The Real Housewives of New York City
Aviva Drescher threw her leg. That’s all there is left to say, ladies and gentlemen. Aviva Drescher threw her leg and we watched it on television. Yes, that is right, a 44-year-old mother of four who went to Vassar and has a master’s degree from NYU hurled her prosthetic leg at another woman in front of television cameras and a gasping room of image consultants, facialists, social-media interns, pet psychics, people who have used the phrase “glam squad” without irony, and reality television stars. Aviva Drescher threw her leg. Aviva Drescher threw her leg. Aviva Drescher threw her leg and there is really nothing left to say.
Disgust, like Kristen’s, is probably the appropriate response. To rise up from the table inhaling a breath so sharp that you can feel it going all the way down to your belly button and to shield your mouth, as if to keep the second-hand embarrassment for getting into your body accidentally, like swallowing a fly when riding on a motorcycle. That is what we all should have done. We should have jumped away from it like radioactive waste as it laid there on the floor, like the bottom half of King Solomon’s baby.
But that’s not what our reaction was. No, our reaction was like Countess Crackerjacks’s, to just sit there and laugh, to laugh so hard that we cried, to laugh and cry at the same time, because that encompassed everything. Know what, I half think that laugh that Crackerjacks let out was a laugh of appreciation. It was a laugh that said, “Alright, she wins. She wins at all of this. She is so much better at being a reality-television star that I am, and I’ve had the No. 1 dance single on iTunes.” Or maybe it was a laugh of “Oh my God, how far has this gone? This was supposed to be about me and Ramona and Jill Zarin and Alex McCord being Manhattan moms, and now this fake blonde is hurling her plastic limbs across a fancy restaurant. How did I get here?”
Our reaction was to craugh, which is crying and laughing all at once. But maybe our reaction was the same as the reaction from Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Morgan University (“Learn From Our Mistakes”) Morgans. Sonja’s reaction was to just sit there and think, God, I did not wear the right panties for this.
Aviva Drescher threw her leg. And I’m not even quite sure why. Actually, no. I do know why. Aviva Drescher threw her leg because she knew it would be great television. That is my problem with Aviva. Every single thing that came out her mouth at the Sonja Morgan Hashtag Team Sonja Appreciation Party (17 million eye-roll emojis) was premeditated. Her throwing a leg was not something that she did in the heat of the moment, which I could understand. No, Aviva laid awake nights, basking in the glow of her hideous yellow wallpaper, and she constructed every sentence of what she said around that table. It was all carefully orchestrated in her mind, that awful joke about being lied to by her doctor and saying that the only thing fake about her was her leg and putting it up there on the table and then throwing it after Heather. That was all rehearsed beforehand. And that is some serious bullshit because, to what end? She didn’t win the argument. Sure, she made great television, but she ensured that the first line of her obituary will be, “Aviva Drescher threw her leg. She died today. She was far too many years old.”
This just goes to show us that Aviva’s leg is not the only thing that is fake about her. It is the only thing real about her. It is the one undisputable fact about Aviva Drescher’s life, that she has a plastic limb. It can be proven with a very easy inspection of the eyes. However, everything else about her is a lie. Everything is a put-on, a stance, a manipulation, an obfuscation, a pander. Including, apparently, all that nonsense last season about how she doesn’t like people to draw attention to her leg or that she doesn’t want to be defined by it. Here she is not only calling attention to it, but also letting herself be defined by it.
Aviva Drescher threw her leg. Yeah, I know why, but I don’t really know why. What is the play here for her? What is fascinating about Aviva is that she is both pathological but also basely craven. Did she really just throw her leg so that she could be famous on a reality-TV show? Is that really all it is? Or is this just one little chamber in some vast honeycomb of psychosis and need? She can’t really be that deep. Can she?
The rest of the Housewives seem to think so, ascribing to her all sorts of psychological problems and ailments, and I think that all of them are somewhat right. Either that or they are all wrong and she is the simplest kind of freak, a hunchbacked Gollum searching around for the glimmering brass of fame in the puddles of dark, long-forgotten caves. But there is one thing for sure: if the Real Housewives of New York City think that you are crazy and a horrible person, then your shit is severely busted. Period.
Aviva Drescher threw her leg, but that’s really all she did this season. That, and accuse Carole of having a ghostwriter. Wow, for not having been around much or done much, she sure was memorable. That’s more than we can say for the rest of the women. Carol redecorated her apartment and it looks wonderful and tasteful and I would like to hang out there and have tea one day and talk about Edna St. Vincent Millay. Kristen got to star in an ad campaign for her husband’s product. It’s the American dream! For a minute it seemed like Josh, a Dave Matthews Band jam session that will never end, actually appreciated her.
