Tag Archive | snarking nostalgic

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 Nostalgic: The Baby-sitters Club #1 Kristy’s Great Idea Chapters 13-15 (book complete)

I’ve uncovered a great deal of nostalgia for these books among my peers, so when I decided to start the blog, I was thrilled for the excuse to reread and snark them.  I snark with love, friends–I’m still a total fangirl.  So let’s drop what we’re doing, put on our nostalgia goggles, and pretend it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 5:30pm.

Part 1–Chapters 1-3 can be found here

Part 2-Chapters 4-8 can be found here

Part 3-Chapters 9-12 can be found here

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.54.50 PMKristy’s Great Idea

by Ann M Martin (confirmed)

Chapter 13

Kristy has been condemned to a fate worse than death.  She is going to have to baby-sit Watson’s demon spawn kids because his ex-wife broke her ankle.  Her future husband is out of town, so Watson is going to go help her at the hospital and ensure she gets home safely.


Waston put his foot on the accelerator and vroomed us down the driveway.  I’ve never seen anyone in such a big hurry–and all over a broken ankle.  If Watson could have flown the car back to his house I think he would have.

Watson practically throws Kristy and the kids out of the car, shouting the bare bones rundown—feed them pbj, and if there’s an emergency to call Kristy’s mom.  I wonder if Mrs. Thomas has been getting to know Karen and Andrew at all, given that Watson is putting in major effort to get to know the Thomas kids?  No mention of Boo-Boo the hellcat.  I guess that means there won’t be a third runaway pet subplot?

I stood in Watson’s front yard and looked at Andrew and Karen.  Baby-sitting for them was the absolutely last thing I wanted to do.

I sighed heavily

Ugh, babysitting.  Amirite President of The Baby-sitters Club?

Karen tells Kristy that she wanted pop tarts for breakfast but her mom said no, even though her dad lets them have them and who knows what because Karen never shuts up or gets to the point.  I may have to put up with that from my own daughter, but I can skim over Karen’s babbling.

Karen ate a few bites of her sandwich, then suddenly looked at me very seriously, her brown eyes glistening.  “Is our Mommy all right?” she asked me.

Kristy is capable of being an asshat to Karen’s dad, but she can’t bring herself to be one to Karen.  So she reassures Karen, sharing the story of how she broke her ankle last summer.  Against her best efforts, and despite Karen’s nonstop babble, Kristy starts to warm to Karen.  Oh yeah, Andrew is in the room, too.

Then this happens…

“My daddy says he loves your mommy.”

“I guess,” I said uncomfortably.  I realized that Karen looked uncomfortable too.

“If they get married, your mommy will be my mommy.”

“Stepmommy, I mean stepmother.”  I corrected her.  “And guess what.  I’d be stepsister.  And yours, Andrew.”

“Yup,” said Andrew.

Karen thought for a while again. “I guess that would be okay,” she said at last.  And then, “Do you like being divorced, Kristy?”

“No particularly,” I said.

Karen confesses that she doesn’t want her mom to get remarried or her dad–that she just wants them to get together again.  Andrew starts crying (which I don’t entirely buy–three year old’s don’t really get stuff like that, and their memories are quite short–he likely doesn’t remember his parents ever being married, although I totally buy that Karen does).  Kristy distracts them with ice cream as a special “divorced kids’ treat.”

Karen and Kristy in particular bond (Andrew is wallpaper…he might as well not even be a character).  When Watson gets home, Karen says she’s okay if Kristy gets to be her stepsister.  Kristy feels shy (which is a nice moment for Kristy, and a bit of personal growth).  Andrew is napping so Kristy hangs out with Watson and Karen for an hour until he wakes up.  She finally ditches the angry tweenager vibe (at least for the moment).

That night Mrs. Thomas comes in and manages not to scream I TOLD YOU SO in Kristy’s face.  Kristy begins to ask the big questions–what will actually happen if her mom and Watson get married.

