Real Housewives of Orange County: Where There's Smoke There's Dire

Everything is unraveling! Marriages and friendships and dress companies. It's all coming undone for our California bliss-monsters, their threads pulling and fraying like so many, well, cheap dresses. At least there was wine to comfort them, as there always is.

Where to begin! I suppose we can begin with Tamra. As we all know, Tamra is dating Nice Guy Eddie and she is very happy, going on lovely Spanish vacations and taking sensual baths and all that normal romance stuff. So things are good on that front. But what about that lesbian lady she'd been sorta snuggling up to in the recent past? Well of course now that Tamra has settled with Eddie Funster, she doesn't need to seek attention from this accented lesbian, so she's done with her. Well Tamra you may be done with the lesbian, but the lesbian ain't done with you. In a past episode, the lesbian was working out at the gym and she heard a shuffle behind her like the sound of dried leaves blowing down an autumn sidewalk and then there was a noise like pudding sloshing around the deck of a ship in high swells. She turned around and of course the noises were just the regular sound of Lynne approaching! Lynne! Remember Lynne? Lynne hasn't been a regular cast member this season because she's been stuck in a bear trap for months, eventually gnawing off her own hand before realizing, of course, that it was her foot that was caught. Oh well. Luckily Lynne can regenerate limbs like a lizard, so she's all better now and she's ready for action. So yeah, in this past episode she approached the lesbian at the gym and the lesbian told her that at Tamra's drunken birthday party, she and Tamra and smooched in the bathroom. Lynne was shocked! "Places have bathrooms???" she marveled, pee dribbling down her leg.

But yes, Lynne thought that was very interesting — Is Tamra a lesbian now? Can lesbians fly? Are they made of twigs? — so she decided to ask Tamra to a drink to get the 411. They met at one of Orange County's seemingly myriad lounge-restaurants, all of which have cheesy lighting and black leather banquettes and oddly colored cocktails that come in enormous martini glasses. It's just a way of life there, as representative of Orange County as charming little outdoor cafes are of Paris. So yeah, they're sitting there and Lynne burbles out the words "Lesbeeman said you kissed faces..." and Tamra was like "What?? What??? I mean we did, but..." And then she told Lynne what happened. The lesbian had brought some of her Brazilian witch's brew to the party and everyone was doing shots and it was really strong, so Tamra was wasted, so wasted she "could barely even walk." (Cool 42nd birthday, grownup. Well done.) So she went to the bathroom and the lesbian followed her and for whatever reason, Orange County restraulounge bathrooms being as naturally sexy places as they are, they smooshed faces. Tamra was doing it just to be drunk and have birthday silliness, but the lesbian was totally lesbianly into it. Oooops!

Lynne listened to all this, mouth open and head nodding, and it was just... Oh Lynne. Poor Lynne. She was lost in Lynneland, a place where the sun is low and brown and there's distant carousel music and the clouds are pale blue snarls of hair and cotton candy and the ground is squishy, so when you walk on it it says "Squish. Squish" in a deep, comforting voice. She goes there in her head often, when she can't understand what's going on in the real world. And that's where she went during Tamra's too-complicated explanation, and when she finally snapped out of it the restaurant was dark and all the chairs were put up on the tables and Tamra was long gone. The doors were locked and she couldn't get them open so she just calmly crashed her way through the glass, walking home with a slight limp, blood everywhere, somewhere nearby the soft ocean roar whispering her hello.

