Do you hear that? That ratcheting clanking, like bone on bone or the gear chugging up a chain as it hauls the roller-coaster car up the first insurmountable hill? That is the noise of fame leaking out, of it scrambling for more life, like some sort of parasite desperately zigging and zagging to find a new host before it expires. Yes, that is the sound of Jill Zarin on Celebrity Wife Swap. Oh wait, we’re here to talk about the other classic television event that happened last night at 9 p.m. What was that? God knows it wasn’t the Real Toenail Polishers of Need-a-Limb Enterprises.
God, what an awful, boring episode! God, what an awful, boring party! Let’s just hurry up and talk about it so that it’s over and then we can move on to better things like, I don’t know, cleaning the beard trimmings, nail clippings, and toothpaste droppings out of my bathroom sink. (Well, you can clean whatever you want, but when I am done talking about this, I am going to masturbate and then clean the sink. Now you know my to-do list.)
Carole had herself a 50th birthday party, and good on her for copping to 50. Ramona barely cops to 50, Sonja’s still hovering in her 40s somewhere, and Aviva claims to be 10 because that is when she lost her leg and that is what she counts as her last birthday. The party sounded like it was one of Stefan’s New York parties. It had everything: headless mannequins, barely dead black-and-white butterflies, fake wedding proposals, former party boys sweating through velvet blazers, personal assistants getting drunk on free cocktails, a Christian psychic adviser, an old woman who lives with her shoes, apples polished by a midget, a yurt.
The one thing it didn’t have was any of Carole’s friends. Well, there was Heather. I believe that Heather and Carole are real friends, and the best part about any of their interactions is that you can see the joy the two bring each other. We can imagine them at 70, on the porch of some cottage somewhere wearing something inappropriate for their age and remembering the good old days. Carole will be playing solitaire and Heather will be prank-calling Puffy and they’ll just laugh and laugh and laugh. It really was nice for Heather to plan this party with her assistant Shawna Morgan of the Biloxi Mississippi Morgans. Do we think she and Sonja are related?
Yes, I believe that Carole and Heather are friends, but how did this party seem dead? Carole is a very popular, well-connected fixture of the New York social scene. There would be decidedly more people at her bash. Well, at least there should be. What does Fabiola Beracasa have to do other than go to Carole’s 50th birthday party? “Design” a “jewelry line?” Please. There should be a lot more people there, Carole.
There was some big news at the party, though. Countess Crackerjacks and her boyfriend Balki Bartokomous broke up. Oh, it’s very sad. Very sad, indeed. Now she’s never going to get her hands on all that Friends money (Balki played Ross on Friends, right?), but as Sonja said, she still has a life and a house and her alimony, so everything is just fabulous with good old Countess CJ. But her relationship wasn’t meant to be. They wanted different things. Namely, he wanted a family, and Crackerjacks, well, there are no special prizes left inside her. Oh, remember last season when she was trying to get pregnant. Oh, golly. There aren’t enough nose snorts in the world for laughing at that.
Also of note at Carole’s party is that Sonja’s boyfriend and Aviva’s ex-husband, Harry’s Dubin, fake-proposed to Sonja. Yes, they got a dog together and they pledged their love for each other and they seemed like they were going to make it work. Well, I don’t know. I don’t know about these two. They just seem like, something. Something is off. Now, I hate to be the guy who is all, “This show is faker than Captain Kirk’s mustache,” but doesn’t this whole thing seem a little, I don’t know, coerced? I could believe it if the narrative were something like Sonja and Harry, two lifelong floozies, were the only two left when the lights came on and they decided that they would keep the party going on together forever. That I could buy. But this whole Sonja “I want this to be forever” spin seems a little far-fetched. The only time Sonja wants forever is if Forever is a brand of personal lubricant that never dries up.
Do I believe that Countess Crackerjacks went home with Harry’s Dubin? No, I do not. Now we all know that Crackerjacks has her sluttier moments, and we all know what everyone says about her open relationships, but at the party, she seemed actually visibly upset about breaking up with Balki and having to tell everyone about it. Do you think that she is then going to go home and have sex with a guy who has far more belly fat than Balki and far less hair? No. It’s sort of like Kim Kardashian rebounding with Seth Rogen instead of Kanye West. Also, the whole thing seemed a little too hacked apart in the editing bay for it to be really real.
But Thomas John Sonja’s Christian Psychic (there are so many first names in that phrase that it is giving me the hives) said that there is a devil in Sonja’s midst, and it is not a blonde. No, it is a brunette, and it is not Carole. Oh, who could it be? Hmmm? I wonder. Now, it is true, Countess Crackerjacks is technically a devil because she sold her soul to Satan when she caught diphtheria on the Oregon Trail when she was making her way out West. He granted her immortality and a long, bright future for her little, itty-bitty soul. So, yes, Crackerjacks is, technically, a devil. But are we really putting our trust in Thomas John, a man with two first names? He told Sonja that her house would be fine and she’d be making a lot of money. It’s not like this guy has some immaculate track record or anything.
