Here at the Real Housewives Institute, it is almost Christmas, and our minds are on other things like wrapping presents, crappy Elizabeth Berkley holiday movies about lottery tickets, and trimming the tree (which is also what Brandi calls it when she puts on her merkin). We are not thinking about warm weather or barbecues like Kyle and the gang were having. Many of us are thinking about going back to our childhood homes and reliving the past, sort of like Lisar did this week.
But before we can get to all that, we have to talk about Lisa maybe sort of kind of throwing shade at Brandi. Well, it was definitely shade, but the previews made it out to be more than it really was (but then again, isn’t that what previews are for?). Brandi and Lisa managed to coexist at Kyle’s barbecue, which, let’s be honest, was not at all a barbecue. There was not one hamburger or hot dog or potato salad or deviled egg. Not one person ate off of an American Flag napkin that was left over from a July 4th party three years ago. No one lost any fingers from a bottle rocket or a game of jarts. This was not like any barbecue I’ve ever been to.
This was more like a dinner party that was held on a patio. They were all dressed for a summer dinner party, except for Yolanda Bananas Foster, who was the only one who was dressed for an actual barbecue on someone’s lawn. That is not what this was. Kyle was throwing this because, well, I think she wanted Brandi and Lisa to fight. Kyle said when she has two friends fighting she’ll just invite them both because she doesn’t care. Please, Kyle cares. Kyle cares deeply. She wanted these two to go platformed toe to platformed toe and slug it out a few rounds right there in her house. Kyle knows what she’s doing. She’s no fool.
Before the party can even start, everyone is talking about whether or not they can even be around each other, and I just hate these kinds of conversations. I was much more interested in Lisa’s swans Hanky and Panky. (If she gives any more animals sexual names, people are going to think she’s into bestiality.) But what the heck is up with these women and animals, anyway? Do they all just have menageries wandering around their houses? How many stupid dogs does Kyle even have? And they just run and jump and shit wherever they want to? Eileen, an original series on Starz, has a dog that craps all over the yard and no one picks it up. Lisa practically has a zoo in her house. What is going on with all this? Is it some sort of show of wealth to be able to afford the space and boarding for all of these animals? Would you even want to go visit such a place where you could be overtaken by wildlife at any moment? Is going to Lisa’s like one of those asphalt safari parks in New Jersey where you drive past all the zebras without ever getting out of your car?
Anyway, it was nice to see everyone get together again, because that hasn’t happened all season. They even invited Eileen, the one bottle of sunblock on the shelf in the Ogunquit CVS in February, to bring her husband Vince Van Patten (the sone of Dick Van Patten, who has Lisa’s favorite name in Hollywood). The whole time they were there, Brandi was pushing Lisa about the RSVP to her housewarming party, which it is very important for Lisa to attend for some reason. I love how Lisa could have been like, “Oh, yes, darling, maybe. I have to check my calendar,” and just whisked it off like a cloud of gnats on a golf course. But instead she was like, “I don’t know if I’m ready to be around you after everything you said, and, honestly, I was looking to see how tonight went before replying, so why don’t you take a deep breath and I’ll let you know by Monday.”
That could have been the end of it, but Brandi needed a damn RSVP. You don’t know how important getting an RSVP to a housewarming party in Beverly Hills is, darling. How will you know how many Fatburger trucks you’re going to need if you don’t know every single person who is planning to attend? Brandi came to ask Lisa once again, and when she walked up, she was wiping her eyes. “I wasn’t crying,” Lisa said to Brandi. “I don’t want you to think I was crying.” Brandi replied sarcastically, “I know, you don’t cry.”
