Parties, parties, parties, Real Housewives love a party. Who doesn't? Well, maybe your old shut-in uncle. He only likes the Food Network and cutting pictures of Selena Gomez out of magazines. But all of tomorrow's parties were on Real Housewives last night, then Nico came back from the grave to try to eat everyone's brains.
Yes, it was a party night. Parties, parties, parties. Party time U.S.A. Fight for your right to party. Actually, instead of an episode of Real Cat Scratchers of New York it was more like an hour of My Super Spoiled 16 because both Ramona's daughter Avery and Crackerjack's little prize Victoria were having their sweet 16 extravaganz-ahs.
The mothers' relationships with their daughters couldn't be more different. Avery, as she grows older, is looking more and more like Ramona, which isn't the worst fate for a young woman. Strangely enough she also behaves just like Ramona but is also the exact opposite of her. If Ramona is an unrestrained id screaming down the red carpet with a drink in one hand and her exposed breast in the other telling everyone on the camera line just what she thinks about every bitch in the room, then Avery is the prevailing superego. Like Ramona, Avery definitely has opinions, but she also has restraint. She wants everything to be nice and orderly and for everyone to play by the rules, that's what she wants. She wants to lay down the law and have everyone follow it. Instead of letting her mouth blare like a siren when she doesn't get her way as momma does, she sits back and you can see the calculation in her eyes, the gears slowly turning and turning and turning until she can exact her will over the situation. Together these two will one day find an ego to rule over and then they will be complete: the Great Freudian Troika.
Crackerjacks relationship with her daughter, Victoria, is a little different. While Avery is trying to make the world into order, Victoria is trying to make everything into a mess. With her tut-tutting mother always telling the universe which fork to use and how to accurately pronounce the word "macabre," Victoria just wants to fucking party, man! She wants to have a rip-rager of a party. She wants to shred the universe and dance in the scraps, then roll up everything that's left in a giant blunt and try to smoke it like so many ninth graders smoke dried banana peels or morning glory seeds or whatever retarded thing that a senior in geometry class told them would get them high. While Victoria scrunches into herself like a Popple looking for its pouch when mom's around, as soon as she's gone, she's bounding all around the universe. Both of these girls are rebelling, just in opposite ways.
To step away from the party planning for a second, Jill wants to give Sonja some legal advice about her bankruptcy, so she sets up a meeting between Sonja and her sister Lisa, who is a lawyer. The meeting, as these things usually do, happens in the lobby of Jill's dermatologist. What? Who has a meeting in a waiting room amid the overly-acned, the alopecia suffers, and three-months old copies of New York magazine with the perfume ads all ripped out? Still, this was a much more productive way to help Sonja than just peppering her with questions like Jill did at their last meeting. Her heart was in the right place, if her meeting wasn't. And Lisa really laid it out for Sonja in a way that even made sense to her, as she embarrassingly hand fitzed her way through the whole thing, not really wanting to talk about money or her finances or anything other than boys and parties with complete strangers. It did look like she learned a thing or two, so it was a win for everyone.
Then they go into the doctor's office and Jill get's a "liquid face lift," which is injections of Botox, Restalyn, a few drops of water from the East River, some stem cells from fetuses aborted in the first trimester, and a few other toxic substances. The doctor jams a needle so far up into Jill's skull that you'd think she was trying to inject something into her brain. And the whole time the doctor is like, "It's not that bad, it's not that bad. This is fun. I love doing this." Jill does not like it, and she's letting out the slow steady moan of a Sperm Whale giving birth and the doctor is like, "Shut up. This doesn't hurt. This is amazing. This makes me so happy, injecting filth and disease right into your cranium. It's a mitzvah. Rejoice. Hallelujah. Amen."
Why do all these Housewives insist on having their plastic surgery on the actual show? Well, I know it's so they will get it for free, but it's fucking disgusting. We all want to know what sort of work they have done so that their faces stay smooth and and inert like the marble rolling pin on display at every William Sonoma in the universe, but we don't want to actually see it happening with the needles and the jabbing and the pain. And we don't want them to bring their friends to it like it's some sort of performance. "What did you do last night?" "Oh, you know. I went to dinner with Jill and then she took me to the plastic surgeon where I watched her get poked and jabbed for 20 minutes and it was amazing. I can't wait to read the reviews when they come out. I think this is going to be a real crowd pleaser." No! Plastic surgery is like farting and picking your nose. We know everyone does it, but please do it in private where none of us have to suffer the indignity with you.
Now that Jill is all shot full of the goop that lands on your head when you say "I don't know" on a Canadian Nickelodeon import from the '80s, it's time for her surprise birthday party. All the ladies arrive and are greeted by their host, Vampire Elton John, who is standing at the door in a red mock-Asian tunic-like outfit and his beady little glasses, his fangs barely in his mouth. Simon shows up and he and Vampire Elton John are wearing the exact same outfit, except in different colors. Awk-ward! When Cindy arrives, they hiss at each other, because Zombies and Vampires have a long standing rivalry. Crackerjacks says, "Hey, Monster Mash, stop fighting and look at the magician."
