The Hills & The City: Meeting People Is Easy

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THE HILLS: "I'm sooo over Justin Bobby. Is Justin Bobby over me????"

So much of The Hills is fake. Spencer and Heidi are basically two strangers who had their sides smeared with superglue by television producers and have been irrevocably smushed into one another, bound together forever by the sticky epoxy of TV riches. Lo is a sixth grader gussied up in a wig and high heels, told to go cricket chirp over there in that corner to those girls, it'll be fun, we promise. Hangbags Pratt isn't a glamorous Hollywood gal, she's a barely-recovering meth addict who will literally have nothing to do, not one thing in the whole world, once this show finally goes off the air. So yes, much is pretend on this worrisome show. But one thing... At least one thing in Hillsdom is the real deal. And that would be Audrina's abiding and borderline-frightening obsession with one Justin Bouvier Bobby.

Ohhhh how Audrina loves the shaggy fucker. The way he grumbles everything he says. The way he doesn't look at anyone when he's talking to them or they're talking to him. They way he has a big stupid tattoo on his stomach that says "Italia." The way he rides his ridiculous motorhog with the too-high handlebars and his little koopa-shell helmet. There's something just so magical and boy-stink about him, like he was fashioned out of scraps at the Bugle Boy factory by a lonely worker, then brought to life by a witch in the local village. Then he grew up, all black-magick'd and denimy, and moved to Los Angeles to experience real adventures and real feelings, where no one knows he's made of jeans, where no one whispers at him as he passes them on the road "Hisssss it's the devil-jeans boyyy..." Audrina loves that. Audrina just really loves all that. And it is sad.

It is sad because supposedly, for the purposes of the show or in actual real life, the twos 'a them are broken up. They are done, finito, finished. Well, maybe not finished, especially not on Audrina's side. See, while Justin Bobby goes out cavorting on other producer-arranged dates, Audrina spends all her lonely time sitting on one of her enormously-cushioned sofas frowning and bobbling her glassy eyes, thinking and talking about Justin Bobby. It's. All. She. Talks. About. Even when on a date with one of JB's guypals, all she can say is "Oh yeah, I'm so over Justin. Did you tell Justin we were hanging out? Whatever, Justin can deal with it. Do you think Kristin likes Justin. Justin. Oh, Justin. Justin. I hate Justin. Justin forever. Justin. I'm sorry. This is so-- Justin. I really... I really can't stop saying it. Justin. It's like hiccups." And I don't know. Clearly I don't know these people in real life, no one really does, but you can kind of tell that probably there won't be another moment for Audy and JB, they won't reunite and hug and kiss and he won't squeeze her tight in those dungaree arms of his and she won't feel the world fall away because she is safe and nothing else matters. That ain't gonna happen again, I just don't think. Even though last night Justin came to meet Audrina in a tent on a roof overlooking Los Angeles to talk about things. Even then, I just don't think it's meant to be.

And this stymies poor Audie, who grimaces with that featureless grimace of hers as she sits across from JB in the rooftop tent of her life and waits for him to say magic words. Instead last night he said that he cooked Kristin Cavallari dinner, and you could see Audrina's spirits take a long, graceful swandive down into the Feelings Hole. But then JB said that nothing in the world could ever compare to Audrina Patridge (he said it like she was this great, irrepressible force--like she was inevitable and special and divine--and I just don't get that, I mean she has the personality of a well-groomed snail) and her little heart did gymnastics and the swandive rose up in reverse, opened and closed like a flower's bloom, and she was back on her precarious Cloud 9 again, looking like Bambi would have if the paramedics had arrived just in time and, through the space between elbows and flurry, he had watched as his mother was revived, removed of hunter's bullet, watched her spring back into the world and, with a great deery huff, call out Bambi's name.

So who knows. Maybe there's hope yet for Audrina and her dark coffee prince. But I don't really see it. I think there's kindness and then there's cruel false hope, JBobbs. And I think you've given her the latter. Plus, Krisitin? The new girl? They actually seem kind of into it, don't they? Or, I mean, they are both acting slightly more like recognizable human beings with genuine empathy for one another than either of them usually act. He cooks her some sort of mysterious dinner (my sister wanted to know why they couldn't just tell us what exactly he'd made, and I told her that it was because Kristin didn't want it revealed that all she eats is lettuce) and then she gabs about him to her father and stepmom. That was a funny scene, wasn't it? Kristin shows up to her just ungodly ridiculous Laguna Beach house where her dad is opening wine and pouring it into large balloon glasses. "So..." he said awkwardly, having not done this whole camera thing in a few years. "Have you seen Stephen... or Lauren...?" And oh man, Kristin's face flashed with this worried look of embarrassment, because oh God, Dad was so out of touch, he thought that's still who the show was about, Lauren and Stephen. It was such a cute, normal moment, of course ruined by Kristin who had to get the actual show back on the rails again by droning on about Audrina and Justin Bobby and Dad's eyes glazed over and he sipped his wine and looked out over his re-goddamn-tarded view of the Pacific ocean and he thought about things traded for other things, daughters for houses, the wispy hope of the future for the splendid here and now.

