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Snarking Nostalgic: The Baby-Sitters Club #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.07.14 am

Mary Anne Saves the Day

Ann M. Martin

Originally Published February 1987

 

If you recall, book 3’s co-plot (along with Stacey’s DIABETES) was about how the Baby-Sitter’s Agency honed in on the BSC’s turf and they had to throw down?  That the BSC proved that they were the superior sitters because of how awesome they were?  Even though they were younger, they were more mature?

Well, screw that.

BSC 4 is basically one long fight between the sitters so that Mary Anne can become friends with Dawn.  Without a massive war, she’s so timid that she would never do so otherwise.  There’s also all kinds of slut shaming patriarchal bullshit with her Victorian era Dad, but we’ll get to that later.

The book opens with exposition about the club and how it works as Kristy and Mary Anne walk across the street and are greeted by Mimi’s pleasant Japanese accented voice.  I’m starting to think we need an ongoing counter of how many times Mimi is referred to quickly followed by the words Japanese, quiet, soft, and accent.  Mimi asks Mary Anne how the scarf is coming along because of course Mary Anne knits like all good little girls on the prairie.  (Sidebar, this was before the hipsters claimed knitting for themselves–it’s supposed to be emblematic of how repressed and old fashioned Mary Anne is.)  Blah blah blah Kristy’s parents are divorced and her mom is engaged to a MILLIONAIRE.  Blah blah blah Claudia is an artist with flawless skin and a junk food addiction.  Stacey is from NEW YORK CITY and has diabetes.  It’s like BSC Bingo.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.02.09 amHere, I made a BSC bingo card for you

Why the book-long fight?  It’s all that bitch Mrs. Newton’s fault for having a baby.

“Yes,” Kristy was saying.  “Yes…  Oh, Jaime and Lucy.”  (Claudia and Stacey and I squealed with delight.)  “Friday…six till eight…  Of course.  I’ll be there.  Great.  See you.”  She hung up.

From there it devolves to Claudia is a job-hog (not like it’s her phone line and she has to do extra work or anything), Stacey has plenty of friends back in NYC and doesn’t need them, Mary Anne is a big baby, Kristy tells Mary Anne to shut up and she yells back at Kristy, Stacey’s diabetes are called dumb, and Mary Anne loses her shit on everyone.

Maybe I am shy,” I said loudly, edging toward the door.  “And maybe I am quiet, but you guys cannot step all over me.  You want to know what I think?  I think you, Stacey, are a conceited snob; and you, Claudia are a stuck-up job-hog; and you, Kristin Amanda Thomas, are the biggest, bossiest know-it-all in the world, and I don’t care if I never see you again!”

The rest of their argument is various retreads of this.  Book 4–have you read books 1-3?  A huge fight was also part of the plot of book 1.  There are over 100 books left to go–let’s not retread plots already.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.18.02 amWithout the introduction of Dawn’s mom, this would have been Mary Anne’s future.

As has been well established, Mary Anne’s mother is DEAD.  Of what?  Who cares!  We do find out that her name was Alma, though, which fits with the weird time-warp parenting style of Mary Anne’s father, Richard.  Since he acts like one, we’re just going to call Richard “Dick” for my own amusement.

Dick, having been left to raise this freakishly female creature, has decided that his worth as a father is to turn out the perfect Victorian/Edwardian era daughter.  Christian Grey had fewer rules for Anastasia—Life with Dick is 50 Shades of Patriarchal Bullshit.

  • She must wear braids at all times
  • She must dress well for dinner
  • She mustn’t say naughty words like gross, hey, and “a long list of other words”
  • Must have perfect table manners
  • Her room is pink and white, which are appropriate girl colors
  • The only picture in her room is Mary Anne and her parents on her Christening Day
  • The only artwork in her room is Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Wonderland prints

The relationship between Mary Anne and her father is so disturbing on so many levels.  Clearly, Mary Anne is supposed to be filling in for the “woman of the house.”  She cooks, cleans, is supposed to be dressed nicely for dinner and ask her father about his day.  She’s supposed to know what cases her dad is involved in at court and care about them deeply.

We also see the first mention of religion in the books.  Apparently, Dick asks God to watch over Alma before every single meal, which even Mary Anne thinks is overkill.  She mentions praying at night.  I’m not sure if the super strict is supposed to be tied in with religion, but it’s all kinds of Lurlene McDaniel’s level religiosity and appropriate female behavior (6 months to live review is here).

What does Mary Anne want in life?  To sometimes wear her hair differently, and to have a kitten poster and an NYC poster in her yellow and navy colored bedroom.  Also, to babysit a bit later, sometimes.  UNREASONABLE.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.36.27 amEnter Dawn

Since Mary Anne is fighting with her friends, she needs to find a seat in the cafeteria.  She sits down next to some other friendless loser, who turns out to be Dawn who is new in town.  Because Dawn is from California, she is blonde and health conscious.  She’s also a pretentious hippie and future vegan who shames the rest of us, but that develops over future books.

Mary Anne decides to befriend Dawn to get back at Kristy.  As they’re talking, Kristy looks over and is jealous, so Mary Anne really builds is up, going so far as to agree to hang out at Dawn’s house the next day after school.

Dawn’s mom Sharon is a flake.  She puts shoes in the freezer and can’t focus on a task for more than 5 seconds.  She’s like the polar opposite of Mary Anne’s Dad.  Gee, that’s interesting.

Dawn tells Mary Anne that they moved to Stoneybrooke because her parents divorced and her mom grew up here.  Hey, so did Dick!  What are the odds that they knew each other?  Is anyone thinking of that movie Parent Trap?  If not, Dawn and Mary Anne actually sit down and WATCH THE PARENT TRAP to get it into your mind.  Gee, I wonder what Martin is telegraphing here.  Maybe they could watch The Odd Couple next?

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.54.30 amI don’t think this is the kitty poster Mary Anne had in mind

BSC meeting, y’all.  Said meeting is hostile, lots of sticking out of tongues, hostility, blah blah blah.  Except Kristy isn’t there!  She blew off HER club.  When confronted about it, she suggested that the four of them take turns on phone duty during club meetings and the rest are at their homes.  Each girl can take whatever jobs she can handle offered to her during her shift and then has to call the others to find a sitter for the ones she’s not.  I wonder how well that will work?

On Mary Anne’s first day as the sole representative of the BSC she lines up a job with the Prezzioso’s–possible the only family in Stoneybrook that is more uptight and formal than hers.  For an afternoon at home, Jenny Prezzioso is wearing “a frilly white dress trimmed with yards of lavender lace and ribbon, matching lavender socks, and shiny black patent leather Mary Janes.  her hair had been curled, and was pulled back form either side of her face by barrettes from which long streamers flowed.”  Her parents call her Angel.  Yes, she IS a spoiled brat, how did you guess?

Mary Anne’s Dad loses a case, so obviously Marry Anne picks that moment to push for later baby sitting times, no braids, etc.  Dick shuts her down.  She’s emo because now she’s fighting with him, too.  Mary Anne goes to Mimi for soft spoken accented advice.  At some point in the conversation Mimi calls Mary Anne “My Mary Anne.”  I gasp at the outrageous faux pas.  Claudia overhears this and goes ballistic (AS WELL SHE SHOULD.  WTF, MIMI????).

The next time Mary Anne is the BSC, Claudia stays in her room and plays her music super loud.  Like I said, as they proved in Book 3, the BSC is a totes professional organization.  Then a series of phone calls come in forcing Mary Anne to call Kristy multiple times, culminating in the arranging of a joint babysitting job at the Pikes for herself and Kristy.

I’ll spare you the details but the Pike sitting job boils down to Kristy and Mary Anne only communicating via a passed message through all the Pike kids.

Mary Anne gets back from the Pikes five minutes late, and asks her dad for a later sitting time so she wouldn’t be late.   SHOCKER–Dick says no.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 12.13.16 pmGet to the point about Sharon and Dick

 

Dawn and Mary Anne go through Dick’s old yearbooks.  Not only did Dick and Sharon know each other, they were involved.   They find Sharon’s yearbook and Dick’s note to her.  Wow, if only things had been different, they’d be sisters!

That weekend Mary Anne babysits bratty Jenny Prezzioso, who morphs into high fever Jenny.  As this is the pre-cell era, Mary Anne has to call around, but can’t track down the parents.  After trying everything, she calls Dawn and then 911.  An ambulance comes to take Jenny to the hospital with Mary Anne.  Dawn is going to call and leave messages for Jenny’s parents (because again, no cell phone to call from while in the ambulance or while at the hospital).  The doctors are caring for Jenny when the parents arrive with the mom in hysterics for her ANGEL.  Mr. P gives Dawn and Mary Anne major cash for doing such a great job and drops them off at Mary Anne’s house.  What the hell did we do before cell phones?

Mary Anne and Dawn are looking at pictures in Dick’s albums.  They are magically seated such that Kristy looks over and sees them together.  Mary Anne puts her arm around Dawn and sticks out her tongue at Kristy.  Dawn catches her in the act and storms out when she realizes that Mary Anne has been using her to get back at Kristy.

Mr P calls Dick and tells her how awesome and mature Mary Anne is.  Mary Anne brings up those small things she wants and gets a later sitting time, the agreement that she can sometimes wear her hair down, AND that she can put up a poster on her wall.  Drunk with maturity, she writes Dawn and Kristy apologies for being such a bitch for the past 13 chapters.

Before the sitters can come back together, they have to ruin Jamie Newton’s birthday party.  Which serves his mom right for provoking the fight in the first place.  In fact, Mrs. Newton has been nothing but trouble since book 1 with her pregnancy and her spawning and her looking for responsible older sitters.  She dares to ask “one of them” to go check on the baby–which NATCH starts a fight.  Things escalate until punch is everywhere.  Way to prove that vaunted maturity, ladies. After the party Mary Anne orders everyone over to Claudia’s house and forces everyone to make up.

