There are those perfect sounds – those heart-stopping, universe-bending, sweepingly melodious sounds – that I would love to hear again and again. Like the time I was in a seat that was basically located in the rafters at the back of the stage of Madison Square Garden and Springsteen played For You, a song written before I was born, a song I hadn’t heard him play in any of the twenty-seven concerts I’d trekked to before that one magical night. Or the time my niece, who would always toddle out and greet me when I arrived at her house but would never actually say a word, finally walked over to me when she was about two years old and smiled big and wide and bellowed, “Hi, Nell!” She said my name with a southern accent, like she had actually been born in a place like Alabama, and it was hilarious and weird and unexpected and she’s never ever said it like that since. And then there was the night when a guy I loved twined his fingers through my hair near my scalp and raked them right down to the ends and whispered that I had the softest and most beautiful hair he has ever touched. Or the moment I stood by the shore of the ocean in whatever time of day comes after twilight with some of my closest friends in the entire world and we didn’t say much of anything as we stared at the horizon and listened to the waves break against the shoreline and realized how tremendously fortunate we were to have one another and this perfect night.
If I could hear any of those sounds again I would be incredibly grateful, but alas, the recurring sound that manages to invade my ear canal continuously these days is neither melodic nor is it magical. No, the sound I keep hearing is that of a fifty-something year old grandmother gagging back vomit, and this kind of repulsive sound byte has made me move forward in my quest to lead a coalition whose main goal is to leave Vicki Gunvalson stranded somewhere on that tropical island. I feel very badly that the locals will have to be stuck with her, but I’m guessing that if Donald Trump becomes President, he’ll totally back my plan because I’m sure he’s not attracted to the OG of the OC and I think Trump’s main platform – besides building walls along our borders and pretending that he is sane – might very well be to eliminate all women from this great nation that he’d never want to have to look at and I’m pretty sure that Vicki falls into that category.
Look at me! I’m a Republican now!
To be clear, I did start this season of The Real Housewives of Orange County a registered Democrat, but while I was aware going in that I’d be listening to ridiculous people brawling about ridiculous matters, nobody ever told me that there would be this amount of retching and gagging. I feel deceived, which I guess is how any of us should really feel as we cruise into an election year.
The bile rose up early and hard in this episode as Tamra crawls into Vicki’s bed the morning after the two of them and Vacation Shannon sucked down more alcohol than anyone who claims to be human should ingest. But it’s not like that kind of behavior is anything new, and just so we’re certain that these women probably need a shot or two just so they can live with being the kind of people they have allowed themselves to turn into, we get an adorable little montage of all the times Tamra and Vicki have gulped down drink after drink in the name of friendship. Still, according to Tamra, last night was the drunkest they have ever been and, over in Shannon’s hut, the remaining member of their alcoholic trio is also feeling the pain of the previous evening. Her head hurts. She too is threatening to vomit. She ate candy when lately her thing is to simply smell food instead of chewing and swallowing it so she can lose fifteen pounds and her husband will love her again. Unfortunately, her carefully orchestrated starvation went out the window once she got trashed.
Back at Vicki’s hut, a dressed and ready-to-go-scuba-diving Heather arrives and pulls the blankets off of Tamra and Vicki and tells them they can be hungover later. She’s offering all kinds of stuff to sweeten the deal. She’ll order them each a Bloody Mary! They can rest later! But Tamra would like to know if Heather can get her a diaper since apparently Tamra cannot stop shitting and to anyone who says that maybe this comment right here is but a mere example of the kind of thing that keeps getting Tamra hauled back into court for custody issues, I’d say you’re just jealous of Tamra and her newest breasts and how blissfully happy she always is, even while she’s having explosive diarrhea.
Less happy is Vicki. Once Heather hauls her up to a standing position, Vicki disappears into the bathroom and that’s when we hear the sound we have all become so accustomed to, the sound that really should trail behind Vicki as her very own theme song, only instead of a cute little jingle like on Tiny Toons, Vicki’s theme will just be a cacophony of gagging and puking. Vicki will not be going scuba diving and neither will Shannon, who begins her day by sucking on her nebulizer and proclaiming that Vacation Shannon is gone and I cannot be the only viewer who is sitting here terrified about which Shannon will show up to take Vacation Shannon’s place. Will it be I-Hate-All-Women-Under-Thirty Shannon? How about Talk-To-My-Husband-And-I’ll-Fucking-Knife-You Shannon? Really, it’s a crapshoot – just ask Tamra.