Apart from the small details, the second half of this chapter is a bit hard to snark because there’s genuine emotion and character development happening.  I’m sure that won’t last though…C’mon Martin, give us more secret diabetes and stereotypes.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 10.48.54 PMfrom the graphic novel

Chapter 14

Great news, guys!  Mary Anne has convinced her dad to let her half her baby-sitting money!  VICTORY!  (West Wing geeks–bring her the finest muffins and bagels in all the land for she drinks from the key of glory).  Claudia has explained to her parents that she isn’t an Asian stereotype, and is willing to give up some tv time to let her grandmother help her with Math homework.  Too bad she can’t get Martin to understand that stereotypes are useless.  Kristy asks Stacey how New York was, and Stacey says it was FINE, OKAY?

“You know, the strangest thing happened on Saturday morning,” I said.  As usual, I couldn’t help it.  I was dying to say what I knew.  There would be no stopping me, despite the fact that Claudia was sending me an urgent telegram with her eyes.  Shut up, they were saying.  Don’t do this.  But it was too late, even though I knew I was going to cause problems.  Even though I knew Claudia still considered Mary Anne and me babies, and Stacey sophisticated, and therefore was going to protect Stacey and whatever she was up to.

“Mary Anne saw you come home with your parents on Saturday,” I said.  “How come you made your mom say you stayed in New York?”

Stacey shoots a death glare at Mary Anne and flips out, calling Kristy a baby.  BURN.  You’re from NYC–even if you are a private school kid you know how to curse her out in multiple languages.  Baby is the best you’ve got? Martin noted that Claudia thinks MA and K are babies not two paragraphs ago.  Someone get Martin a thesaurus–even use juvenile/infantile instead of baby if you’re not going to use dipstick, jerkface, or some other 80’s insult.

Claudia jumps to Stacey’s defense noting (correctly) that Kristy has no tact.  Mary Anne says nothing.  Kristy tells Stacey not to treat her like a little kid by lying to them.

 Claudia’s lovingly described outfits allow her to point out “you are a little kid–look at the way you’re dressed.”  Kristy is wearing a sweater with snowmen and snowflakes on it.

“Well you’ve got sheep barrettes in your hair,” I yelled.  “You think they’re adult?”

Ok, now I’m ready to throw down–we do NOT mock Claudia’s fashion.

Mary Anne tries to make peace and is yelled out, making her burst into tears.  She’s called a cry baby for it.  Oh my god, Anne–according to your author’s note, you used to be  teacher.  In what universe did you teach?  Baby, crybaby and mean is the worst you can conjure up?  My third graders had fouler mouths than these seventh graders.

In the midst of the BSC cage match, the phone rings.  They all try to answer it.  Somehow the mom on the other end still offers them a job….which GASP they’re all available for.  (WOW-Who saw that coming?)  The club looks like it’s about to fall apart when Kristy calls dibs since the club was her idea in the first place.  The meeting breaks up with enough of a chill in the room to inspire what future museum curator’s will refer to as Claudia Kishi’s “ice carving period.”  (I wonder if you can carve other barnyard barrettes out of ice?)

Kristy gets home, sure it will all just blow over.  After all, everyone knows she’s a loudmouth with no tact.

GASP!  In a totally unforeseen plot twist Mrs. Thomas and Watson are ENGAGED!  Mrs. Thomas is sporting serious bling–Kristy describes it as “the size of a boulder.”  Nice to know that Watson made up for being such a pussy in chapter 11.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 11.09.16 PMFor the record, most of the graphic novel is free on amazon in the preview feature.  It’s hilariously bad.

Chapter 15

On Tuesday, Mary Anne and I avoided Claudia and Stacey in school until the very end of the day.  Then I screwed up the nerve to ask Claudia if she wanted to hold a Baby-sitters Club meeting the next day as usual.  She said it was all right with her.

Scene change to Kristy’s family going over to Watson’s for dinner that night.  There is no further explanation, or even dialogue to show us how icy Claud’s demeanor might still be.  Claudia is fine with a BSC meeting because…..Ann is contractually obligated to write three more books in the series at this point.

All six kids and Mrs. Thomas and Watson are having dinner to celebrate the engagement.  Karen is Karen–her mom Lisa and Mrs. Thomas are saints.  SAINTS.

Dinner was fun.  Watson made fondue. He set a pot full of hot, melty cheese in the middle of the table.  Then he gave everyone a long fork and a plate of pieces of French bread.  You were supposed to spear a piece of bread with your fork, dip it in the cheese, and eat it.  Watson made this rule that if your bread fell off your fork and landed in the cheese, you had to kiss the person on your right.