Tamra was upset, embarrassed maybe?, that the lesbian had so brazenly kissed and told, and that she'd hinted at some sort of relationship between the two of them, so she decided to talk to her. She invited her to yet another of the leather cocktail restaurants and Tamra was like "I'm flirty, that's what I do, I'm flirty. I'm just flirty. Flirty. Flirty and forty!" Or what have you. The lesbian nodded and her eyebrows did sad, strange dips and... Oh my gosh. She actually did think that something was happening between her and Tammy-Tam-Tam. How sad! She, poor unwitting foreigner, thought that things that happen when the cameras are rolling represent real feelings and stuff. I mean, they do when they're negative, but when they're good things, or silly sensational things? Oh no, oh no. It's all terribly false, poor lesbian. You've been hoodwinked. Tamra seemed to recognize this in the lesbian's crumpling expression so she said "I mean, straight girls kiss each other all the time and it means nothing, I guess it's different when lesbians kiss women?" Hm, yes. Tamra. I'd like you to take one second, one is hopefully all you'll need, to think about that. "Oh wait, so the silly novelty thing I do for shits and sexy giggles at bars actually means something to you? You have normal emotions and feelings? But you're too pretty to be a lesbian!" Look, I like Tamra this season. I mean, as far as one can like someone on this show. But that conversation was just so... Ugh. Maybe this is Tamra's first lesbian friend, or first gay friend or whatever, so she's still learning. And good for her for trying. But Tamra, you are a forty-two-year-old adult. You should, by now, understand that gay people function in pretty much exactly the same way as everyone else. Because, again, they are people. Note to all Housewives stars: Gay people are, in fact, people! Learn it, love it, live it. Oof.

Oh well, poor lesbian. She and Tamra will continue to be friends until they start constantly rain-checking on plans and then eventually not calling each other back at all. Until all they are to each other is a momnet, when one thinks about the other while driving somewhere or wandering a supermarket aisle. "I wonder what happened to..." they'll think. And then a quick, feverish, sweaty flashback to a bathroom and lips pressing together, and it will seem so strange that they were ever that close, in both body and heart. Oh well.

Next up is... Vicki! Poor, sour Vicki. Vicki has dire emotional problems and she still has not dealt with them, just buried them under a heap of junk insurance and pinto grigio piles. Right now she's having trouble with Donn, but she doesn't want to talk about it. I'm not sure what the root problems are in their marriage, and we'll probably never know, but from what we can see from the show, she is currently mad that Donn had a little too much to drink at Peggy's horrible dinner party and was jokingly saying some not-so-nice things to Vicki. And man if you've ever seen someone who can't take a joke more than Vicki can't take a joke, then keep that person to yourself because I never want to meet them. I think sometimes that Vicki wants a husband who will just stand quietly in a corner, obeying orders, only speaking to compliment her. Vicki feels so secretly uncomfortable and anxious and unloved all the time that she needs someone who will never joke, never needle, never put things in perspective. She needs someone who will see the drama in every single one of her emotions and treat each one like they are precious hurricanes to be embraced and soothed. Vicki needs someone to feel as anxious and defensive and upset as possible. Not about themselves, but about her. Vicki just needs constant validation that she is being understood and heard and felt and sympathized with. Something so bad, so very bad, must have happened in Vicki's younger years. I know we'll likely never learn what it was, but I'm sorry past Vicki, I'm sorry that whatever unresolved traumas or indignities or injustices were visited upon you festered and metastasized into this, this present day jumble of blunt unpredictability and high-strung humorlessness.

Ugh, sorry. Vicki's psychology bothers me, and it bothers me that Donn, who could be a jerk off the show who knows, but on the show is very likable, is treated so badly because of it. But oh well! Nothing to be done. So Vicki decided, after cold-shouldering Donn during an awkward kitchen conversation ("We have three flat tires and we're out of spares," Vicki told us about their relationship), to go have some fun. And "fun" in Housewives parlance means wine drinkin'. Lots of good old wine drinkin'. So she rented a limo and got Tamra and their new pal Peggy and they went out to Temecula Valley wine country (it's a thing, I guess!) and had some tasting. Of course they weren't really trying to taste the wine, Vicki said one was flowery at one point and that was as far as anyone got, they were just there to get drizzunk and bad mouth Alexis and whatnot. The Alexis-bashing made Peggy squirmy, but she sorta genially played along. Sorta. Then Vicki made a racially charged statement to their Mexican oops, Puerto Rican sommelier and it was sad, because he'd been doing this whole routine for them, had a little act worked up with jokes about switching to the dark side when going from white wines to red wines and saying "Never trust a skinny chef or a sober sommelier!" when taking a sip of wine, but after Vicki made the shrill, "who cares, I'm the only real person here who could actually be insulted, the rest of you are just talking props in my personal stage production"- type comment about this poor stranger's skin color — she thought Tamra was hitting on him about the dark side thing and yelled "I mean, he's dark!!" while pointing at him, having just called him Mexican — he just shut down. He dumped wine in her glass and walked away. Poor guy. No one ever expects the Vicki explosion and then when it happens there's nothing you can do about it.

