There are certain actions so egregious that one cannot ever adequately atone for having participated in them. This assortment of garbage behavior runs the gamut, from eating the very last bakery cookie – the one I was saving to nibble while watching Southern Charm, though I swear this is a purely fictitious example and I didn’t recently go ape-shit on anyone – to locking children in cages, right here on U.S. soil. Yes, there is a wide range of misdeeds on the YOU ARE NOT MISTAKEN; I REALLY AM THIS DISGRACEFUL OF A HUMAN BEING list, and somewhere smack in the middle of said list is the choice to willfully hock a gigantic loogie onto someone’s head from a balcony.
I saw a quiz on Buzzfeed this week that allows you to, through a series of questions, determine which Vanderpump Rules character you happen to be. I didn’t take it. I mean, what if my answer to one of the questions veered to the sociopathic and I came back a Jax or – horror of fucking horrors – what if the questions reveal I’m a closeted lunatic and I subsequently get deemed a Kristen? But a quiz I probably would be brave enough to take would be about which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor I’d be, and though I fully expect the answer would be Half Baked, I’m also fine hearing I’m a Karamel Sutra.
I bring up the concept of ice cream now for two reasons:
1. I think it wise that your mind embrace something sweet before watching this installment of Ex On the Beach because this is a straight hour of people behaving like the kind of hot garbage a cat with a bladder infection just pissed directly on.
2. Alicia yammers away at one point about flavors and I’ve already decided she is the walking manifestation of Ben & Jerry’s Fairly Nuts.
A student showed up at my classroom door just last week looking for help with a college essay. And in case your reaction to this news is some version of “Isn’t the middle of June a ridiculous time to begin working on an admissions essay?” please rest assured that your response is entirely appropriate and the only degree this particular kid will probably end up earning will be a Bachelor’s in Procrastination – and it will likely take him six years to complete. I had two options. I could remind him that I’d offered to help him write this very essay way back in October and now, in June, my mind has shut down along with my compassion or I could just go ahead and help. As I don’t really want to take any chances that this guy will still be wandering the hallways of my school next year, I sat him down and inquired about the prompt to which the university had asked him to respond. It was fairly straightforward:
What advice would you give your younger self?
It’s time to take stock, don’t you think? As the very willing participants of Ex On the Beach limp, crawl, or twerk their way towards the finish line, we should really see how things are shaping up before these people land with an unceremonious thud back in the Real World, a place where flags emblazoned with their faces will not rise in the distance and acting like an unrepentant asshole can have consequences like prison or the presidency.
With only a few episodes of Ex On the Beach left to go, I find myself wondering: what will become of the villa itself? Though I have not wasted one centile of a millisecond contemplating the future of the relationships hatched like tubs of doomed Sea Monkeys in that house, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the house itself and the relics that will undoubtedly be left behind. I’m just being pragmatic here. Not only do some members of this cast strike me as incompetent when it comes to impersonating human beings, but don’t they also strike you as incompetent packers? I’m therefore imagining half-squeezed tubes of kiwi-flavored lube shoved under beds and shorts that do not cover the labia piled high in the corner of the bedroom closet. I’m betting almost-empty bottles of booze – the only liquid remaining a cocktail of backwash and whatever dribbled out of Faith’s ass crack during her last booty shot of the season – will dot every countertop. There will be a bounty of shit left behind (of this I am certain) and I would like to implore the cleaning crew to not sell any of it on eBay. Sure, there are some crazy people out there who would probably love to tack a used condom filled with the DNA of an MTV “star” up in their basement, but for the sake of humanity in general, can I please make a recommendation? Can the crew instead gather all the crap they find, dig a hole at least sixteen feet deep, and bury that pathetic collection in the ground by only the waxy light of a very full moon? And can they chant words like “Gucci!” or shriek sentences like “Angela needs an exorcism!” as they pile mounds of dirt back on top of the hole in an effort to protect all of civilization? I realize such an act will require a ton of work, so if the chanting and the digging are too much, perhaps the forgotten shit can just be heaved into one of those currently simmering volcanoes. Any geologist who has seen even ten short seconds of this show will totally understand.
I like to imagine the producers of Ex On the Beach sitting in a large conference room somewhere. I can see it like it’s blaring in Technicolor: leather chairs surround a mahogany table that’s so shiny, the producers can gaze upon their own reflections when they collectively – albeit briefly – glance down in utter shame for what they’re putting forth into the world. Perched around the room are monitors displaying rough footage the imbedded crew has already captured of the spray-tanned human rats scurrying around that maze of a Hawaiian villa. Swigging coffee or some sort of detox juice blended into a green froth by a team of assistants, our producers watch the proceedings unfold and then high-five one another with glee because the audible they called just last week – the one that allowed the exes to do the voting – worked out exactly as they’d intended. Sure, they could have edited 1,600 more hours of Tor’i and Angela breaking up and then redeclaring their undying devotion to one another into several bile-inducing montages, but what the wisest of producers know is that people tune into these shows for conflict. And viewers constantly want new conflict. They want hefty conflict, conflict that comes with stakes and maybe even a body count. Viewers of shows like this one crave more than a woman storming into rooms and slamming doors while wearing white leggings that highlight her ass crack. They require more than a heavily muscled man’s dawning understanding that he voluntarily cuddled up to a lunatic. Though that sort of footage has certainly driven the storyline up until now – seriously, did anyone even remember Paulie was in that house until he showed up on camera a few times during the last episode? – we now demand a bevy of brand spanking new conflicts so the producers of this show are delivering them unto us like they are storks carrying basketfuls of teething babies who will one day pop Adderall for sport. And the first words these babies will say? Well, I expect to hear some version of “Derrick is seriously fucked” stated in unison.
