On last night's episode of Real Housewives of Orange Skin County the ladies took flight. Some rose to new heights as they pursued their dreams. Others went twirling in the air. And others still zoomed off into the adventure of a country weekend.
So we started this episode in medias res. Last week's episode ended with Teresa and Melissa having a parley in Jacqueline's parlor. A parlor parley. Things were meant to be civilized but pretty soon voices were raised and then the cold black hand of Bravo fell down and we were forced to wait a week to see the fireworks. So this most recent episode was freighted with a bit of anticipation — we all wanted to see Teresa and Melissa ripping at each other's snakey gorgon hair. And then, we were there and... Huh? Niente. Absolutely nothing happened.
Teresa was all "You've done things to me, I've done things to you." And then Melissa'd be all "I've done things to you?" And Teresa'd respond all "Yuh. Yuh ya did." And then Melissa's all "OK..." And Teresa goes "It takes two. The wife makes and the wife breaks." Or maybe Melissa said that. Someone said that. Someone said that sad embarrassing thing, that stupid welcome mat adage, that dopey mug saying, as like a real bit of dialogue in a serious family fight they were having. "Trenton makes, the world takes, sister my dear!" "Pobody's nerfect, asshole!" It's just ridiculous. It's hamhanded nonsense. Well, it's that, but it's also just quiet and sad and melancholy, the way a child's ruined birthday party (rain? bad clown? skinned knee?) is quiet and sad and melancholy. It's pitiable but also pathetic, helplessness is the saddest kind of sadness. By which I mean, these ladies think they're saying things. They think they're saying potent, meaningful things when they say these expressions, because it's all they know. There is no personal discovery in the world, no uncharted emotional journey, because every feeling and acquired bit of wisdom has already been slapped on an apron or lazily printed on a T-shirt somewhere. Isn't that sad? To let shopping malls and Spencer's Gifts narrate your life? I dunno. It just makes me sad. What a dumpy way to live your life. There's a saying. "What a dump." Hey, what's that from? What a dump.
But yeah, that was basically it! The girls agreed to pretend to be nice to each other and Jacqueline came in with sad embarrassing cookies and everyone was like "[eye roll] Jacqueline's gotten loose again. Somebody call the ASPCA." Jacqueline ran around the room yipping and yapping and Melissa and Teresa at least had that to unite over, this mutual "Oh brotherrr" about Jacqueline. So in a way she saved the day after all, Jacqueline did. She came rushing into the room like the avatar of all the silly dumb things in the world and Melissa and Teresa threw up their hands and laughed and said "Life is like a box of chocolates!" and it was the most profound thing they'd both ever said. And that was that. That was the big old honking fight. Borrrring. Boring by Bravo. New promo I just wrote.
The rest of the episode was devoted to silliness. Well, I suppose it's rude and unfair to call Kathy's culinary dreams silliness. See, Kathy had such a great time making all those desserts (and an even better time being filmed by television cameras) at Thanksgiving that she's decided she'd like to go into dessert catering. "Everybody likes dessert!" she said. "Everyone always has room for dessert." Which, again, is like a well-worn saying that waitresses at places like Bennigan's say. But, whatever, fine, yes, lots of people like dessert. ("It is known." - A Dothraki talking about how there is always room for dessert.) So Kathy told this idea to her fish-lipped husband and behind his enormous glasses his eyes did a dark twinkle and he said "Nah, fuhget catering. Let's open a rest-tee-rawnt." A resteerawnt! What an idea! Riskiest business venture in America? Sure, why not! Kathy was "surprised" that her hubby wanted to do this, but she went along with it anyway.
So they went and looked at a restaurant that was for lease and it was gross. It had wall-to-wall carpeting. I'm sorry, but carpeting in a restaurant is just gross. How do you clean that? You never really clean that, is how. Kathy agreed with me and declared the restaurant not right, so the search will continue. I don't hate the idea of Kathy opening up a restaurant — it's a whole Artie Bucco meets Graham Chase kind of thing — I just wish that everyone's motivations didn't seem so conveniently timed to the show. I wish this was a fun, organic idea, not like a "Hey, we need a plotline, so let's leverage my actual hopes and dreams and bargain them away so we can be on camera." That's too bad, I think. Isn't it too bad?
Next we went up to the Catskills, an ancient place where cats used to learn how to do things. Now it's become a lo-fi resort kind of place for people from the Tri-State area (well, mostly Bi-State, I don't know how many CT folks are venturing out that way) that's easy to get to but devoid of any real... flavor? I want to say flavor. But maybe that's not fair. There is flavor there! I mean, it's not the Poconos for god's sake. Anyhow, the point is that Joe Giudice's parents live up there and it sort of seems that maybe Joe was raised there? He'd spent time there as a younger man, is alls I know, because he kept making references to things he did in his bed, like sex things. At one point he and Teresa were waking up at the house and he said "The first time we did it was in this bed, and I had you like this," and then he flipped her over and slapped her ass. This was all going on, mind you, while in an interview segment Teresa showed off a cockring that Joe had apparently been wearing. And, I'm sorry, what? Is this an episode of Real Sex? That was amazingly gross and dirty for Bravo, wasn't it? I mean, a cockring??? And then the weird misogyny-ish thing with the "I had you like this" ass slap? It was just beyond. My viewing partner and I were horrified. Shocked and appalled. We rewound it twice.