Alright, let’s talk about Kristen and her husband Josh, a barrel full of greasy paper plates outside of a pizza joint on Bourbon Street. I really laid into Josh, a game of Ultimate Frisbee that never ends, last week, so I’m not going to deconstruct their whole relationship again. However, it seems to me like their therapist is pretty bunk. As Kristen pointed out, his office didn’t seem like a therapist’s office. It seems like an H&R Block office on April 17. What therapist sits behind a desk like he’s about to sell you a mutual fund? He really just helped them focus on their feelings and talking to each other in a non-accusatory manner. Please, when I go to therapy I cry for about five minutes, shake in silence for like another ten, talk about myself for 20, and then my therapist does real stuff for the remainder.
That is because the problem is mostly Josh, a lacrosse stick in the back of a Volvo station-wagon with a flat tire. After going on and on about how he doesn’t understand when she gets worked up about “tiny things,” he then says, and I quote, “I get frustrated when she can’t understand what I’m going through.” Hello! Kristen’s whole point is that he doesn’t understand why his behavior makes her so mad. Her whole problem with him is that he refuses to understand what she is going through. He is asking her for something that he is unable and unwilling to give her himself, which is empathy. The problem is that Kristen already gives him the empathy he needs, but she doesn’t let him go completely unquestioned, so he sees some fault in that. Josh, a genital wart that sometimes smiles, is the absolute worst.
So Avery is finally going off to college. That is sad, mostly because we knew her back when she was a precocious and insightful child already rebelling against her mother. That’s the thing about kids: They always correct for their parents by going in the opposite direction. That means since her mother is a selfish fame monster, she has become quite the opposite, which is a real, actual, normal person. That seems true of many of the Real Housedaughters. Look at Brianna from Orange County. She is the realest, most normal person to have ever been on the show. I hope that one day we will say the same thing about Gia Giudice, but sadly, I think that we have a better chance of the words “A Syfy Original Movie starring” preceding her name than “real and normal.”
I do worry slightly for Avery because she asked for her mother’s help packing for college. Now, the Real Housewives have many skills, but packing has never been one of them. Do you see the cases these women drag around on their little jaunts? They leave for a weekend and they bring enough luggage to even make Aaliyah be like, “Damn, that’s a lot of bags.” (Too soon?) Is a Real Housewife, even one who is your mom, the person you ask for help packing? Since Avery already has a predilection to overpacking, does that mean that she is going to become her mother on the inside since she already looks so much like her on the outside? I sure hope not.
Yes, Avery leaving make us feel old. It reminds us of when we first met her, yelling about how her mother owns too many clothes and crowing about how embarrassed she is by her mother at the pool in the Hamptons. Oh, Avery. How you’ve grown. What a woman you’ve become. I couldn’t help but think of her, 33 and somewhat well-adjusted with a good job in PR and a boyfriend who loves her, but she has commitment issues and some other PTSD from the way she was raised. She’s sitting in her therapist’s office (there will not be a desk) saying, “No, the cameras were everywhere, and they were always there. Even the day that I went off to college, they were in the back of the car driving me to the airport. No, wait. That didn’t even really happen. That’s just the TV memory. That is what I watched. Yes, my mother hired a fake car to pretend like we were driving to the airport a week ahead of time because production was wrapping right before I left and she needed to get the teary good-bye on film. So the cameras weren’t there when I really went to college, they were only there when my mother performed me going to college. God, what has she done to me?”
Just think about that day, think about that day Avery really went away. Ramona steeled herself up and they flew down to Atlanta, just the three of them, the way they had been on so many cab rides and trips out to the Hamptons house, for so many tennis tournaments and skin-care line launch-parties. They got Avery in her dorm and Ramona put everything where she thought it should be. Avery rolled her eyes knowing she would rearrange the room once her mother had gone or diverted her attention to someone or something else. That was a skill that she had mastered: deflection.
The day wasn’t over for Ramona and Mario, though. Ramona waved good-bye to Avery probably 20 times and got in all of her teary hugs. They got in a black car and went off to the airport, sitting in silence at the gate as Mario came back with an Auntie Anne’s pretzel and a waxed cup full of lemonade. “Want some?” he asked, casually snacking. “I don’t know how you could possibly eat!” she said, flipping the pages of a magazine, not because she was even looking at what was in it, but because she enjoyed the firm crack of the pages as she turned them.
They finally got on the plane and took their seats in business class. Ramona sat down and closed her eyes for a minute, letting the buzz of the plane — the engines about to roar to life, the metal cooling and straining against the pressure of the atmosphere — swirl in her ears like the sound of bathwater when your head is partially submerged. She took a deep breath and worried about how her eye makeup looked. “What are we going to do tonight when we get back? Want to go for pizza?” Mario asked. “I don’t know,” Ramona said, with a slight catch in her throat. “I have no idea.” She looked down and found that her head was heavy and she didn’t want to look back up. She considered staying like that for the rest of the flight, for the rest of forever, maybe. She folded her hands in her lap. She checked to make sure her seatbelt was secure and finally, with some effort, she managed to hoist her head back up again.