Last night's wander into the Housewives chicken coop was all about years. Years passing, marking births and anniversaries, growth and recession, learning and forgetting. This is the ebb and flow of progress. The Housewives are just caught in the tide.

Ohhh what was happening last night. Teresa and Joe had their 10th anniversary of being married and Danielle's silver toothpick daughter Christine had her 16th anniversary of being a person alive on the planet. Auspicious occasions both! In New Jersey culture, the 10th anniversary is always celebrated with a helicopter ride and the 16th birthday marks the date when it is finally perfectly OK for one's mother to sell you to a sleazy modeling agent. "She is mine..." the sleazy modeling agents say, rubbing their hands together or twirling their mustaches.) Celebrated traditions all. Let's start with Teresa's.

Teresa has been Joe's property for ten long years and isn't that fabulous. They've produced four lovely daughters, dead-eyed creatures who wait for the camera to be trained on them before they speak, and then when they do it's some strange and garbled catchphrase or idiom they've heard somewhere, a dim muffle from the outside world. "That's a spicy meat-a ball-a!" the oldest, Roberta Benigni says, her eyes fixed, hard marble, the heart in her chest beeping like a digital watch. Ohh it's so scary. But it is something to celebrate! These ten long years. Of foreheads and gutbusters. Columns and carnivals. "Joeeeeee, you need to get me a good present," Teresa whined last night, saying that after ten years "He really needs to do something special." Not love you. Not keep you. Not be with you until you are nothing but hairline and memory. Not be a person for another person, a companion, someone to call out to in the dark. No, not that something special. TT means diamonds. All toe-up, brokeass TT wants is expensive, ugly yellow diamonds. That's what romanz and commitment means to her. "Diamonds!" she squeals, her cavewoman brow furrowing thickly, Joe sighing and staring off into the middle distance, the wind whipping a tear into his eye.

If it was diamonds his wife wanted, it was diamonds she would get. But first, a romantic evening. A black SUV came to pick the happy pair up at the house and Joe shuffled out with his own bucket of champagne, because that's what you do ("I, uh, I guess I'll just leave this bucket in here... for you... thanks..."), and they zoomed off to the New Jersey Heloport, a place mostly used by medivac teams flying in Jon Bon Jovi's emergency wigs. "Oooohhh, are we going to the diamond fields in the sky??" Teresa clamored, referring to the nighttime stars that Joe didn't have the heart to tell her were just burning balls of gas that she would never be able to touch. "Somethin' like that," he said instead, watching as dimwitted Teresa walked right into the rear blades and, like Dr. Romano's arm, got chopped up to bits. The she horrifyingly regenerated, her hairline just a little bit lower than before. "Come on!" the new Teresa said, putting on her headset and singing a little diamonds song to herself. When she and Joe were both in and safely thwacking through the air, Teresa said "Say a poem. You're a poet." Apparently Joe is a poet. I did not know that. Move over, Adrienne Rich. Shove off, Rita Dove. Take this canoli and shove it up your ass, Billy Collins. Here's Joey Jewdice, poet extraordinaire. But sadly, the poet was not ready for a reading yet. "I'm not feelin' very poetic right now," Joe said, and it was OK, because Teresa had already forgotten what they were talking about long before. "Mmm, diamonds," she said, nuzzling up to her beautiful muscly bride. (Earlier Joe had been trying on shirts and one didn't fit and Teresa said "You have to stop lifting weights!" and everyone was like, "Uh, is he lifting weights with his stomach?")

Finally the helicopter crashed into the Central Park reservoir and Teresa and Joe swam to safety while the pilot drowned and they wandered, two wet Jersey rats, over to a hotel room. There was supposed to be some big fancy reveal of the room but it was... not all that nice? I mean, it was perfectly nice. But it wasn't lavish in the way I'd expected. But oh well. Teresa liked it. That's all that matters. The two were served dinner in their room and then Joe ordered a very special chocolate exploding cake for Teresa that was stuffed with pears. Pear-shaped di-a-monds, that is!!!!!!!! Suddenly Eartha Kitt's face appeared on the screen and she said "Di-a-mondssss..." and then she was gone again. Teresa was so happy. What a beautiful ring to someday soon auction off. "Aw honey," she said, running a press-on finger across her husband's vast meat expanse of a cheek. Joe cleared his throat. "I think I feel a poem coming on. 'Roses are red... Ha, no, no, I'm just kiddin'. Here's my poem:

You are, in mercury essence,
the decade's bride.
Borne before me when
the towers' twin knives
still prodded the sky,
made us dream in red colors.
You are the bright slip of
horizon, running toward me
in airport dreams,
the weight of your hand
your nipple your heart,
hair clumped like fertile earth.
I do not want another breath
that you have not swallowed first.
Diamonds cut stone,
chisel and create.
We are made and unmade
committed back one day.
I'd like to be buried,
still and marble,
in you."

