Scene: the beach house. And Jackie Taylor is there in one of her overly-colorful older-woman-trying-too-hard-to-look-youngish-and-stylish outfits with barbaric oversized costume jewelry straight from Bloomie’s or Nordie’s, saying “Are you sure you don’t need help, Donna?” And Felice, in a perfect pastel suit with big buttons and double-strand of pearls, chimes in “I wish she would have let me call my caterer to handle this.” And Donna, perched on a ladder in the living room, is sticking one last piece of tape onto the wall and saying “Mother, don’t worry, I’ve got everything taken care of” as she climbs down from the stepladder, folds it up, and surveys the results of her labor.
Ah, what loveliness. The living room has been cheerfully festooned with tasteful twists of bridal-white tulle, masses of pastel floral garlands, crepe fold-out wedding bells, baby bottles and rattles and custom-painted signs that read “Congratulations Kelly and Brandon!” and “Here Comes the Bride” and “Showers of Happiness” and “And Baby Makes Three.” Tables have been covered with starched white linens and festooned with more flower garlands: blush roses, creamy lilies and delicate orchids among the greenery. One table is already piled with beautifully wrapped gifts, and another has several silver trays of delectable hors d’oeuvres and a great silver punchbowl full of amber liquid and floating slices of citrus, flanked by very tall, slim candlesticks in graceful silver candelabras. Donna, looking anxious, makes a final, miniscule adjustment to the folded napkins and stacked china plates. “Oh! Did you remember to bring the champagne?” she asks Jackie with sudden, wide eyes.
“Yes, Donna, it’s already chilling. And the place looks lovely. The guests should be arriving soon. Everything is under control. You’ve done a beautiful job. Kelly’s going to love it.”
“Are you sure?” And Donna winds her bandy arms together and clasps her skinny fingers, casting a cajoling look at her own mother, waiting for approval.
“Of course she will,” smiles Felice. “Now, don’t you think you should go change before everyone arrives?”
And Donna looks down at her summer-breezy yellow tank-top with her knobby, suntan-boothed brown shoulders exposed, a weirdly pattered matching chiffon miniskirt (a la “Now Would Anyone But Tori Really Wear This”) that looks like a tie-dying project got horribly awry with her bandy, friable-looking legs exposed, and big, clunky clodhopper shoes, which, thankfully, don’t expose anything, and sighs pitifully. “I did just before you got here.”
“Oh,” says Felice, pretending to be tactful. “Well, honey, maybe something a little more... toned down would be more appropriate for this occasion...?”
And Jackie says “Oh Felice, I think she looks lovely.”
But Donna sighs again and makes a pathetic little-girl smile and says “No, it’s okay Mom, I’ll change. Maybe my pink dress you brought me from Paris...?”
“Perfect,” smiles Felice as the doorbell rings. “Ah, our first guest! Hurry, Donna! You are the hostess, after all.”
Holding her head high and blinking back tears, Donna heads for her room as Felice opens the door for a gaggle of girls in pastel suits and Alpha pins, all bearing prettily-wrapped boxes.
“Girls, welcome,” beams Felice. “Jackie, will you show them where we’re putting the gifts?”
“One bridal gift, one baby gift, right?” says the blondest Alpha with the biggest hair, as Jackie ushers them in, and the dark-haired Alpha girl in the pale green sundress chimes in “Can you believe it? A wedding shower and a baby shower all in one!”
“I think it’s a great idea Donna had,” says another Alpha, immediately beginning the Praising of Donna Martin (despite the fact that a joint wedding/baby shower would be considered total white trash in just about any social circle) in order to contrast with the previous disapproval of Donna’s mother and thus undermining Felice’s pettiness because it is clear that Donna doesn’t deserve her mother’s criticism because obviously everything is Lovely and Wonderful and Donna has such Good Taste and all the Alphas earnestly agree and mention some of Donna’s other Great Triumphs as they place their gifts and are served tall sparkling glasses of champagne, like Donna’s Big Charity Fashion Show (which We the TV Viewer never saw) and Donna’s Summer Nights Formal Ball (which We the TV Viewer never saw) and Donna’s Alpha Alumni Luncheon (which We the TV Viewer never saw) and the whole time Felice is smiling nicely.
Then, as more shower guests join the party, the conversation turns to the Guest of Honor:
“When is Kelly supposed to get here?” asks an Alpha in an expensive taupe pants-and-blazer combo.