Speaking of Tamra, she’s wearing a baseball hat with a logo that looks like bleeding Chanel and I really don’t know where this woman shops but I am convinced that somewhere in southern California is a small boutique that only carries tank tops that have been bedazzled with crucifixes and stupid expressions written out in metallic glitter and everything is available in hot pink and the owner secretly hates Tamra and actually only has the store so that Tamra will come in and buy everything that’s being worn by one of the plastic models in the window and the whole thing is really just a strategic and very cruel long con that was devised by someone Tamra wronged along her very bumpy path. The only other option is that Tamra actually likes the horrible things that she wears and that possibility is really far too terrifying for me to even consider.
Since Vicki and Shannon are down for the count, it’s only Tamra, Heather, Lizzie, and Meghan who are going scuba diving and that means that for a minute I thought the trip would be a really nice time since nobody getting on that boat is a total asshole, but then I remembered that Tamra is kind of an asshole, though there was a bit of hope that maybe without her asshole comrades that she’d take the morning off and just be kind. Please excuse me while I slap myself silly for even contemplating such a scenario, as Tamra and Meghan aren’t alone on that boat for two minutes before Tamra brings up that people were talking about Meghan last night and how it’s weird that Heather is friends with both Meghan and Meghan’s husband’s most recent ex-wife and how that’s got to be some weird kind of conflict of interest and Meghan allows that Jim’s second wife is “a very unhappy person,” and there’s obviously a story there and I hope that nobody is shocked that Tamra – so comfortable with shit of all kinds – wants to go excavating through this bullshit so she can somehow put Meghan on the spot. It was all so unnecessary and annoying enough to me that I kind of wished that the boat motored away leaving Tamra floating in the middle of the ocean. Now, everybody needs to calm down! I did not suggest that she be dragged to the ocean floor and left there, just that she be forced to try to make friends with a colony of fish who would probably find her clothing too bright but perhaps a mermaid who has always dreamed of having hair as cascading and beautiful as The Hottest Grandmother in Orange County’s would swim up and save her and they could be friends for evermore and live together beneath the sea and Tamra could teach the mermaid how to bedazzle coral and North America would be down one less dipshit.
On another shore, Vicki and Shannon sit together in the sun and they immediately order beer and vodka because, hungover or not, neither seems quite willing to deal with a day while sober, and it’s after the drinks come that Shannon reveals that David’s affair went on for a very long time. Now listen, I’m not made of stone (or even of that unfortunate-looking brown stucco that covers Vicki’s sprawling home) and that means that watching a tear drip down Shannon’s cheek as she speaks of the very worst days of her life does impact me. It’s truly sad watching somebody so destroyed, especially someone who appears to still be relatively gutted while desperately maintaining that things are getting better, and I’ll even concede that Vicki is being kind to Shannon during her turmoil. However, I guess there’s just a large part of me that will never be able or willing to understand why Shannon is not working around the clock on her own personal betterment and trying to improve her fractured family dynamic instead of making what I see as the very odd choice to discuss deeply private matters on a beach with cameras aimed at her face even as she’s entirely aware that she will ultimately have absolutely no power over how her emotions are edited and then brandished to a world that includes her own children. I mean, I’m sure that she and her mildly catatonic husband will insist that being on this show allowed them to improve their relationship, but nothing shown so far this season (or last) could really be used as any sort of evidence to support such a claim, though I guess that’s what the nine-part reunion will be for. Still, watching this portion of the show as an adult who was once a child of divorce makes me insanely uncomfortable because there is really no need for the children of this couple to know every single thing that went down during the partial destruction of their parents’ marriage and what they probably have already been sadly privy to is, in my opinion, more than enough. Going back to politics for a second, I was recently watching the debate to decide which candidate I hated the least and I was texting with a friend of mine during commercials and at one point he wrote, “All these guys left their souls at the door.” It was a comment I saw as so astute that I told him then and there that I was stealing it from him and that I’d work it into a piece of writing – though I had no idea it would eventually land in a Real Housewives recap – but I think what we’re all watching this season is a woman and a man who, without intending it or allowing themselves to fully realize it, have left their souls at some door and it’s not even their door and neither one has any idea of which door they dropped all their shit off at and Shannon will never remember because she was hammered when she was outside of that door and now it appears almost too late for either of them to possibly reclaim anything that’s been lost.
