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HAPPY ENDINGS

HAPPY ENDINGS

For a long stretch of time, nothing brought the sting of anxiety to my life quite like the possibility of an ending. It almost didn’t matter what the ending encapsulated or if it was an ending that needed to come about in the first place; whether I had to bid adieu to a place or a person, I’d find myself all sorts of out of sorts.  In the aftermath of one of those endings, I’d often spend the pitch-black hours of night when the normal people were asleep staring at the tippy tops of the trees outside my bedroom window and I’d quietly pray that maybe one day someone would invent a contraption that would allow me to unzip my skin and shimmy it off so I could finally know what it meant to feel free and then I’d glance over at the clock and see it was already after four and I’d flip my pillow to the cool side and wonder if everyone sometimes has nights like these.

When you’re someone – and I’m guessing many of us sadly fit into this category – who has experienced a profound loss exactly when it was least expected, I think you unconsciously spend much of your life mentally strategizing how you can keep such a shocking stab of pain from ever puncturing your soul again.  From my own coping mechanism bag of tricks (it doubles nicely as a supple leather hobo), I’d often whip out the Think Ahead card. Of all the cards in my bag, it’s the most worn; the edges are so flimsy they’re practically translucent.  While it’s purely metaphorical, should that card ever turn into something tangible with a tarot-style illustration, the image on my Think Ahead card would likely be that of a woman with hair so sleek you just know she sleeps with her flatiron and she’d be wearing Tom Ford sunglasses to cover up the crusty goop from that time she gouged out her own eyeballs because one day she finally realized she’d spent way too much time trying desperately to gaze into the future and she’d forgotten to enjoy living in the moment and painful blindness seemed like the best option because therapy would probably bring up all kinds of other shit.

Now listen: under no circumstances am I alleging that being a grand-scheme-of-things kind of girl is the very worst thing you can be.  Thinking ahead and looking at the totality of a situation can be pragmatic – but can also be stunting.  Part of what I’ve finally realized is that one of the toughest aspects of endings for me is having to face that I didn’t revel in the seconds or the years I’d spent in a place or with a person because I was always too concerned with figuring out how it all might nestle into the big picture, the one I kept changing by coloring outside the proverbial lines.  And should there be anyone out there reading this and thinking I’m also like that! I want you to know that you are not alone, that there are legitimate reasons for your behavior – and then I want you to go outside and throw your head back and scream in the direction of the stars that you will stop living this way because doing so may temporarily make you feel safe, but in actuality there is no way to maintain a total control over a life you invite other people into and besides, what with all these recent threats from North Korea, maybe the only thing we should all be concentrating on is stockpiling canned goods.

I understand now that I’ve made certain endings far more tragic than they needed to be, especially when it turns out there was not really all that much to mourn in the first place. And with this fresh and optimistic mindset firmly in place, I feel more than ready to wave goodbye to this season of Vanderpump Rules.  I’ll miss certain things, of course.  Monday evenings just won’t be the same without my practice of checking the bracket that hangs on my refrigerator to see if this is the week I wagered Kristen would finally be dragged away to an asylum.  It will be strange for a Tuesday to arrive without knowing for sure who Stassi is currently plotting against or exactly when Schwartz plans to arrive at Sandoval’s apartment in the dead of night so he can implore his truest love to run far away with him to a place where his new wife (who smells vaguely of stale tequila whenever she exhales or tells him that he’s wrong) will never be able to locate him.  What I will not miss, however, is everything else and I think it’s because, much like Katie’s breath, this show is starting to feel stale.  I don’t care a bit if Jax marries Brittany – I just don’t want the wedding to be televised. And sweet though she clearly is, I also don’t much care that Brittany should know better than to marry a man who is such a proud moron.  I don’t care if James is faithful to a girl I know nothing about and I really don’t care if he ever becomes famous for something other than being a douchebag who was born with an inferiority complex so staggering that it somehow morphed into a superiority complex.  I don’t care if Lala ever reveals who her married boyfriend is – and I swear I’m not just saying that because I signed a NDA after frolicking with her in a bathtub – and even less of me cares about watching Stassi go on first dates or wondering exactly what must be clinically wrong with a man for him to consider marrying Kristen.  Who these people get along with is pretty much set by now and who they hate will probably never change and Jax will always be a sweaty liar and Schwartz will only stand up for himself if Sandoval cries enough tears and Ariana will never think Stassi is anything but a power-craving jerk and Stassi will never accept that the totality of her televised behavior over the years has caused some people to want to have very little to do with her and James will still be peddling his PUMP compilation CD while Kristen and Katie and Stassi shout in unison that they are not mean girls and if anyone has the audacity to claim otherwise, they will stalk that person’s social media until their collective enemy hightails it to Death Valley because living amongst the ruins of the Manson Family seems a far more appealing option than convincing this three-headed beast of anything that vaguely resembles logic. I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that I truly want to thank the powers that be for not making this a year-round series and I hope when it does return, a few new people are part of the cast because these storylines just aren’t all that compelling anymore.  That said, I’ve got some stipulations about these potential new cast members and I’m willing to offer to personally deep throat someone in a power position over at Bravo in an effort to guarantee that chick GG will never become a Vanderpump Rules regular because anyone willing to sleep with James Kennedy to get on TV is far better suited for Intervention – or a sanitarium.   

