Let’s just – for the sake of nightmares – imagine what life would be like as a citizen of Ramona’s World. The temperature on the perimeter of that purgatory would probably hover somewhere around ninety-two degrees day and night. Men and women both could be hauled off to jail for committing the transgression of getting the Queen’s hair wet. The national anthem would be performed with an accompanying choreographed dance that ends with a few random spasmodic swivels before requiring that the performer then straddle the woman closest to her. The currency is in the shade of Ramona Blue and a picture of her with a massive curler in the front of her hair is splayed across it. The flag, hung high outside of every government building and day spa, has Ramona’s face on each side, but they are two very different pictures with two very different expressions so that the way the wind blows actually dictates the Ramona one gets to see at any given moment. And over on Turtle Time Avenue, behind the gates made out of melted down religious jewelry and over the moat where the Prime Minister of Ramona World, Sonja Morgan, likes to take in some sun while she’s hung way over, the Queen resides and each Thursday she addresses her loyal subjects from a balcony while wearing the Herve Leger dress she once stole from Bethenny Frankel, the woman she had to permanently banish from Ramona World after Bethenny finally realized that Ramona is not actually a seven year old and therefore shouldn’t be pardoned for acting like a total asshole.
I understand that there are grave issues in every nation, but I am stating on the record that I would rather try to survive in a world ravaged by flesh-eating zombies or unpack my bras in Jurassic World or forever speak only to the orange goldfish in Elmo’s World than even visit Ramona’s World for a cocktail.
See, in Ramona’s World, only Ramona matters. Her actions and reactions are never contemplated prior to execution. She will spew insanity and then shrug dramatically like she’s a terrible Theatre student playing someone with Tourette’s. She will believe that anyone who is less than devoted to her at all times is fueled by a jealousy and intimidation about the close bonds she thinks she shares with other women. And in Ramona’s World, she is granted constant clemency for her revolting behavior by launching into her go-to pattern that magically works on far too many people far too easily. She will accost them physically. She will talk into their faces in a way that would put the Seinfeld close-talker to shame. She will grab playfully at their limbs. And then she will sit back and wait for the person to forgive her as people always do. It cannot be that her shtick is that charming; it’s gotta be a reaction of pure fear, a feeling that maybe if I forgive this person, she will remove herself from my physical space. Right?
Good God, I have never wanted to be right so much in my entire life.
In Ramona’s World, the Queen gets to be forgiven quickly for trying to bail on Bethenny for lunch and then she gets to sit at the table alongside everybody she has at one point betrayed publicly and make a toast about the importance of girlfriends. She also gets to pick their brains on what she should title the upcoming book about her life that I can only hope was ghostwritten by Aviva Drescher. What’s the book about? Could it be a tomb of social decorum written by a physically jerky and constantly mugging woman who has single-handedly offended more people than anyone you or I know personally? Could it be an epic about how it is that society has allowed her to behave in such a disgraceful manner and then continually profit from it? No, the book is actually about all that Ramona has been through and how she has hurdled majestically beyond the pain, and you know what? That would make a powerful book – but only if the author was someone who wasn’t so complicit in the terrible things that have happened to herself and that she has caused to happen to others and if maybe she wasn’t still in the gasping chokehold of that pain. And I have to know who would actually buy and then read a book written by Ramona Singer. Is there a way we can make it so those people are no longer permitted to vote?
Shockingly, Bethenny has a response to Ramona’s inquiry. In fact, Bethenny has many responses, all of which she fires out in a blaze of fast-talking verbal shrapnel, and all of it leaves Heather in a dazed and annoyed heap on the ground. Here are a couple of Bethenny’s suggestions, all of which are framed as absolute fact:
1. Writing the book now is moronic. The book should be written after Ramona muddles through this difficult time in her life, after she’s figured out what happens next.
