BSC#59: Mallory Hates Boys (and Gym)
The cover: ZOMG, the boys actually look eleven, at least the front one does. They look really doofy pointing at Mallory, but hey, that’s what they do in this book. Mallory looks ok, but her head has what I like to call “Karen Syndrome” when it looks like they took an older woman’s head and put it on a kid’s body. Ha! She looks like a disgruntled secretary.
Tagline: “Boys and Gym. What a disgusting combination!” Ready for some teen angst from someone who’s not even a teenager yet? Here we go!
I found this one harder to snark. There's silliness but not as much as usual. Don't know whether to award Weyn a point for that or not...
Mallory rushes into her house yelling about pandemonium because that’s the new vocab word of the week. We get a definition spelled out for us, too. Goody. Her siblings ignore her so she repeats herself. I don’t know why she even tries. Of course this leads Claire to think she’s talking about pandas and Nicky to think she’s talking about illness. And Vanessa to start singing about how it sounds like a cleaner for pans.
The triplets throw a Nerf ball at her head and then stupidly get mad when she doesn’t give it back. Uh, what did you expect? Mrs. Pike, who only ever appears when she needs someone else to watch her own children for her, appears immediately after she senses Mallory’s presence in the house. It’s like radar: Oldest child home, assault now! She tells Vanessa to turn the TV off (cuz TV is terrible in BSC land) and then expects Mallory to watch Claire. This makes no sense. Claire was with all the other children without Mrs. Pike watching before. Now that Mallory is home, though, that’s not ok. Happily, Mallory actually says no this time because Ben is coming over to do homework. Mrs. Pike looks like she wants to argue, but then shuts up probably because her daughter will refuse to baby-sit ever again if her grades drop. “I just wanted to make some phone calls. I can make them after supper.” What were you doing in the kitchen? NOT WATCHING YOUR CHILDREN. So what’s the difference now? Honestly. Mallory agrees to watch Claire after supper. There goes your authoritah.
Back to this Ben coming over for homework…WHY? Why in the worst place imaginable where you know that SEVEN CHILDREN are going to be loudly running around? She just spent a page talking about how pandemonium is a perfect description of her house. How smart of you to make a study date there. Sure, she has the right to study, but does she really expect peace and quiet?
Mallory vents about getting ready for studying and her appearance. She bitches about her braces and then says they’re clear. I’m shocked the Pikes would get her those since I’m pretty sure they cost more. She then whines that she’s old enough for contacts. I got contacts at eleven, but I think I was more responsible than Mallory. As in, I didn’t spend all of my time mooning about wanting to give my nose back to whatever family member it came from via genetics. (And I have the “Italian” nose that’s kind of big from side view, imo. It’s part of me, end of story.)
Ben’s an Aussie. Mallory wants the accent, too. (She used to want a French accent until she met Ben. D’awwwwwwwwwwww). Thank God we do not get a phonetic accent spelled out here from Ben and his brothers (Having them call “breakfast” “brecky” was too much stupidity to see again).
Ben comes in and observes that it’s quiet and spooky. Mallory thinks they’re in the clear since Mrs. Pike kicked the kids outside. I think she’s delusional. The boy Pikes think they’re being funnier than Robin Williams by letting Frodo the hamster run around while they’re studying. Worst. Prank. Ever. Oddly, Margo and Claire are well-behaved and bring Ben and Mallory cookies and lemonade without putting laxatives in them or some shit like that. The boys come back and use a tape recorder to play kissing sounds and embarrass the two. Mallory maturely shouts, “I’m going to brain you idiots!” To brain them? What the hell is that? Not something an eleven-year-old would say. Ben suggests they go to his house. THANK YOU. A place not filled with seven children. Mrs. Pike is actually in the yard with Claire at this point, by the way. Wow. Way to go Mrs. Pike, actually looking after your kids. The Hobart boys are actually well-behaved and don’t bother them and Mallory thinks it’s heaven. Poor Mallory.
BSC meeting oh noes. Everyone teases her for being at Ben’s except for MA, who’s brought Logan with her. Blah blah blah, Chapter 2.
“We are soooooo glad to be junior officers,” says totally mature Mallory.
After calling Claudia unique, Mallory then says everyone in the club is. With your one or two set personality traits, you mean?
JESUS, is Ellen Miles the Queen of Parentheses? Because Suzanne Weyn (and Ann) must be princesses, then.
We helpfully learn that Stacey has her own extension, but not number. Too bad.