 

LESS THAN ZERO

LESS THAN ZERO

It was sweet, wasn’t it, when Katie ended the first installment of the seventy-three-part Vanderpump Rules reunion by apologizing to Lala for all the times she called her a dirty whore on national television?  So what if Katie and her coven reiterated for months and months to everyone in America with basic cable or access to the internet that Lala sucks off married guys in exchange for cash and prizes? Bygones!  I felt a flutter deep within my soul (okay, fine – maybe it was just a hunger pang) when Lala listened to the verbal mea culpa and then misted up with tears actually containing salt, proving once and for all she is not a walking blow-up doll, that the discharge that falls from her eyes is made from something other than lube. And it turns out all that needed to happen to get to Lala’s gooey center was for a person she has continually sworn doesn’t mean a single fucking thing to her to finally say something kind because, faux-bluster aside, it appears Lala is just a girl standing across from a career waitress asking that waitress to love her.

(And speaking of getting to Lala's gooey center, how many licks do you think it takes?  My guess is it all depends on whether or not you have access to a jet.)

THE YACHT'S PARKED OUT BACK

THE YACHT'S PARKED OUT BACK

Don’t you just hate it when you’re contractually obligated to sit in a semicircle in the restaurant where you sometimes work – the one with klieg lights blasting from the ceiling that cause shadows to fall upon the platters of fried goat cheese balls that are served to customers hoping to have a pretend star sighting along with a meal – and you are forced to revisit battles that have either already been resolved or will never actually be resolved and you do it all while caked in makeup and wearing some outfit with a plunging neckline?  Isn’t it just so irritating to listen to your entire wedding party reiterate all the reasons why they never thought the two of you would make it down the aisle, reasons that include the bride being a psychotic drunk and the groom dealing with periodic bouts of impotence?  Might there be anything less palatable than hearing a friend – the one with that dire sweating problem, the one you cheated on your boyfriend with twice – answer questions about why he started a rumor about that time he found you going down on his girlfriend and the only thing that can possibly make you feel better is trying on someone else’s wedding ring since the fake one you sometimes trot out is currently at home in a drawer along with the voodoo dolls you constructed out of used tampons and corn husks that are meant to resemble two people sitting in that semicircle with you?

THE KIDS ARE (PRETENDING TO BE) ALRIGHT

THE KIDS ARE (PRETENDING TO BE) ALRIGHT

Every once in a very rare and wonderful while, two people who are exactly right for one another manage to meet on this expansive and overly-populated spinning blue and green marble we call Earth and eventually they will stand together beneath an altar and get married in front of their family and their friends and everyone witnessing this spectacular union will understand that they are taking in the sight of something truly special that will last forever.

This is not one of those times.

On the surface – like, the tippy top layer of that surface – the Schwartz/Maloney wedding has everything that should make The Big Day perfect. Clear weather? Check. Dogs who refrain from shitting as they make their way down the aisle? Check. Candy already set up at the reception beside ten thousand dollars worth of flowers that almost caused the groom to have a seizure? Check. Extra dish towel invites on hand to mop up the puddles of blood just in case this is the night Kristen decides to slit Sandoval’s throat or Jax realizes who he has become and reacts by smashing his face clear into a mirror to destroy the monster staring back at him? Check. A bridal party comprised of people who hate one another and have slept with one another and have called one another fat and psychotic and whorish and stupid? Check!

