During my early twenties, I went through what I now like to call my I-prefer-that-he-appear-homeless phase when it came to men. It was purely an aesthetic thing. After all, I wanted whatever guy I invited home to actually be gainfully employed and I definitely wanted him to have a home of his own to head back to once I was finished with him – I’m just a girl who likes herself some solitude. But when it came to what turned my head in a dark Manhattan bar, it was always the same: longish hair, sexy scruff, a tissue-thin cotton tee that I figured I’d end up sleeping in one night very soon, at least one tattoo that wasn’t some bullshit tribal vine wrapped around his bicep, and a hint of spicy cologne that smelled like mystery basted in swagger. Only once did a man wearing a suit and tie cause me to stop and gape like someone who was tragically born without the ability to stop drooling, but that rather undignified moment did not occur at a bar. No, that guy was a Secret Service Agent who used to show up at Yankee games when George Pataki was Governor. This stunning male specimen would stand in the aisle behind home plate while Pataki and Giuliani chowed down on hotdogs. (This was back during those days when New Yorkers cheered Giuliani’s presence instead of wondering about which year it must’ve been that the man lost his entire mind and started ranting and raving on Sunday morning talk shows.) I sat right near them – I was blessed with a stepfather who has really good seats for Yankee games – and whenever that Secret Service guy was around, I could not take my eyes off him. I have literally no idea what happened during the games he attended because I never so much as glanced at the field. In fact, I easily could have been knocked out cold by a fly ball on any one of those crisp autumn nights because I paid attention to nobody and nothing except for him, though I did once consider that if such an accident were to transpire, perhaps he’d rush over and give me mouth-to-mouth like he was taught in Secret Service School. (That’s a thing, right?) I even started praying for out of control foul balls to pummel me right in the temple since it started to seem that being struck unconscious might be my only hope of this man ever sliding his lips on top of mine.
Then came one particularly memorable evening when I looked over at my pretend boyfriend who was wearing an expensive suit that nicely concealed his loaded weapon and he smiled right at me and sort of raised his eyebrows and nodded in a greeting. I flashed my dimples back at him, but in the next instant I felt all possibility drain away. Since he could hardly walk away from the public figure he was hired to protect and nobody was allowed to get anywhere near them without the right sort of clearance, I realized that unless I attempted to assassinate his boss, I’d never get to actually meet this guy. As one of the many differences that will always exist between Squeaky Fromme and myself is that I will never be the assassination type – and I don’t have red hair or worship a crazed guru – I realized with a tragic thud that this was a relationship that could never even begin. When his term was over, Pataki wasn’t the Governor anymore and he didn’t show up at Yankee games and I never saw the gorgeous guy ever again. Quick question though: is there maybe a summer camp for former Secret Service Agents where they show off their knot-tying skills and spend afternoons crafting one another friendship bracelets made out of lanyards and wile away the evenings making s’mores beside a roaring campfire as they trade gossip about who was the biggest pain in the ass to protect? Because, if so, I’d like to be Head Counselor.
I do apologize for that little memory-induced digression, but I haven’t thought about that guy in a long while and now I feel positively fuzzy inside. My point, however, is that I typically only went for guys back then who looked dirty. My vetting process stayed consistent for a very long time, until a bunch of years later when an extremely pretty man caused me to do an emotional double-take. But back in the days when filth ruled, one guy I was briefly smitten with seemed like he might be a real contender. He had long hair (blonde – not usually my thing) and his face looked like it would be scratchy to kiss. He always wore jeans and a tee, loved good music, spoke Sarcasm as fluidly as he did English, worked as an editor, smoked like a chimney, enjoyed stroking my hair whenever we were next to one another in a bar or in an alley, and had a tattoo that read “No Regrets” brandished across his chest in huge black letters. And it was that tattoo that sort of moved me beyond that type of man. It was that exact tattoo that made me wonder if I could maybe train my brain to begin to feel attracted to something else. It was that very tattoo that caused me to call my friend Nicole late one night when it was very dark and I could see no hint of the stars and whisper to her, “I just don’t think I am supposed to live a life where ‘No Regrets’ wanders through my kitchen first thing in the morning to get some coffee.” I knew: it was time to make some different choices.