That’s when Lisa pushed the dagger in. “Oh, remember Puerto Rico?” Yes, Lisa did cry then (when all the women ganged up on her about maybe telling Brandi to bring some tabloids on vacation), and she wanted to make sure that Brandi remembered. The remark was kind of unnecessary, but it did remind Brandi, who is going on like nothing ever transpired between them, that Lisa is still hurt. And I think Brandi does need a bit of a reminder. Sure, Lisa might have treated her badly, too, but Brandi yelled at her and colluded with the other Housewives behind Lisa’s back, and then she was just like, “Hey, girl, wanna come to my sleepover?” like there was nothing to address. I could see how Lisa would find that infuriating.
Brandi’s immediate response to Lisa was, “Yeah, I cried a lot, too.” Doesn’t Brandi see how this isn’t working? She’s not going to be able to play the victim to Lisa. Lisa does not care. Lisa does not need Brandi. Lisa has plenty of friends to keep her busy and go to fabulous events with her. Sure, half of them are swans and the other half are her employees and the third half are all named Benjamin and each one of them is green and Lisa knows a million of them. Lisa does not need Brandi. If Brandi wants to repair this relationship, she needs to apologize to Lisa and do that thing she doesn’t want to do — kiss her ass. That is how you repair a friendship, Brandi. Lisa is willing to walk away from the whole thing, like Brandi is a used Jetta that she can get a better deal on across town. That means she has all the power here.
Say what you will, but the real highlight of the barbecue was Kim Richards talking about learning how to play tennis for a guest-spot on Magnum, P.I. (With a clip included!) I could sit and listen to Kim talk about playing tennis with her first boyfriend Lance at Charlton Heston’s house for about 700 years. Just ever single word in that sentence is perfect. Tennis, Lance, Charlton Hestlon’s house, with, about. I mean, it’s all just poetry. Eileen’s husband Vince was also a child actor who knew the Sisters Richards back in the day, but it doesn’t seem to have scarred him like it did them. Maybe he wasn’t in as deep as the Richardses (though he did star in a CBS miniseries with Leif Garrett), or maybe it’s because he is a man, I don’t know. Anyway, everything about that was great, and I had to watch Kim tell that story twice.
Just as many of us stare up at the scary clown lights on the ceiling of our childhood bedrooms during another holiday spent at home, so did Lisar return home to Oregon to revisit the house where she grew up. It is weird that Lisar is from Oregon. Nothing is from Oregon. Sleater-Kinney, Christmas trees, and gloom. Those are the only three things that ever escaped from Oregon.
Lisar goes home because her mother had a stroke, and she had to move into what appears to be a very nice assisted-living home with Lisar’s 92-year-old father. These scenes were just heartbreaking, watching Lisar cope with becoming their caretakers, in a way, and saying good-bye to all the memories that were in that house. But it never really registers as bad as it should, though. It’s like Lisar is so chipper that she refuses to let us see her look sad, either that or it really just doesn’t register. The Botox doesn’t only keep her from looking sad but also paralyzed that part of her brain.
She goes into her room and finds all of her old toys and games, her first modeling photos, a framed edition of her Playboy centerfold. She says that she is going to miss that room, which made her a good person. You know if you can survive for a decade in a room with floral-print wallpaper then you are a very good person and will get your reward in the next life.
Lisar said she was journeying to the house there to pick up her things, those mementos that might be able to recall that feeling of treading the same shag carpet she did as a teased teenager who just wanted to get out of that town and find something new. She said she wanted to put them in her own attic or wherever they would collect dust in case she ever needed them or just wanted to amuse her own children when they finally have her estate sale. But that’s not what she really wanted. She wanted that feeling, deep down in the bottom of her legs, of rootedness. That feeling of knowing you once belonged somewhere that you’ve moved on from. That feeling of safety you once had shuttled by the safety you now feel somewhere else, somewhere that is really yours. She wanted to feel progress, and she wanted to feel loss. She wanted that fear of the past that is the only potion that can create hope for the future. She picked up her boxes, full of those magic ingredients, and closed the front door behind her for the last time. The little bouncing bell on the top of it didn’t even chime like it always had. That had already been taped shut.