SOMETHING WICKED (AND BORROWED & BLUE) THIS WAY COMES

SOMETHING WICKED (AND BORROWED & BLUE) THIS WAY COMES

I'm a huge fan of horror movies and I have been for as long as a can remember. When I was younger, it was about the testing of boundaries, of feeling briefly brave for not being the fourth grader at the slumber party having a total freak-out in the bottom of a sleeping bag. (I was the one who refused to go into a dark bathroom to call forth Bloody Mary, though. I was brave, not fucking insane.) Those sleepover nights occurred during the Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Meyers years, when the sequels climbed high into the double digits and every movie was exactly the same. I came to realize that the couple who'd just had sex during a blackout they were sure had been caused by the wind – on a calm, still night no less – would end up getting sliced in four even before the wet spot crusted over. I knew the not-so-classically-feminine girl with the unisex name like Alex or Sydney would be the one who would live because she noticed all the danger signs (minor things like the power suddenly cutting out for no reason or rivulets of plasma dripping down the walls) that the others so flagrantly ignored. I began to understand how viewer identification is formed not only through dialogue, but by which character is granted the most reaction shots and I'd congratulate myself for figuring out who the survivor would be even while everyone onscreen was still temporarily breathing.

It was during college that I took an upper-level course in Film Theory as part of my major. The professor chose a screening schedule comprised entirely of horror films and I was plunged into the dripping red world of Dario Argento. Suspiria scarred me from ever wanting to be near a ballerina, but it was Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with characters who were carved into like they were loins of pork that made the biggest impression. The setup – the action before the carnage set in – was what I liked the most. As the film that ushered the slasher genre as we now know it into the nightmares of our collective consciousness, Texas Chainsaw illustrated the stylistic and story conventions that are still employed today.

You know the deal. A group of older teenagers or post-college young adults arrive at some remote location expecting to have the time of their lives. The bland banter they share in the SUV on the way to wherever they’ll end up dying reveals their relationships and explains exactly why we will feel absolutely no sense of loss when a machete slices their spleens right out later on. Those eventual victims have no gaze, no awareness that the obvious signs of danger they're looking straight at will bring about their destruction and the viewer – fully aware of each and every danger sign – disavows a connection with them on the spot because it’s just not all that pleasant to identify with fucking idiots. The one who survives will be the girl who didn't run around naked, the one who never believed the scraping against the car hood was caused by some errant branch. She sees what we see and she says what we'd say and she screams when we'd scream. She's the only fully developed character in the entire movie while the others are so moronic that we just count down the minutes until they become carcasses.

Allow me to be clear here: I do not wish carcassdom on any Vanderpumper. For one, despite these lengthy recaps, I'm not invested in them enough to expend energy wishing that they kick it permanently. For another, who would I make terrible fun of if Jax and James and Kristen ceased to exist? (I know – I could just turn my attention to Southern Charm, a show a bunch of people have told me to recap. I've never seen it and that choice is purely a defense mechanism to protect what's left of my rotting sanity an exposure to reality television has caused.) Still, watching the tragic and terrifying buildup to Katie and Schwartz's wedding day has left me feeling like I'm shuddering my way through the first half of a horror movie where we're encountered with people we know are doomed and the fact that the entire thing will be taking place in the woods only strengthens the analogy.

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE WEDDING OFFICIANTS

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE WEDDING OFFICIANTS

A few months ago, I received a phone call from my cousin asking if I would perform her upcoming wedding ceremony. The request was so completely unexpected that a storm of thoughts immediately came tumbling wildly into my head:

Thought #1:  It was so flattering to be entrusted with one of the most important moments in someone’s life! If I were actually the kind of person who’d ever scrawl out a bucket list, performing a wedding ceremony would probably be on it!  Yes, officiating a wedding would be sandwiched between skydiving (I’m lying – I would never) and taking a walking tour of Athens where I’d politely request that the guide not take us near any statues of hybrid creatures with wings because it would probably be in very bad form to die from shock whilst crossing something off a bucket list.

