" he called again and finally she appeared on the stairs, wrapping herself in her dirty robe. She stopped for a moment when she saw the woman in the doorway, but only a brief moment. She continued down the stairs, grabbed the sparkling coat from the chair and held it up. "You want this back? Sure, you can have it. It's queer anyway." The woman in the doorway was still grinning, but one eye was now twitching ever so slightly. "Well. You'll send him home now then? Thank you." And then, bending down to Tareq. "And so very nice to meet you, young man. You may call me Edwina." And then she was gone and Tareq just stood there, staring outside through the screen, the sky almost a kind of green. Daisy, the three-legged dog he'd found hobbling down the road, out there in the yard, whimpering about something. Later that same year he'd have to take Daisy out back behind the shed and shoot her with his father's old pistol. Not because she'd gone rabid or infirm. But because Mother didn't like the way she walked, said it made her anxious. "You'll have to do something about that animal," she'd said, stirring a pot of onions. She was always cooking onions. And Tareq was always watching her, standing in the hallway, wondering if he'd ever be able to say anything at all.