Regrets are tough things to live with because they sting while they're happening, burn when they're swallowed, and they leave scars that no high-end BB cream can mask. Me? Oh, I've got a mess of regrets and they run the gamut from the utterly superficial to the psychologically damaging and can be empirically measured on a scale of zero to forever. Let's see: I regret that time I gave myself a bikini wax and all the years I roasted in the summer sun covered from head to toe with baby oil. I regret the freckles I could have avoided and the overuse of filters to mask them in pictures. I regret all the nights I was too worried about liking my outfit to concern myself with making memories that were not colored by the sepia tone of body dysmorphic disorder. I regret not spending more time with people I love and I regret the years I lived by the doctrine, "In the grand scheme of my life, this will not matter," because I was often very wrong. I regret going out on a few second dates and I really regret that time I went out on a twelfth date. I regret letting one guy sleep through the night in my bed without taking off his boxer briefs with my teeth. I mean, yeah, I did just that come the dawn, but I wish I'd done it in the darkness too because I was bored while he slept. Oh, and I guess I'm supposed to pretend to regret the fact that I sometimes lack any and all inhibition, but that regret would just be a total lie.
The thing is, regrets are something most of us have in common. We don't always treat one another with kindness or compassion and sometimes our insecurities march like an army between ourselves and a far-off goal. I think you have to know yourself pretty damn well in order to recognize a pang of emotion as a twinge of regret and you have to be willing to go excavating through the clenching confines of your mind to dig out the source and origin of what caused the regret to transpire. It would probably be far easier to never take that hike inside of a dusty subconscious, but I still recommend doing so. Call it emotional cardio.
I'm not sure some of the Vanderpumpers are able to recognize the feeling of regret because some of them probably think what they're experiencing is a pang of hunger or that itch they always feel around their nether regions after a bender, but I think maybe it's time for them to pay attention. Acknowledging regret smarts like a dumb motherfucker, but it can't possibly bring more pain than what the future will deliver to people who are making grave mistakes on television in exchange for a paycheck. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe being emotionally barren is the way to go. Maybe it takes someone ultra-evolved to prance around half-naked on basic cable and drink like a sloth suffering from acute alcoholism and steal sunglasses before, during, and after lying to your live-in girlfriend. Perhaps in the future, regret won't exist in the slightest and that will be the platform under which President Jax Taylor will have campaigned. Seriously, people – it could happen. Did anyone really believe Donald Trump would still be in the lead for the GOP?
Maybe even more than regret, I really hate when people believe in the notion that what happens on vacation stays on vacation. Um, no...it doesn't. Your actions follow you home and they will always be there when you apply for a real job or meet the parents of someone you care about or when you look into the mirror first thing in the morning. Actions caught on camera last – and for the record, let's just say that sure, I regret throwing some of my own images on film. Still, I have to say that it continues to flabbergast me at how completely comfortable some people on reality television are in throwing caution (and self-respect and moral decency and any modicum of taste) to the whipping winds in exchange for an extra bit of screen time and it confuses me even more that the normal ones in their midst continue to be surprised by their behavior.
If you think the shit these people pull at work is bad, wait until you see them on vacation. I guess it's kind of unavoidable, though. Add booze with enemies and divide that by the tropics and multiply it by a staggering amount of idiocy before subtracting it all by lenses pointed at your face and you wind up with math I'm not even gonna try to do. But as I have a job here, I will try to quantify and catalogue the bullshit that goes down when the cast of Vanderpump Rules heads to Hawaii, a state that might now attempt to secede from the rest of the nation in retaliation for allowing these cretins to swim upon its splendid shores.
You know how chemistry amongst travelers can make or break a trip? Well, on this particular vacation, we have the following conflicts simmering even before the plane lands: Jax vs. James; Ariana vs. Scheana and Katie; Brittany vs. Lala; Shay vs. sobriety; and James vs. tees that don't make me want to vomit. Now, I don't care a lick about the ultimate outcome of any of these duels, but if one should end with James being deported, I'll celebrate by wearing a low-cut tank top for two months straight (winter months!) in his honor. That said, I'm not so sure I want the guy shipped back to Europe until I get to see the scene we saw a second of in the coming attractions when he proclaims himself "the white Kanye West." To miss that kind of hilarious self-aggrandizing could prove a major regret because that shit will undoubtedly give me more writing fodder than Kristen deciding to become a mental health professional.
We'll get to the lunatic's plans to go for her doctorate later – you know, like whenever the apocalypse begins to fully descend – but for now, let's journey to Hawaii. Oh, it's glorious! The perfect beaches! The manicured landscaping! The flowers so lush I swear I can smell their perfect scent wafting through my TV like it's the 1950s and my living room's been outfitted with Smell-O-Vision! And here come the tourists from SUR who bring constant dissension and possible disease. Let the vacation from hell begin!
