The Real Housewives of New York City
For a minute, all seemed to be quiet in the land of the Real Housewives. They lazed about in designer houses, throwing decorative plates like Frisbees to prove they were indestructible, but ironically throwing them right into the pool. They sat on the sun porches and pool patios of their rentals and “borrowed houses,” watching their children scorch the soles of their feet on the hot summer sand. They toasted in their kitchens with the hideous yellow wallpaper that looks like a Rorschach test for a syphilitic goblin who has taken too much LSD. They went to find new modeling agents, which is a very relatable, very common experience that many Americans relate to, especially those in the Milwaukee area.
They talked about reconstructing their apartments while curled up like a cat perched precariously next to the sink, half its limbs splayed out for balance and the other half drawn close for support. They got sued by Spanx and drowned their sorrow in greasy, cheesy carbs and tequila with their downstairs neighbor Tripp, who has an ugly dog with an eating disorder and digestive problems. Tripp is a lousy gay best friend. There are so many more, better gay best friends (like the one who is writing this right now), but when things are quiet and calm as the emergency-room waiting room on Thursday, this is the gay best friend you need.
Yes, everything was quiet. Everything was humming along at the speed of life. It was almost, dare I say it, boring. But that’s alright. As long as you let Ramona Singer with a glass of sparkling white wine in a day spa, you don’t have to worry about things staying stale for too long.
Of course there was wine to be thrown, and for such a minor incident. What even happened? I’m not entirely sure. Sonja was yelling at Ramona for ruining her relationship with her 23-year-old lover Ben by talking to a friend of Ben’s mother (of course these women are friends with this kid’s mother, which should be a flag that’s redder and flaggier than the Raid logo – which isn’t red or a flag at all). Then Kristen, the paper the barista leaves covering the straw of your blended iced coffee, says that it sounds like Ramona is jealous.
For some reason, Ramona thought that harmless jab warranted emptying her glass on the woman. It did not. Then, after a long pause where mouths sat agape and the chloriney air crackled with a sense of eminent doom, Kristen, a half-inflated swimmie, splashed water all over Ramona in retaliation, ruining the hair that was going to escort her to a Hamptons party later that evening.
That wasn’t even the exciting part. What was spectacular was that after Ramona went to go blow-dry out her indignation, she came back to the hot tub and called Kristen, a Nestlé Crunch bar that got stuck in the steel spiral of a vending machine, a bitch. She then accuses Kristen of instigating when, ah doy, she is the one who threw the wine in the first place. Does Ramona know what instigating means? Does she know that it is not a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and a top that never stops spinning (spoiler alert)? Then Ramona tells Kristen not to get involved. No one wants Kristen involved. No one ever wants her in their business. It’s like she is some sort of pre-frosh that Dean Cohen has foisted all these ladies with at Real Housewives University: She’s there, but no one wants to talk to her, get to know her, or bother babysitting. She’s just a pretty, naïve distraction.
Kristen, a soggy Parliament Light floating in a red Solo cup the morning after a kegger, reacts appropriately and tells Ramona that she should be involved because they were all discussing the matter publicly and – this is a salient point – if Ramona took a minute out from her self-obsessed gossiping to ask Kristen a question, she might have something to talk to her about. Good for Kristen, a tub of Cool Whip that is still too frozen to serve. Ramona needs to hear these things every now and again.
Alright, now we have to talk about something very important: We need to talk about Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Massapequa Morgans. She is coming unraveled. Personally I could spend the next 86 hours watching Sonja burn her opulence candle at both ends in an attempt to find the fun and the strength through this whole ordeal. I’d watch her scrub her own toilet and bidet with a giant unicorn hair curler hovering over her brow. I’d watch her kick around the loose laundry that litters the floor of her bedroom, looking for the cordless phone that she hears ringing in her head. I’d watch her try to coordinate the 19 disparate business ideas in her head. I really would. But part of what makes it amusing is that it is so futile, that it is a little bit Blanche DuBois, but without the menace of violence.
What it comes down to is this: Sonja is having some money troubles and doesn’t know how to fix them. In classic Sonja fashion, she just flits her wrist and exhales sharply and hopes that she can scare it away like a common housefly. But like the fly, it keeps coming back and you just have to flit it and flit it and flit it over and over again as it buzzes around you, annoying you more because you’re trying to scare it away and it won’t leave.