That night Mary Anne asks her dad about Dawn’s mom.  It’s all Romeo and Juliet–they were in love, her family didn’t approve, blah blah blah

Chapter 16–SIXTEEN!!!  WHAT BLASPHEMY!!!—Dick and Sharon finally meet again when she drops Dawn off at the house.  Stares and starry eyes, and he asks her out.  Mary Anne introduces Dawn to everyone and she is inducted into the BSC

Snarking Nostaligic: Prom Dress by Lael Littke

I delayed posting this in hopes that I could find the fraction of a story I wrote in 1994 called “The Curse of the Silver Teddy Bear” about a cursed necklace with a teddy bear charm.  I’m pretty sure I was ripping off Prom Dress, “Friday the 13th: The Series,” and all the other cursed item media I consumed in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Sadly, while I know it still exists, I have not been able to locate it.  I do promise, though, that I will share it in all its terrible glory one day.

prom dressProm Dress by Lael Littke

Originally Published 1989

Robin is too poor to buy a new dress for the prom.  Then she finds a perfect, beautiful dress in the attic of her mysterious employer’s house.  She “borrows” it to wear to the prom…and dances into her worst nightmare.

Then Felicia finds the dress.  The price she pays for wearing it is more than any girl should pay…

But Nicole is too smart to be caught by the dress.  Isn’t she?  Poor Nicole!

And then there’s Gabrielle, Robin’s little sister.  Did she find the dress?  Or did the dress find Gabrielle?

Can anyone stop the fatal attraction of the…Prom Dress?

OHMIGOD you guys—could this book BE any better?  Maybe, but only if it were longer.  I LOVED it.  So much love I can’t stop with the CAPSLOCK.!!!!111!!!!111!!!!1!!

I hope you guys were all fans of soap operas back in the day because this plot has a lot of run-on explanations that only work if you’re willing to pretend we’re in Salem/Pine Valley/Port Charles.

Robin is a new-to-town gold digging social climber dating the hottest/richest boy in school–Tyler.  Tyler drives a red Trans Am, which I think is supposed to compensate for him saying things like “Between your dancing and your working, I hardly get to see you.  Where do I rate on your list of priorities?”

Alas, Robin must work because Daddy’s dead and college tuition doesn’t grow on trees.  Apparently, though, new houses DO grow on trees.  Right around when Robin’s Dad died, her mother inherited a house from a family member who also died at the same time which is great because they couldn’t afford the mortage on the old house they’d lived in with her dad, and so they moved because this house was free because there are no inheritance or property taxes and who the hell knows—just go with it.  Dad died, they moved, they’re broke–but they live in a mansion next to an even bigger mansion.

gold diggerHe’s talking about you, Robin

How very lucky for all of us that Tyler ‘s girlfriend needn’t slum it at McDonalds.  In the mysterious mansion next door lives Miss Catherine.  She’s an elderly recluse with a scarred cheek from when her twin sister Rowena threw acid on Catherine’s face because Rowena was jealous of Catherine’s hot boyfriend Michael who never looked at Rowena even though Rowena had all kinds of lustful thoughts for him.  Robin is Miss Catherine’s lackey, and her job duties seem to consist of keeping Miss Catherine company and talking about how hot Miss Catherine used to be before “the accident.”

One day Miss Catherine and Robin get to talking about how Robin is going to be in some dance show doing the Charleston and there might be college scouts there to give out college scholarships.  She has to find her own costume–and Miss Catherine has the perfect dress.  All Robin has to do is go upstairs, find the secret closet, and take out the flapper dresses—being certain to NOT TOUCH the white prom dress that JUST HAPPENS to be the only other thing in that closet.  Don’t even LOOK at it, Robin.

Duh, of course Robin looks at it, and instantly wants it. She’s going to be Tyler’s prom date and if she shows up in anything less than the perfect dress, he’ll dump her because she won’t be worthy of being seen with him or something.

The dress was made of deep scallops of creamy lace.  It had long sleeves and a high lace collar.  Like the flame colored dress, it had a dropped waistline, but the two dresses were worlds apart.  While the red one called out blatantly for excitement and dancing the braying of horns, the lace one spoke softly of elegance and muted music and romance.

puffed sleevesWhat girl wouldn’t want to sport this while dancing to Milli Vanilla and New Kids on the block ?

She asks Miss Catherine if she can borrow the Prom Dress.  HELLZ NO, Miss Catherine says.  She got the scar on her cheek while wearing that dress–it’s BAD.    Robin decides that the ends will justify the means and when she borrows the flapper dress, she “borrows” the prom dress.  Did she see a shadow on her cheek when she took it?  Nah, it was just a trick of the light.

Apparently Robin looks smokin’ in the red flapper dress at the Charleston contest.  Tyler tells her that his dad thought Robin was so hot that he’s sending them to a top shelf restaurant before prom, and is going to throw a limo their way.  Robin says she could get used to this lifestyle, and I contemplate that she’s chasing the wrong man–it’s Tyler’s dad who controls the purse strings.

They go to Prom—many more mentions of how the dress is so gorgeous that every girl there is jealous of it and that Robin is so bodacious–and are crowned Prom King and Queen.  But just as Robin is about to take her throne and accept the pinnacle of high school success, the stairs crumble and she falls.  The throne she was about to sit on falls too and lands on her legs and feet, crushing them.

No more dancing for Robin.

Robin is taken to a hospital, where her nurse is a woman named Felicia.  Felicia is a reformed slut who is now in love with a divinity student named Mark.  She wants to grow up and be Mrs. Mark, future minister’s wife.  The first major hurdle in reaching her goal is impressing Dean Goudy at a special dinner he throws for his divinity students.  Apparently the dean evaluates all potential spouses, and if the spouse doesn’t measure up the marriage isn’t going to happen and the student will be penalized for even thinking about dating such an unworthy candidate.  No pressure.

If only Felicia had the right dress…

It was to be a dress-up affair, and the only fancy dresses she owned were bare backed or off the shoulder or spaghetti-strapped.  What she needed was something sweet and demure.

Something like Robin Wilson’s dress.

slutty nun dressSadly, this little number will need to stay in Felicia’s closet.

Felicia asks Robin if she can borrow the dress.  Robin says no.  But during a drugged out dream, Robin’s eyes flicker open and she sees Felicia holding the dress up to herself.

Felicia is looking in the mirror–and thinks she sees a smudge on her cheek.  Gee–is it shadowing or FOREshadowing?  Felicia steals the dress.

Felicia goes to the dinner and is all demure and shit.  But the dress keeps feeling tighter and tighter.  So tight she can’t breathe.  But when she looks in the mirror, the dress looks just like it did–it’s not too tight at all.  But she can’t breathe.  Finally, she excuses herself and goes upstairs to the “bathroom.”  Felicia goes into the Dean’s bedroom and rips the dress off her body.

Oh noes!  Now she’s in her underwear and the dress HAS to get back to Robin tonight because otherwise she’d be a bad person or something.  So instead she steals some clothes from Mrs. Goudy to wear.  But why stop there?  She steals a bag to carry the dress back to Robin.  She tries to sneak out, but Mrs. Goudy shouts that someone is fleeing the house with her BLUE BAG!

Felicia runs for the bus stop and the RIGHT bus just HAPPENS by at the RIGHT MOMENT.  What luck!  She hops on the bus and feels so lost and upset.  Now what can she do?  Telling the truth is clearly out of the questions–it is a FAR better solution to change back into the dress, sneak back into the house, and go back downstairs saying that she had glimpsed a man running off with a blue bag.  NO!  NO!  What she should REALLY do is go to the hospital and return the dress and throw out the clothes and….I don’t know, say that God had taken her from the house to the hospital because she was more needed at the hospital?

Before she can get off the bus, Felicia needs her shoes.  She reaches into the bag for her shoes…and discovers a velvet bag with pearls in it.  I know I leave my expensive jewels in a random bag in my closet instead of a jewelry box or a safe.  Oh NOES!!!

People get onto the bus–and it’s Mark and another guy from the party.  Rather than confess and do penance or say some hail marys or whatever, she says

“Mark.  The man with the cap….  He took it.  He made me take the dress off at the house and he put it in a blue bag that he found in a closet….  He got off a few stops back.  ….  He made me come with him.  He said he’d hurt me if I didn’t come.  He threatened all sorts of awful things.  I didn’t dare call out or anything.  I just did what he said.  I’m sorry he got away.  But I was afraid.  See, I’m still shaking.”

Mark is incredibly dumb and believes her.  He escorts her from the bus, while she plays sad maiden.

The bag is left on the bus.

No more integrity for Felicia.

Nicole is a genius.  Her high school academic decathalon team is taking the exact same city bus to a rival high school for a major competition.  Her foot bumps something under the seat, and she finds THE BLUE BAG.  Inside is the dress and some gorgeous pearls.  It’s just what she needs for the dance that night.  Maybe then her teacher will notice her and become her boy toy and they’ll live happily ever after.

snapeI will open to page 394 any day of the week, Professor Snape….

That night she goes to the dance, and she looks totally gnarly.  She thinks she sees a shadow on her cheek momentarily, and only the dullest reader can’t see what kind of karma is heading her way.

Mr. Waring asks her to dance and they flirt.

School would be out soon; that would end the student-teacher track they were stuck in right now, which of course would never allow dating.  Mr. Waring’s strong code of ethics would never allow it.  But, after graduation, they’d be free to date.  Nicole could help him get over the terrible pain of losing his wife and child, and they could be married.  She wondered if he’d mind if she went to college after their marriage.  Very likely he’d insist on it.  Maybe he’d go back for more graduate work.  Maybe they’d both go to college.

Nicole was thinking happily of a wedding gown very much like the dress she was wearing.

Just then, Nicole sees her frenemy talking to someone and pointing at her.  Proving she’s the Girl Computer with the giant brain, she makes the obvious intellectual leap that the cops must be here for her.  They must have figured out….somehow…that the dress and jewelery weren’t hers.  She runs away and bumps into a very tall pedestal.  The bust of Einstein falls off and smacks her in the head.

Poor Nicole, no more brains–it’s amnesia town for you.

Luckily for Felicia, Nicole is brought to her hospital.  She’s able to put the dress back into Robin’s closet.  She confesses everything to Mark and surrenders the jewelry back to Mrs. Goudy.  Mark dumps her lying ass.

Felicia and Robin have a heart to heart about the evil of the dress.  Felicia thinks they should destroy it–her first smart choice of the book.  Robin persists in being a moron and says it must go back to Miss Catherine.

Robin tells her little sister Gabrielle to take the dress back to Miss Catherine.

