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"I may not be the smartest tool in the shed, but I’m pretty."
Our introductory blurbs at the top of each episode range from the brash ("Sometimes Sonja has to go commando.") to the ridiculous (Carole's "check out my great ass") to Kristen's sad sing-songy, self-loathing battle cry, quoted above.
When I first heard it, I thought "Oh no, Kristen, don't! You're not a dumb blonde; you're a smart, accomplished woman." I thought she might be buying this grotesque characterization from her Neanderthal husband and making it the feature of her personality. The evidence was to the contrary. She was a successful model, still kept herself in great shape, and was raising her children practically single handedly while husband Josh devoted himself to business.
Now I'm not so sure.
The Real Housewives of New York City is not unlike high school. At the beginning of the season you had the returning "mean girls" -- ringleader Carole, Heather (there is always a "Heather" in the "mean girls"), and occasional cameos from LuAnn slithering onto the scene. They flex their nasty muscles by aggressively preying on the outliers Ramona, Sonja, and me. They pounced on Kristen from the first day of class and recruited her for their clique. A pack of rabid Scientologists couldn’t have done it better.
Kristen's pretty head was turned by the flattery and the sense of belonging to the cool girls. Funny thing is, I don't blame her. It's seductive getting all that attention from the self-appointed smart set. Kristen took to it all too well. Her bonding with Carole and Heather led inevitably to her attacking Sonja and Ramona and Aviva.
My first experience was in what I like to call STFUgate. Kristen had called for a playdate for our kids at a pottery painting shop. We'd barely put their little hands to work scribbling on mugs when Kristen laced into me for. . . I can't even remember now. I felt I'd been led into a trap so Kristen would have the opportunity to show her aggressive mean girl side to her sponsors and our viewers. STFU, I explained to her (out of earshot of our budding artists). In response, I got the famous Kristen wide-eyed, gaping mouth look (like Edvard Munch’s "The Scream," but pretty!).
In this episode, it's Asthmagate. I'd been looking forward to the trip to Montana. I thought of it as my confident coming out party after last season's St. Barth's debacle. I was going to dance on the tables with Ramona, leer at cowboys in chaps with Sonja, and maybe even make up and talk books with Carole (OK, I know, I went too far there). Unfortunately, my asthma flared up and my doctors insisted I not go on the trip. Up until the last minute, I was hoping to be well enough, and I alerted Kristen to what was going on. Kristen flipped. She demanded I get a doctor's letter. I thought, "What, are we 12? Is this junior high?” and then I remembered, "Oh yeah, we are/it is." In the interest of appeasing the shocked and awed Kristen, I produced the letter. It actually wasn't a big deal because I thought I might need it for something else like, oh I don't know, an excuse for being late to my nail appointment or maybe missing a PTA meeting or anything where adults are treated as naughty children. I thought Kristen would be impressed that my note wasn't scrawled on a napkin saying something like, "Please excuse Aviva because I’m sick." It was from an actual board-certified doctor. Printed on real stationary. And signed. It may have helped that my primary care physician is something of a "Doctor to the Stars," with such notable patients as Andy Cohen.
But it wasn't good enough for Dr. Kristen whose knee jerk reaction to any piece of news she doesn't want to hear is "you're lying."
Kristen: "I don't understand how this could have just come on!"
Well, Dr. Kristen, that's how things somehow work in real life. Say, God forbid, someone has a massive heart attack and dies on the spot, would Kristen stand over the body, eyes blazing and say, "Oh really! Sure, I suppose this just came on. You don't really expect me to believe that!"
Or was it "Aviva can't stay away from her husband." Or "Aviva can't stand to be in the country because that's where she lost her leg." Or "Aviva can't find a cowboy boot that fits over her fake foot." Or, Carole's old refrain, "Aviva's just weird. Weird. Weird, weird, weird." Carole: you're a writer, use your words. Among civilized people when an illness prevents someone from keeping an engagement you get, "Oh, I'm so sorry; I hope you feel better soon." In Housewifeland, you get, "You're lying and by the way I hope you die from it."
I'm sorry I'm missing the trip girls, but I'm looking forward to a vacation from Kristen.
P.S.: You all know that I can laugh at myself and my physical challenge. For example, my book is called Leggy Blonde and my blurb at the top of the show is "When people tell me I'm fake, I know they're just pulling my leg." I'm even OK when friends joke about it. Usually. But whoever made that cruel practical joke of having a wheel chair with my name at the Missoula airport went too far. Cripple jokes? Really?