2. Including the word “Ramona-coaster” in the title is a terrible idea. I agree with Bethenny on this one and find it even more painful than pathetic that an adult woman thinks it’s cute that she has behaved so terribly that she can embrace that other people have likened her personality to a rickety roller coaster.
Heather is horrified by Bethenny’s frank and pushy reactions and she looks seriously grossed out as Bethenny vetoes every single suggestion Ramona makes, though to be fair to Bethenny, Ramona’s ideas are predictably universally awful. Still, it’s the bold reactions Bethenny has that stun Heather who begins to mumble, “Oh, my God,” under her breath while she’s still at the table and then muses to the cameras that Bethenny, a know-it-all, needs to just shut the fuck up.
Maybe Bethenny does know a lot about this stuff. She has written books. She knows about marketing and publishing and demographics. And while I’d rather snap my own torso in half than read a single chapter of any one of Bethenny’s books, I’m willing to agree that her opinions are worth listening to, but perhaps those opinions would be a bit more palatable if they were actually presented as opinions rather than golden nuggets of pure fact.
After lunch – and after Bethenny goes inside for a moment to gulp in some oxygen so she can replenish her air supply and spurt out more of her opinions – Heather reclines poolside and tells Carole that Bethenny is such a know-it-all and this moment commences what I shall from this point forward coin the Say It To My Face segment of The Real Housewives of New York. Yes, in this repetitive kind of interlude, Housewife A – who has usually just behaved in a rather dreadful manner – feels a burning deep inside of her spleen that tells her that Housewife B is talking about how she just behaved in public while cameras were pointed at her. Righteous (or delusional) and strong-willed (or desperate for either more attention or the last word), Housewife A will confront Housewife B and tell her to never talk about her behind her back; every single criticism and insult must be leveled directly to her face.
Were these Housewives born in a barn? Talking about people behind their backs is what civilization and public decorum have been built on, even in Ramona’s World! Who wants to hear every shitty thing someone says about you behind your back? Who even cares?
What’s very funny here is that, after Bethenny insists that you tell her that she’s an asshole right to her face because that’s a nice way to pass an afternoon, she heads down the beach with Ramona and Sonja and begins to talk shit about Heather. Ramona knows what’s really going on here though. It’s not that Heather hates Bethenny. It has nothing to do with Bethenny’s behavior. What the animosity stems from is how intimidated Heather must feel about how close Bethenny and Ramona are, an idea so hilarious on so many levels that I was sure that I could hear a sea turtle guffaw in the sunny distance. It all turns out fine though – for now. Heather comes over and asks if Bethenny is talking about her and Bethenny responds, “a hundred percent," without even an embarrassed pause and then Bethenny laughingly picks Heather up and carries her towards the water and Heather pulls down Bethenny’s bathing suit so we can all see how pert one’s bottom can be if you rarely eat and stay clinically depressed and everyone is happy again then and they all go paddle boarding like any of this kind of interaction between grown and educated women is even in the proximity of normal.
The happy interactions continue into the early evening. Kristen shows everyone her nail polish bottles and even Bethenny commends her on the packaging and then Heather goes outside to sit with Sonja who has just called her daughter to say goodnight and has just heard from Dominik, the man she will remain incredibly serious about until she meets a guy who has a black card. Heather is there beside Sonja to apologize for how she brought up that she thinks Sonja has a drinking problem and for not being supportive of her. Sonja accepts that apology but tells us in an aside like she’s Richard III that she will wait to see if Heather actually keeps her promise.
There’s a real issue going on here with Heather and Sonja and it’s that there seems to be real evidence of a drinking problem, but shockingly the maybe-addict doesn’t like hearing such a charge so now everyone has decided to take it all back. It’s truly hard sometimes to be a good friend. If you have ever been a good friend to somebody you know how very true that is. But these apologies for having legitimate concerns – and they are being phrased as apologies for the charges, not simply for how those charges were leveled – have become the newest round of legitimate problems because pretending that they are no longer concerned is actually doing Sonja kind of a disservice.
