When last we met, Aimee had just figured out the correct fork to use to eat her entrée on Aimee Appreciation Day, Nilsa learned her barrel-chested-freedom-fighter-with-the-worst-style-in-this-or-any-alternate-hemisphere would like to sleep with her again, Jeremiah and Gus ascertained how messy it could be competing for a woman’s affections when there’s a fifth of alcohol shooting through her bloodstream and a camera aimed at her face, and I had just excavated my latent – but still quite vivid – nightmares starring the poo-guzzling creature from Human Centipede. But then Christmas came, and God bless our temporary President, because apparently we have all finally been given permission again to say those two special words after some Democrat (whose name undoubtedly rhymes with “Shmillary Flinton”) officially prohibited such a thing and then forgot to tell the rest of us. Allow me to offer my perspective on this matter. I am Jewish. I live in New York where there are more Jewish people than in a lot of other places. And once the clock strikes December, the only thing I’ve heard for my entire life are the words “Merry Christmas,” so I’m thinking that if that’s all I ever hear, the people who live in states where there are, say, fewer temples probably have not been screaming into their pillows in frustration because of some imaginary moratorium on the expression “Merry Christmas.” But now that a thrice-married orange man has pretended to find religion because it’s convenient, please allow me to say that I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and I hope our Floribama friends had a glorious holiday and received all sorts of goodies from Mr. Claus and that the bounty he delivered unto them included several pairs of shorts for Nilsa that can perhaps cover both her thigh tattoo and her labia. I realize I’m asking a lot, but we can just pretend it’s a Christmas miracle.
Since we’re on the subject of miracles, it’s pretty much a miracle that this group of people left a bar of their own volition and didn’t try to beat anyone up on the way out the door. Sure, sure – they’re yelling at each other in the cab home because Codi was dumb enough to announce to Nilsa that the guys were betting on who would nail Katrina first, but it wasn’t like it was any sort of real bet! It was just two guys racing against each other to see who could nail Katrina first! Dammit, Codi – must you always stir sh*t up by speaking the hushed truth? Quick to dodge any and all accountability for taking this hunk of gossip straight to her drunk friend and framing it like page three of the Pentagon Papers, Nilsa announces everything is Codi’s fault. They’re not even home yet and they already have a new enemy. Once everyone is gathered in the living room (Katrina is still there, still weepy), Nilsa outright accuses Codi of using the word “bet” and footage shows us he did, but methinks “they made a bet” is sometimes not a literal declaration of a bet having been wagered. Katrina eventually leaves so she can go cry in a place with better acoustics and Codi goes to sleep. His absence makes it all the more possible for his roommates to talk sh*t about how he talks so much sh*t.
And now, my friends, it’s time for a brief interlude I will forevermore call “Words of Wisdom with Aimee.” In this, our first episode, the mermaid-goddess-princess declares, “Drunk words are sober thoughts!” and she has a point, this mermaid-goddess-princess does. As an example, let’s take a look at the other night when I had a few glasses of wine and I meant to say, “Hey, can you toss me the remote?” and instead what came out was, “I think I really like you.” Turns out I enunciate like a champ when I’m tipsy; he heard every word. And though it all worked out, I must still say that nowhere in the folds of my sober thoughts where it smells slightly of mildew did I ever think saying such a thing at this juncture could be a good idea, but wine-dizzy me felt bold. So in this first run of “Words of Wisdom with Aimee,” we learned alcohol makes me brazen and Aimee is a f*cking genius.
