Music filled the air on last night's episode of American Cheese Fries, warm, trilling, sonorous notes oozing down the long leafy streets, through the marble hallways of homes, across the river and into our ears. The food of love! Play on!
OK, so it's not like everyone was running around Franklin Lakes singing and dancing. Really just Melissa Gorgon was singing. See, Teresa's got her cookbooks and her oatmeal brains and Jacqueline's got her Bouffant problems and Caroline has her thick as thieves shtick, so Melissa needs her own thing, just like they have. Her husband being an enormous mutated hairy knuckle that somehow lives and breathes is not enough of a Thing. So what's her thing? Singing! Yeah, the show opened with Joe Gorgon playing with his kids in some room, doing random things, and then this beautiful singing suddenly started wafting from some room off-screen. Joe stopped what he was doing with his kids and said "Listen, listen... Do you hear that?" with this hilariously staged reverential awe. The whole scene was terribly, but wonderfully, set up, with this faux spontaneous singsplosion and Joe near weeping at the beautiful experience of having caught a song nymph unawares in her natural habitat.
Melissa was singing "Amazing Grace," a pretty typical song, y'know, everyone knows the words to the first verse of that ditty. Or, uh, maybe they don't. Melissa was singing it just fine until she got to, oh, the third line or so, when she said "That saved a wennnch like me." HAHAHAH! Haha! Haa! Hooo! Hee!! Hawww! Harrr. Only, and I mean only, would someone one on of these shows change "wretch" to "wench." Because, like, projecting or whatever? Like a projecting Freudian slip or something? You know what I'm saying. Psychology. "That saved a wench like me." Heh. "Amazing Grace" is actually a song about a blind barmaid (she's terrible at her job) in the medieval times who is rescued by somebody named Grace. That bar wench done and got saved by Grace. Good for Grace. Good for the wench. Ha. Wench. No, sweet Melissa. No.
Anyway, Joe and Melissa both agree that Melissa is a wonderful singer, and surprisingly Joe is supportive of this ambition. Melissa is very surprised about this! "I mean Joe prefers me pregnant and cooking dinner, so this is surprising" she said of her husband, somewhat proudly. "Joe likes to put babies in me and eat food. And he is perfectly content shackling someone else's life to what he wants." YAYY. Look, whatever, having babies and cooking food is a perfectly good life, absolutely, but saying that you are surprised that he supports you doing something out of the house because that's not his way? That is upsetting. But oh well. Clearly Joe would like to be married to a barefoot, pregnant POP STAR more than just a regular wife (or reality star), so they're in this game together.
Achieving the dream means recording an awesome Housewives song, like our favorite wives have done, from Kim Zorak to Simon van Kempen. (Simon the Housewife's song is so good! It is all about how he is real. He is real human man, everyone. Just in case you thought he might be a liar or a robot. He's real.) So yeah, Melissa needs a song like that. Luckily for her, she knows a handsome, be-coiffed songwriter named Denny Diamonds, who's like 22 or something and totally has plans to hump up on Melissa. But she pretends she's oblivious to that and focuses on the music. She had a little confab or meeting or something with the girls at the back of some store in a stripmall and she was talking all about how Joe is going to let her record a song or an album and all the othah wives said "Ohh my gawwwdd, that's amazingggg." Then they all started planning ahead for the future by complimenting her now, early and often ("Compliment her, and compliment her often." - Wilford Brimley on Melissa Gorga), saying that she has the perfect look to be a pop star and whatnot.
And I suppose she does, in a way. It's a shame she's not a little younger, y'know? But otherwise, yeah, she totally has that kinda Jersey-urban look about her, the sort of girl who could dance around in tight pedal pushers and a jean jacket (not like Frances McDormand's jean jacket, but similar) on a basketball court and sing a song. I guess what I'm saying is that Melissa Gorga would have a huge hit song in 1994. Now? It's hard to say. Either way, though, she's already acting like a superstar. At the end of the scene at the store all the fawning ladies joked that they could be her backup dancers and she laughed and said "You're too old to be my backup dancers!" Like, hahaha? Was that remotely necessary? Melissa, you do realize that they were being facetious right? In that you were all standing in the back of a clothing store in a stripmall joking around about a pop music career that's never going to happen and backup dancers that will never be needed? Like they weren't making serious overtures that they wanted to be your backup dancers. Don't worry. When and if the time comes (it won't) for you to have backup dancers, there will be auditions and everything. They're not going to use a bunch of old ladies they found in a stripmall just because those ladies volunteered years ago. Again, none of this is ever going to matter, but that's a reassurance just in case. These ladies aren't going to be your backup dancers, Melissa. (No one ever will.) So just cool the fuck out and maybe don't insult them when they're trying to be silly and nice. Maybe. I don't know.
