The Real Housewives of New York City
Finding out a reunion special is going to be three parts is sort of like finding out that it’s going to take three weeks to get rid of a sliver buried in the underside of your foot — you just pull it and pull it, until a plank so long it could serve as a seat at a picnic table is drawn out of the squishy part between the ball and the heel.
The problem with these women on the reunion special is that we want there to be closure. (Well, at least I do. You just might want to know what kind of panties Sonja Tremont Morgan is wearing. I don’t know what you want.) We want the women to have watched the entire season, including what they say about each other in their confessionals, and bring all those events to some sort of resolution. Ostensibly, that is the point of this reunion.
However, that never happens. Nothing ever changes at the reunion. Nothing new happens. And it’s not like the real season, where they can escape each other or into some type of activity. They’re just there to disagree with one another and hold firm to their party lines as they fire flinty barbs at each other from their opposite couches like they’re in some sort of trench warfare where no one, sadly, ever dies.
The worst part of the whole ordeal is when Andy Cohen goes around the horn and says hello individually to each one of the Housewives with his Mr. Potato Head plastic grin. He’s pretending so hard that he’s going to be nice, but he knows it’s not. He knows what spliced-together footage he has and what gotcha questions he’s gonna ask and couch them as something that Rhonda from Massapequa Park sent in. And the women are trying to be sunny and bubbly, but their stomachs are roiling like a bottle of Diet Coke that just got knocked on the floor in a Mentos factory. They’re like bulls at the rodeo, sitting still in their pens and just waiting for the door to fly open so they can buck and buck and buck and then stomp all over someone’s limp body right there on the ground as some gray-haired clown tries to calm them down.
On this season’s reunion, hosted at the Hammerstein Ballroom where Andy Cohen has seen Kylie in concert 32 times, there is the reality couch and the surreality couch. (This is different from a Vanderpump Rules reunion where there is just one SUR-reality couch.) Countess Crackerjacks, Carole, Heather, and Kristen, who definitely wins the award for most improved (despite her husband, Josh, and a commercial for Vagisil you have to watch with your mother), were on the reality couch as the staunch — if overly stalwart — defenders of truth. Then on the other couch were Ramona Singer, my favorite floozy (and Facebook friend, full disclosure) Sonja T. Morgan, and Aviva Drescher, a bat who cannot find its belfry.
I mean look at what was happening on the crazy couch. First of all, Ramona is incapable of apologizing for anything. She said that the glass she threw at Kristen was plastic and a lady should never throw even a sponge (because then what will she use for contraception?) but is somehow incapable of uttering the words “I’m sorry.” I mean, that’s the first lesson you learn when you hit one of your siblings. To make everything okay you have to say “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I won’t do it again.” They’re all lies, but that’s what you say! That’s how you stop the insanity.
Even worse, however, is Aviva, a grown woman who threw her prosthetic leg on live television. She refuses to ever admit that she’s wrong. There was much discussion about whether or not she has asthma or any other medical ailments and what the women can believe about her, and I think it all goes back to the fact that she refuses to admit that she can wrong. Look at the fight she gets in about telling Kristen to STFU in front of their kids. She can’t just say “It was inappropriate, and I shouldn’t have told Kristen to clean her mouth up and then use that language myself.” That’s all she had to do to bring peace to the Seven Kingdoms. But no. Instead, she says, “Well, I wanted her to STFU, and I hope all the kids have left the room when I said that.” Then she says, “Oh, please, my kids have heard it before and they’ll hear it again.”
Aviva’s problem is that the truth is a moving target. The truth, to her, has no intrinsic value. Her truth is whatever might win her an argument at that moment. She contradicts herself and says “Kids shouldn’t hear that” and “Oh, my kids have heard it” in the same breath. As Ramona said, she contradicts herself all the time. That’s because there is nothing real or true about Aviva. It’s all a put-on so that she will never have to say that she’s wrong. She doesn’t have any real arguments; she just decides what she is going to say, and then plucks corroborating evidence out of the sky, like lightning bugs she can put in a jar with holes poked in the top. But you just can’t make those fireflies blink, and they die before anyone can see them glow.
