Real Housewives of Orange County: Oh the Places You'll Go

On last night's serving of sun-splashed mania, we were treated to, well... not a lot of mania! It was a strangely pleasant little episode. At least as pleasant as this show ever gets. Vows were renewed (as they always are on this show) and we went to Spain!

For once in her pig-snarling life, little Gretchy-Wetchy decided to do something good with her time. It was her parents' fortieth wedding anniversary, so she planned a whole day of surprises for them that culminated in a renewing of vows. The Renewing of Vows is like some ancient rite to these women, the most holy and important moment in a lady-of-a-certain-age's life. I'm not quite sure I understand its potency for them, but my guess is that it has something to do with a sense of accomplishment, having not gotten divorced despite living in California's seethingest hotbed of marital splits. I mean, is that it? Should these things just be called "We Won And You Didn't" ceremonies? Well, whatever the reason, the ceremonies largely turn out to be actually kind of sweet, as old people crying and remembering when they were young is always sweet, in the way that Indian summer is sweet. In Gretchen's case, she was doing something nice and that was sweet too, and I only barely got the sense that the whole thing had been orchestrated to make her look good. I think she might really have mostly done this for her parents!

The whole thing was a trip down memory lane, with a stop at the church where her folks got married, complete with a viewing of her mom's dress, then a ride in a Mustang just like what her mom had back in the day, then to a winery for the ceremony, which was officiated by the same pastor who had married them all those years ago. They showed lots of pictures of the happy couple on their original wedding day, and wasn't Gretchen's father kind of cute? He was kind of cute! He also seems a little younger than her mom. Did you get that sense? Did you fast forward through all of this? I sincerely wouldn't blame you if you did. I mean, it was nice and all, but are people really watching this show for nice? I do not think they are watching this show for nice. But yeah, the only bad or awkward thing about the whole affair was a brief chat that Slade had with Gretchen's dad while her mom was getting ready that was all about Gretchen's fear of marrying and Slade saying he wants to marry her and Gretchen's dad making a somewhat inscrutable face. I couldn't quite tell what that look was, but if I had to guess I'd say it was fear mixed with resignation, disgust mixed with the cosmic shoulder shrug of giving yourself to time's riptide. Gretchen's dad is not happy about this particular love affair, but he is old enough to be happy about love in general, wise enough to realize that saying no would just make things go faster. So he sat there with Slade and they both stared out at the sun and the birds sang softly in the trees and then it was time for the ceremony, so off they went. Ah well. Good for you, Gretchen, for pulling it off. Good for you, sincerely.

Not good for anyone was Peggy's stupid plotline about her boobages. Peggy has been sad, so she's decided to get new boobs. She told the cameras, and by extension us, that in Orange County a lady getting a boob job is like getting the oil changed, you do it every few thousand miles or otherwise he'll get a new model car and leave the old one to live in a cramped condo with the kids and eventually the car will have to get a job selling shitty real estate or working the Sally Hansen counter at the mall just to make ends meet. The car. We're still talking about the car. So yeah, Peggy is getting her tits bitted and it's a pretty regular procedure for the most part, every woman in Orange County has had it done already, but something is making Peggy nervous. And that something is actually two somethings. No not her boobs, her kids! Yeah, she has two kids, Akron and Sioux Falls, and she is worried that she might die while in surgery. So she was lying on the gurney all weepy and nervous and it was like... Wait. Is she getting a tumor removed? A kidney transplant? Something, y'know, necessary? No. No she is not. She is choosing to have space-age materials put in her chest for purely cosmetic reasons. And yet there she is lying in the hospital, weeping about her daughters' unknowable future if she succumbs during surgery as if it's this big unavoidable risk. "It terrifies me that I could not wake up from this important procedure, but I have to have it. There is no choice. There is just no choice." Fuck you, lady. Honestly. Don't try to get our sympathy by showing how much you worry about your kids and then still go under the knife for your boobs anyway. You can't have your tits and eat them too. Or something. Seriously. Go cram it.

Once she'd blessedly made it through the operation and her husband had awarded her bravery with a shiny pair of more boobs gaudy crystal costume jewelry, Peggy went home to recover. As she lay on the couch, whimpering, her good friend Alexis came over to commiserate with her about what it's like to get a reboobening. Earlier in the episode Alexis had had a conversation with Gretchen about something that happened last week that I can't be bothered to figure out, but it seems like it had something to do with mace. Alexis was all upset that Tamra had brought mace to her party as a joke, and Gretchen was like "Yeah, it's all about timing. She's very witty, but she has no timing." Right because wit has nothing to do with timing. (To quote The Simpsons: "Don't worry, Marge. Her idea of wit is nothing more than an incisive observation humorously phrased and delivered with impeccable timing.") Alexis was like "Right, right, timing! Like you with the hat, why'd you have to do that with the Evil Eye hat?" And Gretchen's pig face smooshed up and she said, "No, that was funny. Because the timing was right" and it was awkward. I guess Gretchen wasn't perfect this episode! Oh well, guess not. Timing, right? All about timing.