Guess who is sitting to Watson’s left?  New rule–No weird stepdaughter/stepfather moments like this–I’m going to call it the “Petals on the Wind” law.

Everyone starts making up silly rules.  But then Kristy drops some bread in the cheese.  Ruh-roh.  Kristy gives Watson a super fast kiss on the cheek (thus honoring the “Petals on the Wind law”), but feels guilty about it being so fast later (treading the line) and leaves him a note on his bathroom mirror apologizing for it being super weird and fast (and thus breaking the law–she was so close).  It’s just uncomfortable and bizarre and unnecessary.  I’m betting Ann M Martin was almost a big a fan of VC Andrews as I would be once I moved on from the BSC (when *I* was the same age as the BSC girls, for the record).

The next day, Mary Anne and I walked to Claudia’s house for the club meeting.  We went together, sort of as protection.  When we reached Claudia’s room, we found her talking to Stacey.  When we entered, the talking stopped.  Silence.

Mary Anne and I sat down.  I was determined not to be the first one to speak, since I felt I had already made an effort by asking whether we were going to hold a meeting that day.

At long last, Claudia said, “I’m sorry I was so mean yesterday.  I’m sorry I yelled.”  She was looking at Mary Anne but not at me.

This is one of the least believable makeups in literary history.  They make up for the same reason that Claudia agreed to have the meeting in the first place–because Martin has a four book contract.

They offer to get Stacey a salad from the pizza parlor so she won’t be left out during the pizza party.  THANK YOU.  Was that so fucking hard?

Stacey steels herself and confesses that she has a secret.  THANK GOD.

Kristy asks her if she’s anorexic (nope- that will be Jessi’s ballet classmate in book 61).  Shut up, Kristy–let’s get the big reveal over with.

Brace yourselves, y’all…

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 10.23.07 PM

Given the buildup, I thought we needed a big reveal here, too

Diabetes has been so traumatic that Stacey thinks it’s why they moved to Stoneybrook–instead of the Hail Mary Pass on her parent’s marriage that it actually was.  Stacey recounts being bullied because of her diabetes.  Her new BFF’s tell her that they love and accept her, but maybe she shouldn’t tell anyone at school, to which I can only….

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 2.20.28 AMCaptain Picard feels my pain

Sam knocks on the door to leave a snack outside.  Mrs. Thomas isn’t an asshole, and has left an apple for Stacey along with cookies for the other girls.  This is an example of what we call common courtesy, girls.

“Your brother’s so cute, Kristy,” said Stacey.

“I guess. For a boy.”

“No, really….Do you like any boys, Kristy?”

I made a face.

“What do–” Stacey started to say, but I held my finger to my lips.

“Shh!” I hissed.  “Do you hear that?”

“Something at the window.”

We made ourselves quiet.  We couldn’t hear a sound.

“I guess it’s nothing,” I said.

Let’s not wonder what it was—let’s tell scary stories that happened while babysitting instead of checking the yard for a zombie or a serial killer.

I know what that sound was–it was the sound of foreshadowing for book 2.

Kristy feels all warm and fuzzy and hopes the BSC will be around for a long time.  Don’t worry, Kristin Amanda Thomas—Ann M. Martin is going to ride that cash cow and all associated cash cows into the ground.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.00.04 AMThere were apparently not one, but TWO BSC board games.  I have SO MUCH ebay shopping to do….

So fellow BSC fans, that’s book one.  Shall I do the next book?  Or an episode of the TV show.  Or how about the movie?  Any other non BSC snarking nostalgic requests?

 

Snarking Nostalgic: The Baby-sitters Club #1-Kristy’s Great Idea Chapters 4-8

I’ve uncovered a great deal of nostalgia for these books among my peers, so when I decided to start the blog, I was thrilled for the excuse to reread and snark them.  I snark with love, friends–I’m still a total fangirl.  So let’s drop what we’re doing, put on our nostalgia goggles, and pretend it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 5:30pm.

Snarking Nostaligic: The Baby-sitters Club #1-Kristy’s Great Idea Chapters 1-3 can be read here.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.54.50 PMKristy’s Great Idea

Original Publication Date-August 1986

Written by Ann M. Martin (we know she wrote the first 36)

Chapter 4 (aka the longest chapter EVER)

The next day at 5:30 Claudia (baggy yellow and checked mark shirt, black pants, red jazz shoes, bracelet that looked like it was made of telephone cord, dangling skeleton earrings) answers the door.  Kristy seems relieved notices Claud isn’t wearing makeup.  Claudia blamed her strict ASIAN STEREOTYPE parents.  Claudia then teaches us all the secret to getting away with daring fashion choices like skeleton earrings…

I didn’t put those on until I got to school.

A generation of girls learns to smuggle contraband fashion to school.  THANKS CLAUDIA!

Claudia tells Kristy that Stacey is upstairs, but first they’ll have to go by Janine’s room.  NERD is home and has her door open.  There’s no escape!  Janine lectures K about misusing the word “hopefully.”  See–NERD.

“I really cannot take much of Janine.”–Kristy (of course)

This is why NERDS have no friends, Janine.  No one will love you if you’re too smart.  Maybe all those gender gap studies should’ve considered the BSC as a reason why so few of us grew up to take AP Calc in high school?

Kristy and Claudia escape the Vocabulary Police’s clutches and are about to open the door and unveil Stacey (from NEW YORK CITY) when the door bell rings.  Kristy runs down to get Mary Anne (warning her about Janine).  K and MA are “careful not to look at Janine as we ran by her open door” because if Janine makes eye contact your IQ will go up 10 points.  Seriously–as an adult I feel for Janine who only exists to embody all the ASIAN STEREOTYPES that Claudia falls short of.

Finally we meet Stacey and her outfit (pink sweatshirt with a picture of a parrot and sequins on the front, skinny jeans with zippers on the sides of the legs, pink jelly shoes and she’s blonde).  Kristy notes that she’s wearing jeans, sneakers and a blue hairband, but doesn’t mention a top.  Mary Anne is wearing a skirt, saddle shoes and is sporting (natch) braids, but is also apparently topless.

Uncomfortable silence until Kristy starts ask Stacey about her baby-sitting history.

Stacey told us she baby-sat in her building in NEW YORK CITY which has over 200 apartments.  Mary Anne gapes at the idea of such size and grandeur while Singaporean children reading the book are less than whelmed.  Stacey can stay out until 10 O’clock.  She’s just so damn sophisticated.

Mary Anne begins her interrogation, asking why Stacey left NEW YORK CITY.  Because 12 year olds clearly get to dictate where they live.  Stacey says her dad recently changed jobs and then changes the subject to Claudia’s bitchin’ wall posters.  Claudia tells us she painted them herself because of course she did.

Little miss braids can’t take a hint and tells us that if she lived in NEW YORK CITY she’d never leave it for anything.  She seems to believe that if your parents leave, all you have to do in NYC to survive is go down to the playground where Mr. Drummond will show up and adopt you.  Everybody sing–Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum…

Mary Anne pleads with Stacey to tell her more so she can live vicariously through her.   Stacey proceeds to tell us that she went to a private school without uniforms (At which point every New Yorker laughs.  The uniform is how we know if you’re at some pretender private school that only feeds to non-Ivies or if you’re at a REAL private school that requires you to commit hara kiri if you don’t get into Harvard.)  Stace has taken the subway and taxis by herself!!  Mary Anne’s mouth is hanging open and Stacey is starting to wonder exactly how she ended up here.  To be fair, if you’ve seen pictures of Times Square pre-Disneyfication, this is perhaps a bit more impressive.

Kristy hasn’t heard the sound of her own voice in at least 5 minutes so she cuts Stacey off.  Stacey interrupts right back to ask if she’s in or if she should go back to bedazzling her sweatshirts.  Claudia wants Stacey in the club because someone else in this club needs to be wearing a bra.  Mary Anne wants her in because NEW YORK CITY.

Kristy shrugs and says sure, whatever.  Who cares who joins this totally professional baby-sitting club?

Claudia pulls out celebratory junk food, which everyone but Stacey partakes of.  The other girls apply peer pressure because what freak of nature doesn’t like junk food?  Stacey claims she’s dieting.  The girls all channel their inner grandma and tell S she’s too thin and should eat, eat.  It’s almost like she has a SECRET  (This will make you want to scream by the end of the book)

Mary Anne’s Dad calls the house and demands she return home from across the street because it’s six ten.  Now we all get why Mary Anne has vapors at the idea of a 10pm curfew.