Mrs. Bruno calls and Logan doesn’t want to sit but is the only sitter able to. He’s sad because he wanted to go to a friend’s house since he has the Sports Channel. Is that really why, Logan? After your appearance in Peter Pan, I’ve wondered about you…
Mallory freaks the fuck out when she hears that they’re playing volleyball in gym-with the boys!
Mallory freaks out more and doesn’t want to go to school. Her parents almost consider letting her stay home from school to avoid gym. Since they’re playing volleyball for several weeks I don’t see how that would be helpful since she’d have to miss a ton of school and would probably get held back. If she really wanted to get out of it, she’d have her mother write her a note about being unable to play or something. Anyway, the triplets ruin her chances of staying home by yelling that they want to stay home. Again, staying home from school that day would have accomplished nothing. She would have had to go eventually.
The Pikes snap back at Mallory when she says that she looks disgusting in gym clothes and inherited unathletic genes from someone. “Don’t look at your mother and me. For God’s sake we’re so athletic we had eight kids in six years, I mean we play a mean game of tennis.”
Mallory freaks out all day about how bad it’s going to be. I just want to say that I totally sympathized with Mallory reading this as a kid. I was an athlete myself, but in sixth grade the boys were mean and I got yelled at/picked on/mocked when I couldn’t play basketball well. It sucked, but I didn’t dread it all day. I sucked it up. I also dealt with the "getting picked last" thing. It was frustrating and I was also eleven at the time so it was even more angsty. But I cannot sympathize as much with Mallory since she nitpicks every tiny little point and freaks out when NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET. Like about being sent to the hospital and her parents regretting not letting her stay home. This is stupid.
Now here comes the part that made me want to snark the whole book. Mallory pretends to faint in the locker room to get out of playing. Not only is this incredibly dumb because it won’t get her out of the whole unit, but what’s even more hilarious is that when doesn’t hear a reaction, she thinks no one cares. Then realizes everyone is out of the locker room. LOL! Didn’t you notice that before you pretended to faint? Mrs. Walden comes in and makes her go out. Mallory bitches about the pinnies making the gym clothes look worse. I hated PE clothes, but honestly, if everyone’s wearing them, get over it. So far, the only person I’m annoyed with in this gym situation is Mallory. I know when you’re eleven you worry and if you’re unathletic, you’re worried. But pretending to faint, wanting to stay home from school, and freaking out about injuries before you play is ridiculous. What the hell has she been doing for other gym activities? I know she’s worried about boys being involved, but HONESTLY. Play first, and THEN complain if you must.
The gym teachers decide that they’ll pick teams at random and have them stay together the whole unit. That seems a bit silly to me. Sounds like you’ll have a better assortment if you switch up by the week or something so everyone gets used to playing with everyone. I guess they find this convenient or something. “I’m going to make a total jerk of myself!” Mallory says. When are these writers going to learn that they’re using “jerk” improperly?
The guy on the opposing team is smart. He aims straight for Mallory and she jumps back yelling. Honestly, if that happens once, fine. It’s ok to be surprised. But you know what to expect after that. I don’t understand why she keeps freaking out. She would have my sympathy if she was trying and people bitched at her. But she’s just standing there internally whining about how she didn’t ask to play. The way this is written, it makes it sound like she just hold her hands up and doesn’t do anything but stand like a statue. Also, this is not how volleyball works, specifically if you’re playing on a basketball court. No matter how well the guy aims for Mallory, it’s no big deal for the others to come over and hit the ball for her if she moves aside. Seriously. Finally, Robbie Mara figures this out and unfortunately has to hit Mallory to do it because she moves like a snail. She falls and tears hit her eyes. Evil Mrs. Walden actually asks if she’s ok, which is good. Then she rudely says that Mallory is “wimping out” on her team. It’s ok to say that she’s not trying but “wimping out” particularly after she’s fallen on the ground, is a poor choice of words. Ugh! Even if she wasn’t playing well, that’s ridiculous for a gym teacher to say to a student. “Put in effort” is more like it.
Mallory heads off to baby-sit a four-year-old and infant, Jamie and Lucy Newton! I wouldn’t feel comfortable watching both and I’m over a decade older. Go figure.
One part of this chapter that always made me do a double take is when Mrs. Newton corrects Mallory that she’s getting a highlighting, not a haircut, and then Mallory says, “Whatever.” That just seems like a really rude response and I always found it out of place.