ANYWAY, Alexis went over to Peggy's and they just rubbed their boobs together and made "Mmmm mmm" noises, not sexy noises, but sort of assessing, comforting, ambient noises, for a few hours. Then they talked genially about tits and boobs and jugs and jiggles and honkers and hornbags and hooters and heaps and lumps and lug-'ems and all that, joking that their kids are asking to see Peggy's new boobies and just generally having a nice little breast-related conversation. Alexis asked to see the special prizes and Peggy obliged, showing us the tops of her new pals and Alexis approved. Well, she approved to Peggy, but in an interview she said, smugly, "Well, she should have gone to my doctor, because, well... I don't want to get too graphic." Or something. Basically Alexis didn't approve of Peggy's job and felt comfortable saying that, on national television, behind her friend's back. Nice lady! Oh, hah, and earlier in the scene Alexis had told us that Peggy went for a smaller job because she didn't want to be as "well endowed" as Alexis is. Um, Alexis. "Endowed"? As in "endowed by your creator"? No. You are not endowed. Those are fake. You endowed them to yourself. Wrong word. Wrong life.

Speaking of life! Vicki doesn't have one. Well, she does, but it's all about selling junk insurance with a pack of dopey twenty-two-year-olds. Vicki spends all her time at work and her family is getting upset about it, so last night she decided to go on a little boat-about with her family (and two of her employees, and, well, one of her employees is her son, so three of her employees) and she was having a nice time until people started to genially make fun of her and she got all upset. All she could talk about was work. She pointed to a man fishing and she said "Who's doing that in the middle of the day? Why isn't he working?" Vicki is like the kid in high school or college who isn't really sure who or what they are until one day someone makes an off-hand comment like "Oh you're such a ____ " and that person just runs with it, decides "Oh, OK! I'm a ____! That's what I am!!" And that's all they do and talk about, how they're such a ___ and it just goes on and on and on and everyone around them gets so sick of hearing about ____ and it just becomes sad and embarrassing. Vicki is that person, that weird childlike person. Work and Job are two big capital letter words for Vicki, because she thinks they give her shape and meaning. I guess they maybe do. I mean they probably do. But what sad, insistent shape and meaning to have. "My life's passion is selling crappy insurance with a bunch of farty college dropouts and I'm going to natter on about it, brag about it even, 'til the cows come home. Or rather the cows go home. The cows are my employees." MEAN. I am being mean. But you know what I'm talking about, right? This Work thing has just gotten to be too much. The word has lost all meaning with Vicki. Unless you're talking about watching her. Watching Vicki has become Work, but that's the only Vicki-related context in which that word still means anything. Oh well. Everyone on the boat got drunk and had some laughs but Vicki just sat there pouting, thinking about insurance, the sad little boat puttering along on dull waters, the sun setting, her children growing fuzzy and distant. Sigh.

Speaking of distance! Tamra and her boyfriend, Hunkydory, went to Spain! Yes! They went to Sevilla and Marbella and it was the most beautiful thing Tamra had ever seen. Tamra said that she is not much of a world traveler, so it was very special to spend ten days in a beautiful place like Spain. And I am not going to make fun of this, because it is true! Because it was so nice to see Tamra wandering around and seeing beautiful churches and gasping at all of it, at how big and how beautiful the world really is. She was basically like Margo Martindale at the end of Paris, Je T'Aime, falling in love with a place and feeling it fall in love with her. (If you haven't seen that amazing thing you must.) It was so nice. It really was. I'm not being sarcastic. It was really nice to see. The beauty and joy and strange sadness of travel. Even though she and Hunky acted sorta dumbly together, even though their most casually romantic, laugh-at-each-other's-jokes conversation was about poop and bidets and wiping one's ass with a rabbit, it was still very nice. They ate french fries and other cheap tapas, they had a meat and cheese picnic down by the beach — Tamra had gone to the market on her own to buy the stuff and though she annoyed the Spanish deli worker, it was still nice. They had awkward talks about kids and Tamra sorta lied and said she'd have another with Hunky, but it was still nice. The whole thing was nice. I hope Tamra now has the travel bug! I hope she wants to go to new places!

I had this vision of her last night, back in California, back to being bored and sun-heavy. I had this vision of her sitting alone at her house, whiling away the hours with light wines and little songs hummed to herself. Vicki off drudging along in her frat house for losers of an office, wrapping the cold comfort of that place around her like an airplane blanket. Alexis standing in her many full-length mirrors, poking her boobs and smiling with each satisfying squish. Gretchen looking through her parents' old photo albums and sighing and giggling and feeling the odd seltzer sensation of a new skin growing, maybe an older Gretchen, a kinder Gretchen, a Gretchen who sees bigger pictures and deeper pools. Peggy looking at nose job websites and sobbing, trying to figure out what her children are going to do when she's gone. All these dimbulbs doing all these dimbulb things, and there's Tamra. Shuffling around, aimlessly wandering. (Sometimes aimless is just fine, right?) Then sitting down at the computer. Laughing to herself as she types the address of a travel website. The laugh fading to a hushed quiver as she types "Paris" then "Rio" then "Azerbaijan." Looking at tickets and hotels and sights and sounds and food and people. Typing "London" then "Lisbon" then "Mont Saint Michel." Tokyo and Tyrol and Tutankhamun's tomb. All these places, that she can go to! Oh the places she can go!

She sits there, the way I picture her, forgetting about the wine, her finger hovering over "Purchase" or "Book" or whatever needs pressing. Whatever new need is pressing at her, the echo of that warm Spanish sun still fluttering on her skin, the sound of the church bells clanging in her bones. I wish I could yell at her and say "Go!" I wish I could lean through the screen and push her. Go, Tamra, go! Explore! Get out! Learn! Love! Leave! Disappear! Take your kids with you, probably, of course there's that. But you can do it!

Ljubljana! Mauritius! Buenos Aires! Taipei and Tangiers and Benelux too! Sydney and Stockholm and the wide mouth of the Congo! The world, Tamra! The world!!!