Joe clasped his hands together, finished with his poem. Teresa had fallen asleep, head down on the table. A cameraman wiped away a tear. Joe picked up his bride, tossed her on the bed that was decorated with rose petals in the shape of the number ten ("What is it...." Teresa had asked earlier). The tossing woke Teresa up and suddenly she was ready for lovemaking. "C'mere you," she said, motioning him over. The camera lingered for an uncomfortably long time, but eventually it left. We saw a shot of skyline and then heard someone yell "e.e.'s cumming baby, e.e.'s cumming!"

So that was Teresa and Joe's big romance date. It's sad that they now have to auction this date off in their foreclosure sale. "Next item up is a fancy date to New York that happened some six months ago. Comes complete with an original poem by Joey Jew-Dice, winner of the PEN/Voelcker award for poetry! Going once, going twice, sold to absolutely no one." Sigh for that.

Next up let's talk about Danielle. Danielle is very excited because she is turning sixteen. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Sorry! Did I say that Danielle is turning sixteen? I must have taken my Mistakey pills this morning. I meant to say that Danielle's daughter, Cashcow, is turning sixteen. Yes, the beautiful model creature is becoming a lady and Danielle would like to celebrate this fact. Never mind that Cashcow doesn't really want to celebrate. That's of no concern. Danielle railroaded the child into deciding to have a party, on the one condition that it be "for charity". How does that work exactly? Where is there money? Are you charging people to go to your Sweet Sixteen? Danielle had all this fancy stuff like a special lounge room with zebra print and "bordeaux red" velvet and leathuh and there was a step-and-repeat board thingy for paparazzi shots and all this fancy liquor, and Danielle said that she (read: Bravo) got it all donated because it was "for charity". So... what is the charity? I'm confussed here. Very, very confussed. Ah well, no matter. The bordeaux reds and special beglittering chamber were not the main attraction at this glorious fete. No, the main attraction was Danielle's younger daughter, Janis, and her singing.

Yes, Danielle informed us that her 11-year-old daughter is a very talented "singer and songwriter". Aha. "A talented songwriter at age eleven?", we thought skeptically. It didn't seem possible. Danielle told us that Janis was very nervous and fraught because she was writing a song for her sister's bday bash and she would be performing it herself. To prove it to us, Danielle took the cameras and went to Janis' music studio to check on her progress. When she creaked open the door we saw a complete mess. Stools overturned, cigarette-filled ashtrays everywhere, a record skipping over and over again, strange scarves dangling from light fixtures. "Janis?" Danielle called tentatively. "Janis honey, are you in here?" Then we heard a grunt and a rustle and Janis stumbled out of the shadows, swilling a bottle of whiskey around, wearing little round glasses and a fringe vest, cigarette with an inch of ash dangling from her lip. She looked up and saw her mother. "The hell you want. I said, THE HELL YOU WANT?" She stood teetering, waiting for her mother to respond. "I'm just seeing how your song is going." Janis raised a tiny eyebrow, scoffed. "My song? My songggg. Well, mama, my song is goin' shit. That's how it's going. S-H-I-T, is what it is." Janis took another long pull from the bottle of whiskey, lit a new cigarette. "Well, can I hear a little?", Danielle asked. Janis shrugged her shoulders sloppily, almost falling over. "The FUCK do I care, huh? The fuck do I care... The fuck does anyone care..." Janis stumbled over to the piano, fell into the chair. "OK, OK... lessee here... lessee... Mama wants a song. Mama wants a song, so mama gets a song..." She put her fingers on the keys, paused for a second, pawed messy strands of hair off her sweaty face. Then she played, loud folksy chords. She sang in a pained yowl. "Ohhhhh birthday parties are for winners / Who are losin' at life / 'Cause another year older / Is another towards dyin' / And we all get to heaven / Whether by sick or a knife / So enjoy your fat party / 'Cause dancin's better than cryin' " Then there was a five minute harmonica solo, after which Janis fell out of her chair and passed out on the floor, a trickle of vomit leaving the corner of her mouth. Danielle beamed. "She's very talented," she told the camera. "She could be a rock star someday."