Jamie, who’s always so well-behaved in BSC canon, is not plot-devicily misbehaving at all to perpetuate that boys suck in this book. He throws crayons at his sleeping sister’s door and yells that he wants to call his friend from school.Jamie hides from Mallory and she can’t find him. She calls his friend from school and the line is busy. She decides she’ll call the operator for an emergency break-in if it’s not clear in a few minutes. Oh, the olden days. Mallory then debates going out and looking for him or changing Lucy’s diaper. She’s fearful that Jamie may have been kidnapped or hit by a car so I would say YES, GO LOOK FOR HIM. A little rash is better than a dead/kidnapped kid.Jamie yells boo and Mallory maturely calls him names when he calls her names. Wonderful. Jamie then knocks over a vase and cuts himself picking up the glass. Mallory cleans him up and he yells while Lucy yells. She says it’s the worst day of her life. Priorities, Mallory. Yes, it’s stressful, but c’mon!
Extremely boring baby-sitting chapter where Jessi sits for her siblings. Squirt, as a male, misbehaves. He throws things while Becca is trying to make recipes from a health book given to her by Dawn to borrow for a while. (WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY) Squirt throws pots and pans which sounds incredibly dangerous. I wouldn’t want the little kid playing with those! He throws a pot lid and it hits Becca while holding a full blender and it makes a huge mess. Becca miraculously is not hurt. All the pot lids I have would seriously injure you if you got hit with them. In BSC land there are only broken bones and concussions when it follows the plot, I suppose.
Mallory irons her gym suit so it will look good like Jessi’s. And still feels dumb wearing it. I have to give points to Weyn for showing the internal angst of a self-conscious kid well, though. The whole "Why does Jessi looks so good in this gym suit and I don't" and "I look like a scarecrow thing" sounds pretty in line with someone who has low self-esteem.
Mallory claims she’s in a murderous mood about to play volleyball. Just go in and try to play. Ugh! To be fair, Mallory does go to serve. Not that she has a choice. Mrs. Walden does act like a total bitch with her “advice.” “Use your fist, not your open hand, Pike!” she yells. Excuse me? Either way is acceptable, lady. It’s a personal preference to have under or overhand. It’s been years since I’ve played, but I remember that much. I preferred to use my fist but many players were very good at using their hands. When Mallory does try, Mrs. Walden keeps yelling. I do sympathize here just because I’ve had that teacher who acts bitchy and helps you accomplish nothing. An actual demonstration and interpersonal talk (quietly) instead of hollering immaturely would have been more appropriate here. Mallory awesomely writes that she wishes she could pay Mrs. Walden all of her baby-sitting money to go away and shut up and just leave her alone. Mrs. Walden says to watch Helen Gallway because she has a mean serve. Mallory is livid and thinking about how much this means for her whole life. It won’t impact her career or anything. Good that you’re mature enough to recognize that Mallory. I really like this part, actually, and she’s absolutely right to point this out. It won’t impede her forever. However, you should also realize that you sucking at it ALSO DOESN’T MATTER FOREVER so get through the unit and it won't be a problem again! Mrs. Walden also shouldn't be treating her like crap. To tell a student to try is one thing, but she is blatantly harrassing Mallory at every turn in this chapter. "Pike, do this, do that!" She's really not helping and she knows it. Finally, Mrs. W goes away, presumably to shave her moustache.
Mallory gets hit in the face with the ball and freaks out. I don’t remember volleyballs hurting that much, but I suppose they can if you get hit in the nose hard. The kid asks if she’s ok and she yells at him. She is out of line calling names, but then Mrs. Walden is out of line when she comes over to see what’s up. She straight up says, “It wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been daydreaming.” This I consider really fucked up. It reminds me of some self-entitled teachers I had back in the day. She wasn’t there and assumes the only way Mallory could have been hit was because she was daydreaming. THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU DO WHEN A STUDENT’S BEEN HIT. ACCUSATORY STATEMENTS HELP NO ONE. THE CORRECT RESPONSE IS TO MAKE SURE THE STUDENT IS OK, AND THEN SAY TO BE CAREFUL AND WATCH OUT. No, really, I witnessed far too much of this crap going to school. The teacher would blame the victim a lot of the time (sometimes it was me, but it was usually someone else). "Timmy hit you with a rock? Well, you must have been antagonizing him for him to do that, so time out!" "You got hurt? Well, it's YOUR FAULT NOT THE SCHOOL'S."
