If you've ever been to one of those awful gator parks in Florida, the ones off the highway, then you've seen this show before: A bunch of ancient scaly things laying about, moving only occasionally to viciously snap at something.
It's too bad there aren't any alligators in Orange County, because if there were we could just set them loose and they'd devour these horrible women and we could move on with our lives. But there aren't any, so we have to continue, gurgle on with them until they are done with us, until they have released their leathery talons and disappeared into the afternoon once again.
Last night's episode was all about Wives. Yes, I know that's a silly statement in a show called Housewives of Hell, but last night really really was about Wives. Wives who are good and wives who are bad. Some wives who keep their heads down and their boobs up and other wives who break the yoke and trundle off on their own, leaving their poor husbands frustrated and scratching their heads and eating cold pizza over the sink while simultaneously peeing into it. One of the good wives is Tamra, though she has veered dangerously of late to the bad dark side, mostly because of her wicked friend Vicki, a momma who profits dollas.
Vicki has been saying terrible things to Tamra, mostly about Tamra's tanned scrapple heap of a husband, Simon. This greatly displeases Simon, because before Vicki came along everything was hunky-dory. Tamra would just nod and smile at Simon when he told her things and then once nightly he'd enter the boudoir and there she would be, hunched up on the dark mahogany canopy bed, ready for a romantic evening of shuddering and guttural grunting. But now! Now she talks back to Simon and occasionally says less than favorable things about him behind his back, to her best friend, and that is just unacceptable. I used to have a cute little kitten that mewed at me and curled up on my lap and didn't want to spend a night alone in the living room. Now I have a six-month-old teen girl cat who I feed and pay for and who only gives me the time of day on her own terms. So, I kind of know how Simon feels.
But when Vicki isn't around, oh the good times they have! Last night Tamra went with her dorsal-finned fart of a son, Ryan, to a tattoo parlor. Previously against permanent inking, Tam was now desperate to try anything. She and Simon were having problumz and she knew of only one way to fix it. She had the tattoo man put Simon's name in scrawly cursive on her left ring finger. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Old people can be so cute sometimes. Tamra chuckled to herself and said something about how usually when you get someone's name tattooed on you, it means you're headed for divorce. Because so many married adults these days are getting I Love You tattoos in their forties. But whatever, yes, Tamra! That is a valid fear. You might get the tattoo on your finger-fanger or somewhere else and then suddenly that person's name is mud to you and... What's that? Oh. Oh dear.
Anyway. Scabby finger on hand, Tamra put on her best badass biker outfit and went puttering off on Simon's mechanized penis scooter. This is what the (formerly) moneyed folks of Orange County do, I guess. They put on biker costumes — I mean they really are costumes, with hats and jackets and shoes and even facial expressions — and go gallivanting up the coastline to a bar called Billy Bones' Beer Bungalow or something and do syrupy green shots and just be generally classy. Guys, I just do not understand the West. I mean, there's some motorcycle culture in Rhode Island that I see every summer, but those folks are biker folks all the time. That's just who they are. They don't have any other clothes, especially not flowy pieces of Day-Glo cloth that are meant to be lashed around the midsection. But these California types supposedly have all the money and love to talk about having all the class, and then once in a while these nerdy fucking guys will put on the Biker Bob costume they got at Eckerds, strap their wifebabes on the back of the bike, and just putter off like that's how they do. It's just so weird.
Soooooooooo. The easy riders had parked their hogs at Daddy Zeke's Road House and everyone was drinking those Ecto Cooler shooters and Tamra decided to lasso the attention of the table so she could show Simon her new Forever Your Girl finger-tat. She tried very awkwardly to do this long setup. "Remember when I said I was going to the mall with Raylene? Well... I lied." Simon frowned. Simon no like wife-lie. "So yeah... I wasn't at the mall. And I just feel that I owe you the truth..." Simon started to really bristle now. He was pretty sure his wife wouldn't confess something terrible in front of friends, but they were on a reality show after all. "But... it's very hard..." Oh this was not good. She was going to tell him she'd jeeped on him right in front of his rockin' cool biker friends, Ned and Steve. "But I just... I have to tell you..." Simon looked miserable and coiled and panicked. (He has the ability to take on something of a Voldemortian quality, doesn't he?) This was Not. Good. He braced himself for impact. And then she showed him the tattoo.
