|Super Special #1: Baby-Sitters on Board (1/2)
||[Apr. 20th, 2011|08:37 pm]
Baby-sitters Club Snark-fest!
You guys. YOU GUYS. I picked this book to snark because I vaguely remembered that it hadn't aged all that well, and then I opened it up and remembered that it had the WORST PICTURES IN THE HISTORY OF ART. It is worth a read if only to gape at the pictures and try to imagine the meeting at Scholastic where someone managed to convince an editor they were suitable for print.
Kristy is a shrieking, blithering mess by the time they get to the airport. Dawn the seasoned traveler haughtily wants to know if she's ever BEEN in an airport before. Kristy's all eye-rolly "Of COURSE I've been in an airport," as if this is a dumb question — every idiot's been in an airport! "But I've never been on a plane."
• Times, They Are A Changing Alert: Apparently it's common for people in the 'Brook to hang around in the airport on the weekends without ever taking a flight. Have fun being cavity searched every time you step onto your front porch twenty years from now!
Kristy's mom tells her to cool the hell off and she actually does for a change. "At that moment, I would have done anything anyone told me to do." Oh SWEET LORD, MY TIME HAS COME. WHERE IS MY LIST. ("Item one: Insert sharpened pencil up your nose. Rotate twice...")
She's just grateful someone is finally taking her on a vacation — on a cruise through the Bahamas, then to Disney World. But she's not going with just her family, she assures us, because that would be madness. She's going with twenty-one other people! I can't even...I don't even...that's...that's not a vacation. It just isn't.
See, Pa Pike, who could never afford this ordinarily, won this trip through work, then hired Mary Anne and Stacey to come along as mother's helpers. I have two major problems with this. One: If I were offering this vacation? I would rig it so the guy with eight children could NOT POSSIBLY WIN. That isn't even fair to the company; that will more than double the cost of a vacation package that already cost in the thousands of dollars. Isn't it normally a "trip for four" or something? They do that FOR A REASON.
Two: I thought it was stupid when the Pikes dragged two babysitters along to the shore in Boy-Crazy Stacey, because, look, I'm not usually keen on telling people how many kids are the right number to have, but if you have so many children that you can't even take a simple family vacation without hiring people — TWO, people PLURAL, in ADDITION to two parents — to manage them all, YOU HAVE TOO MANY DAMN CHILDREN. But at least then that was like, okay, you were already renting the house and driving down there, so it doesn't really make a difference to shove a couple more people in the car. But do you KNOW how much plane tickets cost? Do you know how much a cruise costs? Do you know how much EVERYTHING at Disney World costs? Even back then? Taking two babysitters along probably put the Pikes, a family constantly in money trouble, about two grand in the hole for the luxury of keeping track of their OWN children on an otherwise FREE vacation. Christ.
Jesus, I'm not even off the first page of a Super Special and I'm already faint from yelling. I'm in so much trouble.
Aaaaanyway, Watson found out about this trip via Kristy's incessant whining about the fact that she never gets to go anywhere and decided it wasn't inappropriate at all to invite himself and his family along on another family's vacation. Uh huh. And THEN he decided it would be, like, totally unfair to leave the two remaining BSC members behind, because god forbid they do things with their own damn families, so he pays for Claudia and Dawn to come along too. Stacey and Mary Anne got the SHAFT on this arrangement. They have to work the whole time, whereas if they hadn't been hired, they could have just come along for free anyway.
(I have no idea where this book falls in the timeline of the BSC canon, by the way. Mallory is not in the club yet and Jessi doesn't exist, except I'm positive the copy I have is the first edition of this book and the list in the front goes up through number 16, Jessi's Secret Language. Probably it was written before Mal and Jessi joined the club but released after, which just looks sloppy but is pretty far down the list of atrocities committed by Scholastic in the name of the BSC. Certainly below the pictures in this book, which haunt me when I close my eyes.)
• Times, They Are A Changing Alert: After they get in the air and Margo finishes hurling all over everything, the kids get to go into the cockpit to meet the pilot and get those little wing pins. Awww, remember when they still did that? What's more hilariously dated now, that they would allow anyone into the cockpit while a plane is in the air, or that they would hand out sharp, potentially stabby objects as a souvenir?
Kristy gathers the babysitters while the kids are preoccupied and decrees that they will be holding daily meetings while on this trip. Um...what? Does she think people will be calling them at Disney World or something? Oh, no, it's so they "can keep track of what the kids are up to." I reiterate...um, what? Why does Kristy always act like babysitting requires the same kind of planning as staging a hostile takeover? You make sure the kids are alive at the end. If they're also happy, that's a plus. That's the WHOLE JOB.
Kristy also decides that everyone — all of the kids, not just the babysitters — needs to come up with something great to give to all the parents as a gift, because it's "awfully nice" of them to take them on this vacation. Uh, really? Pa Pike won it for free, so it's not TERRIBLY generous of him. And Stacey and Mary Anne are the hired help and have to work the entire time, so frankly, I'm not even sure a gift from them is appropriate — I mean, you don't write your boss a thank you note for signing your paycheck. Watson and Elizabeth's kids should say "Thanks for the trip, Mom and/or Dad!" but really, it's just a family vacation for them (and he's an OMG MILLIONAIRE so it's not like he even had to save up to give them this nice trip). How many of you felt the need to buy your parents a nice present for dragging you to Silver Dollar City when you were ten?
