S5 Episode 13: Housewives of the Caribbean
Welcome to the Caribbean! You’ve waited some time for it. You’ve all taken the bumpy plane ride with us to get here and now I hope you enjoy your stay as much as I did.
I have some history here, in St. Barths. It was the first Caribbean island I’d ever been to, and that was a trip I took with my husband, Anthony, in 1993, the year before we were married. We spent our first married Christmas together here, too.
I knew we had booked a house on Saline, I didn’t realize until we arrived that it was the same property where we stayed on that first trip, and many subsequent ones. Anthony’s mother, Lee, rented it with her husband Herbert Ross, a legendary choreographer and movie director. The house, then, was much smaller. It was a French country-style home, not modern, but equally beautiful. There was a chicken coop and wild gardens.
Our St. Barths, in those days, was much quieter and simpler than Pirate Booty Call. We started our mornings with a slow walk to the beach, and then lunched at Tamarin at the end of the road near the house. LuAnn’s friend Cat owned it then. She and her parrot were there every day. In the afternoons we’d hire a boat and swim at Columbier beach, or sometimes Flammand beach and we’d stop for Rose spritzers at Isle de France. We went on long drives through the windy French roads in our open air mini Moke, and ate almond croissants at the bakery in Lorient. It was really wonderful, all of it.
I don’t know if you heard it in the first scene but the woman who gave us the tour talked about the old house, the one we used to stay in. I was very surprised to find out it was the same place -- a flood of memories came rushing back. It was very emotional. I hid this from the girls because I didn’t want to distract from the fun we were about to have, but being back on the island under such different circumstances affected me more than I was prepared for. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Day One, Monday. . .
I don’t like small planes. I never minded that little flight to the island before the accident in the summer of 1999, but now I do. Now I don’t like small planes anywhere.
The house was amazing, and I arranged to have a chef on the property for the ladies, plus a butler for their every need. I would like to say I installed the wine dispenser as a special treat for Ramona and Sonja (what a good hostess!) but it came with the house. I knew Ramona and Sonja wanted to share a room so I gave them the master suite, which worked out fine because I wanted to be away from the main house. So did Heather. I don’t know why, we just had a feeling. This trip I kept my door locked.
This trip was eye-opening. It introduced me to TurtleTime that I thought was urban legend. It’s not. I went to London with Heather and LuAnn and Sonja and yes, Luann got on my nerves a bit there, but I have to say in St. Barth’s she was a breeze. We got on swimmingly.
Heather endeared herself to me the moment we arrived by smashing her face into the window, fracturing her nose and keeping her humor. That was such a sweet scene, with LuAnn to her rescue. In the main house, Ramona and Sonja shared underwear drawers, engagement rings, and drank champagne. That sums up our first afternoon.
By dinnertime Sonja wasn’t happy -- no dip for her spring roll, where was the dip? Jean Batiste! Dip, maintenant, or you’re fired! Or else what Sonja said she would do to you.
The toaster oven rears its non-existent head here, again. I had to excuse myself from this, it’s too hard to follow. I challenge any of you to keep track of who said what to whom and when in the Toaster Oven War. Why is Sonja bringing it up again? If anyone can explain it to me I’ll send you a round-trip ticket to St. Barths. Heather listens. She’s the only one who’s listening. None of the rest of us can listen to Sonja say one more word about fonts or logos or crumb trays. Even Ramona is tired of listening to it and she never seems to tire of anything.
Big Guns didn’t want Lunch Friends at the photo shoot. We know!
I confided in Ramona that I was nervous about bringing Russ around. I asked her to please not to say anything crazy. I asked her to please not be herself. And then, guess what? She wasn’t herself. Where did Ramona go? What happened to Ramona, she turned into Queen Elizabeth. Funniest scene of the show.
This scene of the ladies worrying about embarrassing me makes me feel bad I ever said anything about ovens or Ramona’s craziness or ever went anywhere near anyone’s back. It’s sweet the way they make Russ feel welcome. . ..uh-oh, schreeech! I spoke too soon.
“I never met a cuter guy than you…tonight.” Sonja needed to eat more spring rolls, and maybe drink less champagne. It might have been the missing dip. The ladies started sweet but got louder, but LuAnn came to the rescue, and Russ and I made our escape.
Did you all get the double entendre in my comment about the Loud family? The girls were loud, yes, but the Louds were also the first family to do reality TV. The were filmed for a show that aired on PBS in 1973. James Gandolfini starred in the movie version. Do you remember what happened to them? It didn’t end well. Maybe one day someone will make a movie of our trip.
I want to remind you, here, of the two reasons I invited everyone to St. Barths.
1. I finished the first draft of my book.
2. Russ is playing in the Blues Festival.
So, yes, Russ came to spend time with me. What didn’t Ramona get about that at my M&M lunch? Invite your husbands or your significant others, I don’t care. I just want everyone to be happy and leave me alone. I like when the husbands and boyfriends are around, there are more people to talk to.