And Jackie says “Soon. She’s picking Erin up from preschool. She doesn’t suspect a thing.”
“She must be so excited,” says the Alpha with the best piecey highlighted streaks in her hair.
And the Alpha with the blue eye shadow says “I always knew she and Brandon would get married. They’re the perfect couple.” And the rest of the Alpha girls agree readily.
“And a new baby, too,” gushes the redheaded Alpha with the floral scarf. “Kelly’s going to be a great mom. She always loved kids.” [Because, you know, “loving kids” is what makes a great mom. In fact, it’s the best reason I’ve found for someone to reproduce. “Oh,” said a jobless then-22-year old former h.s. classmate of mine, who was having baby number three with husband number two who had his own baby number one with his wife number one, “we just love kids.” I find myself – sometimes perhaps unfairly, yeah, but still – interpreting “I love kids” as “I need someone to fulfill me” or “I don’t know what else to do with my life so I’m gonna have a baby” or “I just don’t want to take the responsibility of using any form of birth control and I’m in complete denial” or “I’m a selfish and irresponsible person who wants to find a way to keep this man I’m involved with here with me, so I’ll have his baby” or “I loved to dress up my dollies when I was a little girl, and I loved to play house, so I’ll make a good mommy”.... How frightening is it that, of the dozen baby showers I’ve been invited to in the last 3 years, only two of those children were planned, prepared for, and born to two parents who both had jobs and were well aware of the multitudinous responsibilities involved in bringing a new life into the world? In my grimmest, darkest, most cynical days, I sometimes think that all reproductive organs should’ve come with an on-off switch that’s turned off at birth, and only turned on after the person is at least 30, and has taken two years of classes in parenting and child care. Issues? Do I have issues? You bet! Anyway....]
So the Alphas are sipping champagne, and the Alpha in the lavender sheath dress says “Adoption is definitely the way to go....” and before you have time to hope she’s going to comment on abandoned babies in Europe or Asia or here in the US or overpopulation or whatnot, she adds with a giggle, “No getting sick. No getting fat. Just planning and parties,” and all the other Alphas chime in their assent as the doorbell rings again.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get it,” says Donna, breezing out in a modest rose-colored shift, her hair pinned up in a mass of Chaos Curls (TM xix), and, smiling perfectly, she opens the door for Kelly’s Instant Sister Joy, who is wearing a lovely pale blue summer dress. And she and Donna coo and hug.
Soon, the beautifully-decorated compound is bustling with beautifully-decorated young women bearing beautifully-decorated gift boxes. All of Kelly’s friends are... well, no one we know. I mean, why would they invite, say, Kelly’s old roommate Clare or Alison the Crispy Lesbian whom she was so adamant on being “friends” with, or even Mrs. Muntz, whom we wouldn’t recognize away from her Tubby Hubby, when she could have instead this artful arrangement of sorority sisters and colleagues and such? In fact, we overhear Jackie introducing Felice to a couple of Kelly’s “friends from the modeling agency” and Joy talking to a couple of women “who worked at the Foundation with Kelly” while Donna directs the Ethnic, Okay Waiter (TM xix) in a white coat and gloves to pass around more bubbly, while another Ethnic, Okay Waiter (TM xix) in a white coat and gloves offers bits and thingies on a silver tray to party guests. But since I’m in charge here I can interject some kind of continuity, so there’s Joanie, in a matronly dress, and Mrs. Teasley, in a less-festive power suit. Ohndrea is there, sipping a cup of tea and talking, looking about 15 years older than everyone, even Joanie and Mrs. T. And even Valerie finally stomps in, wearing a grey-is-the-new-black skirt and a two-shades-lighter grey shirt, grumpily thrusting two wrapped gifts at Donna.
And the doorbell rings and it’s one last late guest: Kara/Tara, Kelly Taylored to the hilt in an Itty Bitty (TM me) Pastel Suit, navel-baring flowery chiffon blouse with a collar that flops a la Greg Brady, and a coordinated white handbag-clonker shoes set. She has traded her long, dark wig for a shorter dark one, however it’s been styled frighteningly similar to Kelly’s Razor’s Edge ‘do and clipped with Itty Bitty barrettes, and she has applied her dewy makeup and done her nails in true Kellyized style but... well, on Kara/Tara, it just doesn’t work. Her skin is too sallow for the pastel blues and yellows and roses that look so delicate and lovely on Kelly, and the dark wig only emphasizes the fact. The style of the suit is entirely wrong for someone with a normal human body, instead of the enviable Kelly Taylor slenderness, and Kara/Tara looks boxy and dumpy in comparison. Her lips are too full for the pale, pale pink Kelly Taylor lipstick, and her eyes look even smaller with the raccoon-rings of Kelly Taylor eyeliner. But Donna beams at Kara/Tara benignly (because, Kara/Tara is, after all, this season’s Big Victim... never mind that the Rapist was Donna’s boyfriend Noah. Continuity is not the priority here) and gives her a sticky smile (TM me) and coos “Kara, I’m so glad you could come. You look wonderful.”
