The Real Housewives do not know how to throw a barbecue. Earlier this season, Kyle convened all the women for a “barbecue” and it was just a late lunch (a linner?) by her pool. There was no pulled pork or chicken legs or brisket or cornbread or coleslaw or baked beans. There was wine and some sort of ceviche and probably some other dish that most people in South Carolina wouldn’t recognize unless they watched something on the Food Network other than Paula Deen.
Now, Erika Jaynerardi throws a “barbecue” and it is a not a barbecue, but a carnival-themed Pasadena Pride party. There are games, sausages, a gaggle of impossibly sculpted gays in swimsuits that aren’t allowed on most family beaches, and a handful of middle-aged women trying to get the attention of their favorite gay boys while they romp around with their homosexual brothers enjoying the benefits of decades of civil-rights struggles and the medical miracle of PrEP. It is described as a “carnival of butts,” and there is nothing about that description that I could change or improve upon.
But before we discuss this event further, first we have to talk about the second leg of Erika Jayne’s Painkillr 4 Luv world tour. The day after her big performance at Rick’s, she ties her hair up in a tight bun, puts on her most beautiful pair of chunky Céline glasses, and packs up the bus with all of her leathery old luggage. Oh wait, that’s just the Housewives. ZING!
They all go to visit Kathryn’s San Diego estate, which is expansive and grand with all the amenities that every couple on House Hunters is always looking for: an open floor plan, stainless-steel appliances, lots of outdoor space, close proximity to the office, and a kitchen hood made from Jerusalem stone from Jerusalem. (Not to be confused with Jerusalem stone from, say, the third moon of Mercury.) Alas to the Househunter’s dismay, the estate doesn’t have granite countertops, but countertops made from Calacatta marble, a quarry of Italian stone so rare that no one has ever heard of it before.
The women all sit down for lunch and — hoo boy — what a lunch it was. First, they talk about Lisar’s supposed eating disorder, which she says she doesn’t have and I believe that to be true. An aggressive dieter? Yes. But I don’t think Lisar either starves herself or binges and purges. She’s probably gone on some really messed-up cleanses where she spends two weeks at an Austrian poop spa, gets two colonics a day, and only eats day-old spelt bread with warm water, but that is how you get to keep looking like Lisa Rinna.
The last time Lisar’s weight came up was at Disaster Dinner in Amsterdam, so when the topic returns we have to start talking about Kim Richards. That is when things really take a turn. Kim Richards is sort of like the third rail of Real Housewives politics. Whenever she comes up, disaster and insults to Megyn Kelly’s character are sure to follow.
Kim Richards, no matter what you think of her, is obviously troubled. Kyle Richards, no matter what you think of her, is having a hard time handling her fragile relationship with her sister. Let’s make this simple: There is never a good time to bring up Kim’s troubles and dissect them in front of Kyle. I’m sorry, that’s just courtesy. Asking about Kim’s welfare is inbounds, as is pledging support to Kyle, but Lisar starts spouting off about Kim’s troubles and just shoving Kyle’s face in it. That is inexcusable.
Kathryn really shouldn’t try to dissect Lisar’s use of the word “scary” when describing her volatile interchange with Kim. As Erika says: They weren’t there, it doesn’t concern them. Just talk about Game of Thrones like reasonable people, jeez! As Erika also says: It’s Kyle’s sister. I’m glad that Erika is the only one decent enough to bring this up and try to spare Kyle’s feeling. (Kyle only has one feeling and it is one of intense want.) Maybe Erika just doesn’t know how the game is played yet.
Kyle knows how to play the game. She pulls the ultimate Housewives power move and gets up from the table when she’s tired of the discussion. It leaves everyone in an impossible situation: Either they continue the line of discussion and look like awful people who upset their friend and don’t care, or they stop the discussion and feel a deep sense of remorse while staring into their tuna tartare and waiting for the waiter to top off their glasses of White Girl Rosé. Naturally they choose the former, so Eileen and Lisar continue to discuss Kim’s troubles with Erika and Kathryn, who, as we already said, weren’t there when this all went down and it doesn’t really matter anyway.
Kathryn, though a rookie, seems to know how this game is played, too. She twists the conversation about Kim’s addiction around to talk about her father’s suicide because of addiction-related issues. That is Housewives 101. Make it about you. Show off your tragedy. Cry just a little. Get everyone to coo over you. Take control of the scene. Top marks for Kathryn. Your Housewifery skills will allow you to exploit your pain on national television until Andy Cohen grows tired of you and then you can, like, have a podcast or something. Maybe you’ll even do video recaps of the franchise for a website that spells its name incorrectly. Perhaps you’re familiar with www.TheDDiiSShh.ly?
This is going to be the paragraph where I talk about how much I love Eileen. I love Eileen. Eileen is essentially a Housewives fan who gets to be a Housewife. She not only experiences it, she witnesses it and comments back on it. For example, she brings up something at lunch that is a great discovery to the field of Housewives Studies we practice here at the Real Housewives Institute. She said that “it is all interwoven.” It is. You can’t bring up Lisar’s weight without it leading to Kim’s issues with addiction, which leads to Kim’s friendship with Brandi, which leads to Kyle and Lisa’s falling out with Brandi, and then on to Kyle and Lisa’s falling out with each other. It’s like the ripple effect of female cruelty: You throw one pebble into the pond, and next thing you know, a tsunami of history destroys all of Beverly Hills, wiping Kyle by Alene Too off the face of the Earth.
