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‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ recap: Who wrote the Book of Love?

May 31, 2011 | 10:01 am

Coming off the Stygian excesses of last week’s fashion show, to say nothing of the bellowing bellicosi of RHONJ’s premier, it was a quiet week in Wayne Township, as if all were mildly anesthetized with the task of digesting one of Caroline’s Southern meals.

Still, this brief digression from chest-thumping and runway-walking finally cemented a theme of the "Jersey" series that has fascinated me ever since Danielle Staub placed a battered edition of "Cop Without a Badge" triumphantly down on Teresa’s soon-to-be-hurled table. "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," despite the fact that their 75,000-square-foot houses seem remarkably free of even one lone bookcase, are indubitably the literary arm of the franchise.

But to begin. Here we are, on the set of Teresa’s fashion shoot for "Skinny Italian's" sequel, "Fabulicious," where she is shortly to enrage the book’s “food stylist” for commenting that his meatball spread needs more sauce (“Who wants a meatball without sauce?”). Luckily, said stylist will be shortly placated by Teresa’s pronunciation of cumin -- “Is it KOO-min? KUH-min?” -- which allows him to hurl back a dagger-like “KEW-min” and maintain his linguistic, to say nothing of intellectual, superiority, which must be no joke if you are a food stylist.

But Teresa’s work as a lady of letters has only just begun.

"The Housewives of Orange County," we know, converse mainly by holding glittering iPhones braced in their palms, as if shouting into the crown jewels. "Atlanta" and "New York" maintain a strictly oral tradition: third-party gossip is hurled back at the accuser publicly, preferably at high enough volume to overcome the fact that everyone’s at a gala to benefit the needy, or somebody else’s wedding. (Poor "Miami" and "D.C." -- they would have launched a tradition if anyone had been listening.)

But despite their “dems” and “dats,” New Jersey is increasingly bound to the written word, from the aforementioned "Cop Without a Badge" incident -- which cemented Staub, in the other housewives’ eyes, as a cut-rate criminal -- to that departed lady’s Twitter missteps, as when she agreed with an avid follower that Jacqueline’s daughter Ashley probably would be better off dead, to Jacqueline’s avowal that even though the other housewives were spurning Staub, she wouldn’t promise not to text her from time to time.

This week, Teresa, despondent over estrangement from brother Joe, took her pen into her own hands. Rather than expose herself to being called “garbage” again, she, with the intense counsel of Caroline Manzo and Jacqueline, composed a letter suggesting a truce on really rather pretty teal stationary, which she then placed, Luther-like, firmly in the iron-gated door of her brother’s Rococo McMansion. (Teresa: “You think that’s a good spot to put it?” Jacqueline: “I would notice it.”)

Moments before, Joe’s wife, Melissa, hearkening back to the events of the premiere, had told viewers, “We still have not received a card from her for the christening, which in Italian families is a big no-no.”

Returning with husband Joe from a five-minute jog that apparently required full makeup and pigtails, Melissa snatched the letter from the door and handed it silently to husband Joe, who was silent.

“I don’t care what it says,” he abruptly declared, his shiitake-like profile unmoved.

“If you don’t read it, I’ll read it,” Melissa shot back.

Fine, OK. We viewers have already “read” it, since Teresa recited it aloud from her iPhone to a rapt Jacqueline moments before. Nonetheless, is there any doubt a letter from Joe and Melissa in reply is soon to follow? Will there be poems? Transatlantic cables, even? Will Teresa, like Walt Whitman, get her own Turnpike service area?

(Commenter poll: Is NJ Housewife Teresa’s “KOO-min” gaff worse than OC Housewife Alexis' rendering of “delicacy” as “delicatessen”?)

RELATED:

Full Show Tracker coverage of 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'

-- Lizzie Skurnick

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