Mallory, who we all call a punching bag, yells “Why don’t you try getting slammed in the head with a volleyball! Which is pretty brave of her, I have to say. I probably would have said I wasn’t daydreaming and been cross. Mrs. Walden benches her. Wow, good job, Mrs. W. Doing exactly what she wants anyway. Even Mallory notes how illogical the punishment is. Then again, I don’t know what else she would do as punishment. Detention for backtalk? Everyone watches and Mallory is glad she ironed her uniform before this.After gym, then Mrs. Walden asks about Mallory’s face. Nice.
So, while Mallory should have been trying and it was wrong to call names, I take her side over Mrs. Walden since she handled the matter incorrectly. I would be mad, too, for being blamed for my injury when the person accusing me wasn't even there to see it!
Jessi is a good friend and puts her arm around Mallory. Yay. Mrs. Pike annoyingly does intercept Mallory as soon as she comes home to baby-sit, but actually has a good reason this time since Margo puked at school she has to get her since the school didn’t want her walking. Margo pukes all the time so…anyway, the kids are misbehaving (the boys actually) and Mallory confiscates their ball. Yay for having a spine!
Sigh. Mallory decides it’s smart to just stay benched to get out of volleyball for the rest of the term. She actually thinks she can get away with it with no repercussions. Mallory, dude. Just no. She thinks all she needs is nerve. When Robbie Mara makes a lame joke, her decision is made.She benches herself, Mrs. Walden is like oh hells no, and then Mallory says she’s not playing and just sits. Detention! I remember when I got detention (happened twice, I think, very rare for me. This was in middle school) and I was like Mallory in going, Wow this is easy. You just sit here and do homework. But oh noes, their parents are getting written notifications! Mallory worries about what her parents think, but then says to herself, “When something works, you stay with it.” But this isn’t working. Getting detention for weeks in a row is not the answer.
Ben is nice to Mallory and sympathetic, telling her about how he heard the hot gossip. She marvels at how it’s hard to believe he’s a boy since he’s great. He sensibly tells her not to do it for the rest of the unit, but she disagrees. He then nicely says he’ll wait for her to get out of detention every day until the unit is over. Yay. Mallory then plans to commit Mail Fraud by intercepting the detention letter. She knows it’s wrong, but it’s only for a bit. I was never a bad girl or anything, but in middle school I went through a rough patch and a teacher called my house (I felt about math the way Mallory feels about volleyball). I deleted the voicemail. Now I am confessing it these years later, what a relief. Just kidding, since I actually did confess to my mother since I disagreed with the teacher’s handling of the matter. It turned out ok, fyi. It sucks to confess that I was similar to Mallory ;)
LOGAN’s handwriting? Whaat?
Hunter throws his toys and refuses Logan’s cooking. T_T His sister is well-behaved though. How not plot-devicy!
Logan comes to the BSC meeting and Mallory is not happy to see him even though he’s nice because she’s mad at boys. THANKS, MALLORY. WAY TO LUMP EVERYONE TOGETHER. She’s also annoyed because they can’t be complete animals when he’s there and have to be more mature. They can’t discuss bras! Mallory is mad because she spent all detention looking forward to the meeting and him being there sucks. She only wants to see ladies right now. After how nice Ben has been, this is not making me sympathize. They talk about how their boy charges have been terrors. Stacey sensibly wonders if they’re favoring the girls by accident, but that gets ruled out. They ask Logan, since as a boy he must know and he says, “I dunno, I haven’t been acting strangely.” Luckily, that spying on MA while baby-sitting and calling her a jillion times was several books ago.
Mallory declares that boys are pains and girls aren’t. “That’s just how it seems.” Then she volunteers for a job with Charlotte and says she probably wouldn’t have if Charlotte was a boy. Way to biased, Mallory.
OMG RATIONALITY-FROM JESSI!
Mallory: But boys love to play volleyball so that proves it! Only people who are pains at heart could love such a dumb game.
Jessi: For such a smart person you can be really illogical sometimes. (WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! I’m happy). Besides, I kind of like volleyball.
Mallory insists that Jessi must have a concussion to say such a thing. Because God forbid someone likes something you don’t, guys.
Charlotte is good and the Hobart boys are good. Mallory says that it must be gym that does this, then, starting in middle school.
“I was glad this wasn’t a world-wide syndrome. Stoneybrook was simply the worst offender.” Have you BEEN anywhere else long enough to conclude such a thing?
“That left some hope. When I was older, I could move somewhere else (like Australia or Kentucky) where boys are more like human beings.” W….T……F…….I know she references Australia because of Ben, but where the f did Kentucky come from? And who says anything will be different in other places?
Ben talks to Mallory about the stolen mail when he comes home. He sensibly reminds her that she’ll fail gym if she doesn’t participate. DUH!
