Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Laine somehow seemed very young and innocent just then; or, BSC #28: Welcome Back, Stacey!

Gee, Stacey, could it be cause she’s only 13? Even if she’s worldly-wise for her age, she’s still ONLY THIRTEEN!

Anyhoo, this is one of those rare BSC books in which an outfit described in the book actually shows up on the cover of that same book. It’s true!

“Same old Claud, I thought as we trudged up our front steps. Her hair was flowing down her back, pulled away from her face by a headband with a huge pink rose attached to it. She was wearing a long, oversized black-and-white sweater, skin-tight black leggings, pink-and-black socks, and black ballet slippers.” And that’s what she’s wearing on the cover, see?



The plot: Stacey’s parents are fighting. A lot. So, they decide to get a divorce. And Stacey gets over it relatively quickly. But the problem is, she has to decide whether to stay in New York with her dad (“But I’ve never lived on the East Side”) or move back to Stoneybrook with her mom. And she decides, after literally examining the pros and cons (seriously, she’s not too upset to dot her “i”s with hearts), to go back to the BSC. Awww, aren’t we just thrilled.

So, they all pack up and move, with a few spats thrown in for good divorcing measure. And Stacey’s back in Stoneybrook, not quite happy to be back, but fairly sure she made the right decision. Blah.

Nitpicking time: Speaking of the cover, I sincerely doubt that even Stacey would move wearing a white button-down shirt, a light-colored, flimsy-looking skirt and patent leather flats. Girl’s gotta own some jeans and we know she has a small army of oversized t-shirts. And hightops. What “self-respecting” girl of the 80s didn’t? What, is she going to change before lugging boxes in? I’m just curious.

Speaking of clothes, I know Stacey’s all about clothes, and she’s sooooooo sophisticated, but I sincerely doubt she’d put crazy effort into her post-divorce-news outfit. Supposedly, she’s super upset, but she manages to put this together:

“I put on one of my better outfits—short red pants with purple suspenders over a bright yellow and black sweat shirt. On my feet I put my purple push-down socks and a pair of red hightop sneakers [see! She has some!]. I added jewelry—a big necklace with wooden bananas and oranges strung on it, and dangly earrings shaped like sunglasses.”

My first problem is…THIS IS ONE OF HER BETTER OUTFITS? Seriously, this sounds like she’s been hit by an ugly truck. Purple, red and yellow all together? Uck.

Problem #2: I could understand if Ms. Martin were using this outfit to describe how upset Stacey was, like she couldn’t even pick out an outfit. But she wears it as one of her better outfits…Now, I’ve never been through a divorce, but when I’m down, I dress all in black like any self-respecting Smiths/Joy Division fan. Or, I’m so out of it, I throw on the first thing on the pile of clean clothes. And maybe not everyone has the same sartorial reaction to downers, but I can’t imagine anyone who’s mildly upset would bother with one of her (or his) better outfits.

Finally, continuity problem of the book:

Dawn: I just wish you guys would be absent more often so I could fill in for you. Kristy, I don’t think you’ve ever missed a meeting. I’m dying to be president for a day” But, [excuse the Simpsons moment] Kristy did miss a meeting with the whole “my dog is dying” thing in BSC #11. So, there, “manuscript assistant.”

Ooh, and Laine gets the outfit of the week: “this amazing black pants suit. It was made from stretchy cotton. The bottoms of the legs were cuffed, and the top was short-cropped [um, redundant much?]. She was wearing a leopard-skin leotard under the top.” Sweet.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

She’s purebred. She cost four hundred dollars; or, BSC # 11: Kristy and the Snobs

There is sooooo much wrong in this book. This is another one where something serious and real happens, and it’s kinda dealt with by the characters, but it’s not really handled realistically…