Thought #2:  Did I need to get ordained? I could do that online, right?

Thought #3:  How fucking cool is the Internet?  Seriously, sometimes I can’t even believe there’s an invention that allows me to order sushi in one moment and then apply for a certification that permits me to marry people in the next. And I can do both without even having to get off my couch!

Thought #4:  Was my cousin aware that I could be ordained not just as a wedding officiant, but as a Jedi wedding officiant?  I know – it seems very Comic Con-y and I am so not a Comic Con girl – but it could be a sweet way to honor the memory of Wookie, my dog who passed away just a few months prior.

Thought #5:  Sasha and Adam’s wedding would not be the appropriate time for The 1st Annual Wookie Memorial Celebration, though I should get started on putting one together because that dog was phenomenal and she deserves to be remembered at a event where I give out bits of rotisserie chicken in gift bags like she would have wanted.  But Sasha had never once – not in her entire life – mentioned Star Wars to me.  And a light saber would really pull focus from my dress. 

It turned out that all of those thoughts were for naught; I didn’t need to get ordained.  Since Adam is from Toronto, the two of them headed to City Hall a few months before the wedding to get legally married in an effort to push along his visa because, despite what this administration is telling you about how easy it is to get into this country, it’s actually really fucking difficult and takes a very long time.  With the two of them already husband and wife in the eyes of the law, it would be my job to officiate in a non-legal way, and as flattered as I was to have been asked, I suddenly became really nervous.

“We thought of you because you’re a writer,” Sasha explained.  “We figured you’d say something great.”

The gauntlet was thrown and I took it all very seriously.  Writing what I’d say at their ceremony wasn’t at all similar to the way I used to write term papers, in that I did not wait until the last second or get high at any point during the process.  I started to work almost immediately.  I figured out a snappy intro that also had some heart.  I called my aunt to make sure Canadians speak Sarcasm.  (They do.)  I contacted both Sasha and Adam separately and asked them to tell me what it is they each love about the other so I could include authentically personal touches into what would be the most publically personal moment of their lives.

The night of the wedding was crisp and cool, odd for a New York June.  Arriving at the beautiful townhouse my cousin had chosen for the event, I felt anxious.  I kept checking my clutch to make sure I had my notes and I sort of wished I did have a light saber to give me some strength. (That’s what light sabers do, right?  I mean, I named my dog Wookie and all, but I really just liked the name.) I kept reminding myself to take deep breaths to stay calm, but I tried to do it quietly because this moment wasn’t about me.  As for Sasha, one of the two people this moment was about, well, she was absolutely composed and utterly breathtaking as she glided down the aisle in a beaded Jenny Packham gown. From the front of the room where I stood, I heard my seven-year-old niece Mackenzie turn to her mother where they both sat in the fourth row and exclaim, “I’d say ‘yes’ to that dress!”  (She’s a reality TV watcher, my Mackenzie.  And I’d sooner lock her in a closet stocked with only wire hangers than expose her to Kristen or James on Vanderpump Rules while she is still in such an impressionable stage.  I believe exposure to those kinds of allegedly-human monsters could scar her in a way that could legitimately fuck her up until the very end of time.)  But back to the wedding!  Sasha looked stunning, Adam looked handsome and happy, and the ceremony went off without a hitch, except for the moment I was supposed to place the covered glass beside Adam’s feet at the very end so he could smash it – a traditional Jewish custom that was still being done even though Adam’s not Jewish – and as I went to do it, I had to look up at him and say, “Um, I can’t bend in this dress.  You have to put it on the floor, okay?”  He smashed the thing in one heavy slam, they kissed in front of a crowd, they were married (again), and I needed myself a drink or twelve.

I couldn’t help thinking about that beautiful moment when I saw the previews for this week’s Vanderpump Rules episode and watched Lisa’s reaction to being asked to perform Schwartz and Katie’s ceremony. I was nervous about being asked to do such a thing because it’s just not the kind of request you get every day, but Lisa didn’t look nervous.  The woman has performed wedding ceremonies before. It appeared instead that Lisa would rather take shots of urine-spiked hemlock off Brandi Glanville’s concave tummy than actually have to stand up in front of a crowd and pretend that this particular union is bound to be anything but a hideous mistake.