She says she’ll try. But even then she gets in position to “cover her head in case the ball came” rather than a preparation to, ya know, hit it back!
Mallory doesn’t even try. She just claims it goes against her nature. She gives up when Helen is upset. UGH. Again, if she would just even make an attempt to hit the ball, just anything, then I would sympathize. Getting yelled at when you try sucks ass. But she’s just whining and doesn’t try.
Mrs. Walden comes over to the bench. At first she tells Mallory to try. Then she pisses me off by saying by quitting volleyball, Mallory will be a quitter forever. I fucking hate that kind of comparison. Just because she quit volleyball does not mean she’ll quit college! Mallory realizes the stupidity of the comparison and it makes her crabbier. Quitting volleyball at 11 does not equal being a failure! So Mrs. Walden, please shut the hell up.
Mrs. Walden makes Mallory wash the pinnies after school, which I’m not sure is legal. And luckily for her, Mallory knows how to do laundry. Many eleven year olds (I didn’t do the laundry at that age, so I include myself here) might have caused a flood or something.
The boys look at her while she washes them and make fun of her.
We finally see a real baby-sitting job here with actual rebellious children! David Michael and Kristy PHYSICALLY fight over objects and radio volume. Andrew takes things away from EM. Kristy literally throws radio batteries out the window to get them away from DM. Ha! No word on Karen except for that she’s “helping.” By the time the adults get home, everyone including Kristy is sleeping.
Mallory doesn’t get home in time to intercept the mail and she and her mother have a heart-to-heart.
At the Hobarts, Mallory wishes she could have them as brothers and they arrange a Brothers Switch!
Switch time. Nicky awesomely says, “Yipee, Mrs. Hobart is a great cook.” Mrs. Pike glares at him after that. Ha!
+1 to Suzanne Weyn for having the triplets happy that the Hobart home has Nintendo games rather than Leave it to Beaver access.
The parents all agree, but are confused as to why this would be occurring.Mallory foolishly thinks that even though there are still three girls in the house there to perpetuate naughtiness, the boys will behave perfectly. Oh, jeez. I totally don’t see where this is going. Particularly after they misinterpret “rec” room as “wreck.” Mallory is supposed to watch the kids but does homework for forty-five minutes before getting suspicious that she doesn’t hear anything.
“You wouldn’t believe what I found in the bathroom.” Yes, I would. An absolute sty on top of the rec room. Claire is in the overflowing tub zapping people with foam and the kids and all wet. Mallory yells at Vanessa (I’ve always been annoyed with Vanessa so I find this great. I find her to be an overgrown Karen) about the danger . This is the biggest fiasco they cause but generally they act like kids telling scary stories and playing hide and go seek. Mallory is upset because she assumed the Hobarts were perfect.
Delusional Mallory strikes again!
Johnny can’t sleep. James falls out of the bunk and hurts himself at three in the morning. At eight he knocks on Mallory’s door and says he wants to go home so his dad can take him to the hospital. Mallory calls but gets no answer. So she tells him to watch TV. She’s really tired at this point and then the other Hobarts get up. They want cereal, but when Mallory prepares it, they think it’s gross because it’s low-fat milk. Must’ve been crappy cereal to not mask the taste difference one bit. Ben calls and predictably the Pike boys behaved perfectly. I’m not surprised. If you’re the guest in someone else’s house and there are no other children there for you to misbehave with and encourage you to behave badly, you’ll probably do fine. Or they’ll send you packing.
Mallory vows never to do the brother switch again.
Mrs. Walden behaves humanely when Mallory asks for help. She says she’ll talk to the boys and have them lay off her a little. Mallory actually tries to play and returns the ball twice (once into the net). Then the unit is over and they play archery. Mallory is amazing at it, just like Jessi mastering Spanish in one week! ZOMG! This chapter is meh, and Mallory manages to be annoying when she zips one of the kids who wasn’t that nice to her before when he can’t play archery that well. Way to take the high road. Mrs. Walden tells her she should try out for the team.
Mallory makes the team. Yay. I played for the first semester of college and enjoyed it. But having eleven-year-olds play sounds like a liability situation waiting to happen. One of the kids actually does cut himself with the feather. Lawsuit! Her brothers make her a cake to congratulate her on making the team. Boring.
This book was harder to snark than I thought it would be. Mallory is usually fun to punch at, but here she was a bit more relatable. This book also didn't have as much WTF-ery as the other books I've snarked. Next time I'm doing Jessi's Baby-sitter and I know I remember more snark-worthiness in that one!