Day Two, Tuesday. . .
I wander up to the main house for coffee and blueberries and Bam Wow #*@! I get ambushed by the girls. They can’t last the week without their men, now, because of my boyfriend. Seriously? It’s going to be hard to get through the week? Am I the only one who doesn’t need a man by me 24/7? Am I the only one who doesn’t need the constant drumbeat of testosterone poking me in the back?
Am I a genetically modified female? Oh wait, Heather’s okay without her husband. Phew.
Girl’s Trip. Oh no. Those two dreaded words, “girl” and “trip.” I told you I would regret saying them at the M&M lunch. I didn’t even mean it, it slipped. Yes, call Jacques! Call Mario! Call the boys! If it will save me from two days of the most uncomfortable moments in the history of “girls” or “trips,” by God get all the men on some planes. Millsaps, round them up, STAT!
So here is my moment to lay down. I’ve been waiting for it all year. RAMADRAMA! The girls are going to fight with me about Russ. Were they talking behind my back about Russ spending the night? Are they upset I didn’t invite them to my party of two? Ramona got on my case, and I told her to shut up.
Then I braced myself, closed my eyes, held onto something steady and took a breath. Ramonacoaster, here it comes. Wait, what? Nothing? Who would have guessed the way to shut up Ramona is to tell her to shut up. #Letdown.
Tuesday afternoon, Boozy Lunch
Ramona has spilkes. Sonja has sex on the brain or maybe she’s drinking Sex on the Beach. And are we all drinking Captain Jack Rum? Foreshadow music here.
Whaaaa? Telling secrets. Loose lips sink pirate ships. Can I translate Sonja-speak “did me” = dated, right. Oh Sonja. OK, I don’t kiss and tell, but if I were to tell I’d say Clooney was a very good kisser. But I’m not telling, or am I?
Tuesday night, even boozier. . .
We all get ready to go to Le Ti St. Barths. Yes, Sonja, it will be a night we won’t forget. That is certain.
Pirate of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Missing Italians
You know the old motto: It’s bad luck to sing about pirates in a fog. Well, we were singing on the way to Le Ti. And a dense fog rolled in off the moors of the island’s south side. Something like that. . .
We arrive and I’m reminded of Keira Knightley's character, the young Elizabeth Swann who said, “I think it would be exciting to meet a pirate.” Because just like that a pirate-waiter appears. And, oh, he looks like Johnny Depp.
We all had too much Captain Jack, and LuAnn might have even had more. She engages in a little Captain Jack Rum-running of her own.
I was here at Le Ti on its opening night with my husband, Anthony, and his mother and a table of our friends. Isn’t that crazy? That was almost 20 years ago. I could never have imagined I’d return in 2012 with a cast and full camera crew. Ever.
It’s tradition at Le Ti to dress up in their costumes and dance on the tables. Who are we to buck tradition? We got the costume, the tables. . .But where’s LuAnn? We didn’t know. Now, watching the show, we do. She was working her special introduction. Which Captain Jack pirate-waiter failed to give her. So I will do that now:
"Ladies and Gentleman, for the first time ever at Le Ti St. Barths, the one, the only PocaCountess.” [crowd cheers]
Pirate Code: Any man who falls behind is left behind. LuAnn fell behind, and was left behind.
Day Three, Wednesday morning. . .
Dead men tell no tales but hungover girls on a girls weekend? That’s a whole different story.
Poor Heather. She knows the story. She doesn’t know what to think. Old Italian friends? You can’t walk two feet without stepping on some Italians. The island’s lousy with them. Like my Italian Grandma Millie always said, “The Italians were eating with a knife and fork when the French were still eating each other.” Mario Batali actually said it, but whatever.
LuAnn says “Johnny Depp” a dozen times and counting and she says “Italian friends” even more than Ramona and Sonja say “girls' trip.” Did you see me in those pictures make the Sonja sexy face? Watch again.
Heave Ho Maties, until next week.
Here’s another memory of the island, from long ago. I’d give anything to find this film. It went missing like so many other things over the years.
“Christmas 1993 we are back in St. Barths. This time Lee and Herbert have invited a few friends including Count Giovanni Volpe who has flown in from Venice to join us. We decide to shoot a short film and call it the Kakadopoulis Story. For the life of me I can’t remember why but is was a satirical Greek tragedy about a murder and a double cross. Herbert directs and the rest of us make up the cast. Anthony plays the reporter trying to crack the murder case. Hamilton is hilarious as a misguided gay hairdresser and Lee turns in a riveting performance as his mother. Count Volpe plays the murdered tycoon, naturally. I take a leading role as a rival reporter who seduces Anthony to get the story. Anthony and I have a love scene but I can’t stop giggling. I remember Herbert yelling at us to keep a straight face. We finally managed, and he got his shot.” – “What Remains” by Carole Radziwill
RIP Herbert Ross. I miss your laugh.