We’ve seen the Real Housewives get dirty before. We’ve seen them get messy. We’ve seen them crawling through dirt and mud and slime and all sorts of other unfriendly substances. But last night was the first time that the mud slinging was actually literal. “Lit-rally,” as a Housewife would say, they were crawling through the filth, dragging each other down, down, deeper into the murk and laughing about it the whole time.
Yes, this wasn’t the first time that Tamra and Gretchen slimed each other, like some sort of bulbous incandescent creature from Ghostbusters, but it was the first that the filth was a real actual thing. It was mud, it was soil, it was the great goodness of the earth from which all bounty springs, and they were just rolling around in it like, well, like pigs in s**t.
This was for some sort of Mud Run, so it was intentional — it’s always intentional with these women. Tamra and her honeybear Eddie (I don’t call him that because they’re dating, I call him that because he looks like that plastic bear full of honey that you buy at the supermarket) invited couples Tamra and Slade and Heather and Terry to this charity event where everyone dresses up like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and then runs around some sort of race track occasionally dipping themselves into giant pits full of mud. It’s like a steeplechase for the fallen. Oh, that reminds me: Tamra’s oldest son Ryan, the one with the tattoo on his gums or his tongue or the inside of his cheek or some nonsense, was there too. Yay, family togetherness.
All of these smug, fit(ish) people are trotting around the course when Gretchen Rossi, ever fleet of foot and shrill of tongue, somehow falls and twists her ankle. Her ever chivalrous beau Slade Smiley laid down his jacket over the mud puddle, because he saw that in a Goofus and Gallant cartoon in Highlights: For Children while he was waiting for Gretchen in a doctor’s waiting room. “Honey. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” Gretchen intoned in a whine only the dogs in the neighborhood could hear as she made a grasping motion for Slade to lift her up. She had sprained her ankle and was so upset because she was going to the Big Bad Pussy Cat Jamboree in two weeks and she had to be prancing dancing and posing, not limping around like a fat girl with braces trying to not fail gym class.
Gretchen is out for the count and then on a later obstacle, Honeybear Eddie broke his finger. How the hell do you break your finger in mud? That’s like getting a concussion by headbutting a plate full of Jell-O. It just doesn’t make no sense. But luckily, Terry, Heather’s plastic surgeon husband was there. Eddie thinks it’s broken but Terry looks at it and twist it a bit and pops it back into place. “No, it was just dislocated. Make a fist.” Eddie makes a fist and it wasn’t broken. It was dislocated. How the hell do you dislocate a finger in mud? It’s like having to get stitches after catching a Nerf football. But Terry was funny about the whole thing. He was all, “You should still get it X-rayed. I mean, if you needed more Botox, I could help. But real medical emergencies, I’m kind of useless.” Ha! “More Botox.” That is a serious insult, Honeybear. Good thing his fist was broken.
At dinner the conversation, as it does, turns to cycling. Eddie starts talking about how he loves to ride his bicycle. Gretchen says, “Oh yeah, Slade rides a bike too,” and off in the distance two Shih Tzus perk up their ears and start to yip.
Slade says, “Yeah, I like to ride too. Back in high school, I was the cycling world champion. I almost didn’t graduate high school because I was so busy riding my bike and breaking the world speed record for bicycling. I even had my own brand of biking shorts called SLADE (all caps) and they were known for their support in the crotch, because I need a real lot of it, you know. Anyway, SLADE was my sponsor at the Tour duh France in ’93. And that was the toughest year of the competition ever. Lance Armstrong still had both his nuts and Henri Sacrement-Bisentine had finally kicked his Absinthe habit and, man could he cruise. He could really cruise. After shooting the cover of Cycle & Tire magazine, I had been training for months at the OTC, and… Oh, that’s the “Olympic Training Center” in Colorado Springs. I was training at the OTC and I really had my time down and I could go up hills and down hills and I could just ride my bike for hours and hours and everything would just fall away. It was just me and the pedals and the wheels and the pavement and it was like I was in church. No, it was like the world was church and I was god. Well, on the last day of the Tour — that’s what we called the Tour duh France — I was out of fresh pairs of SLADE biking shorts and I had to wear something else and it just … it didn’t have the support and my junk got in my way so bad that I blew my considerable lead and ended up in last place, all because of this monster. I mean, it is quite a curse to bear. But after that, I just had to give up my professional biking aspirations. It was, I was just too good. They couldn’t handle me. And now, here I am.” Slade looked down at himself covered in filth, sitting at a picnic table, “Here I am.”
“Oh, that’s such a nice story,” Miss Heather said, with an amused rictus spreading across her face.
“Yeah it was,” said Tamra. “But ’93, that was almost…”
“20 years ago,” she and Slade said at the same time before he said it again, still looking down, mumbling into his soiled crotch. “Almost 20 years ago.”
