I know why you’ve come here, to the Real Housewives Institute and Caburlesque Theater. You want me to tell you who is right and who is wrong. Is it Heather and Carole, screeching through the house like two kettles left on the stove? Is it Countess Crackerjacks, slurring in her sunnies right into GIF infamy with, “Don’t be all, like, uncool?” Is it Kristen, her fleek finally lost with three gold spiked Koopa Troopa shells hovering next to her larynx? Is it the future Bethenny Stonestreet, who does not like to be talked about in the press, especially when it’s about being linked to a sitcom star? Who is it? Which of these women is off the hook, and which should be flayed in the stocks?
Dear Institute visitors, the answer is that they are all wrong. This whole enterprise is wrong. This very mission we have been carrying out for the better part of a decade has warped our minds and expectations, and we’re all just like Dorinda, tottering toward the women’s room at an all-inclusive hotel in the Turkey Cake Holes, saying, “We used to have a good thing going. I used to know you, and this is fucking everything up.” You have never been more right, Dorinda.
That’s what's crazy here — everyone is right and everyone is wrong. It’s like we’re living on an Earth that has another Earth alongside of it, and if you have some crazy gravity power you can switch from one Earth to the other, but you’re still on the same Earth. (It didn’t make any sense when it was a Kiki Dunst movie, either.)
Was it right for Carole and Heather to be pissed that there was a naked Scotsman roaming about the house? Yes. Was it right for them to go berserk and storm into other people’s rooms and disrespect their hangovers at 9 a.m.? No. Was it right for Ramona and LuAnn to bring home two drunk Scotsmen (is there any other kind?) for some partying and have them spend the night? Yes. Was it right to leave them unattended in a house full of other women? No.
Maybe I’m just swayed by Fire Island Rules, because I have shared a house with eight horny homosexuals for the better part of a decade, and there have certainly been mornings when I walked down a spiral staircase to see one of my friends lying naked on the couch with an impressively hung Swede. Did I start spinning around and shrieking like a hyena with an air horn lodged in my throat? No. I covered them with a blanket and asked if they wanted any coffee, because I am a human being and a true friend, and that is what you do.
It’s a bit different when mixing women and men, but during such vacations, people are entitled to bring back new friends for a little extracurricular activity, and everyone has to be, to use the Countess’s word, cool with that. As Carole said, if she walked in and saw Ramona in bed with some dude, it would have made her trip. However, as she explained, what's not cool is forgetting about one’s guest(s) to the point that no one knows where they are, leaving them to wander around the house, confusing a bunch of American women with their below-the-belt turtlenecks. The whole point of tricks is that they go home afterwards. To quote Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Cherry Grove Morgans: Don’t even bring the guys in the house, just screw them on the beach, call them a cab, and then sleep the slumber of the wicked in your bed alone. That is the best, most sound advice she has ever given. Oh, my beloved Sonja, always at her best when screaming vulgarities across the room, ecstatic not to be the one at the center of the maelstrom for a change.
I would say that Heather was overreacting about her jewelry being missing, since who among us hasn’t had his laptop stolen by a waiter who spent the night and slunk out in the morning? Oh, only me? Alright, whatever. This is my life, and these are my choices. I'll grant that Heather and Carole were right to be mad, but not that mad. LuAnn and Ramona were allowed to bring guys home but shouldn't have left them to their own devices. Oh, that’s right, Ramona was involved. Does anyone notice that she's really the root of this entire problem? I can totally see a wasted Ramona Singer telling her man, with his red-hot brogue and blue-hot balls, that he was too drunk to drive and he could just crash in the empty room, and then going downstairs and forgetting all about it. Then she sent Heather and Carole to LuAnn and rolled over to continue dreaming of a pinot glass that never empties.
The real hero in all this is the Countess. First of all, her body was slammin’, especially considering she was having a fight in her bra and panties at 9:30 a.m. after a long night of drinking and making out with strange men on a lanai near the beach. Second, good for her for getting hers and not caring. The best was when Kristen comes in with the news from Alistier the houseboy (who you know will hate these women until his dying day) that LuAnn’s guy was married. She just kind of stood there not doing anything and everyone stared at her, and then she was like, “Oh, I guess I should react to this.” Her reaction wasn’t shock or regret, it was just a shrug, a giggle, and a dancing Spanish-lady emoji sandwiched between two painting-your-nails emoji.
While we’re on the topic: Why was there no camera crew at the bar after dinner? How did the producers miss all of the action that we hear about it in the morning? This seems like a complete system failure. Also, how did it take a week before anyone asked if the guy was hot? That was my first question. Frankly, I’m disappointed that my favorite floozy Sonja T. Morgan didn’t ask that question for the better part of a week. Finally, this is the only GIF you will ever need for the rest of your life.