Does Kristin monotoning to daddy about JB mean that she's in lurve? No one knows. No one knows if Heidi's sister Bugsy is an alcoholic either. See the problem is this. Remember Brent Bolthouse? He's that fake-named Vulcan who Heidi has been "working" with for some time now, and last night he was having a party. Yeah, seriously, they brought back Brent Bolthouse! It was very weird and funny. So he spent all evening, as usual, glowering from a corner, biting the insides of his cheeks as punishment for letting this show into his life. What a mistake. What a trade. The main source of his anger that particular evening was drunken Bugsy, who kept doing shots and joking about swigging straight from vodka bottles, while everyone else stood around and just looked horrified. Simply horrified! Well, OK, sure Bugs was dancing a mad and feverish tarantella in the middle of the room, and sure she was hitting on this random dude in the most awkward way possible, and I'll give you that she was slurring to Brent Brickstack about some painting or photo or whatever that she wanted to buy and his Vulcan face got even angrier, but, c'mon! It's just The Hills! Why the long faces?

Well, Heidi's face is long because she had a terrible face surgery a few years ago that has left her permanently horsey. So that's sad. But everyone else was just toootally overreacting. Bugsy is fine. She's Fine. No, suhreeisly, shestotallyfine. You guys, wahtsss the big deal here? Allshe wants todo is juss have a little fun because the produsirrrss told her to have alittle fun. Thassall. [Thud.]

Um, OK. OK. Maybe you're right. Maybe she does need a little mini-intervention. Or, you know, maybe it's all pretend. See, something about her dancing at the Brent Budbanger party just seemed a liiiittle forced, didn't it? Methinks she was hamming it up for the cameras. As I watched her last night do her manic robot jig, I shook my head and said "So this is it, huh? This is your price." To be back on her favorite reality show, Heidi's sister Bugsy will dance horrid freakdances in front of Brent Birdfinger. That's what she's willing to do. Terrible.

The whole drunken storyline seemed even more forced when Heidi and Spencer decided to give her a talking-to at one of their favorite Mexican restaurants. (They seriously go to Mexican restaurants every day it seems. They must spend more time farting than not farting.) It all seemed a little fake when Bugsy came bunnying up and immediately ordered a margarita. And you just know that the producers were like "OK, so when you go in? A waiter's going to come over and then you should immediately order a margarita." And it worked like a charm. Bugsy remembered all of her lines and Spencer was...oh my god... actually kind. Like he was genuinely empathetic and wasn't tearing her down and was just beng really nice about the whole thing and I thought for a second, Oh my gosh... What if the whole secret history is that Spencer really loves Bugsy? He's just pretending to be married to her sister so the fame thing can happen. Wouldn't that be fascinating (I mean, as fascinating as things get on this show) if that were the case? I'd watch then. I really would.

Of course next week Bugsy's going to drink some more, even though she swore she wouldn't, and for some reason Handbags Pratt is going to get mad, even though she has no business even being on the show, let alone getting mad at another person on the program. Who do these people think they are? Oh, that's right. They think they're people. That's their first mistake. To think they're people. And they're not. They're lizards. All of them are creepy lizards who keep growing their tails back even after we tear them off.

Well, you know, except for Audrina. She's just a deerbaby. A little porcelain fawn figurine, stiff but wobbly-legged, glossy and dull. I wonder what it would be like if you were driving down a desolate road late at night and then suddenly in your headlights, there was a wide-eyed creature, caught padding through the dark. And when you screeched to a halt, just inches away, you got a good look and saw the handbag and the clacky shoes, the thin strips of clothing and delicate, wandering eyeballs. What would you do in that moment? Would you feel suddenly slowed, the moment enchanted and hidden? Would you hold tight this small, quiet, nighttime secret? Or would you do something else?

Would you feel that cruel bend of your foot? Feel the weight in your ankle. The tremble in your shin. Would you hear the guttural rattle and shriek of an engine lurching forward?

I guess what I'm asking is... You would step on the gas, wouldn't you?

THE CITY: "Hi, I'm Freddie Frinklywinkle."

This week's episode of Whitney Takes Manhattan was all about meeting people. Meeting People is the ancient art of opening your mouth and saying words to someone to whom you've never said words before. If I were to ring your doorbell right now, while you are reading this recap, and you answered and I said "Hello", we would have just met. That is how it works. Meeting People is exchanging mouthwords with a person for the first time. What's that? Yes, good question, Johnny. Class, Johnny raises an interesting question. What about that hobo or your crazy grandma who introduces himself or herself to you every time they see you? Well, that's where Meeting People can become a bit relative. For you, that is not Meeting People. For them, because they are crazy and should probably be euthanized (and hopefully will be, if Herr Barry prevails), they are doing Meeting People. For homework tonight, go out and practice Meeting People. Say hi to strangers. And, kids, if you want some extra credit, go one step further. Don't just say hi to strangers, maybe try accepting their candy or getting into their tinted-windowed sedans. That is an extra-special way to go about Meeting People.

