THE REAL LESSONS I LEARNED FROM THE REAL HOUSEWIVES
By Catherine Spinley
In my home Bravo is a religion with the Real Housewives seated at the right hand of the Father, Mr. Andy Cohen. And while some may dismiss the franchise as junk television filled with garbage humans, I beg to differ. I implore you to open your minds and reconsider, because amongst the ruins there are some magnificent gems. Here are just a few of the life lessons taught to me by a motley crew of women desperately trying to convince the world they’re just like us.
Love Yourself. Right Now.
As Carole Radziwill, former Real Housewife of New York, once lamented, “I only have, like, five good summers left.” Now, I don’t subscribe to the notion that women have expiration dates, however there is something deeper to be gleaned here. Have you ever looked back at an old photo and wondered why you were so damn critical of yourself? Hindsight seems to give us the ability to see ourselves as we truly were/are. It also shows us the sheer nastiness of our inner voice(s). Life isn’t infinite (for Carole, the Summer of 2021 will be here before she can utter “Ghostwriter”), so just shut up, relax, and take it all in.
Work Hard But Remember to Enjoy Life
No one works harder than Vicki Gunvalson (née Steinmetz; formerly Wolfsmith; nearly Ayers; cross your fingers Lodge). This woman built Coto Insurance and Financial Services from nothing - NOTHING - into what it is today. She’s so successful she lives in the gated community of Coto de Caza, California and also owns a vacation home (*cough* timeshare *cough*) in lovely Puerta Vallarta. No Mexican vacation is complete without Vicki’s signature night out at Andale’s where she WHOOPS IT UP for all of PV to see. She’s earned it. I’ve earned it. We’ve earned it. All of those 6-day work weeks and late nights spent in front of a spreadsheet add up. Take the vacation. Buy the Chanel logo necklace. Date the Bad Boy who fakes cancer (okay, please skip that one). But always take time to Whoop. It. Up.
If You Marry a Plastic Surgeon You Will End Up Looking Like...Plastic
I don’t mean to be unkind but you must be warned, these doctor types always take their work home with them. One minute you’re cuddling together on the couch, binging the new season of Stranger Things, and the next you’re being injected with enough Botox to paralyze a large cow. These things happen. And gentle recommendation: next time try Restylane - it can be dissolved quickly! I learned this little gem from Adrienne Maloof and Heather Dubrow veterans of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Orange County, respectively.
Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps
When the going gets tough, the tough audition for adult diaper commercials and sell dusters on QVC. Lisa Rinna, former Days of Our Lives siren and current Real Housewife of Beverly Hills could teach a college seminar in reinvention. Self-pity is terribly unflattering and disgustingly wasteful. You can feel sorry life has dealt you a crap hand or you can dry your tears, peel yourself off the living room floor, hit the pavement and figure out how to turn your frown upside down. Unless your predicament is chemical - then you should really see a doctor. I mean, seriously.
Always Leave Them Wanting More
Sometimes people don’t realize what they had until it’s gone. I said sometimes, my friends. Never has this been more true than with Real Housewife of New York, Aviva Drescher. Sure she was bat-sh!t with her fear of flying and escalators (elevators? alligators?) and yes, her elderly, lecherous father would not survive one season in the #MeToo era of 2018, but there’s something profound to unpack when reviewing Aviva’s last appearance on the show. Both the housewives and the audience at large couldn’t wait to be rid of Aviva. We wouldn’t possibly miss her, we thought. She brings nothing to the table, we cried! Until Aviva *literally* removed her prosthetic leg and slammed it on the restaurant table in the Season 5 finale filmed at Le Cirque, “The only thing fake about me is this!” she screamed. Suddenly we (secretly) wished Aviva would be back for Season 7. Instead, we got Dorinda Medley, which is not a bad thing at all (stay tuned).
Close Your Legs to Married Men
Listen, there are all kinds of relationships and situations out there. I judge not. Some people don’t find monogamy appealing. Others believe in soulmates. Some people think marriage is an outdated social institution. Others have been dreaming of their wedding since they were old enough to utter, “I Do.” I say whatever floats your boat but the boat must float on a lake of honesty, open communication and respect. This was not the bedrock of the famous Big Poppa/Big Poppa’s wife/Kim Zolciak love triangle and so, as Nene so eloquently put it, “Close your legs to married men!” We have The Real Housewives of Atlanta to thank for this!
Money Can’t Buy You Class
I think this one speaks for itself. Thank you Countess Luann (and Friends). The Real Housewives of New York appreciate your dedication to the cause.
Your Body, Your Choice(s)
Kyle Richards of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills didn’t cut her hair into a mousy wedge when she turned 40. No siree. Erika Jayne (RHOBH) didn’t stop patting her pussy just because her she married straight-laced, power attorney, Tom Girardi, who is basically responsible for Julia Roberts having an Oscar on her mantel. Yolanda Hadid (RHOBH) didn’t get new breast implants because her megalomaniac, now ex-husband David Foster preferred her with big boobs. Nope - these women know what we all should know: until you skin me and wear me like last year’s Versace, you don’t get to tell me what to do with my body. Oh, and if you enjoyed the Versace reference, you have Dina Manzo from the Real Housewives of New Jersey to thank for that.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Every single morning the security guard in my office building says, “Good Morning. How are you today?” and I reply, “I’m well! How are you?” and he says, “Can’t complain!” Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; rain or shine we are both doing well and definitely not complaining. In reality, most days I am not well, bitch, but I do that thing we humans do. Lie, for appearances’ sake, of course. Frankly, I would have kept up the polite niceties, but thanks to Dorinda Medley (RHONY), I feel empowered to communicate when things ain’t hunky dory. You see, it is Dorinda who taught me to put a little more thought and a LOT more truthfulness into my answers when she hollered, “Not well, bitch,” upon being asked how she was doing. The staccato of her answer Not. Well. Bitch. echoed off my apartment walls as I replayed the scene ad infinitum. And just like that, perhaps by osmosis, the security guard in my office building is beginning to wonder just how unwell I am. I’ll keep him guessing for now.
Catherine Spinley is a sometimes-writer and photographer based in New York. When not stalking other people’s dogs or yelling at people who refuse to walk up the left side of the escalator, she works in the beauty industry and practices yoga. You can read more from her at Worepaint.com.