It is day 4 in the Trading Spouses experiment. At 8:00am in the Biggins house, Omar goes in to wake up Tammy. As Omar says, “Tammy, it’s time to…” she interrupts and says, “I’m not ready to get up. He says, “Are you serious?” and she responds, “Yes. I’m not getting up.” Tammy then jumps out of bed saying, “Oh Gawd! Oh Gaaaawd” over and over as she grabs her foot. She looks at Omar and says, “Charlie horse! Charlie horse!!” I am surprised when she does not demand that Omar rub her foot to make the cramp go away, as Omar has been Tammy’s little “Nana” slave since she arrived. Omar reluctantly leaves but moments later, he returns with his dad, Anthony. Tammy is back in bed with the covers pulled up to her nose. Anthony says, “We just wanted to tell you that we’re going to take Omar…” and Tammy cuts him off, saying, “Haven’t we done this already?” Anthony starts again, “We wanted to tell you that we’re taking Omar…” and again Tammy interrupts, “We’ve already done this. Why are we doing this again?” Omar and Anthony turn and leave the room. They get into the car and go wherever they were going to take Omar. Granted, we do not know where that is because Tammy never allowed Anthony to finish his sentence.
At the Nakamura house, Mela goes in to wake Natalia. The awakening is not nearly so rude as the Omar-Tammy exchange as Mela softly says to Natalia, “Hey sweetie, you need to get up in a few. We have a lot to do today.”
Tammy is finally awake, completely primped and caked with make up. She walks into the living room and finds Chrishara on the couch. Tammy says, “How about both of us go get a manicure and pedicure. Would you like that?” Chrishara nods eagerly and the two head off to the nail salon. Sitting in the pedicure chairs, Tammy looks over at Chris and says, “What have you learned from my time with you?” Chrishara says, “That I need to watch what I eat.” Tammy points and says, “Right. You need to try and watch what you eat every day and think of me when you do it.” Now I don’t know about you, but if I had to think about Tammy every time I ate, I would be downing a box of ding dongs daily out of spite. Tammy continues, “So watch what you eat and – your mom had you three kids right out of high school. You need to do all your studying and get that over with, then have kids. Got it?” Chrishara nods as she rolls her eyes and looks away. In her eyes you can see what Chris is thinking, “Shut your trap and let me enjoy my first pedicure, dammit!”
Mela and Natalia are also off for a mani/pedi session. As they sit in the pedicure chairs, Mela’s word of advice for Nat is, “Be careful with the boys. They will use you up then throw you out. Don’t let that happen.” After Natalia agrees to be careful, Mela says, “Now, that’s enough of the small talk. I’m going to sit back and enjoy the ride.” She kicks her feet up, lays her head back and enjoys a little R&R.
Everyone arrives back to their respective homes and the two moms are told that they are to throw a party for the friends and relatives of the families with whom they are staying. Mela is nervous. She is not really comfortable with the idea of entertaining and socializing a bunch of business people as that is not the crowd to which she is accustomed. Tammy, on the other hand, is thrilled. She is a self proclaimed life of the party and the hostess with the mostest. Mela calls all of the guests for the Nakamura party and asks them to arrive at 2pm the next day with a covered dish. Tammy has the kids call and invite all of their guests, of course.
That evening, after the guests have been invited, the women find out that they are to stop playing nice and start imposing their own rules on the family. Tammy does not miss a step. She has been bossing everybody around since day one, so she has no problem saying, “We’re going to have a party, and we’re going to do it my way.” Anthony, who is leaning on the recliner across the room from Tammy, says, “What does that mean?” Tammy continues, “That means that at my party there are no chicken wings.” The kids all looked shocked. Apparently chicken wings are a staple of a party at the Biggins’ home. After a long pause, Anthony says, “What’s wrong with chicken wings?” Tammy retorts, “Eventually they’ll kill ya.” Without missing a beat, Anthony says, “You gotta go sometime.” Tammy waves him off and says, “It’s my party and we’re going to eat healthy.” A collective “Ugh” is heard from the Biggins family.