So basically, only Dawn and Claudia are the ones who ought to be ponying up for a nice gift. SERIOUSLY. Who the hell gets taken on an all-expenses-paid CRUISE and to DISNEY WORLD by their FRIEND'S PARENTS for NO REASON?! I don't think my parents would have even allowed me to go, because they knew if they did, my siblings would have straight up murdered me in my sleep.
Chapter 2: Dawn! She's bragging some more about how much traveling she's done, but admits that she's never been on a cruise ship. And she's only seen one on — what else — I Love Lucy. Do you think she knows that TV comes in color now?
She marvels at the enormity of the Ocean Princess and snaps a couple pictures of it in dock so we can marvel at the uncredited "artist" who illustrated this book. This thing looks like a canoe attached to a submerged pipe organ.
A threeeee-hour tooooour.
• Times, They Are A Changing Alert: Along with a café, beauty parlor, and arcade, the Ocean Princess has a disco on board. A...disco. This was written in 1988, not 1978, right?
Claudia, Dawn, and Kristy turn out to be sharing one miniscule cabin on the ship, and right away the high-larious Felix-and-Oscar shenanigans start. I for one can't wait. Kristy just starts throwing garbage on the floor — actual garbage, not even her personal belongings — then gets pissed at Dawn the neatnik for putting it in the garbage can. I think I mentioned this before, but I cannot abide this kind of plot at all. It is my one completely irrational pet peeve. My overturning the table, "WHO ORDERED THE TOSSED SALAD" unimaginable rage of plots. Look, I KNOW that I'm a obsessive-compulsive neat freak the likes of which it's difficult to find outside of some questionably-run state institutions, and I know most other people aren't like me and never will be. And that's fine. You can keep your home however you like. But if we are sharing a space, particularly a very tiny space, for the LOVE OF GOD IF YOU CAN'T KEEP GARBAGE OFF THE FLOOR YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN LET OUT OF THE ZOO WITHOUT PROPER TRAINING.
...Okay, sorry about that, I swear I'm done. Dawn's neat, Kristy's messy, and they fight about it unimaginatively for a few chapters ("Why does Dawn have to clean up after me just because I emit clouds of grime when I walk, like Pigpen? It's so rude!") I think we'll not revisit this subplot again.
They head back out to the deck to wave as the ship departs, and everyone on the ground tearfully yells goodbye as if it's the Mauretania bearing their loved ones to a difficult but ultimately better life in America. "One woman was silently waving a handkerchief. Tears glistened in her eyes." This was written in 1988 and not 1908, right? More to the point, it's a goddamn Disney cruise ship and it'll be back in a week; did all these people fly down to Florida specifically to stand there and wave goodbye to family members going on vacation without them? One woman inexplicably yells to the boat "Jimmy, don't you dare forget to change your underwear," and I'm left in baffled horror as to how a child young enough that he needs to be reminded to change his underwear is apparently on a ship leaving the country without his parents.
Claudia and Kristy head back to the cabin, but Dawn decides to go exploring. She comes around a corner and runs smack into the most "absolutely gorgeous, handsome, perfect, wonderful boy I have ever laid eyes on." Cool your jets there, Bella. Also, she pretty much just describes his gap teeth and makes it sound like he has tentacles for hair. I'm swooning here. She starts babbling about how she's traveling with a big group of friends— who's he traveling with? He's like, "Uh...excuse me, I cut my foot before and now my shoe is filling up with blood" and makes a quick getaway. Dawn doesn't understand what she did wrong but the fact that he's clearly not interested is not going to deter her one little bit: "This is a dream vacation, and I've just found my dream boy!" If gap-toothed cephalopods float your disco-dancing canoe, I guess.
Chapter 3: Mary Anne! Once the Pike kids are rounded up together, Stacey and Mary Anne ask what the kids want to do - all different things, of course. They announce that, as it happens, they don't all have to stay together, because Ma and Pa are allowing Mallory and the triplets to go off alone. Wait, what? They hire TWO babysitters for only four children when the parents themselves are watching ZERO CHILDREN? Shut down the contest, I'm calling the Pikes the automatic winners for sheer laziness.
Stacey disappears with Margo and Claire to go watch people get their ears pierced or something, while Mary Anne takes Vanessa and Nicky to explore the ship. The bottom decks are boring and get progressively better as they work their way up, but they don't hit the jackpot until the Coastal Deck. In the beauty parlor there, Mary Anne nearly faints dead away spotting a girl "wearing one of the skimpiest bikinis I'd ever seen." Even though she's around Mary Anne's age, "she had a figure that filled out the top of the bikini nicely. 'Wow,' I said softly. I was highly impressed." I'm sorry, did Mary Anne not only just gape at, but audibly COMPLIMENT, another girl's tits? In public? And she's supposed to be the repressed one? Is Ann dropping us hints here?
The girl isn't embarrassed or anything, though — I mean, obviously, if she's only thirteen and already secure enough in her huge chest to wear skimpy swimsuits to the hair salon. I developed way early too and I was in college before I moved out of turtlenecks. Good for her, I guess. Self-esteem rules!
The girl, Alexandra Carmody, is obviously a liar, though, because she turns to Mary Anne and announces out of nowhere what a PAIN it is to make all her own appointments and everything, since she travels all alone. "It's bad enough my parents got ki—" The hairdresser interrupts her then, and Mary Anne's like, "They were what? Kicked? Kissed?...OMG KILLED?!" No, Mary Anne, she just likes to take solo cruises since they were both kissed by dementors. And that was bad enough, but now she has to make her own hair appointments too! It's so very tragic that she brings it up to complete strangers when they compliment her breasts. Mary Anne just thinks she "could never, ever, in a million, billion years, be as sophisticated as Alexandra Carmody." You will never in your whole life grow boobs and be able to make your own appointments? Way to aim high, Mary Anne.