The sun comes up brightly the next morning, but there is still a shadow on the house and that shadow hath been formed by a northerner named Codi. Jeremiah doesn’t trust him, but such a thing pales in comparison to getting a phone call from his father and being told through a crocodile that his grandfather died. Codi was close to his grandfather and he cries as his father gently gives him the bad news. When he hangs up, the roommates are kind enough to notice the saline on his face and they rally around him with hugs and prayers. (Quick thought: I have never felt more northern in my life than I have while watching this show and maybe it’s because northerners are referred to like they are a separate species or maybe it’s because I, a New York Jewish northerner, would not be able to spout out a prayer at a moment’s notice the way each and every one of these kids can. And not a bit of what I just said should be read as me being critical of the south. I just think it’s interesting the way geography can sometimes profoundly shape us.) Codi eventually leaves to go home for the funeral and the rest of the house realizes how fortunate they are to have their families, so they each call their parents and invite them to come over, but Jeremiah’s parents will not be able to make it. They are extremely busy revamping the Fashion component of their home school curriculum because they heard me screaming last night that this new year had best bring me joy, prosperity, an easier access to those vegan burgers that pretend to bleed, and just one f*cking week when neither Jeremiah nor his brother slip on a shirt that makes me question humanity.
What’s that? It’s time for another episode of “Words of Wisdom with Aimee”? And this time she’s saying that Josh’s shoes don’t match his clothing and she doesn’t care for that? Aimee? Your brilliance and your absolute refusal to find a man with a tail attractive are two bright and glistening stars in my own personal sky that will one day guide me home late at night where I will probably end up proposing to some guy when what I’d really like for him to do is to pass me the chips.
Nilsa is nervous for Josh to show up. Why? Well, 1) He’s about to meet her family 2) They had an extended one-night stand and 3) Her entire self-worth is contingent on whether or not this relative stranger chooses to validate her, a dicey behavioral pattern that I hope she’ll tackle and bludgeon in the new year. When he arrives, it seems her anxiety is for naught. He greets her warmly and smooches her hard. He even brings her a stuffed unicorn to cuddle with whenever he’s not around! Things are going great…which means this relationship will be irrevocably doomed by the end of the hour because we are not watching The Bachelor, my friends, where relationships sputter along for several months until the participants earn a People cover and start shilling tummy-flattening teas on Instagram. This is Floribama f*cking Shore, and these two kids will each go down in flames and metaphorically piss all over one another to eventually quell the bits that are still smoldering. As for what causes the emotional conflagration, Josh asks Nilsa the last time she spoke to her ex and she chooses not to lie and instead answers that it was a week and a half ago when she drunkenly thought she missed him. Josh initially takes this news well, but once he and Nilsa are dressed for the date he invited her on, he decides to tell her that he doesn’t really want to go anymore. Let me make sure I have this right. A guy Nilsa has known for one week is annoyed she had a life prior to meeting him and resents that, before she knew him, she had a flutter of complication enter her mind about a man she used to be married to? F*ck off, Josh. If you don’t want to date the girl because her eyebrows look like commas that can’t ever be erased, that’s one thing. If your disapproval of her stems back to the fact that your brother finds her loathsome, that’s okay also. But don’t you f*cking dare decide a girl isn’t worthy because before she knew you existed on the planet she was thinking about a man she had a relationship with for several years. And also? Cut off that f*cking tail and toss it in the roaring fire I started by using your pineapple shirt as kindling.
After ripping out Nilsa’s heart and flinging it across the room where it landed in a swing made out of wicker, Josh stays in the kitchen so he and his brother can prove their virility by shouting baritone greetings at one another. (I seriously hate these hellos, punctuated as they are by faux masculinity and chalky protein shakes.) Anyway, Josh then proceeds to tell Gus and Jeremiah how unbelievably stupid it was for Nilsa to tell him she talked to her ex two weeks ago because honesty is a quality men with tails find very unappealing. Meanwhile, Nilsa and her missing heart are upstairs crying to Aimee about how they still pine for Josh and right about now is when I’d really appreciate a Word of Wisdom from Aimee about why Nilsa shouldn’t give two stringy sh*ts about such a moron, but Aimee is still tired from offering her last Word of Wisdom, so she doesn’t end up saying much. Nilsa eventually gets Josh outside so she can try to understand his thought process and figure out who taught him the term “red flag” so she can hunt that person down and kill her, but all Josh will explain is that she called her ex before she met him and that must mean she’s not over the guy. I’m not saying Josh doesn’t have the teeniest point, but his delivery sucks worse than his outfit and it’s just cold enough that Nilsa begins tearfully pulling out suitcases and announcing “I’m going home!” But you guys? Here comes Aimee! And right at the very instant we need her! (Since she’s nowhere to be found, I’m just going to assume Candace is on the beach praying for Aimee to rise and she’s the one who made this magic happen.) Aimee poses this Very Wise Question to a hysterical girl who is flinging the world’s shortest shorts into a suitcase: “Do you want to be viewed as f*cking weak?” Then she follows it up with, “Stop running from your problems like you always do!” a zinger so truthful that I almost high-fived the television screen.
