(July 24, 2012) – I suspect it’s nearly impossible for me to recap the Real Housewives of New York without burying the lead story – which is probably why I am always so bad at Tuesday morning quarterbacking what happened.
You see, I want to be faithful to the show and accurately cover what happened, but it’s tough when one scene dwarfs the others. In this case, from my perspective, Aviva Drescher‘s father George was the main event and Reid’s mother is his perfect side kick. But alas George thinks a hook up is impossible because, with her beauty, Marilyn is more likely to become catnip for a 40-45 year old Miami Beach stud.
Compared to George and his solid-gold, Reality TV take on Aviva’s tan, Kobe beef hot dog and the real purpose of Boca Raton, does it really matter that Ramona Singer invited some of the girls out to lunch on the Upper East Side’s the Atlantic Grill?
While I am sure it was fascinating to her to mine Carole Radziwill and Sonja Morgan for “the dirt” about what happened in London, I was there. I know Carole was annoyed with LuAnn de Lesseps and the “one upping” that I still don’t think really happened. And I know all about Sonja’s rivalry with the “countess” to see who can walk into rooms first. But Ramona doesn’t and she is tickled pink to hear about the faux pas of her perennial nemesis.
As always, I am delighted when Aviva Drescher enters the scene. I liked that lady from nearly the minute I first saw her because she has dignity. I’ve admired how she has managed to stay above the fray because a graceful approach to social interactions always impresses me. And I knew with every molecule in my body that this highly-educated, master of French literature would eventually spice up the drama as she did last night, after icing the ankle she injured at the fifth wedding anniversary party Sonja threw for her and her husband Reid.
AVIVA BECOMES A REAL HOUSEWIFE
Aviva’s entry to the drama began innocently enough. Breezily she mentions how she and her husband invited the Singers to Bal Harbour to see their Florida getaway pad. As fate would have it, Carole says she’s going to be in the Miami area at the same time, visiting her designer friends. Aviva also wants to invite Sonja to join them because she wants to set her up with someone whom she loves “very, very, very much. He’s very, very handsome. He’s very athletic. He’s tall, dark and handsome.”
Sweet Sonja is so excited. She knows she is the straw that stirs the drink and she’s always game to meet a tall glass of water. The hitch? Aviva tells her, “he’s a sex addict.” Then she drops the bomb: “he’s my father.”
Cool Carle doesn’t think Aviva should advertise that her father is a sex addict, but she’s definitely going to be there because, she tells us, she’s a voyeur. Aviva tells them, “it’s going to be fabulous” and that girl sure wasn’t kidding. Even before the matchmaking begins, I have loved every scene with Aviva’s father George, the Geriatric Gigolo of South Beach. But to find out more, we have to wait and wade through a to-do list of scenes both this week and next.
SONJA & THE EGOTISTICAL GRAPHIC DESIGNER
I feel like I have to mention here – though in editing this I doubt I do or should – that I do a bit of design work myself. I do have a decent eye. I have a degree in painting. None of this matters. I just lucked into getting very high end work from very high end clients out of sheer luck, nothing else. In New York City, the math is simple: Right place + Right time + Hard Work = Crazy Opportunities. Many much more talented people than I also do this kind of work. I’m okay with that. But I have to admit sheepishly, that I am pretty good at it. Recently, a few months ago, an ad I wrote and designed was picked in the press internationally on Reuters, nationally on MSNBC and it was mentioned locally in Manhattan here are there. All of it was 100% luck. Again, right place, right time. No planning whatsoever. Just God working in my favor. Nothing more, nothing less.
I mention this because that designer, James Bernard, the “big gun” that Heather Thomson enlisted to help Sonja create a corporate identity for Sonja and the City struck me as a pompous egomaniac. I checked out his website. His work is very beautiful. He seems to be primarily a book designer from Chicago and his work is clean and attractive. I have no doubt he’s forgotten more about type than I ever knew. And that would be easy. I know precisely nothing about typography. If I were Sonja, I would really listen to what he has to say about the “j” on the logo she showed him.
The reason I have an issue with his ego (which I normally think is a very good thing to have) is that he doesn’t care even slightly what she wants. In fact, as she discovered, he has no idea who she is, what she does, and more importantly, what she wants to bring to the market. I have no respect for that attitude.
You simply MUST care what your client wants. Though many designers and marketers do not agree with me, the real truth is the client is often right. It has taken me decades to learn this. And it is 100% true. Sure I argue with my clients and then I take a step back and really absorb what they have said to me and 99.9% of the time, I discover – much to my horror – that I was wrong. And when I incorporate what I created with their feedback, I hit it out of the park almost every time, as I did with that ad that gained so much attention in early May. When I ignore then, I always falter. Always.
