Browsing through The Christmas Tree Shoppe this morning, loading up on Halloween lights and flashy pumpkin earrings that I definitely do not need, I very carelessly collided into Renee.
Yes. That Renee. And yes, the operative word is collide. Right there in the middle of the sprinkly, sparkly candle aisle - you know the one with all of the pretty pumpkin spice jars and seasonally smelly potpourri - me and Renee Graziano, Mob Wife extraordinaire, ever-so-gently crashed carts.
“So sorry,” I said as the insignificant bump was occurring. Me, fumbling with Jeremiah and his sticky candy hands, she casually glancing through shelves of decorative scarecrows and leaves.
I was distracted, preoccupied by a toddler crisis, so I naturally gasped when I looked up realized who I had hit. I mean seriously, out of all the carts in the store, I have to cross paths with a mobster’s daughter? The ex-wife of a turncoat?
“It’s ok,” she smiled back at me, moving on to the apple spice sets and autumn finery. I ran and hid behind a stack of vinyl tablecloths.
“Did you see her?” I heard two shoppers discussing a few aisles later.
Oh no. Please stop talking. I’m so afraid of finding a horse’s head in my shopping cart.
“She’s so tiny!” another shopper remarked.
“And so friendly,” someone else chimed in. “So different than she is on TV.”
And she was. From what I saw of her as I was ducking for cover behind the displays of Christmas ornaments and aluminum pans. Here in real life, she was sans makeup, wearing flip-flops and leggings – petite, beautiful and completely non-threatening. Smiling at the gawkers and buying $.99 cent knick-knacks in the cheapest store on Staten Island.
The semi-celebrity sighting really made me think: How real is all this reality that Bravo and VH1 shoves down our throats? Ok, maybe it’s because I finally cleared the DVR last night and watched a marathon of parts one and two of The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion Show. But this was what running through my mind. What part of the glamour, calculated warfare and million dollar mansions on these shows is actually real?
According to her flashy wardrobe and regular declaration of designer tastes, doesn’t Renee have a closetful of Louboutins? Gucci bags and blingy diamonds out the wazoo? Then why are we both shopping the same clearance rack for candles? I guess everybody really does love a bargain.
And those housewives. The ones who flip tables, pull each other’s hair, claim to be besties and then talk smack about each other in regularly scheduled confessionals? With their nannies and boob jobs, hair extensions and bottomless bank accounts? In this economy and in this lifetime, why does Bravo refer to any of that as real?
Ask the wife of a New York city firefighter what’s real. On the first of the month, when the mortgage and 14 other bills come due, I close my eyes and cross my fingers that the checkbook doesn’t explode. Ok, maybe I’m a little bit cranky after being up every two hours caring for a two-year-old who’s sprouting molars. Something else those “real” housewives have never done.
But for whatever reason, be it the drama or the escapism of it all, we still tune in to find out what NeNe and Theresa and Countess LuAnn are up to.
And sometimes if we’re lucky, we bump into a Mob Wife and have a reality check in aisle three. I’m just thankful it wasn’t Drita. Or Big Ang. Now that would have been scary.