DEN OF (EMOTIONALLY-STUNTED) THIEVES

DEN OF (EMOTIONALLY-STUNTED) THIEVES

For a certain period of time, this was the motto I chose to live my life by: In the grand scheme of things, this moment will not matter in the slightest.  Such a mindset was very helpful during years when I was almost chronically making all sorts of silly choices, like skipping Philosophy class because it started way too early (11:15AM) or lying to a boyfriend about where I’d spent the previous evening.  But even as those words swirled through my mind back then – even as I conditioned myself to believe that none of my actions could possibly really matter – a part of me was always very much aware that my rehearsed mantra was just a verbal defense mechanism meant to absolve me of the guilt I should have allowed myself to internalize. Had I felt those waves of shame, perhaps I would have made different – wiser – choices.

It was probably during the first semester of my senior year in college when that plastic bubble formed entirely out of Goldschlager and delusion finally burst. I was applying to graduate school and I couldn’t help but recognize that my cumulative GPA was lower than it should have been because of all the classes I’d skipped as a freshman back when I’d convinced myself that nothing could possibly matter in the long-run.  Though I was a Film major, it was the F that I ended up earning in Math during my first months of college when I was seventeen that ultimately prevented me from getting into NYU and I finally understood that some of the past actions I’d waved away so flippantly did impact the grand scheme of my life in the most miserable of ways.  The time had come; I had to do the adult thing and burn those ingrained words in some kind of cosmic mental bonfire.  And as the ashes of my prior mistakes wafted high into the nighttime sky, I chose a brand new motto for the next stage of my days: It’s all about the adventure.  Okay, so perhaps that one wasn’t the most mature of mottos either, but in my defense, I was twenty-one and living in Manhattan and officially single for the first time in four years and I needed the confidence to walk down those crowded streets and spend my nights ignoring the fact that I knew better.  That motto comforted me as I engaged in questionable dalliances with tattooed guys who rode motorcycles around Union Square while I hung off the back (always wearing a helmet; I was foolish but never stupid) and those words also helped me come to the moronic decision to defer graduate school so I could immerse myself in whatever I’d convinced myself was The Real World where I lasted for less than six months before crawling back to a campus because, adventure-seeking aside, I’ve just always done better in an environment where there’s a meal plan.

And then came a New Year’s Eve I spent in New Hampshire skiing with some friends.  Right at midnight, my best friend and I went outside and stood on the icy porch of the grand house we’d all rented and we screamed into a sky that was filled with vast darkness and zillions of silvery stars our most significant resolutions. Since I’d finally mastered the art of not swallowing gum, my main resolution and my brand new motto was to simply make better choices. I haven’t always honored that motto of mine, but at least I never let myself get away with the moments when I go backsliding in the way I would if my “grand scheme of things” mentality was still ruling my brain.  

The decision to continue to try to make better choices has sometimes been harder to stick to than I initially expected, but it’s allowed me to figure out some extremely important life lessons:

1.    Time itself is infinite.  Your own time, however, will always be fleeting.  Use your time carefully.  Tell the people you love how dear they are to you, even if you’re afraid.  Allow yourself to be vulnerable today because it’s always possible that you won’t have a tomorrow.
2.    Do not skimp on any of the following:  thread count of sheets (the low-count ones will literally cause chaffing); garbage bags (the cheap ones will break while you’re wearing something white that can only be dry cleaned); or face-cleansing instruments (for fuck’s sake, only trust the Clarisonic).  But if you choose to spend more than ten bucks on any sort of shampoo or conditioner, you’re a fool.
3.    If someone is truly batshit crazy, do not try to explain anything in a logical manner because batshit crazy people are allergic to logic.  And if you attempt to properly analyze a batshit crazy person for her own good to determine what exactly it was that so horribly damaged her in her formative years, maybe keep your eventual diagnosis to yourself because batshit crazy people who unironically say sentences like, “There’s no shame in my game,” after behaving shamefully view the truth with about as much joy as Superman views kryptonite or Warren Beatty views the PricewaterhouseCoopers employee who handed him the wrong envelope. 
4.    The next important piece of advice comes from Oprah who got it from Maya Angelou. Oprah and I have a great many things in common.  We both like to read and we both enjoy sitting in the woods and shrieking, “I love chips!” until every bird in the vicinity heads anywhere else, even if it’s not south.  But mostly what Oprah and I share is this belief coined by Angelou:  “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  Had I tattooed those words across my soul, I probably could have saved myself from some seriously shitty days so heed that advice, my friends. Then come join me in the forest where we can debate the merits of Ruffles vs. Pringles.
5.    Last but not least, part of making better choices is staying out of other peoples’ choices.  Since you cannot fix a relationship you’re not a part of, you should therefore maybe keep your mouth firmly clamped shut at certain moments.  To be clear, I’m not saying that anyone should ignore abuse they witness or stay mute during a conversation someone in the relationship beckons you into, but if you’re a raving lunatic like Kristen has proven herself to be – one who believes the root of all problems in all of her relationships are due to someone else’s infidelity instead of her own questionable sanity – maybe it would be best to not be the one to decide that the only thing Katie and Tom ever really fight about is that time he cheated on her two years ago.  It might also be best not to confront the groom-to-be while he’s dressed in drag and his wig sits askew on his head and he’s filled with more alcohol than oxygen and he’s spent the last several years just being a shell of a person because he’s slowly come to the realization that he’s stuck with this miserable girl and her psychopathic friends for the rest of his life.  I’m not saying Schwartz’s cheating wasn’t traumatic for Katie, but their problem – and their problem is clearly a very layered problem – is not one Kristen of all people can fix.  Stay out of romantic strife that’s not your own or you will be punished by spending your glory years living down the hall from a grown toddler still wearing a tiara on Celebrity Rehab because that’s the reality television equivalent of karma.

MEN ARE FROM MARS, KRISTEN IS FROM THE UNDERWORLD

MEN ARE FROM MARS, KRISTEN IS FROM THE UNDERWORLD

I once spent a week at a gorgeous villa in the Dominican Republic.  We were given our own butler who served us lavish breakfasts by a private swimming pool.  I had a golf cart to use at my disposal.  The water I floated in was the kind of blue you only see in one of those deluxe Crayola packages, the ones that come with the extra special hues.  And all of it might have been perfect had I not arrived with the kind of raging bladder infection that made me constantly aware of the fact that I am, without fucking question, a woman.  The pain was searing and unceasing and it all was made somehow worse when I caught a glimpse of my agony in the rearview mirror of the SUV that was shuttling me from the airport to the place my family was staying, a place they’d already arrived at two days prior.  In the reflection I saw physical suffering surrounded by about seven miles of hair that had already succumbed to the ravages of humidity and when I arrived at the front door of a palatial palace I never would have been able to afford on my own, my parents flung open the door with broad smiles that disappeared the second they saw my face.  “Give me every pain pill you’ve got,” I croaked at them, and soon my palm was filled with medicine that was yellow and some of it was pink and my mother removed four of the pills so I wouldn’t overdose and I didn’t ask a single question about what I was ingesting; I just swallowed them without water and was blessedly asleep in less than an hour.

On another April vacation, I joined two of my friends in Barbados.  All three of us were in desperate need of temporarily leaving our lives behind and we took off for the faraway beach with the hope that, when we returned home, the cosmos would have done their work and our existences would feel easy again.  We spent the first few days lolling around on the sand and dancing at dinner and drinking lots of dark rum and all was relatively calm until Thursday when I stopped at an ATM and was unceremoniously informed that there was no money in my account because the rent check I’d post-dated had been pre-cashed and there I was in another nation without any cash.  We weren’t leaving for another four days and I fell into a panic next to the counter inside the ATM vestibule and my friend Nicole pulled me out of there by unwinding me from the fetal position I’d curled into out of astonishment and fear and she gave me money to hold me over until we returned home where I could pay her back.  (I also got my period two and a half weeks early the very next morning and she graciously walked me uphill to a gas station where she bought me tampons since I’d never considered packing any and I didn’t have the money to pay for them myself.  The girl is headed straight to heaven.)

