And here is my reality: I try never to interview anyone, because when they are nice people and I like them, I feel compelled to soften my impressions, to treat them kindly, to present them under a warmish amber light—to mediate their reality for the world. At our group roundtable, I am open to the possibility that the perception is not reality, that someone got a villain edit in the series. After all, if a camera crew were shadowing me, it would show me yelling at my son, ignoring my son, snapping at my son, and watching television for many hours each night as I lie in bed and fart, and it would be both true and untrue.
It would not show me boiling hot dogs for dinner, as some of the Real Housewives are wont to do (perhaps it's a Midwestern thing?). But none of us is perfect. Most of the women are fun, nice and pretty, though they fall into the categories of either ditzy or ballbusters. They're warm. And their manners, almost to the person, are the best manners of all: they try to make people feel at home.
So what if their worlds are really, really small, I tell myself. Not everyone likes to dance in conga/protest lines outside white-power shows. Some people like to play tennis and buy their children new cars! And that's . . .
Fuck, that's really not okay.
Those kids are little Hitlers.
Is it the fault of their mothers? Yes. They play them off each other, they reward shrill whining by kowtowing to it, they work all the livelong day to give their children "the best" of everything—diamond shopping here is a bonding experience, like hunting might be among boys and their fathers among the Maori—while their rude, lazy children spit with contempt right in their faces. They have not raised their children to become citizens, but consumers: they are entitled to anything they want.
But while we love to watch bad parenting—Nanny 911, Anna Nicole—softened reality swoops down again. My own sweet son (who is honestly terribly sweet) has not yet reached the age when boys become dicks. Perhaps he will spit at me. Perhaps he will grow up to be an Orange County boy—his life's goal so far is to own a mansion. He has expensive tastes, loves caviar and aches for golden bling. And while he knows better than to whine around me, I've heard tell he's done so before more receptive audiences. Someday he may even drive a Hummer, if only to give his poor mother a stroke. Maybe then in the world's eyes he will Exist.