A long time ago in a faraway land called Huntington, Massachusetts, I went to a sleepaway camp for six consecutive summers. It was there – in the fresh air and to a schedule dictated by a bugle – that that I had my first kiss with a cute blonde boy, where I learned to do the butterfly stroke in the dark and murky lake, and where I engaged in fierce battles of Color War when the entire camp was split into two groups and we spent a week engaged in tug-of-war battles that could get real ugly real fast. I was never the most competitive kid in the bunk, but during Color War all bets were off; I wanted to fucking win.
The enforced division turned us all briefly into adversaries, but once the week ended and we were back in our bunks and allowed to wear any color shirt that we damn well pleased, the harmony came flooding back. And maybe nothing said “harmony” in those days quite as strongly as when a girl I had been brawling with all week over games of volleyball – during which I “accidentally” lobbed a ball straight at her head – smiled widely at me and then allowed me to borrow her Camp Beverly Hills sweatshirt to wear to the dining hall.
Do you remember the brand Camp Beverly Hills? The font of the brand looked kind of campy and rustic and the logo had a bunch of palm trees stuck on top of a piece of weedy grass and it was kind of expensive. I didn’t have any Camp Beverly Hills apparel of my own, which was why it felt like a big honor to get to wear that Flashdance-style cut-off sweatshirt. At eleven years old, with boobies that were just starting to sprout, I had never felt more stunning than when that grey sweatshirt hung off of my sunburnt shoulder.
Maybe that’s why the sight of the Housewives from Beverly Hills hoofing it through the streets of the palm-tree lined city for a scavenger hunt on last night’s episode appealed to me. I felt for a second as though I was actually watching Camp Beverly Hills come to life! But even though there’s something sweet about experiencing a moment of nostalgia while sitting in a house that has more than one bathroom – which means that I won’t have to walk down or up a hill to pee like I had to do at Camp Norwich – the sight of Kyle in yoga pants and a Chanel fanny pack completely destroyed my fantasy.
You read that correctly: Kyle owns and wore a Chanel fanny pack to run through the streets of Beverly Hills and I’m not sure that my eyesight will ever recover from her nouveau riche bullshit or the fact that Karl Lagerfeld once sanctioned the making of a fanny pack. I just know that somebody must carry the blame for this label-nightmare, and since I tend to blame Kyle for most things, I think I’ll keep that consistency going and blame her for this fashion infraction.
Bitch might have ruined my memories of Camp Beverly Hills forever. And for that she must be punished by having to wear off-the-rack attire until the next eclipse occurs, whenever that might be.
Before the Yolanda-organized scavenger hunt could officially begin, the ladies had to be divided into teams. Rounding out our usual group of suspects were Camille, former Housewife extraordinaire, and Eileen’s friend, whose name I didn’t catch because I was too busy lighting a candle and chanting an incantation that would cause Kyle’s hair to fall out in one giant clump. But regardless of that person’s name, what really matters here is that the teams were divided “randomly,” which of course translates to producers giggling in a dark room somewhere while deciding that the teams would be divided thusly: Kyle, Brandi, and Camille; Eileen, Kim, and Eileen’s friend; and Lisa V., Lisa R, and Yolanda.
Let’s take a closer gander at that “random” grouping of teammates, shall we? We have on one team Kyle and Brandi, who despise one another. On another team is Eileen, Queen of Not Believing Kim’s Bullshit, and Kim, Queen of All Bullshit. And the last team is the one I would have played dirtier than fuck to land on, because it’s made up of the rational members of the group who know how to have the kind of fun that rarely ends in either tears or a lawsuit.
The rules of the scavenger hunt are as follows: the entire race must be done on foot, the team must stay together at all times, any infraction will result in a ten-minute penalty, and should any member of the team be murdered by a fellow teammate, that group will be disqualified – unless the one who is murdered is Kyle…or Kim…or Brandi. Should any of them be the one to go, the murderer will be anointed as royalty and will be allowed to keep the severed head of the victim to be used as an ice bucket from which only the finest champagne will be served at future Housewife gatherings.
As soon as the race begins, it becomes clear that Lisa R. is a great sport about doing silly things and that Kim is that rare version of a human being who is a buzz-kill both when she’s wasted andwhen she’s sober. She complains about every aspect of the game, especially having to run. She’s been sick lately, she explains, so running is tough for her. It might be easier for her to break into a trot if she didn’t puff constantly on an electronic cigarette, but what do I know? I’m not a doctor. I’m just a viewer who judges every single misstep this nasty and psychologically-warped woman makes and I refuse to apologize for doing so because she does it all on television and it’s not like reality television is a new phenomenon where the participants can even pretend to claim that they didn’t realize that part of the deal is allowing the public at large to judge you.
Over on the Kyle/Brandi team, things are going pretty well. Turns out that Brandi is able to compartmentalize her anger and focus on the task at hand – and her behavior during the race is normal-human-being behavior. I would like to mention that this scavenger hunt is a dry event, so maybe not being drunk off her ass has a little something to do with Brandi not acting in her usual horrific manner, but maybe that’s just a coincidence.
