Sadly, we at the Real Housewives Institute do not employ any fact-checkers or else I would dispatch one posthaste to go find Lisa Vanderpump’s birth certificate. Fifty-four? She claims to be only 54? I think it might be 54 years since her 19th birthday. Maybe it’s 54 years that she and Ken have been together. Maybe she’s counting 54 years since she first appeared on Silk Stalkings. I guess this makes me a Lisa Vanderpump truther, but so be it. At least I don’t think she was really born in Kenya.
The best part of this whole episode, of course, was Lisa’s surprise 54th (?) birthday party at Pump, her restaurant, which is, like most of Kyle’s envy, aimed at the gays. Just to prove it, Lance Bass was there with his husband, whom he married on E! (which is very different from when Britney Spears got married in Vegas on E!).
Even the invitation to the party was exciting, when Ken calls up Brandi and invites her. It's a nice gesture, but then he tells Brandi she has to be on her best behavior. Now Brandi's all bent out of shape about the remark, but she has been to plenty of parties and acted perfectly disgraceful (though she’s never actually collapsed, in the words of Frank O’Hara), so Ken’s rejoinder was fitting. If Brandi doesn’t want to be told to be on her best behavior, maybe she should, you know, actually behave for a moment instead of taking pride in the fact that most people don’t want to be around her at social functions where drinking is involved.
Speaking of drinking, Yolanda Bananas Foster, a humanoid creature that survives only on Malibu sunshine and various packets of beige pills, has convinced Brandi that she should go on a cleanse for 21 days, which means no drinking and no sugar. (It also means the return of my beloved yoga instructor Keith and his impossibly sculpted arms.) Oh, poor Brandi. That’s going to be very hard for her, but she’s pushing through and actually getting plenty of mileage out of it at parties. And just look at how well she behaves at Lisa’s birthday. Whether it was the sobriety or Ken’s rebuke, she behaves like an actual person for a change, not the kind of person who throws wine at someone “on accident” (or the kind of horrible monster who actually uses the idiom “on accident”).
Though we do get a reading lesson from both Lisa and Brandi at the party as they threw ample shade in each other’s direction. “You made the cut!” Lisa exclaims when seeing Brandi at the party, but that’s the sort of mean British humor that can telegraph affection or malice, and you’ll never quite know which. Other than an exchange at the table where Brandi and Lisa trade niceties back and forth, seeming especially fake, they sort of get along. Brandi asks what she can do to apologize, and Lisa made her sing before the entire congregation. It seemed a fitting punishment for Brandi and one that she undergoes in good spirits. See? She’s kinda fun when she’s not totally sloshed and throwing elbows for no good reason.
The one thing that no one really points out to her is that she and Yolanda Bananas Foster seemed to be wearing the same exact dress in two different colors. I much preferred Yolanda’s bold emerald number with a bunch of fringe-y straps collected in the back to Brandi’s coral dress of the same design, which was the same shade as the lipstick a stripper would wear when one of her clients takes her out to a steakhouse. Everyone is biting off Yolanda, including Kathy Hilton, the lube stain you leave on a set of hotel linens. She wears the same color as Yolanda, looking a little bit like a bloated Sonja Tremont Morgan, of the Persnickety Gulch Morgans. Oh, Sonja, please keep doing Pilates, we don’t need you to be mistaken for Rosemary’s stepmother Kathy Hilton.
Anyway, the party seemed like lots of fun and reminded me of the way The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills used to be, with everyone having a good time and being silly and rich with maybe a little bit of tension and some jabs at each other’s expense, but not every gathering was ruined by some tear-stained coven of harpies.
The same thing is true of the script reading at Eileen’s Chateau du Merde. I like Eileen more and more each week (especially when she pretends she’s not one of these women and dismisses their love of talking about their vaginas). The reading is fun, and we get to see Lisa try out her rusting acting abilities and Kim Richards say “fuck you” with a sock puppet. I thought that the thing I wanted the most in the world was to watch Kim Richards play with a puppet, but the thing that I want most in the world is to hear Kim Richards tell her story about hiding in Bette Davis’s dressing room so that she could see what Bette looked like without her wig on. What this story leaves out is what Bette did when Kim jumped out of the couch and Bette knew she was there. I think if we can figure that out, we will unlock the mystery of what exactly is wrong with Kim Richards.
