Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 5, Episode 6 of Bravo's "The Real Housewives Of New Jersey," titled "Drinking With the Enemy."
When there's too much testosterone on the home front for Kathy, she now has a place to hide: her test kitchen. As she stomps around inside, blenders all a twirl, Jacqueline and Caroline come by to check on Chef Boy, They Don't Call 'Em Mom Jeans for Nothing. (For anyone who hasn't watched the episode yet, I'm referring to how Kathy's pants are so high, they're going to be the first ones to want a cannoli.)
Ever-positive Caroline walks in, takes a quick look at how happy Kathy is and says, "What's the negative?" In her interview, she informs us that it's "totally off the beaten path, like scary." The green-eyed monster is especially unbecoming on a redhead.
Speaking of red, in walks Rosie, ready to talk about her heated talk with Teresa. "Look at this!" she says, thrusting her swollen hand in their stunned faces. She brings up the retreat, or, as Jacqueline aptly puts it, the "Gates of Hell." Nobody else wants to be part of it either, and somehow, they all overlook the fact that Rosie is obviously in need of some serious anger management and boxing classes. The next time she throws a punch, perhaps she can be a little more relaxed and have much better form.
Back at Teresa's house, the family suits up in Fabulicious aprons ... well, everyone except Gia. She hates hers because, according to Teresa, she's going through puberty. "That means she's having a BABY?!" Milania, the sage of the family, yells. Rather than use it as a teachable moment, Joe decides to school her his way: by telling her to shut up.
Then, the doorbell rings. Teresa's mom and dad are here, so reproductive issues are set aside for the time being. Her dad looks nice and strong though apparently, he's not out of the woods. During this scene of familial bliss, it's a perfect time for Bravo to roll the Giudice Family Video Reel. It includes their greatest hit: a hysterical Joe Gorga squealing like a goat trying to impersonate Taylor Swift.
Meanwhile, said squealer is out shooting golf balls with Kathy's husband Rich, a.k.a. the Lebanese Jeff Goldblum. "When I'm frustrated with my sister, usually I have sex with my wife," Joe explains, triggering gag reflexes of women across America. Really, there's no way he could say anything more unintentionally perverse could he? "But if you have a set of balls, you could blow it off." Yep. That all happened.
In keeping with the "family that is phallic together stays together" theme of the night, we head back to Teresa's home, where she's getting to third base with some homemade sausage as her father watches. Since his expression never changes, I can't tell if he's horrified or just highly medicated. He actually seems like a very sweet man, and Teresa's devotion to him is evident and very touching. This moment of kindness goes down in a room where sausage hangs from the rafters, and I'm suddenly very nervous for Moo Shu, the pig Caroline's sister brought in a few weeks ago. Has anyone heard from him?
Over at the driving range, Joe's phone rings. It's Teresa, who quickly realizes that since Joe has no clue what a retreat is, she'll have to spell it out for him. It's like the blind leading the overly-sexed blind. She explains there will be "trusting exercises," which technically means activities that really believe in each other, but I'll let that go. "As much as I wanna say no, I'll give it a shot," he says to Rich. Still, he needs to check in with Melissa before saying yes.
Speaking of Melissa, it's time for a window into her world. She's just having a normal, post-hair and makeup lunch with her gal pals Judas -- sorry, I mean Jan -- and Maria. (You'll get that brilliant reference later.) "I just got a really great book deal," she says happily. When she informs them that it's called, "Love, Italian Style: The Secrets of My Hot and Happy Marriage," her pals don't crack a smile. It seems like they've been privy to some secrets ... and judging from their dour expressions, there probably wasn't anything hot or happy about them.
As Melissa takes women's lib back about 60 years ("I don't think women understand that it's very easy to stay home with the kids, but you need to look decent ... you need to keep your husband interested"), her pals shoot each other horrified looks. She's totally unfazed, immediately moving into the part of the convo where she calls her sister-in-law a pathological liar and accuses her of being congratulatory on Twitter and a critic in real life.