Scheana is the first to predictably say that she's been leid as a garland of flowers is placed around her neck, but it seems it's the betrothed couple who really need a lay. They're doing their part to make an excellent case for the point that sex dwindles after marriage and they're fucking running with it by including some frigidness into their engagement as well. Now listen: I’m a nice person, so I have a few small hopes for this trip. I hope James gets his tongue ripped from his mouth by a shark. I hope Brittney will cold-clock her boyfriend for not only deceiving her with unrestrained glee, but for doing so on camera. And I want Schwartz and Katie to have sex so I can stop the small voice that's piping up in the back of my head ever so regularly that the one Schwartz is really in love with is Sandoval.
When they arrive at the hotel, Jax stares at the magnificent vista before him and sighs. It’s so sad, he laments, that Kristen was not invited. Jax’s newfound loyalty to this girl is kind of confusing me. Isn't this the same person who screamed, "I made you come three times!" to her in a crowded bar while her boyfriend listened to it all with a distraught expression on his face? Are these two just so desperate to finally look more appealing than somebody – anybody – that they have chosen to gravitate towards one another? In any case, Scheana is there to also weep for Kristen's absence and if I were Ariana, I'd push the girl into a volcano for being so completely disloyal.
In the room Faith is (momentarily) sharing with Lala, our fun bitch reveals that James is as romantic as we'd expected. He suggested banging in the bathroom on the plane and he thinks he's going to get properly laid on this trip. "He's not," whispers Lala. But it's not that she's just not that into a boy who falls out of condoms made for men with some girth. No, she's also worried that Jax's girlfriend will confront her for all the flirting that's been going down. I know he's been strategically lying to her and all about his experiences with Lala, but I'm still gonna go ahead and make the case that maybe Brittany should expect loyalty from her boyfriend, not some female stranger who promised her nothing. But who cares about any of it when it's confirmed that Sandoval’s brought his flatiron to Hawaii? I tell you, this guy could be my very best girlfriend. I love having an extra flatiron around! Ariana doesn't care about the guy's hair care products though. She's preoccupied by the bullshit correspondence that's been exchanged between her mother and Scheana about whether Ariana is happy with Sandoval or not. (The volcano idea's not looking so crazy now, is it?) Sandoval is pissed and so is Ariana and the whole thing is violating and kind of gross.
Dinner arrives and they all order drinks, but don’t worry; I'm sure the alcohol won't do a single thing to compromise anyone's judgment. Before Ariana can confront Scheana about being the very worst friend, a mariachi band comes out and then toasts are made to a great vacation. That joy and hopefulness are not, however, seeping inside of everybody at that table. Jax, you see, is growing more pissed by the second as he watches James and Lala paw one another. The guy's girlfriend is sitting right beside him and he cannot stop looking at another girl. Is there room in that volcano for a great big overflowing bag of douche, too? Let's all just take a moment so Jax can take some cleansing breaths so he can calm down and not say anything incendiary like how he wishes some people who aren't there were there and how much he regrets that certain people are sitting at the table. "Who shouldn't be here?" asks Lala, but Jax would never name names! That would be rude! It's so much better to be transparently passive aggressive.
After dinner, Jax sits down in front of some of the other guys to tell James to his face that he simply doesn't like him. While that bonding moment occurs, Sandoval and Ariana take the opportunity to ask Scheana about her conversation with Ariana's mom. After insisting the talk was no big deal, Ariana tells her that she made her mom send her screenshots of their conversation – and Scheana goes white. She's got good reason to be flipping the fuck out because what she told Ariana's mommy is that Sandoval is selfish and that Ariana has changed into someone exceedingly negative. To her (misguided) credit, Scheana stands by everything she said and Shay backs her up and Ariana truly doesn't get what's going on here and I think her confusion is a strong indication that Ariana is normal.
"Sorry, not sorry," says the generic version of a Barbie doll you’d buy at the dollar store as she saunters out of the place and away from the couple who did everything in their power to help get her husband sober. You guys? Scheana blows.
Back in LA, Lisa is concerned that her son is cavorting with morons in Hawaii after knocking half his teeth out. Speaking of morons, back in the land of joy, James dons yet another tank top while it’s confirmed that Schwartz and Katie have still not had sex. Then they hear a knock on the door and flowers are delivered courtesy of Lisa. They call her to say thank you – and a camera just so happens to be in her car at that very second to capture her side of the conversation, but that was just pure luck and not at all planned and stop insisting that everything that goes down on this show might not be organic! Anyway, Lisa asks how Max is doing and requests that these two (the relatively sane ones) keep an eye on him.
Downstairs in the gym, Jax reiterates to Brittany that he allowed Lala to do things like unabashedly flirt with him and kiss him on the neck and maybe give him a little tug because he wasn't sure how to stop her very unwanted attention. Brittany’s not having it. She's furious, but she's also pretty fucking dumb because she believes a guy who currently has the names of about eighteen girls tattooed on his bicep – and I'm pretty sure that her name isn’t one of them. Brittany's made an important decision: she is going to confront Lala and that means I'm going to go make some popcorn because I like to snack while I watch people needlessly destroy one another.
The day’s excursions are underway and over at Adventurer's Cove, Lala reveals to us her rather esoteric life's philosophy: "Let the titties hang out." This chick is deep. And who cares if she just recently met these people? Who cares if she's surrounded by guys who have girlfriends who probably don't appreciate them gawking at silicone? Who cares that the girl is patently unable to read the climate of whatever space she enters and then weeps later about how she never fits in? Her titties need to breathe, people! Stop being such Puritanical bores.
