Brandi did something stupid. Okay, Brandi did a whole lot of stupid things. That could be the summation of just about every episode of Real Bartles and James of Promises Malibu, but last night, hoo-boy. What a doozy.
But before we can get into that, my thanks go out to the delightful Ben Rimalower, who covered for me last week when I was Morocco doing field research for the Real Housewives Institute’s upcoming exhibition on Countess Crackerjack’s Camel Incident of 2010.
First of all, Brandi and Lisa had the most sanctified of Real Housewives ceremonies: an attrition lunch. (Why does the attrition always happen at lunch? Why can’t it happen at breakfast or lessert, which is a meal I created where you eat dessert for lunch?) I thought Lisa handled herself brilliantly at lunch, and she actually said something that really struck a chord with me. She said that once someone like Brandi goes down a certain road talking trash about people, it’s hard to back away from that. That is why we see the women pinballing from argument to argument on these shows so often. They say such awful, damning, hurtful things about each other and then have such shallow forgiveness that every fight is really about all of these things. Each fight is about the original sin, the first time that you talk shit about one of your friends to all of your other friends. That’s what all of these fights are really for, that initial transgression that they never recover from.
That is the problem between Lisa and Brandi. Brandi wants one of those shallow arrangements where they just pretend everything is better and seethe through their teeth at each other while they play nice at dinner parties. Lisa doesn’t want that. She tells Brandi point-blank: “I don’t think I can be the friend you want me to be.” That is very fair and honest and adult, and not something we see often in these situations. It’s as if one of the monkeys in the zoo stood up and started reading Plato while he and his cohort fling their dung at each other in their habitat.
For her part, Lisa did apologize for what happened last season, and now Brandi can’t say that Lisa won’t apologize. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. That doesn’t mean it’s repaired. Apologies aren’t some sort of magic spell that can put things just as they were before.
Before we go back to talking about Brandi, because there’s so much to say, can I just talk for a minute about two things? One is about Lisar going into Yolanda Bananas Foster’s fridge at her dinner party and saying, “I could live forever.” That alone was worth the torture of having to listen to the squealing hum of these fiery jet-engines for an hour every week.
The other is Kyle. First of all, it’s not that hard to do the laundry. Just put it in a bag, walk one block to the laundromat, give it to the nice Asian lady who weighs it, and pay her one dollar a pound; then a day later, it’s all folded in a neat, little block and wrapped in plastic and as fresh and lovely as Pam Anderson’s boobs after she’s had the implants plumped. Duh, it’s not rocket science.
Also, Kyle shouldn’t be crying at her daughter and telling her that she can come home from college whenever she wants and find a good school in California. That is how you end up with 28-year-olds living in the house and waiting tables at Honkers, the off-brand Hooters on Route 117 in Tarzana. You need to put the fear of God into her, Kyle, and tell her that this is her only chance at success, and if she comes home, she’ll dry up and be forgotten, like a pinky-toenail clipping that got jammed into the grout on the tile of the bathroom floor. That is how you raise children. You tell them to go out into the world and that they can’t come home. That is what will make them succeed. If I thought for one second I could go back to my mother’s house the first week of college, I would have got up out of that stupid Biology class and walked my ass the 1,000 miles back home to the warm embrace of my mother.
Okay, back to Brandi. Sigh. A million sighs. A whole bowl full of sighs, like a tub full of dead kittens. A sigh for every gray hair on the head of every straight white man in Congress. Twenty-seven double magnums of sighs.
Yolanda, Brandi, Lisar, and Eileen, a box of Christmas ornaments in March, all had dinner together. Yolanda showed up wearing a gray-leather jacket that was so dead chic, it was arrested for premeditated murder. Eileen, the crack in a sombrero-shaped chip and dip, showed up looking like she was dressed by the wardrobe department on Blossom. That was not even the most embarrassing thing to happen to her at dinner.
No, that was when Brandi threw wine in her face. Alright, I think this whole thing has been a little bit misconstrued. Everyone was all like, “Brandi did it for no reason.” No, I get why Brandi did it. She wanted Eileen to play the character she plays on Days of Our Restless, and when she wouldn’t, Brandi threw a drink at her because that is a cliché thing that happens on soaps, and she thought if she did it, then it would dislodge something in Eileen and she would be her soap-opera self. It tracks if you are drunk and an idiot. It wasn’t no reason. It was crazy-drunk logic, but there was some thought behind it.
Eileen, the half-empty bag of flaked coconut that always seems to be in your cabinet though you don’t remember buying it, was right to be offended and afraid and weirded out by the whole thing. I don’t blame her. Crying about it at dinner seemed a little overblown (like Brandi fake-crying about an STD joke that Jeff Lewis made on Watch What Happens Live last night). Brandi didn’t make it any better at the party at Yolanda’s house, with all her strange assurances that she didn’t know what happened and her insistence to remind Eileen how big of a fan she is. God, we get it already, Claudia. Calm down. And the gift. Who brings a necklace as an apology gift? That just makes it seem insincere and cheap beach because we all know that Brandi spent about $13.88 for that necklace at Claire’s.
With Brandi’s other behavior at the party — insulting Babyface, calling his wife’s ring too small, talking about finger-banging — it is clear that she has a drinking problem. I don’t mean she’s an alcoholic. That is something only she can decide after watching too many shitty commercials at 3:30 in the morning while waiting for her phone to ring with a call from a boy she likes. But she has a problem with drinking in that she’s bad at it. She drinks and then she says stupid things to get attention and makes jokes that no one thinks are funny. Yes, they’re just jokes. Yes, they’re mostly harmless. Yes, she’s being inappropriate rather than mean, but dude. This is beginning to be a problem. This is the kind of behavior that makes people stop calling you for brunch because they just can’t deal with you after three mimosas. That’s a problem. Does she need professional help? Probably not. Should she knock it off in mixed company when there are cameras and grown-ups around? Yes!
The worst part is, Brandi doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Yes, she knew the wine-throwing was over the top. In fact, she seemed to know it as soon as she did it, but the rest, she has no clue why everyone is so upset. It’s because they are uptight or they don’t get her or they don’t like to have fun. No, Brandi. All of these people have fun, they just know how to do it responsibly and without making complete asses of themselves trying way too hard to be funny.
Kim Richards can see it. That’s why, when David Foster Wallace and Babyface were looking for some musical improv, Kim said, “I love my life.” Because she does. Kim loves her life now, when she can show up at a party with her hair looking freshly laundered and her car littered with empty Pringles cans rather than discarded coffee-cups that smell like Bailey's. She sat there in a little horseshoe around the piano and listened to them play, tinkling the ivories with the love of her life, the gratitude that fills her up every day when the sun streaks through her blinds and she knows she gets to ride this ride again. Kim looked over at Brandi, her head bobbing strangely in different directions, like the string wasn’t being held tight enough, and her eyes were slowly closing repeatedly like the chapel doors on a mini-golf hole. I love my life, Kim thought, trying to fill up the blanks in Brandi’s life with her own projection. I love my life, she thought, letting it ooze out of her pores and latch onto everyone around her, like incense made of sunshine. I love my life, she thought, even when Brandi fell out of her chair and Kim was the only one who knew that there was no helping her up.