(Psst: it’s not a coincidence.)
One of the challenges along the scavenger hunt journey involves each team having to run into an ice cream shop where they must collectively finish one milkshake. Kyle balks at putting her mouth on any straw that has been between Brandi’s lips – and she might have a point there – and watching Yolanda ingest anything but a lemon or a vitamin is like watching a schnauzer stand up on his hind legs and begin to recite the Gettysburg Address.
At some point, Lisa V. decides that she’s broken enough of a sweat for an afternoon and she hails a ride on the back of some guy’s bicycle and then her entire team hops aboard a Star Tours van, making the women in the back of the van who probably hail from some square state in the middle of the country go apoplectic with glee. Despite the unsanctioned transportation, their team still winds up in dead last. Eileen’s team wins and two things are abundantly clear when her team is announced as victorious: Eileen likes to win and she thinks that Kim is the biggest pain in the ass on this spinning planet.
After the medals are passed out, the two non-Housewives leave because they are not contractually obligated to sit at a table with people they can’t stand. And it is while they are sitting at that table that Yolanda presents the group with another surprise: they are going to Amsterdam! And they don’t have to run there! They will be taking a private jet, which essentially breaks down to the fact that this collection of enemies will soon be trapped in a luxury tube with one another as they fly over an ocean.
Please join me for a moment in a prayer for the pilot.
How do the ladies feel about traveling en mass to Amsterdam? Well, the first thing that Brandi exclaims is, “We get to smoke pot!” and I really wish that she would have added “on camera!” because something tells me that this voyage to Amsterdam will not be the only time this month that Brandi will be getting a little high. Lisa V. also mentions smoking and refers to the several times in the past when she smoked and then ended up spread-eagle on a billiard table, which has rarely been the outcome of smoking that I have personally experienced, but Lisa is far more rare of a species than I am and I made my peace with that fact long ago.
But there are some real concerns:
· Brandi and Kyle are still not getting along since the evening when Brandi shoved Kyle down some stairs and told her she was the worst sister in the whole wide world and then mentioned straight to her face on another night that Kyle’s husband was cheating on her. But it’s Brandi who is not ready to forgive Kyle, which makes just about no sense. Trust me; I have tried to study the whole thing like it’s an algorithm. There’s no logic to be found.
· Brandi is also concerned about setting Kim loose into the city of Amsterdam, a place where all kinds of substances are sanctioned. She’s got a point there because, as we have all seen, Kim gobbles down random substances even when she hasn’t left Encino.
· It turns out that none of the husbands on this show are capable of doing anything without the guidance of their wives. “Anything” includes getting their children to school, providing their offspring with meals, getting the kids to take their vitamins, and knowing what day the housekeeper shows up. To completely drive the point home that the lives of these men would crumble into a fine rubble that Kim could maybe snort, we get a cute little montage of all the ladies explaining how life should run in their homes in Beverly Hills while they are in Amsterdam, spread across billiard tables. What also gets revealed in this little sequence is that Lisa R.’s daughter is obsessed with designer labels (I fear that one day soon this teenager will write a report for school entitled Why Kyle Richards Is My Role Model); that Kyle cooks dinner while wearing a sequin apron; that Brandi’s hairstylist is still living in her basement; and that Lisa V. can mention a Versace dress, a Dolce and Gabbana sweater, and Chanel boots in only one sentence and it doesn’t bother me in the least, which creates pretty clear evidence that it’s not the brand obsession that annoys me about Kyle; it’s Kyle who annoys me about Kyle.
· Perhaps the biggest issue the ladies will face when they embark on the least relaxing vacation that has ever occurred in the history of everything is that Kim has been hearing that Lisa R. has been talking about her. What has she been talking about, you ask? Well, she’s been mentioning that Kim’s recent behavior is that of an addict who is still using and that someone needs to say something to her because if Kim continues to keep using and continues to keep pretending that she doesn’t have a disease, Kim could die. You know – meaningless gossip. The thing is, of course, that everything that Lisa has been saying is accurate. We all watched Kim spiral into an emotional tornado that tried to destroy everything in its path when she sat in the backseat of the car she rode in with Lisa to Eileen’s party on the night that a sober person like herself chose to swallow one of her ex-husband’s cancer pills. We have all watched her lie for years and we have been told that she also lied during all of the years we were not watching her on our television screens. And that Lisa is concerned and completely freaked out is a very natural reaction to the irrational person who has been in her company rather frequently lately.
By the way, it’s worth noting that the reason that Kim knows that Lisa R. has been talking about her non-existent sobriety is because Brandi told her. What Brandi failed to mention is that she all but told Lisa that Kim was worse off than anyone even realized and that she fully believed that Kim had relapsed. But does Brandi mention that Lisa has a point – one she agrees with – to Kim? Of course she doesn’t, because Brandi is a manipulative monster who runs on faux-confidence and the energy created by using the word “motherfucker” more frequently than the word “it” and she will never actually tell her sick best friend that she needs help because it’s easier to destroy someone else than to be honest.
