I can count the number of times this has happened on one hand, but I cried real tears last night while watching The Real Grave-Robbers of Piccadilly Circus. It happened when Carole Radziwill, a princess in mourning, laid down on her bed in an absolutely exquisite hotel room with her late husband’s remains in an urn on the bedside table and just let herself cry while listening to Norah Jones on her headphones that were made out of Cookie Monster’s testicles. It was just — it was so real. This was like a real, horrible incident that someone went through, and we got to watch it. This wasn’t some vodka-drink launch party or a made-up fashion-line premiere; this was a true human event that was happening to a true human being, and it was devastating.
The whole opening with Carole and Dorinda in London was some of the best Real Housewives that we’ve ever seen here at the Institute. It started with Dorinda and Carole arriving in London, and as soon as they got there, Dorinda left so that Carole could go get the ashes herself. I was shocked. Was the reason they go on these things in pairs so that they’ll have someone to talk to? Wasn’t this supposed to be the Widow’s Peak Reunion Tour 2015: The Return to Sadness? But Dorinda and Carole weren’t approaching this trip as Housewives; they were approaching it like People, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that.
Carole, who is usually dressed for a Day of the Dead party being held at a Daybreaker rave, actually found the perfect outfit to go to a church and pick up her husband’s ashes at a church in London. It was restrained but feminine, stylish but classic, austere but with a pop of bright blue with her gloves.
But picking up the ashes wasn’t as seamless. Carole, usually the coolest of cucumbers, wasn’t sure what to do or say and kept stumbling in an uncomfortable but humane way. Really, there is no proper etiquette for a situation as rare and fraught as this, especially when you’re coupled with a priest who looks like Gérard Depardieu’s nephew and is entirely humorless. (Considering Anthony was Polish aristocracy, I’m assuming that this was a Polish church, and that is why Father Darius’s grasp of the English language didn’t seem like he was educated in one of the Queen’s public schools.)
The talk with Father Darius was heartbreaking, with Carole really opening up to this stranger about how she wanted just one more day with Anthony to tell him that she was fine, but that day never came. I think that’s why this was so hard on Carole: That day was in the church. Anthony wasn’t there, but she was checking in in a way that she probably hadn’t in years. When the wound was fresh, she was probably picking at the scab all the time, reliving the hurt that is right there on the surface because the pain is the only way she has to connect to her lost loved one. But once that’s gone, it’s even harder to open back up. It’s like one of those situations where you think you have the mental strength to handle it but then it happens, and you realize you’re not as tough as you thought you were and you fall the fuck apart.
She handled it as well as could be expected. It was the ride home and sitting in the hotel room that really got her. I don’t quite know what to say about her trip home. I like to imagine the Housewives staring out of windows thinking about what they have done with their lives, but when I was finally confronted with exactly that situation, I don’t think my words could do justice to the potent potion of emotions that was stewing in the cauldron of Carole’s brain. It was love and loss and hope and dread and happiness and pain, and that far-off feeling that you get that you just can’t describe, and it hurts and heals in different frequencies. Poor Carole. Poor Anthony. Poor us. Poor everything.
Just like last week in the airport lounge, I loved Carole and Dorinda talking to each other about losing their husbands, about the peacefulness of their passing, and how they both just couldn’t look at the body or stay in the hospital after their husbands’ souls fluttered out of their bodies. Actually, this whole incident feels like a really good Sundance indie comedy about two stylish 40-ish women who become widows, and they’re shouting in the taxi line about how they deserve to cut the line because their husbands just died, and joking with the stern priest about how the cremains won’t possibly fit in their faux Birkins. I would watch the fuck out of that movie.
The best part of the whole conversation, though, was Carole and Dorinda talking about how they both slept deeply the night that their husbands died, because they were so afraid when they were sick that if they went to bed they would lose their husbands while they were asleep. That devastated me. It was like watching 74 long-distance commercials where soldiers come home to hug their mothers all at the same time. On the outside I was on the couch watching Real Housewives, but inside I was curled up in the fetal position while a whole pint of Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato melts on the coffee table, and I’m too weak to spoon it into my blubbering gob.
The sad business of mourning dispensed with, Carole and Dorinda could get back to normal Housewives activities like shopping and going to cocktail parties. I really loved all of that, too. First of all, their stop at that London shop was really strange. One, Carole didn’t look that great in that hot-pink top. And two, why did they keep cutting to that shopgirl? She was giving the British equivalent of stank-face, which is just a normal face because the British are far too British to actually stank up their faces in public, but she was just folding and straightening up after the American tornado of middle-aged rich ladies blew through the shop. That is her J to the O to the B, to quote something Heather would say. Why the fixation with her? Is she someone at Bravo’s niece and wants to be on Britain’s Got Talent?
What they got right at the shop, however, was what was going on with the Countess back home. Carole was right that she was really peeved about Carole dating Adam, not about barging into the room, and Dorinda was right that the Countess was stuck in the crosshairs thanks to Ramona’s bad decision-making, and Singer somehow got off scot-free.