Did I mention that Gabrielle thinks that Tyler is totally choice?  Gabrielle loves to play piano and Tyler sometimes accompanies her when he’s waiting around for Robin.  So she jumps at the chance to get a ride home from him, and asks him to come play piano with her.  They could even do a duet FOR ROBIN when she finally comes home.

sister's boyfriendThat boy is mine, yo

Robin finally comes home and it’s so sweet how Gabrielle and Tyler have clearly practiced playing together over and over and over and over.  In fact, they’ve gotten so used to playing together that they’re going to do a paid job playing together.  Playing PIANO—stop with your filthy minds.

Robin takes the garment bag with the dress inside it back to Miss Catherine and confesses.  Miss Catherine begins to laugh hysterically and confesses that it was her evil plan all along!  BWAHAHA–she’s not even Miss Catherine….she’s ROWENA.

“I cursed every stitch of that dress.  I started it for myself, you know.  I thought Michael was going to ask me to the prom.  But I had the birthmark, you see, and Catherine was the beauty.  That was the most important thing in the world to her, just as Michael was to me.  I saw them sneak around together, and when he asked her to the prom I finished up the dress for her, because I knew it was the last time she would ever be beautiful.”

Rowena jiggled up and down.  “When they came home, I threw acid on her face.  But not on the dress.  I didn’t want to ruin the dress.  She was wearing a cloak, so it didn’t get on the dress.  I didn’t want to hurt the dress.  I did it right there, in the foyer, on our little stage,” Rowena gave her a mirthless laugh.  “And after that she was even uglier than I was.”

And just look–there goes Gabrielle to her job, with Robin’s boyfriend….WEARING THE DRESS!!!  Rowena taunts Robin to just let her go, that the dress will punish her sister just as it did Rowena’s so long ago.

Robin suddenly develops a backbone and ethics and struggles to her feet, even though they’re both in casts and she’s supposed to be in a wheelchair, and even standing hurts with the fury of a thousand suns she struggles to the door, screaming even though Gabrielle and Tyler can’t hear her.  As she gets to the door, throws it open, and screams her sister’s name one last time just as Gabrielle is about to get into the Trans Am, and passes out from the sheer pain of it all.

She wakes up in the hospital—her fall stopped whatever tragedy was about to befall Gabrielle.

Rowena was taken away and the full story comes out.  After her stay in a mental hospital post-acid throwing, she was released into Catherine’s custody.  The two women went away and were recluses.  “Rowena” died in a fire, tragically.  “Catherine” came back to the hometown and the old house.  But “Catherine” was really “Rowena”–and the scar was from her gouging out her own birthmark so that it would scar and look like the acid burn.  She was the EVIL TWIN!

evil twinEVIL TWINS….EVIL TWINS EVERYWHERE.

The book closes with an epilogue all in italics.  A woman buys the dresses for her second hand store.  A girl named Natalie goes shopping at said store, and sees the dress.  She’s an aspiring actress and it’s perfect for the upcoming audition.  But it costs too much.  So she slips it into her bag and steals it.

Tomorrow she would wear the dress!

The book ends, and I stand up and applaud.

This.

Was.

AWESOME.

 

Next week we’re back to Stoneybrook.  It’s time for Mary Anne’s book….I wonder if we’ll hear about how her mother is dead?

Snarking Nostalgic: The Baby-sitters Club #3 The Truth About Stacey

Thank god it’s a BSC week.  I need to get the taste of that horrible Sweet Valley book out of my mouth.  Say what you will about the BSC (and we can and will say plenty) at least there was never this horrible level of fat shaming and manipulation that we saw in SVH.

the truth about staceyThe Truth About Stacey

Ann M. Martin

Originally Published December 1986

After being super pregnant for two books, Mrs. Newton is about to pop.  Kristy, being the forward thinker that she is, assumes that Mrs. Newton has no plans for Jamie when she goes into labor.  Obviously, the baby will be born during sanctioned sitting hours so they can ride to the rescue.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the phone call where Kristy tells Mrs. Newton all of this because Janine bursts in, and is all a-tizzy.  This is out of character, but I think this is supposed to be an extension of her and Claudia’s bonding moment in book 2.  Janine found a flyer for the “The Baby-sitters Agency.” OH NOES! Their sitters are age 13 and up and can babysit MUCH later than the BSC girls can!

Kristy converts the BSC meeting to an EMERGENCY meeting (they have a lot of emergency meetings in these early books—If I recall that slows down pretty quickly-maybe because soon we have Dawn’s California zen attitude calming them down…or the reefer fumes coming off her hippie clothes do).

Who ARE these Baby-sitters Agency girls?

“Those two aren’t babysitters any more than I’m the Queen of France. … They have smart mouths, they sass the teachers, they hate school, they hang around at the mall. You know, that kind of kid.”

I’m impressed that Claudia managed to effectively slutshame them without ever actually mentioning boys. These are BAD GIRLS. You just know how this is going to go down.

Kristy calls the BSA, pretending to be a seventh grader named Candy Kane, who needs a sitter for her little brother Harry because she has a date with her boyfriend Winston Churchill. She’s offered three sitters, one of whom is a HIGH SCHOOL GIRL.  I’m dying of laughter over here.

 

bsc logo meme

Kristy is like the Don Corleone of Stoneybook. This second babysitting organization can’t be allowed to survive. After all there’s only like 10 families with kids (apparently) and the nearest town next to Stoneybrook is 20 miles away. Clearly, there isn’t enough business to go around.

Stacey goes home and feels depressed. To pass the time, she gives a lengthy exposition about the last year of her life. How her diabetes was discovered, what diabetes is, and how it wrecked her life.

Before diabetes, Stacey lived on the Upper West Side of NYC with a view of Central Park from her bedroom. I hate to bring realism into this, but her parents have to be millionaires for that to be true (especially as she also attended a private school—which is good for 30+K USD a year on its own). I think Martin just wanted to paint all of us the ideal NYC life—because she knows that just like Mary Anne, we’re all dreaming of living in NYC. I’d love to know what a real New Yorker thought of the huge disconnect between Stacey’s NYC life and real NYC life—or if they just shrugged it off because it’s fiction?

After the diagnosis (which came after several embarrassing things, including wetting the bed at a sleepover—which would absolutely be mortifying for a tweenager), her parents morph into psychotic helicopter parents. At first Stacey doesn’t necessarily manage the diabetes well, fainting at school and getting hospitalized a few times. They also don’t want anyone to know that Stacey has diabetes. The way they handle this makes me think they’d be best buddies with Elsa and Anna’s parents.

(watch all the way, including past the credits)

Stacey and her bff go from friends to enemies overnight. In part, obviously because Stacey has cut her out and is lying. Stacey was thrilled to move to CT and get a fresh start. Now she has friends because of the BSC and she’ll be damned if she loses them because of a competing babysitting agency. Which is incredibly flawed logic from the 35 year old perspective, but makes sense from a 12 year old.

The next day there is yet another emergency BSC meeting.  This is the first appearance of Kristy in the chair with the visor and clipboard that becomes iconic within the series.  However, Kristy is uncharacteristically hysterical and says they should do free housework, drop their rates and bring kid-kits to every appointment.  AND they will hire some older kids, too.  The only idea any of them like is the kid-kits (which also become iconic), but they reluctantly agree to bring in older kids.

Stacey babysits Charlotte Johanssen.  On the way to the playground, they stop at a candy store.  In what I think is a really wonderful and genuine moment, Stacey is tempted to buy some.  Her diabetes is new, after all, and she remembers candy vividly.  As they’re walking, they run into Liz Lewis who hands them a balloon advertising The Baby-sitters Agency.

balloonsevil incarnate

Kristy was worried.  She took the balloons as a personal insult.  It turned out that she’d run into Liz that afternoon herself.  Only Kristy had had the nerve to tell Liz who she was–president of the Baby-sitters Club, and therefore Liz’s number one rival.

Upon reading this, I hope against hope that Kristy is about to break out the Jets jackets and Liz the Sharks and that they’ll break into some kind of snazzy dance based gang fight.  JAZZ HANDS!

One day after school Kristy and Stacey go to Kristy’s house to find Jamie Newton eating cookies with Mrs. Thomas.  Mrs. Newton had a game plan!  Score one for responsible adults!  This of course leads to discussions about how long babies take to be born and what time each of the BSC girls were born.  We get the reminder that Mary Anne’s mom is dead dead dead.  Thus she can’t find out what time she was born because obviously her dad wouldn’t know?  (Luckily Mimi knows and tells her, circumventing her having a conversation with her father.)

Jamie feels a sense of camaraderie with Honest Toddler, and is pissed off that his parents have afflicted him with Infant Sibling Disease.  Kristy decides to throw him a big brother party and invite neighborhood kids.  We get our first appearance of Mallory Pike, who can’t seem to decide if she belongs with the little kids or the baby-sitters because she is destined to spend the series not fitting in with either.  Mrs. Newton calls during the festivities to tell them it’s a girl.  Jamie is not whelmed.

But it isn’t just the appearance of a baby sister that has Jamie Newton upset.

“Something else will be different.  There will be lots of changes.”

“What else will be different?” I asked.

“Kristy can’t baby-sit me anymore.”

“What do you mean?”  That cold feeling crept into my stomach again.

“Mommy called a girl and said ‘We need an older sitter for the new baby.'”

Look, I’m all for 13 year old sitters for my 2 and 5 year olds, but a newborn?  Nope, you’re going to have to be 17/18 at the very youngest and 22+ by preference.  How much you want to bet this entirely rational, responsible, good choice is going to blow up in Mrs. Newton’s face?  Any takers?

Stacey tells Kristy what Jamie had said.  Kristy narrows her eyes and says “this means war.”

this means war

At school they see the BSA girls handing out flyers and they snag one from a boy (because boys don’t babysit, duh).  Kristy calls a triple-emergency meeting at her house after school because it’s her day with David Michael.  For now–what if her mom turns traitor like Mrs. Newton?  It’s TOO RISKY to talk about things at school.  Kristy would make a great drug kingpin.  Queenpin.  Whatever.

Stacey’s parents are going to take her to go see some new holistic new-agey doctor who will cure her diabetes through nonsense.  She tries to tell her parents she thinks the idea is full of shit and gets a stonewall of “we’re your parents and we want what’s best for you.”  Stacey is rightfully skeptical of this, and asks Charlotte’s mom about this Dr. Barnes character and has her worst fears confirmed–Her idiot parents are taking her to a quack.

