Last night's episode of American Sun Farts was mostly a transitional one, with people assessing old fights and laying the groundwork for new ones. A few sparks flew, but they had short trajectories, sputtering and dying out quickly, like so many SoCal marriages.
Marriage! The terrible contract. The blubberers' bargain. What a sham. What a mess! It's because it's such a broken institution that Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley, known fool, have not gotten married. No, they're still breezy boyfriend/girlfriend, laughing it up and having a ball, free of any legal or spiritual obligation to each other. What a great time they have! Mostly Slade smiles and takes it, because who else is going to pay for his loose-fitting twill shirts, when Gretchen makes fun of him and calls him "Tumbawamba," because he has gained weight. Is that what she was calling him? Was it Tubawamba? Tumbawamba? It was a play on Chumbawamba, an anarcho-pop band that I'm sure Gretchen's totally into. But yeah, Gretchen is worried that Slade and her other dogs, the two Chihuahuas, are getting fat. So she talks about it, on TV.
Their storyline last night was this: the dogs were getting fat, and so was Slade, and Gretchen was upset about it. She suspected that the dogs were being overfed by her mysterious, unseen ex-husband Chris, so she took them to the vet to confirm that they were obese so she could show Chris a "doctor's note" telling him not to feed the things so much. OK, whatever. Responsible dog-owning, sure. It's weird though that Gretchen shares the dogs with this guy, though, isn't it? I mean, do we remember Gretchen having dogs earlier? They seem sort of like new acquisitions? How long ago was she married to Chris? Why are they splitting the dogs? It's just dogs. Get new dogs. I know that's awful, but it's dogs. Dogs. That's all. Just dogs. Anyway, this was Gretchen's issue with the dogs. Her issue with Slade is that he's been eating too many gorditas or whatever people in Orange County eat (more on that later), so she's been giving him shit about it and last night he finally reached his breaking point. She kept calling him Tubbathumpafatsobatso or whatever her nickname was and he got upset. They were in the park with the dogs, trying to give them some exercise, and Slade actually climbed a tree and sulked in it and then took his ball and ran home. Almost all of that literally happened. (Gretchen put the ball in the car.) In Slade's defense, Gretchen had pointed at the tree and said "That tree looks cool for climbing," so she'd put the tree-climbing idea in his head, but he did actually do the climbing, and that was all him. He also did the pouting. After he got out of the tree, he told Gretchen that she'd been embarrassing him in public and Gretchen was like "Oh and you don't embarrass me in public?' and he was like "Nooo" and she was like "That's ridiculous." She said it in such a way that it sounded like there was some serious dark history there, yeah? I couldn't think of anything specific that we've seen, so maybe it's all been off camera? I'd like to hear what it is please! I suppose it's possible that she just meant it in a general way. Like just being with Slade Smiley is a public embarrassment, but it sounded like she had specifics. Please give them to us.
Anyway. Gretchen and Slade were acting like children — sulking in trees, making up Bubbagumpa nicknames, drawing pictures of each other with wavy stink lines coming off the crude stick figures (well, we didn't see that, but I'm sure they did that) — so it was only sensible that they went out on the town and stuffed food into their mouths with other babies. The other babies in question were Peggy and her husband Micah, who are shabby people. Just plain shabby. Peggy has willingly turned herself into a monster with all the procedures she's clearly had done on her face, and now she will have an expression that looks like she's pooping out of horror (terrorshitz in the German) on her face forever. And her husband Micah, a younger man, is the kind of buffoon who shows up to a restaurant wearing jeans, dress shoes, a suit jacket, and an untucked collared shirt. Yeah. Great. Who are you, you human disaster? Nice untucked collared shirt, suit jacket, jeans, and dress shoes, you cock-up. Look, there are certain ways to make that outfit work, but they do not involve baggy jeans or pointy shiny dress shoes or a too-big shirt worn to hide a gut. Sorry, Micah, it doesn't work.
And the restaurant. Oh god, the restaurant. These four baby-people went to their fancy grownup restaurant and had fancy grownup conversation about nightly blowjobs and how much rings cost (both Gretchen and Peggy seem to assess the cost of jewelry in blowjobs) and while they were playing dress-up and Slade was being shamed for being an out-of-work real estate pauper, this restaurant served them really sophisticated things like cocktails with dry ice in them. A cocktail with dry ice in it should only be served by a waiter at a Halloween-themed restaurant who has just said "Here's your Witchtini." That's the only time. You hear me, Richard Blais? No dry ice in a cocktail, ever. There is nothing sleek or seductive about synthesized mist or fog or any of that. I don't know. I just found it so telling that this "nice" restaurant they were all at and congratulating themselves for being at served cocktails with dry ice. Yup. That's fancy for you in Orange County. The bloated infants all loved it and clapped for themselves for having a classy dinner.
What are the restaurants these people go to? There's always some weird thing — a block of dry ice, a garishly lit wall, a nightclub-like banquette, strangely presented food — that reminds me that no one who goes to these restaurants is an adult with any sense of taste. Vicki and someone else, I don't remember who, went somewhere for lunch and they had chopsticks and they were just picking at a pile of tomatoes. That's really all it was, iceberg lettuce shreds and a pile of diced tomatoes. There was maybe a tortilla chip involved? Which would explain the chopsticks. EXCEPT NOT AT ALL. (See what I did there?) Why do these people go to restaurants that serves them a pile of tomatoes and then says "Here are your chopsticks"? What is going on with this county? Why is this county so strange and awful??
