If you're not selling something, you oughta be. That seems to be the ethos for the Real Houseladies of New York City, who spent an hour last night peddling their sad wares to lonely souls.
These busy bitches were hawking everything that wasn't bolted down—diets, furniture, fabrics, books, ideas, mind grapes, head lice, whole children, fancy jewels, fantastic surprises. Everything was being hustled out of a suitcase and into our greedy, sad little mitts. And we ate it all up, because why wouldn't we, our faces smeared with Ramona grease, hands trembling from LuAnn gulleting. It was disgusting and disgraceful. So let's talk more about it.
Ramona has skin. One day she was walking down the highway and there, lying in a ditch, was a pile of skin. "Prettyyy..." she said in her strange click and rattle language. She put the skin on and now she wears it all the time. Because she likes her skin so much, she has decided to
kidnap make friends with a chemist and make strange chemical salves that people can rub on their skinsuits to feel young and fresh and humanoid again. It's called Tru Ramona True Skin and it retails for about a hundred space bucks. Ramona is very proud of it.
For her part, Jill Zarin sells fabrics. She sells fabrics to Chinamen and Gays alike, there in her huge warehouse of fabrics, her little gay house elf lurking in the corner. To celebrate her fabrics, Jill had a big party at the warehouse and everyone but you was invited. The Queen of France came with her valet, Lionel Richie was making out with Amy Yasbeck in the broom closet, plus all those batty bitches that are on the show with her made appearances. Alex and Simon came crawling out of an air duct, their mandibles pinching open and shut, open and shut. Bethenny popped out of a birthday cake, then fell asleep because she was just so tired and had only had a margarita and a bowl of SkinnyGirl cereal (sawdust and saline solution) to eat all day. Ramona came crawling out of a cater waiter's head, like a crazed, bug-eyed Athena. I'm sure the Countess was there, probably sputtered up in her rusted-out Geo Prism and made a beeline for the bar. And then there was a loud moaning and all of Hell's Kitchen melted into an oozing sex puddle because Kelly Killoren Beensomeone showed up with her strapping Argentinian boyfriend, Urgay.
Jill's gay house elf went apeshit. He pooped himself about seven times and kept cooing and purring all over him. Jillzee was totally embarrassed, for the house elf, who was tipsily swinging from the chandelier and screaming "fuck me! fuck me!", but also for stupid Kelly and her stupid Argentinian lady friend. Because they got into a whimsical pillow fight in the middle of the fancy fabrics party. Kelly, for a seventy-two-year-old, you sure are spry with that little schoolgirl giggle. If only the whole thing wasn't so devastatingly mortifying to watch. Almost as devastating as poor sad gay house elf, who just... oh didn't you just ache for his battered, boozy, lonely soul? Don't let me be him in thirty years. Please.
After the pillow fight, Kelly was so energized that she decided to go for a run in New York. Her favorite New York thing to do. Run down the middle of the fucking street like a fucking idiot holding up all traffic. Of course that's what Kelly does. Of course it is. It's the only thing. The only way she could possibly be. She's also that bitch who pushes her way onto the subway before anyone's had the chance to get off. I mean, you know, if she took the subway. If there's one line serving all four registers at Duane Reade, she'll get behind one person and say "it's four lines, it's four lines" even if it's obviously not. You are the worst person in New York City, Kelly Killoren Beensomeone. Congratulations.
It was back to fabric town when some people from a very prestigious magazine called Shut-Ins Quarterly came to Jill's horrible MTV loft apartment to do a photoshoot about fabric and the normal behavior of a common North American gay house elf. Does he poop in a box? Does he drink wee drams of whiskey out of thimbles? (Is that decomposing corpse hidden under stuffed animals in his room Kelly's Argentinian boyfriend? Yes, sadly, it is.) So Jill showed them around and said that it was the highest honor to have this magazine or catalog or leaflet or report filed on the wind to be heard in whispers in catatonic people's ears or whateve come to her house. The gay house elf beamed in the background, his biggest accomplishment finally realized. He could die now. So he and Urgay could be together forever.