"Hi!" The magician shouts. "Look at this little red ball."
"Whatever," Cindy says and walks away.
"No, look, I turned it into a heart. Look!"
Ramona arrives and starts talking to LuAnn about their daughter's parties. "Pick a card any card," the magician interjects into their conversation. Ramona looks at him with her big eyes, "Isn't that nice," and then looks back to Crackerjacks. "So, what day is your party?"
"OK, I'll pretend like this is your card," the magician says.
"It's this Saturday night," Crackerjacks replies.
"Now, I'm going to put the card back in the deck."
"Oh, that sucks. So is Avery's. Now we can't go to each other's parties. What's the theme of yours?"
"I'm going to fan out all of the cards..."
"Winter wonderland, I think."
"...and I'm going to wiggle my finger and..."
"Ours too. Oh my god. Great minds think alike."
"Here's your card!"
"What? Are you still talking? Let's go see if Jill is arriving."
Jill shows up and everyone screams and yells and she's so surprised. The magician approaches her with a one dollar bill in his hand. "Sorry to interrupt, but in New York, we make Big Money," he says, turning a small dollar into a giant dollar.
"Oh, shut the fuck up and come with me," Cindy barks and takes him out back where she dined a little bit early (on his brains, duh).
The dinner progresses and Cindy comes down wearing her funeral outfit, a giant Marie Antoinette dress and wig. It's been a long, long time since this Zombie died. Ramona thinks this whole scene is totally boring until someone hands her a bright red wig that a hooker left on 10th Avenue. "Look, I'm just like Jill," Ramona says, trying to get in on the performances. "Booooobbbbiiieeee, I want my diamonds bigger." Oh, man, that was just mean. It's one thing to put on a red wig and do some silly but innocuous Jill impersonation. "I'm Jill, I'm a Jewish mother. Come to Zarin fabrics and buy some fabric. What's in that gift bag? I give good advice." That's mildly amusing and would probably make Jill chuckle at herself, but Ramona hit below the belt. "I'm Jiiiillllllll, where's Bethenny? Why won't she be my friend? I think I need to get a hobby. I just want diamonds. I'm Jiiiiillllllll, I'll show up at your house unannounced and everyone will have a break down. I'm Jiiiiiilllllll I don't get enough camera time and I get edited badly. I'm Jiiiiiiillllllll." That is just mean.
But Crackerjack's saves the day and comes down the stairs dressed as a drag queen singing "Almost Like Being with Jill," while her manlover Bronson Pinchot plays the piano. He is a man of many talents, that Balkie.
The party is over and then a bunch of women are sitting around a table talking about a party and bitching about boys and being a little catty with each other because one of them likes this boy named David, but no one else likes David, except secretly deep down inside they also want David, but they don't want to let out that they like David because then everyone will know their secret and they'll look stupid when David sleeps with this other girl and, ugh... It's so hard to be a teenage girl. Wait! These aren't housewives at all. This is Avery and her three friends, trying to be all Carrie Bradshaw at brunch. No, that's not it at all. Avery is trying to be her mother. They're not saying "I'm a Carrie, you're a Charlotte." They're saying, "I'm a Countess, you're a Ramona." Except no one says, "You're a Sonja," because Sonja is a Samantha, so they just say, "You're a Sonmantha." Yes, all these girls are the future Real Housewives of America. I always thought this show was just good fun—a stupid bauble hanging on the neck of a mannequin in a store window, something for us all to joke about and remark upon and stare at covetously, but something we would never buy, a reality that would never actually occur. But it's not, this show has an actual real impact on young girls. They want to be housewives, with the braying and bone-crunching and the switching witchery. This is what they think female interactions should be like. Oh, mothers don't let your daughters turn into housewives.
After a brief bit of last minute party planning and dress shopping and Ramona seriously freaking out because seriously her booze wasn't seriously serious at the party seriously four hours before it was seriously going to happen. Seriously. Oh, seriously, it's here. Phew! (Long parenthetical: Can we talk for a minute about Cindy's super hot trainer? I mean, this guy is a Hottie McStuderson from Scrampsville, to use a tired construction. He is just guns and pecs and hair and "I wanted to be an actor, but it's not working out and I got a girl pregnant and I can make a lot more money as a trainer, so..." He's amazing. And when Cindy takes Alex to see him, he's all like "What smells? Oh, Cindy it's your sweat shirt!" But no matter where he put the sweat shirt, it still stank like rotting flesh in the gym. It was so gross. Then, when Cindy was trying to do a cool move with a kettle bell and an elastic resistance band, one of her zombie legs just snapped off below the knee. Alex and the trainer stood there agape and Cindy was like, "Oh shit, I gotta go." And picked up her leg and just hopped out of the room. Suddenly the stench was gone. End long parenthetical).