Yeah, so Louie is getting old. [Wait? Who’s Louie? Oh, yeah. Kristy’s dog.] And they have to put him to sleep. And it’s not totally glossed over, but it’s completely covered in about three chapters. The rest of the book is devoted to Kristy’s new clients in her rich people neighborhood. And to a prank war with Shannon, one of her rich girl neighbors. Yep. This whole book is about the everlasting battle between rich and step-dad rich. And she and Shannon start out as enemies, but then become friends in like five minutes, and I can’t quite figure out how they resolve things. And Shannon gives the Thomas-Brewer household a puppy from her dog Astrid of Grenville, a pedigreed Bernese Mountain dog. And Shannon becomes the second associate member of the BSC. And that’s the plot. Oh, and Dawn’s all upset cause Jeff’s miserable and wants to go back to Cali. So, this week, I’m just going to offer a few choice observations and quotes.

1. Why is Dawn so upset about Jeff? She’s at that age when she’s probably wishing she didn’t have a younger brother. While my bro and I get along fabulously now (most of the time), when I was 13 we were all about the top of our lungs screaming matches wishing death at each other and punching and kicking.

2. “A few minutes later, three other girls joined the first one. They were all wearing the exact same outfit – a private-school uniform. They were slender, three of them had blond hair, and they were wearing makeup and stockings. They looked sleek, sophisticated, and self-confident.” No one looks sophisticated in a private school uniform…they look like students. And Mary Anne’s kilts and pullovers with knee socks and penny loafers? Kinda private school uniformy. And they keep referring to her old uniform as babyish, but when the rich bitches wear the same ensemble, it’s sophisticated. And they insult Kristy cause she’s got holes in her jeans. Cause that wasn’t high style in the 80s or anything.

3. As a prank, Shannon calls Kristy while she’s sitting at the Delaneys’ and tells her the house is on fire. That’s pretty fucked up.

4. A four hundred dollar cat is not an outdoor cat. Not gonna happen.

5. I have always liked Mr. and Mrs. Pike. Despite the fact that stupid Mal thinks they treat her like a baby, they’re really cool with all the kids. And they take breaks to go out by themselves. They’re easy going, and they seem like they’d be good to go to if you’re having a problem. Mal’s a dumbass.

6. How come no one in the BSC ever misses a meeting for a sitting job? Is it magic? Does no one in Stoneybrook ever need a sitter MWF 5-5:30.

No good Claudia outfits in this book.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

He was dressed casually, but with style; or, BSC Super Special #5: California Girls

Ah, Stacey and Mallory at their jackassiest.

The basic (and really dumb) premise: The girls win $10,000 in the lottery and split it up ($1428.57 EACH!). Then they decide to use the money to go to Cali for two weeks with Dawn. Poor Dawn’s dad. And his housekeeper. And wee Jeff. And even Dawn’s dad’s trophy girlfriend. Here come the babysitters. Whooppee.

And here’s what’s up with each of the girls:

Dawn: She doesn’t like her dad’s girlfriend, Carol. Yep. She thinks Carol acts too young, trying to be all buddy buddy. But finally, after Carol (rightfully and appropriately) narcs on Stacey, Dawn respects her. And gives her “permission” if Mr. Schafer decides to marry the girl. (Because heaven forbid they have a relationship without heading for marriage, especially relatively soon after the divorce.)

Stacey: Because Stacey is so sophisticated, she gets in a car accident!!!! But doesn’t get hurt other than bruises (boooooo). Yep, Stacey catches the “surfing bug.” So, Dawn hooks her up with some people she used to know when she lived in Cali (like two years ago) who were a couple of years older than the BSC. She goes to the beach with them everyday to ride the waves (which I can’t say without picturing Spicoli, sorry.). Then, another friend of theirs tags along (his name is BEAU. LAME. ) and drives like a maniac. Or a teenager. Take your pick. And on the way back, he gets in a multi-car wreck. And he totally asks all of the surfers to cover for him and lie to the police. But Stacey does what’s right (finally, after blowing off all her friends for like two weeks) and rats him out. Then she calls Carol, cause she thinks that Carol won’t make her tell her parents. But she totally does. [Aside: um, don’t they BABY-SIT? And don’t they tell their charges’ parents if they do something stupid or go to the hospital or whatever? And doesn’t the hospital need to contact Stacey’s parents? What with the whole being a minor thing?]