Oh. A tattoo. At first he seemed mad. Sort of knee-jerk, on-principle mad because his property had permanently changed itself without his permission. This irked him. But then he saw Tamra's face cracking into a hopeful smile and he decided to backhandedly forgive her. He grabbed her scabby hand and said "This is the first unselfish thing you've done in a long time." She might have heard the terrible thing he said, I couldn't tell, but either way Tamra acted as though she hadn't. "Huh?" Simon's eyes flickered and darted. "I said it's a very unselfish thing you did." Which isn't what he said! There's an important nuance to the sentence that he left out the second time. But oh well. The couple looked happy and all their shlubby middle-management pretend biker friends gave them a toast and it was, some say, the rockingest afternoon that Señor Skeleton's has ever seen.
With a sound of fizzing chemicals and bubbling beakers and notes being furiously scrawled on a big yellow pad, we move to Dr. Gretchen, Makeup Chemist. After literally hours of toil, her cosmetics line was about to be launched. Gretchen Christine Beautay is just such a lovely product to think about buying, isn't it? To have all the pancaked cheeseburger good looks of Gretchen Rossi, while also getting the chance to say the word Beautay every time someone asks you why you look like Odo from Deep Space Nine today. "Oh, it's Beautay!" "Is it now..."
The most important thing about launching a makeup line is the launch party. Ohhhhh the launch party. Since your friends will be the only ones actually buying the product, you have to really woo them and thank them for their patronage by holding a big soiree. Hopefully we'll actually get to see the shindig, but if not, now that they've shown us Gretchen planning the thing with an events person, at least we'll have some idea of what it looked like. Gretchen has a keen eye for design and decorating, so she knew exactly what she wanted. There were to be white walls with black curtains, which sounds fine enough. Only 1) the white "walls" were just poorly draped fabric and 2) heavy black curtains over white fabric walls begins to sound like a funeral ball in a California Dreams dream sequence, doesn't it? "Sly Winkle.... You never should have tampered with that old fuse box you found in the basement of Sharky's.... Now Tiffani is deeaaaddddd..."
Well, to fight the funereal, Gretchen inquired about the availability of hot pink bows. Which, yes. Absolutely. The minute that final bouncy "S" comes out of your mouth when saying "hot pink bows," you have made it. Hang your name on a plaque at the Rotary Club. You're done. Beautay is yours. As the audience applauded, Gretchen took her bows. Sly Winkle learned a good lesson about do-it-yourself restaurant repair and Sam Woo convinced her stern Chinese parents that she wasn't screwing up in America. It was a good episode.
As the chorus of angels sings Tiffani to her rest, we can turn to see Alexis and her husband, Edward Hardy, basking in the celestial glow. They are such good people, are they not? In this episode of The God Squad, the two loverbirds went to go relive their first meeting. Of course they first met by the pool at the Marriott or something in Palm Desert. Of course. We'd get to hear the whole beautiful story later (it's above), but we'll get to that. Mostly the hotel excursion was an excuse for Ed Hardy to romantically tell us, the home audience, what he was looking for in a bride. Wit? Warmth? Empathy? Support? No. "I was looking for a wife that was elegant and looked nice, but was also sexy." So he wanted both the pumps-wearing Madonna and the Havasu trashbucket Whore, at the same time. He wants his cake and to eat three pieces of it too. He's such an ideal mate, isn't he? Just such a charming, attractive man. Ugh. If we go only by his simple rubric, elegant but sexy, why exactly does he merit someone that's either of those things, let alone both? He's about as elegant as a hippo trying to hold in a fart at the Louvre and about as sexy as a vat of Hormel chili riding an old rollercoaster. Which is to say: Very! So, he got elegant and sexy with Boobs over there. Self-righteous, materialistic, vain, and dumb were just unexpected freebies.
I'm pretty sure other things happened in the episode — Vicki counseled Gretchen about her Lil' Gretchen's Patented Animal Slurry company and it was basically like sitting auditing an advanced lecture class at Wharton — but let's skip that and get to the main event.