She and the kids finish touring the ship and don't see anything else too interesting until a kid suddenly jumps out from under a tarp covering a life raft and runs off. Vanessa's like "OMG A STOWAWAY!" Yes, a stowaway. Or he was playing hide and seek. Or he was spying on someone. Or he's Jimmy and he's VERY embarrassed about the state of his underwear.
Chapter 4: Mallory! She's technically still a "kid" in this book and not a babysitter, so I'm going to try to forgive her for acting really immature on this vacation. Even though she's going to be promoted to babysitting children who are more responsible than she is as soon as they get home. Jeez.
See, she read Harriet the Spy right before they came and thinks it was a how-to manual, so she intends to spend her entire vacation skulking around like a creep, spying on people and writing about them in her notebook. Uh. Look, as a writer myself, I enjoy people-watching and inferring why strangers are doing the things they're doing. Last week I stood in the mall parking lot, keys in hand, for ten minutes in the pouring rain listening to this girl at the bus stop screaming on her cell phone over and over and over, "You just LEFT?! You LEFT? If anyone finds out, John is getting fired and I'm going to JAIL! Do you get me, bitch?! JAIL!" I still have no idea what was going on, but nothing less than a court order and a winch would have stopped me standing there eavesdropping.
But, see, when you see something like that, you're gonna remember it anyway. It really isn't important to sit there with a notebook writing down that she had on a red shirt, or the details of the people who walked by doing nothing at all. That just makes you a total stalker. And Mallory needs no practice stalking.
For some reason Mallory's concerned that someone might read her spy notebook, so she disguises it by writing "Our Trip: A Daily Diary" on the cover. "That was something that sounded fairly boring, should the book happen to fall into the wrong hands," she thinks. Except she's just walking around writing about the boring stuff that happens on the trip, so that's, you know, EXACTLY what it is. Oh, Mallory.
She hides behind a door for a while and spies on Alexandra Carmody still standing around in her bikini, lying her ass off to some boy about how she lives "down here" (I think she means the Bahamas, but it sounds like she means on the Tropical Deck). Well, at least, she lives here when she isn't working. In Hollywood, of course. She's an actress, tee hee! Rather than using this heard information to, say, make a commentary on the deplorable exploitation of child actors, Mallory just notes how very very "sophisticated" the girl is. What is with these bitches and the "sophisticated" thing? It does not really mean what they think it does. The funniest part of it to me is that Mary Anne and Mallory both lament how they'll NEVER be that sophisticated, no matter how hard they try, because Alexandra was just born that way, but the very definition of sophistication is "world-wise, educated, and cultured." As in, the kind of thing you deliberately become. No one comes out of the womb sophisticated. It's like they use the word meaning the exact opposite of what they intend.
Anyway, Alexandra and her boytoy finally leave and Mallory spies on a few more people, including a depressed looking old man and Kristy complaining to Claudia about Dawn (I seem to forget why) before coming out of her hiding place to check out the luxury cabins. Oh, come ON. There's sitting around listening to public conversations well within your earshot and there's sneaking up to first class like you're gonna shove Kate Winslet over a railing. Unfortunately, she's caught out in the hallway and has to stand there like a dumbass while some parents wheel along their frail, dying little boy in a wheelchair while toting his oxygen tank and bunch of bags labeled "MEDICINE AND SYRINGES AND SHIT." She writes down "Durrrr, what was that about?" in her notebook and I slap myself in the face so hard I cut myself with my wedding ring. Really, Mallory? You REALLY don't know why parents might want to take their very sick child on a very nice vacation? I thought every girl who liked reading had done the Lurlene McDaniel circuit by age eleven.
She barely finishes with that before a guy with flaming red hair and a missing tooth comes toward her and she flips the hell out, but not for the same reason I would have if I saw a guy with flaming red hair and a missing tooth rapidly bearing down on me in a narrow hallway. It's Spider, from the band the Insects! He knocked out the tooth himself with his electric guitar — ISN'T THAT COOL?! THEY'RE HER FAVORITE BAND EVAAAAAR!! Really? Shouldn't she be listening to New Kids on the Block or something?
Spider luckily manages to get past his number one stalker without getting molested, probably because she's too busy writing down "Saw Spider," because otherwise you'd totally forget two seconds later. Mal would have chased him down, but she gets distracted by a kid suddenly jumping out from under a pile of ropes and running off. OMG a stowaway! Jesus, Jimmy, if you're that embarrassed about it, just change your underwear.
Chapter 5: Karen! Oh, goody, I just love when we get Super Special chapters from one of the kids' points of view. I ain't even hating; they're always guaranteed to be a steaming pile of crap so I never have to wonder how I'm going to mock them.
Karen loves Kristy, she tells us, except that sometimes Kristy doesn't believe the things she says, even when she's telling the truth. That's because you're such a lying sneak all the time, sweetie. You must have missed hearing The Boy Who Cried Wolf at storytime when you were busy skipping up to college or whatever. Also, Kristy says she's too little to do things sometimes, which is so unfair. Karen. For the love of god. You're SIX. Right now I am wearing a bra older than you are.
Anyway, neither of those have jack shit to do with anything, because when Karen gets to the pool, realizes she left her earplugs back in the cabin, and freaks out because she isn't allowed to swim without them, Kristy neither accuses her of lying nor tells her she's too little to go back and get them herself, She merely tells Karen to go STRAIGHT to the cabin and come STRAIGHT back, got it?