Claudia: She meets this boy, Terry, on the beach. Only he’s a brainiac, so she tries to pretend she’s, well, Janine with “better” clothes. Finally, though, she tells him about her family and her art and she finds out that they have more in common than she thought. And she learns the lesson that people will like her for herself. But then she writes him letters, and he’s totally gonna dump her when he finds out she’s borderline mentally-challenged. And it’s gonna be awkward.

Mary Anne: Because she’s not on vacation or anything, Mary Anne agrees to babysit for Stephie when no one in the We <3 Kids Club can do it. But Stephie has asthma, so M.A.’s kinda freaked out. But nothing happens until M.A.’s last job with Stephie; see, Stephie gets all worked up because she really likes Mary Anne and is going to miss her, so she brings on an attack. Which M.A. handles pretty smoothly. Why is Stephie so attached after, like, 3 days? Cause she’s mini-Mary Anne. Her mom died, and her dad treats her like a toddler. And her room looks like M.A.’s used to. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Kristy: Is a dumbass. First, she gets all competitive about the We <3 Kids Club. Cause she’s an idiot. And she also takes a job, but hers if for two obnoxious little brothers who have never been disciplined in their lives and are headed straight for the Ritalin. And Kristy learns that she’s not the best baby-sitter on the whole fucking planet, and other people know something or other about sitting. Shut up, Kristy.

Jessi: 1. Jessi visits her old baby-sitting charge Derek on the set of his TV show, P.S. 162. And the director puts her in the show as an extra. And Derek tells her she should get an agent. So, she entertains fantasies of Hollywood stardom for a few days, then remembers her true love. Yeah, remember ballet? That she tends to forget very easily? Yeah, that one. And, 2. Jessi totally lets Mallory walk all over her. Jessi gets pissed at Mal for being a jackass, then keeps lending her money, etc. Then she’s all, well, I could be more supportive, and nicer about lending the money to someone who blew all her money because she’s stupid. So, Jessi makes up with Mal, and apologizes. (You know, this is the one time when she has a right to be totally pissed, and she’s such a fucking wuss about it.)

And finally, award for stupidest girl ever?

Mal: First of all? You can’t really lighten your hair with temporary hair dye. You can’t wash blonde out of red hair, cause you have to bleach it to lighten it enough to call it blonde.

So, right after getting to Cali, Mal decides she needs to be a “California Girl.” Which, apparently, means blonde hair and buckets full of makeup. Seriously, I’ve been trying to figure out how much she spent on makeup in this book (shut up, you totally want to know); and here’s what I’m thinking: around $400. Follow me:

$1400 (lottery winnings)
-900 (cross country plane trip, no stopovers, in the late 1980s)
=500 (for 2 weeks in Cali, to include trips to amusement parks, etc)

Now, let’s say she spent a little bit in the airport, some to go to the Max Factor Museum, etc. Now, let’s say she drops FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS ON MAKEUP IN ONE TRIP! Then, she’d be in a position to need to borrow buttloads of money from Jessi. Now, I know this is pure speculation, but I think $500 in spending cash is about what each of the girls would need to get into attractions, get food, buy souvenirs…Any other thoughts on this? Now, I spend a lot on makeup, and I am thoroughly addicted to Sephora and random expensive perfumes, but I have never spent more than $150 on makeup in one day, and that was once, as a college graduation present to myself, and it included a $60 bottle of perfume. And I just can’t figure out how she spent that much at one makeup counter in one sitting. And if she really did, what kind of unethical bitch would sell that much makeup to a CHILD?

So, she thinks she’s hot shit, until the director of P.S. 162 says she doesn’t have the right look. She’s devastated…how could she not look right? She was a California Girl! Or a bottle blonde with a complexion all wrong for blond hair. And tooooooo much makeup. Finally, Claud and Stacey rescue her from her depression (but not from her ugliness) by buying her makeup (I’m assuming at quite a discount). Blah. Happy ending.