Jill then had to go help two homos at her big store for fancyboys. Someone's parents were coming to visit so, lest the old timers be shocked, they needed to find some nice, understated, simple curtains. Right, because that's what was going to scandalize the parents. Not the realization that that one was putting his thing in their son's no-no special place. Not that there's an ominous box in the closet marked simply "Summer Wigs." Not that there's a framed photo of Michael Lucas hanging in the hallway. No, it was the lack of curtains that would send the parents into a tizzy. So, Jill had important work to do. She helped them and they were happy and they trotted back home, wondering if they should maybe clean out the hot pants credenza. Nah. That's no big deal.
Next up was sad LuAnn, that rickety old bitch who's no longer a countess. So she's just plain Jane Crackerjacks now, left to wander New York a husk of what she once was: a husky. She was meeting with a poor beleaguered writer who would be forced to translate throaty cackles and salty grunts into coherent writing on manners. LuLu had her over the house, and they sat on her cream white sofa and discussed manners. "Well," Lulu started, picking at her underwear and eating a cocktail wiener, "I think it's about bein' real decent like. Like some sorta country club girl. You know, one 'a them rich bitches they got over in Darien." The writer blinked at her sadly. "Ok..."
Lulu took a deep breath, continued. "You know, back in high school, before I dropped out. We used to go over to the state park, go swimmin' in the lake when it was warm, get stoned, listen to Bread. You know, kid stuff. Anyway, one day we were all there—me, 'n' Ricky 'n' Donna 'n' Santoro 'n' and that dippy chick Marcy 'n' Val 'n' Sammy and the gang—and Ricky's got the tuneskis goin' in his Charger (loved that fuckin' car man, loved it) and we're just mellowing the fuck out, you know? Just like shootin' the shit and foolin' around a little. Santoro's got his hand up my teeny weeny bikini top, you know, fiddling with the strap cause he's all drunk off some rice wine he stole from one 'a those chink—uh, excuse me, Chinaman—restaurants they got out on route 11. So we're all there havin' a good time when this fuckin' Caddy rolls up. No kidding, beautiful black fucking thing. And outta that Caddy come these ditzy rich bitches—Kim Thatcher, Allison Dorwood, Maisey Linden—and their dumb jocko boyfriends. One dude, I knew him cause I'd given him a hander at O'Meara's house party last Christmas, he's on the lacrosse team at that fancy shit prep school they got. Other guys must'a been his teammates. They look at us like we're lower'n flies on shit and Santoro's hand isn't on my tit no more, it's all balled up in a fist and he and Ricky and Sammy and the rest of the gang are all lookin' like they want to get in a fight and I'm needin' a coffee for all this cream I got goin' cause you know man, a fight just turns a chick On, you know how it is, you're a lady. Sort of."
The writer gulps her tea and looks at Lulu, who's lost in some memory. She figures it's best to just let her continue.
"So we're all thinkin' it's gonna be balls out, fists and fingers man, you know? But no. These rich bitches and their fruity boyfriends with that wavy hair, they just look at us. And one of 'em says to us, cold like Lake Tahoe in March man, he just says 'You nothings aren't even worth it.' So they just get back in that Caddy and just roll off, man. Just like that. And you know? You know? You know the shit of it? I coulda had my hair pulled and my box stomped by Maisey Linden and had it hurt like hell, but man oh fuckin' man, I will tell you... Just gettin' dismissed like that. Tossed out with the paper towels and used rubbers, like trash. Man that hurt more'n all the cooze clamps in the world. I'll tell ya. And that's manners. That's what manners is. Saying no, and winning. Doin' nothing but be better'n someone else, and winning because of it. I always thought, you know, I wanna be like that. Like Allison fuckin' Dorwood. Just like that."
The writer slowly wrote "Allison Dorwood" on her notepad. Lulu continued to stare off. She took a deep breath.
