Real Housewives of Orange County Recap – 10/24/16

Ed Gein was the kind of guy who liked to keep salt, pepper, and a cupful of human noses on his kitchen table at all times. In the (quite literal) dead of night, he often went tromping about his vast Wisconsin property, his cold breath releasing puffs of misshapen mini clouds from his mouth while the skins of the neighbor he’d recently murdered or dug up from the local cemetery flapped against his body. (I’m guessing those extra skins served to keep him slightly warm, much like that light nylon jacket I love, the one I try to keep wearing until I break out into the sort of shakes and shivers that remind me it’s about to be November in New York.) But back to Ed Gein. He allegedly was only able to recall killing a couple of his victims – like the lady from the hardware store he disemboweled in his kitchen – but he claimed that most of his other atrocities were committed while he was steeped in a heavy haze.

Many murders have occurred over the years, but few have settled into the collective unconsciousness with the same gritty resonance as Ed Gein’s bloody rampage. This, after all, is the murderous man who helped inspire the stories of Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs. And just as Gein enjoyed picking apart the different body parts of his victims, the writers and filmmakers who eventually crafted visceral stories of psychosis selected the pieces of the Ed Gein tale that would best bolster their scripted nightmarish narratives. In real life, Gein apparently liked to wear one set of human skins more than any other – and it turns out his favorite epidermis ensemble was crafted out of the skins of his own mother. Psycho eventually borrowed some of Norman Bates’ fashion predilections from that particular thread of the story. The creation of an outfit from the skins of victims is also used prominently in The Silence of the Lambs as Buffalo Bill crafts himself his very own “woman suit.” However, unlike both Ed Gein and Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill never found himself in a hazy stupor. No, he knew exactly what he was doing every single step of the way, including during the moments when he advised his trapped and terrified victims to slather themselves with lotion because that kind of conditioning would make their skins far easier to work with once the sewing portion of the horror got underway.

As for Leatherface and his cannibalistic clan, the décor of the stark house where most of the movie’s travesties take place is modeled after Ed Gein’s home. It wasn’t a sectional from Ikea or West Elm that furnished Gein’s living room; he upholstered his chairs with human skin and he kept the eviscerated faces of the tragically unfortunate stapled to one of his walls. Gein applied rouge and lipstick to those torn-off faces to make them look extra pretty. He had several pairs of human lips dangling from strings throughout his house. His bedposts were adorned with real skulls like an Ed Hardy creation gone berserk. In his closet was a belt with human nipples sewn upon it. He kept stacks of human organs inside his freezer, all carefully wrapped except for that one human heart found in a pot on the stove that was floating there when the police finally closed in.

One of the reasons his crimes hadn’t been found out earlier is because Ed Gein lived alone and nobody saw the mayhem as it unfolded. Before his mother died, Gein already lived an almost hermetic existence. He was allowed to attend school, but he was prohibited from socializing. His fanatically religious mother spouted daily decrees that girls were essentially instruments of Satan who existed to beckon pure boys like her son towards the Dark Side, so Gein turned away from society and came to rely on his mother almost totally. When she passed, he continued to keep her bedroom immaculate, even as the rest of the house fell into a dusty decline. Finally nabbed for one of his murders, Ed Gein was carted off to a psychiatric institution. He admitted early on that he was guilty, though he had a hard time remembering the details since much of his memory was cloaked in a heavy mental static. As for a motive, Gein’s was really quite simple: he liked to take things apart and see how things worked and he wasn’t satisfied doing such a thing with model airplanes or transistor radios, so he decided to use a local woman instead. He swore that not all the body parts decorating his home (in what I’m imagining was the foulest smelling feng shui imaginable) came from people he killed. He insisted that a lot of those skins and lips and nostrils were from his frequent grave-robbing excursions.

In 1984, Gein died in a hospital for the clinically insane. He was, by most accounts, seen as “harmless” by the hospital staff and his body was buried in an unmarked grave to keep the darkly curious at bay. But his staggering levels of depravity remain as part of our history and the imprint of his time spent constructing a loveseat out of an inner thigh can still be seen in horror movies today. As for the reasons that explain our enduring curiosity about a human being of this sort, I believe it’s because there’s perhaps nobody scarier than a person who appears somewhat normal on the outside but is so psychologically warped on the inside – and that brings me to O.C. Housewife Kelly Dodd. I cannot possibly be the only one wondering what psychological ailments might currently be ravaging Ms. Dodd. She looks relatively sane on the outside – as long as you don’t concentrate too hard on that ferocious way her eyes and teeth flash, animal-like, when she gets angry – but internally, this appears to be a woman who is in the process of losing her entire mind. She continually allows herself to believe that spouting out hellish comments in the throes of anger is a socially acceptable practice and that her momentary skyrocketing fury should serve as a valid excuse so the person who felt the wrath of her words will simply shrug and say, “Oh, Kelly didn’t really mean it when she called me ‘a dumbass twat.’ She was just angry! I totally forgive her for every heinous thing she has said to me. After all, we all get mad sometimes…”

