The Real Housewives of New York City
Do you guys remember Watcher in the Woods? It was a 1980 teen horror movie that was on Disney Channel a lot back in the day. It was about late-career Bette Davis’s daughter Karen and she got trapped in a mirror or some shit during an eclipse and Bette Davis wandered around the woods with her wrinkles and bug eyes and palpable bitterness and she just frightened a generation of children (including a very young Kyle Richards, who co-starred) with her unexplained menace. That, in a nut shell, is what happened when Ramona Singer went to the Berkshires.
Yes, everything on the Real Earthworms of a Live Bait Shack Somewhere Along the Road of Route 118 goes down when the ladies are away from home, so you know it is going to get real when Heather invites everyone to her house in the Berkshires. And this is Heather’s house that she owns. How do we know? Because the little thing at the bottom of the screen said it was “Heather’s House” not “Heather’s Rental” or “Heather’s Borrowed Bungalow” or “Some Piece of Shit Airbnb That Heather Found Online” it said “Heather’s House.” That is admissible as an actual deed in most courts of law in New England.
Actually, you knew it was going to go bad at the dinner before they even left. It seems like Heather and Ramona, the female Gremlin from Gremlins 2 but with better face work, have entered a new stage of their relationship that I would like to call chuckle contempt. You see this a lot on the Real Housewives, where they really can’t stand each other but they pretend to be nice to each other and get their little digs in but dismiss them as jokes. “Oh, Heather, is this your house or is that the garage. HAHAHA.” “Oh, Ramona. It may be small, but at least my house isn’t tacky. LOLOLOLOLOL.” This starts out at the dinner where Heather tells them they’re going to the Berkshires and Ramona says, “Where are the Berkshires, can you show me on a map? HEHEHEHEHE.” And Sonja stops eating her salad and says with a mouth full of frisée and a little bit of blue cheese dressing bunching at the corner of her mouth, “I don’t know. I think it’s next to Quogue.”
The thing is, Ramona hates the Berkshires. She hates them almost as much as I hate straight ladies who use the phrase “gay husband.” She hates them drastically less than I hate a straight woman who uses the word “gusband.” I mean, really? What I hate about this is that it gives the gay man relevance only in relationship to a woman. He is special because he is linked to her, and that specialness is somehow involved in his gayness. What? Can’t he just be a friend? Sure, he can be a gay friend, if you really need to clarify why he’s there with you at a fashion show, but do we need to create a role called “gay husband”? That makes this man like some kind of possession, like some penis-loving automaton made only to get get mani-pedis and shop for foundation garments and tell you whether or not your carpet matches your drapes. Seriously? Aside from giving all the power in this to the straight woman, it also relegates the gay man to the mincing hairdresser role, the kind of guy who swishes by your side and pretends not to notice when your cheating husband gets a little too excited that one of your girlfriends is taking you away for the weekend. Ugh.
But, yes, Ramona, a patch of poison ivy right between your shoulder blades that you just can’t scratch, hates the Berkshires and she loves the Hamptons. Why? Because she has been told to love the Hamptons and she thinks that only poor people go to the Berkshires. That’s not really it, though. Her father used to take her to the Berkshires. Yes, Ramona’s abusive father whom she moved to New York to get away from and who has since passed away was a fan of this gorgeous mountainous country and so Ramona can’t stand it because it is just full of bad associations. It’s sort of the way Aviva feels about three-legged races at field day.
Ramona, an ambulance you get stuck next to in a traffic jam, is just incredibly rude about the whole damn trip. When she discovers there is no air conditioning in the house, she gets on the phone, calls an appliance store, and has them deliver and install an air conditioning unit. Here is the problem with this: It’s not like Heather was out of something or didn’t have something that Ramona wanted. “Oh, you don’t have any booze in the house? I’ll pick up some wine on the way there.” It was not a scenario like that. Heather had made the conscious decision — a lifestyle choice, really — not to have air conditioning in her house. This was something she probably thought a lot about and had come to a decision about, one that Ramona clearly didn’t support. Instead of just sucking it up for the weekend, Ramona decides she is going to inflict her lifestyle upon Heather. It’s like taking a guy home and getting his penis out and discovering that he is uncircumsized and saying, “Oh, just wait right there, I have a scalpel in my purse and we’ll take care of that right quick.”
But of course the worst of it all happens at the pond, somewhere Ramona, a glazed doughnut that has been dropped on the ground, didn’t want to go because she thought it was dirty. All the ladies pile into two canoes with about four bottles of wine and paddle out into the murky waters for some fishing on the tiniest, saddest little fishing rods you ever did see in your whole life. After that didn’t work out and everyone was tired of listening to the never-ending churn of unpleasantness coming out of Ramona’s mouth, Heather and Kristen decided to take a swim and go spy on Sonja, Ramona, and Carole sitting in their own canoe.