Imposing her rules is a bit more difficult for Mela. She gathers the family into one of the many living rooms and says, “Thank you for welcoming me into your home. I have really enjoyed and appreciated it. But things are going to have to change.” Yuki’s eyes widen and he says, “What do you mean?” Mela looks at Nana and continues, “Well first, Nana, you are to do nothing. You are off the hook. Everything for the party is going to be done by me, Natalia, Niko and Yuki.” Nana looks stunned. She clearly has never been allowed to sit back and do nothing, and she is not comfortable with the idea of being a guest at the party instead of the help. “Second,” begins Mela, “we need to call back all of our guests. They aren’t going to bring anything.” Yuki looks confused and says, “Whaaat?" Mela nods her confirmation and Yuki says, “Noooo. We’re not doing that.”
Mela is thrown by this reaction but says, “We’re going to do everything. Having people bring things isn’t how I throw a party.” Yuki says, “No, we’re not calling everyone back. They are bringing food and drinks. That’s how we always do it. That’s how it is going to be done. This is my house and things aren’t going to change.” The family and Mela sit in stunned silence. After a long, long, very long pause, Mela says, “Can I just say one thing?” Faintly amused, Yuki nods and says yes. “Mela says, “That’s not how I throw a party.” I am not sure if she won the argument or not, but the next day, a few hours before the guests arrive, Yuki has sneaked off to a back room and is calling each of the guests one by one saying, “Bring food and drinks. Forget the crazy lady that called you back and told you otherwise.”
The next morning – the day of the party – everyone gets up early to get things ready. Tammy and Chrishara are in the kitchen doing dishes and Tammy is telling Chris what all needs to be done before the party that afternoon. Tammy tells Zikea and Omar that they need to clean everything up in the yard, cut the grass, pick up all the trash and put it on the curb. Today’s party is going to be held outside, according to Tammy, and the house and yard have to look perfect. As Zikea and Omar are lounging in the living room, Tammy says, “Turn the TV off. There will be no TV today. No movies. No video games.” Zikea sits in shock and says, “My whole world came crashing down.” With duties delegated, Tammy and Anthony leave to get the food for the party. They head downtown to “Eatzies,” an expensive little eatery where you can get fancy food to go. Tammy walks up to the server and says, “We need healthy food.” The server says, “Healthy food’s no good. I like fried chicken.” Tammy shows her displeasure while Anthony says, “Hell yeah! You got any healthy fried chicken?” The two laugh as Tammy shakes her head and mouths, “No. Healthy.” Tammy and Anthony return home and Tammy says, “I’m going to see how the boys did on the back yard.” As she heads for the back door, Chrishara says, “They didn’t do the backyard.” Tammy says, “Whaaat??!” and calls the boys into the room. Omar, Zikea and Anthony go out back and begrudgingly mow, rake and trim the bushes while Chrishara sits in a chair on the front poor as she sweeps.
In confessional, Tammy says, “I believe you have to lead by example. I show them how I want things cleaned and we do it together. They see how I do it and follow my lead. It’s very important. I have a way with kids. They just seem to listen to me.” Keep these words of wisdom in mind. The foreshadowing is awesome.
Inside, Tammy is sitting in her room on the bed, drinking a beer, watching the Rangers baseball game on TV. The boys come back in to the house after working all morning. When they see Tammy in her room watching TV, Omar gets pissed. He says, “She tells us we can’t watch TV or movies or play video games, but she’s sitting in there doing nothing watching TV. If she can watch TV, I figure we can, too.” With that, he grabs the remote control and plops down on the couch. Minutes later, Tammy comes out of the room and says, “I hear TVs. I hear TVs!!” Omar says, “Well, you were watching so we thought that meant we could watch.” Tammy says, “I was just watching the end of the ball game and now it’s over.” Anthony comes in from clipping the hedges and says, “I thought we weren’t watching TV? You can’t tell them not to do something then do it yourself. It doesn’t work that way.” So much for leading by example, huh Tammy…
At the Nakamura house, Natalia and Niko are helping out in the kitchen as Mela cooks the food for the party. Natalia asks Mela if she is nervous and Mela responds, “I am a little bit.” Nana is standing off to the side, unable to decide what she should do since she has been told not to do anything at all. In confessional, Nana says, “I am not comfortable doing nothing. I am used to doing everything – the cooking, the preparing, the cleaning – and it is especially difficult since there is a party. This is what I do.” Hmmm… that is not what Tammy said. Tammy told the Biggins that she is the one that does everything for all the parties at her house. That it is her thing. If by doing her thing she means bossing Nana around and telling her what needs to be cooked and cleaned, then yeah… I guess it is her thing.