After she finally got let out after being locked in the library overnight (she'd been looking for berries), Lynn decided it was time to throw a housewarming party for her new modern-style rental house. It was very important that everything be perfect. So she threw a blanket over the two raging grease fires that are her daughters, told her husband to wear his best loose-fitting white linen shirt, and hired an enormous catering staff to make a fancy gourmet dinner for her guests. All the Housewives were invited and, shockingly, they all came.
Watching them all make their grand entrances was not unlike being at some fancy old-time gala, with a tuxedo'd butler type person announcing each couple's arrival. Except instead of a butler, it was just Lynn gurgling people's names, guacamole and hair gel spilling out of her mouth. "Prethenting Lord and Lady Smiley!!!" she gargled as Gretchen and Doug showed up. "The Bithop and Bithop's wife of Coto de Cathzual, Edward von Hardy and Melonth Meringue!" she burbled as Juggs and her tubby hubby flittered in an open window with their angel wings. It was just so grand and lovely, watching all the arrivals. Vicki and Donn took a limo. Tamra and Simon crashed through the wall on their growling Harley.
For some reason there were these cardboard stands set up everywhere, on the tables and on the bar, that made the whole thing look like a chain restaurant. Being that they're broke, I guess that's how Lynn subsidized the party. A sponsored housewarming! It's brilliant, in a devastating way. The staff was alert and attentive, especially a T-shirted bartender named Dustin, who stood the whole time with a game smile as the Housewives slurred and slopped all over each other, their insides quickly filling up with fruity booze drinks, pupils becoming unmoored and floating around their faces. Poor Dustin. Someone should write a play or something about him. What the Bartender Saw. Heartbreaking.
Everything at the party was going reasonably well — husbands grunted to other husbands about all the money they pretend to have, wives giggled and gooed over each other in their garish outfits — until, of course, old wounds had to be reopened. I am talking, of course, about the Battle for Tamra, a bloody and noble war fought between Vicki and Simon for Tamra's slightly-used soul. Vicki is, essentially, in the right here. Simon wants to treat Tamra like a living doll, though he is increasingly unable to, so he gets mad. This is bad and Vicki is right to point it out to Tamra. But, Vicki being Vicki, of course she takes it to the next level and doesn't just act as Tamra's confidant, but also broadcasts her opinions to anyone who will listen, including beady old Simon. This level of insolence from a woman is just not something Simon can tolerate, so he and Vicki often lock heads.
With everyone standing outside at the bar, Dustin humming quietly and trying desperately to stifle horrified laughter, the two tried to have an amicable chat. The problem was that Tamra was reeeeal drunk. Gretchen made a bitchy little aside about how she's heard, just heard, that Tamra is a secret drinker, and, well, I could totally believe it. Tamra was all loopy and acting like a first-time-drunk high school student, cooing and pawing at everyone, trying aggressively to make everyone happy and love each other. While Vicki and Simon stood on the deck and eyed each other warily, Tamra came stumbling up and grabbed their shoulders. "Here... here... kiss and be friends... Just kissss... Just once..." she drunkenly implored. Simon's prickers shot out of his face and Vicki's features rearranged into attack mode and it was on. Neither would cede any ground. "Stay outta my marriage!" Simon demanded. "You're the ones who dragged me in!" hooted Vicki. "It's none of your business!" insisted Simon. "Tamra made it my business!" Vicki barked. Tamra looked doe-eyed and sad, swaying there, watching her two favorites bicker. Dustin stepped back from the bar a bit, curious where this was all going to go, but not wanting to get accidentally involved.
After more of the same kind of statements, Simon stormed off the porch and Vicki decided to "take the high road" and just not do anything. Taking the high road after you've already driven a few miles down the low one isn't exactly an option in the real world, but we were in the logic-free land of Vickiworld, a place of horses wearing professor hats and reading books and small monkeys doing people's taxes, so anything pretty much went. After Simon stormed away, a clueless Lynn came barreling out on the veranda and said "What... what's... is this about the gym?" See, earlier Lynn had been making everyone do weird wall-squats and had been begging Vicki to take three hours off of work every day to go to the gym with her, so she thought everyone was still fighting about exercise. What a simple pleasant place that woman lives in. In Lynnworld there are always meerkats rehearsing a play and everyone's always talking about exercise. After being informed that the argument was about bigger, deeper things, Lynn shrugged her shoulders and said "Hey Dustin, gimme another head-fuzzy." Dustin nodded and made her another drink.