After a chat on the beach where Aimee explains all the reasons Josh is a douchebag and Nilsa responds by saying that she will make sure to be at the same bar he’s at that night so she can feign joy for the benefit of said douchebag, the silly dramatics cease for a while and we’re taken to that rolling vista of northerness, South Carolina, so we can watch Codi reunite with his family in the midst of an actually dramatic situation. They seem like lovely people and Codi is adorable with his grandmother. As a reward for their goodness, I hope a camera crew stays out of their living room for the very rest of time. Rejoining the people who would probably wither away and die if a lens was not pointed their way, the roommates are getting dressed for their last Saturday night together. Nilsa is wearing a dress that shows off both her t*ts and her ass in her grand scheme to make a guy who treated her poorly want her again – a move I’ve played in a game I’ve now forfeited – and I’d love for her to walk away from this person and not care at all about his reaction to her, but that kind of growth doesn’t really occur until one is able to stop shaming people for having the gumption to turn twenty-six.
The bar they go to is crowded, but Nilsa twerks away to show Josh what he’s missing. Her plan doesn’t quite go as planned since Josh is too busy ogling every chick in the place and making odd grunting noises so the ladies in his midst can ascertain through just a few guttural syllables that he finds them attractive. It’s all a bit too much for Nilsa, so she calmly goes into the bathroom to puke into a toilet – and, incidentally, I’ve played that game, too. Floribama Shore castmates are just like us! Back at the bar, Kirk is drinking like he just became legal, and right around the time his eyeballs roll into the back of his head, they all decide to go home. Once there, Aimee, in a move completely devoid of that wisdom I’ve come to rely upon, chooses to prank call her ex and scream profanity and orders for two thin crust pizzas into the crocodile phone. Nilsa eventually grabs the phone so she too can say derogatory things to a complete stranger and their voices are bellowing through the house and Kirk hears everything through his drunken haze. He cannot understand why two girls who talk constantly about getting over their exes then proceed to call those guys every single time they’re drunk – and they’re drunk a lot.
“I hope he dies,” Aimee announces as she walks into the kitchen.
“I just wish my roommates were real,” Kirk slurs in response.
“I’m sorry, I am f*cking here to piss my f*cking ex off,” Aimee yells.
And then? Well, I’m afraid I’ve not been diagnosed as clinically insane enough to fully explain what happens next, but if we’re gonna try to deal with this clusterf*ck of a situation in a linear fashion, I guess it’s important to know that Kirk has something he really really wants to say and Aimee is not interested in hearing his thoughts about a man who emotionally ravaged her. Then the heavens shift and a tube of mayonnaise goes flying through the air and Kirk and Aimee get in each other’s faces before Aimee pushes him and he goes flying back over the coffee table. I’d, of course, blame the alcohol for this little altercation, but I’m only going to let the booze shoulder half the blame. Because whether it’s rational of me to feel this way or not, I fully believe the real problem in that house is Josh’s tail. I know – I just know – that thing has evil intentions.
Can I get an “Amen”?
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Also be sure to check out her website at nellkalter.com. Her twitter is @nell_kalter.