Oh, let us forget all about the Tragic Tale of Slade Smiley and let’s talk about better things, shall we? Let’s talk about Briana, Vicki’s daughter. I have always loved Briana and I would love to watch a reality show all about her, but it would be dreadfully boring. It would be about a normal, sweet, likable girl trying to make it in the world as a nurse. Snoresville. But what if the girl has a screeching death harpy for a mother? Well, that would be mildly interesting, but we’d rather watch the death harpy mom, now wouldn’t we? Wouldn’t we? This season has been tragic for Briana, whose protracted battle with tumors on her thyroid gland has been a recurring storyline. If this were a sitcom, we wouldn’t worry, because in the final act, after everyone had a good scare and a good laugh, the doctor would call and say, “Don’t worry, it’s not cancer. There was a mix up at the lab. You’re fine and healthy!” But this is reality. You can’t script something like cancer. You can’t produce it or set it up or feed it lines. It is either there or it is not, and so we are all very scared for Briana.
Meanwhile there was another lady in the hospital, and this time it was Alexis, who had a tampon removed from her face after it got lodged there when she was trying to play a joke on a her friends in middle school. It was just up there, stuck way up there. Being religious, Alexis prayed and prayed to her great lord Jesus Christ to take it out, to remove that O.B. from her sinus so that she could breathe again and that the string would stop tickling her tonsils. She prayed and prayed every day, and nothing happened. Finally she had to go get the tampon taken out and, you know, while they were in there, they might as well fix her nose to remove anything interesting about it. Alexis wanted her face to look like a McMansion: big, fancy, expensive, and completely indiscernible from everything else around it. Her face now looks like 74 Shady Cedars Lane. Congrats.
The final sad sad scene of our rather dirty evening is courtesy of Tamra Barney, who signed her divorce papers, finally. Simon, her ex, was such a jerkface, he really really was. It’s best that he not be involved with any women, and Tamra knows this. But still, endings are sad. They always are. Even with the hope of new beginnings there is something about the finality of an ending, that steep wall that is erected between you and the past. There is no going back, you are trapped in the uncertain future.
Tamra, being Tamra, goes in there all cocky and sure of herself and setting up her big celebration with the Honeybear later that night, but as soon as she sits down in the glass coffin of a conference room at her lawyer’s office, the tears start up and she tries to push the buttons, directly below the eyes, that all Housewives have installed to stop the crying. Those buttons never work. She’s trembling with sorry and her lawyer is concerned as she shakes a tissue and damns those tear buttons for not working. She finally reclaims her strength, however, when the lawyer asks her that she’s sure she wants to waive her rights to spousal support. She says she’s sure, she wants to find her independence from Simon, both spiritual and financial. Good for Tamra. Don’t take that jerkface’s money. You don’t owe him anything.
She signs the papers and heads off into the parking lot to call Vicki and her phone has the Louis Vuitton LV on the back too, but in rainbow. There they are, having a heart to heart and an LV to LV and Tamra starts to cry again. Vicki is supportive and offers the usual platitudes, but Tamra finally says, “Ok, I gotta go.”
Tamra gets into her car, with her sunglasses still on, her LV phone tucked away in her purse and she just sits there, enjoying the warmth your car gets when its been sitting in the sun a little bit. It lets her feel something, something other than sad. She thinks about all her kids – well, not Ryan, but the little ones. The ones she had with Simon, the ones she could be hurting now that she is dissolving this thing once and for all. Maybe she can go back. Maybe she can start over. Maybe she can try again and get it right this time. Maybe she learned her lesson. Maybe she’ll have him back. Maybe, one day, when all the kids are grown and functional and out in the world and she and Simon are still together they’ll be happy, not for the kids, but for themselves, happy that they worked through it all and finally got to this place, old together somewhere in a condo overlooking the sea which the sun always seems to be setting into. That’s what she’s thinking in the warmth of the car, stewing in a vat of maybe.
She digs for that LV phone and holds it in her hand. She pushes the button at the bottom, navigates her thumb to the brown, square contacts icon. S-I-M and there it pops up. Simon’s number. Right there on her screen. Just a tap away. Just one tap and she can get it all back: the kids, the family, the eternal sunset. Her hand starts shaking again, holding the phone. She’s trembling there in the warm interior of her car and she tries to touch the screen, she tries to tap it, but with the shaking, she just can’t hit her target. Again Tamra tried to connect with Simon and has failed. She has already failed and there’s no going back. She puts her fingers up to her eyes and pushes those tear buttons again, dragging her fingertips across them, blotting out the wet. “Screw it,” she says, tossing her phone back at her purse in the passenger seat. “Screw him,” she says, plopping her sunglasses back on her face and turning the key in the ignition. More:‘Real Housewives of OC’ Recap: Vicki and Gretchen Throw Down‘Real Housewives of OC’ Recap: Surgeries Galore and Helicopter Rush Hour‘Real Housewives of OC’ Recap: Tamra’s 80s Party Gets Ugly