Now, you all know that the only Real Housewife I love more than Sonja T. Morgan is Kim Richards (sorry, Sonj!), but I’m saying this because I really think it’s true, not because I am trying to defend her. I do not think Sonja is delusional. I don’t. Scattered? For certain. Confused? Without a doubt. Bonkers? Damn tootin’! But I do not think she’s delusional. When she says that P. Diddy visits her on her yacht she knows that she does not have a yacht, we know she does not have a yacht, and she knows we know she doesn’t have a yacht. She’s doing this to build up the Sonja T. Morgan that lives in her head, which is a very different creature than the one who lives in a crumbling $10 million townhouse next to a parking garage.
As for all her crazy business ventures, I do believe that she is working on them. I do believe that she is working on line of shirts with a French company and a line of toaster ovens and something with department stores in Columbia. I think these are all real things that happen to her somehow. She just doesn’t have any follow-through on them. She’s just collecting offers upon offers and engaging in talks and whatnot and they never go anywhere. I don’t think she’s making these things up or lying to people. Do I think that she thinks that any of them are successful multi-million ventures? No, I do not, but she uses them to burnish the idea of herself as a businesswoman.
All of that that craziness about the houses she rents out and the houses she flips or whatever — I don’t know what that was all about. I think she’s just playing fast and loose with the semantics of “employees” and “businesses.” But, hell, who can blame her? I’ve told plenty of people that I’m “freelancing” when what I’m really doing is going to the gym at noon, eating cookies for lunch, watching season two of Scandal on Netflix, and maybe visiting Mediabistro once a day to look at jobs I’m not going to apply for. That doesn’t make me delusional; it makes me human. Let’s all cut Sonja a break. She’s not mentally ill; she’d just much rather do yoga and light her abundant candles than work.
Back in what is normally the dressing room at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Naomi sat on a brown metal folding chair, which was beginning to get uncomfortable on her slender behind. She was crouched over, her forearms leaning on her knees, as she scrolled through the emails on her phone. Most of them were forwarded from Sonja’s inbox. There were lots of invitations to product launches and movie screenings. There were some discussions with her lawyers and a follow-up about arranging a teacher’s conference at her daughter’s school. There was the daily email from J.Crew, even though Sonja hasn’t bought a stitch of her own clothing in years.
Naomi decided to ignore them. She went to Candy Crush and watched those pixelated baubles descend from the top of the screen to the bottom and burst with a satisfying plunk when they landed in lines of three. She had been on level 298 for two days now, squandering her five lives all at once when she could just be alone with her phone, just transfixed in that glow, her mind turned off, while the craziness of the world churned around her. It was her first semester at Morgan University (“Learn From Our Mistakes”), and she didn’t know if she liked it. She lived in this crazy old dorm where there was no hot water and people expected her to answer the front door and pick up after the dog.
What was she gaining here? Some life experience? A few funny tales to tell at dinner parties when she got older? Getting really damn good at flipping little fake candies in a handheld game. She missed her home; she missed her parents. She missed the glow of the street light outside of her bedroom window when she would stare out into the dark street of the suburb, everything still and dark as the humid summer air turned into dew on the grass in a silent bit of science she didn’t even know was happening. She missed the buzz and ping of bugs flocking to that light and occasionally battering into it, never leaving behind their guts, never scarring the light with a dark spot. And she would stare out that window and think that, somewhere out in the darkness, somewhere past the nothingness there was something and it was waiting for her. It was big and open and undefined, like some pocket galaxy where all the stars burned out, and she was going to walk into that darkness and carve out a bit of it for herself.
“Sugar crush,” the game said in a deep and oddly aggressive voice. She beat it, without even knowing how she did it. But outside the room grew still and she knew what was coming. “Pickles!” she heard bellowed from one of the couches. She put her phone in her pocket and went out to go work. She was someone’s employee, after all. When she walked out into the room, she had to shield her eyes as she walked toward the cameras.