Now it's party time. First up, Victoria's party, which is at a night club and looks like a night club. Victoria is even walking around with those giant sparklers that the slutty cocktail waitresses light when some fat cat hedge fund asshat buys a $3,000 bottle of champagne. Like Ramona said, this is a mixed message for the kids. They can party like they're in a night club, but no booze! They can have an ice luge, but to drink fruit juice. They can smoke oregano from a gravity bong in the bathroom, but that's it! Victoria, who looks like a straight Ellen Paige, shows up in her dress that's made out of crushed disco balls and unrealized dreams. Crackerjacks is there, with Bronson Pinchot, and some of the other ladies arrive to play nice. Kelly shows up with a gift (it's a Lisa Frank gift set that Kelly had doodled all over with puffy paint and those markers that smell like different fruits) and is like, "Hey, Victoria. I'm, like, sixteen too. I'm your mom's cool friend. Introduce me to all of your boys so that they can want me more than they want you. I'm so cool and hip and down with all you guys. I got sway!"
"It's called 'swag,' Kelly," Crackerjacks says, leaning in close.
"Yeah, that's what I said. I got swag!"
Crackerjacks says that, after the party is set up and she made sure all the kids are OK, then its' time for her and Bronson to go home and prank call Mark Linn-Baker together. Um, no, that's a horrible idea. That's when Chord McKenzie breaks out his flask and pours that in the ice luge, when the bartender starts serving the older-looking girls, and when Courtney, Victoria's best friend who thinks she's a nonconformist because she bought Manic Panic once at Ricky's, takes out the ecstasy and they all dose in the bathroom. There are only two rules in life that you need to remember: don't trust teenagers, and never, no matter what, eat egg salad on the bus. You have to trust me on the second one.
Ramona, meanwhile, invited a whole host of her friends to Avery's big fancy party. Certain Housewives think it's because Ramona wants to show off how much money she spent on the shindig. No, it's because Ramona is smart. She knows that a party like this needs a bunch of chaperones, a whole army of cock blockers reminding even these jaded New York City teens that there needs to be some room for the holy ghost. All the women arrive from Victoria's party (except Sonja, who skipped it because she wanted to go to the adult party, but she thought the "adult" in adult party was like the "adult" in adult book store) and they're having a blast. Kelly has another Lisa Frank gift set for Avery and when she goes to give it to her, Avery is like, "Kelly, you have to help me with my mother. Her friends are totally taking over my party. Kelly, help!" That's so like a Real Housewives to pull someone else into your drama. Of course cool Aunt Kelly tells Ramona, but Ramona is like, "Hell no! I know what girls at sweet 16 parties want to do and I'm making sure they don't do it!" Smart move, Ramona.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ramona sees a little kerfuffle with Bobby Zarin and Simon van Kempen, these adults behaving just like little boys, but she ignores it (because she knows it will still be going on next week). She's looking right past them, right at her Avery, so grown up, so astute, so everything she once was and everything she's not. The perfect daughter, at least in her eyes. And then she sees that David, the one Avery has been trying to play cool to all night. He comes at her in his ill-fitting blazer and his Justin Bieber bangs, trying to pretend like he doesn't care either. But then he does care. She sees him give Avery that smile and she sees Avery look over her shoulder and slow her dancing a bit to smile back, and he eases his hands around her waist and starts swaying with her to the Black Eyed Peas.
Ramona puts her hand out, the one not holding the wine glass, and lurches toward them, like she wants to go stop them. She doesn't want this boy on her daughter. But that is the old Ramona, and this is a new Avery. She is 16 now, and she needs to learn on her own. She needs to let this David break her heart. She's done all the protecting she can, taught Avery all her lessons. Now it's time for the test. She lets out a breath and takes in a big sip of her Pinot, making her own baby steps toward adulthood.
"Mario!" she yells as her husband as he walks back from the other side of the room, making sure all those pesky boys keep their belts fastened. "Mario!" It isn't her usual braying call. This time it's tinged with longing, with joy.
"What?" he says, walking over.
"I love you," she says, as he sidles up to her side and places his arms around her—still electric, still like that first time when he smiled at her and she smiled back. It's like a mirror of what's happening across the room. Like she and Mario are the aged portrait of Avery and David in an attic somewhere. It's just like every event that ever happened to her is happening all over again in miniature, but better, but with the gloss she always lacked. Mario leans in and kisses her and pulls her in a bit closer.
"Do you think Avery is having fun?" he asks.
"She looks like it," Ramona says. "I am. I'm having fun. I'm having the best time."
"Do you want to dance."
"Not right now," she says, looking back across the room and the pack of bouncing teens. "I just want to watch."