Have you ever been to Ojai? No, neither have I. But I have seen it on television, with its sherbert-colored mansions and golf courses, with its fancy restaurants with too-big chairs, with its badminton courts and tequilla shots. Ojai looks like a wonderful place for the wealthy to relax and smear mud all over themselves and then scratch and claw at the wall-to-wall carpeting when they’ve had far too much alcohol. That is what Ojai looks likes. There are no shade trees, just shade.
Anyway, we start back at dinner with Brandi telling Adrienne the Queen of the Maloofs (a type of persimmon tree that grows beneath the mountain) to “shut the Frusen Glädjé up” and everyone freaked out. It’s like she walked over to Adrienne’s house, slit the throat of one of her kids and sat back down at the table and smiled like nothing happened. Yes, Brandi is a little rough around the edges and she should have been a little bit nicer, but her sentiment was in the right place. She was defending Kim and letting Adrienne and everyone else know not to call attention to her tears (also to keep people from thinking she is the one who made Kim cry). Lisa, of course, can’t convince Kyle of this because Kyle Richards never met a high horse that she didn’t climb on bareback, snatch onto its mane, and ride across the beach splashing little bits of water on her shoulders through the holes in her Roman sleeves.
Then Lisa has to run off to the bathroom to tell Brandi that she has to apologize. Yes, everyone was in the bathroom. The one thing I will never understand about Real Housewife meals is that, at any give time, there are more chairs vacant than there are chairs filled. Kim Richards is crying in the bathroom, which, let’s face it, is normal and is something that has happened at every single dinner party Kim Richards has ever attended. She just thinks this is what happens after the soup course. The rest of these bitches have no recourse.
They all return to the table and Lisa forces Brandi to apologize and she says, “I’m sawwwy I said the eff word.” And Adrienne says, “Apology accepted.” It is like they are eight years old and Lisa is Mary Poppins and they need a little sugar to help the medicine go down. The sugar is booze and the medicine is booze. Lisa just plies them with booze.
Then it’s time for fight number two. Brandi takes a call from her literary agent which prompts her to tell everyone she got a book deal that day. No one says congratulations. No one is even that happy really, save Lisa. Everyone is just still huddling under the raincloud of Brandi’s eff word getting drenched to the bone. Finally someone begrudging asks what the book is about. “Divorce,” Brandi says with her head down and in a quiet voice. It sounds like she is putting her toe onto a mine and testing just how much weight she can put on it before it blows up. Of course it does. Taylor goes into some passive aggressive meditaiton and then bombards Brandi with some screaming about how Brandi can’t write about her divorce because Brandi gave Taylor flak about her book coming out.
OK, I’m going to break it down for you. Sally and Jane are both married. Sally’s husband leaves her for a shitty country singer. Jane’s husband dies. A month later, Sally starts dating another guy. A month later Jane starts dating another guy. Which one is wrong? Obviously the one with the dead husband! They engaged in exactly the same behavior, but that doesn’t mean that the same behavior needs the same results, because the context is totally different. If these ladies, who are always going on about when it’s OK to talk to people about certain things, know one thing, that thing is context. Once everyone chews this over in their maw and coats it with a fine film of saliva, Lisa Poppins makes everyone toast Brandi. They all do reluctantly, Kyle Richards raising a glass of water like she’s throwing her hands up in the hair. With her glass still raised Adrienne says, “Well, I have a book deal too. I just haven’t told anyone about it, so…” and she raises her glass with a smirk to meet everyone else’s and they all just stare and grumble at her and Kyle Richards folds her arms and sinks lower in her giant chair. The couple at the table next to them make a face like the Beef Bourguignon is rancid. Adrienne purses her lips and shrugs her left shoulder and finishes her cocktail in one long gulp before slamming her glass down on the table.
The next morning all is forgotten, though none of it is forgiven. The women get up and go on a hike and then they get in their Bentley golf carts and chase each other around the golf course, laughing and hollering, hooting and cavorting, careening and preening, and skidding and slidding. God, they were doing lots of verbs in conjuction with other verbs and Lisa was trying to outrun Yolanda Bananas Foster, and Bananas was having none of it. But it was a good game. Then all the women go into some sort of tiled sauna room and are given mud to smear all over themselves. The only thing St. Camille Grammer did all episode was put mud on her leg. She sat in her chaise and raised her leg up ninety degrees so that her calf was parallel to the floor and she caressed her skin. She worked both hands over that leg like she was in a lotion commercial. She did it again and again and all the women started on in amazement and fell to their knees and bowed their heads to her majestic beauty. Oh, and then she reminded everyone that she had her children through a surrogate and, well, would you look at her tight, scar-free body?
After that divine moment and a few scenes were the women worried that being naked together and smearing each other with mud would look to lesbianical, everything fell to bits. They started throwing the mud at each other and then throwing towels at each other and then throwing water at each other as they skittered and screamed like a pack of moneys fleeing a gunfight. I have never seen a more apt summation of this whole show in one scene.
