Since the producers teased some cousin Rosie screen time in last week’s preview, I’ve got Rosie on the brain from the moment this episode starts. I’m on the edge of my couch, looking for that conductor hat like it’s the newer, sexier Where’s Waldo? beanie, but first we’re dragged through a tour of Albie and Christopher Manzo’s new office, a.k.a. Grandma’s former house, a.k.a. the cabin where Christopher “used to shit [his] pants.” Uncle Chris has started the New Star Group, which is a family business that sells well, no one knows yet. Christopher proposes that the company be the publisher of his book on toilets, which shows a lot of maturity because now instead of shitting his pants, he’s ready to shit on reams and reams of paper. It’s not even worth getting into his cell phone breathalyzer idea because I think I see Rosie’s conductor hat poking out from among the crowd at the Aladdin nightclub! Come on, you guys — we’ve got to follow it!
Okay, we’ve turned the Where’s Rosie? page to the Aladdin scene, and there’s a lot going on in the crowd (or, as Kathy would put it in a completely disingenuous way, there are “a million stars in the sky” tonight, and they’re all shining “just as bright”). Over there, Kathy is throwing Mr. Dickface a surprise birthday party that isn’t a surprise because you can’t keep anything from Mr. Dickface. (Except the fact that his daughter knows what a hand job is.) Over there, Melissa isn’t wearing a bra and is trying to keep Joe from becoming Mr. Dickpants by repeatedly saying “ugh” to whatever he says about her body. Over there, a bunch of belly dancers are slumming it while they wait for the next goddess party. In the corner, the Laurita-Manzos are complaining that there’s no pasta or Italian bread at the Middle Eastern restaurant. And lo, I think I see a cap bobbing in the crowd! Is that Gino’s newsboy topper? Can’t be, because the kid’s too young to be at this club. But perhaps is that one of baby Audriana’s head flowers? No, because the little babe is asleep at home. Aha! It’s cousin Rosie!! We’ve found cousin Rosie!
But then as soon as we’ve located her, she gets lost in the crowd again. Slippery, that one. So it’s on to the next page in search of our heroine. We have to scan through Kathy getting “stoned” from smoking the hookah and kissing Mr. Dickface, Joe wanting to smell Melissa’s armpit, and then Melissa showing Caroline the scar on her back from where she had heart surgery when she was 7 as Joe tries to bite it. For a second I’m distracted from looking for that trusty conductor’s cap as we discover that Melissa is one of the first two people ever to have surgeons go in through her back (her parents, prescient, knew she would need immaculate breasts to hypnotize Joe Gorga in Cancun), but then I’ve quickly got my eye back on the prize. Is that a cap bobbing behind Joe Gorga as he ties his shirt in a belly knot and sways his hips? Is it? Oh, but it is!
There’s our girl, running around the floor and throwing cash at the dancers. I don’t know why Bravo is even messing around with these tired housewives and their sad, sweaty partners. This is the show right here: Night Out On The Town With Cousin Rosie. And every week, we follow another night on the town with cousin Rosie. It’s that simple! Homegirl is all we need. She’s even got the other girls throwing money all around, Jacqueline promising that “there’s more where this came from” as Melissa happily calls her a “closet whore.” What’s clear to me is that Rosie brings out the best in everybody, and that’s why it’s incredibly distressing to have to turn the page on this scene and lose sight of that delightful cap again.
I search for it in vain during the launch of Lauren’s retail business at the Chateau Salon & Spa, but all I’m seeing is fur. Fur everywhere. Hideous neon purply-pink fur on Teresa, like she skinned a bear from a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. Hideous mauvey-gray fur on Melissa, who laughs in interview about Teresa’s coat because she is a dusty rose pot and Teresa is a fluorescent fuchsia kettle. It brings me no joy to learn that Ashley is moving out of her mom’s mansion in a few weeks and has barely come through with the T-shirt design because I can’t recover from the disappointment after I think I’ve spotted Rosie, but it turns out just to be a leather hobo purse bouncing on an attendee’s arm.
I search for that magic cap when the Soul Diggaz come over to Melissa’s house to continue the recording of her soul-aching lament. It’s all I can hope for that Rosie might pop up from under the soundboard as the guys tweak the Auto-Tune levels (and by tweak, I mean set on full blast), but she’s nowhere to be found, not even under Melissa’s fur vest. And when Uncle Chris and the Manzo boys meet up with their potential new clients the Wilkie sisters, I’m wishing with everything I have that Rosie’s the product they’ve got up their sleeves. But alas, they simply take a black water bottle out of the bag, and I’m supposed to care that this black water contains what I hear as “vulvic acid.” Which sounds sexier than what it actually is. Albie’s bringing out that charm he displayed for Alexa Ray Joel, i.e. none, and it turns out Christopher ended up with all the charisma. I’m not saying that it’s cousin-Rosie-level charisma, but the Wilkie sisters do seem happy to flirt with him.