Then there was the time I went to California for a week.  We stayed at the Montage in Laguna Beach and I surrendered to the luxury quite easily.  I ate salads served to me by the pool and walked the dunes as the sun set majestically behind the horizon in the distance.  I rubbed my light sunburn with a lotion I still believe was made by the Gods that smelled of verbena and wealth and not a bit of me ever wanted to leave.  But all vacations must end eventually, so we boarded a plane bound for Manhattan and it must have been about two hours into the flight when all of a sudden the plane did a U-turn that everyone on board felt.  “We need to turn back around and land in California,” said the pilot.  “There’s been a massive power outage across the Eastern seaboard and there’s nowhere there for us to land.”  This was not long after 2001; flying already felt scary on some weird primal level and I locked eyes with strangers and they looked as nervous as I felt and the pilot must have sensed the mood because he came back on and announced, “It’s not terrorism that caused the problem.  They don’t know what it is, but it’s not terrorism.”  Being the cynic, I couldn’t help but immediately think If they don’t know what it is, how can they know what it’s not, but soon we arrived again in the land of sunshine and, since there was nowhere else to really go, we returned to the Montage and I took a surfing lesson the next day.  Eventually we found out the cause of the darkness had not actually been terrorism and that made me feel better, even when I discovered that someone who worked at the hotel entered our rooms while we lazily enjoyed the sunshine and stole all of our jewelry.

All of those vacations I took were defined by bursts of joy that were then pissed on by stark reality – and I’d still rather retake every single one of those trips than ever travel anywhere with the cast of Vanderpump Rules.  On just Night One in New Orleans, Jax and Stassi cried, Brittany became resentful that Jax has yet to burst into tears over how horribly he’s treated her, Sandoval calmly recommended therapy to the bride-to-be, Kristen crouched behind a shrub so she could get better cell service because she was finding it difficult to track Lala’s movements from across the country, and Schwartz looked like he was torn between arranging for a pedicure prior to his day of drag or using his private time to fake his own death so he wouldn’t have to get married to a woman who publicly decreed that the only reason she and her beloved fight is because of their friends – and then she chose to go on vacation them.  Seriously?  I’d take the burning pee of a bladder infection any day.

TRAVELING WITH DUMMIES

TRAVELING WITH DUMMIES

There's nothing that can fuck up a vacation more than a lack of compatibility amongst the people you're traveling with. You know what I mean. Like, sometimes you want to be at the bar until four in the morning because you've been talking to that scruffy guy who looks vaguely homeless but you know he's not because you caught a glimpse of his Prada boots and you've found out he's seen Springsteen play almost as many times as you have and he's been touching you lightly on the lower back for the last forty minutes in a way that doesn't make you want to shimmy out of your skin just so you can wash it in bleach and then the friend you're with announces that it's time for you to accompany her back to the hotel. (I'm just spitballing here, not recounting an actual experience with a friend who is now dead to me and one of the hottest men I've ever seen in real life. Also, hey Jason!) What I mean is that people who go on trips together have to be on the same page when it comes to how late they want to stay out and what it is they plan to do during the day and how you calling the entire closet while you’re still on the plane is totally fair. There must be some mutual respect that naturally exists or the vacation will turn into a miserable nightmare where you might consider doing something rash like flinging a friend off a cruise ship during a squall. (Again, that's just me writing fiction. I never once considered shoving a friend over a railing into the rough surf. Also, hey Jessica!)

 

So with the understanding that exists inside the mind of a rational adult that one should only vacation with people you're quite certain are not walking demonic entities, I can't really feel all that badly for any of the bullshit our Vanderpumpers find themselves in during their trip to New Orleans to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of two people who cannot stand the sight of one another. Look, it's bad enough when the bride and the groom stare daggers at each other over a breakfast of tequila and scrambled hatred, but the others along for whatever is the opposite of a hero's journey are also filled with barely disguised animosity. Think about it. On this one trip alone, the following enemies are expected to dine together...in public...on camera...in a place where there are knives:

Ariana and Kristen:  Though she’s pretending to be sort of lucid these days, let us not forget that Kristen spent an entire season imagining out loud how awesome it would be if Ariana got run over by a Mack truck. 