Oh, my favorite floozy Sonja T. Morgan did something. She broke up with Harry Dubin, a relationship that may or may not have been concocted for the cameras. She thought that Countess Crackerjacks went and slept with her Harry after Carole’s birthday party, but he did not. Well, did he go off with CJ? Yes. Did they go dancing? Yes. Was that messed up? Yes. Did they sleep together? Hell to the no, as the late, great Ms. Houston would say.
The best part about the whole thing was Sonja cowering in bed the next morning with an ice pack on her sprained ankle. “Are these the only towels we have left?” she cursed at one of her interns. “Can’t you bring me a prettier towel? I can’t aesthetically deal with this.” That is not something I made up. That is a real thing that Sonja said, and it is everything. That is all you need to know about Sonja. She just wants someone to bring her a prettier towel because the ones that she has now are frayed and old and just not up to her standards. If she can’t have peace, at least she can have nice things, or demand them in vain.
Then she told the story of her injury where she went running after Harry and Crackerjacks and she tripped and “sprained her leg.” She had to be carried home by her two gay assistants. That is like Sonja’s fairy tale. That is what she wants life to be like: let down by a man and rescued by two gay dudes who kind of work for her but not really. That’s her glass slipper, right there, two 25-year-olds with Grindr accounts who think she is just the cow’s cardigan (that is an expression gay 25-year-olds would probably use).
But it was Aviva Drescher who threw her leg, and Heather Thomson was having none of it. Of all the reactions to the shenanigans, Heather’s is really the only one that mattered, from standing up to tell Aviva that she finds her lies “laughable” to letting Kristen know that Aviva was making fun of her to her face without her even knowing. Heather is the only one here who gets it. Which just makes me ask: What is Heather doing here? What is this real, actual nice person who is smart and capable (and shockingly athletic) doing here with the rest of these yahoos around a table?
That’s when she said it. That’s when she said the thing that changed it all. “I would like to go home tonight, and this is just not worth my time.” Yes, Aviva Drescher threw her leg, but Heather Thomson told the truth, and that is more powerful than any tomfoolery and forced confrontation. Heather let us know exactly what this was: It was work. She is there to sell Yummerz Tummerz and maybe have a few laughs. That’s why she did the show. She did not do the show so that some mentally deranged shrieking monkey could hurl her limbs at her. This wasn’t fun anymore. This is not what she signed up for, and she would much rather have this time alone with her family than have to pretend that Aviva even cares one lick about the truth or reality or any of those basic concepts that we all need to cling to for survival.
Heather did the right thing, and she left. When she got home she opened the door slowly, because she knew everyone would probably be asleep. Jonathan was drooling on the sofa cushions again, Sportscenter muted in the background, casting skipping shadows against the windows. She would wake him in a minute. She went look in on Jax, and as the door eased open, a small sliver of light opened up on him as he laid in bed on his belly, his head facing away from the door.
Heather left the door cracked open and kneeled down next to the bed, watching his little chest heave up and down as he breathed. He had plenty of health problems, but he didn’t have asthma. She would never lie about that. How could anyone lie about their health when they have it? Heather thought. She touched his hair, and it was soft and fine and she could see his little ear poking out. It looked so right and normal like this, and she could feel that gravelly tightness at the back of her throat, and for some reason that reminded her of dinner, of that leg lying there on the floor with its shoe still attached, like it would get up any minute and do a disembodied jig for all of them. If she had seen that at war, if it had been a real limb, that would have been a nightmare image. And it still was, but not because of the loss to the person with the limb, but for all of those seeing it. It was a loss for Heather.
She touched Jax’s hair again, and he pawed at her hand. “Mommy,” he said, as if not sure she was real. “Yeah, honey. It’s me.” “Mommy, where were you?” “I was at work, baby. Sorry I didn’t get to see you.” “Sleep here, Mommy,” he said without opening his eyes, moving closer to the wall. She got up on the mattress and was surprised how easy she fit, and how easy he fit with her, his tiny form giving off so much heat on her chest and belly, like she was still carrying him, like he never left. Their breaths picked up so they were going at the same pace, in and out, in and out, and when she closed her eyes, she saw that nightmare leg just spinning around somewhere in her dark interior. Without her even knowing it, Heather fell asleep, breathing shallow breaths with her son. When she woke up later, she had no idea where she was.