So Kim is furious at Lisa, but she is not going to say anything to her. Instead, she will just ignore Lisa – while they are sitting across from one another on a small private plane because that’s what grown-ups do and Kim knows that for sure because she read it in some literature from Alcoholics Anonymous once when she was hammered. But Lisa is a grown-up, so when she notices the frail blonde giving her the kind of looks that maybe I gave once to someone in a mall when I was twelve, Lisa asks Kim directly, “Kim, are you okay? Are you mad at me?”
And like that scary pop-up toy that probably terrified you when you were a child, Kim’s top blows and she glares at Lisa and says the following to a woman who saw with her very own eyes that Kim was medicated out of her skull: “You worry about your own family. Stop talking about me. I don’t drink. I don’t take drugs that I shouldn’t. End of story.”
Trying to explain where her concern stems from, Lisa referenced the night that Kim randomly turned to her in a car and started whispering, “fuck you,” like she was a murderous stripper on meth in a wannabe-Tarantino movie, but Kim was having none of that truth being brought to light.
“Drop it,” Kim hissed. “I don’t want to hear it anymore.”
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for Kim Richards, the embodiment of both accountability and sobriety!
Watching the mess unfold in front of her eyes was Kyle, who sat cowering behind her coat. She was so upset that she forgot to turn the label of the coat towards the lens of the camera, something I think probably continues to haunt her, and she was so embarrassed that this all of this insanity took place in front of Babyface, who was on the private plane with them. See, Kyle is one of those people who is very excited by celebrity and her own proximity to celebrities, and while I also wouldn’t want my sister to lose her shit in public, I’m not sure that it would be the presence of Babyface that tossed me over the edge and into a mud pit of humiliation.
When the ladies touch down in Calgary, the first stop on the Bravo-sponsored Tour Of Gloom, Yolanda, Kyle, and Lisa R. ride together over to the charity event that Yolanda’s husband is throwing to raise money for organ donations. Kim and Brandi will be joining the group a little later that night and Lisa V. and Eileen will be meeting them in Amsterdam. Yolanda is clad in a silver gown that makes her look icy in the best possible way and Lisa is in head to toe black, looking both feminine and edgy. And Kyle is in a black jumpsuit that has lace in odd places and she is dripping in diamonds and in long hair and I want to stick her in front of a mirror somewhere – Kyle lovesmirrors – and tell her to turn around in a circle and that the thing that stands out alarmingly from her outfit should be the thing that she removes before she walks out the door.
In this case, it would be every single thing that she is wearing.
Yolanda mentions to Lisa that she hopes that Kim’s aggressive behavior on the plane has not tarnished the trip, and Lisa just kind of shakes her head and says, “I got the message loud and fucking clear.” She will not say anything to Kim anymore, even though she is only responding to behavior that has been caught on camera and even though she personally watched her husband’s two brothers keel over from alcoholism and even though her own husband made a choice to be sober and to change his own destiny and even though she is sane and Kim is out of her fucking mind.
At the event for the David Foster Foundation, Kim moves away from where Lisa is sitting and we hear her say in an interview, “I don’t harbor resentment,” which would be unintentionally hilarious if it weren’t so very sad. Just one commercial break later, when the women arrive in Amsterdam, Kim will bring up to Kyle all the times Kyle got mad when Kim ran late over the years. It is an accusation apropos of just about nothing, and Kim conveniently leaves out the part of the story that while her sister waited and waited for her to show up in those boozy days, Kyle wasn’t simply annoyed by Kim’s tardiness; she was afraid that the reason her sister wasn’t showing up was because she was dead somewhere.
Kim is a very sad woman. I’m guessing that she probably has had a very challenging life, one where money and fame were always celebrated more than anything else – and that sucks – but she’s also an adult and she is both cruel and vicious and I’m entirely sick of her.
But back at the glitzy benefit, things are looking up. Yolanda makes a speech about her husband, a man I just find to be a walking embodiment of sinister subtext, but I also cannot deny that his foundation raises money for an excellent cause, so I’m going to go lock my door and pretend that I won’t be haunted by nightmares of David Foster. I will take some Tylenol PM to get myself to fall asleep and I’m gonna do it for the sake of philanthropy! Foster takes the stage with Babyface and then with a country singer and with a woman who sings opera and the women all look like they are having a wonderful time and a ton of money is being raised for the cause and it’s a nice thing to see.
Watching Kyle dancing onstage with Steven Tyler while wearing a black lace jumpsuit that would only look good on Steven Tyler almost ruined my mood, but I’ll find a way to elevate it once the women arrive in Amsterdam. I call this little plan of mine “active viewing” – and I’m on the lookout now for a billiard table.