At this point Simon had stormed out of the house in a huff, after being weakly begged to stay by the weary husbands, so drunken Tamra had to go find him. He was just sitting outside on the stoop, throwing pebbles at the ground and cursing stupid mean old girls. Tamra put on her best serious face and said "Babybits, whassamatter why are you so sad?" And Simon informed her that he was not controlling. That he let her do whatever she wanted. Oh he let her! How generous of him! What a choice he made! He could have decided to control her every move, because that is something that husbands have the innate and God-given power to do, but he didn't. And he wanted Tamra to accept this, to willingly lose herself to this controlling not-control, to hermetically seal herself off from anything in the outside world that might remotely tarnish Simon's good-hearted perfection. Shockingly, Tamra was won over by his case. You know what, Simon was right! Simon was perfect and Vicki was just a mean old ruiner. Just ruining everything with her opinions and principles and standards. Simon said they were happy, so they were happy. No, he doesn't control her at all.
Embarrassingly, Simon decided to come back to the party. "No, just getting some air" he said nonchalantly when the husbands were all "I thought you left." Yup, just getting some air. Just pretend sulking so his drunken wife could fumble out to find him and he could easily reprogram her. Then in the background we saw Lynn, running at breakneck speed across the living room. With an ear-splitting crash, she ran straight into an enormous gong and fell to the floor, legs still kicking like a beetle or wind-up toy. "Dinner is serrrrved!" she declared proudly from the ground. A cater waiter came by with a big snow shovel and scooped her up and plopped her into her chair. Everyone sat boy-girl, boy-girl and wouldn't you know it? Vicki ended up next to Simon. Oh the tension!
Dinner conversation eventually turned to How I Met Him, with all the wives telling charming and quaint and romantic little tales about how they found the blessed loves of their lives. Lynn told a darling story about standing in an exercise studio with heavily baby oiled legs, just staring out a window at nothing. Her future husband was driving by and just had to pull over to gaze at this strange tawny emu. He stopped in front of a hydrant and a police officer came by to give him a ticket but then Mr. Lynn just pointed to his future bride, who was so greased up that she'd fallen over and was sliding all over the floor, and the police officer just gave him the thumbs up, like in an '80s comedy. "Simply Irresistible" started playing as the policeman and the husband drooled nodded and Lynn slicked and crashed through the store window, sliding out onto the sidewalk and, eventually, out of view.
Next Tamra told a story about seeing Simon doing something called the all-male tush-push. The All-Male Tush-Push is apparently some sort of dance event in which hardcore biker guys present to possible mates. Tamra apparently thought while watching him "If he's that good on the dance floor, imagine what he's like in between the sheets!" Which is scary and sad. As the entirety of the story is basically recounted in Tristan and Isolde, I won't belabor you with the details.
Then it was Bubbies' turn. Oh what a whale of a tale this was! As we now know, Jiggles was prowling the pool at the Bakersfield Red Roof Inn, and Ed was just lounging around lookin' pretty fly for a white guy. Seriously, Bumps talked about how ripped and beautiful this man was. All of the other guests sort of made those cat clock eyes back and forth at each other, but let her continue. The story went on and on, as much of it was just long descriptions of Lumps' sexy outfit, and people began to grow bored. As she got to the part of the story where Ed walks up to her with a full bucket of beer and says "You're either thirsty or hot, so which one is it?" (seriously — elegant and sexy!), Vicki just couldn't handle it. So as sort of a joke, she lolled her head down onto her shoulder and started making loud snoring noises. This was sort of funny in a startlingly rude way, and Bulges was not happy!
Vicki said she was kidding, she was kidding, but it wasn't enough of an apology. Sacks just kind of trailed off and didn't end the story (which is lucky for us, because we really didn't want to hear the part about what happened back in the room with the bottle of Alize and the ping-pong paddle) and then everyone turned on Vicki. She was so mean to Donn, she was so controlling (there's that word again!) of Donn. For example, why didn't Donn come on the fabulous Florida trip? Well, because he wasn't invited. This didn't hold water with the other gents at the table, who just wouldn't let the darn thing go. Vicki had trundled off to the bathroom and when she came she asked what they were ragging on Donn for and he said "Oh that damn Florida trip," and Vicki was just "Ohhh whatevs! He was working!"