If the BSA is going to use flyers to advertise for new members, then the BSC members are going to wear sandwich boards to advertise for new members.  As they do, they learn that they are the only baby-sitters worth a damn in the town.  Everyone else watches tv and is horrified at interacting with children.  UGH, children.  Everyone but Kristy fails…but she has two new members.

That these two new members are pals of Liz?  No problem!  They had a falling out!  THIS IS NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL.

But before the next BSC meeting, the girls go over to visit the Newtons.  They all have presents for the baby and Jamie.  However, Kristy uses this as an excuse to call out Mrs. Newton for being a traitor.  Mrs. Newton gives a reasonable explanation for why this is her choice for now.  She’ll get hers.

At the BSC meeting, the two new girls get assigned jobs for that weekend.

what could possibly go wrong

Shocking news.  The new girls don’t show up to the meeting on Monday.  Kristy gets irate phone calls to ask why the hell the girls didn’t show up at their jobs.  Kristy decides to confront the girls at school the next day–and gets upset when they laugh in her face.  I never saw that coming.

A few days later Stacey sees Jamie Newton and he’s mopey.  His sitters neglect him and worse.

Jamie nodded.  “With a–a cigarette.”  He said “cigarette” as if it were a dirty word.  Neither of his parents is a smoker.

“Gosh,” I said.  “Anything else?”

“Sometimes they talk on the phone.  They talk longer than Mommy and Daddy do…Stacey?”

“Yeah?”

“What’s a boyfriend?”

Ann M. Martin left no bad babysitter stereotype untouched, did she?  There are NO sitters worth a damn in Stoneybrook except the BSC.  (And maybe Kathy, if she’s still watching David Michael two days a week…unless she turned traitor and joined the BSA?  This is never addressed.  I don’t know if we ever see Kathy again.)

Then Stacey babysits Charlotte and finds out that she’s been getting babysat by bad girls too.  Who only babysit her for the money!  Stacey is indignant at the idea, forgetting that she babysits in part to buy clothes.  With cuddles and kisses, apparently because stores don’t take money.  While Dr. Johanssen is a traitor who hires BSA girls, she does come through for Stacey with a letter for her parents.

What (Stacey) told us got the club ready for the final battle in the war against the Baby-sitters Agency (entry in BSC notebook by Mary Anne)

The BSC girls are walking home and find Jamie Newton on the sidewalk outside his house with no coat and no supervision.  The girls tell him to go back inside and only play in the fenced in backyard, and to wear his coat and mittens. See, I told you Mrs. Newton would get what was coming to her.

When Mrs. Newton comes home, they go over and tell her what happened.  They’re scared of being seen as tattletales, but are relieved when Mrs. Newton believes them.

“Mrs. Newton,” Kristy said suddenly, “I know you’ll want to call Cathy about this afternoon yourself, but could you let us talk to Liz and Michelle?  We have a score to settle with them.”

sharks and jetsLike this, PLEASE!!!!!

I’m so disappointed to tell you that there is no dance fighting.  The girls defeat the BSA with trivia.  What’s Jamie Newton’s favorite sandwich?  What’s Charlotte Johanssen’s favorite game?  What does it mean when Nina Marshall rubs her ears?  What is Nina allergic to?  SEE?  They’re better babysitters and now Liz knows it, too.

Stacey and her parents leave for New York.  Oh noes!  They’re going to stay with Laine’s family.  Stacey will have to face off against her frenemy.

Stace has to go to the witch doctor and get endless, expensive tests.  After a day of this, she sits her parents down and introduces them to reality.  She likes real doctors and has made her own appointment with the help of Dr. Johanssen.  Her parents agree to meet with him, who explains to them that Stacey already has good doctors and is doing a great job of managing her diabetes.  Her biggest problem is her parents (revisit the “How Frozen Should Have Ended” video above again).  At least they agree to back off.

Stacey, flush with triumph at taking control of her health issues confronts Laine.  Laine didn’t know what was going on, was upset at being blocked out, and when another kid suggested Stacey was contagious she believed him.  Stacey explains that she almost had to stay back and that the attention she was getting wasn’t exactly positive.  They make up and all is right with the world.

However, in obsessing over her relationship with Laine, Stacey never once talks to Claudia as a BFF.  This is particularly interesting as it is a HUGE plot point throughout the books that Stacey and Claudia are best friends.  This strikes me as weird.

Once back in Stoneybrook, Stacey learns that the parents have taken down the BSA.  Apparently they had this crazy idea of asking their kids about what the new sitters were like, and once they found out, they started calling one another.  Everyone, mark it on your calendar–this may be one of the only moments adults in Stoneybrook act like adults.

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 7.18.50 PMKristy decides to let them live since they’re no longer competing with HER.

I’m torn on this book.  The BSA/BSC war is hilarious.  The way that Stacey’s parents treat diabetes like HIV is just stupid.  However, the way that Stacey advocates for herself is really admirable, and I think that’s what a lot of people respond to.  On one hand, this article discusses this book as an important part of the author’s journey of acceptance with his own diabetes.  On the other, I asked my friend S, who is also a type 1 diabetic about the book and she said “However my vague recollection is of scary view of diabetes that would freak me out if I read it again now and based on those memories the girls won’t be reading them.”  You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Next week: Prom Dress by Lael Littke.

Snarking Nostalgic: Sweet Valley High #4 Power Play

Hi Guys–Sorry the only pic is the book cover.  I’m on vacation and the internet is unreliable and slow.

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 3.27.16 PMSweet Valley High #4: Power Play

All SVH were written by ghostwriters.

Alternate Title–Why bullying fat women is totally a good thing to do

Hate does not begin to describe the level of contempt I have for Sweet Valley High #4: Power Play.  I don’t suppose a series where ghostwriters seem to have been contractually obligated to mention the twins “perfect size six” bodies in every book was ever going to be sympathetic to a fat girl, but this book is deplorable. (Side note—they’ve since redone SVH to be all hip and modern, which fails about as hard as the BSC updates—and the twins are now described as slender or slim, because a size six is now a heifer in Francine Pascal’s world.)

I read a few SVH book blogs because you couldn’t pay me to go back and read #1-3 to find where Robin is first mentioned, and they say she gets a brief nod in book 3 to set up for book 4. This is Robin. She’s smart, funny, and fat. So fat. Horribly fat. And she wants to be BFF’s with Jessica.

Robin is apparently the new girl in school. She believes Jessica is her BFF, but isn’t happy. Which we learn through the most bizarre conversation between her mother and Elizabeth. Mrs. Wilson says that having the Wakefield twins as her BFF’s is the best thing to happen to Robin since the move to SV, but then immediately flips it around and says that Robin is thinking of quitting school! Why?  Because she’s fat, and because she’s fat no one likes her (even though she’s smart and funny and kind).

Drinking Game I should’ve played to make the book more palatable–drink every time my blood pressure goes up a point.

Robin arrives with Jessica’s dry cleaning. Friendship is Robin running errands for Jessica! Apparently while she’s one of the smartest girls at Sweet Valley, she doesn’t know the difference between friendship and being someone’s servant.

Robin plopped down on the sofa, rummaged around in her purse for something, and finally came up with a large chocolate bar. She unwrapped it and hungrily started munching. (DRINK)

‘You’re really lucky, Liz, having a terrific sister like Jessica.’ The chocolate bar was disappearing fast.  (DRINK)

‘That’s me, all right, lucky Liz,’ she replied dryly, hypnotized by Robin’s rhythmic chewing.  (DRINK)

‘Robin, doesn’t eating that make you’—don’t say ‘fat,’ she warned herself—‘break out?’  (DRINK)

‘Oh, no,’ said Robin, licking her sticky fingers. ‘I never get zits, just pounds. But I just wasn’t meant to be slim like you and Jessica. It’s got something to do with my bones—or is it my metabolism? Anyway, it’s just my sad fate.’

Elizabeth looked at Robin dubiously. She was convinced Robin’s heaviness was due to the way she ate—especially if this was typical.  (DRINK)

Though Elizabeth and Jessica certainly didn’t have Robin’s figure problems, they still watched their diets carefully.

Elizabeth is a concern troll. She doesn’t really give a damn about Robin, but she enjoys patronizing her and the feeling of superiority she gets from being so “nice.” I hate her.

Robin begs Liz to remind Jessica to let her pledge the sorority. Liz decides to help her even though she’s “a lot overweight.” (DRINK) Robin is thrilled and practically dances out the door as Jessica arrives (although god knows the ghostwriter would probably call it shaking the house with each footstep).

Why was that fat wimp pawing at me and gushing all over the place?” Jessica demanded.

Jessica is a sociopath. First she plans to just “forget” to nominate Robin for membership. When Liz nominates her instead, Jessica is furious. She reminds Liz that the pledges must complete certain tasks before they can become members, and immediately sets out to come up with the most humiliating ones possible so that Robin will drop out and she can still look pure as virgin snow. (DRINK.  Forget it–just chug the damn bottle and go buy another one.  This is multi bottle book.)

After Jessica goes over to tell Robin that she’s going to be a pledge, she immediate goes home and, in the best sentence in the entire book, “Jessica was wearing leotards and exercising with Jane Fonda via video cassette.”  She’s scared that she might catch fat from Robin?

Task #1–Run (although it’s described as “lumbering”) around the track five times a day for one week.

Task #2–Robin has to go to the beach in a bikini and play volleyball. Robin doesn’t have a bikini but “it’s a two-piece suit that’s too small, so it looks like a bikini, kind of.” Liz says Robin can play on her team. On Saturday “Elizabeth knew it was going to be a difficult day for Robin—and her” (emphasis mine) because she thinks, just as Jessica does, that it’s embarrassing to be seen with the fat girl.  But she’s a concern troll and a martyr, so she’ll suck it up and be seen with the chubby girl.

Task #3—Robin has to get Bruce Patman to take her to the Discomarathon on Saturday night. Liz bribes Bruce to accept when Robin asks him by promising him an article in the newspaper. “All right. I’ll take her. But I want my picture in, see! A big one. And tell how I whipped that guy at Palisades.” (Is Bruce a small time gangster in a 40’s noir film?) Bruce brings her to the dance (she’s wearing a tent dress, if you were curious), but ditches her loudly in the middle of the floor, saying “Ok, that’s it. I brought you to the dance, Tubby. I’ve got better things to do now. Hey! Anybody want to steer the Queen Mary around the floor tonight? She’s all yours!

Robin leaves the dance humiliated and has a run in with a nerd named Allen Waters. He seems like a decent guy, who saw that she was upset and wanted to see if she was okay. Robin is hysterical, saying “I am a total outcast! I’m ruined!”  Allen convinces her to go back to the gym, and Jessica sweeps over and notes that PBA pledges shouldn’t be seen with their social inferiors. But they still dance (although, since he’s a certified nerd, he can’t really dance) and then he takes her home.

Furious that her scheme to get Robin to drop out of the pledging process failed, Jessica moves onto her plan B. There is a convenient loophole she can take advantage of—during the vote on pledges, if a single person puts in a black stone, she can’t join. All the PBA’s are too scared of Jessica to blackball someone she is “friends” with.  Yet a black stone appears—Jessica had to do it herself.  Jessica decides that this is all Liz’s fault because Liz was the one to nominate Robin in the first place

“It’s a secret vote—and nobody can challenge a blackball. It’s just one of those unfortunate things.” (SOCIOPATH)

Robin disappears for a week.  When she comes back she avoids the twins like the plague, although of course Liz tries to go and concern troll her some more. Liz watches her from afar, and notices that Robin is starting to run on the track every day, and that she’s starting to eat salads.

One day a week or two later Elizabeth almost bumped into her coming down the stairs—and was astonished to realize the transformation that was occurring. The excess pounds were going rapidly, and the Robin who was emerging seemed like an entirely different girl.

Well of course she’s a different girl. Thin girls can have personalities apart from pathetic, desperate to be loved fatty.

“I hope you’re doing it the right way, Robin.”

Robin fixed her penetrating eyes on Elizabeth. “Liz, I may have been stupid about almost everything—the Pi Betas, Jessica, and maybe even you. But if you’re asking me if I’m starving myself to death, I wouldn’t give any of the PBAs the satisfaction.”

Apparently something like 3 weeks after the blackball, there are mid-term cheerleader tryouts, and Robin is trying out. She not only makes the team, but is immediately made co-captain with Jessica.

What the Pi Betas had unintentionally done for Robin certainly was remarkable, Elizabeth had to admit. She had not simply avenged herself by losing weight. Robin had gone through a complete transformation. The old tent dresses had slowly disappeared, replaced with flattering and stylish outfits. The pale face had taken on a healthy glow, and all in all a totally new Robin Wilson was dazzling Sweet Valley Nigh. There were many kids, in fact, who swore she’d just moved to town. They’d never even noticed her before.  (BOOK I HATE YOU.  IF I HAD A PHYSICAL COPY I WOULD BURN YOU.  GHOSTWRITER AND FP YOU HAVE JUST TOTALLY EXCUSED AND LEGITIMIZED JESSICA BULLYING AND HUMILIATING A FAT GIRL.  FUCK YOU.)

There’s still book left to go, but this is the moral of the story. Bullying is good because it’s a motivational tool. Also, losing weight will give you a tan.

Elizabeth goes up to congratulate Robin a few days later and they have a talk. Robin calls it like it is—that Jessica is an awful person. Liz, of course, defends Jessica, even though she knows better than most what a conniving witch she really is.

“You just don’t want to face up to what kind of person Jessica is. She and I were never really friends. I used to pretend to myself that we were because I wanted to believe it was really true. It must have given Jessica a few good laughs.”

Welcome to reality, Robin. Nice of you to join us.

Bruce is panting after the new cheerleader. However, he has no clue that it’s the same girl he was an evil bastard to as the dance. It’s a good thing he’s rich because he’s a moron.  (Sidenote: he’s also a rapist)

The final showdown between Robin and Jessica is yet to come, though. Both go out for Miss Sweet Valley High, and it quickly becomes a two woman race that divides the high school. It even divides the football team!!!!

“The Gladiators’ offensive line and backfield paraded through the lunchroom carrying a big banner: Jessica is Just Right!”

Then the defensive line came through the auditorium with a huge placard: Robin Has Us Throbbin’”

Robin has us throbbin’ has me rolling with laughter. (You know, like us fat girls do—we roll, we laugh.)

At the homecoming game—Robin wins!

It seemed to everyone that Robin had achieved absolute top status at Sweet Valley. She was the football queen, and now she would take her triumphal tour in Bruce Patman’s black Porche.

At least she gives Bruce the metaphorical middle finger and is escorted by Allen Waters.  The Pi Betas invite her to join the sorority and she tells them to fuck off.

The end.

While I appreciate that Robin doesn’t become one of Jessica’s prettier lackeys, I found the book reprehensible. Robin could and should have learned those lessons without becoming the homecoming queen. But somehow, the external transformation of weight loss is what legitimizes her internal transformation. Which is a terrible message.

Yet this is the key message of the multi-billion dollar (annually) industry of weight loss. Losing weight will make you thin, pretty, and popular. You will be deserving of love then. You will be a more confident and BETTER person.  I’ve been to a Weight Watchers meeting–and this is the message they sell, too.

The truth is that fat to thin, thin to fat…you are still you. If you hated yourself fat, you will still have emotional drama and poor self image thin (truth—many women have body dysmorphia). If you had issues with your husband or parents before you lost weight, losing it won’t fix those.

Any girl who thinks about reading this should be handed a copy of Two Whole Cakes by Leslie Kinzel instead.

Next week we return to the warm embrace of Stoneybrook with “The Truth About Stacey”

Snarking Nostalgic: The Baby-sitters Club #2 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

This week we’re going back to Stoneybrook!  Pull out your hidden junk food and pretend it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 5:30 pm.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 3.28.20 PMClaudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

by Ann M. Martin (not ghostwritten)

Published October 1986

Kirsten Dunst’s first job was modeling for the little blonde girl on this cover.  She says “I was a child actress/model.  I did it strictly for the money.” Given her enthusiasm, I’m guessing she has the cover framed and illuminated in the middle of her living room.

*****

Claudia wishes she could be in her room reading a mystery and eating candy, or dreaming about Trevor Sandbourne, or painting.  But no, she had to do her Math homework because her parents are facists.

At least Mimi is the one helping her and not Janine the NERD.

Mom has no accent (neither does my father, who also came to the United States as a small child) but Mimi has this pleasant, rolling accent that reminds me of a ship at sea.  And she is polite, polite, polite never speaking a harsh word.

Cultural sensitivity wasn’t really a thing in the 80’s, huh?

Mimi helps her with her homework, and sits for Claudia’s painting . They chat about the mystery book Claudia is reading and Halloween.

Claudia asks Mimi why she and Janine aren’t besties.  Mimi tells her that it’s because she’s a bitch who avoids and complains about her sister–except Mimi’s polite polite polite about it.  But that someday they’ll be friends.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.47.08 PMI wouldn’t hold my breath.

Claudia calls Stacey.  Claudia is all swoony over Trevor, the poet.  Stacey is still gaga for Sam Thomas (Kristy’s older brother).   Boys are sooooooo dreamy.

The next day at schools the girls have a three page discussion about a boy named Alan Gray.  They go on at length about a trick Kristy played on him and how now he feels the need to bother her all the time.  So they’ll be hooking up by the end of the book.

Mary Anne is “flipping through the Stoneybrook News.”  Because seventh graders casually read the newspaper when hanging out with their pals.  She shrieks, and drops the paper.  OHMIGOD you guys–Phantom Phone Caller On Rampage In Mercer!  Mercer is the closest town to Stoneybrook!

“Well it’s still 20 miles away,” I said

Wait, what?   Are they surrounded by 20 miles of virgin forest?  It’s Stoneybrook, CT, not Storybrooke, Maine, FFS.

The Phantom Phone Caller calls the house to see if anyone answers.  If not, he goes and steals their jewelry.  He apparently doesn’t take anything else, so your diamond encrusted chairs are safe, millionaires.

Claudia gasps because a few nights ago, the phone rang and no one was on the line!

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.04.11 PMHe wants your handcuff earrings and key necklace, Claud

EMERGENCY BSC MEETING Y’ALL.

The girls decide that the best way to handle a suspicious situation is to stack cans in front of the door or window on the inside, so you’ll know if he’s entered the house

Then there is the elaborate phone message system

  • If you think he’s in the house CALL ANOTHER BABYSITTER and say “have you found my red ribbon?”
  • The other sitter will say “No, the blue one.”
  • If you know he’s in the house and your are in danger say “Now I’m in for it”
  • If you’re not sure there’s trouble say “That’s okay”

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.19.28 PMBEST.  PLAN.  EVER.

 

We can’t get too hung up on this whole Phantom Phone Caller/Home Invasion thing–The Halloween Hop is coming up.  Claudia wants Trevor to ask her.  But–sigh–he doesn’t even know she’s alive.  “Faithfully” by Journey swells in the background.

Chapter 5 is all about a sitting job at the Newton’s, but there’s no entry.  I don’t know why I care, but I do, and I thought you should all know.  Everything is going okay until Claudia sees lights going on and off in the house!  The phone rings, but stops before she can answer it!  Then there are footsteps!  Claud peeks through a convenient hole in the fence and looks straight into another eye!  OHMIGOD IT’S THE PHAN—Kristy.  It’s just Kristy.  Kristy was looking for them, and the lights going on and off were all her, going through the Newton’s house looking for Claud and Jamie.

Not to bash your ribbon strategy, ladies….but maybe you should add lock the front door to your list of burglar management strategies?

Another night Claud is babysitting at the Marshall’s.  She creeps herself out and calls Stacey.  They’re talking about the Halloween Hop and boys when…

I definitely heard footsteps in the garage.  “Stacey, Stacey,” I said urgently.  “Have you found my b-I mean, did you see my–Have you found my…my…”

“Your red ribbon?” whispered Stacey.

“Yes!” I gasped.

“Yes, I did.  I mean, no, I found–I…”

“Did you find my blue—Oh, no, Stacey, someone’s at the garage door.  I can hear the knob rattling!”

“I’m going to call the police.”

“Claudia?” called a deep voice.