Anyway, let's give Susan B. Anthony a quick second to roll over in her grave without mussing up her 'do. What's Jacqueline up to, you ask? Now, I know Jacqueline's been dealing with a lot, but I think we can all agree that "trouble on the home front" is never an excuse for wearing a chunky-knit poncho. She and her over-the-shoulder abomination hit up Robin's Closet for some shopping with Kathy, who isn't much of a fashionista herself. (There's just no room on her fashion plate for anything but cannolis.)
As they search the racks, Teresa calls Kathy. Normally, nobody ever uses speaker phone in a public place -- but since the only "real" part of "reality TV" is those four letters, Teresa's voice is suddenly booming across the store. Teresa brings up the retreat ... and then secret instigator Kathy casually asks if Jacqueline and Caroline are invited. Yes, Teresa must lie in her bed for saying, "I'm kind of in this mess with my brother because of Jacqueline," but Kathy's the one who made it for her. She practically added a crazy-flavored pillow mint and tucked her in.
With that, Jacqueline grabs the phone in a fit of rage. As they bitch each other out, Kathy gets flustered. "I'm going to leave," she says as she gazes at some clothes and doesn't budge. "LA LA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA LA LA," Teresa says faintly in the background, finally cracking under the pressure of life with the IQ of a bag of hair. "I'm actually very concerned about you because you are not acting normal," Jacqueline says gleefully from where she's inexplicably squatting on the floor. Finally, someone who makes her feel sane again! Now, the entire store is staring at them -- and not because Jacqueline is still wearing some sort of purple-and-black brocade number that I wouldn't upholster my worst enemy in.
Now, Teresa's cursing at Kathy and calling her a troublemaker, so they're both down crap creek without a fabulicious paddle.
That night, Teresa puts her anger aside, pulls on her fringed moccasin boots and heads out to dinner with her "real" social circle. They consists of Jan (remember her? She was Melissa's friend/bridesmaid/they just had lunch together like, two commercials ago) Penny, Kim D. and Jennifer, a woman who looks like the outcome of an experiment to cross humans with pugs. Jan says she's no longer friends with Melissa because she got too big for her britches ... and because she allegedly "blew" an ex-boyfriend while married. Teresa's stunned that Jan's being such a backstabber, and she makes a feeble attempt to put an end to the shit talking. "If it's the truth, everyone should know," Kim D. says viciously, foreshadowing events to come, I'm sure. Through all this, pug woman says nothing, which is a bummer because I wanted to experience barking with a Jersey accent
... And if you think that sounds sexy, you should see Melissa and Kathy (plus hubbies) at a pole dancing class. Well, technically, it's just Melissa trying to seduce everyone while Kathy looks on horrified, and Rich looks on, delighted.
Finally, Kathy gives in, throws on an oversized men's shirt ... and freaks out. "Sexy's in your head," she says in her interview. "That's why men cheat, 'cause their wives don't want to do the fun stuff," Rich says. Kathy ignores that, while Joe Gorga throws himself on the floor and starts to have some sort of seizure. Through it all, Melissa's actually talking to the pole, telling it, "You and I supposedly know each other. You should be so lucky." In short, they are all completely insane (except Kathy, who just suffers from the painful combo of low self-esteem and loser husband).
Speaking of strange marriages, what's with Caroline and Albert? I don't think I ever realized that things were a bit strained until their meal together this episode. She stresses that they are strong decades later is because they spent so much time apart at the start. Her smile says she believes the adage "absence makes the heart grow fonder," but something in her eyes is sad. When she says they'll be staying in Hoboken that night, Albert isn't amused. "I'm asking you to enjoy this phase of life," she half-begs.
Now that the kids are out of the picture and she has time to hang with her husband, she fears she doesn't recognize the man she married. Then, they engage in awkward banter about who would remarry faster if the other died. The verdict? Albert, and most likely to a 22-year-old. All together, it's a strange dinner ... and it makes me realize we might not really know the "Housewife" we've been watching all these years, either.