I bring all of this up because I’ve thought a lot recently about people who proudly proclaim that they have no regrets coloring their lives or taunting them in their dreams. It’s a hard thing for me to believe is possible. I have several huge regrets and most of them involve hurting someone I love or allowing myself to be hurt by someone I shouldn’t have loved. While none of these regrets haunt me constantly, in my lowest and dreariest moments, I do wonder about their impact on both my mind and my soul. I am able to realize that it’s hardships that trigger growth and I can say with certainty that making some of those questionable decisions shoved me onto a journey where I learned some gut-wrenching but important lessons about life and men and the resilience of the human spirit, but it wasn’t like any of those lessons were fun to learn. It wasn’t as though admitting that I had a regret (or twelve) brought me any sort of immediate comfort, but I’d never even consider not admitting that my regrets exist.
Knowing him the way I did back then, my longhaired former crush probably earned the right to emblazon those words across his skin in indelible black ink. In the time we spent together, he was brutally honest – with himself and with others – and he also gave really good massages, which I know shouldn’t really figure into this in any real manner, but they were just that impressive. Still, though I was able to believe that his tattooed motto was both reflective of his past and a warning about how we wanted to live his present and his future, we eventually drifted apart, a choice I’m certain has caused neither of us any regret. He hasn’t passed through my thoughts in a lot of years, but I couldn’t help thinking about him during part two of The Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion because I think Kelly Dodd should leave that set where women who hate her sit on overstuffed couches and drive directly to a tattoo parlor and get “No Regrets” inked straight across her Botoxed forehead. This woman (who causes me to feel spiking levels of hatred whenever her grotesque smirk appears in high-definition on my television screen) spent her inaugural season insulting her coworkers viciously and constantly, yet she still idiotically maintains that she has zero regrets for any of her psychotic behavior. She wouldn’t redo any of it! She would happily inform Shannon that she’s ugly one more time! She would love to call Heather “an interloper” yet again just so she can prove that she can pronounce words with more than three syllables! She would definitely not walk back on the choice of appointing Vicki Gunvalson her Life Coach because who better to guide one fucking asshole than another fucking asshole? No, Kelly has absolutely no regrets for anything and if anybody so much as attempts to suggest that perhaps she should, she will just smear on some more lip gloss and take yet another shot of tequila and mumble that anyone saying such a thing is doing so out of pure envy because Kelly is a fucking idiot who sold her depleted sanity to Bravo and I have no doubt that she will be back next season because it’s the crazy ones who tend to get the raises. I will say this, though: I hope that one day in the very near future Andy Cohen feels a pang of regret for thrusting another preening narcissist with no self-awareness upon us during an election season that has already felt like an exercise in abject fucking misery.
The Reunion finally concludes tonight and I feel the need to announce that if Vicki is hired back for next season, my recaps of this show will be concluding as well. I just can’t expose myself to such a horrible person and her barely lucid sidekick anymore, not when I can better spend my time tracking down my Secret Service Agent who will surely enjoy spending his Monday nights feeding me ripe strawberries while inquiring as to which Real Housewife I’d like for him to destroy first. As I enjoy being accommodating, I’ll give him a list with the names Vicki, Kelly, Kim, Brandi, and Luann on it and allow him to plot against them at his leisure. But since it’s not currently strawberry season, let’s instead settle in and discuss how this shitshow finally ends, okay?