Soon the guests begin to arrive at the Yuki’s house. Nana is standing off to the side and Mela is parked behind the sink in the kitchen, ever preparing the food. Yuki is greeting the guests and everyone is mingling, but it is clear that Mela is uncomfortable. The guests come through the kitchen and make their introductions, but then head outside by the pool. After awhile, one woman comes into the kitchen and says to Mela, “Come outside. Join us! Get out of the kitchen!” Mela says with uncertainty, “I’m afraid if I leave, I’ll lose my job to Nana.” The woman smiles and says, “That’s ok. Come on!” Mela says to herself, “That’s ok.” She follows the woman outside. Another lady yells from the bar, “Get that lady a drink!” Mela walks over and takes a drink and all the women begin telling her what a great party she is throwing. Mela loosens up, realizing that it is the hostess’ job to be the life of the party. She fills the role easily and joins in on the fun. Everyone at the Nakamuras is having a good time and the party seems to last through the evening.
Much to the contrary, let us join the party at the Biggins’ house. Tammy has forced Anthony to put in her country music CDs in place of the standard rap CDs and the drab music sets the tone for the party. All of Mela’s and Anthony’s relatives and friends arrive and as soon as they hear the music and see that there are no chicken wings, hot dogs or nachos in sight, they take a seat and start staring at their watches, trying to figure out how much longer it will be necessary to stay. No one is really talking and in confessional, Mela’s mom says, “This isn’t how we throw a party.” Everyone seems especially uncomfortable as Tammy invades their personal space and gets right in their faces to talk to them. To make matters worse, when family members ask Tammy who she is and what she is doing there, trying to be funny, Tammy responds, “Oh haven’t you heard? Anthony dumped Mela and I’m his new wife.” No one other than Tammy is amused. About an hour later everyone gets up and leaves. All at the same time. Tammy thinks her party was a hit. I guess she found out otherwise as she watched this episode along with the rest of us.
It is now the last night of the mommy switch. The next morning, Tammy and Mela will be returning to their homes. At dinner at the Nakamura’s, Mela stands and says, “I’m going to make this short, but I have something to say. Natalia, you’re a beautiful person. You will always be beautiful. Niko, thanks for letting me do the puzzle with you. You’ve been a good sport. Dr. Nakamura, thank you for welcoming me into your home. And Nana, I don’t know what to say. You mean so much to me…” Nana cuts her off and says, “I know. We will see each other soon.”
In vast contrast to this tender moment at Yuki’s, Tammy and the Biggins sit around the table passing plates of BBQ chicken around and talking. Tammy pulls some sheets of paper and says, “I want to read you all my favorite story. It’s a little over two pages. Do you think you can hang that long?” Omar shakes his head no and there is a long, uncomfortable pause. Anthony says, “We can sit here and listen if you don’t mind us eating while you read.” She says that is fine and begins to read a story about a couple of people who become friends in middle school and grow up as best friends through high school. Throughout the reading she is interrupted by Anthony asking people to pass the juice and Zikea belching. Several times while reading, Tammy has to stop to wave off the tears that the story is causing. After what seems an eternity, Tammy gets to the moral… that one tiny act can make a huge difference and ultimately save another person’s life. The Biggins are not swayed by the story and Anthony is somewhat offended. In confessional he says, “Tammy thinks she is coming in here and helping us and changing our lives. Well, we don’t need to be saved.” Amen brother. She is delusional in her savior complex.
