By ANDREA HIGBIE
The bankruptcy-battling Joe Giudice is puzzled. Gazing into his big gaudy pond at his big gaudy house, he calls to his wife, Teresa, "I can't find the koi" -- expensive gaudy carp -- "anymore."
"There was like hundreds in here," he says. "I can't find any of 'em."
"Maybe," Teresa begins, her voice turning even more highly pitched than normal with an unusual dawning of realization, "the stork ate them."
Of course! The stork. What any legally troubled, prison-fearing couple needs for their fancy new landscaped property, a koi-stuffed stork. Koi are symbols of friendship and love in Japan, and as such are symbolically absent from Teresa Giudice's life in Franklin Lakes, as well as her new pond.
On "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" last night, Joe and Teresa sat at their new bistro table by the koi-less pond, sipping wine and analyzing Teresa's failing friendships.
Last week, Teresa had a big fight with Jacqueline Laurita, and joining the fun was Caroline Manzo ("Life is short," she says in this fourth-season weekly intro. "I have no time for drama"), who was as drawn to that drama as a stork is to koi.
"At this point in time," Caroline intoned last night like a message from above, "I'm done with Teresa."
Jacqueline took to her bed, in tears.
The fight was about friendship, loyalty and what Teresa said to the tabloids and in her cookbook "Fabulicious!" about Caroline ("She's less Italian than the Olive Garden") and about Caroline's son Chris's idea for a topless carwash (wrong!), which falls under the heading "Yuh mess wit' my fambly, and yuh messin' wit' me," Caroline's first-season weekly intro, the one true to her spirit.
"Joe, Joe, Joe," Teresa asks her husband, what should I do?
Joe's response -- "Who cares!" -- is followed by his studied analysis of his wife's situation. "Tell Jacqueline to shut up, and worry about her own problems." As if more needed to be said, Joe offered his opinion of Jacqueline's essence -- "She's like a dodo bird, a knucklehead" -- which is right in line with his characterizations of the others: Caroline, "boring"; Rosie Pierri, Teresa's cousin, "Butchie Boy"; Melissa Gorga, Teresa's brother's wife, "Horsey Face"; and Joe Gorga, Teresa's brother, "Josephina."
That ought to do it.
But Teresa thinks not, and wants to continue talking, which Joe shuts right down: "I don't care! I heard enough already. I already told you what to do -- just move on!"
Joe may have heard enough, but Teresa has not. And so, friendless, she calls her cousin Kathy Wakile ("Raccoon Face," per Joe) for further discussion.
"I got ambushed by Jacqueline and Caroline," Teresa tells Kathy, who then has her own dawning of realization, but one that comes much more swiftly than Teresa's at her (koi-less) pond.
"This is why she called," Raccoon Face says in her solo camera interview. "She needs someone to be on her side."
But in the interest of getting along with her, and possibly prolonging her presence on the show by drawing this out, Raccoon Face offers Teresa her advice: "Let time go by."
Fortunately the "U" word -- "unattended" -- was never uttered in this conversation, the word that Kathy suggested that Teresa's toddler daughter was, by Teresa, while strapped and trapped in her stroller in the middle of the christening rumble of the show's third-season premiere last year. The word that has never failed to spin Teresa into a rage.
Things are calmer, if not stranger, over at Horsey Face and Josephina's McMansion.
Horsey Face is putting on makeup for her radio phone call with Ryan Seacrest ("Why yuh puttin' makeup on?" Josephina asks), for the "world premiere" of her new remix of "On Display," her song that makes me yearn for the sophisticated stylings of Countess LuAnn's "Money Can't Buy You Class."
Horsey Face tells Josephina her philosophy of success: "I told you. If you're a hard worker, you're a good person and if you pray, it happens."
Oh! So I haven't been praying hard enough. OK, I pray, hard, that I never hear her song again.
On the radio, Ryan Seacrest congratulates Horsey Face while Josephina, always eager to impress with his tales of sexual prowess, informs him and the world: "Yuh know why she sings so well? It's all the practice in the bedroom."
At the (big gaudy) celebration party Joe throws for his wife, Teresa seizes the opportunity to fight some more with Jacqueline, first ignoring her and then ensnaring her when Jacqueline, unable to bear the silence, tried to make nice with Teresa.
"I'm sorry it got so heated and, um, crazy," Jacqueline said.
Teresa immediately accused Jacqueline of attacking her, ambushing her, hurting her beyond reason, and how could she, really, how could she?
Across the room, Caroline's son Chris amuses his brother, Albie, and all of us out in TV Land with better dialogue for Teresa taking on Jacqueline.
Chris, as Teresa, shrieks: "Here's the thing, right -- listen, right? If you were really mad at me, you'd throw a table at my face, right? Cause that's what normal people do, right?"
Whenever Teresa finds herself -- no, puts herself -- in any contentious situation, her perceptions never fail to make those in "Rashomon" look straightforward.
"Why do people have to change?" Teresa says in a solo camera interview. "I know I haven't changed. I know I'm the same person that I've always been. If anything, more understanding."
No one else thinks so.
"She honestly doesn't feel like she does anything wrong," Jacqueline complained to her husband, Chris, at the party.
In her solo camera interview after the party fight, Teresa offers her opinion of Jacqueline: "Bitch! Who the fuck are you, psychobitch? Right there, I should have punched her in the face. I'm sayin' like that's something that she deserved. I'm just sayin.' That's not my style. I'm not going there. But obviously, she punched Caroline in the face."
Yes, a while back Jacqueline did. But not on tape, unfortunately. Jacqueline's daughter, Ashlee/Ashley, however, yanked Danielle Staub's weave right off her head a few seasons ago, an act fortunately and forever immortalized on TV.
At least Rosie, aka Butchie Boy, had a good time at the party, kissing one and all and declaring, "I'm hammered right now!" as if it needed to be said.
In other party chatter, Teresa grabs her brother, Joe Gorga, for a quick conversation about therapy, which he suggested that they attend together. For the sake of their relationship. Which is a mess because Teresa is so insanely envious of Joe's wife. But no one says that. Ever.
"I definitely want to go to therapy with you," Teresa informs her brother.
Earlier, when Teresa had her talons fixed in her husband's arm to discuss this, he told her, "I hope it works out for youse. As far as I'm concerned, he's not your brother. He's your sister."
Joe Giudice had recounted his own, bad, experience with therapy: "I was 11 years old, and the school tried to send me to therapy," a place with "all these cukoo birds runnin' around."
"I'm embarrassed for you," Joe offered. Adding Teresa's father to the menagerie, Joe told her, "I think he'll go bury his head in the sand like an ostrich."
At the party, Joe Gorga is happy. He never expected his sister to agree to therapy.
And why would he? As Teresa then states in her solo interview, "I'm hoping that the therapist will help my brother realize that he's the one with the problem."
Maybe the stork will eat her.
Jacqueline advises Teresa to talk to the (two and a half) fingers.