We get a paragraph about lunch the next day and how Stacey and Claudia sit at the cool table at lunch.  Well, of course they do.  Have you looked at yourselves, Kristy and Mary Anne?  Where are your bras?  Your earrings?  Between the two of you, do own anything with fringe or sequins?  If this were set in the 90’s instead of the 80’s, this is the moment Cher Horowitz would’ve swooped in and given them a makeover montage.

Dudes–There are even boys at the table!  Stacey and Claudia, don’t you know that’s how you’ll get an STD cooties?

The four girls meet up outside and go someplace quiet, where the popular kids won’t see Stacey and Claudia hanging out with their social inferiors.  Kristy says they need to advertise.  Claudia’s truly truly truly outrageous red felt hat agrees with Kristy.  Kristy opens a major plot hole by asking Mary Anne if her dad will let her ride her bike around help hang up the flyers, and Mary Anne looks uncomfortable.  Because a dad who will let you baby-sit in a stranger’s house is totally not going to let you ride your bike around the same neighborhood because….?  Kristy says the club needs a symbol and asks Claudia to create one.  Claudia widens the plot hole by acting unsure about her ability to do so because she sucks so hard at art.

“I know I can draw, but I’m not good at…symbols and stuff.  Janine’s better at those things” (Claudia)

I’m sorry, but WHUT?  Janine?  NERD?  The one you all hate and try to avoid at all costs?  That’s who you think we should be asking for help?

Then Claudia and her hat come up with a logo and they all gasp in awe at the complexity of her design.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 5.03.35 PMTo be fair, those 3-d boxes are a bitch to draw.  I know, I tried.  You know you did too.

Chapter 5

On Saturday, the girls call all the families they baby-sit for and place an ad in a newspaper.  If Elanor or Rhi ever read this book, there is so much I’m going to have to explain like physical newspapers, why they didn’t do an email blast, and just what a stationary telephone is. Apparently in the 90’s there was a reboot of the books, trying to update the books to hip things those newfangled children can understand–cassettes become headphones and such.  Which was the worst idea ever, and thankfully it died a quick death.  In the 2000’s they did graphic novels of books 1, 3, 4 and 7  that also died a quick death, but have at least made for some great illustrations for my snark.

Stacey suggests they should have officers.  Kristy is elected President because it was her idea (and they all know that the hell she’d put them through if she isn’t President just isn’t worth it).  Claudia gets VP because it’s her room and her phone.  Mary Anne gets Secretary because she has neat handwriting.  Stacey gets Treasurer because she’s good with Math and money, teaching us all that you can be good at Math as long as you’re pretty.

Claudia gets out Gummi Bears because it’s been at least five minutes and she’s jonesing for her next sugar high (Claudia is going to smoke hella weed at art school) and Stacey runs out of the room because even looking at candy is bad (bad enough that she needs to inject some insulin, apparently).

They create the flyer.  Kristy says her mom will copy it for them on Monday.  Her mom will absolutely want to help her out after Kristy refused to do her a solid by babysitting Watson’s kids back in Chapter 2.

Speaking of Watson, Kristy has to go home so her mom can go out on her hot date.  Stacey asks who Watson is.  Kristy explains, noting that her parents are divorced.  Stacey looks uncomfortable, but shares that her parents have been married for 15 years (raise your hand if you can smell the foreshadowing).  Claudia outdoes her because her parents have been married twenty years–Asian’s don’t get divorced because divorce is a Western problem.  Mary Anne reminds us that her Mom is Dead Dead Dead.

Watson arrives.  David Michael is super excited to see him.  Mrs. Thomas yells at Kristy to come down and act like a human being who can be polite for five seconds. Mrs. Thomas clearly cherishes some illusions about Kristy.

Kristy trudges downstairs as if she’s about to face the firing squad.

SURPRISE!  Watson has brought over Chinese Takeout!  They’re all going to eat together!  Isn’t that exciting?!