"Anyway. That guy, the lacrosse guy? He and Rusty Morton died in a car wreck the next fall. Drunk and just hit one of those corners, you know. And Maisey's married now. Lives in... Philly, I think. Don't know what happened to Kim and those other guys. They're probably just married, you know, havin' kids'n shit. Allison? She was on a soap for a while. Now she lives in the city, just like me. I saw her once. At a party. She didn't recognize me. I spent all night eying her then, just as I was leaving, I went up to her and I said 'Hey Allie, you probably don't remember me but I remember you. It's LuAnn. From back in CT. You know, Santoro's girl? Yeah baby, how you doin'?' She smiled, you know, like a princess. So I stomped my heel down on her toes real hard and I held it there and I grabbed her hand and leaned in real close and said 'I'll be seein' you.' Her eyes were all watery and she looked like she was about to shit her J.Jill, I'll tell ya. But I ain't seen her since. Nope. But anyway. That's manners. That and always make the man pay. I'm a stickler for that."
So the writer closed her notebook and ran out of the apartment and got into a cab and burst into tears and that's the last we'll ever see of her.
Kelly went to Los Angeles to talk about her precious owl jewelry with some stupid designer. She bragged about all of the other non-celebrities the fool represents—Christina Milian, one of those Gastineau things, Andrea Barber, Shane McDermot, Nicole Bobek. You know, all the biggies. So, yeah, that was stupid and no one cares. I hope Kelly isn't back next season.
Next it was time for Ramona's skin party! Bethenny, who had just had a fancy photoshoot for her new book, nay her new EMPIRE, was all giddy and flush and full of herself and feelin' fine (event though no one in Greenwich will eat her cookies, apparently) when she showed up to Ramona's mountaintop lair. I was sort of hoping that Ramona would be wearing enormous goggles and a lab coat and holding beakers and stuff, but instead she was just in another of her weirdo dresses and talking to her friends, who are some of the animatronic animals from the Splash Mountain ride at Disney World. So they cawed and crowed and cooed about skin and Ramona's fabulousity. Bethenny looked horrified. But the best was yet to come.
Somehow the topic of Jill came up, as it always does, and Ramona started bashing her. She's always on a project, she thinks she's better than everyone else, her shit stinks too trust me I smelled it once when I was hiding in the bathtub at her house in the Hamptons no I wasn't hiding from her I was hiding from the Will-o'-the-wisp I saw lurking in her backyard earlier that day, etc. She then started tennis serving some insults Bethenny's way, calling her the lonely underdog, the dateless wonder, the single and ready to mingler, the Lady Dies Alone, the Self-Shocker, the Rides the Mechanical Bull A Bit Too Sensually. You know, those kinds of lonely lady things. Bethenny got upset (watch clip above) and blessedly one of Ramona's friends intervened. Amazing what Br'er Rabbit is able to do. Bethenny also gave Ramona some advice about rebranding her Tru/True lines of skin goop and religious costume jewelry, but crazed Ramona would have none of it. She clapped her hands and trilled a triangle and three parakeets flew out of her mouth and it was time to try the epidermal epoxy.
The girls slathered it all over themselves and stood normally. "It feels nice," one lady said. "I like it," agreed another. They stood like that for a minute or two, until one them started twitching. Then another. And another. And another. Until everyone in the room, save for Ramona and Bethenny, began twitching and shaking and finally convulsing and shrieking with agony. "What's... happening... to meeee..." moaned one of the ladies as her skin fell off of her body in gooey clumps. "It burns......" another croaked, her eyeballs falling straight out of her face. Then there was a loud bang, a sizzling hiss and a burst of smoke. When it had finally cleared, the other ladies were gone. There was just a pile of reading glasses and shell-colored cardigans. Baubly gold earrings and high heeled shoes. Bethenny was glad she had only pretended to apply the skin gunk. Ramona surveyed the eerie scene, a strange look of... something on her face. Was it what aliens look like when they are satisfied? Whatever it was, she eventually just tightly smiled and turned, perky, to terrified, relieved Bethenny. "Well! Back to the drawing board!" And that was that.