Looking to enjoy a little quiet time, Scheana and Shay head to the beach where Scheana has smuggled booze because nothing is better for your struggling-with-substances husband than some covert day drinking. Katie joins them and they down tequila from inside of suntan lotion bottles like that's a completely normal thing to do. After some Coppertone-flavored shots, Scheana tells Katie that Ariana isn't her best friend anymore. Katie is her new BFF and I think Katie might need to jump into that ocean and let the riptides carry her wherever they may because being anywhere but next to Scheana is probably a really excellent idea.
Another excellent idea comes from Brittany who corners Lala in the jungle to discuss the lack of respect Lala has for Brittany’s relationship. "So, what the fuck is going on?" she shoots out and Lala responds with both an apology and a reveal: she had no idea Brittany and Jax were together because Jax told her otherwise, a charge the guy refutes right to Lala's face even as we get a flashback that provides indisputable proof that he's such a liar that his speedo is about to experience a massive inferno. Ah, Lala realizes. Jax doesn’t always tell the truth! Excellent use of deductive reasoning, professor.
Away from everyone who hates him, James hangs out with Max at the pool and tells him that his goal is to get Lala in bed that night. Speaking of the object of his very romantic mind, Lala and Faith wander over and she tells the guys about how Brittany confronted her. She let it all slide before, she says, but she's done doing that and shit will go down later on. Upon hearing that Jax's world might explode before his eyes, James smiles widely. Who else thinks this guy looks more and more like a poorly drawn cartoon villain every day?
Back in Katie's room, she hears that Lala waltzed around topless in front of her fiancé. But before they can fight about Lala’s nips, they decide to fight over whether or not Scheana crossed a line by texting her sentiments about Sandoval to Ariana's mother. Schwartz insists Scheana had a lot of nerve while Katie stands up for her new best friend because Scheana promised her they could get matching silver necklaces so everyone would know just how close they are and Katie’s not about to blow getting her half of the "Best Friend" charm.
Evening dawns and the gang heads out to dinner where they continue to drink, resentment flowing quicker than the vodka, fury stinging each of them more than the mosquitos. As the first drink races into her bloodstream, Katie decides to let Lala know just how inappropriate it was that she was topless in front of Schwartz. Lala is nonplussed. As she so eloquently phrases it, "It's not like I was showing my pussy to everybody." Ladies and gentlemen, Lala.
And now it's time to take a poll: who at the table has had sex so far? Katie and Schwartz are a negative because apparently she wants her hymen to be her “something new" for her wedding day. Scheana and Shay have had sex and Jax and Brittany have not. Listening from the other side of the table where she has declared it time to free the nipple, Lala decides that the time has also come for sweet Brittany to know the truth about the asshole she’s dating. She pulls Brittany away and tells her that Jax was totally complicit in the flirting between the two of them and that he also whispered that he was going to fuck her. Brittany – oh, Brittany – is stunned to hear such a thing about a man who has been lying on television for years now, but she quickly comes to her idiotic senses and manages to place whatever blame she can grab directly straight onto Lala’s shoulders instead of going back to the table and stabbing Jax with a fork.
Brittany does want some answers, though. She pulls Jax away and he makes that kind of automatic grunting sound certain guys make because they harbor the belief that any time a woman discusses the feelings they had a part in creating, it's gotta be because she's a crazy person. Feelings are so meaningless, you know? Brittany wants to know if Jax indeed told Lala that he was going to fuck her – and Jax completely denies it. "Why would she say that then?" asks Briefly Starting To Grow Balls Brittany. She calls Lala over for some clarification and, even with Lala right there, this pig denies everything.
And now it’s time to play Is Jax a Sociopath! Yes, it’s a joyful little game whereupon we can match the qualities traditionally associated with a sociopath to this sweaty piece of dogshit! Now, according to some research I’ve done, sociopaths tend to have (and celebrate) the following personal attributes: they completely lack empathy; their actions are cold and calculating; they can spell “narcissism” more easily than they can their own names; you can’t even attempt to wade toenail-deep into their shallow waters; and they have an image completely dictated by grandiosity. Sure, I’ve come close to failing every science course I’ve ever taken, but I think I just successfully diagnosed Jax. (My pride is somewhat tempered by the fact that he’s simply not at all complicated and is just damaged and mildly damaging.) Still, having made this diagnosis has left me with a high and I think that perhaps I should quit writing tomorrow and instead join Kristen in medical school where we can be lab partners and I can maybe set her on fire with a Bunsen burner to put her out of her misery.
And on the street and away from Jax and his lies and Brittany who believes those lies, Lala cries. She is wearing a backwards baseball cap – though that’s not why she’s crying. No, it’s that she can’t even believe that Jax is such a liar and that everybody else is so judgmental and she is shocked that joining this reality show didn’t immediately lead to a life of total bliss and acceptance.
Her nipples can’t believe it either.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle.