Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 4 of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," titled "Gym Rats."
One minute into the show and already we're witness to a life-altering confrontation: Joe vs. Pancakes. In one corner, we've got a man with some major gastrointestinal issues. In the other, a food as flat as his wife pre-implants. Since aforementioned wife has chosen to relay last night's sickening events (Gia's party) over breakfast, something tells me it's going to be Bisquick for the win.
At the Giudice's, Teresa and Joe are having the exact same conversation, only in their version, Melissa's the awful sister-in-law incapable of showing respect.
The one thing they can all agree on is how to count to four ... except once they get there, Melissa's either at the hospital or she's home, making a voodoo doll of her father-in-law and googling "how to curse someone" while laughing like Vincent Price at the end of "Thriller."
Things are a lot less angry in Kathy's world, as she and her sister Rosie are boozin' it up with their mom. Kathy's trying to figure out what sort of a joint-party she can throw for her daughter Victoria and hubby Rich. They'll be 19 and 49 respectively, so they can't hit up a club in Manhattan as Rosie suggests (that wouldn't be fun for those who can't partake in libations). It's decided: It will be at a little restaurant/lounge of Kathy's choosing, so that everyone can equally not have fun.
The festive mood falls faster than Kathy's face between Botox injections as soon as she brings up Zio Giacinto, Kathy's uncle and Teresa's dad. Kathy's kids went to see him in the hospital, but she has not been there yet -- nor has her mother, who doesn't currently speak to him. "The more time you allow to get between you, the more time you learn to live without each other," she says, giving me pause. I have tried that with cheese, as I am viciously lactose-intolerant, but we just can't seem to quit each other.
Meanwhile, Caroline and her husband are visiting Little Town, NJ, the "everything Jersey" restaurant her sons are opening in Hoboken, the city people move to when they want to pretend they don't live in New Jersey. Hey, speaking of ventures, whatever happened to that BLK. thing they hawked last season, you ask? Turns out the water in a black bottle that looked like what you'd drink if you wanted a first-class ticket to getting the Plague didn't do so well after all. It's kind of surprising, too, because when I get thirsty, I always crave "fulvic trace minerals." But I digress. This new partnership will hopefully draw a salary, and it seems like a much better move ... though their parents aren't so sure. After years of supporting interests that never panned out, they'll need to actually see the restaurant open and watch their boys deal with guests to believe their alleged dedication.
Speaking of dedication, Melissa's busy trying to explain why her new book sort of doesn't exist. She tells her publishers that she's toiling away on a tome that is, in a nutshell, "how to achieve a modern and traditional happy marriage and keep your husband into you. It's the bible for marriage." Melissa understands that she was put on this earth to help women, but she's not complaining. This special gift for understanding relationships and sex is her cross to bear. Still, this book won't be all KY and French maid costumes. It will also delve into a very painful issue that has molded how Melissa sees men: namely, her father's infidelity. "As a provider he was amazing," she says, getting choked up. "My father would sometimes go get milk and come back a couple days later."
But lest we get wrapped up in something that's actually interesting, we must now check in on Jacqueline and Jolene (the in-home personal trainer, not the lady mustache bleach). She's the only trainer I've ever seen who comes in full makeup and a going-out top ... but then again, she's got a paying client who only seems interested in stretching her mouth. Jacquline's acting like a total kook, talking manically about Teresa and then laying on the floor for self-proclaimed "meditation." One can only hope that the high-quality speed she's definitely on has suppressed her appetite, as that's the only way girlfriend is burning a single calorie today.
Speaking of empty calories, let's check in with Teresa. She's currently getting a pedicure with her mother-in-law Filomena. Filomena is a jovial and sweet woman, but I've got her number: She must have really ticked off the higher powers somewhere along the way if creating Juicy Joe Giudice was her punishment. It seems like Teresa's looking for some wholesome advice, but the conversation quickly turns to Melissa's book. Filomena must not be Melissa's biggest fan, 'cause she calls her a prostitute ... even though she is getting a bright red pedicure at the very moment. Now if that's not the pot calling the kettle a slutty slut then I don't know what is.
As Melissa gets her book together at home, things are far from slutty. In fact, they're downright devastating. Melissa found the only card her father ever wrote her, and even my BLK. heart aches as she reads it aloud. Then, she shares the terrible memory of when her father passed after hitting a tree. It was completely unexpected, and with one call, her life was shattered. She fears sharing this pain with an audience, though, especially because it's also her mother's story. Coming home and seeing her mother curled up in a ball, torn up over her husband's affair affected Melissa -- but she's not (yet) willing to use that heartache as a stepping stone to the NYT best sellers list.
