Here are some really nice surprises that have happened to me just recently:
I ordered something that usually comes with a pickle and then – as though I was smack dab in the middle of a glorious dream – two pickles showed up on that plate.
I realized that the way the Jewish holidays fall this year means that I don't have to teach for a full week all September long. As a result, I have never felt so connected with my heritage in my entire life.
I couldn’t sleep one pre-dawn and I was scrolling desperately through channels on my TV and on every single one was Cindy Crawford trying to sell me moisturizer that comes from inside of a melon and then, just when I was about to break and buy that moisturizer, I stumbled joyfully upon a Dateline: Mysteries marathon. (It’s probably worth noting that this happy surprise eventually backfired on me. By the time I finally got tired, I could no longer fall asleep because I couldn’t stop myself from worrying about the prowler who would surely sneak into my house.)
I dug maniacally through my purse and triumphantly pulled free gum, a tampon, and a twenty.
I saw a certain name flash across the face of my phone at a time of day when that rarely happens.
I heard that the NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak spinoff is no longer in production. Unfortunately, both women still exist on the planet and we definitely have not heard the last from either of them.
All of the above things were surprises and they all left me feeling something resembling the lightest shades of bliss. Something that did not leave me feeling nearly as tingly was finding out that the third (and, blessedly, final) installment of the reunion for The Real Housewives of New York was airing only two days after the last part aired. I got woozy when I heard the news. I didn’t believe it at first, but I know now that my refusal to want to see the truth was simply me experiencing a small psychological breakdown caused by having to stare at Luann’s reunion dress for this amount of time.
And now that we’re on to what doesn’t surprise me, I’m just going to go ahead and boldly toss out some names. Ramona, Sonja, and Luann will never surprise me. Sure, they will write books on etiquette and about how to be a role model while acting like demons. They will claim to know people they have never met and then flutter their hands like they are waving away an annoying gnat when confronted with the news that the person has insisted that she does not know Sonja – has never even met Sonja. They will shriek and deflect and record terrible songs into existence. They will claim to have grown and changed while continuing to act exactly like the girl your mother didn’t want you to be friends with when you were in the eighth grade because that girl sucked. But none of it surprises me anymore. These women? They are not changing. Why would they change? They have earned money and endorsement deals and C-level fame for acting like monsters and their questionable sanity is simply just giggled at by now. Not convinced? Let’s use Ramona going night-night during the reunion as an example here.
It all goes down during what I’m betting the producers called The Widow Segment. First we all watch a retread of Carole and Dorinda connecting over a significant loss they have both shared and the obvious relief that crosses their features every time they talk to one another about losing their husbands. The footage includes the trip they took to London so that Carole could pick up Anthony’s ashes and what we watch includes genuine sentiment and compassion and vulnerability and the fusing together of what might just end up being a beautiful friendship. We also find out Dorinda, newly widowed, went to a book signing of What Remains and burst into tears in front of Carole, a person she didn’t know then. Before it can all get too emotional, Andy asks Bethenny about why she thinks the words “my late husband” should not be used and then there’s a lively discussion of how saying those words makes the women look old and everybody is smiling and chatting about a subject that’s being made easier to talk about because it’s being discussed through a lens of humor and that’s when Ramona’s eyes begin to grow oh so heavy. It’s just a lot, you guys. She has Mario chasing her and a daughter who is away and she danced with five men last night and she didn’t sleep with one of them because she is religious and it’s hard to maintain whatever she’s clearly having done to her eyes every fifteen minutes and she already drank nine glasses of Ramona Pinot because it’s Thursday. Let her sleep! Has the woman not already dealt with enough?
But here’s the gross part. Ramona is congratulated for being so crazy that she would fall asleep in the middle of a conversation because nobody was yelling. She is high-fived for being a ridiculous person, one so outlandishly inappropriate that she is never asked to really own her actions. I fully believe that at her next new beginnings party she will punch someone across the face because acting like a fidgety psychopath has worked well for her so far and she might figure that taking her behavior to the next level could yield her a perfume endorsement.
Before we move on, I do want to admit that there is a part of me that understands everybody’s reaction to someone like Ramona Singer. I mean, we all knew something was coming and that it was either going to be her falling asleep on that sofa or peeing on that sofa, right? So I guess we should all just shrug with relief like the rest of them and maybe giggle, "Oh, Ramona!" and then pretend that being on this show hasn't permanently warped an already incredibly warped human being.