Then Carole and Dorinda threw a cocktail party, and I loved every single second of it. The minute I learned Dorinda has a friend named Trinny who stumbles into the party in a marabou coat, I just wanted to quit my job, move to London, and become her “stylist intern” and serve white wine in Champagne flutes and have her just flick her manicured hand at me as my soul shrivels up into a cicada corpse that the butler sweeps up and throws in the bin. When she walked into the party, I transformed into the cat-with-the-hearts-in-its-eyes emoji, and I’m never coming back.
Second, I love that Carole invited her London gays to the party because of course Carole has London gays. I bet Carole has gays in every metropolitan city in the world. I would pay real pink dollars to see Carole’s New York gays and London gays and L.A. gays get in a huge rumble. It would be like an extra-queer version of West Side Story where the fight between the Sharks and the Jets ends with everyone naked and crawling inside the 55-gallon drum of lube that Amazon can’t offload.
Ugh, now I guess I have to talk about the rest of the ladies. The transition from Dorinda and Carole talking about their dead husbands to Sonja and Ramona getting invited to a Skinnygirl-flavored event by two go-go boys wearing shirts and carrying roses was the starkest transition in the history of Housewives. It was like if Walter Cronkite was reporting live on Martin Luther King’s funeral and said, “And now, here is Dean Martin stirring a martini with his penis.” I thought, Do we really need the rest of these yahoos in this episode? Apparently the answer is yes, because the Skinnygirl quota must be met.
Bethenny is telling her two assistants that she is throwing a Skinnygirl-flavored event for more Skinnygirl products and so that Skinnygirls can meet Skinnyboys because all the Skinnygirls are too skinny. Bethenny uses Skinnygirl the way Smurfs use Smurf. She said, “Excuse me, Skinnygirl, but can you take a piece of Skinnygirl paper and a Skinnygirl pen and write down what I need from the Skinnygirl store. I need one Skinnygirl protein bar, one Skinnygirl pair of pantyhose, and some Skinnygirl tampons because I’m on my Skinnygirl and if I don’t Skinnygirl a Skinnygirl then the Skinnygirl is gonna Skinny my girl. Mmmm, okay.”
Bethenny is explaining to her Skinnygirl that Ramona needs to meet a man, and she is like a Skinnygirl in heat. The whole time she’s saying this, someone is fiddling with her hair and her assistant is looking at her with the worst alfalfa I have seen this side of Vidal Sassoon’s grave. Seriously, Bethenny. Turn to your hair guy for one second and just point to your assistant’s head and he will take his brush and fix it. He’s on retainer. Do this Skinnygirl a Skinnygirl and fix her damn hair!
The night of the party everyone shows up wearing red jumpsuits, and Kristen shows up looking fleek as hell with a huge fleeking bow on the front of her fleeking outfit. However, she brought Josh, a man with hair plugs. Sorry, that might be a little too close to home. Let’s try that again. Ahem. She brought Josh, the woman in front of you at SoulCycle who ate a shrimp salad for lunch and is now letting it loose every time she taps it back.
Ramona came, and she was not at all impressed with the string of hot 28-year-old bartenders that she could be shtupping. No, she wants a wealthy 50-year-old who has college-age children and might be a tennis pro and bears a striking resemblance to her ex. She should just date Wario. Wouldn’t that be easier?
After Ramona leaves, the real party VIP arrives — my favorite floozy Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Copacabana Morgans shows up and immediately things go off the chain. There are boys on the bar dancing with shirts off like it’s a Tuesday night at Liberace’s indoor hot tub.
Sonja is so dedicated to getting the party started that she lost a tooth ripping off a man’s shirt. I’m not quite sure how that happened. I did, however, once break my right toe snapping someone’s jock strap, so maybe it’s not entirely unlikely. But then Sonja said a really disturbing thing. She gets her fake teeth fixed by the veterinarian. Excuse me? Are horse teeth that much cheaper than human teeth? Does Sonja get all her health care done at this veterinarian? Do they take my shitty Obamacare insurance?
Not everyone was having so much fun at the party. Off in the corner, in a red dress under the red lights with red hair and a little bit of a red glow on her face, stood a woman holding a red clutch in front of her like it was a shield. She didn’t know what she was doing there or why she should even stay, but she wanted to see the ladies behind the bar, their fake eyelashes glinting in the flashes of party photographers. Why wasn’t Patrick McMullan asking her to pose at the step-and-repeat?
A waiter in a black shirt and a red tie walked by with a tray of drinks and stopped at her and smiled a little bit too broadly. “Skinnygirl Spicy Lime Poisonous Brew?” he asked, cocking his head in a way that was like swiping right. She reached out and then drew her hand back like it just got shocked by a burning bit of fat skipping off a piece of frying bacon. “No,” she said. “I can’t.”
“Oh, come on,” he said, leaning toward her and smiling even more broadly, which didn’t seem biologically possible. “I’ll have one if you do.” She took the martini glass with no stem, holding it below the chili-coated rim, and air-cheersed him with the glass while grimacing as if she only did it to appease him. He walked away, and she was stuck there holding her clutch and clutching this sweet-smelling cocktail. It was there in her hand and she didn’t know what to do, so she took a sip, just the tiniest sip, as if she was testing some soup to make sure it wouldn’t burn her mouth. It was good. She drank a full sip and she liked it. Jill Zarin liked it, and it burned all the way down.