Ugh, and no matter how fun the script reading or Lisa’s party was, everyone's trying to figure out what is wrong with Kim and it’s just so tedious. As Kyle keeps telling everyone, it’s not going to end well.
As far as I can tell, there are only two people who handle Kim adequately. One is Yolanda Bananas Foster, a paragon of class. She goes up to Kim and said (and I'm paraphrasing), “I am hearing a lot of things from the ladies about you, and I don’t know what’s true or not, but I’m here for you and I don’t judge, so if you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate.” I wouldn’t be surprised if YBF comes to regret that when Kim calls her up crying in the middle of the night, but I think that what someone like Kim needs right now is to know that there are people there who support her no matter what and that help is available, should she need it.
The other person who knows what she is doing is Jennifer, Brandi’s friend and a former addict and addiction counselor. Jennifer starts with “No one can save Kim but Kim.” Truth bomb in your face! But that doesn’t mean her friends can’t support her and check up on her to make sure she’s doing everything she can to save herself. No one achieves sobriety alone.
Jennifer tells Brandi what they really need to tell Kim, which is that she needs to be in a program. She needs to be going to meetings, checking in with a sponsor, and getting the support she needs in this difficult time to make sure she maintains her sobriety. I think that’s what Lisa, Lisar, and Cult Jam try to tell Kim in the kitchen, but it doesn’t quite get through. (In this particular scenario, Cult Jam is Eileen, who issued the classic line “How come no one wants to go to therapy? I love therapy!”) Kim does not want to listen to anyone’s advice, which is a sure sign she'll be either back on the sauce or back in rehab soon.
The one who is dealing with this the worst, sadly, is Kyle. When Eileen approaches her at Lisa’s party and says that Kim needs full-time help, Kyle thinks this is all about her and that she needed to be the one giving Kim all the help. Please, Kyle. You’re not that good. But she is the only one who isn’t leaving Kim’s life. They’re sisters, they’re stuck together. Kyle is the one who needs to check up on Kim, make sure she’s going to meetings, make sure she’s talking to her sponsor, asking her regularly if she did these things so that Kim has someone to hold her responsible. I think Kyle would actually be great at this, because she can hector just about anyone into submission, so maybe she should use her powers for good this time instead of evil.
Oh, but here we are at the end and we’re talking about Kim. You guys know I love to make up scenarios of Kim sitting alone in her room staring out the blinds and thinking about making chicken salad with her hands, but I’m tired and don’t feel well and I just can’t tonight. We’re going to end with Lisa instead. We never get to end with Lisa, who had such a lovely birthday party, Brandi be damned.
Yes, Lisa and Ken get back into their Bentley and slowly accelerate along Robertson, approaching the slow incline of Beverly Hills. Ken puts his head on the window and starts nodding off, and Lisa is so pleased with him. She thinks of all the friends that were there: Mohammad, who made a deal with the devil to be that rich and that handsome; Lance Bass, who closes his eyes and dreams of space and bottoms. She thinks of Kyle and Mauricio, through their ups and downs, always fun to share a bottle of wine with. Then there's Lisar and Eileen, who she doesn’t know well but who she thought she should invite to her country home in France some time, if only to see how the locals would react to their faces. She thinks of Pandy and Max wherever they were, thinking of their mother on that night, wishing her well while going on with their lives.
Suddenly, she's startled by a rouge sparkle, something coming from her hand as they passed under a string of stoplights. It's the glint from her new pink diamond, an expensive testament of Ken’s love. She tells everyone what she loved most was bling, but she's lying. It's the man who gave it to her, the man who continues to surprise her after all these years, and how she would gladly trade that ring in for just a little bit more time with him. Thank God she doesn’t have to. She puts her hand softly on his thigh and he doesn’t rouse. “Home, James,” she rasps to the chauffeur as the car clears the top of a small hill.