The party was a success! Everyone who was everyone came. There was Ashley Ainsman, walking down the red carpet in her new Hot Topic dress, braces glimmering beautifully in the camera flashes. There was hot young stud Petey Minolakis, wearing his cousin Nikos' tuxedo that still smelled like spanakopita from the after prom party at The Aegean, his uncle Christos' restaurant. There was It couple of the moment Madison Dunbar and Riley Coogan, dry humping behind a potted plant, a mostly empty stolen bottle of schnapps rattling in Riley's pocket. Danielle was just surrounded by fabulous celebrities and she was in heaven. She was wearing her silver chainmail dress and had clumps of glitter in her eyelashes and all she could do was flit around making kissy-kissy with the guests and feeling, yes, fabulous. A big deal for her was that her ex-husband, the father of Caschow and Janis, came. With his new wife, who is younger than Danielle's 67 years. There he was, just a regular guy with gray hair and a suit, dull brown-haired bride on his arm, while Danielle stood in show makeup, surrounded by the harsh glow of a camera crew, butterfly glitter clumps in her eyelashes. It was a sad juxtaposition. Obviously I know nothing of what happened between Mr. & Mrs. Staub, but for the purposes of the show, he came off the victor. She hugged him too long and too tight and then tried to stage an emotional moment by crying. She quickly realized that no one was buying it though, so she stopped. Then it was time for Janis to sing.

She was nervous. She'd been thrashing around in her little dressing room all evening, snorting mountains of cocaine and manically tying and untying a tourniquet around her arm. Danielle knocked on the door to see if she was ready. Janis hurled a bottle at the door, it shattered into pieces as Danielle ducked for cover. "Honey, it's time for your song..." Janis started laughing in a grotesque, terrifying way. "Ohhh it's time for my song, huh? Alls anyone wants me to do is sing. Mama wants you to SING, Janis. SING. Fuckin' PATRIOTS. Fuckin' MAFIA FASCISTS. Fuckin' FREEDOM OF THE FUCKIN' PRESS. I'll fuckin' show you, I'll fuckin' do it. You hear me, I'LL FUCKIN' DO IT TIL YOU'RE DEAD." Danielle could tell that these were the drunken, drug-fueled ravings of a nervous widdle gurl, so she tried to comfort her. "Honey, you're going to be fine. You know all these people." Then she grabbed Janis's arm with a claw and squeezed very hard. "You're going to do it. And you're going to be great." she said through a scary, plastered-on smile. Janis really wanted to sing, she just needed her mother to tell her that she wanted to. You know how that works.

So after they'd pried the knife out of her hands and put some cold washcloths on her face, Janis was ready to perform. She hobbled up onto the stage, flopped down at the piano. "Hello Seattle..." she said with a slurry snicker. "This here's a song for my older sister, the kinda girl who Jim Morrison used to call 'a cinder block'. I mean, I'm told that's what he said. I wasn't around for it. I'm eleven. Anyway, here's my song. This one's for you, sis. Heyyy Mr. Enemy Man / with your eyes like ribbons and your Nazi plan / Are you gonna take more boys away / todayyyyyy / Heyyyy Mrs. Mama Dear / with your dirty old books and jug of fear / Are you gonna leave me be / todayyyy / Said are you gonna leeeave me be / todayyyyyy." She then just slammed her hands down on as many keys as she could. It played loud and long, Janis was stepping on the pedal. She sat there. People shifted awkwardly and coughed. Janis laughed, took a sip of her whiskey, lit a cigarette. "No, I'm just fuckin' with you kind people. Here's the real tune. You're my sister / And my friend / And you're always by my side / Because you're my friend / And my sister / Yeah yeah yeah!" Janis then pushed the piano off the stage, knocked the mic over and trundled off, slamming the door behind her, the sound of shattering glass trailing after her. Danielle ran up onto the stage, picked up the mic and yelled through the feedback, "My daughter Janis ladies and gentlemen!" And then the party ended. Danielle beamed. She turned to the camera. "I'm the best mom in the world." Somewhere in upstate New York a crypt creaked open, guided by Joan Crawford's dessicated hand. "I beg to differ..." came a mossy growl from the dark.

Let's shake off the bad things! Let's get rid of 'em. Let's move on to something enticing. Albie. Sugar god. Sweet sex slab of buttered roll beauty. As we know, Albie has had some setbacks with the whole law school thing, because no one at Seton Hall truly grasps his specialness. So while that's on hold, he's decided to enroll in the police academy. He wants to be the guy who makes all the sound effects with his mouth. Or something. This required him to shave his head. Everyone was all "Awww, look at your shaved head, haha, Albie got a haircut." And, uh, were we not ignoring the obvious? That Albie's hairlessness will soon not really be a choice, but an unavoidable fact? I know it's hard to think about our dappled sun spirit losing his thin, beautiful mane, but this is a fact of reality. Ah well. The shaved head works on him, so he is lucky. And as Caroline pointed out, just imagine him in a uniform! Ohhhh cinnamondicks will that be a tasty sangawich. "Officer Albie, here to inspect your... Uh... I'm here to have sex with you." Ooohhh! Steamy-weamy!

