For a certain period of time, this was the motto I chose to live my life by: In the grand scheme of things, this moment will not matter in the slightest. Such a mindset was very helpful during years when I was almost chronically making all sorts of silly choices, like skipping Philosophy class because it started way too early (11:15AM) or lying to a boyfriend about where I’d spent the previous evening. But even as those words swirled through my mind back then – even as I conditioned myself to believe that none of my actions could possibly really matter – a part of me was always very much aware that my rehearsed mantra was just a verbal defense mechanism meant to absolve me of the guilt I should have allowed myself to internalize. Had I felt those waves of shame, perhaps I would have made different – wiser – choices.
It was probably during the first semester of my senior year in college when that plastic bubble formed entirely out of Goldschlager and delusion finally burst. I was applying to graduate school and I couldn’t help but recognize that my cumulative GPA was lower than it should have been because of all the classes I’d skipped as a freshman back when I’d convinced myself that nothing could possibly matter in the long-run. Though I was a Film major, it was the F that I ended up earning in Math during my first months of college when I was seventeen that ultimately prevented me from getting into NYU and I finally understood that some of the past actions I’d waved away so flippantly did impact the grand scheme of my life in the most miserable of ways. The time had come; I had to do the adult thing and burn those ingrained words in some kind of cosmic mental bonfire. And as the ashes of my prior mistakes wafted high into the nighttime sky, I chose a brand new motto for the next stage of my days: It’s all about the adventure. Okay, so perhaps that one wasn’t the most mature of mottos either, but in my defense, I was twenty-one and living in Manhattan and officially single for the first time in four years and I needed the confidence to walk down those crowded streets and spend my nights ignoring the fact that I knew better. That motto comforted me as I engaged in questionable dalliances with tattooed guys who rode motorcycles around Union Square while I hung off the back (always wearing a helmet; I was foolish but never stupid) and those words also helped me come to the moronic decision to defer graduate school so I could immerse myself in whatever I’d convinced myself was The Real World where I lasted for less than six months before crawling back to a campus because, adventure-seeking aside, I’ve just always done better in an environment where there’s a meal plan.
And then came a New Year’s Eve I spent in New Hampshire skiing with some friends. Right at midnight, my best friend and I went outside and stood on the icy porch of the grand house we’d all rented and we screamed into a sky that was filled with vast darkness and zillions of silvery stars our most significant resolutions. Since I’d finally mastered the art of not swallowing gum, my main resolution and my brand new motto was to simply make better choices. I haven’t always honored that motto of mine, but at least I never let myself get away with the moments when I go backsliding in the way I would if my “grand scheme of things” mentality was still ruling my brain.
The decision to continue to try to make better choices has sometimes been harder to stick to than I initially expected, but it’s allowed me to figure out some extremely important life lessons:
1. Time itself is infinite. Your own time, however, will always be fleeting. Use your time carefully. Tell the people you love how dear they are to you, even if you’re afraid. Allow yourself to be vulnerable today because it’s always possible that you won’t have a tomorrow.
2. Do not skimp on any of the following: thread count of sheets (the low-count ones will literally cause chaffing); garbage bags (the cheap ones will break while you’re wearing something white that can only be dry cleaned); or face-cleansing instruments (for f*ck’s sake, only trust the Clarisonic). But if you choose to spend more than ten bucks on any sort of shampoo or conditioner, you’re a fool.
3. If someone is truly batsh*t crazy, do not try to explain anything in a logical manner because batsh*t crazy people are allergic to logic. And if you attempt to properly analyze a batsh*t crazy person for her own good to determine what exactly it was that so horribly damaged her in her formative years, maybe keep your eventual diagnosis to yourself because batsh*t crazy people who unironically say sentences like, “There’s no shame in my game,” after behaving shamefully view the truth with about as much joy as Superman views kryptonite or Warren Beatty views the PricewaterhouseCoopers employee who handed him the wrong envelope.
4. The next important piece of advice comes from Oprah who got it from Maya Angelou. Oprah and I have a great many things in common. We both like to read and we both enjoy sitting in the woods and shrieking, “I love chips!” until every bird in the vicinity heads anywhere else, even if it’s not south. But mostly what Oprah and I share is this belief coined by Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Had I tattooed those words across my soul, I probably could have saved myself from some seriously sh*tty days so heed that advice, my friends. Then come join me in the forest where we can debate the merits of Ruffles vs. Pringles.
5. Last but not least, part of making better choices is staying out of other peoples’ choices. Since you cannot fix a relationship you’re not a part of, you should therefore maybe keep your mouth firmly clamped shut at certain moments. To be clear, I’m not saying that anyone should ignore abuse they witness or stay mute during a conversation someone in the relationship beckons you into, but if you’re a raving lunatic like Kristen has proven herself to be – one who believes the root of all problems in all of her relationships are due to someone else’s infidelity instead of her own questionable sanity – maybe it would be best to not be the one to decide that the only thing Katie and Tom ever really fight about is that time he cheated on her two years ago. It might also be best not to confront the groom-to-be while he’s dressed in drag and his wig sits askew on his head and he’s filled with more alcohol than oxygen and he’s spent the last several years just being a shell of a person because he’s slowly come to the realization that he’s stuck with this miserable girl and her psychopathic friends for the rest of his life. I’m not saying Schwartz’s cheating wasn’t traumatic for Katie, but their problem – and their problem is clearly a very layered problem – is not one Kristen of all people can fix. Stay out of romantic strife that’s not your own or you will be punished by spending your glory years living down the hall from a grown toddler still wearing a tiara on Celebrity Rehab in the reality television equivalent of karma.
