Yesterday morning I was dropping off my daughter at soccer camp at SMU when one of the young coaches, a bubbly redhead whose name, I would learn, was Kelcey said, “Are you famous? I recognize you! I know that sounds strange, but are you famous?” I looked at the several other coaches standing nearby and said to no one in particular, “What’s the prank here? Who is responsible for this?” Kelcey went on and on about how she recognized me but couldn’t recall my name. I meekly offered, “If you recognize me, it might be because I work at D Magazine.” At which point her face lit up. “That’s it!” Kelcey said. “Are you Zac Crain?” No, I am not Zac Crain. Last night at 11:30, Zac was probably fast asleep, fully clothed, on his couch. I, meanwhile, was still watching Episode 9 of The Real Housewives of Dallas, which was titled “Killing Time in Austin.” This, friends, is our penultimate RHOD recap. Let us not tarry any longer with sad tales of misidentification. On to it:
We begin with the ladies at their respective domiciles, preparing to embark on a trip together to Austin, where Brandi has a vacation house on Lake Travis. Stephanie arrives at Brandi’s house to help her pack. Brandi says to a confessional camera: “We had an amazing time at Travis’ birthday. I put a lot of Jesus juice, and I think that Jesus divinely, you know, intervented. Am I saying that right? Am I saying that right? Intervened? I’m not too smart right now.” There’s not a chance that Brandi could define the word “penultimate,” much less pronounce it.
At LeeAnne’s house, she packs while one of her dogs licks Tiffany’s face and LeeAnne accuses the dog of rape.
To Cary’s house, where her husband, Mark, tells her what she should pack. He tells her to bring more shoes. She needs a pair of wedges. More disturbing than his fetish for women’s clothes is the carbuncle on Mark’s forehead. This thing is way bigger than just a zit. Mark needs to perform surgery on himself.
Cut to the parking lot of the Rustic, where the ladies board a party bus bound for Austin. Along for the trip are Cary’s friend Courtney and the Silent Bob of the group, Marie. Stephanie and Brandi confirm before leaving that they are both wearing their party panties. That’s the first sign of trouble. As the bus gets underway, red Solo cups are filled with bubbles, and we know things will get sloppy. Brandi in a confessional: “Whenever Stephanie and I go down there, one of us is bound to get two sheets to the wind. We just kind of alternate taking care of each other.” Brandi says that the last time they were in Austin, Stephanie got so drunk “that she had her own language.” I wonder if this language had a word for “alcohol poisoning.”
Two hours outside Austin, Brandi has to pee. She explains to the whole bus that she has had two kids, which makes it hard for her to hold her bladder. Here’s a link to some helpful information about how to deal with postpartum loss of bladder control. Nowhere does it suggest using a red Solo cup to relieve yourself, which is what Brandi does in the backseat while Cary and Stephanie shield her with a blanket to provide a little privacy.
I don’t want to be too hard on Brandi for peeing in a red Solo cup while riding in a vehicle. I know childbirth can wreak havoc on a woman’s body. So can binge drinking. But, also, I once found myself in a similar situation. Many years ago, in high school, while driving to Austin with some buddies, I had to pee. Badly. And my buddies wouldn’t stop the car. We were in a station wagon. So while we were barreling down I-35 at 70 mph, I lowered the tailgate, knelt in the back, braced myself against the ceiling, and urinated out of the back of the car. We all learned a valuable lesson that night about aerodynamics. Because my urine went about 3 feet behind the car, where the stream turned into a fine mist that blew directly back into the station wagon. As my buddies yelled at me to stop and tried to take cover, I laughed uncontrollably, making it impossible to stop peeing, spraying myself, my buddies, and the car’s interior with urine. By comparison, Brandi’s Solo cup method looks demure.
Anyway, LeeAnne is disgusted by the whole thing. Brandi points out, though, that LeeAnne herself once pooped in a bag in the back of the car, a fact relayed to her by that little gossip Taylor in Episode 4. Serious music lets us know that this is serious.
LeeAnne in a confessional, in reference to the poop incident: “This was something that was very intimate that was shared between three people, and no one had my permission to share it. So I think I’m in shock.” Leaving aside that she should have said among three people, not between, I’m curious how pooping in a bag can be an intimate experience for three people. To the ladies on the bus LeeAnne says, “I never shat in a bag.” But you see what’s happening here, right? This is like Bill Clinton saying, “I never had sex with that woman.” LeeAnne is working a technicality. It sounds to me like she did poop, just not in a bag. What we have here is a distinction without a difference. Ken Starr recently lost his job at Baylor. Maybe he could investigate this matter.
The stage is set as the ladies arrive at the house, pour themselves more drinks, and pick out their quarters. LeeAnne finds her way to a poolside lounge chair, while Brandi and Stephanie stay inside and work on a first draft of their own Starr Report. Then, in a confessional, LeeAnne provides more details of the intimate incident in question: “Haven’t you ever, like, you know, like really wanted to be skinny on your birthday so you could fit in this amazing dress, so you thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll take a little Ex-Lax’? I drank too much, and everything that I took kicked in. So, yeah, it comes out. Is it something I want to share with people? No. I mean, it’s a funny joke if it’s private between you and your friends. It’s not funny when your friends try to use it to embarrass you.”
First, no, I’ve never, like, you know, done that. Second, taking laxatives to lose weight is dangerous. Third, why wouldn’t LeeAnne want to share this with people? In Charityworld, she often keynotes luncheons, telling stories about her difficult childhood. She was abandoned by her mother. She was molested by a friend’s father. She was nearly killed by her fiancé. Why not talk about her struggles with body image and the unhealthy ways she tried to stay thin? Wouldn’t women benefit from hearing about that? And, above all, why the hell am I giving this much serious thought to LeeAnne’s bowel movements? I need help.
LeeAnne reveals that only three people know about the Ex-Lax episode: Marie, Tiffany, and LeeAnne herself. By process of elimination, she figures Marie is the one who has been blabbing. In a confessional: “I am so hurt. Friends don’t do what Marie is doing. I can literally feel my heart leaking into my gut.” I literally think she needs an anatomy refresher course.
A chef shows up at the house to cook dinner. LeeAnne, Tiffany, and Brandi do Fireball shots in the kitchen. Suddenly the chef is missing. The Bravo editors show us how little they care about continuity. The three ladies are having lots of fun, but then Brandi brings up her suicidal brother, Michael, who was once again admitted to the hospital yesterday. Brandi gets all teary, understandably, because she loves her brother and because she has been drinking, by my estimate, for six hours. LeeAnne puts her hand on Brandi’s knee to comfort her and says in a confessional: “I’m done with the stupidness. This is real. This is life.” As we will see, though, she is not done with the stupidness.
All seven ladies sit down to dinner, and Brandi is so blasted that she can hardly sit upright. Courtney, the friend who doesn’t wear enough makeup, shows why she wasn’t picked as a regular cast member and asks the table which famous person, alive or dead, the ladies would invite to a dinner party. Somehow LeeAnne steers the conversation back to herself. She tries to cry while talking about her mom abandoning her as a young girl and how that makes it hard for her to trust people. Brandi strokes her arm. She announces, “I’m super drunk right now.” To prove it, she tries to open a bottle of wine and fails. Then she does some sort of gymnastics floor routine, only instead of doing it on the floor, she does it on the dinner table. The Russian judge gives her poor marks. So do all the other judges. Her dismount has her falling out of a chair and saying, “Oops, I pooted.”
I can’t help but think of Brandi’s kids, Brooklyn and Brinkley. A decade from now, when they are in their teens, they will be so embarrassed. Because the internet will still be playing this GIF of their mom doing a drunken somersault on a dinner table and because none of the real housewives of Beverly Hills would be caught dead riding on a bus.
The next morning, broken glass lies everywhere in the vacation house, and we learn just how little Bravo cares about this show. Apparently during the night LeeAnne freaked out and threatened to kill Marie for telling people about the intimate incident involving her laxative-induced incontinence. Brandi, hung over but wearing a fresh coat of makeup, says she remembers waking up in middle of night and hearing LeeAnne “literally roaring.” Cary says, “She was screaming at the top of her lungs in Marie’s face, telling her she was going to slaughter her.” So why, exactly, didn’t Bravo catch this action on camera? “Okay,” a producer said, “the ladies have been drinking all day. One of them is fall-down drunk. The most volatile of the group looks to me like her heart is literally leaking into her gut. Or maybe it’s her liver leaking into her spleen. Not sure. I’m not a medical doctor. But she is so hurt that her organs are definitely leaking. Our work here is done! Pack it up, boys! Let’s hit Sixth Street!” I mean, really. Leave behind one production assistant with an iPhone. Just in case.
LeeAnne approaches Marie at the breakfast table, site of the worst floor routine in Olympic history. Tiffany joins them, wearing an Axl Rose head scarf that she must have borrowed from the Aaron Hendra Project. Marie says that last night LeeAnne threatened her life. There follows a debate about what the word “kill” means.
Marie: “You threatened to frickin kill me.”
LeeAnne: “Marie, what you think is killing and what I think is killing are two different things.”
Marie: “You took the nuts and you slammed them over, all over the table. You followed me around and said, ‘When I don’t like somebody, you know what happens? I gut them! I gut them!’ ” Marie swears on her daughter’s life that she didn’t tell Taylor about the poop, as she begins to cry.
Stephanie, Brandi, and Cary come in and confirm that, yeah, last night was bonkers. Cary, in particular, wants to do a deep dive on what the word “kill” means. LeeAnne in a confessional: “Ain’t you never heard somebody on the street say, ‘I’m going to kill your ass’? It’s slang. It means [brushing hands together] bye.” LeeAnne tries to get Cary to stay out of it. About 10 times, she tells Cary, “It’s between Marie and I.” LeeAnne does a lot of things that bother me. Using her troubled childhood as an excuse for every instance of her unforgivable behavior, doing that air snatch thing with her hands, pretending to be religious. But you know what bugs me the most? It’s between Marie and me!
