Part Two of the Rumble in the Not-Bronx unfolded last night, with Housewife emotions running high, pizzas lying cold and uneaten on fancy tablecloths, and pretty much no concrete truths revealed or illuminated. So, typical Housewife fight.
We began in medias res, with more honking about the stupid fight we didn't see (did Kyle say something hurtful, if vastly true, about Camille?) and the even stupider fight we did see. Camille is very insecure about people calling her insecure, thus proving, of course, that she is totally secure in herself. Totally! Ha ha ha! Nothing to see here! Just another completely secure lady, doing things securely. HOW DARE YOU CALL HER INSECURE???? OH GOD WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO SUCH A SECURE WOMAN??? So at first it was just Camille and Kyle going at it like a pair of blast-ended skrewts (HarryPotter HarryPotter HarryPotter...) but then everyone began to get sucked into the terrible vortex.
Kyle seemed to want her sad sister Kim to jump into the fray to defend her, and Camille started implying that Taylor and Lisa were also talking about how insecure she was on the way over to New York, because Taylor told her so. Taylor stared dumbly at everyone and made that tragic, unmoving facial expression that she makes, staring Kim down, each believing the other to have gotten the whole insecurity ball rolling at the airport. As we saw in a flashback clip, they'd both started it, both were complicit. And, in fact, Lisa and Kyle had been talking about it at the airport too. So as it turns out, every other Housewife on the show, save the Maloof, has said that Camille is insecure at some point, so maybe that should make Camille think a thing or two about a thing or two. But thinking is not Camille's forte — though she acts as if it is, using big words she thinks she knows (that Kelsey taught her?) incorrectly, saying "Machiavellic", pretending to read The Art of War — so she just wanted to run with the narrative that all these women were crazy and jealous and that they all wanted what she had and what she had was perfect and couldn't possibly be criticized and how dare anyone how dare anyone call her insecure, she is not insecure, she is not insecure, she is not insecure.
This hellish roundelay continued on for a little longer, until Taylor told Kim that she was gonna "take her outside and go Oklahoma on her ass" (hahaha, what?? can Taylor even move her limbs at this point? she certainly has trouble walking and doing anything but keeping her face completely stiff and forward-looking) and everyone rolled their eyes and cleared their throats uncomfortably at that, and then Lisa was like "Aight, we out Kyle, we out." And so they were out. The Housewives all left Serafina, their food barely eaten, and a glum looking waiter walked up to the table with the bill in hand and upon seeing no one there, begin to softly cry, because this was his second dine-and-dash in as many months and he was going to have to pay for this out of pocket, and then he wouldn't be able to make rent on his own so he'd have to call home to Indianapolis and ask for another loan and he'd practically be able to hear his dad shaking his head over the phone, then his mom would come on the line and say "It's OK, honey, it's OK. He's just still getting used to this whole acting school thing. I'll send the money, don't worry, I have a little saved. I'll send the money. Anyway. How's that roommate of yours, Jared? Did you guys ever manage to find a two bedroom, or do you still have to share?" But luckily a weary Bravo cameraman handed the poor waiter a credit card to cover the dinner, so at least there was some peace and justice that evening. At least there was that.
The next day it was time to pick up pieces, time to regather strength, time to assess and plan. Camille went to go see some true "friends." These true, dear, dear "friends" are people she pays to dab at her face with chemicals and fry-dry her already very fry-dried hair. Such good friends! I love paying my friends to groom me while I sit in a chair all hood-lidded and talk only of myself. The friends in this case were some dour looking brown haired woman (between this lady and the tennis instructor's wife, I'm beginning to see a pattern of Camille deliberately surrounding herself with the mousy and plain) and your typical Sassy Gay So-and-So, there to do her makeup and talk vaguely of bigotry and gay bashing in his native Kentucky as a way of empathizing with Camille. Don't worry, warred-upon Housewives. It gets better. (Though, not for you Camille, it would seem.) Camille smiled that drowsy smile of hers and she decided and declared that you know what? Kyle is just jealous. That's all it is. She can't possibly understand why Kyle would be jealous, she said with that hideous smirk of hers, but that's the only possible answer. The only reason someone would gently criticize you is because they are insanely jealous of you. You are that secure. That's just how it is. Sassy Gay So-and-So did a Kentucky "Mmhmmm" and the mousy brown haired girl stared out the window at the quiet, moving city and thought sadly of her friend, a waiter at Serafina, who would never love her the way she wanted. She'd decided this just the night before, when they met at the Lincoln Center fountain after his shift and she could see how itchy he was to get home to Jared. And all she wanted to do was curl up in that wonderful round hollow of his collarbone and sleep there forever, but she knew she couldn't, probably never could. Oh well. Ah well. The brown world moves on.
