IT is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a good fortune, Prada bedroom slippers and enough Botox to smooth out a Shar Pei must be in want of a reality TV series, whether she be situated in Beverly Hills, Atlanta or here.
However little known the motivations of such a woman may be on her first appearance in The Real Housewives series, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the viewing audience that she is assumed to be sane, cognizant of potential perils and eager to bring them on.
“My dear Stanley,” said I to my husband one day, “have you heard that five housewives from Vancouver are currently appearing on television?”
Stanley replied that he had not.
“I have recorded it on our PVR.”
Stanley did not lift his gaze from his beloved iPhone.
“Are you not eager to view it, to determine whether it has merit?” I asked impatiently.
“You will surely tell me, and that is good enough for me,” he replied.
I needed no further encouragement.
“Well, my dear, the five characters are these: Jody, a bleached-blonde shopkeeper from West Vancouver; Ronnie, a mother of five with strangely enlarged lips, also from West Vancouver; Mary, a divorced designer of scarves from Yaletown; Reiko, a Japanese-Canadian mother of two who collects fancy automobiles in Shaughnessy; and Christina, who, it seems, aspires to acquire her third wealthy husband. She claims to be 30 years of age.”
“Where does she live?” asked Stanley with a modicum of interest, despite being nowhere near Christina’s social standing. (It is Stanley’s habit to wear white stockings with sandals. Christina’s dream men surely wear leather mules from Milan.)
“No idea. Perhaps she lives in False Creek,” I said.
“Is she exceedingly beautiful?”
“What do you think, my dear? She has already divorced two men, has few female chums, and her best friend is a male hairdresser with orange skin who gave her a Botox injection as a birthday present.”
“What about the other housewives? Do they not like her?”
“No, they do not like her. They do not like anyone. They pretend to be caring friends, but their social intercourse consists of badgering one another, trading insincere compliments, and hissing angrily ‘Get therapy!’”
“Do they not talk about anything else?”
“What else is there?” I replied. “Do you think they debate economic theory, or discuss some book they might have heard about on Ellen?”
“Where would they find the time to read, my dear? It takes them hours every day to shop, get their hair and nails done, have whale sperm smeared on their faces by spa professionals, order their servants around and flirt with the friends of their teenaged sons.”
“Do they not eat?” asked Stanley, another hint that he and Christina have nothing in common. Christina lives on champagne alone. Even her dog is a greyhound.
“Not really. They drink a lot but they only eat some sort of mulch and vitamin concoction.”
“How unsavory,” said Stanley.
“One of them, named Jody, once had a catering business. We saw her shopping at the Bosa grocery story in one episode, so she must eat on occasion.”
“I like Bosa,” said Stanley. “I wonder if I have ever encountered her there?”
“She would be the one who required two clerks to walk behind her to the parking lot carrying her parcels,” I said. “You would have noticed.”
“There is the shopkeeper and the scarf designer, but what do the other Housewives do?”
“Is it not obvious, my dear? They are housewives. They do the same things any real housewife does. They take their yachts on excursions to Granville Island to have lunch and discuss what harlots and cowards their absent friends are, and how they are sadly doomed to die alone.”
“Do you do that too, my dear?” asked Stanley, in wonder.
“Obviously not – we do not have a yacht. And, as you are well aware, I am not a housewife. I have a job.”
Stanley cocked an eyebrow. “Hmm.”
After this, there ensued a long pause.
“Now, what have you learned from this television program?” asked Stanley.
“Well, Christian Laboutin still appears to be a popular shoe designer,” I said thoughtfully.
“And? You have watched four episodes already.”
“Passive aggression gets results…?” I proffered.
“Really? Does the series offer any insights into modern society? Is that not that why you watch it, because it tells you something about popular culture?”
“Of course it does,” I said comfortably. “It tells me that 200 years after Jane Austen mocked social climbers in Pride and Prejudice, women still relinquish their propriety in their quest for money and fame. And even in 2012, when other options exist, some choose to enslave themselves, trading their physical beauty, real or man-made, for the reflected status of a rich husband.”
“But my darling, did you not do that?” asked Stanley uncertainly.
“I abide by the words of Lady Astor, my dear. She is the one who said, ‘I married beneath me. All women do.’”