Then Peggy started asking Vicki lots of questions about Donn, not pointedly I don't think, she was just curious, and Vicki got really upset and teary and just said "No... everything's great" in a cool voice while downing her wine and you could tell that Vicki was secretly thrilled with how dramatic and mysterious she seemed at that moment. So she kept up the whole thing of not wanting to talk about Donn until finally she just yellingly interrupted Peggy during a question and said "OK, let's go! Let's go home, I want to go home." And she sulked the whole car ride home. Because Vicki's day hadn't gone perfectly, because she got upset about someone asking questions they have no way of knowing are hurtful questions, Vicki will ruin everyone's day. I mean, can you imagine being friends with this woman? Can you imagine trying to be friends with a big drunken six-year-old with a major brattiness problem? I don't know why anyone tries. It seems insanely exhausting. Peggy, get out while you still can.

Oh, but what does Peggy know about having likable friends? After all, she's busy trying to figure out what's going on with her and Alexis. Peggy, who always looks like she's smelling something bad, came over to Alexis's house to discuss their awkward dinner party conversation (and to drink wine, natch) and it was just... so dumb. Alexis finally spilled the beans and admitted to lying at the party about why Jim wasn't there. He really wasn't there because he doesn't like that crowd and doesn't want to spend time with them anymore. Which, fair enough! I don't blame the blubbery bastard. This didn't sit right with Peggy, and somehow they go into a thing about how Peggy's precious little Micah felt like Jim was always condescending to him. Peggy's example? "Well, Micah was talking about his Lamborghini, because you know he owned a Murciélago, and Jim said 'Oh no, that's not right' about something Micah said about Lamborghinis. Because, you know, he had a Murciélago." And Alexis shook her head and said, "Well, I can't speak for Jim, but you know, we've had four Lamborghinis, so..." Hahahha. You fucking monster idiots. How do you turn a conversation about the fading of your friendship into a bragging competition about your husbands' Lamborghinis? I mean, does Peggy only speak in brands? "Honey, could you make me some Folgers coffee in the Braun coffee maker please? Then I'll maybe have a Thomas's English Muffin with some Land O' Lakes margarine." It's so sad and pathetic. Lamborghinis. Of course those two chodes had Lamborghinis. I'm sure they were leased and I'm sure they couldn't even afford the lease. Lamborghinis. For heaven's sake, you idiots. Stop talking. Why aren't Alexis and Peggy best friends? They seem to have so much fun talking and having brag-fights with each other!! "My husband has a solid gold Bowflex." "Well my husband has three titanium Total Gyms." "Well my husband poops diamonds." "Well my husband poops entire spiral hams." (That was Alexis.) Ugh! Ugh I say to them.