Carole was just sitting there minding her own business, thinking about her secret double life. Did you know she has a Tudor in Beverly Hills? Yes! Carole was just thinking about ways she could continue to hide her whole other set of friends, her West Coast Real Estate, and a dog way too big for the West Village from her New York friends. It’s like she’s a traveling salesman with three different families and I don’t even know who she is anymore. Carole was thinking of the Golden State while Ramona talked about Kristen and Kristen’s husband, Josh.
Earlier, Kristen invited Sonja over to talk about her business plans with her husband, the entrepreneur. Now, as awful as Josh is from the tips of his toes to the tops of his ears, what he did for Sonja was a nice thing, and it was actually good that Sonja got to hear some objective business lessons from someone who is only tangentially related to the show. She told Josh about her shirt line and her Italian factory and her white and gold diamond label and Sonja in the City and Sonja on the Go and Sonja’s Essential for Macy’s and Sonja on Air Flying Aerial Yoga Class Emporium and Spa and Sonja: A Fragrance and Jewelry Line Available Only at Kyle by Alene Too. Josh looked at her and his face basically turned into that bug-eyed emoji and steam came out of his ears and it made a whistle that was so loud and high-pitched that the poodles two stories down pissed right on the cerused oak floors of their Tribeca loft.
Sonja wanted to know which of her million projects she should finish first and Josh gives her some sound advice: He won’t say. Yes, he was a bit of a jerk about it, but maybe Sonja needs a little tough love (she’ll tell you, after two Bellinis at brunch, that is her favorite kind of love). He tells her to get some help from some branding experts, focus on what has the best shot of being successful, and forget the rest. That is sound! That is smart! Now I would rather spend a weekend at a fantasy football conference than have to talk to Josh for five minutes, but he is right! It was good of him to give Sonja this little bit of hard news. Now, being a human being built out of Livestrong bracelets and Jell-O shots, Josh has to go and tell everyone about this meeting at dinner. That was messed up, but no more messed up than all the women letting Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Blanche DuBois Morgans continue to live out her fantasy life of wealth and opportunity while her house is about to be taken away from her.
But Ramona, the yellowed pinkie nail that falls off after a really bad toe stub, has just as much tact as Josh and talks shit about Kristen while she is right there on the lake with her. Sure, she wasn’t in her boat, but did Ramona even look over her shoulder to see where she was before she started flapping her very prodigious gums? No. So Kristen is right there in the water and after listening to Ramona harp on her for a few minutes, she makes her presence known by splashing water on Ramona.
Yes, splashing is always annoying (especially after Kristen already did this to Ramona), but Ramona’s reaction is to throw her wine glass at Kristen’s face. Now, it seemed kind of harmless because they were all in the water (and Heather was showing off her skills of treading water and drinking rosé straight from the bottle, something that should be taught in every finishing school in the entire world), but let us not get this twisted. Ramona threw a glass at Kristen’s face. A glass. She threw it at her face. That is, well, that is seriously messed up. And then she threw an oar at Kristen’s head. And then she blamed it all on Kristen, like it was somehow Kristen’s fault for provoking her.
It has always been true that Ramona is a monster. Always. But this is bad even for her. She has no defense whatsoever. She reacted to someone with violence and then is like “How dare your husband talk about my friend like that. You deserve it.” What? Ramona can let loose with the power of seven million harpies, she can say dirty things about Kristen that would make the sewers of Rome look like sterile operating theaters, she can shout until she is hoarse. What she cannot do is throw a glass in someone’s face, take absolutely no blame for it, and then just walk away.
That’s what Ramona, the chocolate in Candy Crush that just keeps reproducing no matter how many times you smack it down, does. She paddles to shore with Sonja, her voice rattled with indignation as she tromps through the underbrush somehow railing against Kirsten, a woman whom she just hit in the face with a wine glass. This is Ramona’s one talent, the ability to attack someone and then somehow blame them for their own injuries.
As for Kristen, she is injured. She’s bleeding, at least. It seems like maybe it’s being played up for the camera, but she is hurt. She’s still there in the chilly lake water, moving her arms and legs and keeping herself afloat. She can’t see the blood or feel it, because of the wet, but they tell her it’s there and she knows. She can taste it, that hint of iron that is like no other. She can taste it and it brings a welling up from the bottom of her paddling toes up through the tightness in her stomach. That strange tingle is not the wine or the cold water or the exertion or the adrenaline. It is something else indeed, and it is related to that unmistakable tang of blood she can’t rinse out of her mouth. She smiles through it and pretends that it doesn’t bother her, but rage always finds a way out, especially out here alone in the woods.