I've always been kind of fascinated by the idea of time travel, but only in a theoretical and romantic kind of way because the actual science behind it makes my head hurt. I'm guessing it all started with wishing it were me getting into that DeLorean with Michael J. Fox, but then it progressed into an idea that I started to associate with second chances and who doesn't crave a few dozen of those? I know exactly the moments I'd return to and in some I'd say something different and in some I wouldn't say anything at all. Without question, all of my elective time traveling would involve me going back to the past and not hurtling forward into the future. When it comes to the future, I just figure that I'll get there eventually.
It's probably regret mixed with the understanding that comes from retrospect that makes me daydream about getting a redo, another life, like I'm Mario trying to save the Princess. (Fun fact: when I was in the 9th grade, I could get the Princess with one life. I was in my gawky stage then. It was better for society in general that I stay indoors and I had to pass the time somehow.) Now I'd like that extra chance to go back to right some wrongs, in some cases against myself. I guess I just don't subscribe to the idea that negative experiences stem directly from fate. I think they begin with bad choices and I think I'd sleep better if I had the opportunity to correct a few. The time traveling me would be braver in some of the moments to which I returned. In others, I'd stop worrying about how I looked. I'd stay awake in a few. I'd never have entered the room in one.
Before the movie should have had a real effect on me, I loved Peggy Sue Got Married. I got shivers when Buddy Holly played over the credit sequence. I wanted to wear the silver fifties-style dress Peggy Sue wore to her prom to the mall. I managed to pretend that Nicolas Cage wasn't in the movie. And the line, "If I knew then what I know now, I'd do a lot of things differently," haunted me, even though I hadn’t lived nearly enough life yet to be haunted by anything. My biggest fear became that I would do life wrong, that the choices I would make would lead to roads I wouldn't get back from. I became determined to at least think things through and try to meander down the right paths so course correcting would be less necessary in the future.
I'd be curious to know which moments of their lives the Vanderpump Rules cast would go back and correct, and I'd like to suggest a couple as a purely sweet gesture on my part. They don't have to take my advice; after all, it's their lives and their imaginary time travel, but if they get to a point where they're having some sort of inner conflict about deciding, maybe my ideas can push them over the edge. My perspective? Stassi should go back to that time she was in middle school so she could respond with anything but, "I want to be on a reality show!" as an answer to a question someone asked her about her long-term goals. Jax should have been severely punished for whatever was his first major offense against another person that I’m guessing the person instead allowed him to get away with, setting up a behavioral pattern that is antediluvian. Katie should have put down the orange hair dye she bought a few years ago and bought Pringles at that CVS instead. Kristen never should've broken the social media stalking seal on that long ago twilight when she first broke into her boyfriend's Myspace account and instantly memorized every feature on the face of every girl who messaged him so she knew for sure who she should scrawl on her newest hit list. And James? He should bypass his entire history and crawl back into his mother's uterus so that he can do the whole thing over again and maybe not end up a badly dressed evil troll.
At any rate, I'm not crawling into a time machine with any of them. I call shotgun on that fucking DeLorean. They can call an Uber.
Maybe one of Stassi's stops on the Correct the Past tour will be to the day when she must have broken down so severely that she made the insane choice to crawl back on this show at the point when she was almost out. That had to have been a shitty day, but is it worse than ending up on Kristen's couch while pleading with people she publicly deemed beneath her to maybe just call her every once in a while and invite her to every single one of their gatherings? If she can go back in time, I’d suggest that she hop into a soothing bubble bath or go shopping for yet another heavy necklace or lock herself inside a small airless closet or do anything besides say, "Yes, my life will be way better if I'm on a show that titles an episode about me Bitch Ghost. These producers definitely have my best interests at heart! Where's that contract?"
Now, one of the things I guess I’d go back and change about my own past would be to watch this week’s episode live instead of going out and DVR-ing it because the first ten minutes of my playback was black and I have no idea what happened or how it came to pass that Shay commented that seeing Stassi in someone’s living room was like seeing a bitchy ghost. Thank God my reception came back by the time Sandoval asked her if she was living with Kristen and Stassi nodded with the same kind of abject humiliation she would if she were asked her if it was really necessary that she had to murder someone with a chainsaw.