Over in Shittington Corners, Gretchen was getting ready for a big trip to Texas to hawk her Gretchen Christine Bootay wares, and Slade was getting a visit from his hilariously straight-talking, practical-thinking mom. She was great, right?? She gave Slade shit about his non-job and then asked if he really wanted to "drag Gretchen into this mess." Hahahahaha. You had to kind of feel bad for Slade, in a weird way. Sure he's a gross, baby talking sleaze-weasel, but also, he's so busted. He's burnt. He's done. Mom knows it, we know it, probably Slade knows it. Later he accompanied Gretchen on her trip to San Antonio, only to be resoundingly mocked by the host of San Antonio Living, the fearsome Shelly Miles. Like a seasoned traffic reporter, Miles just tore into Slade about his makeup wearing and general pussy-being. Slade's tired dog eyes drooped sadly (though there was also a dim glint of that scary, menacing rage that's always present in Slade) and the wicked Shelly Miles laughed and laughed and Gretchen smiled awkwardly and continued to mangle her interview segment. Happy couple, these two! Happy life.

Speaking of happy couples, we move finally to Alexis. Oh sweet god. So Alexis is making a line of dresses called Jesus Jumpers or something and she is very excited because now it is time for her big photoshoot to advertise the dresses. She brought her housegay Dylan to the Regis hotel, where he did her makeup and her hair and other housegay things, and then it was time to get shot! By the camera. Not by a gun. The actual dress designer was there making sure that Alexis did the right poses, while another weirdly accented woman took the pictures. And, oh man, let's just say that Alexis shouldn't quit her day not-job. A natural born model she is not. She made terribly awkward poses, ones that said mostly three things: "About to poop" "About to fart" and "Pooping while farting at the same time, oops." Those were her three photo-emotions. But whatever. No one really cares. It doesn't matter. So the photoshoot was almost done, everything had gone smoothly enough, and then... Well then the powerful stink of haggis and rotten mayonnaise filled the air and there, suddenly, was sweet Earth Jesus himself, Jim. Ah yes, you see Jim is the money guy for this whole Alexis Couture (I don't think couture means what Alexis thinks it means) enterprise, so he wanted to be there to make sure the photos went well. Well really he wanted to be there to gently whore his wife out to the camera.

I have no problem with sexy photos! I have no problem with a person's spouse being into that person's sexy photos. I do, however, have a problem with Alexis and Jim constantly religiously moralizing about their strict Christian faith only to then have Jim sexually direct Alexis at a public photo shoot to stick out her ass and pout and throw herself up against a wall like she's in a porn movie. I think that's maybe a little hypocritical! Just maybe. I don't know. I'm no theologian. But yeah, Jim was so awful, standing there with manicotti and hunks of fried catfish tumbling out of his mouth, sausage gravy leaking out of his armpits. "Yeah, yeah," he said in a low, lardy voice, "That's right." He seemed really into Alexis sticking her ass out, to the horror of the other designer and the photographer, and then at one point he slapped Alexis's ass while she was walking by like she was a cocktail waitress at the Bazoombas Bar in San Jacinto. It was terrifically horrifying! And, again, hypocritical. But, as Alexis said, you have to do what your husband tells you to do, even if it is hypocritical.

Well, they found out just how hypocritical it was when, all of a sudden, the room filled with smoke and, one has to assume, it was the devil coming to take them away. The door to hell had opened and it was time for Alexis and Jim, great jiggling anchovy-scented Jim, to descend into eternity. Or, you know, they foolishly set off a smoke machine which in turn set off the fire alarm in the entire hotel. Haha, yiiiiiikes. A very angry hotel employee came running out and Alexis just walked in circles shrieking and wondering if she should still be posing and Jim, clearly embarrassed, acted like a jerk and said "No, no," shaking his head and walking out. The room was full of smoke, Alexis was waving a little magazine trying to get the alarms to turn off, and that was that. The photographer, whose shocked expression when the alarms came on was beautiful and wonderful and hilarious, packed up her things and scurried away. Jim trundled off to wait by the car, his gut heaving and heavy with pork stew. And I guess they just left Alexis there, running in circles, head bobbling around, directionless.

Until of course Dylan, proud brave housegay Dylan, busted through the door, slung her over his shoulder, and carried her out to safety. "My hero," Alexis said. "My hero!" Jim cried, running back inside for the sandwich he'd forgotten in the hotel.