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Yo Gabba Gabba is still clipping the first few minutes of my Tivo – who would have thought Dr. Lance Rock and the Kountess would be competing for airtime? – so I don’t know how we ended up here but we’re having lunch with Ramona, Aviva, and Carole in an otherwise empty restaurant. It would seem the rumors that NYC dining establishments didn’t want Housewife riffraff messing with their ambiance would hold water, and I can’t help but wonder what totally off hour they are filming. 10 a.m.? Whatever time it is it’s Wine Time for Ramona, who’s already got her RAMONA Pinot topped off. She’s also brought gifts for her new friends in the form of skincare products, and I am sure she is furious that Aviva and Carole neither removed the items from the gift bag nor acknowledged the brand Tru Renewal on camera. Aviva asks why LuAnn and Sonja aren’t here; Sonja was busy, and Ramona isn’t ready to be with LuAnn in an “intimate setting”. It’s not like anyone was proposing Ramona give Lu a pap smear – it’s just lunch! or brunch! or a snack or something. we all know why Heather isn’t here, and Ramona is going to have drinks with her separately to clear the air.
Carole obviously loves to poke the Ramona Bear because she immediately observes that Heather talks a lot – almost as much as Ramona. Ramona totally misses the backhand and swings hard for the initial lob. Carole and Aviva agree that it’s sometimes hard to get one’s own thoughts into conversation with Heather, and Aviva thinks it’s because Heather talks a lot when she is nervous. Ramona interrupts to shout to the waiter that he needs to double Carole’s pasta order. Aviva tells us privately that she thinks Ramona and Heather bump heads because Ramona is a bossypants and being with her is like watching an episode of “Ramona Knows Best”. To Ramona, she observes that Heather talks in monologues and doesn’t edit. I feel for Heather because I do the same thing, but I try! Carole proposes a “talking intervention”, and Ramona seizes the idea and proposes all sorts of weird bondage devices, which say far too much about the Singer marriage and totally weird Aviva and Carole out, and me too. The ladies complain about the fact that Heather has her assistant respond to personal invitations. Ramona thinks this is a sign that Heather doesn’t care about anyone but herself. I’d love to see my mother’s friend the White Oprah and her four assistants take on Ramona, that’s all I’d like to say about that. No sign of Carole’s backup pasta serving, so Ramona starts shouting to the bartender and wait staff up front, who ignore her.
That evening, Sonja, who ditched lunch with Ramona, is meeting LuAnn at a place called Sidecar at PJ Clarke’s which is billed as a private club, very exclusive. Because you know, Lu is a Kountess. Sonja and Lu confer about the Ramonasituationa; Lu thinks Ramona strongarms and controls Sonja. Sonja thinks Ramona lacks boundaries and mostly ignores her unsolicited input. Lu observes that Ramona can either be the life of the party, or suck the life out of the party. Sonja sucks down 12 oysters, then heads off for her late night rendezvous in rare form.
The next day, Carole and her neighbor, Tripp, venture off to explore Occupy Wall Street. Carole, you recall, was a producer for ABC News until her husband died, and then she didn’t want to go back because they originally met there. Carole throws in some bits of protest wisdom such as: “one person’s mob is another person’s democracy”, and “it takes all types to make a world”. Deep. An otherwise normal-looking blonde stands in the middle of the crowd naked but for body paint. Carole gets some purple painted on her arm. When they’ve seen enough, Carole and Tripp go for a drink and talk about Carole’s lingering journalistic ambitions. At this point my husband breaks wind and tells me to write it down in my notes. We take a break for Febreze.
Speaking of air clearing, it’s now time for Heather and Ramona to meet for drinks. Heather arrives first and orders some Hoom-Ass. I like hummus just fine, but it’s not exactly the most visually appealing foodstuff, and if you are going to call it Hoom-Ass that just pretty much brings my attention right back to the fact that what I’m considering dipping my pita into is a pile of pureed tan beans. Maybe this is Heather’s strategy to get Ramona to say no-thank-you and get to keep the whole dish of Hoom-Ass to herself. Heather thanks Ramona again for her apology about failing to acknowledge the death of Heather’s dad considerately. Ramona says Heather is welcome, and then proceeds to tell her that it’s really all Heather’s fault anyway because a conversation with her is like having cold water thrown in one’s face and Heather fails to consider the feelings of others when talking about significant events in her life. In other words, keep it to yourself, Heather, and if I want to know or care anything about you I’ll ask, otherwise let’s stick to Ramonacentric topics, thank you.