ROUND ONE: THE LADIES OF THE OC VS. THE SAND DUNES OF GLAMIS
We begin by revisiting the scary accident many of the women were involved in when the dune buggy Tamra was driving flipped over the dunes. I will never deny that the footage looked terrifying as shit, but the fact is that they all fortunately made it out of such a terrible experience. Therefore, to now discuss whether or not Shannon’s excuse for not going on a trip that ended with a few of them in on a gurney strikes me as completely idiotic, as does the anger some of these women still have because Meghan didn’t run to the hospital to check on Vicki. Here’s the thing: when you behave like a monster for season after season, you engender absolutely no good will and what that means is that a stranger driving a Uber will be your only comfort in a time of need. I agree with Meghan; normal people don’t go visit someone they don’t much care for in an emergency room whether you’re on the same TV show or not. Had Vicki been kinder in welcoming Meghan to “her show” last year, perhaps the pregnant one would have arrived to visit her during a crisis. You reap what you sow, lady. Hasn’t your in-depth study of scripture taught you that yet?
Winner: The dunes
ROUND TWO: VICKI VS. THE TRUTH – AGAIN
Seems Briana called Tamra during her mother’s recovery process to inform her that Vicki appeared to be exaggerating her post-accident ailments. You don’t say! What kinds of things caused Briana to question the legitimacy of her mother’s pain? Well, there were the times that the camera went away and Vicki reacted by whipping off her neck brace and guzzling wine. But Vicki would like everyone to know that she was in terrible amounts of pain and she was being incredibly brave in downplaying her agony to her daughter who was in the middle of an actual health crisis. Upon hearing what sounds very much like an excuse cooked up by a crazy woman with no morals, Tamra scoffs openly about how easily Vicki can twist a story until she becomes even more the victim. It’s a gross display. I’m tired of recounting it, so I’m just gonna go ahead and call this round early.
Winner: The truth – Vicki is a total liar and everyone knows it except for Kelly because she’s a fucking idiot.
ROUND THREE: ALL THE WOMEN VS. NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIOR IN IRELAND
Yes, once again we get to watch the disgusting footage of Kelly losing her mind in Ireland and retaliating against being told that her nose-flicking thing is annoying by announcing that now she understands why Tamra’s daughter has chosen to remain estranged. I will absolutely agree that Tamra calling Kelly out in public for checking up on Heather’s finances was a serious dick move and it was also wrong of Shannon to try to get her drunk, but none of it can serve as justification for continuing to be the kind of horrible person who says vicious things and then disavows any responsibility for the ramifications of those actions. On a positive note – and I’m scraping the fucking gutter here – we do get to watch Tamra scream “Fuck you!” once more into Vicki’s face for telling tales about her husband’s alleged love of dick. What do all of these women have to say now about such disgraceful behavior? Well, Kelly once again relies upon the moronic logic that her sense of humor is the sort where if someone doesn’t think something is riotously funny the first seven times, she will keep doing it. But none of that matters because Kelly knows for sure that she was ganged up on for no reason whatsoever.
Shannon’s got something to answer for here. She did order Kelly drinks when Kelly tried to refuse, and I’m not so sure I buy the excuses that she was just trying to be festive and wake them all up. I like Shannon, especially when she’s sitting across from demonic entities like Vicki and Kelly who suck Satan’s toasted and roasted balls, but I don’t entirely believe her here. Still, should Shannon insist that her next enema must take place while she sits on Kelly’s lap, I’d take her side and agree that yes, she should clean out her colon immediately and make Kelly clean up after the procedure without wearing gloves. See, that’s what a piece of shit I think Kelly is – I am absolutely fine with the notion that she end up literally covered in someone else’s shit. And just to be clear, I did not randomly choose Kelly’s name at the start of this season so now I have to say nasty things about her. It has been her asinine behavior that has caused me to feel this way, and her absolute refusal to own any of her nonsense is fucking clinical in its depravity. As for what really matters (since Kelly does not), when it was revealed in the van that Vicki told Kelly that David once beat the shit out of Shannon, all hell broke loose. Shannon reiterates that nothing of the sort ever transpired and the fact that Vicki put that story out there is horrifying. What Shannon explains