Maybe Melissa was just too anxious about Denny Diamonds coming over and playing a song for her to be nice. Back at home, Joe safely out of the house somewhere, the doorbell rang and Melissa heel-clattered over to the door and Denny Diamonds came sauntering in. "Nice pad," he said. Melissa stood there in her red babydoll dress and smiled. Denny sniffed the air. "Is something burning?" Melissa let out a little shriek. "Ohhh my god!!" she said as she ran toward the kitchen. She opened up the oven and smoke came pouring out. She'd been pretending to bake cookies because her friend Dionne had told her that you should always have something baking when a boy comes over. "Honey, you baked," Denny Diamonds said and Melissa gave him one of her Adorable Fuckup smiles and everything was fine.
Denny led her by the hand over the piano and he sat down and said "I wrote this from all the texts you sent me." Apparently Melissa had sent Denny LOTS of texts with lyrics ideas, because that's always the best way to send someone lyrics ideas. Email wouldn't make sense, because email is saved forever on the internet and can be easily accessed anywhere and also probably doesn't beep annoyingly during dinner and stuff. No, email would be crazy. Texts it is. And man, Melissa's texts are interesting! Denny Diamonds closed his eyes and banged out the tune, singing lyrics about how he's feeling all these new feelings and how it's so hard to be "on display" all the time. Wait, Melissa, did you just join the cast of a reality show and then have someone write you a song that complains about being on display? Ha, right. Ohh yes, Melissa Gorga, that weathered old paparazzi staple. Man, Melissa Gorga has been to hell and back in the whole fame game, yessir. She's an old pro and she's had it with being on display. She's had it with being attacked. I get it. She's been around a while, guys. Poor Melissa Gorga. Why don't you just lay off of her.
I mean, they wrote this fucker before the show had even aired! Melissa Gorga was anticipating being exhausted by the fame machine long before she was ever famous. She was anticipating being "so over" the whole paparazzi/media/celebrity industrial complex when she was just a normal lady. That is sad, yes? That is sad.
Know what else was sad? Poor Gia Giudice. Hopefully in many years' time, Gia Giudice will look back at this curious time in her life as something alien and remote. Hopefully we're not doing permanent damage here. (We totally are, aren't we?) You see Gia loves her zio Joe. Not her papa Joe, well she loves him too just fine, but she really loves her uncle Joey Knuckles. They have a special relationship and this fight between her mom and him has really been straining that relationship. She never sees him anymore and on the rare occasion that he's around there's always tension, and of course there was that minor incident when he got in a fist-throwing screaming pile-up fight at the christening, right in front of Gia. That mildly traumatic thing had happened. So everyone's worried about Gia, including zio Joe. Zio got that note from Teresa and wants to work things out with her, but first he's gonna make sure Gia's happy. And he's going to do so by going to one of Gia's big gymnastics meets.
Yes, Gia does gymnastics, which is sort of perfect for her? She has those wide shoulders and squat frame, so she's built for it, but also there's the girly performy nature of the whole thing, which satisfies the child star stuff (which, blessedly, Teresa seems to have mostly given up on). So yeah, Gia likes gymnastics, and now that Teresa has played her the voicemail from zio Joe saying that he's coming to her meet, she LOVES gymnastics. Hm. Here's my question about Gia's elation. Maybe I was just a weird, loveless child, but were you ever THAT excited about a family member when you were a kid? I mean, Gia was pooping ribbons over this thing. She was absolutely glitter-bonkers about Joe coming to her thing. It seemed unnatural! Which led me to believe that either A) she'd been coached to be excited so there would be more drama or, more traumatically, B) she naturally picked up on the fact that her relationship with Joe is a storyline and so chose to play up her excitement on her own. Did anyone else feel like that was what was happening and feel a terrible dread in their stomach over this? Maybe I am horrible and Gia really was just that excited about zio Joe coming to her somersault convention, but I smelled a rat.
Anyway, whether it was real or not, it was what was happening. Gia was totally amped up about zio Joe and Teresa was happy that he was coming and all the other little Giudice girls were squealing, so you knew that something bad was going to come from all this excitement. Cut to: Day of the meet, everyone's hair is in tight buns with bows and sparkles, and the gymnastics girls have their hair done too. The events begin and zio Joe is nowhere to be found. Gia does a lackluster floor routine, and zio Joe is not there. Gia attempts to do the vault but stops before even getting to the springboard, and zio Joe is not there. It's becoming a distraction. Up in the stands, Teresa and papa Joe watch anxiously. Well, Teresa watched anxiously. Papa Joe just kept being like "All right, what's going on now? Who's doing what? Is that Gia? What's she doing now? Where's Gia?" Ha, Joe. It's not like you're at the Met and you forgot your opera glasses. Gia is right there, like ten feet below you. You can't tell which one is her? "Huh, wha, where's Gia? The hell am I? What's she doin' now, a flip? Who's flipping? Teresa? Gia? Who am I? Where am I going?" Down below Gia became more and more distracted. She did a cartwheel on the balance beam and fell off. It was because zio Joe was not there. Dov'è zio Joe??