Meanwhile Oklahoma Sue and the gang went to lunch at Brasserie Cognac and had a bunch of baskets of fried calamari, which they picked at listlessly while they rehashed the evening prior and planned for the big theater opening that night. Should Kyle go? She didn't know. She left a voicemail for Camille sorta apologizing and Camille had texted her back saying "Sure, what the fuck," but what did that really mean? What did any of it really mean? For her part, Kim is a sad lunatic, so she went out at some point, in the still of the lonely night perhaps, and purchased sparkly friendship bracelets for all of the girls. What a sad gift they were! She handed them out quietly at the lunch table, clutching the black boxes with trembling hands, eyes cast downward, a density of ghosts stuck in her throat. Taylor tried to smile and say "Prettyyyy" but all that happened was that her lips parted a single millimeter and a strange soft humming sound came vibrating out of the small opening. Lisa genially added the sparkly bracelet to the thirty pounds of sparkly jewelry she already had on and gave Kim the eye equivalent of an approving pat on the head from across the table. Kyle, though, was not able to show her restless older sister any gratitude. She was still smarting from last night, when Kim refused to rush to her defense. So she said as much at the lunch table and they got to bickering about that, while Lisa threw up her hands and said "Oh for fuck's sake..." and Taylor stared blankly straight ahead, some unknowable parade of circus peanuts and hat-wearing elephants circling around and around inside her head, her face unable to register any of it.
Then it was time for the opening! Of course Kyle decided (was probably forced) to go to the opening night, and when she arrived in her blindingly white bird dress, she was greeted frostily by Camille, who was putting on a grand show of holding court at this, her big opening. Except, oh wait! That's right! She was doing nothing but sitting there, it was her husband who was performing the lead role on the Broadway, not her. Oh well, minor detail. Camille had done the red carpet, forcing reporters to ask her questions, and then she curled into her seat and cozied up next to... that nefarious tennis instructor! Yes, he was there, strangely wifeless, to be Camille's headrest for the evening. So we can all be on the same page, let's acknowledge what is going on here: The tennis pro is clearly after some money, and his dour wife is clearly in on it. "Go, go spend time with her. You gotta do this honey. You gotta do it. We owe so much. They're going to kill us, honey. Didn't you hear them, we're gonna be buried in some unmarked shallow graves out in the desert if we don't pay them. So you go fuck that bobbleheaded bitch and you don't come back until you've gotten that money, you hear me? You hear me? [she slaps him] Huh? You like that? [she slaps him again] I swear to fucking Christ I will give you lovin' like you've never had if you go out there like a man and provide for your family. You use what God gave you. You go and out and fucking be a man. For us." That's what the wife says every time before he goes out and whores himself to Camille. It's a sad, exciting story.
Anyway, yeah, Kyle got the cold shoulder at the top of the show, much like Camille got the cold shoulder from the Kels afterwards. (There was a brief interlude during intermission when all the girls went to the bathroom and then scurried back to their seats once they heard the music starting up again, and of course Kim got left behind, of course.) Camille went to Kelsey's dressing room and he was not unkind, but certainly distant. The whole thing was awkwardly formal and uneasy, it's like they've never really spoken, never had that relaxed familiarity with each other that couples are supposed to have, that the Serafina waiter and Jared have when he comes flopping home from work and lies down on the bed and doesn't need to say anything for Jared to know that he's had a bad day, so they lie there in silence, Jared stroking his hair softly, the blue hush of a bright sign outside filling their room with a calm, safe, watery light. There is none of that with Camille and Kelsey, it is only formality and stiff routine. I can't tell if Camille knows it or not. If she does know it, I think she thinks it's still enough, that there needn't be more, if she can just hold on to this tiny edge of land, then the whole kingdom is still hers. I thinks she thinks that. Oh well. Ah well.
There was the after party and Kyle was stressed about what Kelsey would act like around her, and of course Kelsey was perfectly friendly and pleasant, because Kelsey Grammer doesn't give a shit about whatever dumb Housewife drama is going on, plus Camille and Kelsey probably didn't even talk about it, because they don't seem to talk like real married people. Kelsey asked everyone if they were all on the trip sans husbands, and of course sad Kim had to raise her twiggy hand and say "I don't have a husband," and thus she'd once again laid her sour pickle juice blanket of discomfort over the proceedings and everyone shifted and squeaked in the leather banquette, Kelsey saying something jokey and charitable, the lights of the club or bar or whatever swirling above them. Then there was dancing, furious sad dancing, the kind the ancients used to do after war, and then the sun popped up and reminded them all that it was time to go home. In the limo on the way to the airport, Kim asked the girls sadly if they wouldn't mind setting her up on some dates. Taylor attempted to clap and say "Sounds fun!" (a nearly unnoticeable twitch of an arm, a stuttered mewling noise) even though she later told the confessional camera that she has no intention of associating with Kim. They don't get along. They see in each other the same elaborate sadness, the same gilded loneliness, and they do not like to be reminded of it. Going all Oklahoma on one's ass probably means sharing a desperate cry in an alleyway behind Serafina, and Taylor did not want to do that, she is so glad she did not have to do that with Kim.