Then, to the group assembled around the kitchen table, LeeAnne says, “If I was perfect, I would be nailed to a cross. I’m not perfect.”
I take it back. This statement bugs me the most. “Hey, I know I threatened to kill you. But what do you want from me? I’m not Jesus. Also my mom didn’t love me.” I’ll tell you this, though: if they nailed LeeAnne to a cross, I bet the Bravo producers wouldn’t catch the crucifixion on camera.
We return to find Lee Anne in front of the house, asking Siri to find a taxi cab service in Austin, Texas. Okay, okay. I take it all back. This is the thing that bugs me the most. It’s called Uber! (I know that Austin is having problems with the service now, but it wasn’t back when this show was taped.) Tiffany comes outside to convince LeeAnne to stay. LeeAnne tells her friend, “It’s not okay for me to be human, but it’s okay for her to steal her man from a married wo —” She cuts herself short, realizing that she just got into an “Allow myself to introduce myself” snafu.
LeeAnne in a confessional: “In the South, we don’t talk about who stole whose husband or who destroyed a marriage, but I think breaking up a marriage versus yelling at someone [makes hands like a scale] whooo! Not even capable of being in the same scale.” Not only does it sound like English isn’t her first language, but it sounds like she doesn’t even listen to what she herself is saying.
Then there’s this weird scene where LeeAnne goes back in the house and stage-whispers to Brandi behind a closed door an explanation for threatening to kill Marie. She didn’t have a voice as a child, she says, so now she uses her voice. Of course. And it’s not like she’s Gandhi.
One more episode. Just one more.
I worried last week that The Real Housewives of Dallas had rendered me nose blind to idiocy, which was why the recaps were getting harder to write and weren’t as funny. That’s not it. This week I figured it out.
In high school, I got addicted to Days of Our Lives. One of my buddies in that urine-soaked station wagon was a huge fan of the show. He programmed his VCR so he could watch it every day after school. And he got me watching it, too. At first, I watched it from an ironic distance that let me mock my friend, on whom I had once peed. But then I got sucked in. I began to care about the storyline. It’s a defense mechanism. The mind prefers to be nourished. It wants quality entertainment. But if you feed it dreck long enough, it adapts. It softens. It begins to engage with the lives of Bo and Hope and maybe even LeeAnne, who does, it seems, need professional help.
Anyway, they all go to the Four Seasons for spa treatments while wearing full makeup. Except LeeAnne, Tiffany, and Marie stay behind in a hotel room for the purposes of reconciliation. Marie blubbers some stuff that I can’t bring myself to pay attention to because she’s not a real cast member. She and LeeAnne hug it out.
Stephanie in a confessional: “Tiffany and Marie aren’t LeeAnne’s friends. They are her bitches. Tiffany is the mouth, and she says whatever LeeAnne wants her to say. And Marie is the asshole. She takes it up the ass all the time. And then she asks for a hug after.” At which point Stephanie laughs the laugh that I once hated more than racism and genocide. Now I think I’ve come to tolerate that laugh. Where did I put the phone number for the Menninger Clinic?
We return to find the girls going out to dinner. They are in Austin, remember. So where do they go to dinner? Naturally, they go to Bob’s Steak & Chop House. I mean, why not just go to an Applebee’s? Nothing against Bob’s, you understand. But why would you go to Austin and then eat at a Dallas restaurant?
They are seated and strike up an awkward conversation about their worst fears. Sharks, spiders, stuff like that. I can’t listen. I’m still insane about the fact that they are eating at Bob’s. I mean, even Chuy’s would have been a better choice. Am I the only one who has a problem with this choice?
At dinner, LeeAnne remains quiet in a way that focuses everyone’s attention on her. Then she gets a text from Charityworld about someone needing an emcee at an event, and Cary makes the reasonable observation that they shouldn’t be on their phones, as they eat salad. Cary says to LeeAnne, “I feel like you don’t want to be here at all.” LeeAnne responds, “Please continue to judge me, Cary.”
Tension mounts as they discuss who has been attacked. Tiffany pretends that she didn’t hear LeeAnne last night say that she wanted to slaughter Marie. Brandi says, “I was drunk as a skunk in bed and I heard it and I was like ‘What the fuck is going on?’ ” LeeAnne picks at her teeth with her pinky. Hey, she’s not perfect, right?
Brandi and Tiffany talk over each other. Tiffany asks if she can finish without being interrupted. Brandi says Tiffany talks in circles. To which Tiffany responds, “I think I need to talk down on people’s levels because no one is getting what I’m saying. And maybe if you were actually comprehending the words — I mean, if I talk in circles, it’s because I want people to hear the words coming out of my mouth. Shut the the hell up and listen to me.”
And then Brandi delivers the line of the episode. I love her for this. It is so classic Brandi. She tells the table of ladies, “I am going to excuse me-self because this is so fucking stupid.” It is so hard to make a proper exit when you can’t talk. Like: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me-self?”
Dinner draws to an unsatisfying end. We don’t even get to see Bob’s famous carrot.
One more episode, people. See you again next week, if the Almighty doesn’t smote me first.