Well, zio Joe was just late. Just late like Gorgons are wont to be late. Teresa was all upset but, as Melissaa the Gorgon pointed out, Teresa is late to family things all the time. She was late to the christening just recently! So it was too bad for Gia that her beloved (or faux beloved) zio Joe missed all her events (though probably OK too, as she did terribly at all her events), but it wasn't some big affront to Teresa. It was just a Gorgon being Gorgon. Gorgons are late people, that's all. That said, come on, adults. Let's try to get it together here, for the children. We should try for the children. When he finally did show up, Zio Joe got a nice scolding from his Ma but he shook it off and Gia smiled the smug smile of knowing something, and I think it was that she knew she'd just gotten some camera time. We have created a monster, everyone. We have all done it. We are all complicit.
What else? Oh, yeah, OK. So Kathy had a funny couple scenes with her kids where they were resigning behavior contracts. Yeah, Kathy and her husband Lebanese Garry Shandling have this thing where they make their kids sign contracts that say "I won't drink or smoke or succumb to drugs pressure" and stuff like that. Her kids were pretty cute about it. The girl, we'll call her Bianca for some reason, just re-signed the old contract and promised not to misbehave. But the boy, called Garry Jr., such a budding lawyer, wanted to discuss the terms. "When I'm sixteen or seventeen, I'm gonna have a drink on a Friday night," he said like some weird little adult. "You know, it's been a grind, boss has been riding my ass at school, I got bills to pay, I might have a drink at the end of a long week, yeah." He also said something funny like "I mean I just know I'm not gonna be that guy who's all 'Oh no, no no, no thank you' about having a drink," which was funny and honest. Garry Sr. thanked him for his honesty and said "Hey, if you're gonna have a drink, at least have one with me first." Family issue settled. Kathy rolled her eyes and pretended she was upset, but of course she wasn't. This was a pleasant group to be with. If only Kathy was this likable outside the family unit. She is not. Oh well.
Speaking of kids, ugh Bouffant. For some insane reason, Chris decided that he wanted to buy Bouffant a car, so he did. He bought her a shiny black Jeep suburban assault vehicle and Bouffant was sooo Bouffanty about it. I mean, she was grateful for about a second, but then the minute Chris started saying "We're gonna keep a set of keys" and "I'm gonna take it for a spin tonight," Bouffant started in on the "No you're not. No you're not. This is my car. My car," stuff that makes her so unappealing and floppy Bouffanty all the time. Can we talk about the flop-hat? Why is she still wearing this flop-hat? No one likes flop-hats anymore and they don't look good on anyone, especially not on lazy, sneering Bouffant. It just amplifies her Bouffantiness so much. Stop it! And stop driving that enormous automobile. Don't you wish there was a car that was just a little egg turned sideways with wheels? That is the kind of car, a cartoon sort of car, that Bouffant should drive. People will see the egg zooming down the road and they'll say "There's goes Bouffant, off to... well, nowhere really. But there she goes anyway. In her little egg." That's what I wish for the world, most of all.
Caroline's going to do an advice radio show, whatever. Of course she is. She's good for that. I've nothing to say about Caroline, really. And I've nothing more to say about this episode! It was yet another quiet, mostly uneventful episode. I fear the bang they started off with may have been the only bang of the season. I worry about that. And I worry about Gia, the little science experiment, the child raised in a glass tube. I worry about what she did last night, about what she might do. I'd say that she should just hunker down and focus on her gymnastics, but it's not like gymnastics is this great thing. It's weird and period-stopping and Béla Károlyi-filled. I mean, sure you get to go the Olympics and be your own little Dominique Dawes or Keri Strut or Dominique Moceanu, or WHOEVER you want to be, and maybe you'll sleep with the one straight guy from the men's team, he'll be just a little shorter than you, and that's a pretty exciting summer when you're sixteen and at the peak of... something. Something in your life has peaked, I guess. But isn't that kind of sad, too?
Don't you kind of feel like someone should steal Gia away, send her to live in the mountains like Heidi? Have her grow up away from all this pressure of performance and results? Of course it could be too late. It could be that door has already fused shut behind her and now there's just this. This newly hollow weight. The feeling zio Joe gets when he hugs her, that something's gone missing, been replaced with something smaller and colder and harder. And then he goes home and puts down his things and walks into the kitchen to find the stove off and nothing in the oven and he follows the sound of Melissa singing and he finds her by the piano, gazing dangerously at Denny Diamonds, and he hugs her, tighter and tighter, trying to keep all the good warm things inside her from escaping. Trying to hold this one pleasant note for as long as he can.