Okay, my love of Eileen gets a second paragraph because she went hoochie koochie shopping with Erika Jaynerardi, who made her buy this amazing swimsuit wrap thing with giant cutouts in the side and, though it wasn’t something Eileen would normally wear, she looked amazing. And she loves Erika so much that she wore it to her house and they coo and cackle about how amazing it looks. Like I said, she’s just like a fan girl. She wants Erika to love her just as much as I want Erika to love me. God, I love Eileen.
Let us just elide over Lisar talking about her dead sister’s poetry because I will not provide literary criticism about the unpublished works of the dead. Let us also elide over Kyle’s lunch with Adrienne, Queen of the Maloffs, a race of mole people that live under a mountain. It appears that HRH Adrienne had both her nose and cheekbones sharpened for this appearance, so I don’t want to give her the pleasure of discussing it further.
Now we move on to Erika’s carnival of butts, in which two huge events take place. The first is that Kathryn brings her husband Donnie, a man created by the sexual fantasies of every human that loves male-bodied individuals. Donnie is smoking hot and, as I have previously mentioned, I would sacrifice anything for just one Snapchat of him naked. Since this is actually a Pride pool party, Donnie should have brought his trunks to go for a frothy frolic with Erika’s coterie of bottoms. (In fairness, her dancer Locky and his gay twin brother Poppy both claim to be versatile.) However, Kathryn tells Donnie not to wear his trunks and we are robbed the chance to see Donnie in a swimsuit. For this I will always hate Kathryn, or at least until she makes restitution with a naked Snapchat of her husband. I think that is a suitable price to pay.
The second big event is that we have to fight about Yolanda’s Lyme disease again. Ugh, I am so tired of this conversation. It didn’t make it any better that Yolanda was all heated up about Hunchen-Munchen Disease (as she took to calling Munchausen’s) after she had her “health-care advocate” Daisy look it up. I think Yolanda’s confrontation with Lisar at the carnival-ique is a classic example of “both wrong,” or at least the both of them talking about the wrong thing.
Yes, Lisar is wrong to bring up Hunchen-Munchen when she obviously didn’t think that Yolanda really had it. Also, she is totally wrong to not say who it was that brought up Hunchen-Munchen in the first place (even though it was totally the Widow Armstrong at Lisa’s ridiculous hats party). Just like Erika screeched, if someone talks that much trash about Yolanda, Lisar looks disloyal by protecting her source. It’s not like she’s a big-lipped Judith Miller or anything.
However, and I’m sorry to say it, but Yolanda is wrong in this instance as well. She’s refusing to have a conversation about Lyme disease on anyone’s terms but her own. Of course, it’s her disease and she should take it seriously, but if all of the women at this table are saying that they’re confused by the mixed messages that Yolanda is putting out into the world, especially on social media, then that is an issue that needs to be addressed, whether she likes it or not. The best people to address it, actually, are the ones around the table. Explain more about the disease and the struggles endured on a daily basis. Show them how that means some days she’s smiling and happy, and some days she can’t even slap a little bit of rouge on her face before leaving the house. Then when people bring up Hunchen-Munchen again, these women will be educated enough to defend their friend. Yolanda is asking for unquestioning defense, which I think is unrealistic — especially when so many people are in the dark about what, exactly, life with Lyme disease is like.
While the women huddled around a picnic table and nitpicked their arguments to pieces, Donnie and Ken sat in two lawn chairs on a little grassy knoll nearby. The sun splashed across their faces as the trees moved overhead and they would occasionally catch a glimpse of glare from Locky’s reflective sunglasses. Ken stared out into the middle distance, thinking about an old English boarding school lunch or a miniature horse or what he was going to wear the next day or something. His thoughts strayed like a group of starlings murmuring over a shorn field.
Donnie watched more intently, nervous that things were going to turn against his wife, that she was in too deep. “I’m going over there,” he finally said, rising uneasily out of his chair as he heard the first sounds of screaming.
“Not so fast,” Ken said, putting his hand on Donnie’s forearm. “That’s not your place.”
“But she’s in trouble.”
“Donnie, what makes you think she’s in trouble?” Ken asked. “She’s not in trouble until she is, and even then, there is nothing you can do about it. You’ll only make it worse. Did I ever tell you about our dog, Ponjo?”
“Ponjo was the first dog Lisa and I ever got together, back when we lived in the countryside in England. I loved that dog so much. I would come back from the city and sit in our parlor with the crossword and a cigar and he would just curl up next to me and plop his head right there in my lap. It was like the last piece of a puzzle and we would sit there for hours.
“One day, Ponjo got under the fence and was running through the fields along the road. It wasn’t a busy road or anything, but he must have bounded out at just the right time and got himself right in front of a car. He didn’t even know it would be there, but there it was. We heard the screeching of the tires and the welp and we ran out of the house. Ponjo was just lying there on the shoulder, his head crushing some wild flowers.
“I took him in my lap and knew it was too late. He was bleeding too much and the vet was far away. That’s what he got for straying, I guess, and all I could do was lie there with him and let him rest his head in my lap as his panting grew fainter and fainter.”
“God, Ken,” Donnie said. “That’s an awful story. Who am I supposed to be? Am I the dog? Am I you?”
“Dunno, mate,” Ken said. He turned his head a bit and focused on nothing in particular a little bit far off. Locky was in the pool and unleashed a spray of water as he jumped on the back of another muscular man in a tiny swimsuit. They laughed and grappled, sending their spray all over the yard, but not far enough to reach Ken, who rested his eyes behind his sunglasses as voices began to rise.