• Times, They Are A Changing Alert: Actually, I don't think things HAVE changed that much, but I would not in a million years let my kindergartener wander off alone on a goddamn cruise ship. Do you think perverts and murderers don't take cruises? Do you think that it's not tremendously easy to dump a body overboard? Hell, do you think six is too old to innocently lean too far over a railing trying to see a fish or something? IT ISN'T.
...Well, I guess I would let my six-year-old wander off alone if my six-year-old were Karen Brewer. Because instead of the cabin, she goes straight to the beauty parlor to get a manicure. No, I'm not even making that up. What in the fresh goddamn hell. She just walks in and tells them to charge it to her father's room — she knows how to do this because Watson does it sometimes, and he didn't tell her he couldn't, so it's totally cool, right? You know what's not cool at all? Kicking a small child in the knees. And yet I want to so desperately. That's also why I had to stop watching Supernanny.
Karen passes the time while her nails dry admiring a "big girl about Kristy's age" who's getting her hair trimmed and lying to some people about her aunt being a countess. These stories about Alexandra Carmody are really not adding up. No, not the stories she's telling, which are obviously lies, but the fact that Mary Anne, Mallory, and Karen's chapters are supposed to be taking place simultaneously, yet somehow Alexandra is at the beauty salon getting a haircut in preparation for her big date while Kristy is at the pool — which takes place after Kristy and Claudia went for a walk, according to Karen, because she had to wait for them to come back — but Mallory saw Alexandra actually on her date just before Kristy and Claudia came by on their walk. Nice editing as always, Scholastic.
Finally the legume standing in for Karen's brain starts chugging along and she sort of remembers she was supposed to be doing something right now, but what? Getting a drink, I guess, because she hasn't had anything to drink since they were on the plane, which has to have been at least five hours ago. But she wants something more "special" than boring old water, because Karen needs to be told every moment of the day, even by her beverage, that she is the queen of everything. So she wastes even more time traipsing around the ship at random until she finds the café so she can charge a soda to her room too. Really? A soda? After all that, you don't even try for a Bloody Mary or something? I mean, you've got on purple nail polish and the waiter "didn't even look at" you; it was worth a shot.
Eventually she gets the earplugs and makes her way back to the pool, where Kristy has been sitting anxiously waiting. "I was worried!" Kristy yells, hugging her, but it isn't all that convincing seeing as how she didn't so much as haul David Michael and Andrew out of the pool to come look for her. If a six-year-old is supposed to come back in three minutes or less and stays gone for an hour and you stay parked on the lounger, I'd say you haven't put on a terribly believable show. At least discreetly notify the cabana boy to look for sharks circling a carcass off the port side or something.
You know, let's pretend for a second that it isn't the most clutch-your-pearls bratty thing you've ever heard for a girl barely out of preschool to charge beauty treatments and drinks to her rich daddy and focus on the fact that she just LIED TO and then DELIBERATELY RAN AWAY FROM her babysitter for an hour or so. I maybe — MAYBE — could have gotten away with the first, if I looked really contrite and nobody looked closely at the bill, but so much as think about the second and I wouldn't have seen the light of day until high school.
If you think Karen's in for the punishment of her life, though, you must be new here, because Kristy just shakes her head and laughs when Karen admits what she's been up to. Really, Kristy? REALLY? Lying, running away, charging money without permission, and scaring you to death warrants a fond "Oh, YOU"? Oh, she also takes a picture of Karen's nails. Way to hold firm, K. Ron. If you, like me, become BOILINGLY angry that Karen gets in no trouble for this, take solace in the fact that Gloriana's House of Hair is going to even the score for us a few books later by taking beauty cues from the West German gymnastics team.
After blowing the beam finals in Seoul, Ulrike vowed revenge on Gloriana.
...On second thought, maybe Karen's tragically deformed hands are punishment enough.
Chapter 6: Claudia! Who is kind of a bitch in this book, because she steps on Kristy's hand getting down from her bunk bed, and her response is, "Sorry, but it's time to get up anyway." Uh, excuse me? The correct response is "I'm sorry." No "but." Not, "Well, good thing I stomped on you, because you have to get up and that's a completely acceptable way to wake a person." Claudia and Kristy were both raised in goddamn barns. I cannot believe I'm finding Dawn the only bearable person in this room.
Claudia dresses in a hurry, partially because she's so excited about stopping on the island today, and partially to get the hell away from Kristy and Dawn, who are already fighting about, let's say, the gross national bean dip output. Things are still tense at the breakfast table, but Claudia doesn't care, because her orange juice comes with a note from a secret admirer: "I think you are beautiful." I don't care how many eighties sitcoms say otherwise, I will never think the concept of a secret admirer is anything but creepy as fuck. Following strangers around and anonymously contacting them is not okay! Claudia thinks it's okay, though, because she thinks the note might be from Spider, who she heard was on the ship. Uh-huh. I think Claudia's headband is fastened a little too tight.
They get off the ship at Nassau and Kristy's mom gives them permission to do their own thing, but Kristy wants to stay with her family and
Bella Dawn walks off "like a zombie" after her dream boy, so Claudia just goes off alone.
• Times, They Are A Changing Alert: Teenagers allowed to roam alone on a tropical island? Well, that seems totally safe!
It seems even safer when Claudia gets the feeling she's being followed. Every time she tries to take a picture, someone's in the corner of the shot or jumping out of the way. Then when she stops to look at some woven mats, a shadow falls over her a couple of times and then quickly disappears when she turns to look. Oh well, she thinks. CLAUDIA. Get your antenna up, please. She sits down on a bench to look in her bag, and out falls a note: "I still think you're beautiful." AAAAARGH. THAT'S NOT ADMIRING. I would like to slip a copy of The Gift of Fear into her bag.
She thinks this is way dreamy, of course, but it gets worse — she goes to the aquarium to find her way has been paid by "the young gentleman" (but they don't clarify who that is), then she goes to a store and admires some pearl earrings, but sadly has to put them back after the clerk tells her how much they cost. After the store she goes to an outdoor café, where the waiter brings her a Coke and...the pearl earrings. "From your secret admirer." What in the FUCKING FUCK. He followed her to the aquarium, dodged ahead of her, paid her way, followed her to the store, hung closely enough to her to see what earrings she wanted and that she couldn't afford them, then bought them and followed her to the café. CLAUDIA. THAT IS STALKING. GO TO THE POLICE.
"Don't worry, ma'am. We'll find this scumbag."
Chapter 7: Stacey! She's about ready to pass out, considering they've been traveling and running up and down a cruise ship with children all day long, and now the Pikes have finally given her and Mary Anne two hours off. They get a whopping two out of every twenty-four hours off? How fucking magnanimous of the Pikes to take care of their own kids one-twelfth of the day. Why didn't they just take a cruise alone if they don't actually want to spend their vacation with their children?
Stacey and Mary Anne can't even relax, though, because Kristy decides they have to have a BSC meeting on their time off. Then K. Ron proceeds to berate everyone as "hopeless" for not coming up with any gift ideas for the parents, although I notice she does not offer an idea either. If I were Stacey, some fishermen would find Kristy floating off the coast of Greenland in about six months.
Finally Stacey escapes, because what she really wants to do is go look at the stars. She's seen a New York City night sky (FUCK YEAH) but never an ocean night sky. This is like the fifteenth time one of the narrators has reminded us they have never been on a cruise ship before, as if this is strange. Has your average eighth-grader been on many cruises? I am twenty-five and have never been on a cruise. Although I was SUPPOSED to have gone on one when I was fifteen. My parents surprised us with this cruise trip over Christmas and I Kevin McCallistered out all, "What the hell kind of Christmas can you spend on a boat in the Bahamas? THAT'S NOT REAL CHRISTMAS" and "WHAT ABOUT MY HOT OLDER BOYFRIEND, HUH? WE CAN'T BE APART THAT LONG" and "I hate being out in the sun anyway" and I refused to go. And my mom totally called my bluff and I stayed home over Christmas while my whole family went on a cruise without me. You know what? I still don't regret it a bit. I really do hate boats. And I had an extra-large cheese pizza, just for me.
Anyway, Stacey can't really see the stars, because it's clouded over. But she can see Tiny Dying Boy in Wheelchair, named Marc Kubacki, who's also come out to admire the sky, quite possibly for the very last time. Stacey deigns to speak to him, because "it's just impossible for me to ignore anyone who's sick or hurt or handicapped." Um...what? Did she actually just congratulate herself for treating a sick little boy like a human being instead of pretending he's invisible?
She compares her diabetes to whatever's wrong with Marc, which is just insulting, and asks why he's all alone. His parents, despite their understandable and all-consuming worry for him, let him sit out here all by himself while they have coffee. He's seven years old, looks four, has a life-threatening condition, and is confined to a wheelchair. Sure, I'd park him next to a railing on a rocking ocean liner and then walk away. If my brain had been replaced with a Chia Pet. What in the FUCK.
Marc reveals that he actually can walk, but he has a bad heart, so bad that he isn't allowed to walk or do anything that would put a strain on it. Stacey tells him about her diabetes. It's not the fucking same, Stace. Marc's parents come rushing back then, "looking concerned" to see a strange girl holding onto their son's chair, even though she was keeping him from rolling overboard for all they know. Actually, she kind of was, because by the time she heads back to her cabin, the ship is pitching back and forth and the captain is warning everyone to stay in their cabins — a storm is coming!
Shit is flying all over their cabin in the melee and Margo is puking — actually, how could that kid even GO on a cruise? The boat is always rocking at least a little; that's just cruel — so what better time to stop and take a picture of a banana falling off the table?
This is the most surreal moment in all of the BSC canon.
Chapter 8: Kristy! The sea is calm when they awake the next morning, but the atmosphere in the room could not be stormier. Claudia again steps on her getting out of bed and complains how hard it is to get out of the top bunk instead of apologizing. CLAUDIA. THE CORRECT PHRASE IS "SORRY ABOUT THAT." JESUS.
Kristy, pissed at Claudia, decides to be a bitch to Dawn for some reason by looking pointedly at her, gathering up a bunch of Claudia's stuff, and dumping it right on the floor. What is wrong with these people. Dawn flexes an elbow like she might be about to crack a ho with it and Kristy decides to get the hell out of there. This is probably a good plan.
Kristy plunks by the pool to read for a while and ends up striking up a conversation with the sad-looking elderly man Mallory noticed before. It's fairly boring and a little bit depressing — the man, Rudy Staples, is a gruff old coot whose wife just died and now he's on this vacation for a change of scenery, but clearly he's just acting sour about everything to cover up how sad he is. Kristy's solution is to try to set him up with Nannie, who is not even on this vacation. Kristy's lack of social cues make me really uncomfortable sometimes.
