Have you ever heard the expression, “bad timing”? I am sure we’ve all heard it, and not just that; we’ve all lived it. Looking back at last summer, bad timing was pretty much how I’d describe the interview I had to potentially become a cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Rewinding a bit, last summer was the time frame I chose to have what I’d like to call a “Mommy Makeover” or “Jaime 2.0”. Done with having kids, I decided it was time to better my, as Teresa Giudice would say, bubbies with a breast reduction, lift and implants. To complete the process, I decided to get my nose fixed. I had breathing issues (it’s true) and a huge train wreck of a bump that needed to be taken down.
Surgery day came and after six hours under the knife, I was on my way to becoming a new woman. The following day I was released and the last thing I cared about was the end result. I wanted nothing more than my own bed to pass out in. I was sore, cranky and looked like I had gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson. My face is normally small and narrow, but at this stage of the game, I was so swollen, I looked like Stewie Griffin from Family Guy. Purple and blue bruises surrounded my nose, cheeks and eyes. My eyes were narrow slits that could barely open. Unable to lift my arms to wash my hair, my natural curls morphed into a giant beehive of tangles, knots, and frizz. This is when I got the call…
I was lying at a 90 degree angle on my bed, watching bad eighties movies, while gingerly dabbing at the puss and blood that would, on occasion, escape from my swelled up honker. My husband walked into my room, holding the phone out in front of him. “It’s W, “ he said as he handed over the receiver. “Hey,” I said into the phone, as I tried to make myself more comfortable.
“I have a business opportunity to discuss with you,” W said, and he sounded like he meant business.
“What’s up?” I was mildly intrigued, or at least as intrigued as some Xanax and Tylenol would allow me to feel.
W’s next few sentences came out in a fluster. I could practically hear him jumping up and down with excitement. After listening, I thought I was hallucinating. I asked him to repeat himself. Then I said, “Are you fucking kidding me?” He assured me he was not fucking kidding me. I told him to hold on, while I asked my husband to come back upstairs. Before I handed the phone over to my husband, I told W, “Please repeat what you just told me.”
W repeated it all right. The phone was back in my hands within seconds. My husband was on the floor in hysterics. If I could’ve managed to move any muscle without pain, I would have been right there with him. The punch line? The producers of RHONJ were seeking potential cast mates for Season 5. W was known on Twitter and Facebook for his freelance writing and RHONJ cast connections, so they contacted him for recommendations.
He recommended me and they wanted to come meet me within 48 hours. 48 HOURS? The timing could not have been worse. W could not stall the talent team, as they were conducting many interviews and heading back to the West Coast by the weekend. They knew of my recent surgery and understood that I was not looking or feeling my best. I agreed to the meeting but had no idea how I would ever get myself or house, in any shape for that kind of scrutiny.
Fast forward to the following morning, at the plastic surgeon’s office. That day was huge for me; I was having drains and sutures removed, and the remaining bandage taken off my nose. I quickly briefed the doctor on the interview with Housewives. He reminded me of a few simple rules, such as, no high heels. Actually, I was not allowed to wear heels at all. Between the anesthesia that was still hanging around in my body and the meds, on top of the fact that I’ve never been steady in heels, let’s just say wearing them and falling could have had extreme consequences. I pictured myself stumbling, falling on my face and my nose smashing concave in while simultaneously deflating my new boobs.
Getting dressed presented a whole other problem. What kind of RHONJ acceptable outfit would fit over my affectionately nicknamed “Giganta-Bra”? Post surgery, a full support bra is worn to help shape the new boobies, and let me tell you, that was a contraption and a half. Said bra was humongous with wide straps, so anything tight or spaghetti strapped was out of the question.
Getting groomed also was a major issue. I had to be extremely gentle with the skin on my face and around my nose, since I was still in healing mode and the sutures were newly removed. I was advised to not layer on the makeup. I was, however, given the green light to take a saran wrap shower and finally have my husband wash my hair. Thank the Lord for small miracles. I didn’t have much to work with, but I was determined to do my best.
I don’t know how I would have made it through the whole post surgery ordeal without my husband. For the past few days, he had played Dad, Mom, Chef, Nurse and Chauffer. Little did he know that within the next 24 hours, he’d also be a hair stylist, make up artist, and pedicurist.
One of my best friends, J, came to the rescue and cleaned my house from top to bottom. While she performed her miracles downstairs, my husband and I were upstairs, working just as hard, trying to turn me from horrifying to housewife. Step one was the Saran Wrap shower. As we struggled to get the clingy wrap securely around me, I silently prayed that my new assets would not pop.