is that, over a decade ago, she called the police after a fight with her husband, one that was purely verbal, but Vicki – always proving that she’s such a kind and devout Christian – wants everyone to know that she has proof that David physically hurt his wife. “I didn’t want to do this…” Vicki begins, and on the other couch, Tamra laughs meanly. “You didn’t want to do this?” she asks incredulously and then she goes ahead and calls her former best friend “a piece of dogshit.” Shannon’s story continues next with a bizarre tale about being drugged in a bar and falling down and getting bruises a few days after learning about David’s affair. I don’t fully understand all of what she says, but the bulk of it appears to be something very true: this woman has bared her entire relationship before the cameras, including some very dark moments. There’s ample reason to believe she’s not hiding anything now, so for Vicki to insinuate such a dangerous allegation while wearing a fucking microphone is maybe the worst thing she’s ever done – and let’s not forget that this is the same woman who put the term “love tank” into our vernacular and lied about her boyfriend needing an IV in the dead of night so she could get herself some sympathy. “I hope it’s not true,” shrugs Vicki, and not a piece of me believes this asshole for even a second. As Shannon sobs and leaves the set with Tamra following her, Heather stays seated and lays into Vicki for her audacity. “It really speaks to your character that you would recklessly repeat this to Kelly,” Heather explains. “I’m highly disgusted.” And with that eloquent beat down, all Vicki can say is that she’s disgusted, too. Is there a mirror on the set she briefly gazed into? Why is Vicki disgusted here? Oh, because she’s a cruel monster? Okay. Mystery solved.
Winner: Heather, Tamra, and Shannon. While everyone was rather poorly behaved in Ireland, at least these three are definitely human.
ROUND FOUR: VICKI VS. THE SOUND BARRIER
I hate pretty much everything about Vicki Gunvalson, but besides her personality and her moral character and her heaving cleavage, what I hate the very most is the way her shrieks end up sounding like some sort of punishment only Schnauzers can hear. In this segment, Vicki breaks the fucking sound barrier by shrieking that Shannon made her look like a con woman who lied about cancer, but let’s be clear here. It was not Shannon who made Vicki look like a liar; it was Vicki being a complete liar that made her look like a liar and the fact that she will never embrace what was her role in Brooks’ scam means she needs to be knocked off television forever. I’d rather watch a toddler parade around in a tiara. I’d rather see a six-hour reunion of Jersey Shore. I’d rather stare at Donald Trump stalking his opponent during one more debate than pay any more attention to this harpy who needs to be shoved inside of her all-brown house and then be left there to rot.
Winner: Ugh, Vicki. The woman broke the fucking sound barrier yet again. But at least this time she did it without being decked out in a Flashdance-style sweatshirt and rocking crimped hair.
ROUND FIVE: VICKI VS. TAMRA & EDDIE’S SEXUALITY
“How would I know if it’s true?” Vicki asks about the rumor she started and then spread about Eddie’s sexuality. “Um, because your friend told you it’s not true?” responds Meghan. Yes, Tamra and Eddie have been together for seven years and Tamra’s former friend has taken great pleasure in wondering aloud about whether or not he likes ladies and their parts. Tamra’s heard that Vicki’s been spreading this rumor for years and she all but laughs the story off, but she tells Vicki once again that maybe she should stop spreading stories if she has no idea about their veracity.
Winner: Tamra. I’m pretty sure she got properly laid after the Reunion.
ROUND SIX: HEATHER VS. KELLY
Kelly has an announcement to make, you guys. She wants us all to know that the entre world now hates Heather and loves her the best – and then she smirks grossly one more time and I have officially fucking had it.
And with all of that viciousness and no actual closure to be found, this season finally screeches to a close with a segment Andy Cohen tries to pass off as a healing moment because all the Housewives are asked to announce their single greatest regret. Everyone comes up with something, even Kelly who has no regrets, but the greatest regret of most women in that room should have is that they have spent the last several months (and years) associating with garbage people. After all this time, not a bit has actually been resolved and should this cast remain the same, I’m gonna need to officially call it a day. But I’m sure I’ll see Kelly and Vicki again. I hear Celebrity Rehab is always trolling for stars.
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. Also be sure to check out her website at nellkalter.com Her Twitter is @nell_kalter