By ANDREA HIGBIE
Rich Wakile was at his gentlemanly best last night to meet his gay sister-in-law Rosie's new friend, and rainbow flags the world over quivered at half-staff.
"I approve of lesbians because they go after the same things I like," Rich said, going on to outdo himself by greeting her as hot, fake flirting with her and taking note of his Old World Italian mother-in-law's position on her daughter Rosie (aka Butchie Boy, as Joe Giudice calls her).
"She just wants Rosie to be happy," Rich said, "whether it's friends, whether it's emotional or whether it's muff diving."
"The Real Housewives of New Jersey" has been on a gay streak this fourth season, with a gay wedding and Rosie coming out to Rich and Kathy's teenagers, but last night's eleventh episode was gayer than usual. Naturally, Joe Gorga was involved, and his part involved baring his chest for body-shot drinking by Greg Bennett, the Manzo boys' gay roommate, at a surprise 26th birthday party for him, at a gay bar.
And it was only fitting that Greg had the best line of the night.
After Albie Manzo's new girlfriend left their apartment in the morning, and Albie explained, "The girl was sick, OK, and she needed a place to stay, that's all," Greg said, "What are you, Clara Barton on the battlefield, bringing home injured women?"
At the surprise party, Albie's mother, Caroline, met his girlfriend, Lindsey, a Jets cheerleader, but this meeting between a mother and prospective family member didn't go so well.
"He's not capable of having this relationship," Caroline said about Albie in her solo camera interview. "His priority should be work."
A little less dubious was Albie's sister, Lauren. She said Lindsey wasn't a whore.
Not even a prostitution whore. And, no, Teresa and Joe Giudice were not at Greg's surprise party, which was no surprise.
During the gay wedding party weekend, Joe uncorked a bottle of wine, inspiring Lauren to ask, "Did someone fart?" Looking at Greg, Joe said, "Greg, you probably got the loosest butthole here."
Joe laughed. Greg did not.
Another party Joe didn't attend during last night's episode was for his niece, 6-year-old Antonia Gorga.
"That's just a kids' party, isn't it?" Joe, shirtless, as usual, and bleary-eyed, ditto, said to Teresa that morning.
Milania, 6, the third of their four daughters, told him, "You are so mean."
"He never wants to see his kids," she said, as Teresa's eyes grew wide, nearly doing away with her forehead.
"You big poop!" Milania told him.
Joe looked menacing. "What did you call me?"
Milania is the only family member who never shrinks from him. "Poop."
Joe turned to walk out of their kitchen, which seemed not to be his first instinct. "I gotta go."
"Get outta here, you big poop!"
Who's the big poop? Joe and Teresa Giudice on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."
Over at the Gorgas' McCastle that morning, things were decidedly less tense, but most places are. Melissa was having her makeup done by her stylist, and telling her Joe all about that afternoon's party for Antonia, featuring a big inflatable caterpillar to crawl through, other inflatables to jump around in, a fake tattoo station, and lots of popcorn and cotton candy.
"We always celebrate big," Melissa said, and while it was big, it was normal, and a lot more fun than the $60,000 tea party for Taylor Armstrong's 5 year old on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
At her niece's party, Teresa acted normal, too. Aside from the inflatables, there were no blowups, no screaming, no tantrums. In that atmosphere, Kathy Wakile might even have said the word "unattended" without consequences.
Before the party, Melissa's mother and two aunts arrived, all looking like Carmela Soprano.
"Look at these three," said Joe. "They look like twins, these three."
They all discussed Joe and Teresa's tawk therapy session -- "It was a horrible experience," Joe said -- and for his part, Joe decided, "I'll never go again."
Melissa said she'd be happy to have Sunday family dinners for everyone. Fortunately for her, though, there were more interesting things to think about. She'd been invited to perform at Beatstock, the music festival in Farmingville, N.Y. And Cris Judd, J.Lo's ex-husband, was choreographing her. (She sang there last August.) Meanwhile, Gia Giudice, 11 (the oldest Giudice girl; the toddler Audriana, No. 4, still can't talk much and grab camera time, and Gabriella, No. 2, has been too smart to bother), auditioned to dance at Beatstock, and though she was selected, the moment was tainted by Teresa gushing over her cute tush.
Elsewhere in Franklin Lakes, Teresa, who had hoped that the therapist would "fix" her brother but decided they didn't need therapy after all, said she'd been acting in everyone's best therapeutic interests all along anyway: "I've been trying the whole time to keep the family together."
But she didn't press that point at Antonia's party. She was, in fact, pleasant.
And by the end of the party, for that small miracle, Melissa was inspired to give thanks. "Thank you, Jesus," she said. "All is good."
Greg, the birthday boy, doing body shots off Joe Gorga's chest.