But you know what? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not a big deal at all that Shannon discloses to the world at large that David’s affair lasted for eight months and that the woman he cheated on her with went out of her way to befriend Shannon while peppering her with frequent questions about the state of a marriage that was in a hellish free-fall. Maybe Shannon is correct when she keeps saying that one day she will be able to declare that her husband betraying her was the single best thing that could have possibly happened to their relationship because of how good it is now, though again, does anybody with sight actually look at these two people interacting onscreen and point at the television set and wish upon a star or the blinking lights of a passing airplane that one day happiness such as theirs will befall you too?
I suppose the bright spot of the Shannon/Vicki scene is that Shannon makes it really clear that Vicki has been a good and loyal friend to her – and I’ll try to keep that in the back of my mind later on when she once again attacks Meghan for saying that she wishes that her step-children were her actual children, a remark that I just think has been blown up from something that was stated poorly and has been seized upon and turned into stone-cold fact by a few women who cannot stand a new girl entering their rarified atmosphere.
Dinner is served at the hotel and it starts off relatively calmly in spite of the fire-eaters across the way. Tamra, of course, plays her own perverted game of I-Spy as she looks for dangling penises on the male fire-eaters and I’m not sure if I should blame the boat captain from today or the other women she was hanging out with, but I would like to launch a formal investigation as to why that woman is not still in the water somewhere searching for the cock on some dolphin. At any rate, when Vicki and Shannon are asked if they missed the others while they were off scuba diving, Vicki quickly answers “no” and Tamra follows up by asking the kind of question one always poses to a good friend: “Did you talk about us?” But as Vicki is really pretending to be a good friend these days and Shannon was (quite fairly) talking mostly about herself, the answer to that question is “no” as well and all appears to be calm until Meghan asks if they were talking about her the night before. It’s a question that I suppose is acceptable, but it’s also a question that really doesn’t fucking matter. I mean, why does it matter that people who clearly don’t care for you and have done very little to hide such a thing are talking shit about you? Who cares? But Meghan is still in an inaugural season kind of mode where she wants everything lobbed directly to her face – amateur! – and so Tamra says that they did talk about the whole stepmom thing and Vicki jumps in to once again to say that Meghan is being disrespectful in the way she speaks about kids that were not grown in her very own uterus, to which Meghan calmly explains what she meant and that was that. Wait…that was not that? There’s fucking more? Why yes there is, because it turns out that Tamra was not only recently enhanced with huge tits but also with the ability to only spout the truth, so it’s time to lay it all on the table – literally – about how messed up Shannon says it is that Heather can deign to be friends with two women who have both had the blessing of being betrothed to a man like Jim Edmonds. Personally, I think those women should all band together and form a support group that can meet in one of the vast wings in Heather’s new house, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking, though there is a seventy percent shot that Edmond’s Onetime Wives will premiere on Bravo by the spring of 2016.
And how does Heather feel about Shannon being negative about her being friends with both women? She doesn’t really appreciate it and she tells Shannon exactly how she feels and then Shannon turns to Tamra to berate her for telling Heather any of what they talked about in the first place, but Tamra is so committed to not being caught in a lie anymore that she will out any woman she ever has a conversation with. Down shots with her at your own peril, ladies, because the Girl Code that Shannon feels so strongly about is a set of rules Tamra has never heard because she was taking a shit in a bathroom while they were chiseled in marble and voted into law.
Speaking of the bathroom, Tamra and Vicki escape into the bathroom to talk about Heather and what was just said and maybe something they’re discussing is important, but I’m stuck on the fact that they both have bullshit flowers stuck behind their ears and how they keep using the word “potty” and because I really hate these two women so much because their overwhelming behavior on this show for season after season has been absolutely despicable. Into the potty walks Heather to try to get to the bottom of what the hell is happening while, at the table, Shannon explains that there is a pot-stirrer amongst them and its name is Tamra and this is just the kind of shit that Tamra likes to do and then we get a bunch of flashbacks that illustrate how much of an asshole Tamra has been through the years and I know that we haven’t gotten to her upcoming baptism yet that was hinted at in the coming attractions for this season, but will that ceremony absolve her of all of these sins? Does enough water on this Earth actually exist for a full absolution of this creature?