Before the girls get back to Beverly Hills, let's take a second to remember that we saw the husbands this week too. Kyle's strapping Italian pastrami man took the girls to the backyard pool and they bounced around there, doing nothing offensive or strange, it was just regular family time. Russell, on the other hand, was tasked with watching over the strange little Kennedy for the whole weekend. As my sister pointed out to me last night, what an odd but lovable pale child this Kennedy is! She's got the pallid, weakling look of cloistered wealth, as if she should be roaming around some dark English manor, saying "Mother says I'm not to go outside" or "Mother says the village children are no good for me to play with." Things like that. She's wonderful and Romantic and funny. Russell tried to make her lunch, failing miserable, and it was oddly charming, Russell seemed human and almost normal. Isn't it so sad on these shows how sometimes (not every time, certainly) the men who are so terrible with their wives are good with their children, to know that they are, of course, capable of love, just not for the blonde stick totems next to them? How unhappy these families are. They are all unhappy in the exact same way.
Anyway, it was back to California and time for more rehashing. The Maloof came tottering over in ridiculous heels to get the scoop from Lisa, and, apparently, Cedric. Oh Ceddy, what were you doing there, huh? He was saying things like "We'll have to see" and "We have no idea," as if he was involved in any of this. I mean, I suppose he tangentially is, in some curious way, but he really placed himself in a central position in this Maloofian scene and I just find it funny and uncomfortable in a van Kempian way. I'm ready for Cedric to break out and have the story line they're clearly trying to prepare us for. I want Cedric to have his moment, his Goblet of Fire. (HarryPotterHarryPotterHarryPotter...) The Maloof was typically Maloofian — uninteresting, facially unmoving, still rich, still comfy in that richness, still maybe a little unsure what she's doing on this show. I've no beef, I've no maloof, with the Maloof. Her husband is an unpleasant other matter, but let's not dwell on that.
We end today with Camille. Back in her mansion, Kelsey still merrily warbling far away in New York, the tennis pro there in her kitchen, listening to her tale of woe. Even though I'm fairly certain he'd already heard it in New York? No matter. Camille spilled it out again and the tennis pro nodded, dug one fingernail into the palm of his hand to remind himself that he was still alive, that this was all for a good cause, for his wife back home, for his real family. He nodded as sweetly and concerned-looking as he could muster and Camille made her case to him, about why Kyle, and in theory all other women, treat her the way that they do. And then she told us, the viewers at home. She rattled off a list of Kelsey Grammer's credentials — hit shows, Emmys, Golden Globes, etc. — and she said "So, it's a little bit more than your run-of-the-mill Beverly Hills realtor," referring, obviously, to Kyle's husband. How Machiavellic! There it was, huh? Just laid bare. She couldn't keep it in any longer. Women are jealous of her because listen to how amazing her husband is, listen to all of these things her husband has done that she, really, has nothing to do with! Isn't he better, isn't he more important than some stupid realtor? And then, she added with that same sinful smirk, "I guess we'll have to be changing realtor's won't we," in this girlish, shitty, punitive way that was just so disgusting. I mean, guys, she's really gross, this Camille character. That woefully misplaced look of victory written all over her face, in her dull twinkle eyes, in that thin smile of hers. She really thinks she's got it all and got it in spades. Look at her, flaunting her houses, her famous husband, her tennis instructor she can flirt with, consequence free. Isn't she so lucky? Aren't we all so jealous? Look how secure she is! Look how secure. Don't we all want to be that secure?
After the tennis pro left, Camille did a lazy wander through her mansion, admiring all the nice things her luck had afforded her. Tiny baubles on mantles that cost thousands of dollars. Sofas only a millionaire could afford. Smooth marble floors, warm rich lighting. How lucky and above everything, everyone, else she was. She opened the french doors and walked out onto the balcony, saw the browning valley stretched out before her, then the ocean, cold and navy in the distance. What a life, huh! What a life she'd wiggled her way into. It was hers, it was hers forever. Jetting between California and New York, just like that, private plane, done with ease. She could do that. Kelsey, her ticket, wasn't so far away. And the money was closer, there at the snap of a finger, there for even less than a snap, there with a breath, with a blink. All the money she could ever want.
Camille stood on the deck staring out, thinking these pleasing, deeply secure thoughts, so carried away by her own sense of having wanted something and actually gotten it, what a win that felt like, that she didn't notice the small flock of black birds that came swooping in, out of the East. That circled and settled down on her lawn and then stood, all of them, staring up at the blonde creature on the balcony, cawing at her, looking her over, trying to tell her something with those beady black eyes about the darkening future. Camille didn't notice, could not see an obvious sign, or maybe refused to see it. California to New York and back again and Camille, I'm afraid, didn't even notice the time change.
And somewhere in New York, back in that crowded place, Jared walked up a wide avenue, headed somewhere, some small thing, some piece of a day, and his phone made a chirp, not a caw, and he fished it out of his pocket and looked at the screen and it was a message from the waiter, a simple sentence, but all that Jared, he thought then, would ever need. "I just want you to know that I love you."
That's all there was to say.