Ahem. Moving on. At Gretchen and Peggy's big dinner for grownups, the topic of Tamra came up. Gretchen was all "Why are you friends with Tamra?" and Slade was saying mean things about Tamra, and this made Peggy and L.J. or whatever the fuck trendy '90s tween name her husband would like to be named very upset. They like Tamra? They like Tamra. They think they like Tamra. But they don't quite understand what was going on with this whole mace thing. Yeah, everyone's still talking about the mace thing. Tamra is even talking about the mace thing, though she claims she'd like it put to bed. Tamra is back selling real estate and feeling pretty positive about that, so that's good. She went to Spain with that guy she hired and it was really fun, so that's also good. (Even though apparently Simon was mad because Tamra didn't tell him where she was going and so Simon didn't understand why Tamra's mom was watching the kids for ten days. Ten days. Simon wasn't quite sure what his kids were doing for ten days. Good, responsible parenting, everyone.) But this mace thing is not good! This mace thing will not go away! Everyone's talking about it like she pulled a fucking gun and shot Gretchen in the fucking face! She did not fucking shoot Gretchen in the fucking face. She pulled out some mace and made a joke. That's all. Just a joke. Relax everyone. Calm down. Of course you won't. You're all idiots.
So yeah, Macegate is alive and well and living in Coto, and it's sad. Alexis is all upset about it, because Tamra
stabbed Gretchen repeatedly with a rusty screwdriver pulled the joke mace at her function, so it's Alexis that Tamra must resolve things. Best to start at the root of the problem! So Tamra hoofed it over to Alexis's new pad to hash things out. There was some business with this house, about whether it's in foreclosure or something, but Alexis shut that down really quick by saying they were just "in mortgage adjustment" or something. Haha, right, that's all. Just an everyday mortgage adjustment. Sure. Anyway, this house, which is being adjusted, certainly was 6,000 square feet of fabulousness. I mean there was a piano room, with a never-been-played grand piano there, you know, for classy purposes. There was decoration like you wouldn't believe too! Oh my gosh, did you see that photograph of a glass of wine that was on the wall in a hallway? I mean, you walk into a house with a photo of a glass of wine on the wall, and you know you're in somethin' special. That's the height of the height right there, is it not? There were also lots of brown scouring marks on the walls in splatter-shaped patterns and Tamra asked what they were and Alexis told her they were just Jim's fart marks. They were somehow more attractive than the photo of the glass of wine. Also they have a couch in their bedroom, right next to their bed. Call me crazy, but that really says something to me. People who are deeply happy don't have a couch right next to their bed. (Update: Yes, I completely forgot to mention Jim's shirtless photograph. Mostly because people sometimes subconsciously block trauma from their memory. But yes, Jim was shirtless in all his resplendent glory and a chorus of angels sang and wept.)
But yeah, Tamra was impressed or was pretending to be impressed, but eventually it was time to get down to business. So they sat and chatted and Tamra was like "Why you mad about mace?" and Alexis was like "Because it was rude and wasn't funny." Alexis then gave us a comedy lesson, telling us that Tamra making a joke about boxing gloves would have been funny, but the mace wasn't. Neither is particularly funny, so that's not the point, the point is that if I'm thinking about laughing or jokes or whatever, Alexis of Jimjesus (her formal name) is the absolute last person I'm thinking about. The only funny thing about Alexis is that she thinks she's people. That's the only funny thing. Alexis could walk out onto a stage, tentatively lean into the microphone and say "I'm people" and then walk off the stage and she would kill. Original Queen of Comedy right there. But nothing else about her is funny, so her giving us a godly lecture on comedy is beyond. So yeah, Tamra and Alexis started fighting and it doesn't look like it's going to end, unless Jim comes home and lets out a Chipotle fart and everyone dies.
Lastly, we come to Vicki. Vickles is in a pickles. See, she's really happy working. She loves working. She's the character of Chekhov's dreams she says the word "work" so much. (If you're interested in reading my college paper about the concept of "work" in Three Sisters, let me know! I expect lots of emails!!!) So Working is great, but nothing else is great. Her two children have turned into potatoes and she feels blue about that. (Just kidding, Briana, you're great.) Plus she doesn't know who this guy next to her is. What's that? He's her husband?? Her husband Donn??? Oh riiiight. Yeah, her marriage to Donn, which was just revowed last year, is crumbling. They had an awkward dinner (this restaurant seemed OK, except that it was weirdly empty and had the sad black echoiness of a nightclub during the day) together and Vicki asked Donn where he sees himself in five years and he was like "Retired" and she was like "Yeah, that makes sense, I mean you're what... 57? 58?" and Donn blinked, the kind of blink that isn't nearly enough but it's all you can do when you've just had a bag of sand thrown squarely at your chest, and said "You don't know how old I am?" And Vicki sighed in this way that wasn't like, oh my god I'm so sorry what a waste of breath and blood I am, but in this "Oh god, Donn's upset, how annoying" way that was so unfair. So she just barreled through that and started talking about how she wants to work for the next twenty years (when she'll be 83). Clearly they're out of step, and Vicki is feeling the age difference. But she loves work! She loves work more than Donn, it seems. "Life is a pie," she said to us, and it's hard for her to allot a fair share of the pie to the things she needs to. Life is a pie. Vicki's life was cooling on a window sill and then a hobo snatched it. A hobo called Work. (See, I'm can make metaphors too, Vicki. Specifically, hobo-related metaphors.)
Really what we're talking about when we talk about "work" is Vicki. Vicki loves herself more than Donn. Which is OK. It's important to love yourself. But the way that Vicki loves herself is weird and sad and trying to make up for something. Last night Vicki said that she was about to fly home for her 30 year high school reunion, and remember that other reunion she went to? Remember her chasing that blurred-out guy around, trying to get him to be excited to see her? Remember how no one was excited to see her and she just kept trying to act all haughty and important and nobody cared? I guess she wants more of that. I guess Vicki is coming back for seconds. And that, my friends, is a sadder meal than you'll find in any of Orange County's fabulous and famous first-rate restaurants.