This book marks the first time I've purchased a BSC book as an adult. Hooray used book sale. Of course, I don't know whether it's a good or a bad thing that this was seriously the only BSC title I could find. I did find a Karen book, which I avoid on principle, and was surprise to see it too had a revised cover. When did they start doing that? Considering I worked in a bookstore for many years and only ever saw the checkerboard covers, I was truly stunned.
Alas, I was also stunned when I read this book. I'd heard about it but didn't realize just how bad it was, in terms of how the BSC treats Mary Anne for indulging her inner Stacey. I'm trying to get certain words out of my vocabulary, ones that aren't appropriate to describe 13-year-olds anyway, but dang it's hard to come up with a term that fits the situation yet isn't demeaning in and of itself. I keep coming back to hosebeast. I hope it isn't fraught with a history that makes it inappropriate to use here.
By the way, this is a Lerangis book. I'm not sure what to think of that.
We start off with Carolyn Arnold finding a "flummp caterpillar," or so Mary Anne believes. It's actually a "flux capacitator," which got garbled because Carolyn was in her basement. Actually, I always thought it was a flux capacitor, but then again I only saw Back to the Future in the movie theater, so who am I to say. Part of why Mary Anne can't hear Carolyn is because
It's just after New Year's, which confuses me, since the book I last snarked (#51) also took place in January/February. So...this is actually happening before Stacey and Laine broke up? Can we rewrite their course of history and not have Laine come to Stoneybrook? Apparently not. Strangely enough, Carolyn is attempting to build a time machine, yet at no time following the titular makeover does Mary Anne suggest going back in time to alter the course of her history in this book. Whoops, looks like I'm in my own time machine, talking about stuff that hasn't even happened yet!
Mary Anne manages to segue into her family and talks about how Sharon puts her gloves in the freezer and her father marks the toes of his socks so he doesn't get them confused with older socks. I can actually get behind Sharon more than Richard on this. I mean, you wear gloves when it's cold, and the freezer is cold, so for Sharon that's actually high-level thinking. Richard, on the other hand, I can't see him taking a Sharpie to brand-new socks, especially to mark the outside of them. If he truly were a Danny Tanner sort, he'd be using a gadget that keeps sock pairs together in the wash, or maybe one of those mesh bags that protects delicates. Marking up his clothing? Pete, no. Also, Mary Anne says she lives in a "big old farmhouse," and I'm so confused. Back in the 1790s, they didn't build things big unless they had money. Plus, earlier books described the rooms, or at least the doorways, as tiny. When did the house bloat up? Maybe I should pull out #9 to see how it's described there, because pretty soon this house is going to rival Watson's. Also, Mary Anne describes her previous house as being much smaller than the farmhouse, and again I call bull. A modern house versus one from the 18th century, hmm. Considering the Hobarts cram six people into it, it can't be *that* small. Oh, and another inconsistency from earlier books: Mary Anne says Richard used to be so strict that "I couldn't have pierced ears." Sweetie, you didn't *want* pierced ears, or did you forget the whole ear piercing debacle from Camp Mohawk already?
Sigh. Six pages in and I already have heartburn. Also, I missed Pete's line from page 4: After describing how she's been teased about being too sensitive, Mary Anne goes, "I don't mind the teasing, though. My friends aren't the least bit mean. We're all so close, we can take each other seriously and joke about our personalities." Oh, you can, can you? Just you wait, Spier the crier. (And this is exactly why Spier should rhyme with crier and not sneer, though there is sneering by the reader later.)
With a CRASSHHH! and a Clonk! and a Knock! Knock! Knock!, Mary Anne is removed from her reverie. Marilyn soon finishes her "dainty" music and the two of them go check out Carolyn's time machine, a mess of crates and ropes and tinfoil. Oh, and signs that look like they were made by Claudia. I'm sure this is how Doc Brown started.
Oh, man. MA left the Arnolds' at 5:19. Did I mention it was a Wednesday? Good thing she strapped on her Keds so she could hoof it. "Sound like I was going to a meeting of some secret society? Some spy organization where latecomers were locked out?" Sweetie, we've read the books. We know that's exactly what happens. And, since it's Chapter 2, we know what's coming next. So while Kristy schools Jessi on the proper way to catch Milk Duds in her mouth, MA goes through the rigamarole. "Do we do anything besides baby-sit? Yes, lots. We hold special events for our charges, like parties, fund drives for good causes, and picnics." Um, when most people ask a question like that, they mean things away from the children for whom you sit. You know, like actual hobbies. Hint: Crying is not a hobby, even though you do it regularly.
My favorite part of the book happens when MA describes bestie Kristy's family: She mentions that Kristy "moved away from Bradford Court for the same reason I did - to join a stepfamily." MA then neglects to mention Karen and Andrew. So...this "stepfamily" she supposedly joined? Has but one person in it. I mean, all her blood-related siblings get mentioned; Emily gets mentioned; even "a dog, a cat, and two goldfish" get mentioned. Is this Pete actually assuming we can recall, from book to book, that Karen and Andrew exist? Or was this an oversight from a terrible editor? Considering something that happens later in the book, I'm putting my checkmark in column B. Oh, gosh, and I forgot Nannie. She totally warranted a mention, but not some of the children she watches who'd lived there, albeit on and off, longer than she had.
MA outfit: "That day I was wearing teal-colored stirrup pants and a bulky ski sweater with a colorful snowflake print, over a pink turtleneck." No wonder she was freezing when she arrived at Claudia's. You knew you had to walk from the Arnolds' house, yet you didn't plan for the climate you likened to Siberia's? Really? I'd think, by this point in time, you'd learned how to dress properly in Connecticut. Dawn wearing something inappropriate due to not having grown up there? Somewhat understandable. But you've been there your whole life and know it can get cold. Stirrups? Not known for their warmth. Especially considering, on the next page, Stacey and Mallory "peel off their down coats."
Claudia is Grody Alert: MA suggests you could go looking for something in Claud's closet and then "crunch! - there are last April's tortilla chips!" As well as her free-range ant farm. One thing Claud has going for her is her stack of fashion magazines. MA takes a liking to a paisley outfit in one, and Jessi comments that the model looks so unhappy. Shut up, Jessi. As the sitter most likely to have a model-thin body--and considering the following book is the Very Special Episode on anorexia--I really don't want to hear you making comments on the models, even if it's only regarding her expression. MA picks up a copy of Seventeen and sees a model with a really short haircut, "sort of a bowl cut in front, but really close-cropped at the neck." She starts wondering what it would feel like to get rid of her hair, which just hangs there, and feel the breeze on the back of her neck. Naturally, this goes over well with the other sitters, complete with Claudia channeling Macauley Culkin in Home Alone. No kidding, she references a movie made within a few years of the book's release. MA's stunned at their response and spends the rest of the meeting sitting there quietly.
She's still bummed once she returns home, and she keeps replaying in her head what the other sitters had said. She ends up grabbing a mirror and holding up her hair to gauge how she'd look with it short. In a word, fantastic. She has a jaw line! She rummages through her old magazines to find a picture similar to what she'd seen at Claudia's, then asks Richard what he thinks. She's terrified he'll say no, but in fact he tells her he always thought short hair would look nice on her--and that he thought she was the one who didn't want it. Says the man who forced her to wear said hair in braids for how many years. Mm-hmm. They make plans to go to the mall on Saturday for a father-daughter day, this after Richard suggests going to "the place in town"--Gloriana's--and MA shrieking, "No! They destroyed poor Karen Brewer's hair." The sole mention of Karen in this book, and Pete brings up that. Heh. High-five.
It's Jessi's turn to sit for the Arnolds. She's watched Back to the Future in preparation. My word, that movie is all over this book. Can you tell it wasn't written by Ann? There's mention of some time-travel books, and then Jessi asks where they'd go if they could really travel back in time. Carolyn says to when their parents were kids so she could sit for them, which is...weird. Marilyn wants to go to the 1700s to hide Mozart's pencils. Jessi? Would go to the early 1900s so she could see Nijinsky in Paris. Carolyn suggests maybe it could happen, then brings the other two to the basement to see her contraption. She has a list of items she still needs, so they troop around the house finding stuff like old towels and blankets. I'm most confused by the curtain rod they find in the attic with the old shower curtain still attached. I mean, do people actually do that? Take the old rod down and leave the curtain on it? That's just...weird. I'm sure Richard would be with me on that one.
Chapter 5 (or, Richard actually has a personality! Who knew?)