Any love I had gained for the Countess was lost when they got back to the city and she freaked out at the Jeans-Bedazzling Party (perhaps the single dumbest party ever on a Real Housewives show, and that includes the '80s-themed Bunco party on RHOC where Vicki Gunvalson yelled at Slade Smiley with crimped hair). Did Heather and Carole storm into her room? Yes. Did they do it because they thought they were going to find some man in there and wanted to catch her? Hell, no. That is just ridiculous. (And if we go back to their last Caribbean vacation, the Countess is more than capable of letting everyone know what she got up to while speaking French on the phone when she thinks no one is listening.) In fact, they wouldn’t have gone in there if Ramona didn’t turn her in like a screenwriter testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953.
The Countess should have been a little ticked off, but getting all “Girl Code” about the whole scenario seems insane. There was no reason to release the kraken on them. Heather (and Carole, to a lesser degree) just wanted answers. They should have just waited for Ramona and the Countess to get out of bed. The guy was out of the house, there was no clear and present danger, there was nothing so pressing that it couldn’t have waited for a few cups of coffee and an hour of talking about people behind their backs (again, Fire Island Rules). The moral of the story is that everyone is wrong. The only thing right about any of this is slutting it up with strangers on vacation. That is never, ever, ever wrong.
I guess now we have to have a brief discussion about Kristen and Bethenny, but seriously, I'm exhausted by this whole thing (in the best possible way, like when you wake up on the floor surrounded only by Solo cups and underwear that doesn’t belong to you).
Kristen talked to the press about Bethenny and Bethenny got mad about it. This is another both-wrong situation. Should Kristen have talked to the press about Bethenny? Probably not. However, she gave the kind of vague, cliché-addled quote that doesn’t say much of anything. She basically said, “People talk shit about Bethenny, but don’t judge a book by its cover. I like her more than I thought I would.” At least that’s what she intended, but Bethenny didn’t take it that way.
Should Bethenny have gotten all mad about it? Probably not. Of course the tabloids are going to ask her co-stars about her, and what are they supposed to say? Nothing? They go to parties for a living, and dropping a little teaser about what the show is going to be like is good business. She can’t get mad about that. The last time Kristen tried to talk to Bethenny at a party, she literally said, “I can’t have this conversation right now,” and walked away, ignoring Kristen. Is this the way you treat someone you don’t want to talk shit about you in the press, whom you expect to come to you for an open dialogue? No. Bethenny treated Kristen like crap, and now she should see why that is a losing strategy. I totally got it when Kristen said, “Who said I wanted to be your friend at this point?” Why would she? Bethenny has done nothing but ignore her and discount her at every turn. Why would this woman want to do anything at all to help Bethenny?
There is just one person missing in all of this: Dave or John or Curtis or Oleg or whatever the name was of the guy sleeping with his ass out in Heather’s not-really-room. He must have gotten up in the morning, his head a little bit bleary but otherwise fine. He put back on his day-old, stretched-out boxer-briefs, tucking his morning wood into his tight jeans, and tried to figure out how to make it to his hotel. But he couldn’t forget what he was there for, and he got that on the way out.
He went downstairs into the quiet house and started drinking a juice from the fridge. None of the women were up yet, and the house had that quiet, haunted feel of a place that had seen the sun rise on the party from the night before. He was sitting at the kitchen table littered with trash and dishes when Alisteir, the houseboy, came in and cleared his throat and then started throwing beer bottles into a trash bag, each one making a hollow clang as it joined its brethren. Steve or Fred or Carson or William was starting to feel uncomfortable, and he walked out of the house without saying a word.
Joe or Simon or Quentin or Ezekiel walked to the end of the driveway and pushed open the Belle Vita gate and called an number on his phone. “I’ll be on the corner,” he said, and hung up, walking down the grass-lined road to the nearest intersection. A black Suburban came screeching up to meet him, and he opened the door and got in the back with a red-haired woman wearing a one-piece bathing suit covered by a sarong, a large sun hat, and sunglasses that had just a bit too many crystals on the temples.
“Here’s what you asked for,” he said, dangling about five long, black hairs from his right hand. She took them with a pair of pliers and then placed them in a scientific-looking plastic cup and screwed the lid shut. She handed him an envelope, which he looked into and thumbed through a selection of bills. “This is a little light,” he said, looking up at her a bit menacingly.
“That’s the number we agreed on,” she responded.
“Sorry, the number went up. I had to go down on one of them,” he said extending his hand. She took a wallet out of a quilted Chanel bag and counted out five $100 bills. She closed the wallet and he continued to stare at her with his hand out. She counted out five more and then put her wallet away definitively.
“You better be sure they’re hers,” Jill Zarin said. She looked ahead ignoring him. “Good-bye now.”
He opened the door of the Suburban and got out onto the scrubby grass at the side of the road. He tucked the envelope into the tight back pocket of his jeans as the car pulled away on the gravelly road, sounding like the echo of an avalanche. At first he thought, That is what regret must sound like. But he knew so much better.