Speaking of winding, Jacqueline went on the trip too and she said that it would be a nice time "to unravel." Ha! Uh, Jacqs, "unwinding" and "unraveling" are two very different things! Unwinding connotes sitting around and drinking in your pajamas, which is exactly what you did. Unraveling suggests everyone slowly going mad in a cabin until there is only one survivor left and it is unclear whether they are the hero or the villain, all anyone knows is that the wolves howl at night and the moon means no one any good and there's something dark and cursed about this cabin. So I don't think you meant unraveling, Jacqueline! Or maybe you did? I mean, there were a lot of guns on this vacation. Chris packed up a bunch of rifles and shotguns and M-16 assault rifles, y'know for the weekend, and carted them up to the Giudice compound and everyone lovvvved to shoot them. Oh how these men — Caroline came up with Chris and Albie a bit later — loved shooting their guns. Hilariously, because he's an Italian mob gangster, Joe was this amazing shot. Joey Oakley they call him. He could shoot an apple off your head from a thousand paces, he could. He's quite remarkable. Everyone else just sort of grunted and guttled and tried to shoot watermelons and things and, I don't know, were only mildly successful.
Everyone got drunk on stinking Joe-wine and things got a bit rowdy, with Teresa saying that she gives good blowjobs or something. Something? There was something about blowing and alls I know is that Joe's parents were there at the time, which is really revolting. No, Teresa. No, no. But oh well, mostly everyone was having a grand old time. They went to a local yokel bar and Teresa, drunk with both Joe's stink-wine and the glare of fame and the cameras, went up on stage and tried to get one of Caroline's friends a date, but only in a way that was sort of making fun of the local yokels. Caroline and Jacqueline looked kind of embarrassed, but oh well. They were still having fun. Back at home, everyone went "quading" which we normal people would call ATVing, and it upset Caroline greatly. She did not want Albie and Chris ATVing, because it is very dangerous, but they did it anyway. They went roving around the woods in these loud, terrible things and that was just so... So something, wasn't it? Here's how we do a vacation in nature: We shoot bullets everywhere and roar through the woods on noise machines. We are not experiencing the wilderness, we are blasting through it. Ever loud, ever forceful, ever Giudice.
But yeah, they loved these ATVs and Albie and Chris had this kind of dangerous sparkle in their eyes, like this was the place where your guts can run rampant, this is an id farm right here. Back in the gabled mansions of Franklin Lakes the men rule, but here the boys do. All guns banging and wheels tearing up the dirt. As they zoomed along through the nighttime woods, Chris and Albie got separated from the pack, and there Chris found himself, with a gun and an excuse out there in the dark of the woods, an opportunity to become number one son, it was just an accident he'd tell them, I thought I saw a deer. But the thought very quickly left his head as he knew that Albie would be only stronger in death, a stone angel out front in the yard, a saint, a martyr, the golden Chesire god of the Catskills. No, that would not do. That would not do at all. So Chris shook off the notion — he'd never actually do it anyway — and they zoomed off through the forest, off to find the others, following the dim distant glowing light of the house calling them all home.
The next day everyone tromped up the road a bit to see the chapel that Joe's parents had built on the property. It was a little chapel for Saint Michael, an important saint in Italy. It was a strange little place but a place that the Giudices, and by extension Teresa, truly love. A small sacred place that is theirs, their private window to God, their can with a string of yarn stretching up into the heavens. Caroline and Jacqueline couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it, this booze-guzzling and gun-firing vacation suddenly hushed by childish pious reverence, but mostly people were respectful of this sad Giudice wish, this little piece of chapel-strewn Italy here in the Catskills mountains, their own little roadhouse on the stations of the cross.
Back in Franklin Lakes (or wherever the fuck), Melissa and Joe Gorgon were getting ready for a dance recital. Their daughter Antonia, a more self-possessed and cuter version of Gia Giudice, was doing some sort of dance show and Melissa was very excited, very excited to see her little baby the dance star. Joe was very excited too, eyes bulging out of his head when he saw Melissa in a skintight va-va-voom red dress. "You know what red does to me," Joe said, stamping his front hooves, septum piercing rattling around. Melissa said "Si" and Joe grabbed her ass and she said "Stawwwpp itttt. Save it for later. Save it! Save it!" She kept telling him to save it (or something similar) and it was just gross to think about, this heavy stench of impending sex hanging over the proceedings. Maybe they should have just done a quickie in the walk-in closet just to get it over with. Ah well.
The dance recital was a seriously bizarre affair. There was fog and elaborate lighting and way more adults than should be dancing in a children's dance recital. Though "dance" might be too generous a term, as mostly all Antonia did was get picked up an adult male dancer and be spun around the room. That was basically it! But of course Joe and Melissa loved it anyway and Joe was in such a good mood. Before the show had started he'd danced with his Ma, whom he loves, because every good boy loves his Ma, and Melissa watched it all with the kind of proud relief that she'd found a good man, a good old Gorgon, sweet to his Ma and his dawtuh but not some kinda pansy neither, still grabby and manly in the boudoir, chasing after hands full of ass in clingy red rayon. He's perfect, all American cured beef, done in the Italian style. A deli special, her husband. So yeah, maybe it's worth quashing things with Teresa. For family moments like these, when everything's easy and warm and nice. Maybe it is.
And maybe Teresa thought that too, over there (up there? out there?) in the Catskills, bottles strewn all over the tables, lasagna cold and congealing in its metal tray. Roasted pig (eyes and all) gathering flies on the sideboard. Family's a feast! And she likes it so much. She thought of the old pictures Melissa had brought to their parley, of them in Punta Cana a million years ago, when everyone was friends. Oh how she missed those days. She missed them so much. Then, and she wasn't sure why, she found herself putting on her Eskimo dress and her huge Wampa skin boots and going outside onto the porch. She looked at all the shell casings littering the floor and smiled, remembering all the day's activity. And then, and again she didn't know quite why, she took one of the rifles, calmly loaded it, and fired one single shot into the air. A signal shot. Here I am, brother she thought. I'm right here, waiting. And in Franklin Lakes, between mouthfuls of ass and booby, Joe heard it, heard its lonely faraway crack and knew that he was missed.