Yes, by some strange turn of fate (or, more likely, through a producer setting up a scenario that everyone agrees to take part in), Stassi is at a gathering with people who despise her and Sandoval takes the opportunity to tell her that the fact that she’s bunking with a girl she claimed to hate – one she slapped in public no less! – takes away any and all credibility Stassi ever had. “I don’t think so,” the discredited one mumbles back meekly to a guy she could have avoided forever if only she hadn’t made the choice to go back on this fucking show. But see, Sandoval is on a roll. He wants her to know that her staying with Kristen kills everything she has ever stood for. He wants her to know that his new take on her is that her former friendships – the real ones – were constructed out of bullshit and that it’s clear that if someone is not benefitting her, she wants nothing to do with that person. Um, yeah – that’s exactly who Stassi is, and I suppose it’s all kind of sad, especially the part that hearing the truth is actually a shock for her, though I’m more apt to give her credit that she knows the truth quite well but hearing it stated to her face by someone she feels is beneath her has to hurt like a motherfucker. See, this is why she should never have signed that Bravo contract, why she never should have squatted on Kristen’s couch and why she never should have looked at Jax in the first place because it all always comes back to regret over Jax, doesn’t it? Oh, but Sandoval is not finished. He knows full well that the only reason Stassi is at someone’s house where his friends are too (seriously…my DVR was blank for the first eleven minutes and I really have no fucking idea where they are) is because she’s desperate and she’s homeless and she’s pathetic. Had she been going around and making amends with people she once claimed to be above while all was right in her world, her gesture might be seen as one of pure goodwill. But since she’s got nothing except for the undisputed knowledge of what Kristen’s sofa smells like going for her, her motives for reconciliation are more than suspect and let’s face it: only a truly desperate person wouldn’t have left that party already.
I don’t know if it’s the same evening or if it’s another evening, but Jax heads out for dinner with Schwartz and Katie. I’d focus on being hopeful that the betrothed couple has actually had sex by now, but I’m far too busy not being surprised that Jax has decided to make his brain-surgeon girlfriend believe that she needs a breast enhancement. The girl has been in California a few months and she’s working at Hooters, living with Jax, chalking up his arrest in Hawaii as him having a bad day, and supporting the two because the guy got suspended. Did Brittany win a Lucky Girl contest in Kentucky and this was the prize? Can she trade this prize in for a pregnant badger or something whose offspring will be literate?
After they’re done discussing his girlfriend’s nipples and how they need to be changed, the three delve into a conversation about Lala. Seems Jax is now fully into demonizing this girl – you know, the one he tried for weeks to fuck? Anyhow, apparently she approached Katie recently and told her that she knows they’re not friends and that it shouldn’t shock Katie that she’s having a party that Katie is not permitted to attend. As for Katie – who has never invited Lala to anything – she doesn’t even want to go to Lala’s stupid party and both of them all but stick out their tongues out at one another and snipe, “So there!” Okay, so through deductive reasoning, I’m realizing it’s Lala’s party that Stassi is at and I’m not sure how such a thing transpired. Let’s see…Lala (I think) lives in Stassi’s old apartment and they (I think) have some friends in common and there is a production team (I know) who will foster conflict amongst these morons even if it fucking kills them and so all of that must be the answer to how Stassi ended up at Lala’s kitchen table being yelled at by Sandoval. Cheers!
At some point during the saddest party ever, Stassi carefully pours two shots and brings them into a room where Scheana is sitting. The smile on Scheana’s face that spreads wide when she thinks Stassi is being kind to her looks genuine and I think there’s a hope that is always growing inside of Scheana that she and Stassi will one day be best friends and she waters that hope daily with tears. Once they finally sit down together, Stassi makes sure that Scheana knows that her issue with Katie was not about Kristen; no, her issue was with Scheana and it all comes back to the sex tape that wasn’t really a sex tape, the one that none of us has ever seen – the one that none of us would even know was out there if Stassi herself hadn’t announced it to the world while wearing a plaid dress during a reunion. It seems that Scheana showed that tape around. Maybe she even held viewing parties where it was the feature attraction. Perhaps she wrote an online critique that said that Stassi has no idea how to handle a dildo. Who even knows? What we do know is that Scheana comes right out and tells Stassi that, while she didn’t like her then, she was never involved for a second in trying to shop that tape around because she could never be a part of something so low. Stassi’s eyes fill with tears. See, she believes what Scheana is saying, but more than that, if Scheana had just screamed such a thing loud enough that someone as willfully deaf as Stassi might have heard her, Stassi never would have lost Katie as a friend! Such circular logic is giving me a terrible headache because it doesn’t fucking make sense and I wish Stassi would just shut up and go night-night on Kristen’s futon.
Back at the restaurant, Schwartz tells Katie and Jax all about his recent meeting with Stassi. Katie is not appreciating that this girl has returned like they’ve all gotten into a time machine created by the devil. No, she mourned the loss of her friendship with Stassi and she’d like to move on now. That forward momentum might be complicated by the fact that Schwartz invited Stassi to the engagement party and listen, not one aspect of that is okay, but I can’t really focus on anything besides the ring through Katie’s nose and her terribly parted hair and the fact that she’s got a style blog that is meant to give advice on how to look pretty. Shutting her tragic side-braid out of my mind, I’ll pretend to jump back on board with Katie’s decree that Stassi should not be at her party, but following along with a decree that you know will be broken just strikes me as exhausting, you know? This will be an engagement party covered by production and you know what that means? It means that Stassi will be there, so let’s not concern ourselves with a will-she-or-won’t-she, okay? It’s basically in her contract to show up and try to either ruin someone’s night or make fake amends.