And Kara/Tara says in her weird laryngitis voice “So am I” and Donna ushers her in.
So now that the party is in full swing, there’s the prolonged sound of keys in the front door and Donna hastily hushes the hundred or so party guests as Kelly makes a whole bunch of noise unlocking the door and opening it as she calls out “Hello? Erin’s here!” and walks in, dressed in a flowery sundress over a white T-shirt topped with a pastel sweater with only the top button done, and with golden-haired pink-clad Erin at her side like another accessory, and everyone yells “SURPRISE!” and Kelly squeals and squeaks and makes cooing exclamations of surprise and delight while receiving hugs from everyone – even Valerie, to whom Kelly gives a barely-suppressed triumphant smile. Finally, though, Kelly ends up with Donna, whom she hugs and breathily prattles about how “beautiful” and “wonderful” everything is. And Donna makes a sticky smile and drill-revs out her nose and shrugs and winds her bony arms together and clasps her hands and that whole Modest Donna the True Friend charade.
So now it’s present-opening time, and we get to see Kelly unwrap wedding gifts, like a sterling tea service from Felice, and some more tasteful – but less-ostentatious – loot from her friends, like ker-nifty ceramic candlesticks and pitchers and embossed napkin rings with B&K interlinked on them and pretty pink towels and, of course, the requisite Long White Negligee, which makes everyone giggle and squeal but makes Valerie look disgusted and Ohndrea look cynical and Felice look pained.
And after the last wedding gift (no cards, of course) has been opened, Donna claps her hands and giggles and says “Now it’s time for part two!” and dramatically tears down a sign that says WEDDING SHOWER to one that says BABY SHOWER and all the Alpha girls and other party guests are presenting Kelly with another slew of wrapped packages, this time in pastel colors with little rattles attached and stuff. And Kelly squeals and giggles and starts diving into the next pile of Loot: music boxes and baby quilts and stuffed animals and tinkly-bell toys. And so the party progresses as Alpha girl guests compliment, Donna fusses and Kelly revels.
Thankfully, We the TV Viewers are spared most of the usual Pathetically Stupid Bridal Shower Antics, such as the Clothespin Game and Wedding Scattergories and Bride Bingo and Pin the Macho on the Man.... I mean, one of the most Onerous things about the whole wedding process was being, ahem, showered with cheesy (IMHO) ideas for things that are supposed to be “fun” and “entertaining” but are actually really really RILLY dumb and even pretty degrading, and those Bridal Shower ideas were the worst of the lot. The writing-down-what-the-bride-says-when-she-opens-the-gifts-as-what-she-says-on-the-wedding-night (i.e. “it’s so cute!” or “I needed one of these!”) is particularly vile. However, I’ve found that the teddy-bear appliquéd-sweatshirt-wearing glue-gun wielding dolly-making contingency of craftsy women who use too many !!!s when they write are the worst sources for Shower Ideas that I Find Repellant: the Design a Wedding Dress out of Toilet Paper race... any Who-Am-I identity games... the pick-safety-pins-out-of-a-bowl-of-rice game... any game that involves sexist and stereotypical b.s. like cleaning products or household items.... When my friend O Nancy My Nancy was planning my one of my showers, we kept each other in hysterics with some of the Horrifically Cutesy-Poo super-retardo shower games and activities (and she ended up doing a couple of the really bad ones at the Friend Shower, tongue-in-cheek!). I mean, you can call me Opinionated and Stuck-Up and No Fun – because believe me, my poor young cousins who assumed they’d plan the shower just along those “traditional” lines because “that’s what showers are *supposed* to be like” said as much (all in good fun, mind!) – but I simply could not stomach an afternoon of Bridal Word-Scramble and a gift-bow-bouquet and cards addressed to “The Soon-to-Be Mrs. His First Name, His Last Name” and any games involving safety pins or clothespins. Not only was it grody, it would have felt… hypocritical and disingenuous. So at the Family Shower, they *did*, in fact, have Bride Trivia, but I baffled the Great-Aunts not with questions like “how many children do Dwanollah and The Husband-Type Man want” and “what is Dwanollah and THTM’s Special Song?” but rather things like: “Which of the following philosopher/scholars has the most relevance to Dwanollah?” or “Name three of her favorite poets”.... We had fresh flowers and good music, and for the “gift exchange” game, instead of scented candles and ring trays and Avon stuff, we made gift bags of weird and kitschy and slightly subversive stuff like fake nails and glitter nail polish, car hood ornaments and stuff from the 99-Cent store.... I really wanted to make a gift bag of a can of prunes, a box of all-fiber cereal, a box of Depends and an air freshener, but decided not to scare the poor Great-Aunts any more. I am an anomaly in my family. They don’t know quite what to do with me. Anyway, back to Kelly’s Much More Prettily Tasteful Shower....
