The Real Housewives of New York City
Last week, I woke up one morning to find a pigeon in my kitchen. This was because I live in England, a country that refuses air-conditioning like Jenny McCarthy refuses a smallpox vaccine. It also, strangely, refuses to put screens in the windows, so you’re stuck in a situation where the windows are open all the time and there are just bugs and flies swirling around your television set at night like it’s the porch light on a trailer at an RV park in Mississippi. And pigeons can just fly into your house and leave grime and poop all over your window ledges.
This pigeon was trapped in a window where one half swings open and the other doesn’t move. Somehow it got itself lodged into the part of the casement with the immovable glass. It was flapping its wings and banging its head against the window repeatedly. It cooed and screeched like it was in a Prince song, creating a cloud of feathers like from a ’50s movie with a pillow fight or Erika Jayne’s “XXPEN$IVE” music video. Finally, my husband grabbed a candlestick and tried to prod the pigeon out of the open half of the window just inches away. Even as he attempted to help it, it was raging against him, wings flapping and head butting up against the glass so hard it left a smudge. Eventually, we got the poor thing dislodged. As it flew away into the gloom of a London summer, I thought to myself, We should name that bird Dorinda Medley.
I felt the same way watching Dorinda in this episode as I felt watching that bird. I was upset, frustrated, disgusted, annoyed, and a little bit afraid for my life. Seeing Dorinda being so savage to her co-stars again and again makes me feel like I just want to fast-forward the whole thing because there are only so many times I can see her behave the same way and not learn. It’s like Sonja Tremont-Morgan of the Dr. Sailor’s Walk Water Pills Morgans trying to launch a business. We know how this is going to end. Why even start?
The episode begins with a messy dinner at which Ramona and Leah are fighting and Sonja is so drunk that Dorinda has to put her to bed. Dorinda then goes to talk to Ramona and tells her that she hates it when Sonja comes to dinner that wasted. Ramona counters that Dorinda has done the same, and Dorinda shouts back that this is not true, that Ramona is the one who gets that messy and Dorinda is the one who has to take care of her.
I can’t believe the editors didn’t give us a montage of Dorinda showing up to dinners that wasted. What about when Bethenny took her to Puerto Rico and, the night before their aid work, Dorinda made a fool of herself in front of a bunch of nonprofit workers? What about the trip when Dorinda sliced her hand open with a knife? What about the numerous times when her blathering had to be subtitled with “[unintelligible muttering]”?
Around the table, Dorinda was telling the women that you don’t tell a friend she’s drunk or out of her mind when she is. Um, no. That is wrong. That is more wrong than a country that made its national drink the gin-and-tonic to keep its colonists in India safe from malaria but didn’t learn enough to put screens in the damn windows at home. A friend is exactly the person who says, “You are drunk and a mess and making a scene,” and tries to mitigate it.
That is not what’s going on with Dorinda. Ramona lashes out at her and says Dorinda and Sonja both have drinking problems and need AA. There’s no lie there, but the way Ramona throws it in Dorinda’s face, like a mean john trying to humiliate a sex worker with a wad of cash to the kisser, is not cool.
Luann goes to talk to Ramona and gets the full story of their interaction, and when Dorinda asks what Ramona said, Luann tells her that Ramona said she has a drinking problem. When Luann relays this news, Dorinda says something to the effect of “I’m not the one with the drinking problem. I didn’t go to jail for drinking and then skip probation and go back to jail.” As I tell my friends when they remind me of my own bad behavior, “Why you gotta bring up old shit?” And why does she have to go after Luann like that?
Though Leah and Ramona had the biggest blowup the night before, everyone at breakfast is talking about Dorinda. “The minute alcohol gets brought up around her, she attacks whoever it is who is raising a red flag,” Luann tells Leah. Ramona is Googling “anger-management issues” to see if Dorinda has them. Oh, honey. That’s like Googling “vagina wing tattoo” to see if Leah has one. We all know it’s there, plain as day and dirty as a toilet seat at Denny’s. (Yes, any Denny’s.)
After lunch, Luann tries to talk to Dorinda about how she hurt her feelings the night before, but when she says, “I don’t know if you remember what you said last night,” Dorinda is already on the defensive about how she had only three wine spritzers and she remembers everything. Chill, lady. That wasn’t even a dig at your drinking. Take the Flaming Hot Cheeto out of your cooter and just listen for a minute.
When Luann tries to talk about how she didn’t like Dorinda throwing her arrest in her face and humiliating her again, Dorinda says, “Well, isn’t it true?” Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s not cruel. There are people who refuse to admit they’re wrong and then there is Dorinda, who is just reframing facts and rewriting history so she looks like a saint.
Watching Dorinda feels like eating a rotted seaweed-and-sawdust sandwich, but the rest of the episode is full of fun moments. Sonja tells the women the reason she was so drunk the night before was that the “water pills I have been taking for years” make her walk like a drunken sailor. Okay, if she’s been taking them for years, wouldn’t she have been as slurry drunk as she was in the past several episodes for the ten years we’ve been basking in her glory?