The single funniest thing about this whole book? Most of the girls leave shit out when writing to their parents, and then the first sentence of the chapter following the postcard says, essentially, “there’s so much I didn’t tell my parents.” Yep.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The pros are that Watson is rich; or, BSC #6: Kristy’s Big Day

Technically, isn’t it Elizabeth’s big day? After all, she’s the one getting hitched.

Surprisingly, I found myself saying, or, um, screaming, “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” more with this book than a lot of them…Now, most of the BSC books contain at least one ridiculous moment. And I remembered this one being pretty normal…This is not the case though. Apparently I never questioned even the basic premise of this book. But I should have. For your consideration:

"I’m saying that Watson and I are going to have to get married at the end of the month so we can move into the Brewers’ house two weeks later." Let’s take a moment to consider this. Kristy’s mom will be on a business trip in Europe when they had wanted to get married (funny, she never takes that trip to Europe. Or at least never mentions it again.), so she and Watson have to change the date. And she found a buyer for the house who wants a rush job. (Okay, having moved a lot growing up, even with rushing things, it’s not easy to complete a sale and escrow that fast. And, apparently, Kristy’s dad still owns half the house, so they’re completely ignoring the fact that they’ll have to contact him and get him to sign everything.) Okay, I could buy all that. But what really bothered me was the fact that they had to GET MARRIED BEFORE MOVING IN TOGETHER! Even if they were religious (which they don’t seem particularly devout), I’m sure that they wouldn’t be run out of town for moving in together before getting married. I mean, neither of them are virgins, and they’re both divorced. And he’s got a fucking mansion! If propriety required them to have separate rooms, it wouldn’t be a problem. And they could get married soon, but they could give themselves more than two and a half weeks to plan a BIG wedding, and focus on moving with minimum stress. OR, if they really had to get married before moving in together, have a tiny ceremony quickly and then have a big reception once they’re all settled in. Cause it’s not particularly cool to your friends and family to give them two weeks notice to come to a wedding. LAME!

"Would you really hire the whole Baby-sitters Club for the whole week?" So, in order to pull of the wedding, a whole bunch of friends and families are coming early to help. And since this is the BSC, they’re all breeders who have never heard of a diaphragm, there will be 14 extra brats running around Stoneybrook. So, to free up the adults, the BSC are going to run a sort of daycare for all the kids, keeping them from 9-5. And they’re only getting $120 each for the week. They all act like that’s a fortune, and I realize this was a few years back, but that’s not a lot for caring for that many kids ALL DAY LONG. (Sam even thinks it’s a lot of money, so he’s jealous. But he has a summer job; for the second summer in a row, he’ll be delivering groceries for the A&P. But ANM never explains how someone too young to drive can deliver groceries in a town that’s apparently big enough for two middle schools.) So, they take care of all these kids with relatively few problems.

KRISTY IS EXCITED ABOUT WEARING A DRESS AND HEELS. ‘nuff said.

"My brothers and I would be on own for a week!" Yep. After the wedding, Watson and Elizabeth go to Vermont for their honeymoon (cause they couldn’t afford anywhere else?) and they leave Charlie, Sam, Kristy and David Michael at home. Alone. Nannie’s “on call,” but she’s not there. The fuck? Sure, maybe Charlie and Sam. But a 17-year-old who just got his driver’s license in charge of a 15-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 7-year-old. Are they high?

Claudia’s classy outfit of the week: “a black leotard and skintight red pants [there are three girls at Ridgemont cultivating the Pat Benetar look] under a white shirt that was so big it looked like a lab coat. Claudia’s a wonderful artist and she had decorated the shirt herself, covering it with designs painted in acrylic.”

Oh, and Stacey? “Stacey’s blonde hair was permed, and what with that, her purple nail polish, and her Swatch accessories, she looked, well, kind of like a thirteen-year-old Madonna.” My ass, that just described a fucking mallrat, not Madonna.