Speaking of warped women, it’s time to get into the way Sonja is fucking delusional and Andy begins the segment with style. “Well, somewhere in Gstaad, there’s a smoky-eyed damsel with an updo waiting for her toaster oven that will never come,” muses Andy with a smirk while Bethenny looks stunned for a second that he’s being so brutally sarcastic about a ridiculous woman and Sonja just kind of smiles blankly through the entire fanciful narrative that’s even scarier than one of those crazily-bloody Grimm’s tales – and those include stories of would-be princesses hacking their toes off to cram a foot into a glass slipper! But back to Sonja. Everybody had doubts that Sonja’s fashion line actually existed until it appeared on a runway. Everybody maintains they are proud of her even though Bethenny ordered one of her items and it took six weeks to get shipped downtown. Sonja claims the buyers from Saks were at her show as a rebuttal to Heather saying she didn’t see any buyers there but that she always supported Sonja, and Bethenny – who just refuses to shut the fuck up – busts in to say that Heather did not used to be supportive of Sonja. Here’s why my belief is that Bethenny should zip it for this one: nobody believed Sonja would ever succeed with a fashion line and their collective disbelief is not rooted in the fact that they’re all so jealous of Sonja. It’s because Sonja herself seemed to have literally no idea of what she was talking about when this business came up in conversation and her VPs only spewed vague nonsense when asked a direct question and because Sonja has now all but patented herself as crazy. That Heather wouldn’t believe in Sonja and devote her time and energy to supporting an endeavor that seems like it could very easily have formed during a hallucination that took place on a chairlift where Sonja sat next to JFK, Jr. high on a mountain in Gstaad makes sense. So, Bethenny? Hush. You can jump in and wake up Ramona later.
As for how her international luxury line is going now, well, Sonja is taking baby steps. For the foreseeable future, you can only order Sonja’s clothing online and an intern will get it to you eventually. There are no plans for any of it to appear in any stores (not even Saks?), but who cares because Madonna was at her fashion show. Unfortunately, Madonna couldn’t sneak beyond the lines of security guarding the Sonja Morgan New York show and she couldn’t get in, which might be why she ended up at the British Music Awards later that evening. Unable to gain entrance into the fashion event of the decade – nay, the century – Madonna felt uncomfortable showing her face on American soil and fled and that’s why Bethenny saw footage of Madonna in Europe on that very evening and Sonja just waves her hands around like she’s annoyed that everyone is just so stupid and of course Madonna came to her show and couldn’t get in. After all, did she not write Madonna’s name herself on a piece of white paper with a Sharpie and stick it on a chair just before people arrived? Oh, that never happened? Well, stop trying to ruin Sonja’s dream anyway.
“Nobody wants to see you fail, they just want you to be honest,” Bethenny snaps right to Sonja, and I all but high-fived the TV just then. I also realized something I might have known all along: I’m fine with Bethenny jabbering away, but I only really like it if she says the things that I’m also thinking. And since someone like Ramona never sounds a bit like my inner voiceover due to the fact that I’m not clinically insane, that might be why I have no interest in hearing Ramona speak ever. Regardless of Bethenny’s blunt statement, Sonja never comes clean about telling lies and she just says that she’s realizing her dream and the rest of them just stare at her with mouths slightly opened so they can breathe. What I will say about Sonja and her fashion line involves paraphrasing something I’ve heard a friend of mine say: when you’re doing something and it doesn’t make you money, it’s not a business – it’s a hobby. And Sonja? She’s got herself a hobby.
(Before we move on from that segment completely, I must include the moment when Luann said the words, “This is one of my dresses. You don’t like it?” because I’m certain that I felt a quick rumble in the bottoms of my feet at that very second and I’m fairly sure that it was caused by the burst of spontaneous laughter that everybody who tuned into this show and has vision let fly.)
Moving on to The Great Toaster Debate – the fight that shook my faith in both humanity and small kitchen appliances for at least a day and a half – it’s over now because Sonja saw that Kristen wasn’t actually insulting her to a reporter. She therefore apologized to Kristen and said that her kindness meant so much to both her and her fashion team and on the other side of the sofa Bethenny’s head spun around quickly – just once, but I’m pretty sure it happened – because now Sonja is accepting kindness on behalf of people who don’t exist.
The Turks and Caicos segment is really just an exploration of Ramona being an asshole and Luann being a hypocrite. Let’s start with Ramona. She pushed her friends down the stairs because she wanted to snag herself the best room. She sauntered between Carole and Bethenny as they were speaking to a man because she decided she wanted him to pay attention only to her. She told Heather that the naked guy upstairs had come home with Luann instead of with her because she was sleepy and didn’t want to have to deal with anything. As for Luann, we get to rewatch as she speaks the line I’ve already wagered she’ll eventually have carved into her tombstone after turning it into her next hit single and admit that the guy she brought home might have been married. The whole bullshit montage ends with Luann laughing hysterically and Ramona shrugging off how horrible of a person she is and always will be. Also worth noting is how Ramona positively guffaws every single time Bethenny says anything remotely funny and listen, I agree that Bethenny can be pretty funny, but Ramona’s reaction doesn’t read as genuine. Instead it looks like Ramona is intimidated as hell of Bethenny and her laughter reminds me of how all those very young chicks who were Girlfriends of Hugh Hefner used to giggle at every single thing he said on that show and how their laughs sounded both nervous and perfunctory. Methinks that Bethenny has some evidence of Ramona stealing dresses from all over town or cavorting with someone she ought not be cavorting with to get this kind of nervous-laughter reaction. At any rate, both of them will undoubtedly be back next season and it’ll be interesting to see what their newest dynamic will be and where on her forehead Ramona’s eyebrows will end up.