Unfortunately (for her), Meghan is confused by this talk about Tamra being a pot-stirrer because she claims to not have seen any evidence of such behavior. Um, Meghan? I’ve given you a serious break all season long and I’m almost willing to continue doing so as I dislike some of the other Housewives so much and eventually I do run out of spitting vitriol and I really don’t have the energy to summon up a new batch of it just for you, but have you never watched this show before appearing on it? And were you conscious on the boat when Tamra brought the information up about how people were talking about you for no real reason whatsoever and never mentioned how she had defended you because she hadn’t? Open your eyes, kiddo, and don’t close them around most of these women ever.
It might also be best not to tell Tamra what Shannon said about her while she was in the potty, if only so, when confronted, Shannon’s eyes won’t pop out of her head entirely and maybe she’ll stop referring to Meghan by not only her married name but also by her maiden name in a way that always manages to read as weirdly smarmy and insulting before she goes bounding out of a room furious about something new. Lizzie does her best to try to explain to Meghan not to react to everything that’s being said and Meghan kind of nods while still swearing her silent allegiance to Tamra and Shannon smiles outside to the place on the dock where she fled because she knowsthat she is fucking charitable and Meghan is thirty years old and thirty year olds can suck it.
And just as we watched them pack to go on this trip a few episodes ago, it’s now time to watch them pack up to go home and we get to listen to all of the women explain in voiceover how it’s so crazy how one thing that’s said to one person is always revealed to everybody and the story grows legs and everybody ends up mad and perhaps if this were the first season of this show – or of reality television in general – I’d have some sympathy for these women at how fucked up a game of telephone can get, but that anyone is actually appearing surprised by any of this just offends me.
Also, Tamra is reading The Bible for Dummies.
Sometimes a follow-up sentence is just not needed.
On the ferry on the way back to the main island, Meghan brings up that Hayley is home schooled and the reactions the rest of them have to such a thing are appropriately ones of confusion. But what confuses me even more is why Meghan keeps sharing aspects of her life with women who seem to really want to judge her and why she’s trotting out the things that are actually really easy to judge. So help me, if something Meghan says or does leads me to declare, “Vicki is right – and so smart!” Ms. King Edmonds will rue the day such a thing was permitted to transpire. Now, I’m not sure yet how I will make her rue that day, but I’m going to research “the ruing of days” once this recap is posted.
Back on the island, David calls Shannon and tells her that he’s excited for her to come home and she’s elated that he has sent her texts with “x’s” and “o’s” and then she gets on the phone with her kids and one of them tells her that she doesn’t know how to be a parent anymore and that’s maybe the moment you tell the Bravo cameraman to pack up his shit and aim that lens elsewhere because you’re going home to fucking parent for real.
The last vacation dinner takes place on a beautiful and balmy night and Meghan shows up with a ridiculous scarf on her head and this one is covered in rhinestones and Tamra makes a snide comment about how Meghan must think she’s Stevie Nicks, and I can’t help but wonder if such a comment counts as slander and I hope Stevie Nicks sues the hell out of Tamra, Meghan, the designer of that scarf, and Tahiti in general. There’s really no time to delve into legalities, however, as Meghan begins the dinner by apologizing to Shannon and the lunatic cautiously forgives Meghan King Edmonds and it’s fun to pretend that all will be okay but I think we all know differently.
Vicki is up next, and she would like all of them to know how grateful she feels that they have jumped onto the Support Brooks bandwagon and that their kindness is very important to her, especially since her daughter still loathes the hell out of the man.
Speaking of Brooks, in the next episode, the veracity of Brooks’ cancer comes up and Shannon’s daughter tells her that she’s no fun, to which Shannon responds that she is the Queen of Fun and the kid – with no hesitation whatsoever – retorts, “The Queen of Drinking.” If I were really mean, I’d say right here and now that I want to adopt that kid and then make sure to appear at every single breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner where Shannon could possibly show up to smell a plate of food and that I would smile at her and pour her some vodka in a very tall glass while telling her that it’s so much fun being her daughter’s new mommy – but I’m far too nice to ever say such a thing.