Kristy is annoyed that Watson is always bringing food over, as if he wants to develop a relationship with Mrs. Thomas’ kids instead of just taking their mom to a cheap hotel for a quick bang like a normal man.  Kristy pointedly asks who’s watching his kids, and Watson says he found a nice baby-sitter (could this be where the mysterious Kathy has disappeared to?)  We find out that Sam and Charlie also like Watson, who seems like a decent guy.  Charlie eats, but notes that he’s taking his girlfriend Carole (who I’m pretty sure we never hear from again because the BSC needs a hot older brother or two to crush on from time to time) later.  But he’s a boy, which means he can eat second dinner and seventh dinner on any given night.

Kristy decides to be a bitch and asks her mom if they have leftover chili.  She’s not going to eat Watson’s charity Chinese food!  What if he put drugs into it that would turn her into a nice person?  (Seriously, why is she who I wanted to be when I was a kid?  I have to imagine it’s because she gets a fairly big attitude adjustment in the near future).  Watson looks hurt because DUH.  What does he have to do to get her to give him a chance–tell her he’s a MILLIONAIRE (something we’ll be told multiple times a book in every single book from the reveal until the end of time)?  Kristy confesses to us that she’s starving for Chinese food, but makes a pbj because eating the Chinese food would be equivalent to surrendering Europe to the Nazi’s.

Watson, who is clearly a masochist, tries to ask Kristy about school and her life and gets monosyllabic replies.  Sam gives her a death glare and jumps in to tell Watson about his Math Team meet (another exception to the Math makes you a NERD rule–you can also like Math if you’re a boy).  David Michael shares that he’s getting a new GI Joe.  Watson confesses he doesn’t know much about that cartoon and Kristy implies he’s a deadbeat dad because ALL boys like GI Joe.  Anyone else up for tying Kristy to a chair and playing “Free to Be You and Me?”  She then asks if Karen has a My Little Pony because ALL girls like those, or is he ignorant of those too? Mrs. Thomas demands an apology.  Kristy says her mouth is much to full of delicious PBJ to do that, and is summarily kicked out of the room.

“I’m sorry Watson,” I mumbled.  I walked out the kitchen and started up the stairs.  When I was halfway up, I yelled over my shoulder, “I’m sorry you’re such a terrible father!”

OOH, BURN!

The thing is that Kristy knows she’s being a complete asshole.  She admits that Watson’s actually a good dad.  Especially compared to her absent deadbeat jackass of a dad.  But she’s not going to admit it.  All joking aside, I think that Martin’s portrayal here is actually pretty honest.  My mom was a single mom and I made a point of being as awful as I could to any date I ever met, hoping that the prospect of dealing with me would make them dump my mom.  My mom never did marry, which was actually her choice, but as an adult I feel pretty terrible about being such a brat.  Kristy feels bad for being a brat too, and puts an apology note on her mom’s door.

Dear Mom, I’m sorry I was so rude.  I guess I haven’t learned much about decorum yet.  I hope you had fun on your date.  I love you.  Kristy

DECORUM!  The last gasp of that subplot.

In the morning there’s a note saying “I love you too” from her mom because Mrs. Thomas is the best mom ever.

BSC Kristy WTF face“You expect me to act like a civilized human being, mom? WTF?” (screenshot from the BSC movie)

Chapter 6

Kristy runs home and gapes at their beautiful three line ad in the newspaper.  They’re sure to be drowning in sitting jobs!  Claudia, Kristy and Mary Anne are going to go hang flyers.  Stacey is mysteriously busy. (Note from the future-she’s probably at an endocrinologist appointment because her life is all about baby-sitting, clothes, and diabetes).

Kristy has to check to see if Kathy is there before she can leave.  Kathy is alive!  She’s still baby-sitting David Michael!  For now.

You won’t have a job for much longer if Kristy and the BSC have anything to say about it.  You did cancel that one time, so clearly a group of 12 year olds are a better choice for baby-sitting than a 15 year old.  Cheaper?  LOL—Kristy isn’t the type to give a family discount to her mom.

On Friday the baby-sitters gather early, eagerly waiting for the phone to ring.  Janine is a killjoy as she waxes poetic about whether there should be an apostrophe in babysitters or not.  Why does she have to be so fucking SMART and BORING?  Smart people suck.  Stacey, having learned the fine art of being rude and not giving any fucks about it from her upbringing in NYC, comes through the door and shuts it in Janine’s face.  Score one for that NYC upbringing, amirite BSC?

