Cast Blog: #RHONY

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To. . .

Carole discusses the proper etiquette required on a girls' vacation.

I loved sleepovers as a kid. Some of my favorite memories were the nights I spent at my best friend Linda’s house, spreading our pillows and sleeping bags all over her basement floor and staying up way into the morning, talking about boys and clothes and the mean girls at school.

When I got older, I discovered girls trips. My first real one was spring break my senior year of high school. I saved up my money from my job at Caldor and we went to Ft. Lauderdale, and I almost lost my virginity to someone named Mike. Well, not exactly, but it was my first big make-out session, where clothes were shed and hands were groping.

One of my all-time favorite girls trips was the summer of 2003, St. Tropez. Some friends and I rented a villa there, in town, and things that tend to happen on girls trips, happened. We drank too much at night, woke up hung over the next morning, then gossiped by the pool about the previous night’s activities until it was time to go out again. It was perfect. There was booze and boys -- and Francois! Francois was the deckhand on the catamaran we rented one of the days. He was gorgeous, and he barely spoke English. He looked like Tom Cruise. He really looked like Tom Cruise. It was uncanny, in fact, how much he looked like Tom Cruise.

Francois and I flirted on the boat and when the day turned to night we danced until all hours at Le Cav de Roy, the chicest club in southern France. (Tables were involved). Naturally he was in no condition to drive home, so I brought him back to our villa. One thing led to another and we fell in love. At least until the sun came up and I realized I had to sneak him out. We spent the next day driving along the French coastline, roaming thru quaint coastal towns, eating foie gras, pommes frites, brie, and baguettes. When I returned, of course, I was the pool gossip. Me and my Tom Cruise-alike French pirate. My girlfriends and I laughed for days -- so fun -- about my epic romance with Francois and our deep meaningful conversations.

I love the boys and I love my girls too. Was I looking forward to hosting all of the ladies in St. Barths? Well, I was looking forward to spending girl time together, gossiping around the pool as we do, and also seeing my boyfriend. It was St. Barths after all. It’s almost impossible to have a bad time there. Right?

I couldn’t help but wonder. . .what makes the Perfect House Guest?

I think if I’d handed out manuals when we first arrived, with refresher tips on how to conduct oneself as a guest on a trip, things may have gone smoother. But I didn’t, and this is late, and for what it’s worth to the rest of you, here are some houseguest etiquette guidelines from my Book of Manners & Mischief. Review them carefully before planning a girls trip to St. Barths.

The perfect houseguest, above all, arrives on time and brings all her necessary equipment such as bathing suit, tennis racquet, medications -- certainly the hostess cannot be responsible for lending personal articles to her guests, especially her medications. The perfect houseguest will stay on her medication.

The perfect guest sees that her luggage is compact, and has appropriate attire for all occasions. She should appear in the dining room at breakfast dressed for the morning’s activity. The proper attire for breakfast is a simple frock with spectator shorts.

No guest should expect to have every hour of her day planned for her, nor expect to spend each waking minute with her hostess. A hostess needs private time, lots of it. The perfect guest should consider her hostess’ arrangements before her own. She should show up to dinners on time, attend functions that the hostess has arranged, and refrain from unpleasant conversations at lunch.

The polite guest refrains from the truth if the truth is disconcerting. One who has been kept up all night by a barking family dog should not say “the dog kept me up all night.” Unless a remedy is suggested, as in the case of a dry spring roll. It is appropriate to suggest to the hostess a dipping sauce but inappropriate to suggest sex with the chef.

A good guest will roll with the punches. Expect the unexpected; things may not go exactly as you hoped. A good guest will break her nose on the window but not let it spoil everyone’s fun. A good guest should not drink the entire supply of house wine, however she should let go of expectations and help to drink some of it.

If you are a pampered rich girl and can’t get on without a maid, forewarn the hostess to that effect. If your hostess has a personal butler on staff, he can unpack your bag. A polite guest will not take up his time, however, with her luggage alone, nor should she expect him to lay out her outfits, or pick up undergarments, or again, provide sex. A good guest should never expect the master suite, even if the hostess offers it.

Do not give orders to your hostess’ house staff, use up all the towels in the bathroom, toss cigarettes about, get into political or religious arguments with other guests, flirt or make unkind remarks about your hostess’ friends, or again, drink all the wine. In fact, all of the behaviors which annoy your family at home should be avoided when you’re visiting. Your family has to tolerate you, but your hostess can strike you from her list. And probably will.

Don’t expect the household to revolve around you. Vegetarians don’t need to swallow a hamburger with a smile, but they shouldn’t expect their hostess to stop eating meat. If you have anxieties do not bother your hostess or her guests about them, over and over and over. Do not expect your hostess to provide parades or banners or parties. A good hostess will greet you with open arms, settle you in and then take care of her other guests, staff and plans. She will not drool on your husband. She has a lot on her mind.

Don’t invite visitors without asking. While some hostesses are OK with you having a friend, it is wise and gracious to clear it with them first. This is especially true if you are planning on a group of French speaking Italians, or anyone at odd hours who is dressed as a pirate. It is always unacceptable to wake up the other house guests in the middle of the night.