It felt great to finally be able to fully bathe, but cleaning up my hair was a whole other story. Seeing as I couldn’t lift my arms, I let my husband do his best with shampoo and conditioner to get out the knots and frizz. My hair may have been in worse shape than when we started, but I did my best trying to smooth it out with Moroccan Oil and some gel.
For my outfit I threw together a loose tank top, zebra print dress/bathing suit cover, and some sparkly flip-flops, because nothing screams NJ like animal prints and sparkles! My husband’s hand shook as he tried painting my toenails. Even though it reminded me of the time when he helped shave my bikini area pre-trip to the hospital for a C-section, I was thankful this time he was not using a razor to groom me.
Makeup, as previously mentioned had it’s own unique set of challenges. The prior evening I spent time researching how to cover bruises. My face had a rainbow of colors to work with – blue, gruesome yellow and purple – I had a lot of ground to cover. I put on as much cover up as was approved and truthfully, it made no difference. Staring back in the mirror at me were bruises that still could be seen underneath a layer of cover and foundation. Time was running out, so I decided to cut my losses. Short of wearing a hat with a veil, there wasn’t much I could do about it, and I didn’t think I could convince the casting team that ‘Bee Keeper Chic’ was very in this season in Jersey.
W was trying to keep my nerves in check as we sat and waited for the casting team to arrive. I surveyed the spread my husband had run out early to pick up from a nearby swanky wine and food shop. Wine – check. Cheese and crackers – check. Tortilla chips- ch- wait, what? Tortilla chips and salsa? With wine and cheese? No. I tried to give him the stink eye, but the muscles in my face wouldn’t cooperate and I was pretty damn sure it made my nose run again.
“The bag says ‘Gourmet’ on it, see?” he said, as I shuffled past him into the bathroom to wipe away the offending snot.
At this point, I just had to roll with whatever the day brought me. I asked W if I had lipstick on my teeth. “Smile”, he said, leaning in close to get a look. That was a bad move. As I coaxed my face into a smile, pain shot up under my nose and radiated through the rest of the upper part of my face. And…guess what? My nose started to run again. How would I get through this interview without, laughing, smiling, or showing any facial expressions what so ever? They’d either think I was zonked on meds (which could have been true, at this point) or a total ice queen.
The doorbell rang and I almost jumped out of my implants. “You’re bra is showing,” W said, gently adjusting my Giganta-bra for the tenth time. Showtime. I don’t know who I expected to walk through the door, but I was in for a pleasant surprise. A group of about four entered my home, and they had a very calm, pleasing aura about them. The group, especially the casting director, put me at ease immediately.
The session started off with discussing, of course, my surgery. “Why did you decide to have it done,” the head casting agent, R, asked while everyone sipped Chardonnay and munched on gourmet tortilla chips.
“To be honest, I was tired of stepping on my boobs,” I said, smiling. Well, almost smiling. W had chosen the corner chair, while my husband sat at the head of the table. In hindsight, I needed to be next to my husband. Not because I am a clingy wife, but because my husband is overly chatty. He sometimes gets a case of verbal diarrhea. The only known cures are a kick or pinch under the table. W sitting between us (plus being not able to move well from the surgery) made it impossible for me to administer the medicine needed to cure that.
As he rambled on, I shifted uncomfortably in my chair and tried to smile. This was the most exercise my face had done in days so it was pretty painful. I think I may have drooled a few times during the discussion, but no one seemed to notice. As my husband continued talking about his business, I lifted my leg to see if I could make contact. No luck, but my flip-flop went flying under the table.
The discussion continued with the story of how we met and got engaged, our family life and future vacation plans. S was responsible for cataloging the discussion and she typed furiously as we sat and talked. How she kept up with my husband’s stories, I will never know. My dogs loved the interview process because they got full hands on attention from the group. My kids, on the other hand, were in another room, screaming and fighting over the Wii remotes.
I remember as the session wound down, we discussed life in the reality world and how people can come out of the wood work, claiming to have photos and stories that may not put you in a positive light. I laughed and smiled (ouch), stating, ” There are tons of people out there with Jaime stories. And pictures. That’s life. We all have stories.”
As I showed them out after two hours, I don’t think they noticed I was down a flip flop. I hugged them goodbye (ouch) and wished them well. I closed the door and let out a deep breath. I kicked off the remaining shoe and kicked back a half glass of Chardonnay. At that point, I could just take a nap and hope to hear something back about my interview. In the end, it didn’t work out, but being a part of the interview process was a pretty cool thing. And you will see me on Season 5 – stay tuned for my shoulder or the back of my head in some episodes!