It was all I could do not to shriek.  “He called my name!” I yelped to Stacey

“Claudia,” said the voice again, “we’ve misplaced the house keys.  Can you let us in, please?”

That red ribbon plan doesn’t seem to work well under pressure.  Also, between two adults who presumably used a car to go somewhere (since Stoneybrook is surrounded by 20 miles of forest), why don’t they have a house key?

GASP!  Just as Claudia is about to leave, the phone rings, but when Mrs. Marshall answers, there’s no one there!  Does Claudia mention The Phantom Phone Caller?  Of course not.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.30.30 PMAt least this guy had the courtesy to talk to you before he committed a crime….

Kristy babysits Karen and Andrew.  Karen has new theories about Morbidda Destiny and her spooky spells.  At bedtime she insists Kristy read her new book “The Witch Next Door.”

Watson, I’m going to judge you for this.  If you’re trying to convince Karen that Mrs. Porter isn’t a witch, buying her a book called “The Witch Next Door,” isn’t going to help matters.

Watson’s house is huge (still waiting for the first time they call it a mansion), and Kristy is jumpy.  She gets a hang up call and then calls Claudia…but doesn’t even think about using the ribbon code.  She doesn’t remember it.  Ladies and gentlemen, your Founder and President.

Then there’s a tapping at the door!  IT’S MORBIDDA DESTINY!!!!!  Or, you know, Mrs. Porter, who is returning Boo Boo after the cat was eating a mouse on her porch.  Although Boo Boo’s so vicious that Mary Anne was explicitly warned not to touch him, he’s obediently sitting in Mrs. Porters arms.  Guys, Karen is on to something.  Mrs. Porter is a witch.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.44.16 PM

“He bothers me just by living!  Alan Gray is so horrible whenever he’s around me, that he’s all I can think about.” —- Kristy

Stacey suggests that Kristy ask her hot older brother Sam for help with this whole Phantom Phone Caller thing.  Kristy retorts that she’d never ask him for help.  He’s girl-crazy!  I mean, my god, last week he took some green-tipped hair, lace gloves with the tips cut off Freshman to the movies!  It’s just not a BSC book without Kristy being thoughtless.

Stacey starts to cry because didn’t Sam like her? (Remember how he called Stacey a “foxy chick” and she called him a gorgeous hunk?)  Stacey, this is only the first of a zillion older men you’ll have your heart broken by.  Get used it to it.

Claudia moans that the dance is only four days away and Trevor hasn’t asked her to go.

“I think you should talk to him,” said Kristy.

“I think you should ask him to the dance,” said Stacey.

I gasped.  “No way!  This isn’t the Sadie Hawkins dance.  I can’t ask a boy to go with me.”

“In New York we did it all the time.”

“Well, this isn’t New York, this is little Stoneybrook.  And I am not asking Trevor Sandbourne to the Halloween Hop.

Stacey should take her own advice and ask Sam out.

Claudia should remember that second wave feminism brought about women CEO’s, astronauts, and the ability to ask a boy to a non-Sadie Hawkins dance.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 12.04.46 AMMary Anne pouts as she’s reminded, yet again, that she doesn’t live in NEW YORK CITY.

Shit just got real, people.  The Kishi’s neighbors the Goldmans were just robbed!  Goldman because Martin was being ironic years before hipsters discovered irony.

Shocker, Mary Anne is suspended from baby-sitting.  Given that the robbery was right across the street, I’m surprised Mary Anne is allowed to go to school without her dad.

That night–in yet another babysitting job without an entry at the start of the chapter–Kristy and Claudia babysit for Jamie and his hellion cousins.  Same M.O. as book 1–the parents leave, and the cousins go nuts.  Kristy, being Kristy, puts two fingers in her mouth and gives an ear piercing whistle, which puts an end to the shenanigans.

Suddenly things get scary…not one, not two, but three phone calls without someone on the other end of the line.  Several bangs as trashcans are knocked over.  A shadow runs away from the house!

The girls thankfully skip the ribbon nonsense and call the police.  The cops show up and go looking for the intruder, and show up minutes later with Alan Gray.  Kristy has a lot to say about this.

“Alan Gray, you darn, sneaking rotten–“

….

“Alan, you are a rat!” she exploded.

They find out that every call without a person on the other end of the line at one of Kristy’s sitting jobs was Alan.  He knew where she was because he kept peeking at the BSC notebook.

“Son,” said Officer Stanton in a more kindly voice, “what did you want to ask her?”

….(he mumbles, baby sitting charges tell him to speak up…

“I wanted to know if you’d go to the Halloween Hop with me.”

If I were Kristy, my eyeballs would have fallen out of my head about then.  But Kristy just said, “Oh gosh is that all?  Of course I’ll go with you….Thanks.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 12.20.44 AMAlan Gray knows how to woo a woman

After the sitting job, Claudia is in her room eating junk food (because of course) when Janine knocks on her door.  She saw the police cruiser on her way home.  Claudia is touched by her concern, and they talk.  Janine hides candy, too!  Bonding moment!  I’m sure that this will make it all worthwhile when the Kishis have to have their home fogged to kill the ant infestation.

The next day at school, Claudia is approached by Trevor, who has gathered up his courage and asks her to the Halloween Hop.  He was behind all of the calls when Claudia was sitting because Alan told him where Claudia would be.  Martin wasn’t getting paid enough to give him a different plot.

Claudia, much like Kristy, is completely unfazed by the whole stalking thing.  She happily agrees to go to the dance with him.  I feel the urge to stage an intervention and explain healthy and unhealthy relationships to all four of them.

The Halloween Hop was terrific.  Now I know we’re in a fictional universe–no middle school dance is ever terrific.  Ever.

Claudia got an 86 on her math test!  Her parents are so proud that they skip explaining that a B is an Asian F.

The Phantom Phone Caller was found trying to rob a mansion in that town 20 miles away (10 books more and it would’ve been in Watson’s neighborhood).

Life is great.  Several babysitters have earned in the neighborhood of 15 dollars over two weeks worth of baby sitting, and they clink their diet sodas together.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 12.31.26 AMTo attend the Alan Gray/Trevor Sandbourne School of Seduction call 555-2934

Advanced courses taught by Edward Cullen

Next Week–Sweet Valley High #4-Power Play (aka that one where the fat girl becomes thin and popular–I have a lot of FEELINGS about that book).

Snarking Nostalgic: Six Months to Live by Lurlene McDaniel

BSC fans–don’t worry, there will be more BSC snark (Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls is next week).  Due to the wealth of terribly written tween/teen books from the time period, though, I’m going to alternate in other books.  Let’s not spare Sweet Valley High, Christopher Pike, or other books that deserve a snarky review.

This week? Six Months to Live by Lurlene McDaniel (at Amy’s suggestion).  If you worried that every moment of fatigue and every unexplained bruise meant you had cancer, you’ve read this book and/or the rest of Lurlene’s oevre.

I’ve decided to try to do single entry snark instead of a chapter by chapter retell.  Please give feedback in comments.

 six months to live coverSix Months to Live by Lurlene McDaniel

Originally published 1985

Our book opens with a doctor telling Dawn Rochelle she has cancer.  Oh, good–let’s not bother with establishing characters or trying to make us interested in them, and get right to what we’re here for–Dawn has cancer.  Cue parental shock, including

“We thought it was just the flu,” her father gasped.

I may not be the parent of a child who has/had cancer, but I am a parent.  And anyone who wants to run tests on my kid explains what the tests are and what they’re looking for first.  Are her parents dumb, or in denial?

A kid!  That’s what I am, Dawn thought.  She was a kid, just two months over her thirteenth birthday…a seventh grader…cheerleader for Adams Junior High…daughter of Pete and Meggie Rochelle…kid sister of Rob Rochelle…super fan of Michael Jackson…collector of teddy bears…a resident of Columbus, Ohio…and now, a victim of cancer

This tells you all you need to know about what kind of ride we’re strapping in for.  This is exactly how 13 year old children talk.  Unless they’re from THE SOUTH–but we’ll get there later.  If you want a drinking game to get through this book (or any McDaniel book)–and you might–take a shot every time a child uses weirdly out of date language.  I feel like Lurlene was about as hip to teenage culture in the 1980’s as I am to the teen culture of 2014.

Dawn has to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW.  This afternoon.  Her pediatrician who apparently sent blood samples to the lab without consulting anyone (HIPPA violation!) has also “made arrangements” for her to get admitted right away.  He is drunk with power.  Her parents are speechless, and Dawn is asking all the questions, which is totally how my children’s doctor’s appointments go.

Suddenly, she felt like a white rat trapped in science experiment…caught in a maze of mind-boggling proportions…a maze with no exit…a rat with no future.

I’m not editing the quotes.  The ellipses are as written.  Drinking Game #2-Take a shot every time you see one.

Dawn’s father wants a second opinion, in a startling show of parental involvement.  Her mom pooh-poohs this, saying they’ll get lots of opinions at the hospital.  I don’t think her mom understands how hospitals work.

Dawn sits and is emo, wondering what she’ll tell people.  Kid, you’re not Stacey McGill, and cancer is a lot harder to hide than diabetes.

Then this happens

Rob…Dawn pictured her brother.  He was so big and broad across his shoulders—

Dawn, don’t make me invoke The Flowers in the Attic Law.

They get to the hospital and the nurse tells her that she has a roommate, Sandy, who’s “a real doll,” and that “everybody likes her.”  Dawn is has angst about the idea of a roommate because how dare the cancer floor of the hospital be full of cancerous kids.

The oncologists visit the room and introduce themselves to the family.  Pages of explanation about cancer.  I’m betting this is why so much of Lurlene’s fanbase were hypochondriacs.  The oncologist then tells her she can be an outpatient, and she then spends roughly 50+% of the book (more or less) in the hospital.  For all that her descriptions of how cancer and chemo work seem pretty correct (minus advances in tech over the past 20 years) Lurlene’s understanding of “outpatient” could use some work.

“Dr. Sinclair,” Dawn’s mom asked quietly.  “What if we decide to skip all this therapy and just take Dawn home?”

The blue-eyed doctor surveyed her and said “That would be very unwise, Mrs. Rochelle.  Untreated, ninety percent of all leukemia victims die within the year.”

Guys, I don’t want to ruin the moment of supreme parental stupidity, but raise your hand if you can smell the foreshadowing.