Being a good houseguest means being good company, be good company. Withhold complaints and get into the swing of things, be it vibrant dinner conversation or adventurous activities. A fun time for guest and hostess alike is why you're there in the first place, and it's what will get you invited back. A good houseguest wakes up hung over in the morning and gossips with her hostess about the previous night’s activities by the pool.

Lastly, always remember that you’re a guest: Remember to be gracious -- after all, she is letting you stay in her rented home. Let your hostess know that you appreciate her kindness. It is usually considerate to reciprocate an invitation but in this case don’t bother. I’m busy.

*Thanks in part to Elinor Ames' Book of Etiquette (1939) and a bunch of other stuff.

As always, you can buy What Remains here. Contact me on my website here. Follow me on Twitter here, Facebook here, Pinterest here. And follow my sister (@teresadifalco). 

Sonja: Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

Sonja explains why she and Ramona are family, why she's hiring Aviva, and why LuAnn is still her friend.

At this point, I am numb to the whole BookGate debate. I am not on anyone's side, I just hope that both books are bestsellers and that Carole and Aviva are making enough money to pay the bills with their books because BookGate has definitely taken an emotional toll on their friendship. I know that they were close and had great times together. In fact, Carole was once the godmother to Aviva's daughter. How can this come between them? Such contention over the accusations! I don't know why they let it get so heated. It's not worth it! I just hope that they can forgive each other at some point. As you get to know someone, you get to see their strengths and weaknesses -- and you have to accept those if you're going to be friends.

I was surprised when the girls laughed at me discussing my ability to forgive and voicing my Christianity. I think that it is one of the reasons that I can live my own life and not worry about everyone else's or the grass being greener. It's all relative. We are on Earth for such a short time. I am enjoying every day of my life. I am grateful for the family and friends that I have and my beautiful daughter.

I have so much more than many other people, and I remind myself of that every day with the charity work that I do. That's why I feel so much more comfortable working with artists, animals, the LGBT, and children. It's such a sensitive, caring, and loving place to be. I love my Sonja In The City event planning business because it lets me be me -- an artist and a promoter -- while helping others reach their highest capabilities. Plus I get to do all that while helping me get my daughter through school in a stable environment. It keeps me connected to the movers and shakers who help me manage my investments. I love to produce and to contribute. It makes me feel good.

I believe some of the women fail to take me seriously because I only show them my party side. There is a private side to me that most people don't see, because they only see me out at social events and while I'm entertaining. I throw a lot of events, so a lot of people only see that side, as it's my business and the way I broker some of my deals.

It is amazing how moms like Heather find strength to do dealing with their children's issues, like her son's health and hearing loss. It's what we do with loved ones. We do it with marriage partners too! I surprised myself when my ex had a terrible accident and I was called upon to deal with all of the doctors, therapists, and financial advisors.

I dont feel that Ramona called Aviva vile. She said that she had a vile side. That's different!

I'm not upset that Ramona spoke behind my back about my financial problems. She's human, and I spoke my feelings then and we worked through it the way that family does. We have too much water under the bridge to let opinions or men get in between us.

Heather questioning the legitimacy of my friendship with Ramona is just silly. She knows that we have been friends forever and whatever I have said about Ramona I have told her to her face. Heather knows this very well -- since I'm very upfront about my feelings with her.

The girls saying that Aviva's leg throw was staged is silly. I let Aviva know that everyone was saying she was fake. Even if she plans to throw it on the table to make a point, that doesn't make it staged. It just means she was pushed to a limit. I thought she was hilarious. After all, it was a private party in the back room. We weren't in the actual restaurant. Aviva doesn't go around throwing her leg around in normal restaurant situations. Maybe she and I should take her act on the road! A real dog and pony show! I always said I was a performer, a comedian, and a producer. At my Sonja In The City parties, now we can include Aviva as part of the show!

My overall thoughts of the season was that the reunion had more drama. I felt the season flip-flopped around quite a bit. Harry and I will always have a very strong relationship, just as Ramona and Aviva will always be in my life. Aviva's son Harrison is like my family.

Ramona was definitely going through something this season. I let her know I was upset, but I can't change her and she can't change me. We accept each other the way we are and we work our differences out.

I didn't know LuAnn was going through a breakup. She never shared that with me, and I was getting upset that she wasn't trusting my friendship and was blaming me for everything. I didn't give any credence to any of the rumors that were going around town through the salon that Satoko worked at. Kristen and I just asked the facialist to tell us for fun. I can't stop LuAnn from running out of parties with my guys -- just like I can't stop Harry from taking off and leaving me because he knows I want commitment and he wants to fool around. But that doesn't mean LuAnn's not my friend and that I can't speak my mind in front of her, and it doesn't mean that Harry isn't someone that I love as well.

I hope that you found the season entertaining. I hope that you don't take yourself too seriously! And when the naysayers back you into the corner, just say what Glinda the Good Witch said to the Wicked Witch of the West "Be off with you, your black magic doesn't work here!"

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