Melissa, desperate as ever to convince us that hers is a perfect marriage, is praising Joe for being a "big black stallion" the night before. Before she can get any more graphic, the rest of the cast (minus Teresa and Joe, plus Rosie) comes over for brunch ... and hopefully doesn't touch any surfaces.
When the retreat comes up, Rosie encourages everyone to go. "It's a big ass castle in Lake George," Rosie explains, up in the "Adirondyke" mountains. Since nobody corrects her (it's Adirondack), I assume it's just a pretty awesome Freudian slip. Actually, that would be a pretty amazing name for a back woods lesbian bar.
Everyone seems to be on board (with the trip, not my brilliant idea for a watering hole) minus Jacquline. "I don't want to resolve things with Teresa," she explains. "She's not my blood."
Apparently not full from brunch, Melissa heads over to meet the human pug (Jennifer) for lunch. Now I realize why she looked so familiar! No, I didn't see her at the dog park last week -- she was that realtor brat who came to Melissa's house and basically told her it was total crap a few weeks ago.
Either way, she's got more on her agenda than just enjoying a nice lunch: She's here to out that awful Jan. "She's not a friend," she says before spilling the entire story. Melissa's horrified that she's got her very own Brutus playing both sides of the field in broad daylight, and she doesn't want to believe it at first. This is like friggin' Julius Caeser all over again, except with even worse hair. Melissa does believe, however, that Teresa somehow had something to do with it, since she's always the common denominator in all these vicious talks. "It was Kim D.," Jennifer says knowingly. "She's got it out for you, girl."
Later, Melissa and her adoring husband head out to meet the Lauritas and Wakiles for a drink. Melissa tells them the whole sordid story (though now, she's upgraded Jan to her "best friend" to make things a bit more dramatic), reminding them that Kim D. and Teresa are always around when shit talking hits the fan. "You guys need to get her help, like she's really going crazy now," Jacqueline says, while a vodka helps loosen a few of her screws.
With that, Kim D. and her posse of hags walk in. Rich calls her over and motions for her to sit right down in the lion's den. "I heard about your little outing," Melissa says calmly to Kim D. "[Jan] doesn't like you anymore, and I have not done anything wrong," Kim D. quickly says in defense of herself. Jacqueline throws her napkin at Kim D's head and rambles on like a maniac while everyone else has it out. If Teresa gets committed (like everyone wants), she should really ask to bring Jacqueline along as her +1.
When talking doesn't seem to convince Kim D. that the cheating rumor is bogus, Melissa and Joe resort to swapping spit. "UNBREAKABLE," Melissa says while wiping her face off triumphantly. Their little display of affection may not quash the rumor, but it does get Kim D. to leave, which is a miracle in and of itself. At her age, moving quickly is getting increasingly difficult. She must have on her orthopedic shoes on, 'cause girlfriend hauled ass outta there.
Just when it seemed like there was no more crazy left in the carton, Jennifer manages to squeeze a few more drops out in the last scene of the episode. She must really be gunning for her own Bravo! spin-off, because this is more face time than most guests ever get. She's coming full circle now, having lunch with Teresa.
Clad in white to Teresa's red, it's pretty easy to tell who's about to be in the hot seat. Teresa obviously thinks she's there for wine and whine, but Jennifer quickly cuts to the chase. She admits that she told Melissa everything, and Teresa's face drops. "I want to show some kind of loyalty so she'll trust me and give me her listing," Jennifer says openly. Teresa's worried about saving her own tanned skin, and Jennifer encourages her to get a tighter grip on Kim D's leash. "It's getting turned around on you," she says. Finally, Teresa realizes that the very henchwoman she once used to do her bidding may actually have her own agenda.
We've really learned a lot tonight, dear readers, but there's one thing I feel very compelled to remind you about. Remember: True friends don't let friends wear ponchos and enter into public spaces. If you feel like a close pal has let you down synthetically, please tweet me at @sydneyraylevin. I'm hear to listen.
"The Real Housewives of New Jersey" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.