As the next morning dawns, Stassi is feeling good and who better to turn to for advice and positive reinforcement about how to be healthy than Kristen, who I like to think of as Stassi’s fairy godmother so long as the fairytale begins at a bar and ends with someone bleeding. The two are drinking Red Bull and vodka before noon because both of them have such great lives and Kristen proclaims out loud that’s she’s really fun after already telling herself that she’s pretty seven times in the bathroom mirror. Know what’s not so pretty? Listening to a woman in her thirties call a twenty year old’s party “stupid” while claiming to be thrilled that she wasn’t there when the real bone of her contention lies in the idea that Lala might have had sex with the worst guy in the universe who Kristen decided was The One for a while. Can it get sadder? Why, yes – it can! As Stassi tells her new sage about how she has reached a point in her life (the sludge at the bottom of the barrel) where she can finally let things go, Kristen supports her and tells her that she is doing great! She is lining up her stepping-stones to get to Katie! She is working her way up the totem pole! They can all be best friends again like nothing ever happened! Sure, Kristen slept with Jax while he was with Stassi and lied to her for a year about it. Okay, Stassi smacked Kristen across the face in public and told her that she is the stench that rises off the trash a homeless man took a piss on. Fine, Stassi refused to speak to Katie out of the blue. They can overcome, my friends! One day soon they will be sitting all together on some couch in some apartment and they will talk shit about Scheana – cause let’s face it, Scheana’s never getting asked to sit with them for good and we all know that Stassi’s studied Mean Girls like some of us have studied Freud.
And in the most homoerotic car ride of all time, Schwartz and Sandoval sing along to Sandoval’s band’s music before turning their attention to their upcoming meeting with Pandora and Jason. Now, I might have missed something, but these guys have not yet been hired to shill sangria, right? They just keep going to meetings about maybe working for them where they make fools out of themselves? Sandoval is determined that this meeting will be different. He will not let Schwartz monopolize the conversation! It’s time for Pandora and Jason to understand his “vibe” and I for one am already giggling. But it looks like maybe Sandoval doesn’t need to worry about Schwartz saying too much because it turns out that Schwartz is not really interested in working for the liquor company. He’s still doing okay modeling and he enjoys castings and he doesn’t need a pesky job getting in the way of him making sporadic money. Sandoval knows that Katie will flip the fuck out upon hearing that Schwartz is choosing to ignore a job that might lead to some stability, but Schwartz thinks that she’ll understand and I no longer have high hopes for this couple’s future or for the possibility that they will ever have sex again.
Inside of Sur, Scheana tells Lisa that she really believes that Stassi’s latest apology is genuine. Lisa’s response is to caution Scheana about Stassi’s motivations since she believes that Scheana likes to sweep past misdeeds under the rug to keep everything in her midst looking pretend-tidy. Lisa also realizes that what Stassi’s dishing out might not be enough for Katie and she tells Scheana to allow Katie to have that conversation with Stassi in her own time. Meanwhile, over at the bar, Jax and Sandoval have a conversation that goes something like this:
Jax: Hey! Tomorrow the same people we always hang out with are getting together again! Can you make it? Maybe my girlfriend’s new tits will come too!
Sandoval: I’ll try, but I have a ton of things going on. I’m trying to better myself, see? Okay, my band might suck, but it’s still an opportunity and if I’m not embracing opportunities after baring my life on this fucking show, what’s it all been for?
Jax: Goals are stupid. You will never actually achieve anything. Hey, my name spelled backwards is Xaj!!
It’s so nice to have real friends who support and believe in you, isn’t it?
Jumping farther on the being-kind-might-get-me-things bandwagon, Jax joins Schwartz and Sandoval as they head over to Lisa and Ken’s house to hand over some clothing they no longer wear to charity. Of course, Jax is really there because he wants to look like a decent person in front of Lisa, but while he’s there, he joins the other guys in ogling a picture of Lisa where she is naked and wrapped in a fur throw. Jax takes a mental picture of it for his spank bank, but because he’s a fucking moron, he forgot to use the flash.
Downstairs, Lisa sits down with Schwartz – who now sort of knows what she looks like naked – to discuss how he told Pandora and Jason that he just couldn’t commit to selling their sangria. Lisa calls him “a big, bloody, wussy pussy” for wimping out but Schwartz tries to explain to her that he is committed to modeling, not to selling a cocktail. Lisa knows that her alcohol line is doing quite fine without the presence of Tom Schwartz, but she is concerned that this bailing out is an indication of how he handles things and this is a guy who just committed to having a sexless marriage and that’s not something to take lightly. She wants him to own up and face responsibilities that will surely come his way now that he’s an adult.