After all that emotion, it's time to focus on what's really important: drinking heavily for Rich and Victoria's birthday party. After a sweet toast and a nano-second of love, it's time for the housewives (minus Teresa) to talk about Gia's party on the mouth of hell. As Melissa argues her side, Caroline sort of defends Teresa. It's all in the name of reconciliation, though, and Caroline picks her words very carefully. However, there's really no good way to say "Teresa thinks you need to apologize," and Kathy and Melissa are completely fed up. "Just stay away," Caroline councils Kathy.
Eventually, Rich takes a moment to catch up with his wife. Bravo tries to make it seem like everything's happening seamlessly, but it's obviously been a few drinks longer than it seems, 'cause Kath seems suddenly hammered. She's doing that drunk-person thing where every section of your brain shuts down except the bit that controls saying "I'M DONE WITH _______." She's so excited to be done with Teresa that she almost falls off her chair and takes a vacation in the carpet. With that, the only person more in need of a coffee more than Kathy moseys on over. Rosie's face is taking after her name, and her limbs have seceded from the union of her body. She flails about and tells us (in much more colorful words) that it's time to have nothing to do with Teresa.
Then, she does a hand motion that is not very friendly. I'll give you a hint: it means "take it up the ass, Teresa," and she's not talking about a cleansing Katie Couric-approved colonic. With that, Jacqueline leads her away like a very unsuccessful matador dragging a bull out of the ring. "Teresa's not even at this party and she still has a way of putting a damper on it," Kathy whines. I think Eleanor Roosevelt put it best when she said "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Teresa's not doing anything here, and it's lame for Kathy to suggest that. She poisoned her own party by engaging in the conversation, and the antidote is simple: quit gossiping and move on. There's plenty to discuss, like who keeps letting Rosie turn hotel couches into shirts?
The next day, Teresa's working her issues out quite literally -- at the gym. She tries to focus, but some blood-curdling screams are making that a little hard. Turns out the dude giving birth is her brother, so she decides to make sure someone offered him an epidural.
Though Teresa tries to put up a strong front, it's obvious that the year of silence has been painful. She finally confronts Joe ... by standing over him as he gets ready to bench press. Now, the brother she hasn't seen in oh-so-long is literally talking to her lady garden. She promises she won't drop the weight, and even pushes him to work harder, shouting positive affirmations as he grunts. "What are you doing?" he finally says, obviously befuddled by the sudden change in her demeanor. He looks old in this moment, aged more by the stress from this fight than by years. "I'm 38 years old. I cry like a baby at night, you understand that? Because of the situation that's going on with my parents. BECAUSE OF YOU."
Teresa's stunned, but rather than take it out on Joe, she starts venting about Melissa. "You're obsessed with my wife," Joe says. Teresa tries to regain the upper hand by bringing up the "crazy things" Melissa tweets. She also insinuates that Melissa has "pussy whipped" Joe, and then she drops a bomb that I'm a little frightened to tell you all. Let's just figure that you got over the whole "Santa's not real thing," so you'll make it through this, too. Turns out ... Melissa LIP SYNCHS. Joe is horrified that the secret's out, so he goes for the jugular: "Oh, and you cook? Everyone knows that you don't cook. Your parents cook."
Teresa's visibly startled -- after all, her cook books are a big source of income, unlike Melissa's "hits." Joe's really out for blood, but perhaps this relationship needs to be burnt to the ground before any healing can start. And with that in mind, Joe puts Teresa in the emotional burn victims unit with this next doozy: "I'm a man. I don't call my wife a c***." "He said it on the phone to his friend, not to my face," Teresa spits. Apparently, if words fall from her husband's mouth and she's not there to see them, they didn't happen. "How does your husband treat your kids?" Joe asks. I'm not sure if it was mentioning her kids or the fact that Teresa had finally run out of rebuttals, but she finally decides she's done with this whole mess. She throws a water bottle at Joe before storming out and knocking over an innocent garbage can.
"You're obsessed with my wife!" Joe yells as she goes out. "Go cook a book!" Teresa grabs her jacket and bolts. "I might switch gyms" she says, as proof of how badly she's been hurt.
We've witnessed a lot of violence and anger tonight. I don't normally use my platform to preach, but I'd like to remind you all that garbage can abuse, though often overlooked, is a very serious issue. I hope you'll treat all the receptacles in your life with the respect they deserve. Thank you.
"Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.