She ends up dragging poor Rudy to the arcade (Times, They Are A Changing Alert: Pac-Man? Centipede? Original arcade-style Donkey Kong? Gee, that sounds rad) until he almost has a stroke, then he begs to play shuffleboard with his age-appropriate peers. She won't take no for an answer to having dinner with her family later, though. Let the poor man grieve in peace, K. Ron. Though I get in a good snicker when she says "There were so many people aboard the Ocean Princess" and yet they run into no one but Alexandra Carmody, Marc Kubacki, and Rudy Staples over and over and over.
When she gets back to her cabin, it's deserted...and clean. Kristy explodes and she goes running to her mother. Okay, I know I promised I wouldn't talk about this anymore, but WHAT? If she doesn't want her friend nagging her to clean up that's one thing, but she's actually SHOCKED and OFFENDED to come back to a clean room? Do you think that when she comes back to a hotel room to find that the maids have been by, she goes down to management and complains? Was Kristy dropped on her head as a child?
She demands to switch rooms with Karen and Elizabeth's like, "Yeah, make two teenagers who aren't even related to her share a room with a six-year-old. That's perfectly fair. Suck it up, princess." I personally would have reminded her how much money we shelled out for HER friends to come on this trip, the one they just COULDN'T be left behind on. Shit, I would have made her MARRY them after that.
Kristy's so pissed she actually cancels the BSC meeting for that day, but doesn't bother to tell Dawn personally. You know, nothing stops everyone from meeting without Kristy. She only has as much power as you give her, guys.
Chapter 9: Byron! I like how we only ever get chapters from the "sensitive" triplet. Probably because the other two aren't literate. Being on a boat, and having seen Treasure Island in the cruise ship movie theater, the triplets, Nicky, and David Michael have gone pirate-obsessed. The next island they stop on is Treasure Cay, and where else to find buried treasure? Knowing young boys, in their noses is a better bet.
They get permission to go off exploring, and...wait, WHAT? Three ten-year-olds, one eight-year-old, one seven-year-old? Alone? IN THE BAHAMAS? IT'S NOT FUCKING GATED COMMUNITY, CONNECTICUT. (I'd be concerned about those broad daylight gunpoint robberies in Nassau listed there, but I'm sure Claudia's stalker would dive in front of a bullet for her.)
The kids go wading on the beach and my head starts to hurt, because Kristy refused to leave David Michael alone in the pool to get Karen's earplugs when he was surrounded by tons of other people and a lifeguard, but he can go into the ocean completely alone in a foreign country where violent crime against tourists is not uncommon. Is my forehead vein throbbing? I feel like it's throbbing. They dig around in the sand a little bit looking for treasure and find the requisite beach crap and a piece of paper they decide is a "treasure map." They can't read any of the symbols or make any sense out of what it says, so I don't know how or why they decide it's a map, but whatever. They get super excited and try to show it to
Bella Dawn, who's "in a daze" walking with some boy and just kind of grunts at them. Did Octopus Boy roofie her? What is WITH this behavior?
Nicky remembers there's a stowaway on the ship just then, and excitedly wonders if he has something to do with the map. Yes, that map shows where Jimmy stashed his precious reserve of clean skivvies.
Chapter 10: Dawn! "Ow!" Kristy yells for the third day in a row. Claudia, for the third time, does not bother to apologize for stepping on her. Claudia, did all those crayons you ate as a kid kill off the politeness lobe of your brain? Kristy again retaliates by making a nasty comment to Dawn, but Dawn is not fazed because she is in loooooove. Ugh. I just...I just don't want to hear about eighth graders who think they're in love. It squicks me out. Anyway, after they were allowed to roam the Bahamas with wild abandon yesterday, Dawn ran into the Hot Octopus Boy and he invited her to take a walk with him. He clearly likes her, and no explanation is given from why he ran away from her that first night, so I don't know what that's supposed to be about. Also, his name turns out to be Parker Harris, which Dawn kind of makes fun of, but seeing as how she later dates a dude named Price Irving, she clearly likes men who sound like yachts.
She and Parker meet up again today and beat Kristy and her "old man friend" (lol) at a ping-pong tournament, then lie in the sun and talk. About divorce. Ruh-roh! Parker says his dad just got remarried to a woman with two little brats and dragged them all on this stupid vacation to bond. Dawn's all, "Oh, I'm sure they're not brats! My friend Kristy has two little stepsiblings and she adores them!" He's like, "No, they are. This whole remarriage thing is complete bullshit." Although she doesn't say so, Dawn thinks Parker is being a selfish jerk. Dawn, all the goodwill I had stored up toward you in this book? You just took a steaming dump on it. As a kid who lived through both of my parents' remarriages and acquired a load of stepsiblings and eventually grew to love both of my families very very much, allow me to tell you to shut the fuck up. It is not easy in the beginning. No thirteen-year-old in the entire world wants to be forced to bond with a brand-new parent and a couple little brothers they didn't ask for. They usually don't want the ones they had to begin with. And considering Dawn's parents are not remarried yet and she has no idea what it feels like? Seriously. SHUT UP, DAWN. YOU DON'T GET TO HAVE AN OPINION ON THIS ONE.
Parker seems to pick up on her unvoiced disapproval — I'm sure Dawn has excellent bitchface — because he's like "Let's just stop talking." They go to the arcade and the movie theater and the photo booth, and Dawn thinks, "Was this love? Was Parker my first real boyfriend? I decided that the answer to both questions was yes." Why are you in love with a guy if you think he's a jerk to his family? Ladies, that's a dealbreaker.