Initially, Ramona gossiping about Sonja’s woes to the other Housewives seems nothing short of malicious, just getting the news of her impending real-estate disaster so that everyone can know. (The show is always short on details, but here is an article that explains the most salient points.) But later we see that Ramona really is concerned about her “sister.” That Ramona went over to her house to talk it out was touching. Ramona, though as ridiculous as wearing a bikini to a Christmas party, is a pragmatist. She is not afraid, as Sonja claims, but she is realistic, and she wants to guide her good friend in the right direction. That should be commended. And when Sonja asks her to back down, she does. Ramona has done her due diligence.
But the problem is Sonja refuses to face reality. She says that she has to think positively and know that the angels are on her side. She thinks that she can use The Secret to make that shit come into existence. Please, if that were true, I’d be sitting on my private island eating a mountain of Shake Shack burgers while showing off my abs and writing the thank-you notes for all the wonderful gifts that people brought to my recent wedding to Ricky Martin. The Secret is, that shit does not work. I can imagine a world where war, poverty, and Scientology don’t exist, but none of those things will ever happen without action. Sonja is, as far as we can see, doing nothing. She says that she is strong and has fought a long time, but where is the fight? It’s like she’s not even trying to buy lottery tickets, it’s like she’s waiting for a winning ticket to blow through her window, slap her in the face, and somehow go and redeem itself.
Of course she could rely on one of her countless business ventures, but, well, we don’t even know what those are. When the women meet at the vineyard, Sonja tries to explain her business plan to the ladies. She says that she met with a department store and they told her that her brand is too big to just sell toaster ovens. They want a whole litany of products from her. Really? That sounds like the kind of thing you tell someone to let them down easy. “Sorry, Mary, the reason I can’t date you is because you are too attractive and it’s making me self conscious.” Yeah, that doesn’t seem right.
When Countess Crackerjacks and Ramona push her for details, she starts just screaming out barely related words and phrases. “Tablecloths, napkins, lingerie, Nigeria, yellow and white diamonds, Elizabeth Taylor perfume, clocks, bandages, salad tongs, origami, my cousin Floyd, a VHS copy of Leonard Part VI, bowling-ball holes, peanut M&Ms, Tofutti.” She was just shouting this and getting more and more frustrated that no one was understanding her. It was like she was having a stroke. Granted, she came from lunch (imagine me making a glug, glug noise while holding my hand up to my mouth and tilting my head backwards) and this was a wine tasting, so its not like she was in total FDIC shape, but her rambling seemed unfocused at best and incoherent at worst. Sort of like her business plan. Zing!
The saddest part, though, the moment that makes your heart melt into a mushy ball like cotton candy left out in the rain, is when Sonja Tremont Morgan, a self-admitted 49-year-old woman, is stood up by a really hot piece who is just barely out of college. She sits there, in one of these barely noticed Upper East Side restaurants with white tablecloths and menus that don’t even offer kale or a good beet salad. Ben, her man, is abominably late. Like, run out and buy an EPT test late. But she doesn’t want to text; she doesn’t want to call. What if she annoys him? What if she become the old hectoring nag weighing down this man’s life?
Sonja never claimed their relationship was anything more than having fun and having sex. That is what she wanted him for, a handsome distraction to take her mind off of every thing else for just a little bit. She can’t have a house, she can’t have a business, but she can have this firm (and slightly furry) derriere in her hands, meaty enough to dig her hands in. He has to come. He’s got to come. Where is he? If she calls, that means this is real, that she has feelings. She’ll wait a bit longer. Maybe it was traffic. Maybe it was the subway. Maybe he got held up at work and then he got in a cab and realized, damn, his phone is dead and he’s in the back of a cab surrounded by honking and jabbing one knee up and down saying, “Come on. Come on!” and he’ll burst in with apologies and explanations at any second. Any second now.
He doesn’t show.
And she waited an hour. Her. Sonja T. Morgan waited an hour for a man who never came and didn’t even give her the courtesy of a phone call. She picks up her cell, but she won’t bother him. She can’t. What if he tells her he’s not coming? What if he tells her its over? What if she finds out that, like so many sandcastles, she is just one wave away from complete destruction? Instead she calls one of her interns. “Hi,” she says. “It’s S … It’s Ms. Morgan. I’m gonna need you to come into work tonight. I don’t know for what yet. We can continue the meeting we were having earlier or we can start some new projects. I don’t know. Tonight I just need … we need to get some work finished.” Her voice begins to quiver and her hands shake a little. Not shake so much as shiver, though she’s getting warmer and she feels the slow stick of the phones screen against her face. “Can you do that?” she asks, her bangs falling off her forehead and she inclines her brow closer to the table. “Okay, good,” she says, jolting her head back upright, her hair falling back into place. “I’ll see you at the house. And … and … Thank you.”