I recently read a story about a woman who was arrested after sending 65,000 text messages to a man with whom she’d gone on a single date. Wrapped in a noose-like psychosis, she would send around 500 texts a day to this guy. A few of the texts were probably sweet, you know, in a deranged sort of way, but others included lines about how she wanted to bathe in his blood. When she was finally tossed in jail for stalking, she happily gave interviews where she spoke of her deep love for a person she’d spent one evening with and then she widened her scope of conversation to blather about the Illuminati. Some reporters deigned to inquire about why she broke into that guy’s house and then proceeded to take a bubble bath, but those were questions she didn’t really care to answer.
As for my reactions to this horrifying urban-legend-come-true, they were as follows:
1. I once sent four texts to someone without receiving a response. In my defense, text number one was a regular text. Text number two was an “everything okay?” text because it was rare for him not to respond quickly. Text number three was sent because I thought maybe he died and I was hoping his corpse would respond so I could officially come to terms with his demise. And text number four? That one was sent because I’d started wishing him dead and such feelings briefly caused me to embrace the crazy. Sending four texts without getting a single response made me feel lightheaded, probably from the loss of all that dignity, and though my brief dance with hysteria pales in comparison to the loon now incarcerated, hearing her story helped settle in me a deep resolve that I will never again send someone another text if I haven’t heard back from him. Lesson fucking learned.
2. My second reaction was to stare hard at the picture of the woman who enjoys fantasizing about smoothing platelets of blood from a guy she dated once across her dewy skin to make sure I wasn’t looking at a picture of Angela from Ex On the Beach.
Should you ever find yourself stranded on a desert island with me, you’d be in luck. I was sent to sleepaway camp when I was only six years old and back then we learned real shit, like how to forage through the forest for sustenance and build fires. (Years later, I’d also learn at camp how to give a killer blowjob, but that’s really a tale for another day.) Anyway, I can collect you a leaf filled with berries that probably won’t kill you and then strip birch bark into kindling to keep us warm as we wait for either actual help or for the leader of The Others to arrive. And while we recline beside that roaring fire, I can take your mind off stressful things – you know, like forever solitude – by quoting entire movies. I am well aware that, in civilization, this quality of mine may not be deemed so adorable, but on a barren beach where there’s no Netflix? My friend, I will be like a God. Included in my personal repertoire is the full John Hughes collection. I can give you all of Caddyshack. I can Triple Lindy into Back to School, call you “Twin” after performing Overboard, and recite all of Pulp Fiction – and not just Ezekiel 25:17; I’m not some amateur. But should you find yourself still feeling blue due to concerns about imminent starvation, I will calm those nerves by launching into Clue. I will play all the characters. I’ll hold a petrified starfish by one of its spiked points and pretend it’s a knife to perform the part where Wadsworth explains how the cook was murdered. Clue is guaranteed to elicit at least a giggle while we huddle beneath palm fronds whispering comforting affirmations to one another about how it all could be worse because at least now we will never have to buy coconut water and, though we may never see electricity or good porn again, at least we are not stuck in that psychologically-haunted villa in Hawaii with anyone from Ex On the Beach.
Remember when this show first started and eight people most of us had never heard of crawled – evolution style – out of the ocean and wandered into a house stuffed with alcohol, cameras, and the scent of desperation? Remember how Angela and Tor’i took one glance at each other, ripped their clothing off, and ended up doing it – probably doggie style – while their new roommates listened from the kitchen? Remember how Angela’s ex showed up the next day and tossed the lawn furniture into the pool – douchebag style – because he once heard that’s how morons who dream of being on reality shows express frustration? You guys? Those were the good old days.
It was late October – Halloween morning – and by 7:30 AM, I’d already seen four guys (including my Vice Principal) dressed as Superman. The troopers from Reno 911 stopped by and I posed for a picture with them before they entered the Journalism class next door. I caught a glimpse of a girl in the distance wearing a classic yellow raincoat and holding an open umbrella over her head with stuffed dogs and cats dangling off of it – she was the walking manifestation of it raining cats and dogs – while two bananas, twelve babies in pajamas clutching dolls and pacifiers, the entire cast of Scooby Doo and someone besides me who was also dressed like Cookie Monster rushed to get to class on time. I was wearing a royal blue tutu the color of my favorite character’s fur. I’d affixed chocolate chip cookie-shaped pins along the hem of the skirt and paired it all with a matching tank top, a little black sweater, and a sequined black belt to give the whole thing some definition. I completed the look with four-inch heels. The other Cookie Monster wore a plush onesie that zipped comfortably up the front. Her costume had a hood with Cookie’s eyes affixed to it while I wore a headband topped with eyes of the same style. That headband was squeezing my skull like a vice and giving me the closest thing I’d ever had to a migraine and it took maybe everything I had not to approach this stranger and persuade her to switch clothing with me right there in the middle of the hallway. But head throbbing and foot clenching aside, I liked my costume. I’d gone way more elaborate with my costumes in the past. There were years I was up before the sun, applying the darkest eyeliner and the blackest lips I’ve ever walked out of the house wearing to look like a goth-y witch or a fallen fairy or something equally as ridiculous just so I could have an excuse to experiment with makeup. Not all of my experiments went well. Once I caught sight of myself in the rearview mirror and, for a sudden shocking second, I thought maybe someone wearing a statement ring on every single finger had punched me in my sleep.