And so I've saved the best, scariest plotline of the evening for last. I am referring, of course, to lady Alex McCord's fabulous 50th birthday and the ruined surprises that her wife, Simon van der Beef, had planned for her. Alex was picked up from work in a black sedan and driven to Simon, who was wearing a black suit and top hat and performing his Mr. Bojangles Bone Dance on the street, busking for nickels. Once he clinked and rattled and folded himself into his seat, Simon told the car driver to head to a specific address. There, waiting in a hidden white annex behind a book shelf, was an Australian jewelry designer. "Ohhhhhh!!" clapped Alex's glassy eyes. "Wheeee!!" went her rubbery cheeks. Simon looked pleased with himself as he gulped champagne and watched his beloved try on ugly jewelry. Finally Alex settled on a gaudy pair of poorly-made gold earrings and said "Yes." They were $7,000. Seven thousand dollars. When they're redoing their house. And he manages a hotel. And she's about to get laid off. Sigh.
Then they got back into the car and dark storm clouds gathered. The driver had been instructed to go past the Brooklyn Bridge so Alex wouldn't know what the next surprise was. The surprise was that she was going to go home to spend time with her children. Yes, you read that right. Her birthday surprise—her big, only-once-a-year birthday surprise was that she got the rare treat of seeing her children. What an ingenious idea, Simon! Who would have ever thought that someone could actually spend time with their offspring rather than flush money they don't have down a gold-plated yacht toilet? Simon is the most creative birthday lady in all of New York City.
But alas things didn't go as planned. The dumb stupid idiot driver took a turn that he wasn't supposed to and Alex figured out that they were going home and Simon's face turned a horrifying shade of red and he yelled "FUCKING SURPRISE! SURPRISE! FUCKING! RUINED. RUINED SURPRISES, FUCK. RUINED FUCKS: SURPRISE! SURPRISE, DEAR, I RUINED YOUR FUCK. YES, YOUR GOOD FUCK. THE FUCK YOUR GRANDMA GAVE YOU. SURPRISE! RUINED. I'M RUINED. FUCK. YEAH, JUST TURN HERE, THANKS."
Alex just sat there like a sad idiot and let the rant happen and the driver probably wanted to throw the fucker out but Bravo was gonna give him a big tip man so they just continued on. When they returned home, the kids were waiting there in pointy little party hats and they are adorable little creatures, friendly and bright and just plain old regular kids, despite their parents' best efforts to turn them into the snobby assholes they always wanted to be themselves.
And I thought about it last night, a bit sadly. What was this flashy birthday surprise? This Towncar outburst? These precarious children, squashed into fancidom by their parents. It's a particular brand of woe, this strange gangly need of Alex and Simon's. This willful, terrier desire to bounder into rooms in which they don't belong, to jimmy open the locks with homemade keys, fashioned out of hair and bone and soap, dust and wood, the stuff of houses. Of ordinary houses. It's the saddest thing on the show, because they've banked too far left, they've skipped the road and are now rumbling through uncharted woods. They'll never get to where they want to be—louche and wealthy and eased. Because you have to be born into that, it's an old money, it's genetic, it's as inherited as eyes, as hair, as cancer.
I too spent some teenage years longing for the country club, for the private schools, for the Volvos and the tennis racquets. But at a certain point... one just has to give up the ghost. I mostly have. And I wish poor Simon and Alex would too. Because if they don't, they'll be stuck in a No Exit of their own doing. Left to ache and yearn and want some undefinable thing that will forever elude them. Hell will be other people, and those other people will be themselves, the weary faces in the gilded mirror they've hung in sunny Brooklyn. Their two lovely boys disappearing in the background, the rumble of bricks settling, of wood bending, of a house being a house.
A house hoping desperately, and perhaps in vain, to become a home.