Chapter 11: Mary Anne! "The triplets are in trouble," this chapter starts grimly. They came back from Treasure Cay yesterday, hopped up on pirate excitement, and ran up and down the decks ramming down people until a steward dragged them back to their parents by the ears. "And so," Mr. Pike concludes, "the triplets are back in your care." No wonder Mary Anne sounds grim. What a pain in the ass. Also, seriously, I know I'm harping on this, but it's a FAMILY VACATION and the Pikes have literally not done ONE THING with ANY of their children. Why do they even bother?
So Mary Anne has Adam, Byron, Jordan, Nicky, and David Michael for the day (and frankly, she better be charging the Brewers extra for the babysitting; THEY didn't pay for her trip). They confide in her about the treasure map and she says they really aren't going to find anything, but she doesn't care if they want to look anyway. Mary Anne entertains herself a while snapping some cute pictures of the boys looking around the ship, but instead of showing us one of those, they give us one she accidentally snapped while she was randomly holding the camera toward the floor.
The picture after this one is of the inside of her purse.
Pretty soon she gets bored and notices Alexandra Carmody, one of the zillions of people on this ship who is apparently everywhere, all the time. Mary Anne compliments her haircut — well, that's more socially acceptable than her tits, at least — and Alexandra laughs and says her brother made fun of it.
"Something about what Alexandra said didn't sound quite right," Mary Anne thinks. "I couldn't think what was wrong about it, though." Has anyone, ever, actually thought that? Either you recognize something is bullshit or you don't. Anyway, despite the fact that Alexandra is in fact lying, I don't think it really clashes with anything she's said to Mary Anne thus far. I mean, she could still have a brother if her parents were dead and it'd still be like traveling alone; I doubt he's making her hair appointments for her.
Anyway, Alex brags about how she's been on fourteen cruises and sailed from New York to England ("With your brother?" "Oh...uh...with my, um...guardian") so Mary Anne tries to sound awesome too by saying she heard Spider is on board. Alex seems genuinely puzzled and is like, "No. I actually know him. He's not." Aw, Mallory's such a buttmonkey. She can't get ANYTHING right.
Mary Anne suddenly remembers that Alex said she was alone before and asks why she isn't with her parents. Alex is all, "They died...six months ago." Oh, rookie mistake. How exactly are you so used to going all over the world alone if you've only been doing it for six months? Give it at LEAST six years. Mary Anne falls for this hook, line, and sinker, though, because Alex's boobs are mesmerizing. Alex sniffles, "You can't imagine how it feels," and Mary Anne's like, "Well, my mom's been dead my whole life, so I sort of can." Mary Anne thinks she's found "a true friend" because "you don't know how it feels to lose a parent or to grow up without one unless it has actually happened to you." I hope Alex feels really, REALLY guilty about this.
Chapter 12: Stacey! She gets Claire, Margo, and Vanessa for the day, which is quickly pared down to just Claire and Margo when Vanessa refuses to do anything but sit and read and Mallory agrees to sit and read with her (with parental permission, of course). I don't understand why ten is old enough to run around a foreign city all alone but nine isn't old enough to sit on the Sun Deck and read a book without a babysitter. But I also don't understand why you'd have eight children when you don't want to spend five minutes with even one of them, so why ask why, really.
Claire, Margo, and Stacey are on their way to the arcade when they run into Marc Kubacki and his dad. Marc wants to play video games just like a normal kid, but his dad can't stand the arcade and won't suck it up for his dying son — that's harsh, Mr. Kubacki — so he just leaves Marc with a teenager he doesn't know and goes for a swim. Luckily Claire and Margo take to Marc and they all have a screaming good time playing video games and not having medical emergencies, but seriously, again with the parents just ditching their children on vacation? Especially their fragile children who are not long for this earth?
They go to the ice-cream parlor next, where they unsurprisingly run into Claudia, who's probably been living down here a while. Stacey goes to pay the kids' treats, but she has to wait in line behind some dude who's whispering, "I'll pay for her sundae," and pointing. Wait. Does he mean Claudia? Stacey turns to look at who he's pointing at. "An older woman was at a table in front of ours, and a girl my age was at a table in back of ours. But neither of them looked like she deserved a Secret Admirer." Wow, that's pretty stank of you, Stace.
She tries to get Claudia's attention, but by the time she turns back, the Stalking Admirer is gone. And she didn't even get a good look at him! She runs over to tell Claudia what happened, and Claudia pretty much just throws the rest of her sundae at her scrambling out of the parlor. Marc is like, "Wow, this is exciting. I don't know if my heart can take it."
Chapter 13: Claudia! She wastes no time bursting out into the hallway, although she does find time to mourn the five mouthfuls of ice cream left behind. (Later on there will be a short memorial service.) All she has to go on is that Stacey thinks her stalking admirer might have had brown hair. She goes about five steps before a blond guy steps out from behind a pillar and she's like "DID YOU SEE A SECRET ADMIRER WITH BROWN HAIR GO BY?" The guy's all, "Hmm, no. Saw a red-haired guy, though. With great shoes." Claudia decides to just give up searching, because all this thinking about hair color is hard. She explains to the blond guy, whose presence is not at all suspicious, that a stalking admirer has been leaving her secret notes and presents and stuff. The blond guy says, "Well, if they weren't secret, he'd just be an admirer." And it would be easier to arrest him, too.