They watch the clock tick toward 5:30, and Claudia hands around the candy.  NEW GAME-every time Claud hands around the candy, take a shot.  It would explain a lot if that was how Martin and Lerangis got through writing the books.  Also how they came up with some of Claudia/Stacey’s outfits.

5:30.  THE PHONE RINGS!  OMFG!  THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE SO MUCH BANK!

It’s Kristy’s mom.  Kathy can’t come next Wednesday (see, I told you Kathy wouldn’t be around much longer).  As a mom, I’m betting Mrs. T asked Kathy not to come so she could give the BSC a pity job to make them feel like special snowflakes.  I know she’s knows that the phone wasn’t going to ring much that afternoon.  Mary Anne checks the schedule and Stacey and Kristy are available.  Kristy is underwhelmed at the idea of her first BSC job being for her own brother.

Kristy mentions her two older brothers.  Stacey’s eyes bug out of her head–who knew she’d get to meet older brothers on the job?!  She accepts the job and immediately begins shopping for a new older-brother-impressing outfit in her head–maybe something she could pair with neon plastic geometric earrings?

THE PHONE RINGS AGAIN!  Wrong number for a Jim Bartolini.  Oh.

5:42  Some strange lady none of them know called Mrs. McKeever calls for a sitter for Buffy and Pinky.  Look, ladies, I know this is Connecticut in the 80’s, and it’s so preppy that you all shit pink cashmere sweater sets and argyle socks, but maybe something is up with that?  They’re three.  Oh, so they’re twins?  Maybe while Mrs. McKeever is asking you a zillion questions, you could ask one or two more?  Nope?  Yay for Kristy’s first sitting job?  Wow, I hope that hijinks don’t ensue.

TWO MORE CALLS for Jim Bartolini.  Sad face.

5:55.  Mary-Anne is totally ready to leave because this was a total waste of time.  If you don’t have a rip-roaring success in the first meeting ever, then you’ll never have one.  She might as well go back to knitting and dreaming about NEW YORK CITY.

BUT WAIT!   THE PHONE RINGS.

It’s Kristy’s mom again.

I rolled my eyes.  “Mom?” I said.  “Did Kathy back out of her other afternoon, too?  …Oh….Oh…Oh, no.  Not me.  I am not baby-sitting for them.  You know how I feel.  Okay, but hold on…  Watson needs a baby-sitter for his kids again on Saturday morning.  Not tomorrow, but next Saturday,” I told the others.  “I’m not doing it.”

MO-OM, haven’t we covered that I totally hate baby-sitting, which is why I started a baby-sitting club?  Mary-Anne takes the job and asks Kristy if she isn’t the least be curious what Karen and Andrew are like?  Kristy is, but will never ever ever meet them, which will totally derail everything between her mom and Watson.

5:30 THE PHONE RINGS.

“It’s some boy on the phone,” she told us.  “He says his name is Jim Bartolini.  He wants to know if there have been any calls for him.”

Kristy is totally justified in threatening her brother Sam’s life for doing this to them. Kristy goes home and tattles on Sam.  He starts repeating everything she says.  Mrs. T tells him he can’t use the phone for an hour, which seems like a totally legit thing to threaten a teenage boy with since they’re known for being on the phone all the time and we’ve seen Sam on the phone exactly zero times in this book.  Then she sends Kristy to her room.

Mrs. T has had a long day because those are the kind of consequences moms come up with when our head hurts too much and we’re too tired to enforce anything else.

Kristy is thrilled to be sent to her room because Watson is coming over again.

Watson takes Mrs. Thomas out, hopefully for a dinner that includes a big tall glass of wine.

Claudia calls to let Kristy know that Mrs. Newton called for a sitter for Jamie and that she took it since she was free.  Kristy gets emo that Claudia took it, even though it’s her room and her phone and she was free.  Ms. Poutypants goes to bed with Louie the dog at her feet wondering what Buffy and Pinky would be like (FORESHADOWING).

BSC Kristy DollThere were BSC dolls.  I need one RIGHT NOW.  Although-why does Kristy have serious blush and lipstick on?