Dawn tells us that “Dr. Sinclair hates cancer.”  Unlike all those other oncologists who just love them some cancer?

She brushed her long, auburn hair and tied it up in a pony tail.  “So,” she told her reflection, “in a few weeks I may be bald.”  It bothered her a lot.  It had taken her years to grow her hair past her shoulders.

If I taught a literature course, I could use this book as an example of what heavy handed foreshadowing looks like.

 

The mysterious Sandy comes back from chemo sick, pale, and sleeping.  We’ll meet her and her hillbilly accent bright and early tomorrow morning.

The girls become insta-friends in the a.m.  Dawn comments on how Sandy looked like shit the night before.

“I know.  The first time, my daddy got so upset that he almost took me out of the hospital that night!” Sandy said.  She gave a smile of remembrance and said, “My daddy’s like that.  Cant’ stand to see anythin’ hurtin’ his little girl.”

So this is the first book in a five book series about Dawn Rochelle.  Unless the rest of the books are about Dawn’s ghost haunting her sexy sexy older brother, I’m guessing she makes it out alive.  Anyone want to place odds on Sandy?

Also–if you need to get drunk really fast because this book is getting painful try Drinking Game #3 –do shots the second anyone from WV ends a word with in’.  You’ll be unconscious within pages.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.17.26 PMI’m pretty sure this is what Lurlene was picturin.’  If you cross the line into WV, the redneck fairy smacks you on the head and takes away your “ing”s.

A “psychotherapist” breaks up all the bonding to teach them how to do “Imaging.”  Dawn pictures an army of teddy bears fighting her cancer.  Sandy is skeptical, which I interpret as a decrease in Sandy’s odds of makin’ it out of this book alive.

Dawn then asks if she can pray for God to take the cancer away as well.  Which, fine, except I’ve done my homework on McDaniel and let me warn you she’s got a hard on for The Bible and Traditional Gender Roles.  That Sandy doesn’t ask about prayin’ or pray with Dawn is just another big red flag.  Why was I shocked that she dies when I was a kid?

Dawn’s friends come and visit her and it’s awkward, which seems pretty true to life.  There’s actually a great exchange between Dawn and Sandy after (if you can overlook the stilted language and the hick accent) about how regular people just don’t get it.  My elder daughter was quite sick when she was a baby, and after she got out of the hospital, we joined a mom/baby group.  It was all kinds of awkward and uncomfortable whenever her illness was the elephant in the room.

Just as the emo music swells, the topic of boys comes up.

Sandy has been kissed by a boy (seriously, Sandy, why not paint a target on yourself?) and that it was “real sweet, like he meant it.”  I’m glad that Sandy understands that he meant it because I’m an erotica author and I have no clue what that means.  Is that code for tongue?  That he took you to the county fair first?  That he got a hard on?  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?  Now when my husband kisses me, I wonder how I’ll know if he means it?

Dawn wishes that Jake had kissed her because he probably won’t when he sees her and that no one will ever want to kiss her.  To which I reply—five book series.

Dawn and Sandy go through all the medical stuff together (because everyone in the cancer ward has a roomie whose cancer is identical in every way to theirs?).  Dawn meets Sandy’s parents, and realizes that “Mr. Chandler was very angry about Sandy being so sick.”  Unlike those parents who do the cancer dance with the cancer loving oncologists that populate the rest of the oncology floor?  Dawn is DUMB, people.  I wish she was the one who was going to die in this book.  Anyway, back to Sandy’s dad, who looked into cancer clinics in Europe and Mexico instead of sendin’ her to Columbus, OH.  As a kid I thought he was actually looking into cancer clinics.  Now that I’m 35, I know that’s just code for “hospices.”

Violation #2 of The Flowers in the Attic Rule

“You’d give me your bone marrow?” Dawn asked Rob shyly once they were alone.

“Absolutely!” Rob said, chucking her on her chin.  “I gave you the chicken pox, didn’t I?  I can spare bone marrow for you, too.”

“Thanks,” was all she could whisper.  She felt deep gratitude for the love he was showing her.  Rob…so big and strong…and healthy.

Rob is big and strong and healthy, guys.  See, Lurlene?  No use of ellipses!  It CAN be done!

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.48.07 PMRob Rochelle as described by Lurlene

Fun times in the hospital ensue.  Arts and crafts.  Popcorn fights!  And then to despoil the beauty of those times, Dawn loses her first lump of hair.

Sandy is losing her hair, too.  Sandy’s hair was waitin’ for Dawn’s to fall, so they could shed together.  Lurlene has a hair fetish, guys–we get a description of Sandy’s hair and all the hair paraphernalia Sandy owns.  Dawn’s mom shows up with a beautician friend who cuts their hair and brings along a bunch of wigs for the girls to play with before they each pick one.

Then comes the portion of the book devoted to cancer treatments and all the ways it despoils Dawn (and Sandy’s) poor bodies.  Remission feels a million miles away.  Everything will be emo awful forever, guys.  The spends pages giving us excruciating detail of everything poor Dawn goes through, and then tells us that Sandy suffered the same agonies (literally–pages of Dawn, one sentence on Sandy).  Thanks for clearin’ that up, Lurlene–I was startin’ to think Sandy might have the fun kind of cancer.

Just when it can’t get any more melodramatic, Dawn gets a fever.  But not a fever…a FEVER.  The ICU kind of fever, and she’s rushed away.  People kind of float in and out, and then Lurlene tells us about a drugged out dream Dawn has while high, where her favorite teddy bear comes to rescue her.  Then she’s better, so the bear was a metaphor?  Except just before she wakes up, he turned into the boy she wanted to kiss, so Dawn is a closeted furry?  I…just…don’t…know…what…Lurlene….means.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.05.59 PM

Aw, Sandy drew Dawn a picture of her Imagin’ picture–a teddy bear army defeatin’ cancer.  The girls are so happy to be reunited.

“And we’re going to celebrate with a reunion every year after we go into remission.  So start planning on it!”

I wouldn’t, if I were you.

Sandy Chandler and Dawn Rochelle toasted each other and their futures with styrofoam cups filled with warm pop while the hospital routine settled in around them.

Lurlene likes to refer to her characters by first and last name.  At least half the time Dawn is referred to as Dawn Rochelle.  Which is oddly formal.  There was a boy I went to middle school with whose name was Chris Rodney and we all called him that, but I don’t think that’s common.  It took re-skimming the book for me to realize that Rochelle wasn’t part of her first name.

Guys, Sandy is in remission and she’s goin’ home!  Yay!  Dawn is upset, but at least the letters from Sandy start to arrive a page or so later.  Sandy tells Dawn that her parents are treatin’ her like she’s made of glass.  I get that, and I think it’s pretty normal, although it probably does suck from the kid’s perspective.  The boy that kissed her like he meant it doesn’t seem to mean it anymore and avoids her.  Lurlene is actually painting a realistic picture!  I’m sure that will give way to melodrama soon.

The Psychotherapist (I think?  maybe a nurse?  I don’t care about the main characters, much less the secondary ones) tells Dawn she should go to cancer camp that summer.  Which is the cue for,  two pages later, Dawn’s cancer to go into remission.

As Dawn drove home with her parents, she understood how Rip Van Winkle must have felt when he’d awakened form his years of long sleep

Yes.  Highly accurate.  When Ellie was in the hospital, we lived there.  When we left with her, it was almost a month later, and everything had gone from Halloween to Christmas.  It was freaky.  Except for Dawn it went from April to mid-July.  It’s also strange how her friends act like nothing has happened, which upsets Dawn (although she also doesn’t want to be treated differently).  Her friend’s petty shit feels petty to her, and she doesn’t know how to pretend that it isn’t petty.

The psychotherapist sends a cancer camp brochure to Dawn, who considers tossing it.  Dawn decides to go, but only if Sandy can.

We’re off to cancer camp!  Apparently the camp was only for Ohio residents, but the oncologist had gotten Sandy special permission to go.  The girl’s hair is growing back magically fast because Lurlene wants to talk about hair again.

Camp has an opening ceremony with “Indians” wearing “buckskin and feathers of an ancient Ohio tribe” canoeing to the shore and then “with a cry and whoop” light the fire.  They have this ceremony to “pay tribute to them (Native Americans).”

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.01.20 PMI’m going to leave this here for you Lurlene…

Cancer camp is just wonderful….awesome…great….  There are these two gorgeous boys who like Sandy and Dawn and it’s perfect how Sandy and Dawn are each crazy for the boy that Lurlene has assigned them.  You know they’re having a great time because there are so! many! exclamation! points!  Until we learn that Mike-who is assigned to Sandy-is missing a leg.  Good thing the girl who is surviving this book got the intact boy, right Lurlene?

Let’s not dwell on that because Cancer Camp is FUN!  Let’s have a zany antic where the four of them go to the director’s cabin in the middle of the night and pelt him with water balloons, steal his boxes, embroider them elaborately with flowers, and run them up a flag pole all in the same night.  Those kids are so wacky!  My favorite part is when one of the boys screams “bonsai!” as he throws his water balloon.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean the elaborately trimmed little tree.  I can’t actually find a reference to the actual slang term from the 80’s to get a correct spelling of the slang term meant.  But that typo was the funniest part of the escapade for me in what otherwise felt like a retread of a prank that would’ve felt at home in the Haley Mills version of “Parent Trap.”  Also-Sandy must be amazeballs good at embroiderin’ to have done the kind of detail described in just one night, too.

The night before the end of camp

Pedro Mendez performed a break dancing routine that caused everyone to howl with delight.

The ethnic person did an ethnic thing for the amusement of the white people!  Lurlene has never had a non-white friend.  Just write white people, Lurlene.  It’s so much better that way than this racist crap.  Not that your white people are going to win any awards for well rounded portrayals.

Camp ends

“D-do you think we’ll all be here next year?” she asked, scanning the faces that had grown so familiar to her during the last two weeks.

That whole racist moment with the “Indians” at the start of camp?  There was also a bit about mixing last year’s opening fire ashes with this years, including all the ones for kids who died.  Dawn is DUMB and Lurlene is HITTING you with the FORESHADOWING stick at this point.  BEATING you with it.  NO.  Sandy is going to die because you have a five book series, Dawn.