The next morning, Tammy is awake and made up by 5:15am. Everyone else in the Biggins house is sleeping soundly and Tammy is offended that no one is up to say goodbye and to carry her bags to the cab. When she tells Anthony she is leaving, he grunts at her and goes back to sleep.
Mela gets up and is crying as she gets ready. She says she is going to miss Nana. As Mela walks into the kitchen, Nana is up and has cooked food for Mela to take back to her family. They hug and say they will see each other very soon. It is raining outside, but Nana opens an umbrella and holds it over Mela as they walk together to the cab. When Mela is about to leave, the two hug again and Nana says, “I love you very much.” Mela tells Nana she will always be in her heart. The cab pulls away and heads towards a hotel downtown where Tammy and Mela will finally meet.
Mela gets to the hotel first and sits at a chair in the lobby waiting patiently for Tammy to arrive. Soon after, Tammy enters. Each of the ladies is holding the envelope which will reveal how their $50,000 is to be spent. The women hug and discuss each other’s experiences. Tammy asks Mela what she thought of her family. Mela says she is in love with Tammy’s family. I want her to add, “Nana has done a lovely job raising your children,” but she doesn’t. Tammy compliments Mela’s kids as well and the women exchange envelopes, hugs and are on their way home.
Mela arrives to Anthony and her kids surrounding her, covering her in kisses and holding her as if she had been gone forever. Everyone heads inside and sits at the dining table. Mela tries to prepare the family for the “twist” that enabled Tammy to decide how the $50,000 is to be spent. Anthony says it’s BS, but sits quietly as Mela reads Tammy’s note to the family. Tammy writes, “I am grateful I got to experience this with you. Thank you for welcoming me. Here’s how to spend the dough: $20,000 is to be spent paying off debt. $22,000 is to be used as a down payment on a new home. $500 goes to each child to spend as they please, and $750 to each parent, with some of that portion of Mela’s to be spent on a day at the spa and Anthony’s to be used at his favorite electronics store. The remaining $5,000 is to be used however you like.” The Biggins are pleased and surprised that the money was not delegated to be spent on Jenny Craig or fat camp.
Tammy arrives home and her family rushes out to greet her, telling her how much they miss her. I can only imagine that the woman we have been seeing must behave quite differently with her own family as they all seem to genuinely love and respect her. Granted, maybe they are all just dimwits. When the family gathers in the living room, Tammy tells them of the twist regarding the money. Everyone is eager with anticipation as Tammy opens the envelope. She reads Mela’s note that again tells the family how much she appreciated their warm welcome and enjoyed her time there. Tammy reads all of the kind words quickly, anxious to find out if she is getting that new boat she wanted. When she gets to the part of the letter that says how the money is to be spent, she pauses… for a looooooooooooooooooooooong time. When she sees that her family is about to explode, she slowly reads, “And the $50,000 is to go to Hideko to buy a new car. Any remaining money is to be used by her for a trip to Japan.” So. Mela gave the entire $50,000 to Nana. And Tammy. Is. Pissed.
During dinner, Tammy tries to put on a brave face and says, “Well Nana, I don’t know anyone that deserved that money more than you.” It is clear she is not sincere and that Nana is unaccustomed to kind words from Tammy as she stammers out an “Uh. Thank you.” Nana tells the camera that she did not want Mela to give her all the money. That she is not comfortable with that. But we do not hear her offering to give the money to Tammy either, so whatever.
That night, out by the pool, with her umpteenth glass of red wine in her hand, Tammy says, “You know, the good thing about Nana getting the money is that now she has to pay taxes on that $50,000, and it would have been more taxes for us had we had to pay within our tax bracket.”
Oh Tammy… your kindness and consideration for all of humankind is so humbling. Really. Stop.
For questions, comments or in complete bewilderment of Tammy and her shockingly insincere and self involved personality, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org