Chapter 7

Baby-sitting Day!  So exciting!  Kristy arrives at the house, and notices a distinct lack of kid stuff outside for a family with twin three year olds.  Hmmmm….  Mrs. McKeever answers the door and lets Kristy in.  The house is really clean, and full of really nice stuff like glass vases and oriental rugs.  The only sign of kids are baby gates at the kitchen door.  It’s also pretty quiet.  RUN AWAY, KRISTY!  Kristy asks where the twins are.

“Oh, they’re in the laundry room.”

RUN AWAY NOW BEFORE SHE GOES ALL HANNIBAL LECTER ON YOUR ASS!  Then the woman says her name is Mrs. Hargreaves, and she’s Mrs. McKeever’s niece–dude, this is sketchier by the minute, get out NOW.

The job is only going to last a few hours, and Kristy is feeling pretty bad for these poor little kids, so she offers to take them for a walk.  Mrs. Hargreaves is doubtful.

“Are Pinky and Buffy boys or girls?” I asked.

“Well, it doesn’t much matter–”

It doesn’t?

“–but Buffy’s a boy and Pinky’s a girl.”

Kristy is rightfully finally getting the creeps when they reach the Laundry Room door.  Mrs. H warns Kristy that the monsters will knock her over.

The door opens…..Two massive St. Bernards knock Kristy to the ground.  LOL.

Kristy, not being the brightest crayon in the box asks if she has to baby-sit them too.Mrs. H looks at her doubtfully.  Did the dogs of doom concuss her or something?  Or is she just stupid?  Whatevs.  She needs to go.  She zooms through some instructions and leaves Kristy alone with two massive drooling hairballs.

You’ve got to give Kristy credit.  She gamely takes them into the backyard and tries to play fetch with them.  Which works for about five seconds before one of them runs her down and they escape.  She finds them next door where they’ve knocked down some laundry.  Poor Kristy tries to hang the laundry back up while keeping the dogs interested in their footballs and not other people’s yards.  She realizes that no good deed goes unpunished and takes them back inside.At the end of the babysitting job, Kristy decides they should keep a journal of all their sitting jobs so that they could learn from each other’s mistakes.  Like hers.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 7.00.48 PMIt’s all fun and games until there are two of them and they knock you on your ass

Chapter 8

We get our first BSC notebook entry.  This is a bizarre plot device in that it tells you what’s going to happen before it tells you what happened.  These are done in a different handwriting style and voice for each character, and is a nice way to allow someone besides the narrator to speak, if only for a page.  Claudia, whose personality is art, clothes, and sucks at school, will eventually come to write journal entries that border on illegible due to spelling mistakes.  This one isn’t too bad compared to the others that will come in the future (see below).

Apparently Mrs. Newton pulled a dirty trick on the BSC, too.  Instead of it just being Jamie, there were three other kids, which is seriously bullshit.  Kristy is nice about it because it’s not Watson who screwed up, and says that it’s probably because Mrs. Newton has serious pregnancy brain.  To make things more fun, Jamie and Rosie have a private war going, Brenda was just getting over chicken pox (here’s where you know I’ve had two kids-I actually got shocked because pregnant women are supposed to stay the hell away from chicken pox at that stage of pregnancy-it’s a bfd—and then I had to remind myself FICTION), and Rob hated girls including girl baby-sitters.

Claudia is in for a super fun time.The kids proceed to freak the hell out and cry and fight until the adults just throw their hands up and abandon the kids with Claudia.  Because if four adults can’t deal with them, the twelve year old will be TOTALLY FINE.

Rosie began running around and around the room, yelling at the top of her lungs.  She wasn’t yelling words; she was just making noise.  Brenda leaped onto the Newton’s couch and jumped up and down on it as if it were a trampoline.  And Rob turned his fingers into a gun and aimed them at Claudia.  “Pow!  Pow!  Pow-Pow-Pow!  You’re a dead man!…I mean a dead lady!”  Jamie looked on dazedly.

Claudia proves she’s smarter than Kristy who would’ve been screaming louder than the kids.  Claud sits down with Jamie and starts quietly reading to him, ignoring the other kids.  As any parent knows, this will work some large percentage of the time, and one by one the kids came over and quieted down.

Claudia wins at baby-sitting.

bsc claudia entry

 

Part 3 (chapter 9-12) can be found here