And the way that she said it, to me, wasn't all that accusatory, but because they are all so wildly insecure about the fact that they do not, in fact, have real jobs, the other men at the table were FURIOUS. Terribly insulted! We work, we work they insisted, while Vicki rolled her eyes and her engorged skin flaps waved sarcastically. All the men puffed up their chests and Gretchen started hollering about her makeup line and Porridgebowls howled about how she's raising three small children and takes "very good care" of her husband (wipes his bottom — which looks like two African elephant ears rolled up and smooshed together — and everything). Vicki turned to Hooters and said "Motherfucker, please," or at least I wish she had, and it was time to go. She and Donn fled into the night, never to return to that group (until next week). Vicki wept in the limo home about wanting to be liked by everyone, but Donn was all "Who gives a rat's ass?" and I like them together. I really like Donn.
Back at Lynn's disastrous party (Oh! Funny thing I forgot: The gourmet meal she was serving? The very important fancy one? Freaking sliders. Two little cheeseburgers. It was like they were at the hippest restaurant in downtown Indianapolis!), all the guests sat at the table and had one of those cathartic the-villain-just-left-the-room bitch sessions that just go over and over the same points until everyone is exhausted and maybe, just maybe, feels a little dirty. At this point Lynn had walked out to the porch, waved at Dustin, tromped down the stairs and wandered into the sea, so it was basically time to go home. Next week we'll deal with more Vicki stuff, I'm sure.
The next morning at Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Daughter, a conveniently filmed eviction notice guy knocked on the door, but Lynn wasn't home. He gave the notice to Racquel and said "You got served!" and then street-danced away while the poor teen just stood there befuddled. So Lynn's housewarming was really more of a housecooling, so that's mightily embarrassing. Next week we deal with the monster of her finances head on, and it looks not a little bit scary.
But at least they had that one big, dramatic night in their house. One chance to entertain. And though Vicki left in hot, angry tears and there had been much yelling, Lynn figured it was a success. As she bobbed out there that night in the midnight waves, she could see the other guests get up to leave. Bags and Ed floated away on their magic cloud, back to their perfect, sexy life. Tamra picked at the scab on her finger, liking the hurt of it, as she sat lazily and unsafely on the back of the Harley, Simon zooming too tight and too fast around corners. Gretchen and Doug didn't understand the strings of married life, they made the mistake that night of thinking themselves fancy free, bold and wild and young. In comparison to the rest of the group, maybe they were. But in the grand scheme, in the broader world, they are the same as the rest. They are all beautay and no beauty.
And then there was Dustin, packing up the remaining booze (very little was left), wrapping Saran around the limes and lemons and fancier garnish fruits. He waved goodbye to Sandy and that weird new girl Britches and got in his Mazda and drove home. Cheryl was coming over after her shift at the Macaroni Grill, so he had enough time to shower off the gin stink and pad into his room, past his roommate Randy who was asleep on the couch yet again, some old movie about motorcycles playing quietly and unwatched on the television.
He had drifted off a bit when Cheryl let herself in and curled up next to him in bed. "Hi," she said, pushing his hair off his forehead with her finger, that thing that she always does, that he always loves. "Hi," he whispered back. Cheryl smiled. "So how was it??" How was the big TV thing they'd been joking about ever since Dustin's manager Tony had told them they were catering a party for a Housewife. "Oh man," Dustin sighed, sort of at a loss for words. "It was... intense. It was..." He paused, trying to find the right way to say what he was feeling at that moment — about those women and their husbands, about the soft contours of Cheryl's face as she looked at him in the dim of his room, about the way he'd never felt so tied and connected to someone in his entire life, about how comfortable and safe and quiet he felt just then. He pulled her closer to him, hugged her tight. "Let's just never be them," he finally said. "That's all. Let's just never be them."
Cheryl laughed, a small breathy sound. "OK. Easy enough." She squeezed his hand and closed her eyes and soon they had both slid into sleep, just two people on a bed in California, the limitless ocean somewhere nearby, the moon pulling it close and then pushing it back, over and over and over again forever. This pair, moon and tide, never tired of dancing.