Listen, I’m not saying I have all the answers. If I did, I’d live in a castle with Tom Ford and he would be straight and I would have to tromp over a moat to get to my front door and I’d take my ponies and otters to have playdates with Lisa Vanderpump’s livestock every Thursday at noon. I certainly don’t know all there is to know about life and I’ve made plenty of very messy mistakes, but by choosing to at least attempt to make better choices on a minute by minute basis, a certain sense of clarity has been able to sink in and what that clarity is currently screaming is that nobody should ever listen to a word Kristen says about anything and someone better get the number of a nearby shelter before Schwartz and Sandoval have complete mental breakdowns.
I understand why Katie still feels hurt by Schwartz’s Vegas hook-up. Being cheated on sucks and being lied to sucks even more. But I don’t quite buy Kristen’s asinine theory that Schwartz admitting on camera during the vacation they’re all taking to celebrate their upcoming wedding that he slept with some girl will do anything but cause Katie to lose her mind even more than she already has. Does Kristen think Katie will nod, smile, and thank Schwartz for telling her the truth and all of their issues will magically disappear? Am I trying to make sense of Kristen’s misplaced and misguided loyalty? Ugh. Going down this road would be the literal antithesis of making a good choice. Shame on me.
Speaking of shame, tonight’s episode throws us back into an emotional tsunami that’s been orchestrated by Katie’s bridal party. In the past, there were certainly some moments when my fellow bridesmaids and I contemplated shooting the bride – our once rational friend – with a tranquilizer dart to get her to calm the f*ck down, but not once did we mention to the guy she was about to marry that maybe he should just go ahead and admit he’d nailed a stranger while he was in a committed relationship with the crazy lady trying on veils and screaming about nail polish colors in the corner of the room. Clearly my wedding party nightmares were child’s play; what’s going on in these New Orleans hotel rooms just weeks before Katie and Schwartz march down some aisle in the woods takes dysfunction to a whole new level.
It’s almost three in the morning and both Toms are so distraught that they’ve removed their wigs. Ariana and Scheana explain that all the girls have finally solved the mystery of WHY KATIE AND SCHWARTZ HATE EACH OTHER, but Sandoval immediately shoots back that it all can’t possibly come down to the Vegas thing because those two have been miserable for years. (Save it for the toast, Sandoval!) As though reality has finally set in and caused him to feel empowered, Schwartz declares that he cannot marry the girl. Weirdly, the girl we all know he eventually will go ahead and marry is calm as a f*cking cucumber in the next room. All season long, Katie has behaved like someone who seriously struggles with rage issues, but now that things are getting nuts for real, she is lounging comfortably on a sofa with her girlfriends and Jax and thoughtfully explaining that yes, Schwartz’s infidelity could be the cause of her rarely-contained fury. It makes me want to punch a wall, though, when everyone around her nods sagely as though this one incident fully explains the unsavory relationship these two people have allowed Bravo to broadcast for years. Look, I agree when Katie says that if someone doesn’t want a relationship like the one she’s in, that person should just be grateful the relationship isn’t theirs, but there’s really no denying that these people battle constantly (and rarely have make-up sex) and logic f*cking dictates that Sandoval and his wig cap are correct. There’s way more to this issue than whatever happened in Vegas.
(By the way, raise your hand if you’re utterly shocked that it was Jax who leaked the scandalous information about one of his alleged best friends to Kristen and then provided that loon with enough details that she now spends a minimum of twelve hours per week investigating exactly what went down two years ago in some hotel room. Yeah. My hand’s not up either.)
This episode has only been on for five minutes and I’m already anointing Sandoval the M.V.P. in a landslide victory. The guy is the only one making any sort of sense and it’s not his fault that the truth he’s spewing is kind of unseemly. I’m sure he does love her, but as far as it was shown on the television program they have agreed to be on year after year, Schwartz was basically bullied into proposing when he did because of an ultimatum Katie gave him and Sandoval has had it with his friend being belittled and being told what to do and acting like an abused spouse – and then he kicks open the door of the bathroom where Schwartz, still in full makeup, sits forlornly on the can. Besides finding out what was in the hatch on Lost, this might be the most riveting bit of television I’ve ever seen.
Scratch that. I clearly spoke too soon because I want someone to get an Emmy for the moment Schwartz – wearing a dress and a sash and an expression that was molded by fear and gin – walks down the hall at the very moment when Jax (Jax!) wonders aloud why the guy can’t just apologize for lying. How this entire group of people hasn’t yet pushed Jax off a tall building and screamed all the ways he was a hypocrite as he plummeted to the cement below is beyond me and I realize I sound rather violent right now, but I did say I was all about making better choices and I’d like to suggest this particular choice to this particular group of people because Jax or Jason or whatever his name will be next will eventually destroy everyone around him like he’s a walking manifestation of a zombie apocalypse and anyone who doubts such a thing has not been paying attention.
But it’s really time to move away from my bout of fantasy violence and head over to listen as Kristen announces that the only thing that’s wrong with Schwartz is his affiliation with Sandoval so maybe she should slit Sandoval’s throat and then everything can be all better. (My shoving Jax off a building’s not looking so creepy anymore, huh?) After Schwartz wanders into the room and slurs insults at Kristen for stirring up sh*t and then turns his rage on his fiancé because he kind of hates her, Stassi crawls into bed beside Katie and just listens very compassionately as her friend talks about her sadness while outside in the hallway, Jax tells Schwartz to either apologize or call the wedding off because this is his bachelor party weekend and Schwartz has already cried three times.