So now that you have the basis for the technique, let's talk about how it applied to Whitney and her friends on The City last night. In Whitney's case, it pertained to Boys. Whitney decided to flip a switch and turn on her boydrive again, probably because she's sick of all her plotlines being about work and Roxy and horrible stuff like that. So Whitney has this friend named Flatface who has teeth and a really annoying Northeast drawl. Flatflace and Whitney decided to go to a party celebrating a sexy photobook about sexy lifeguards. Yes, lifeguards! That most coveted and storied of summer sex objects. With their zinc-oxide noses and form-hugging red shorts and shimmery whistles and golden god suntans. They're the stuff of summer camp flutters and local pool boners and rumply adult kidnapping/murders. Everyone has the hots for lifeguards, but because she's on The City, Whitney actually gets to meet and flirt with them. Jeals!

See, Flatface is so well connected in the viney knot of New England society she came tumbling out of, that when two amply-chinned lifeguards from Connecticut and Rhode Island come sauntering up ("Whitney," the producers told her, "There will be two guys in blue blazers approaching you at this party. Don't be alarmed."), Flatface can immediately say to the one who looks like Guy Smiley (thanks, Nel): "You look like my frien' Freedie Fracklemayer." The heel-faced boy will look faux-stunned and say "Freddie Fackelbloomer is my brother!" So, oh my gaw, a connection! Flatface knows Freddie Finkenbrayer, and there's Freddie's brother right there at the lifeguard party, where these TV cameras happened to be. Amazing. Flatface invited the two chaps to a barbecue she and Whitz were attending the next day at, get this, Male Model from last season's apartment. Yep, he was back!

And so was his pointy-faced girlfriend, Girl Model from Last Season. I mean, they were only on the show for a hot second, but still. They looked happy to have the cameras again, but devastated to have them linger only for a very brief time. Mainly at the BBQ (Male Model lives above the Angelika... wtf) it was all about Whitney meeting up with not the cuter younger brother, but with the Freddie Crapplemaple himself. Freddie was even more of a dinner roll than his relatively impish-looking brother, and had strange pearly-white dentures that protruded in a Patrick Bateman-meets-Alfred-E.-Neuman kind of way when he grinned. He was creepcity, but Whitney was told to be attracted to him, so she pretended she was. Later on, despite the fact that Flatface is clearly and painfully in total love with Freddie Biscuitwhisper, he and Whitney went on a creepy date where he touched her a lot and at one point his dentures fell out into his soup but luckily Whitney wasn't looking and he slapped them back in and then flashed her a big, soupy grin. I really hope Freddie Wallbanger is going to be on this show a lot. He's funny and egregiously WASPy and I either want him to have secret murderous rage, or to get just laid out on the sidewalk by some other dude. Both would be a joy to watch. Next week we get the return Jay, ugh, so my hopes might soon be dashed. We'll see.

Also Meeting People was Olivia, who went to a party and totally upstaged her supposed boss Erin. While I generally sympathize with Erin--because Olivia is a ridiculous and pretty awful human being--this week she was just digging for something to be mad about. See, at a big meet-and-greet party Olivia knew wayyy more people than Erin did, so Erin felt poopy and self-pitying and decided to go home. And then next day she grumbled to Olivia about not making an proper contacts or getting any exclusives at the party. Which is really silly, considering it was only the next morning. I know, Erin. Olivia should be fired and tossed in the river. But don't stoop to her level just to compete with her.

So that was that. Oh, except Roxy. Roxy is upset because she invited herself to live in Whitney's house and now Whitney's friends don't invite her everywhere they invite Whitney. So she had a drink with some dude who just told her to be nice and Roxy frowned and smiled at the same time with that look that's just trying so hard to be Knowing and With-It, and she said she'd try to be nice. Riight.

On her way home, Roxy took a lonely drive out of the city and up into Connecticut. She turned off the highway in Cos Cob and wended her way down a long road in the woods. After about two miles or so she saw something, some timid figure, darting out from a dark thicket of trees. She slammed on the breaks as hard as she could and ground to a halt just inches from the animal. When she looked up, Roxy saw what it was. She knew what it was. "Audrina," she stammered. "Audrina, are you OK??"

The Audrina creature looked terrified and confused. "Justin?" it cooed. "Justin?" It was dazed, lost and manic, single-purposed. "Justinnn," the Audrina brayed.

After trying in vain for a half hour to push it off the road and feed it carrots, and frustrated by the never-ending sound of that word, Roxy decided to get back in the car, floor the gas pedal, and run the whimpering, repetitive creature over. But before she could even look up from turning the key in the ignition, the Audrina had flitted back into the wood. And so Roxy was left there, wondering and alone. The hiss of the car engine, the drip of the radiator.

And the ringing of that sound, the thrum of that name. "Justin," Roxy murmured. "Justin."

She said it all the way home.

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