The boy says she looks disappointed, but that's only because she's just realized her secret admirer isn't Spider, because Stacey definitely would have recognized him. "I just wanted to meet him," she lies. Not At All Suspicious Blond Boy suggests that maybe the stalking admirer is shy. Maybe he's buttering her up with presents before introducing himself because he's insecure. Maybe I don't give a fuck what his reasoning is, and neither will a jury.
Claudia's like, "Say, how do you know all this?" and Not At All Suspicious Blond Boy says he's a guy, he knows how guys think. Sorry, I don't buy the "all guys are stalkers" defense. Anyway, his name is Timothy, and he turns out to be from Darien, Connecticut — not too far from Stoneybrook! Claudia isn't sure about that, because "my geography is terrible," so she decides to believe him. My geography sucks too, but I would recognize the name of the next town over if I heard it.
"Hey, I just thought of something," Timothy says. "When we're in high school, our football teams will play against each other. It's like we're destined to meet again." Claudia thinks this is "beautiful" and I about fall off my chair laughing. "When we're in high school, our football teams will play against each other." Like Wordsworth.
Claudia asks, "'Are you by any chance a, um, I mean, do you write poetry or something?' I had to ask the question, even if it seemed weird." I don't even...is she trying to ask if he's gay? They're not all Oscar Wilde, Claudia. He's like, "Uh, no," and she suddenly notices how cute he is. Oh, what is she thinking? She doesn't "need Timothy"! She has a stalking admirer! That's pretty stank too, Claud. Even if it weren't painfully obvious that Timothy IS your stalker, you neither need nor owe your stalker jack shit. But Timothy is here, in the flesh, so when he asks if they can hang out when they get to Disney World tomorrow, she agrees. He walks her back to her cabin, which is reasonably neat except for the blood splatters and Dawn and Kristy sitting back to back not speaking. Claudia's like, "Listen up, bitches. I am not putting up with this shit when we get to the Disney hotel, so check yourselves. I have TWO boys to focus on now!"
Chapter 14: Krusty! I mean Kristy. Who is totally crusty in this book. Back in Dawn's chapter she "strewed crumbs all over the table and purposely gave herself a milk mustache, which she wouldn't wipe off." There's being a slob, and there's just being repulsive, there, K. Rust.
The Disney World hotel room feels like a palace compared to the tiny cruise cabin — except there are only two beds. She and Dawn are about to start a war all "WHO GETS THE BED TO HERSELF, HUH?" until Claudia steps in: "Idiots, we are here three nights and there are three of us. THINK ABOUT IT." When Claudia is the first one in the room to the logical conclusion, things are grim. Claudia also makes them unpack their shit, since they have the space to do so, but by the time everything is all put away, Krusty decides the room is too clean and she can't give Dawn that kind of satisfaction. So she just opens a bag of chips, DUMPS THEM OUT, and THROWS THE BAG ON THE FLOOR. What in the...what in the hell is wrong with her. She was not raised in a barn. Barnyard animals do not act this way.
Even Claudia is like "OH COME ON" and makes her apologize, because really. REALLY. Krusty is a step away from actually shitting on the floor at this point. They make up, because of course they were each acting overly messy/overly neat just to annoy the other. Even though I don't remember Dawn acting ridiculous at all. Didn't she just, like, clean up? It's not like she ironed Krusty's underwear or something.
They bond for a while over the fact that their room gets cable and unsuccessfully try to find an R-rated movie, which none of them have ever seen. Really? At thirteen? Even though the four, six, and seven-year-olds are allowed to watch Uncle Buck? Dawn says her brother saw an R-rated movie by accident once and it was no big deal. Actually, that's how I saw my first R-rated movie too. I was around eight and at my parents' friends' house and somebody set me up in the den with a videotape, mistakenly believing that if Macaulay Culkin was in it, it's a kids' movie. That is not true. I remember turning the volume waaaay down, being petrified that at any moment somebody was going to realize what the hell I was watching and come turn it off, but now that I'm older I realize they were probably upstairs getting drunk. I was also bit by the friends' Rottweiler on this same visit, and for some reason I STILL love The Good Son and I still love Rottweilers. It was as if the universe was saying, "You're an adult now. You can handle these things."
Anyway, they can't find any porn on TV, so they settle for taking pictures of the free stuff in the bathroom, which is supposedly some toiletries and a shoe horn.
I see lube, a deflated condom, and one of those plastic security tags.
Claudia suddenly lets out a shriek that shatters every window on the floor, because she's just noticed what the TV is sitting on top of: THE MINIBAR. OMG, THE ROOM COMES WITH JUNK FOOD. They can't figure out how to open it, so they call in Watson, who promptly finds the key and confiscates it. He is not letting them buy a six-dollar candy bar. Watson, that's a lot cheaper than having to pay for the whole cabinet when Claudia busts it open with a chair in the middle of the night.
They decide to explore the hotel the rest of the evening — yes, that's exactly why families flock to Disney World from all over the globe; to check out the fourth floor ice machine — and manage to catch Rudy Staples already checking out at the front desk. He does the gruff old man routine ("Whole trip was a darn-fool idea. Shouldn't have come") but Kristy of course persuades him that he CAN'T leave yet! He doesn't have Nannie's phone number! Kristy, quit trying to make the Nannie thing happen. It's not going to happen. Rudy finally agrees to stick around, but I don't know what an elderly man was planning to do all alone at Disney World in the first place that wouldn't get him put on some kind of offender list.
(Aaand LJ thinks my post is too large. That's a new one on me. Continue on to the second half!)