Ramona then confronts Heather about the fact that neither Heather nor her assistant has responded to Ramona’s invitation to an event at which she is being honored. Ramona needs to know because if Heather’s not coming she’ll invite someone else from the B list. Heather thought she’d replied and tries to check her Blackberry, but Ramona tells her not to bother about fifteen times and stops just short of taking the damn thing and throwing it out in traffic. The real issue here is London, of course. Ramona feels she has been very welcoming to Heather and is incensed that Heather has not invited her, even though Ramona herself says their relationship feels “unnatural” and spends every moment of companionship berating Heather for something or another. Heather remains mute on London. Drinks end, Heather asks if Ramona lives nearby, and Ramona just stalks out without a word. That went well.
So with things in the toilet with Ramona, Heather meets up with the Kountess to attend an art show. After a few preliminaries, Heather DOES invite Lu to London! Well pip pip and cheerio! Lu asks if Ramona is going. Heather says she didn’t invite Ramona because Ramona doesn’t like her. I’d say that’s a perfectly good reason not to invite someone across the pond! Lu thinks that if Ramona doesn’t like Heather then that’s just one more reason for Lu to love her. Lu is so relieved Ramona’s not going because she would have gone, but would have had to “prepare herself”. Heather doesn’t want anyone to have to “prepare themselves” for their travel companions. I like her logic. The flat in London is next door to Harrods.
The next morning, Lady Morgan is roused from slumber by her intern, Elizabeth Millsaps, who Sonja just calls Millsaps like she’s a butler. Millsaps’ mother had sent her daughter to “intern” with Sonja and learn the whys, hows, rules, and ways of the world, and oh the things she’s learning from Ms. Morgan. Millsaps has brought Sonja breakfast in bed and is dispensing vitamins and the occasional mixed up dog pill. Sonja puts on her bedjacket and asks for a chocolate bar. My 2-year-old also asks for candy in the morning, but his assistant (me) doesn’t hand it out, unlike Millsaps. Sonja needs to read the Post and get caught up on gossip, and maybe or maybe not check her voicemail. Sonja really doesn’t have time to listen to voicemail – she’s a single mother, she’s gone bankrupt, her house was swamped by a hurricane, 2 of her 7 toilets are plugged up (still?), and she has a toaster oven coming out. Who has time for voicemail? After a few tries Sonja successfully updates her voicemail message to one telling callers not to bother leaving a message because she won’t listen to it. Maybe she should just get an iPod Touch and skip the calling function entirely? Very “millennial” of her.
Fast forward to night, and Heather is loitering outside a nightclub waiting for Aviva to show up. Sirens are wailing and lights are flashing, and for a moment I thought we were about to witness a rapper throwing bottles or something. But no, it’s just Aviva, who’s in another fur vest and a pair of tall black suede boots. I tell my husband she has a prosthesis and he can’t believe it. Here are my two sartorial questions about Aviva: 1) does she only wear grey?, and 2) does she have to make sure her heels are all exactly the same height so they work with her high-heel leg? Anyhoo, the pair’s destination is on the roof of this building, so Heather holds Aviva’s hand in the elevator and egads that’s a doorknocker of a ring she has on. Up on the rooftop quick quick quick, Heather takes charge and orders them each a glass of rose, which seems very summer to me, but Aviva defers. Aviva’s hear to confess that her phobias and anxieties (combined with the lack of advance notice) are conspiring to prevent her from going to London after all, but Heather’s okay with that because it means everyone gets their own room. The subject naturally turns to Ramona, as subjects are wont to do, and Heather tells Aviva she feels like she is the “target” of Ramona’s one-sided issue. Aviva tells Heather that she does talk a lot, but that she has a lot of nice things to say and can talk all she wants. Am I the only person who feels like Aviva is trying to play it every way from Sunday? Not that I blame her, but she’s going to get called on the carpet at some point.
Enough of all this, it’s time for the episode social event, which tonight is a party for Sonja’s cover of “Social Life” magazine. These Housewives sure dig up some obscure publications. I want to know what their paid subscription base is. Anyway, the ladies are all invited; the Kountess and Aviva greet each other affectionately before Ramona arrives and Lu accepts a peck before making a break for it. Is Lu going to spend this whole season ducking and hiding from the Ramonamonster? Mario, known for his subtlety, demands to inspect Reid Drescher’s left hand because he has heard a “rumor”. Reid, of course, has not yet been gifted with his belated wedding band. Ramona, the source of the “rumor”, overcompensates by shouting that she sees a unicorn, everyone look!