Later that night, all of the Pumpers (and Kristen, who was fired from Sur for telling her manager to “suck a dick,” but, you know, that’s all in the past) show up at Lisa’s other restaurant, Pump. They’re there for a charity event and only the people who don’t matter are working down the street at Sur that evening. Kristen is sitting beside some new guy because Aleks, her last date whom I actually said some prayers for, are back to being just friends. But she does make sure to let all of us know that she and Aleks had sex four times and something sinister that’s inside of me is telling me that Kristen is mentioning the sex because the guy is seeing some other girl now and Kristen wants to make things as unpleasant for her dear friend as is humanly possible. I could be wrong, of course. (Bet you a hundred fucking bucks that I’m not.) At any rate, now Kristen is dating Carter and the guy is wearing a hat that he keeps on even while they kiss and, oh, Kristen wasn’t invited to this party either but now she just shows up places if there is the prospect of finding either alcohol or running into a recent ex-boyfriend. Yes, at this particular party that she’s crashing with her new boyfriend, Kristen can wave to both Sandoval and James and willingly putting oneself and a new guy you allege to care about into such a situation is totally normal and fuck you if you think otherwise. Now please excuse me while I go find a mirror so I can scream, “I’m five foot nine and fucking beautiful!” into it.
Shoved into a corner – where all the best DJs spin their shit – is James. Lisa approaches to tell him that she wants no distractions or funny business going down while he’s working a charity event, and James nods solemnly. He feels badly about disrespecting Lisa in the past and we all know how long James’ sensitivity lasts so I think we should all expect that he will be taking a shit on Lisa’s shoes in less than a week.
In another part of the place, Katie tells Schwartz that passing up opportunities before even exploring them is foolish and his choices are her business now since they’re engaged and they have pledged a future to one another. Katie’s a bit concerned that she’s placed her life in the hands of a guy who can’t commit (oh, sweetheart – I’ve been there) and what might this mean for her future? Will her kids be able to have new sneakers? Will they be Yeezys or will her child have to steal old New Balance sneakers from Ken like Schwartz stole the guy’s shirt?
(Also, Katie was a model? Are we all just supposed to nod like such a thing makes sense? Oh, we are? Okay.)
In another booth, Ariana asks Brittany if the rumors are true and if she is getting her boobs done? She is and she is so excited and her new areolas are coming courtesy of Jax! What’s that? Doesn’t Jax have no money? Well, he’s got a friend who is a plastic surgeon (shocking) and Brittany has been so good at overlooking his larceny charges that the least he can do is reward her with gigantic fake tits that he can feel up. The guy’s a fucking prince and the girl’s a moron and they will probably be together forever. Please Lord, do not let them breed…
At the after-party at Scheana’s house, Katie sits next to the hostess and tells her how annoyed she is at her fiancé while those enormous photographs of Scheana’s face cover the walls behind them. Katie’s really mad. Not only did Schwartz quit a job before he even started it, but he invited Stassi to their engagement party. The guy is not listening to her needs and she knows that Stassi is so manipulative and her head is spinning with all she has to think about. Speaking of needs, Jax needs for Brittany’s tits to be in the shape of teardrops and if I could smother and kill the guy with my own lovely shaped tits, I’d do it in the next twelve seconds because this guy is the fucking worst and he’s so okay with being the fucking worst and that just really offends me.
Sandoval and Schwartz sit down where it’s quiet and then Jax joins them. He’s there to tell Schwartz what a fool he is for inviting Stassi to the engagement party and that Stassi just went for the two weakest people to get back into the group: Kristen and Schwartz. He tells Schwartz that he needs to stop being such a fucking pussy. He informs Schwartz that he is “a weak link.” Realizing that Jax is just being cruel and that none of it is helping Schwartz, Sandoval busts in and tells Jax to stop, that their friend is having a rough night and this badgering isn’t helping and Jax piling on like this would be like Sandoval all of a sudden ignoring everything that’s going on around him and bringing up his band. “Shut the fuck up about your fucking band,” Jax responds evenly – like he’s just been adopted by Mephistopheles – and Schwartz, having heard quite enough, walks away from the conversation. Still stewing in his fury, Jax actually says to Sandoval – with words – “Stop pretending that you’re the number one guy in this group. I’m the number one guy,” and I want to laugh but I am just so confused that sentences like that can first formulate in a douchebag’s brain and then come out of his mouth. I know this sounds terrible and violent, but I cannot help myself: I honestly don’t know why someone hasn’t beaten the absolute shit out of this guy yet and left him bleeding on a curb with only teardrop shaped implants for him to cling on to and if I actually could go back in time, I’d travel to the place of his conception and beg his parents to use some fucking birth control.
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.