The Real Housewives of New York City
All right, let’s just get this out of the way: Luann de Lesseps D’Agostino Crackerjacks, formerly the Countess of Berlin (Connecticut) fell down drunk twice. I don’t really know what to say about this rather than to just remember to stifle the giggles that will come up every time I walk past a fragrant flowering bush in Mexico. (Fragrant and Flowering Bush are also what George W. Bush wanted to name his twins.) What is surprising about all of this is that Luann is usually the one who keeps it buttoned up the most, even when the girls have been imbibing as much as gays at a Provincetown drag march trying to forget how sore their feet are in heels.
The first time Luann and Ramona are sitting outside at Living La Villa Loca, or whatever the hell the name of their colossal estate is, they share the sort of slurry love reserved for college freshmen at keg parties and/or the last two women standing at a Outlander premiere viewing party. I would pay $100 just to sit and watch these two get wasted and try to convince each other that they are actually good people. Anyway, Luann gets up and expediently deposits herself in the bushes.
What is scary isn’t the fall, which is obviously cushioned by an unexpected arbor. What is scary is that she either can’t or won’t get up herself. She is just lolling there, laughing and bobbing like a Tickle-Me Elmo that somehow got lodged in an ocean buoy. The staff have to come and help her up, running over just as scared of the drunk lady trapped in the bushes as they are about losing their jobs to a lawsuit.
The second time she falls, which we saw several times in the previews, it seems like it actually hurts. Luann decides to try to take a huge step off a ledge rather than taking the stairs down the small rise, and she winds up slamming her hip into the ground, one Boniva away from a break that she would never entirely recover from. (Yet another thing we have to thank Sally Field for.) Luann just lies on the floor slurring, “Sssssss na good,” which translates from drunk to English to mean, “That’s not good.”
I don’t know what it is about this particular trip, but it really brings out the worst in everyone and certainly gets them the drunkest. Did we miss a fair amount of drinking or something? At least Dorinda is smart enough to take herself to bed and skip dinner entirely. She already started slelling at Ramona and threatening to throw all of her things in the pool, so you know it’s time. (Oh, “slelling” is both slurring and yelling at the same time and it is one of the telltale signs that Dorinda has really tied one on. She is an accomplished sleller. If she were a dog, they would call her Old Sleller.)
It didn’t quite start at the airport, where Ramona showed up with a face that looked like an Eggo Waffle that went through the laundry with a red sock and an enormous hat box that was completely inappropriate for whatever trip it is that they’re taking. It didn’t quite start in the car when everyone decided that they would marry Carole, fuck Luann, and kill Tinsley. It didn’t even start when we learned that when Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Cricket Wireless Morgans gets a wrong number text from someone, it’s still a dick pick.
It started, predictably, when the women had to choose rooms and Sonja and Ramona decided to do their usual thing where they sneak off and somehow try to hijack their way into the most deluxe accommodations. I never quite see the point of this. It’s a group trip where you enjoy everyone’s company, so you’re not going to spend that much time in your room anyway. But I guess if you’re Ramonja, you just want to make sure you have the best because you deserve it.
Bethenny, thank God, puts her foot down and insists that they all draw numbers to decide who gets the best rooms. Tinsley gets no. 1, Luann no. 2, Bethenny no. 3, and on and on until Sonja and Ramona pull the last two numbers. Of course they’re pissed about this and find all sorts of ways to complain about the arrangement, which is the most fair assignment system possible. When Tinsley trades her number with Bethenny, it gives Ramona a chance to say that Tinsley is ungrateful and that, since she’s been living in Sonja’s house, she should give Sonja the no. 1 pick.
All right, that is not a real thing. That is just something that Ramona came up with so that she would somehow end up in the biggest room. It is a selfish gambit that further spoils Sonja’s relationship with Ramona. But these two will just bitch, holler, and badger until they get their way because the other women will cave just to shut them up. The squeaky wheel not only gets the grease, it gets the nicest room, the best seat at the table, the first massage, and the most Astroglide when trying to impress a new suitor, but that is a different squeak and a different wheel entirely.
This plays out again later, when Tinz finds out that “Page Six” is going to run the world’s most boring gossip item that she is a bad house guest because she has not given Sonja enough gifts. Tinz becomes irrationally upset about this and starts hollering at Sonja at dinner, screaming, “I am a good house guest,” while standing over everyone and making them nervous. The irony is lost on no one that Sonja and Ramona accused her of being ungrateful while they’re the ones trying to undermine everyone for a good room.
Bethenny also gets into it with Ramona at dinner, but she’s really been waiting all day for excuses to spar with her old nemesis. When they assign numbers she calls Ramona a “vile person,” and then at dinner she asks Ramona, “Why are you such an asshole?” when Ramona claims that it is a “group trip” and Bethenny didn’t plan anything. It seems like Bethenny is just waiting for Ramona to step in it so she can fight with her. What she doesn’t realize is that Ramona doesn’t step in it, Ramona lives in it.
You can’t ask Ramona why she is an asshole, she just is. She is for all the reasons that we have described here: for trying to undermine Bethenny’s accomplishments, for trying to shame Tinsley so that she gets preferential treatment, for exploiting Sonja’s worst instincts and getting her to ratify her bad behavior. We all know why and she isn’t going to change. Bethenny is just sick of it, but Ramona refuses to understand how anyone could hate a woman as wise and generous as herself.
I feel very bad for Bethenny, who looks absolutely awful with that flu of hers. She looks like she just got in a fist fight or rode the Coney Island Cyclone about 18 times in a row. At dinner, when she comes down dressed as Morticia Addams headed to Kyle Richards’s White Party, she blames her improved appearance on makeup, but she must have an Erika Jayne–level glam squad hidden in that suite of hers to look that good.
While all of this is really bad, the worst part of the episode has to be when Ramona enlists the aid of the help at the villa and insists that she’s trying to befriend them. Learning their names so that she can more succinctly order them around is not making friends. Giving them a large tip so that they will bring her Earl Grey tea (that is Earl Grey tea) in the morning is not starting a relationship with someone who also happens to be a bellhop at a high-end vacation rental. That is just being a demanding jerk and pretending that you are a generous and giving soul. It is self-delusion of the highest order.
But after all the shouting had subsided for the evening and before it had rolled back up again in the morning — like the never-ending ebb and flow of the tides — Ramona cleared the glasses from dinner. She put them all on a tray, making a mental note which one belonged to the woman with the short dark hair. She separated it a little bit from the others so she wouldn’t forget.
She carried all of the glasses into the kitchen and started filling the dishwasher with them, propping their gentle stems delicately in the top drawer. Then she scraped the plates, the oranges and umbers of the grilled shrimp, the ecru and browns of the chicken kebabs, the almost gaudy yellow of the mango salsa. All of it uneaten and picked through, piling up in the trash bin as she placed each plate on the rack, standing at attention like the grave markers of fallen soldiers.
There was only one glass left, the one she set aside. As she closed the door of the dishwasher and started the cycle, she took a plastic bag from her purse, opened it up, and placed the glass inside. She removed the plastic from an adhesive strip, folded the bag against itself and sealed the glass inside. She didn’t know what the redhead wanted with it, but she knew that should would make three months’ wages for dropping it off the next day. She thought about the walk she would take in the morning and was a little bit nervous, but as she progressed through the sun-filled trail near the ocean on the way to the prearranged meeting spot, she didn’t feel any nerves at all. She dropped off the glass and took her money and she walked on to work as Jill Zarin stood by a beach, watching the salt spray billow through the morning air and disintegrate and disappear into the stunning blue sky.