SUCH A DRAG

SUCH A DRAG

Much like any other person who went away to college and spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to sleep in cramped rooms with strangers, exist for months at a time on starch and seasoning packets alone, and broaden my burgeoning intellect, I learned many important life lessons during those four formative years:

 

·      When you live in a dorm, make sure you shower in flip-flops. There is perhaps no fungus on the planet with as much chutzpah as the fungus that lives between the tiles in a communal bathroom and since you will need your extra money to buy chicken wings and ramen, you really don’t want to have to waste your precious funds on spray cans of Tinactin.

·      No matter how beautifully your Big Sister decorated the bottle of cheap champagne she bought you with puffy paint and your sorority letters, that bottle of cheap champagne should still be viewed for exactly what it is:  a liquid demonic entity.  And should you guzzle it, you will be lying facedown in the bushes outside of Sig Ep in no time and it’s a pretty good bet that people have peed in those bushes, so not only will you lose your dignity, but your cheeks will be pressed against remnants of urine.  Instead, thank your Big Sister for the lovely bottle, swear that you will keep it atop your armoire forever, take a few sips of the fruity potent evil, and then spill out the rest when nobody is looking.  Your liver will thank you.

·      When Night You decides it makes total sense to set the alarm for 3:45AM so Morning You can get up and do some last minute studying, recognize immediately that Morning You has absolutely no intention of doing anything besides turning off that alarm and slipping back into a sleep that will then be riddled with hyper-colorful anxiety dreams about trying desperately to locate the room where the exam you haven’t adequately prepared for is being given.  (Seriously – I still have this dream and it’s always about my Evolution & Extinction class and it’s frankly insulting that my psyche has not evolved enough at this point for this particular dream to be fucking extinct.)

·      Don’t even bother learning the pretend astrological sign that correlates to your pretend date of birth on your pretend ID.  No bouncer will ask you that question as long as you’re wearing something low-cut.

·      Go to your professors’ office hours.  Not only is it far more difficult for them to fail you if they have some sort of connection with you, but some professors are worldly and fascinating and often quite funny and getting to know them will actually benefit you as a person – and I swear I’m not just saying that because my father was a professor and I’m a Freudian wet dream come true.

·      Get rid of that long-distance relationship as quickly as you can.  I loved my faraway boyfriend with my entire heart and I’ll easily acknowledge that my devotion to him probably kept me somewhat grounded, but you’ll have your entire life to be grounded.  Cut that guy loose and go dive into that sort of “good trouble” a certain Senator often advocates.  Your “good trouble” will probably not include a sit-in, but my guess is you’ll be lying down for part of it.

·      Make your peace now with the fact that for events like Halloween and Greek Week and some drunken random Tuesday, guys you know will show up at your door and ask to borrow bras and heels because someone once apparently told every single boy as he shot out of the womb that dressing like a girl is hilarious and all kinds of subversive.  Allow whatever guy who stands before your full-length mirror while trying to create the illusion of cleavage to enjoy himself, but for the love of all that is holy, do not lend him your good bras because he will stretch them out with the circumference of his back.  Also do not even bother to explain that dressing like a woman is not actually all that funny.  You’re up against a little thing here called patriarchy here, and to even try to understand why having tits is hysterical is a massive waste of time.  So just shove the guy into a bustier, tell him to curl his toes so he will walk better in heels, and then send him out the door and wave goodbye to that bustier because you’ll never want to put that thing next to your skin again.

 

College ended a long time ago, though much of it seems like yesterday, and it’s hard sometimes to fully remember all of the ridiculousness that bracketed the years I spent at an institution of higher learning.  But all of those lessons came rushing right back when I saw the preview for this week’s Vanderpump Rules episode, the one that included Schwartz dressing up like a woman for his bachelor party.  Listen, should Schwartz have some sort of sexual fetish bubbling up inside of him that causes him to feel turned on and blissfully tweaked and alive whenever he slides a thong between his ass cheeks, I have no problem with that.  Should Schwartz have a desire to dress in women’s clothing just so someone in his apartment looks stylish for more than a nanosecond, I don’t have a problem with that either.  What I do have a problem with is the juvenile notion still floating about a grown man’s head that a guy dressing up as a girl is just so sidesplittingly funny and, try as I might to be tolerant of their rampant stupidity, these Vanderpumpers are really starting to get on my nerves.