As for the naked guy, the story seems to be that Ramona and Luann brought two guys home and Ramona became so tired (and drunk) and she wanted to go to sleep and the guy asked if he could crash there. She agreed and told the guy to get out early and so it’s not her fault that he stayed and had breakfast or that he wound up naked or that he ended up sleeping with Aleister The House Manager too. At Ramona’s explanation, everybody just kind of nods and shrugs like they do anytime Ramona says anything and Luann asks why Ramona is off the hook but she must answer to what she did on the beach? Just to be clear, I’m imagining that whatever Luann did on the beach helped to exfoliate her knees nicely, but Heather responds that it wasn’t Ramona who ended up writing a song about some girl code. As Luann is figuring out if her response to Heather should be communicated through speech, rap, or melody, Kristen busts in to tell Ramona that what she did was “gross and inappropriate” and she manages to speak four whole sentence before Ramona rolls her eyes at Kristen and Andy checks his Instagram because he’s so bored.
And let’s talk about this girl code that Luann believes so strongly in that she had her feelings about it auto-tuned and invited her daughter Victoria to be a part of it because a singing Countess’ job is much like Mother Theresa’s – you can cure society ills, only you must do it through halting and vapid lyrics. How does disrobing a married man fit into the girl code? Well, it’s complicated. He was divorcing and they were just hanging out and she “wasn’t with him” and all they did was take a walk on a beach. Obviously nobody believes her and Heather tells her that nobody cares who she fucks and doesn’t fuck and to that Luann asks what they were doing in her bedroom with a camera crew if they weren’t trying to bust her with someone? Um, I think all the footage that’s been aired (repeatedly) makes it very clear just what Heather and Carole were doing. Ramona told them the naked guy originated with Luann so they went to find out who the fuck the guy was, not to bust her while she was splayed in a position that could be seen as less than royal and Andy brings up that Luann can’t really hide what she does when there are cameras everywhere and she has experienced that life for years and years and, to make his point dagger-sharp, we travel back in time briefly to the moment when Luann tried to hide the fact that she’d gotten a pirate from St. Barths bottomless by speaking the mystical and untranslatable language of French. The fire in Luann’s eyes as Andy goes there is fierce, as is her refusal to allow Carole or Heather to speak (“Quiet, you!” she growls to them) but I have no patience for anyone who complains about their privacy being violated while they are willingly appearing on a reality show.
I guess the only thing that comes out of this is that something obviously happened off-camera between Luann and Heather that they will only hint at (but it sounds juicy!) and Bethenny of all people tells Luann and Heather that they should hug and the Countess stands up and walks towards Heather with her hulky arms outstretched and hugs her and it almost makes Carole vomit on that tufted sofa. Then somehow they all start hugging and the embrace brigade is being led by Bethenny, the coldest woman in this hemisphere, and at one point in the background we can see Luann lean over to say something to Carole but then there’s a quick cut to Bethenny hugging Ramona and that editor seriously needs to be slapped or heavily fined for not staying on Carole and Luann so we could try to read their lips and see which one was calling which a whore. During the hugging, Andy sits there wide-eyed and he is so confused by what is transpiring that he doesn’t even remember to take a selfie of himself right then and there.
At the end, a toast is made to friendship, even though raging conflicts and lowdown insults were shared between the following people – and this list is just off the top of my head:
Sonja and Kristen
Sonja and Heather
Sonja and Bethenny
Bethenny and Ramona
Carole and Heather and Luann
Kristen and Ramona
Dorinda and Kristen
Heather and Dorinda
Carole and Luann
Bethenny and Heather
The Swami Priestess and Luann's jersey dresses
But fuck all of that conflict. All that matters is that Queen Bethenny enjoyed the season. She likes everyone, even Kristen as long as Kristen doesn’t try to look her directly in the eye. “This wasn’t a dirty season,” says Bethenny. In fact, they might all leave and have dinner together! Still, if I were any one of them, I’d wait and watch the others chew and swallow their food before I went ahead and ate. It’s just about being cautious, you see. And I’d probably keep my eye on Luann during the meal. My guess is that she knows how to swallow.