Now listen, under no circumstances am I fully comparing Ed Gein’s psyche to that of Kelly Dodd’s. I do not think Kelly desecrates graves in the wee hours of the morning. I do not believe even one of her shot glasses is made out of human intestine. But I do believe that Kelly and her behavior are the stuff of waking nightmares and I think there might be a correlation worth exploring about what actually happens to Kelly both psychologically and physiologically when she feels rage overtake her synapses. The sh*t she verbally unloads is vicious and she often refuses to admit she meant a single word of any of it in the aftermath. And now – after already choosing to go on this show while her marriage was imploding and choosing The One Nobody Else Would Talk To as her life coach – she has followed up that madness by boarding a shuttlebus bound for hell. Along the way, she responds weakly to Shannon’s questions about her conduct by pointing out the hairs currently sprouting from Shannon’s chin. And yes, that was very rude of Kelly to do, but Ed Gein probably would have turned those hairs into the fringes on the end of a blanket, so I suppose things could always be worse.

We begin tonight still on that bus headed for the airport. Just to review, everyone hates Kelly for speaking harshly about Tamra’s custody issues. Vicki, Kelly’s life coach, is firmly keeping her mouth shut even as her newest dear friend and life apprentice is getting ripped apart because Vicki was born without real blonde hair or the ability to exhibit loyalty. Meghan is traumatized by everything she’s watching – and she’s the only fully sober one on that bus, so you can only imagine how hideous it must be to be Meghan in that moment. And Tamra and Vicki? They have officially reformed their fractured friendship the way they always do, which means both of them got stupendously drunk and then the alcohol shooting through the insides of their bodies whispered to their brains that they should love one another again – for now anyway. I mean, we’ve all seen the previews that show Tamra shrieking, “F*ck you!” directly into Vicki’s mouth, so just because they’re seemingly chummy right now, all bets are off once the buzz runs dry.

While I sit on my couch and chant prayers of hope that a production assistant crammed somewhere inside that bus remembers to tip the driver of this sh*tstorm on wheels handsomely when they finally make it to their destination, the women continue to brawl. Heather declares directly to Kelly’s face that she is “vulgar, vile trash,” to which Kelly responds that everyone knows how pretentious and fake Heather is. Meanwhile, all Meghan can think about is how can Vicki possibly be able to watch her wonderful friend get prodded and poked by a group of women who are out to get her for seemingly no reason other than apparently her name was picked from the hat randomly? I sort of get where Meghan is coming from, but let’s all remember that Kelly’s behavior has been nothing but overwhelmingly revolting; eventually some people who have to share her airspace will start reacting to the bullsh*t in their midst. Secondly, in what universe has Meghan suddenly found herself where she thinks Vicki Gunvalson will stand up for anybody except for some guy who claimed to have cancer? Vicki’s not about to say a f*cking word here. She just sits quietly and prays that Kelly will keep talking about anything but Vicki abandoning her – and Vicki sort of gets lucky because Kelly doesn’t come right out and say that Vicki has betrayed her. No, Kelly goes a different route because she is a lunatic psycho and instead decides to announce that Vicki has told her all kinds of things about everyone on that bus, including the story about how David once beat the sh*t out of Shannon. Yup, Kelly just went there – and, quite predictably, all hell breaks loose:

Heather stands up, points her finger in Kelly’s face and screams, “That’s enough!”

Shannon denies every bit of the story while tears of anger and sadness stream down her cheeks.

Vicki calmly explains that she was afraid when David acted aggressively towards her because she was “afraid he’d hit her like he hit his wife.”

Shannon explodes that she and her husband have been working to put their relationship back together and he renewed his vows with her and she is done with Vicki forever.

Heather sits herself beside Vicki and berates her for announcing such a thing about Shannon’s life when Shannon has children, but the thing is, Vicki doesn’t feel all that badly. See, Shannon talked about her bullsh*t relationship with a conman on camera and that means Vicki can say whatever she wants about Shannon’s life. And the scary part of all of this is that Vicki really can do just that while she’s wearing a microphone and cameras are aimed at her face and I find myself wondering yet again why anyone with even an emaciated skeleton hanging in a closet somewhere would ever go on a f*cking reality show.

But since they’re all still stuck on that bus and the secrets are flowing like the vodka did just a short while ago, Tamra takes the opportunity to pump Kelly for the secrets Vicki shared about her. Yes, I too am shocked beyond words that Vicki yammered away to the only person in California who would listen to her speak for a time that Tamra’s husband cheats on her and might be gay. I am also going to pretend to be surprised that the reconciliation between Tamra and Vicki didn’t last longer than a car ride and probably only happened in the first place because Tamra felt guilty that she almost killed Vicki on a sand dune. It’s right about here when Tamra bellows her profanity straight down Vicki’s esophagus and I have been on bus rides to sleepaway camp with forty-four children where half of them puked from motion sickness that were far more enjoyable than it’s been to watch this televised journey.

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