Back home and back to school.  OH NOES! Sandy is out of remission.

You should see my poor daddy!  He’s a basket case.  He’s talked to Dr. Sinclair a couple of times, and Dr. Sinclair wants us to come back to Columbus right away.  He says that we might have to think about a bone marrow transplant.  Boy!  Did that set my daddy off!

Now he’s talking about taking me to some clinic in Mexico.

Raise your hands if you think Sandy is headin’ to the warm Mexican embrace of hospice care.  YUP.  Not long after there’s another letter from Sandy post marked from Mexico.

There’s no chemotherapy either, just lots of fresh food, vitamins and sunshine.

All of which have a 100% success rate of sendin’ leukemia into remission, unlike bone marrow transplants which accomplish NOTHIN’.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.08.23 PMOr you could’ve just drank this, Sandy.  Equally helpful–sunshine, fruits and vitamins!

Then we get the third and final letter from Sandy

I’m not scared of what might happen to me.  At least I don’t hurt all the time.  That pleases my daddy ’cause he can’t stand to see me hurting.

Firstly, I’m shocked that the hillbilly fairy allows you to use -ing in your writing.  Secondly I wouldn’t be happy that I’m dying and that my daddy is happy that I’m not hurting–I’d be screaming and fighting to get a real motherfucking hospital.  Thirdly, I googled end stage cancer and according to a cancer website, end stage cancer hurts like a bitch, which is why they drug you in hospice care.  Unless those “vitamins” have a serious dose of morphine, or are crystal meth or something, I call bullshit.  Then again, why bring reality into the gorgeous sunset picture of a girl submitting to her father’s wishes and going to be with God when she didn’t have to?

Seconds after Dawn reads the letter she gets a telegram telling her that Sandy’s dead.  HOORAY!  The book is almost over.  Sad.  That’s just so sad.

Sandy’s parents send Dawn a box of Sandy’s stuff.  Hair combs (because hair fetish), a popcorn necklace from the super fun cancer floor arts and crafts days, Sandy’s ashes from camp, Sandy’s diary (which sadly doesn’t include any entries about “my idiot dad is sentencing me to death!” but does include Mike’s picture in an entry talking about how she wants to do more than kiss him next summer, the slut), and a page from the bible with that insipid “to everything there is a season” verse all marked up.

Dawn pondered the page for a long while.  It was true.  Sandy’s “season” was over.  She’d gone home to God.  The thought brought Dawn great comfort and made her more determined than ever to live her own “season” to its fullest.  She shut the box and put it away on the shelf.

In the remaining three or so pages we see that Dawn is living her “season”–back in cheer leading and Jake (aka healthy boy) likes her!  Hooray!

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.38.21 PMI don’t have cancer anymore!

Remember how I touched on Lurlene being a certain flavor of Christian?  Yeah.  We need to talk about that before I can end the post.  You know how I knew Sandy was going to die apart from the “it’s a five books series” thing?  Sandy doesn’t ask about prayin.’  She has already made out with a guy and doubles that before the book is over.  She even admits that she’s goin’ to go further next year durin’ cancer camp.  Her mom over-ruled her dad, so you know that’s going to come back and bite the family on the ass.  But when she lets go and lets God, she gets to die and teach Dawn a Very Important Lesson because it’s too late for her.  There are books where she does this with a far heavier hand, according to this Lurlene McDaniels snark blog (go read it, it’s hilarious), but this just PISSED ME OFF.

At some point in the future I will buy a physical Lurlene McDaniels book so I can have the pleasure of throwing it at the wall every time she does this–a mom who is a Bad Mom because she works outside the home, where sex has consequences, and god has a plan for those who are good.  Because ugh, moralizing.

The only way I can bring myself to read the rest of this series is if you guys promise me that she dies at the end of book five.

Let me know how you liked this format for Snarking Nostalgic!

Next week–Claudia and the Phantom Phone calls.

The Baby-sitters Club–Where are they now? Part 1

Once it became clear how many of us are nostalgic over the BSC, the “Where are they Now Conversation” was inevitable.  Pooja began it during a lively Whatsapp conversation that ended up lasting a half hour.  I then asked my Facebook friendslist and ended up with one of the longest threads I’ve ever achieved on fb.  There were so many ideas about where the BSC would be today that I’m saving some for another one of these posts!

Each “Where are they now” answer is credited to the brilliant woman who came up with it.

 

BSC Kristy WTF faceKristy Thomas

  • High maintenance soccer mom with a very devoted, quiet husband (Ange)
  • VVery slightly nicer Sue Sylvester after she realizes she actually hates kids. It allows her to combine her love of sports with a vendetta to repay ALL children for the years she spent as president if the BSC. She now disavows that she had anything to do with creating the club, maintaining it was all Mary Anne’s idea. (Me)
  • Comes out during her first year year at Sarah Lawrence.  She and her gender queer partner now raise sheep in Eugene, OR. (Pooja)

 Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.21.16 PMClaudia Kishi

  • NYC, part time barista and assistant at a ceramic painting store, trying to do “art” on the side, living with like six other people in bed-stuy (Johanna)
  • PPerformance artist.  Topic; Janine.  She plays bass in a hipster Greenpoint band called– ironically of course–Tiger Mom. (Pooja)
  • Studies really hard.  Attends NYU Stern school of Management and then Harvard Business. Becomes an analyst on Wall Street. When Occupy Wall Street happens, tries to convince everyone that this has been a twenty year long performance piece called Claudia Kishi, Corporate Clone ©  No one believes her.  (Me)
  • Fashion designer with a small boutique shop in town, but her main customers are teenage girls who always mistake the place for a thrift shop. (Paula)

 Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.27.17 PMStacey McGill

  • Failed model, string of husbands (Johanna)
  • After her latest divorce, is attempting a GOOP-like website (Amy)

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.30.37 PMMary Anne Spier

  • Sits in Times Square, staring at the lights and saying “I can’t believe I’m in New York City!” Stacey brings MA food and makes her wash/change every few days, on her way to work uptown. (Ange)
  • Stepford wife (Pooja)
  • So devastated by the break up with Logan that she decides to go on a backpacking trip through Europe and meets a handsome Italian man. With her support and marketing expertise, they create an Olive Oil Empire becoming one of the richest couples in the world. Maryann rarely speaks to anyone anymore including Dawn (Paula)

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.33.46 PMDawn Schafer

  • Living in a co-op growing and selling organic produce and clothes. (Ange)
  • Has a YouTube channel where she posts videos on how to live a California lifestyle (Amy)
  • Shocks everyone when she falls for a rancher and promptly starts eating steak. She is often heard to say “why didn’t you guys TELL me how good this tastes?” (Me)

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.36.32 PMMallory Pike

  • Owns several cats and moonlights as a mystery writer when she’s not looking for a job (Amy)
  • Runs five blogs and is attempting to monetize them. She is an au pair for a family in Fairfield, CT. (Ange)
  • Leaves the Mormon faith, and blogs her angst.  Also has an angsty tumblr (Pooja)
  • An Open Letter to Ann M. Martin from Mallory Pike (not only the letter, but the comments are gold)  Best quote from the letter ““I’m writing this note on a computer that’s encrusted with real diamonds. Claudia and Stacey never made earrings out of those, now did they? No. I didn’t think so.”

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.38.50 PMJessi Ramsey

 

  • Ballet teacher. (Amy)
  • Drama teacher at a school for the deaf. (Ange)
  • Moves to Paris for a bit. Modern day Josephine Baker (Pooja)
  • Stopped dancing after a photographer told her she could be a model. The modeling career never took off and she has taken over as a teacher in her old ballet school. (Paula)

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.40.47 PMLogan Bruno

  • Logan runs a honky-tonk bar in upstate New York. (Ange)
  • Moves back to Louisville, bless his heart (Pooja)
  • Breaks up with Mary Ann after they graduate high school and aces his way through college and med school eventually becoming a fertility specialist (he’s trying to help Kristy get pregnant right now!). (Paula)

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.42.23 PMBart Taylor

  • Lives in Stoneybrook after returning to his parents’ place after college. He was a wannabe jock, never making any teams but being snarky and jealous of all of them. (Ange)
  • Heart broken.  He didn’t see it coming. (Pooja) [ ed… It–Kristy coming out]

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.44.48 PMKristy can’t be the only one who comes out later in life. Who else is on that list? (Pooja)

  • I don’t think it’s coming out in Kristy’s case– was she ever IN? (Amy)
  • Claudia is bi, but only because being straight is so bougie. (Me)
  • “If anyone else were bi it would be weird, but on Claudia the label looked cool. Because of her creamy perfect exotic Japanese skin.” (Amy)
  • Margo comes out, as does David Michael. (Amy)
  • Stacey came out in college. Typical Smithie? (Ange)
  • Jamie Newton came out in third grade. He and Andrew eventually got married and foster shih tzu rescue puppies. (Ange)

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.46.32 PMDeep philosophical question-which babysitter(s) slept with Logan in high school (or later) and why? (Me)

  • Stacey in a slutty prom dress rubbing up against the newly single Logan while Mary Anne stays at home listening to emo after their epic breakup fight. (Viveka)
  • Kristy did, to test whether she was straight or not. (She was, then went around through most of college with a major, hidden crush on him.) (Ange)

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.48.29 PMPaula has a detailed storyline about Mallory becoming a madam that deserves its own subsection here


Mallory started stripping “to pay for law school” and realizes there is money to be made in this kind of business. She and few girls from the club band together to start a high class escort service. After graduating and passing the bar she meets and marries a judge. He decides he should run for political office and uses Mal’s girls to gain secrets and blackmail material over potential political foes.

Dawn who now goes by Sasha, and Clare and MargoDawn is still a vegetarian and sells supplements as a cover for her income from being a call girlClaire and Margo work part-time for a catering company.

The triplets don’t know. But Adam suspects something after he saw a bank statement on Margo and Claire’s coffee table, that was stapled to a cancelled check from Congressman Powell.  Byron and Jordon are personal trainers who run a small gym. They actually share many of the same clients with their sisters, unbeknownst to them!

 

Want to share your opinions?  Leave them in comments, or email me at bequietmommysreading at gmail.

All the pictures of the BSC members highlighted today (sorry Abby–we outgrew the series before you showed up) are from the TV show or the movie.