When she’s talking about this to Ramona, Ms. Singer says, “Well, maybe it’s the water pills, maybe it’s the Xanax.” Maybe it’s the Xanax? Of course it’s the Xanax! What else would it be? She wouldn’t be moving through space like a piece of toxic sludge stuck to a slug if she were just drinking rosé and Coke. Maybe it’s the Xanax [shaking my head so many times that it falls off and rolls across the floor]. But then I totally forgive Sonja when Luann compliments her hair in the morning and she says, “Well, my hair didn’t get drunk last night.” Never stop being my favorite floozy, Sonja.
Then there’s the whole saga of Luann and the camel. Of course, everyone remembers the famous season-four scene in which Luann is bucked by a camel on a trip to Morocco. Well, when they go camel riding on the beach in Mexico, Luann is about the only one who can handle it. Ramona was so traumatized by the earlier event she won’t even get on the beast. Sonja doesn’t like it the moment she goes up. “I’m nervous and sweaty, and I’m going to fall,” she says, sounding like a top bottoming for the first time. “Take me down. Take me down now.” Leah just jumps off her camel, which has to be at least seven feet in the air. Good thing she has that immaculate beige polka-dot top with the balloon sleeves, like Madonna at the end of Truth or Dare, to act as a parachute.
But even better than that is when Luann, who says she’s great at volleyball, hits the ball right into the net and catches it with her face. (Dropping that GIF into every text I send to my drunk friends in 3, 2, 1 …) But just look at how good this 55-year-old woman looks in a bikini. I am ten years younger, and I look like a sculpture of Jabba the Hutt molded out of used chewing gum.
The best sequence of the whole episode, however, is when they go to a restaurant called La Parilla for Sonja’s birthday. First, they walk into this garish place that looks like a Chevy’s in a San Diego strip mall, and they’re all telling Sonja, “It’s your birthday night!” Sonja tells us she’s so happy Dorinda went out of her way to do something special for her. I’m at home thinking, What did she do that was special? Just make a dinner reservation? Luann dances with the waiter-chef-proprietor-entertainer, who is only about four feet tall and manages to balance five margaritas on his head and walk them out to the table. Andele’s could never. But it seems like nothing that out of the ordinary.
Then it takes a turn when Luann and Dorinda escape to the restroom, where they have a bag of props waiting. Luann emerges wearing a sombrero and what looks like a shower curtain that swallowed a string of Christmas lights. She’s singing “Happy Birthday, Sonjarita!” as the rest of the restaurant is trying to ignore her Marilyn Monroe impersonation. Then Dorinda comes out with her huge fake boobs, a gold sequined turban, and a cake with sparklers in it and lets Sonja motorboat her. This is exactly the kind of birthday Sonja would love. It is loud, it is bright, it is garish, it is insane, and, most important, it is ending with a huge slice of cake.
Leah really wins at the restaurant, though. Sure, Sonja told them that “criminals have dicks too,” but Leah’s epic trolling of Ramona had me cackling like I was at a witch convention about to devour a chubby baby. Leah and Ramona squashed their beef about Leah’s vagina making a winged appearance at Ramona’s birthday party, then at dinner they’re having a nice maternal conversation. The problem is that Leah treats Ramona just like she treats her mother: She loves her, but she’s always testing the limits. After wishing Sonja a happy birthday, Leah says, “Sonja doesn’t need to wear diapers because she has a tight pussy.”
Ramona replies, “If you’re going to get along with me, you can’t talk about body parts.” Leah retorts, “If you’re going to get along with me, you can only talk about my purrfect … puuuussssyyyyy.” Ramona gets so upset that she leaves the table like it’s the season-one reunion and they’re about to talk about Alex McCord’s nude photos. Leah goes to talk to Ramona, who says she’s a good Catholic girl and she can’t talk about that stuff. I’m a good Catholic girl, and every week I’m just waiting to regale you with more sex stories from Spa 88. I guess she’s a different kind of Catholic girl. Leah shouts at her that she is “Turtle Time for life,” and it is such a boss read that it almost makes me want to go to Cancún to give her a high five.
What annoys Leah is that she’s held to a different standard. Ramona will talk about sex on her terms as long as it’s demure and half-blushing. She’ll also let Sonja talk about chubby vaginas all day and then later blame it on her Water Pills by Xanax. Leah just wants the same consideration. She talks Ramona back to the table, but when Ramona says her dinner is spicy and she loves it spicy, Leah, laughing through the pain, says, “I love spicy dick!” It’s just perfect. It’s just the right thing to say, and it embarrasses Ramona, makes all the other ladies chuckle, and makes me love Leah a little bit more, which I thought was entirely impossible.
Back on the Upper East Side, a redhead goes out onto her balcony to look at the sweltering city below. She can almost see the heat squiggles coming up from the pavement 30 floors down, like steam rising off an egg frying on the sidewalk. Then she hears the coo. A homing pigeon lands on her railing. It has made a long journey, banging its head against a window, flying across all of southwestern England and then the long, boring flight over the Atlantic, adrift and fighting the jet stream and wondering just where on the East Coast it would end up. Eventually, it finds its way home and deposits the message it left with. Jill Zarin unlatches a tiny video camera from its leg and wonders, if she lets it inside, whether the pigeon will ever find its way back into the blazing August sun.