Ohhhhh do you hear that sexy music playing? Why oh why is that sexy music playing? Ohhh it's because Albie is lifting weights. Yes, we saw a ripple of muscle and sweat and strain last night as Albie (with newly regrown hair!) heaved heavy weights and grunted and glistened. Ohhhhhh. Of course then Caroline 2: The Revenge and slope-faced Failure had to come boundering in and ruin our sexy moment. "Hey Albie," they said, shielding their beady creature eyes from their brother's natural holy light. "Lifting weights I see," stinky Failure whined, his noodly limbs hanging like translucent strips of chicken fat from a boxy red T-shirt. Albie turned to them, cast a winning smile. "It's important to work out." Then Failure and Caroline 2 started doing pretend exercises and Albie chuckled. It was nice for him to be reminded occasionally of what normals are like. Just sad withered folks with hissy voices and rotted breath. Little weaklings, ineffectual nothings. He'd never be one of them. Heave! He can never be one of them. Heave! What about hairplugs? Heave! Maybe those would work? Heave! It's so much work being perfect. Heave! So very much work. Heave!

And then of course, as always, we come to Bouffant. Sad dumb lump of nougat Bouffant. The gum stuck under the table. It was time for her to trundle over to the Jersey court house to pick up her summons. Yes, Danielle is dragging her ass to court over Weavegate 2009 and Bouffant is just chuckling about it, bits of pink coconut tumbling out of her mouth. "Ha ha. I'm going to counter sue." This she kept saying. Counter sue. For what? "All the things she's done." You can't sue someone for things that they've done, just in general. "I'm suing you." "Why?" "Because you were so bad in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Andie MacDowell." "Oh. Nuts. Sued again." You just can't do it! Bouffant would know this if she ever paid attention to anything anywhere instead of just dressing herself up like An American Tail 3: Feivel Joins the Hobo Circus and pulling old women's woven hair. But she doesn't. She just puts on her patented SlouchHat™ and grins dumbly at all the dumb things that come her dumb way because of dumb things she's said or done, dumbly.

Jacqueline is understandably frustrated and her husband Chris has just taken to drinking, even though he is overcome with headaches. He lies in his bed, the shivering invalid, attended to by doctors who try to leech out the pain. Jacqueline sits by his bedside, mopping his warm brow with a cloth, softly singing "Sweet Hezekiah" to him. He weakly lifts a hand up, places it on Jacqueline's arm. "Wine..." he says in a tiny voice. "Please, wine..." So Jacqueline gets wine and then Bouffant flounces in and starts talking about counter suing again and then Chris's eyes flutters and he says "Ah me, I fleet off to heaven, sweet Lord", and he expires. Thanks a lot, Bouffant. Driving your stepdad to drink and die. Making your poor mother seek out private Me Time with Teresa of all people. Teresa! Have you met Teresa, Bouffant? She is not fun to have Me Time with. Unless you like your Me Time to be coloring in coloring books and talking about ladybugs while drinking wine. (Actually, that sounds like excellent Me Time. Rock on with yo' bad self, Jacqueline!) I don't know. I'm sort of sick of writing about how dumb and stupid and stupid and dumb bouffant is. Toonces, why don't you go take her for a drive and see what happens. Why don't you two just go do that.

OK, I think that's basically it. What a good time we had celebrating, huh? Birth and anniversary and someday death. At the Sweet Sixteen party there was some kind of antechamber, a strange hallway lit entirely in blue. I imagine that most of us are stuck in that blue room for most of our lives. Awash in faint sadness, hearing the thump and cheer of other, happier lives on the other side of the wall. What we don't know is that all that merriment is illusion. Sometimes even when we are in the the party room and we get our grand moment — when we are up on stage singing, being clapped for, swiveling eleven-year-old hips — we are wishing ourselves back to that quiet blue place. Where it is at least safe, where we can fumble along together, lost and wonderfully anonymous. And if we happen to trip over Officer Albie and land on top of him and he looks at us through the neon ocean light and he knows that he will forever be ours, well then, that's just gravy.

No more of this. I'm going to Italy tomorrow (to do very important research into the Housewives' heritage, naturally) so I won't be around next week to recap. Dame Brian Moylan from the Royal Housewives Institute will be covering my shift, so be kind to him and have fun.