From there, the episode just continues to tease and tease. Teresa, busting out “ingrediences” again, goes grocery shopping with baby Audriana and Tasmanian devil Milania, but Rosie isn’t in the cart. There’s a box of Cap’n Crunch that gets me excited for a sec because I mistake the captain’s hat for a cap … but no, it’s just another red herring. When Milania climbs up onto the produce bin, I’m positive she’s going to reveal cousin Rosie under a watermelon; same when she climbs into the deli-foods refrigerated case with the pasta salad. But then, when Teresa calls her brother to invite him to her book signing, I say to myself, “A-ha, that’s it! A bookstore! How obvious!” and I’m light as air again thinking that must be the next place where our Rosie is hidden.
Before we get to the bookstore scene, Joe Giudice is busy writing a book of his own via text to Joe Gorga, and basically his tome begins, “Yous are so fake it makes me ill” and ends with “I’ll break your jaw” and something about a wire cage. Joe Gorga reads this story aloud in front of his kids like it’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, except a more contemporary take that contains the word “retard.”
Then we turn the page and Teresa, in a deep-purple fur, is finally ready to sign her cookbooks. I’m wildly scanning the crowd of people for a sign, any sign of a conductor’s cap, but there are a surprising amount of people who seem to want a picture of Tre, and their camera flashes make the search for Rosie ever more challenging. Some mouth-breathing teenager gets down on one knee and proposes marriage to Teresa with a keychain diamond ring, his sister not looking one-millionth as embarrassed to be accompanying him as she should. I’m getting more and more frustrated looking for the cap, but then Kathy and Mr. Dickface walk in the door, and my heart soars to think that they must have brought their cousin with them! How could they not? But no, my spirits plunge again when it becomes evident that they’ve just showed up to get their copy of Skinny Italian signed because, as Kathy says through tears, she only wants the best for Teresa.
“I see the conductor hat!” I shout at the TV shortly afterward, pulse racing, but it turns out merely to be the double whammy of Melissa and Joe Gorga, both in their knit skullcaps. They’re late because they didn’t have a babysitter, but everything seems like it’s going to be cool when Joe goes and buys ten copies of the cookbook, proudly telling the store owner, “That’s my sister!” It’s only when Joe asks Teresa to write something heartwarming inside that the situation starts to take a nose dive (and I have no doubt Rosie could’ve saved it had she been there). Tre’s pen hovers over the page for about a minute before she writes, “I love you more than anything in this world [my note: UH, WHOA], I miss my brother,” and you’d think that would get an “awww” or something, but Joe wants her to read the inscription out loud. He’s always almost winning me over and then instantly losing me again, kind of like how I’m constantly losing cousin Rosie. But Teresa goes along with the weirdness, receiving a quick kiss on the cheek from her brother when all she truly wants is a majorly intense hug. “Tell your husband not to threaten me,” Joe warns, and Teresa, blank and shaky, turns into the prototype for her own bobblehead doll. Right there’s a freebie idea for Manzo manufacturing.
Next, Teresa goes home to find a really, really wine-wasted Joe in top form, blustering at Gia and her friend to get out of his way because he’s decided he wants to do some gymnastics on the mat in the foyer. Unconcerned that the mat is way less juicy than him and that it’s been placed on a marble floor, he proceeds to hit his tooth on the stone while trying to do some kind of drunken roll that gets a perfect 10 in my household. Gia is freaking out and scream-crying when she sees that her dad has a chipped tooth, but Joe’s back to drinking right away, and oh boy, he’s just getting started. In front of their increasingly uncomfortable guests he growls at Teresa that they’ve got the maloik (evil eye) around them and that Joe Gorga is just insecure because his sister’s taller and has more hair … as sisters usually do, I think. When Teresa defends her brother by saying, “He’s getting poison feeded into him”(for the last time with a sigh: everybody knows that the poison shoots out of the guy, not in), her husband tells her to shut up. Harsh words from someone who probably doesn’t have dental insurance, but the wine has sure got a lot to say.
Up until now, I’ve been so caught up in the Joe Giudice experience that it takes me this long to comprehend that Rosie can’t be found anywhere in this scene. And the show is about to end! Teresa wants to know if Joe threatened her brother, and so he goes to get his phone to show their exchange. There’s a huge bruise already throbbing on his forehead, but it’s nowhere near as ugly as the reveal that he keeps Gorga’s info under “fag” in his contacts. Now would be the perfect time for cousin Rosie to appear from behind the kitchen island, take off her cap, and smack the shit out of Joe, but that’s just a pipe dream, as I’m forced to realize that she’s probably still throwing cash at the belly dancers in Aladdin. She’s off in a whole other book. And the rest of us are stuck with this one, the one where Joe Gorga has texted Giudice that he’s a “stupid ass” and Giudice texted back a violent threat and now Teresa is having to talk to her husband like the toddler that he is, trying to get him to drop the stuff in the past. Joe wants to talk about the time the two of them broke up because he couldn’t stand what a pair that Teresa and her brother were, couldn’t stand that Gorga was still on good terms with Teresa’s ex, but Teresa is beginning to look pretty exhausted with it all. “We’ll fight to the end of time,” Giudice intones, delivering a line for those of you who have been missing Game of Thrones on Sunday nights.
And thus the book closes for this week, our hearts calling for ever more cousin Rosie in subsequent volumes.