But there’s really no time to contemplate serious things like addiction, not when Ramona and her breasts are ready to go out for the night and mingle. Ending up at an outdoor bar, Ramona and Luann quickly get on the dance floor and Luann has somehow procured herself a maraca while back at the table, Heather and Bethenny finally mutually decide to no longer plot one another’s death. It’s a sweet moment. Who could have possibly guessed that it would be Ramona’s behavior that would eventually ruin things?
See, as Ramona drapes herself across the waiter who has hopefully just earned himself a promotion or a round of free therapy, she has herself a vivid epiphany: she is simply too selfless at all times and she decides that right now is the perfect time to stop worrying about the feelings of everybody else and just finally focus on herself. I don’t need to write a punchline here, right? I mean, I will – but I think my time would be better spent punching my fist through a wall after listening to Ramona Singer say such a thing with a straight face.
Bethenny and Carole go over to talk to the owner of the bar and Ramona decides that he’s cute and she is in a flirty zone and so she saunters over and turns her body away from the women whose shoulders she has cried on and whose laps she refuses to stop dancing in to focus all the guy’s attention on her and her alone. At some point she begins to fondle his bicep, but I was momentarily distracted because, at the same moment, the Countess got down on all fours to play with a stray dog.
The next morning, Bethenny leaves to go home and she admits that she had a really nice vacation with the women in spite of the fact that, in just three days, these women fought more often than I have ever fought with anyone in my entire life. But it looks like she is leaving just in time because by ten o’clock, Ramona and Sonja appear in the living room and each one is wearing a black bathing suit with huge cutouts and Ramona has on a crochet cover-up that goes off her shoulder like she just saw Flashdance yesterday and Sonja is wearing a necklace so huge that there’s not a chance in hell that she doesn’t end up with some seriously screwed up tan lines, but at least then she will have something exciting to talk to the nation’s Premier about. Kristen, also in the room, tells Ramona that she was really rude at the bar when she ignored her friends for some guy, and Ramona responds that she wasn’t trying to be rude; she was just in a zone.
(A quick prayer for all of humankind: May we never fall into that zone, walk by that zone, or stare too hard at that zone lest we become anything like Ramona fucking Singer. Amen.)
With the plan to spend the next day and evening at The Gansevoort, Sonja and Ramona decide to head over there early and Ramona wastes no time telling the guy who works there what to do with her bags (she’d totally help him lug her stuff that is almost certainly filled with even more things that have been crocheted, but she’s done being so selfless) and then she and Sonja head out to the beach so they can avoid the others who Ramona labels dull because she is a person who cannot just get along with everybody at the same time because there’s a part of her that’s dead inside.
Now, I know I’ve been a bit rough on her – though it’s not like I picked her name out of a hat and decided to randomly attack the woman; I can only go based on what is shown on my television screen – but when Ramona stands up in her cutout bathing suit and cowboy hat on that beach and loudly impersonates the other women, I kind of want to gauge my own eyeballs out with a melon baller until I remember that memory is a very powerful thing and I’ll never lose that vision even if I actually lose vision. Still, it’s those deep thoughts about self-mutilation that is where my mind has begun to wander during this show.
When Ramona and Sonja finally deign to join the rest of the women for a beautiful lunch, Ramona again repeats that she was not trying to be rude by pretending her friends were invisible the night before. Carole kind of shakes her head at it all and explains that Ramona is still back in the 80s where the Age of Greed dictated every single variable about one’s behavior and Carole explains that what Ramona did last night was messed up. Not able to accept even a smidgen of criticism, Ramona responds that Carole should really have no opinion on how Ramona flirts because Carole is “fucking a twenty-eight year old,” and Carole is furious that she would say such a thing and phrase it in that manner and Ramona, upon being confronted, bursts into immediate fake tears about how painful her separation has been (save it for the book, Ramona!) and when she’s called on the fact that her outburst appears artificial, the tears stop instantly. It’s almost impressive. But what’s not even a tiny bit impressive is that yet another Ramona apology follows yet another Ramona outburst, and those apologies need to stop mattering to everyone because it’s the unceasing outbursts that actually matter.