So, when it is all over, Kara/Tara is the last guest to leave. “Congratulations, Kelly,” she says and the background music takes on a Psycho-ish twist as she adds “This couldn’t be happening to a more deserving person. I envy you. I really do.”
And Kelly gives her that kinda blankish smile and nods and says “Well, ah, thank you, Kara.”
So then it’s just Donna and Kelly and Jackie left, and Donna starts picking up glasses and carrying them to the kitchen while Kelly is examining all the Stuff she’s raked in, holding up first a little yellow sleeper set, then an embossed picture frame that says “our family” all over it, and finally a cute little lamb, whose bow Kelly adjusts with her Vamped fingernails, her rosebud lips sweetly pursed in a blissful Kelly pout.
“It was a lovely shower,” Jackie says, coming over to pick up a pair of wine glasses with “B” and “K” respectively etched on them in flowing script.
“It was, wasn’t it?” agrees Kelly, cuddling the little lamb to her bosom.
“This has all happened so suddenly, Kelly,” says Jackie. “I just hope you know what you’re doing, that you’re sure about this.”
“Mom! I am! I’ve never been happier in my life,” Kelly insists, over-pronouncing her ps wetly as she does when she’s particularly earnest. “I’ve always wanted a family, a real family, all of my own. It’s what I’ve dreamed of most.”
“It’s just such a big step, Kelly. Marrying Brandon and adopting a baby all at once.”
But Kelly is fussing with the gifts again, this time a little blue sweater, smoothing it out with a dreamy smile. “Don’t worry Mom,” she says. “Brandon and I know what we’re doing. Everything’s going to be perfect. Honest.”
Scene: A brand-new morning at the SS Stupidity, home to Poor Noah Hunter. While the seagulls scream in the background, Donna “Oh Ricky” Martin comes clomping onboard, dressing in a tastefully slutty “business” suit: a grey skirt that barely reaches past crotch level, a daisy-embroidered sheer shirt with a scoop neck, all the better to display the horrific, misshapen, Frankensteinian appendages that Tori calls her breasts, and a grey jacket, with her weirdly-amber colored hair carefully constructed in a pile of curls and Suzanne Sommers ponytails and held with 47 bobby pins and all shellacked into place with Super Stiff Stuff hair spray. She starts to open the cabin door, but finds it locked. “Noah!” she calls, knocking, first cheerfully, then with more urgency. “Noah! Are you up? We have to leave for the hearing! You’re lawyer is expecting us soon! Noah... Noah?” And her voice turns Sweet and Understanding because St. Donna knows that her boyfriend is hurting and needs her and he couldn’t’ve done the Awful Nasty Thing he’s been accused of, and she starts talking through the door “Noah, please let me in.... You have the best lawyer, you can fight this, Noah. We can fight it together! Everyone knows you’re innocent! I’ll make sure nothing happens to you! I love you! Noah...?” And she’s getting more and more Agitated as she wrestles with the cabin door, finally racing to peer in the nearest window. And she sees Poor Noah stretched out on the floor, covered with a blanket, deeply asleep, and she pounds on the window. “Noah! Noah, wake up!” but Poor Noah doesn’t move.
And Donna does that weird gulping breathing-in thing, where she sounds like she’s swallowing her exclamation of “Ohmigawd” and reaches into her purse for her little flip-phone and punches three buttons. “Hello? Yes, please, I’m at my boyfriend’s boat at the marina, and I think there’s something wrong with him! Please hurry!” And the shot fades to commercial.