Now we have to talk about Bananas. She is crazy, and obviously has no clue what show she is on. Well, it’s like she refuses to admit that she is a Real Housewife but is the crown jewel of the Housewives tiara. At the first dinner where Brandi told Adrienne to Frankie and Annette herself, Bananas said, “There seems like there is a lot of old stuff that has been never resolved.” Um, you think? Kim Richards is a stachel of old stuff that hasn’t been resolved and her sister Kyle opens that satchel up every time she looks at her. This show is all about settling old scores, rehashing ancient fights, and storing wounds in a little jar so that you get in a scrap you can open it up and shake them all out on the table with a little jingle like they’re buffalo nickels.
Next we have to talk about what she’s wearing. Bananas always looks like she is the “older” model in an ad for the Gap. She looks nice and sophistocated, but she only ever wears jeans and white button down shirts. She also dresses appropriately for occassions. When they go to play badminton, she wears athletic gear and the rest of the women look like they’ll be spendign the afternoon on the sundeck of some yacht in St. Tropez. Kyle is wearing a completely sheer brown caftan with a black bathingsuit underneath it, so all you can see are her dark boobs and crotch coming at you in a diaphanous fog. Yolanda is wearing her favorite designer, Lulu Lemon. Doesn’t she know every occasion is a reason to overdress to impress? Then she says that she doesn’t like being around drunk women. Um, hello! These women subsist only on white wine and regret. They actually feed on it, and you don’t want to be around their rose-fueled antics? That’s like a sailor saying he doesn’t like the waves.
But Bananas is also super Real Housewivesy. After their second dinner when Brandi is passing out the Patron shots we learn the reason why Bananas doesn’t drink is because she is having lamb fetuses injected into her back. If you could see my face right now my eyes have been replaced by ! and ! and my mouth is just dribbling blood and drool all over the keyboard. This lady is getting lamb fetuses injected into her back and that is why she can’t drink. How are you going to try to pretend like you are better than these women? You are basically Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her and you’ve had a spear chucked right through your midsection and you think that somehow you are better than these screech monkeys because you wear jeans and don’t get drunk? You, Yolanda Bananas Foster, you are a lamb murderer!
Yolanda goes to bed and Kim Richards, afraid of the Patron shots, decides to join her. Kim walks over to her room and shuts the door and does her toilette, smearing Vaseline Intensive Care all over her hands and face and breathing the scent in deep. It reminds her of her mother, always there to push her at auditions, always there when she was filming, always there to get thrown off the set. But no, Kim wasn’t going to think of that. She was on vacation in Ojai. She brought everyone here and they were having a good time and she finally did something right. She crawled into bed and rolled over onto her stomach with her arms tight underneath her. The room was dark. The night was quiet. And still.
Then she heard it, a soft thud, then a louder thud, and then peels of uncontrolled laughter that wouldn’t stop, the kind of laughter that goes on for so long that it hurts your gut and makes it hard to breathe. What is going on with the women upstairs? And why can’t she be there, Kim wonders. She loves a party. She’s always loved a party. Maybe she needs to be up there. Maybe she needs to be with them to heal.
She goes upstairs ever so quietly she walks toward Taylor’s room, where all the girls are playing. She hides on the stairs as they run and jump and do handstands and fall onto the bed, each time the room erupting as they topple off their hands, bounce on the bed, and then slide to the floor. Now that they’ve all taken turns, they are inside the room, so Kim moves closer. Brandi and Taylor are on the ground arm wrestling. Don’t they hate each other? Why are they being friends? See, this is all it takes to get over the anger, some time together and a few drinks.
Brandi is beating Taylor, but Taylor cheats and uses two hands to defeat Brandi. Then she gives Brandi a big kiss with her impossibly full lips. It lingers a little longer than it should. Before it can go further, Adrienne announces it is her turn. Every time Brandi gets an advantage, Adrienne bends her wrist and makes victory impossible. She’s always changing the rules, shifting the fight. Kim is about to barge in there and join the fun. But what should she say? Should she go with a silly, “OK, girls, break it up!” She should go with an indignant, “God, keep it down.” Should she go with a self-depricating, “Guys, even when I was at my drunkest you should have still woken me up.”
No, none of those. What should she say, what should she do? She wants so badly to be in that room, lying on the bed with the rest of them, the comforter fluffed about her, getting warm with her weight. But she can’t. At least that’s what they told her. She can’t be around the party without wanting to party. Or can she? Maybe she can. She should try. And she steels up her resolve to walk in there, but her legs won’t move. What if they think she’s crazy? What if they think she’s odd?
She goes back down the stairs and should go to her room. The night light is on in the kitchen and it seems to get brighter every time the women laugh upstairs, as if their happiness is fueling it, keeping the glow going. She sees the bottle sitting there on the counter, the Patron with three sips left. It’s catching the light in such a way that it is both brighter and darker than the rest of the room, both illuminated and shadowed. She doesn’t get so close to it that she touches it, but thats’ what it feels like in her mind. The decision is not to go upstairs or go to bed, it’s to touch that bottle or not. That was always the only decision she ever made, the hardest decision she always made, even when it was easy. Even when it was just a party and she needed a little something to get through and it was no big deal and she was having fun. It was easy and it was so hard. It could be easy again, she thinks, standing still but feeling like she’s moving because there is so much going on in her mind.
Finally, without even thinking about it, her body decides for her and she starts walking toward her room. “Go to bed, you crazy ladies,” she yells not quite loud enough. But no one hears her. Kim never hears the party stop.
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[Photo Credit: Bravo]