Carole is here looking fantastic. Her hair, usually dull-looking string, is an a shiny professional updo, she has smoky eyes going on, and a great low-cut 70’s caftan. Very Bianca Jagger. Pepe le Peu asks if she has ever been to Tex-Ass; LuAnn explains that Pepe has just met a girl from Texas who is going out with “Prince Borghese”, which is why he asks. Do you suppose “Prince Borghese” is Lorenzo from Bachelor: Italy? Could he have taken up with Erica Rose? Do they eat Hoom-Ass in Tex-Ass? And do you suppose LuAnn is aware the Borghese cosmetic empire most commonly retails at Costco? Carole tells us that LuAnn has Royal Tourette’s, D-List Royal Tourette’s at that. I personally have Lord’s-name Tourette’s, in that I can’t help taking the Lord’s name in vain whenever I am in the company of the devout. When I get really nervous I start dropping f-bombs, too. It’s just awful but I can’t stop.
Heather arrives and feebly greets Ramona. Everyone is talking about their plans for London, and Ramona cannot believe that Heather still – STILL – says nothing to her. Heather needs a drink (don’t we all?) and Ramona chases down a waiter with shouts of “Waiter! WAITER! Get another one for Heather!” Ever so graceful. Maybe next time she should just whistle. Ramona tells Aviva and Heather that her next RAMONA wine is going to be a red, and she wants the two of them to taste-test because they are regular red connoisseurs, you know. Ramona transitions to a contorted explanation that she is so welcoming and friendly and inclusive because she is okay about inviting people even when their husbands can’t come. “EXCUSE ME! WAITER!” she then shouts before rolling the evil eyes. Ramona claps herself on the back for her newfound subtlety. She’s so subtle that Heather ignores the trail of breadcrumbs.
After Sonja announces that she’s going to cut the cover cake, “not the cheese”, because she’s klassy like that, Ramona finds her way over to Aviva to bark and bitch about how Heather still – STILL – hasn’t invited her to London. “Pinot on my head!” she shouts. “She just doesn’t listen!” “Oh, she got it,” Aviva assures her. Ramona can’t understand why she has not been invited. Aviva suggests she ask Heather whether she did something to offend her. “Oh no, I didn’t do anything,” says Ramona. “I know everything I said.” And all she did was confront Heather about how much she talks so how could she be offended? Because she’s the offensive one and needed to be called out!” “Heather is so nice,” says Aviva.
Meanwhile, the party princess Sonja is running around talking about London and Ramona gets mad at her for going someplace without her. Sonja tells Ramona that sometimes she does that. Ramona tells Sonja, her best friend, that she’s “missing the f*%^ing point and YOU’RE WRONG.” Sonja thinks it’s Heather’s trip and her choice. Ramona informs Sonja that she’s disappointing her as a friend before stomping off. Aviva is speechless. This isn’t Sonja’s first time at this rodeo so she orders another drink. Ramona drags Mario into the bathroom to tell him she demands to leave thisverysecond. Sonja isn’t supporting her, she’s an airhead, she doesn’t know where her head’s at, she blows in the wind, she doesn’t make sense, she has diarrhea of the mouth, and they are OUTTA THERE. Ramona comes out yowling “BYE” and the Singers are off. She won’t even stay to hear Sonja introduce the band on her big night. “Ramona should also be worried about my feelings – that’s what’s missing,” Sonja tells her actually-supportive girlfriends.
Aviva thinks Ramona’s storming out was a childish temper tantrum. Carole thinks she’s going to stick close to Ramona because she enjoys the drama and Ramona brings the “good stuff”. Heather can’t understand why Ramona is hurt because she doesn’t even like Heather. Carole would have invited her anyway because she’s nutty. Sonja tells the group that Ramona didn’t speak to her for three years when someone else got a dress Ramona wanted at a sample sale and Sonja didn’t fight for it. Aviva, trying to be the politician, was going to suggest that Heather invite Ramona, but Heather thinks inviting her would be insincere and disingenuous, and she’s not going down that road.
Next time: Aviva tries to give Ramona advice, which is sure to go over well. LuAnn tries acupuncture to get her 47-year-old ovaries cranking again. Ramona finds out Carole’s the princess of Poland, and Ramona and Heather have it out once and for all. Or at least once and for the fifth episode. Buckle up, kittycats.
Not Hoom-Ass Bean Dip
Back when I lived in Chicago one of my favorite dining establishments was a Latin place called Mas in Wicker Park. I guess it’s now closed, but this bean dip is what they served when you were first seated. I’d take it over Hoom-Ass any day of the week.
1 c. dried Great Northern beans
4 slices bacon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1 T. minced chipotle chile (from a can with adobo)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 t. salt
pepper to taste
Rinse beans. Cook bacon in a large pot until cooked but not crisp. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, then add beans, thyme, and enough water to cover by 3″. Bring to a boil, partly cover, and simmer until just tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes, skimming any icky foam that accumulates. Drain the beans and throw out the thyme stalks, then puree in a blender or food processor with the remaining spices and enough olive oil to create a Hoom-Assy consistency. Serve with tortilla chips.