The man who approved my ad, with whom I argued passionately, barely speaks English and yet, there he was quibbling with me about words, my primary love in life. Oh it pissed me off! And then a little birdy got in my ear and made me realize that what he said was 100% correct: what I wrote in that ad was not clear. Sure it was crystal to me, but I speak fluent English! What about all those people who don’t? What about all those people who don’t give a rat’s ass about how amused I am about turning a phrase? So I changed everything and had to admit, the ad was was sooooo much better after considering immigrant client’s guidance. But enough about boring me…
James Bernard only half hears Sonja’s concerns and is actually offended that she’s not bowing at the feet of his expertise in designing the logo for her toaster oven packaging prototype. I seriously don’t understand why he’s offended. She simply doesn’t agree with him. He may be right in which case he should state his case in a convincing manner. Instead, he only manages to convince her that what he has to say is “malarkey.” “No wonder he doesn’t get the sexy J,” she tells us.
Another problem, that I do not blame James for not understanding, is that Sonja is in a rush. It’s really not fair of her to pressure him to work faster. Great work takes time. But let’s face it: Sonja is strapped for cash and James does not share her sense of urgency. In her mind, she needs to start selling toaster ovens immediately. She suspects she’s going to need a back up plan fast. And I think she’s right. I hope she has or had the cash to pay a good designer rush charges to share her panic.
(Parenthetically, as long as I could afford one, I would buy Sonja’s toaster oven. I want one. In this heat, I need one. And for the record I do not need a colorful box that in this economy almost no one can afford to produce without printing in China and having it slow boated to the US.)
LUANN AND THE GRAPES OF WRATH
Seriously, how sadist was it that LuAnn and her boyfriend Jacques set Ramona up to look foolish at that ridiculous blind wine tasting they hosted? I know I don’t like LuAnn. Still I am honest and willing to admit she doesn’t deserve to be stamped with the “one-upper,” “friend jumper” reputation that Carole is successfully giving her. You must admit I’m not invested in disliking her enough to lie about stupid things.
When LuAnn was so excited to tell us that Jacques has a “special twist at the end,” it’s going to “really fun,” I really thought there would be something amusing in store. But, as it turns out, what she means by fun is sadistically trying to mock Ramona’s knowledge of her own pinot grigio, I almost felt sorry for LuAnn and her sense of humor. What does she get out of highlighting that Ramona is not a master sommelier?
There is no reason whatsoever that Ramona needs to know lots about wine. She is not a winemaker. She does not grow or blend grapes. She did not graduate from UC Davis’s Viticulture & Enology department. She likes to drink wine, particularly light-bodied white wines, despite her claim that the pinot grigio she was blind tasting wasn’t perfect because it wasn’t full-bodied enough for her.
(Body refers to mouth feel. A great description I heard at one point is that wine people define the difference between full, medium, and light bodied wines by likening them to heavy cream, whole milk and skim. LuAnn and Jacques are mean-spirited to put Ramona on the spot to misidentify her own wine in the blind tasting and in the process to highlight her lack of an understanding of wine vocabulary. Not that anyone cares, but to my limited knowledge, there is no pinot grigio on earth that is anything but light bodied.)
The person in that room who knew the most about wine was the master of wine, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan (one of only four American women to have achieved this title) and if you’ll notice she was the kindest person in the room about the subject and what Ramona knows. While Jennifer is praising what Ramona does know, LuAnn and Jacques are peeing their knickers, laughing about what she didn’t know. Once again I’m with Aviva. It wasn’t “cute or funny.” But thank heavens we made it through the logo malarkey and the grape shenanigans and now we’re safe to jet off to my new favorite place: South Florida, where the wild retirees are alive and well and looking for mischief.
BAL HARBOUR AVIVA
I loved Aviva and Reid’s gorgeous white-on-white apartment, overlooking the ocean. It looked so crisp, and tropical, and serene – until Aviva’s dad, George arrived in his white jacket and cloaked in his looking-for-trouble attitude.
Aviva tells us that her mother died 6 years ago and now he is a playboy. Just like the perfect side kick, Reid’s mom Marilyn follows moments later, the loving grandmother who immediately dispenses gifts to her grandchildren. Initially she almost seemed like the stereotype of warm, proper older woman…but not for long. And it just hit me why. Marilyn is Fran Drescher’s sister. Of course she’s going to be funny!
Clearly George is a handful. Almost immediately he tells Aviva that he really admires her tan and that “if I weren’t your father, boy I’d really be after you.” This is Reality TV gold. Solid 24 karat gold. Aviva has no time to address this. She merely tells her father the comment was “disgusting” and moves on. In her video diary she tells us succinctly, “it’s sick. What else is there to say?” There is nothing to say, Aviva. Your father is your gift to popular culture and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for delivering him to our TV screens.
Reid’s mom Marilyn is no less entertaining in my book. The two of them together are magic. I doubt either of them is technically part of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation, but they should be given honorary status in it. Their bizarre banter back and forth is far, far more interesting than logo designs and wine tastings.
When Reid mentions that Marilyn lives in Boca Raton, George says that is where “people go to die. Boca is God’s waiting room, okay?” the “Hebrew Home for the Aged.” Aviva says she loves her dad but he’s embarrassing. I am sure I’d be embarrassed too if my father were this outrageous, but not being related to him, I love George and I have to say I love Marilyn, too. She gives as good as she gets.