And the next thing we know, Ramona is kissing the man she just moments before ordered to unpack her bags and then, just as suddenly, we cut to Ramona singing a little ditty about how her friends are all jealous of her and I’m convinced that I have to be hallucinating – that we are allhallucinating – and I can only pray that this trip begins to wear off at some point soon and that I’m in a safe place when I finally come down.
Away from the rest of the group, it’s time for Luann to apologize for thinking that Sonja has a drinking problem because there have been lots of signs that Sonja in fact does have a drinking problem. But since they are all pretending now that she’s fine, I suppose it’s great to see these two women get along and Luann says that she wants Sonja to be happy and thriving. It’s all glorious, but let’s be serious here. When anyone on this show says they’re “on a good path now,” that means that in less than twenty minutes, that path will be dug up, detonated and then pissed on by drunk, entitled American women and rabid dogs.
Away from the Sonja Apology Tour, Carole and Dorinda find themselves deep in conversation about how it feels to have lost a beloved spouse and they both seem very grateful to have the other to share such poignant thoughts with and I’m going to try to keep this nice image in my mind when Dorinda loses almost all of her shit in public by night’s end.
But before Dorinda almost makes Ramona look sane, first it’s time for dinner. Carole appears wearing a dress that defies description, but that doesn’t mean I don’t completely love it. Ramona is in a miniskirt that I think one of my students recently bought at Forever 21 but then returned because it was way too short for a seventeen year old like herself. Sonja looks like she’s wearing a life-size brocade dress that matches that of her very own American Girl Doll and Kristen looks phenomenal in a red print. On this last night, Ramona is texting at the table and Luann tells her to put her phone away because, no matter how plastered a Countess gets, she never forgets the rules of etiquette.
And let’s talk a little about Luann. Luann has been hammered for days now and she continues drinking and then launches into a discussion about the word “fuck” and whether or not it should ever be said. First of all, fuck yes it should be said. Second of all, can any of these fucking women who are hopping aboard the anti-fuck bandwagon possibly be serious? How is saying “fuck” worse than gyrating on top of strangers on camera and mainlining tequila and screaming at another adult in public and then smiling with that same woman on a generic red carpet somewhere because you both now live by the credo that there is no higher commodity than attention? Are any of these women really taking such a stance against profanity?
Dorinda is all about taking that stance. And she doesn’t like when Heather disagrees with her about the word “fuck” and how permitting the usage does not make one a good or a bad parent and she quickly moves from calm-ish to fucking furious and she screams that Heather better back that shit up (I guess saying “shit” is acceptable) and she begins gesturing insanely at the table. How is any of what she’s doing better than saying fuck? How is Dorinda actually talking about graciousness while putting forth that kind of demented energy?
She’s about had it by now, so Dorinda stands up and begins to randomly whimper that she’s a good person and Heather recognizes a drunken mess when she see one so she does her best to weave Dorinda away from the table and we end with a “TO BE CONTINUED” cliffhanger – but what exactly is the cliffhanger here supposed to be? Are we meant to wonder about whether or not Dorinda suffered from alcohol poisoning that night? If so, the mystery is solved immediately because the coming attractions clearly show her yelling at Heather again while wearing a completely different outfit. Could the cliffhanger be that Ramona was texting that guy when she walked away to go to the bathroom? Might there be anybody who really cares about such a thing?
Me? I’ll spend my time feeling apathetic about what will happen next with these women and instead focus on how I can locate one of those Being John Malkovich portals that I can scramble my way into and get plopped onto the side of some turnpike somewhere that doesn’t ever – no matter what direction I decide to wander in – lead me back to the terrifying terrain of Ramona’s World.