My nephew, while in his twenties, lived with me for awhile. One day I walked into the living room and saw he was watching the show "Jackass." Sheepish, he said "It's my guilty pleasure."
I understand. I too, have guilty pleasures when it comes to television. In fact, I have three: The Real Housewives of New York City, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. My odd addiction to these ridiculous programs started with Orange County, during which I watched with fascination impossibly thin, blonde women with artificial chests talk about rich husbands and plastic surgery. Next thing you know, I'm watching the ladies from New Jersey. This is a lively one, with wealthy Italian girls yelling at each other, tipping over tables, and making vague references to mob friends. Once on the slippery slope, I got hooked on the ladies of New York City. It's the latter show I'd like to discuss here. Two of the housewives in particular: Alex McCord and Jill Zarin.
Alex McCord and her husband, Simon, are famous for their shopping sprees. In one episode, Alex twirled around in outfit after outfit, her husband commenting in the background how lucky he is to have a wife with a model's figure and announcing to the salesgirl, "We'll take that one! And that one!" Simon remarked after the trip that they spent "five figures, but not six figures." I guess that means between $10,000-$99,999? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they aren't completely stupid. For the sake of argument here, let's say they spent twenty.
I can't tell you what season this happened, but at one point Ms. Zarin went shopping for a birthday present promised to her by her husband, Bobby. "We're cutting back this year," she said primly, no doubt wanting to reach out to all of us who are feeling the pinch. Their version of cutting back...a pocketbook that cost $16,000 (well...it was leather). When asked about this expense seeming a bit out of line, she said people shouldn't criticize her for spending money because she's helping to keep the economy going. I suspect Alex and her social-climbing husband probably feel the same way about their spending on shoes and dresses what many people in this country make as an annual salary.
A good friend of mine once advised that I shouldn't count other people's money: meaning, keep your big beak out of the financial business of others. When it comes to the New York City housewives, however, I must take issue with his advice.
If Jill Zarin and Alex McCord have enough money to spend $36,000 on silk and leather, then maybe they really want to have a positive effect on the economic woes of our country. Ladies, why don't you cut me a check for say fifty grand? I have a carriage house that needs remodeling and with your kind influx of cash I could make quite a dent in my town's economy. A new foundation would put some masons and carpenters to work around here, as would sheetrock, paint, and new windows. I'm thinking of adding an apartment upstairs in the building, so I'll need rugs (the carpet folks down the road will be happy to oblige), furniture (I'm sure the local sofa store could use my business), and appliances (look out Sears, here I come!). While I'm at it I might as well put up that fence I've been planning, which I know will be welcome income for some young guys in town who haven't been able to find work, guys whose upstate wives are probably wearing jeans and carrying a purse they bought at WalMart for $9.99. Just think, Alex and Jill. Instead of the hot air you're blowing around about "contributing to the economy" when what you're actually doing is flaunting your weath to millions of out-of-work Americans, you actually could contribute. Feel free to contact me and I'll get busy putting your money to good use! (And please, don't talk about your charity work: wearing a $10,000 dress to a benefit to feed the homeless is unseemly at best; the word flickering through my mind is obscene.)
There's an old joke about a dumb guy hitting himself in the head with a hammer. When somebody asks why he does it, he says because it feels so good when he stops. I'm starting to feel that way about my guilty pleasures. Turning the housewives off is starting to feel really good.