When Reid – the catalyst of all good interview-style conversations – asks how often George thinks Marilyn would call him if she were to move to South Beach, George doesn’t hesitate for a second: “never, because we can’t fool around.” Marilyn doesn’t miss a beat and asks, “what do you mean? Who said we can’t fool around?” George thinks she’s so beautiful she’s most likely to be swept away by a young stud. He thinks his best chance is to hear from her on Sundays when her 40-45 year old black Baptist boyfriend will undoubtedly be in church.
Can you imagine how great it’d be to pair these two up with Marisol’s mother from the Real Housewives of Miami? All Bravo needs to do is find three or four more feisty retirees and I am POSITIVE they’d have a hit on their hands. Come to think of it, isn’t Jill Zarin’s mother Gloria in Florida? I wonder if she’s free to hobnob with everyone else’s parents. Now that I have elected myself Bravo’s programming manager, I think Reid should host Watch What Happens Live. He knows how to ask the right questions without becoming the subject of the conversation like m’friend Andy C.
Aviva changes the subject by mentioning she is going to set Sonja up to be her father’s “next victim.” I’m not sure I am loving the “next victim” idea because I like Sonja, but George is excited to learn she’s “very sexual.” George likes this because he suspects she’s also “sophisticated.” Apropos of nothing George tells us he has a very good vibrator. Oooookay. You can just tell that Aviva is ready to crawl under the table as she told us in her interview later. And I don’t blame her. But I don’t think she has anything to worry about. No one is or should be judging her based upon her father’s hilarious banter.
I suppose I could and maybe should mention that Heather and LuAnn had their brows waxed. Personally it bored me, even when Heather practically pleaded with LuAnn to, every once in a while, allow Sonja to walk into rooms first. Watching LuAnn respond with something like “we’ll see” was the best part for me and reminded me of a hilarious scene I witnessed outside of a suburban TJ Max about a month ago.
There was a cluster of insanely cute little girls outside. They looked like they were maybe seven or eight. I wasn’t paying attention to them, until I heard one say she was no longer willing to play a certain game anymore. One girl, clearly the alpha girl, stomped her foot, put her hand on her hip and ask, “And why is that?” in the most aggressive voice I have ever heard coming out of a little girl.
The girl who was over that game replied in all seriousness, “because I’m tired of being the man.” At this point my ears are pricking up like antennas. The pushy girl is nearly enraged and repeats herself, “Oh really, and why is that?” You can only imagine who I was rooting for while pretending I couldn’t find my car keys. Then the little reluctant game player asked, “How come you always get to be the pretty one?” and then screamed “I’m sick of it!”
That was my cue. I rushed out of the store’s vestibule. But it rang in my hand all afternoon long: a long overdue ‘tween revolution in a discount store’s entryway. And then I forgot all about it until I watched Heather lobby on Sonja’s behalf to LuAnn. Like those little girls Sonja is tired of playing LuAnn’s games. And I really wouldn’t be surprised if she eventually steps up from behind the “countess,” speaks up for herself and screams “I’m sick of it!”
As much as I know that I have said far too much here, I simply cannot sign off without addressing something. No it is not that sizzle roll of scenes that teased the most explosive drama left to come this season. I have no idea what that is all about. Is LuAnn pregnant? Who doesn’t she want to know that who visited her there, wherever there was? Did Sonja and Ramona get it on? Whom is Aviva calling white trash? I have no idea and frankly I really don’t care, at least not yet.
What I want to mention, completely without proof or anything more than a long-simmering hunch, is that I truly wonder if Ramona Singer is a swinger. This is not an original thought. A friend has always suspected that she and Mario are and I have always denied it was even possible. But the more I watch this season and have flashbacks to seasons past, I wonder.
I’d really have to spend a hunk of change on iTunes and countless hours reviewing old episodes to explain why I’m getting this idea, but I remember something way back about Avery being upset that Ramona was making out with a Playboy model. I also remember Ramona and Mario dirty dancing in some random suburban party. There was a certain something-something about that crowd. Then there was Ramona telling Carole earlier this season that she really likes it when her girlfriends like her husband. She also had that seemingly innocent kiss with the captain of the Hooter’s yacht before Turtle time. Now in that sizzle reel of clips, there is a suggestion she was caught naked in a bed with Sonja.
These examples are just what immediately comes to mind without a moment’s thought. And the truth is I couldn’t care less if Ramona is a swinger. And I also must admit, I feel a little funny, two weeks in a row, wondering if two different Housewives are swingers. I just have a feeling and I also have tremendous intuition about things I really shouldn’t know anything about.
All photos are courtesy of BravoTV.com
About the Author (Author Profile)
I am a New York City publicist who specializes in promoting luxury products and experiences and occasionally moonlight as a journalist.
Relatively new to the world of blogging, I have watched and enjoyed Bravo’s Housewives shows since the first season of the Real Housewives of Orange County. I created this blog over the 4th of July holiday of 2011 because I enjoy writing and love to figure out how to blend images and words to create something that is both visually compelling and interesting to read.