Washington Mall, the sitters' home away from home. Richard and MA hunt down Stacey's favorite stylist, Joyce, at the hair salon. MA gets cold feet
"What a perfect day," MA says. She'd managed to get "a fiery red, off-the-shoulder crepe dress, with shirred sleeves, a fitted bodice, and a skirt that flared to mid-calf" for the January Jamboree, because SMS can't go more than three books without a dance; she also picked up "some stockings and a pair of shoes to go with it; an oversized, indigo cable-knit sweater; and a pair of floral paisley print Lycra leggings with a French terry top." Add a hat and she'd be Blossom. Whoa!
She and Richard pick up Chinese on the way home from the "perfect day," but there's no happily ever after once home--she rings the bell to surprise Sharon and Dawn, and they just stare at her. So much for her surprise.
Once past the initial shock, Sharon declares her "sensational!" MA spins around and her description of her hair reminds me of Dorothy Hamill. Sharon can't get over MA's new look and keeps talking about it, and how Richard and MA kept quiet about it. They're not the only people with un-loose lips; Dawn says nothing until Richard unpacks the food and pulls out something "for the carnivores," involving lobsters and oyster sauce, and Dawn whispers, "Ew." Richard finally asks Dawn directly what she thinks of MA, and the hosebeast of the house answers, "Where did you go? Gloriana's?"
...She might as well have said MA looked like someone had taken a lawn mower to her head. Really? You think it looks that bad? Geez, girl. Dawn does flat-out ask, "Why didn't you tell us you were going to have a makeover?" MA tells us, "It was a fair question. But I felt something clench in my stomach. Dawn had not yet said anything nice." Because she's a hosebeast, dear. "She was trying to be friendly, but something wasn't right." Friendly? She asked if you went to Gloriana's for your cut, when you expressly said she destroyed your friend's sister's hair (not that we know they're sisters, but whatever). How is that friendly? I imagine, years later, at a cocktail party, Dawn will go up to some woman and ask how her husband's mistress is doing. But she was just trying to be friendly and make small talk!
It actually gets worse when Richard mentions they went shopping for clothes as well. Dawn starts complaining that it's just after Christmas, and where they went is so expensive, and even Richard's sensible explanation (on sale, MA pays half) does nothing to sway her. MA nearly cries. She soon realizes Dawn's just jealous and perhaps they should have invited her along, but she ends up with so much on her mind she decides to call Logan to help settle herself down. She tells him she has a surprise for him, and there's a click on the phone--Dawn has gotten on the extension and ruins the surprise by telling Logan that MA had gotten a haircut. Dawn apologizes and gets off the phone; MA says, "Sorry was about the last thing she sounded." So now Logan's all freaked out thinking MA shaved her head or something, and when he asks why, she erupts. Yet she's more angry than sad and surprises herself by not crying.
Mary Anne barely speaks to Dawn after that, and they do their best to avoid each other. Luckily Logan loves her hair, as he comes over the next day; however, there's still school. How will SMS react to the Brand-New Mary Anne?
Monday morning, she puts on a bit of makeup--she normally goes without--and puts a spritz of hairspray on her 'do. After walking to school alone--besides Dawn being a hosebeast, MA'd had bacon for breakfast and surely had meat cooties--she walks into SMS and half expects the school to immediately laugh at her. Richard? Your daughter has some serious self-esteem issues here. Might want to think about getting to the root of that problem. Or, perhaps, encourage her to get some new acquaintances, as the first words she hears are "Ucccccchhh! What happened to you?" Believe it or not, that wasn't Kristy; it was her male counterpart, Alan Gray. He's apparently known as the "Jerk of Eighth Grade." MA thinks he's rude to the BSC because he recently had to be Kristy's slave. Or...he's just a jerk. A few minutes later someone wolf-whistles at her; she's prepared to turn on the tears but it ends up being her boyfriend. They're busy being playful when two other guys, Bruce Schermerhorn and Justin Forbes, walk by, mouths gaping. They walk to MA's homeroom, which is "about twenty-seven miles away from my locker," and this is where people really notice her. Erica Blumberg doesn't even recognize her, nor does Shawna Riverson, apparently. Cokie Mason drops her books, she's so stunned--and she actually gives MA a compliment. MA feels like a celebrity. Teachers are even complimenting her.
...And then she finally runs into the BSC. Well, some of the older members. They'd already been briefed by the hosebeast and act nonchalant about the whole thing. Claudia wonders why they weren't invited along, prompting MA to apologize. For what, dear? For daring to actually do something apart from these girls? That's called healthy. You're actually allowed to have outside interests and activities. Really. I promise. She asks the other girls what they think, and Mrs. Alan Gray responds, "Mary Anne, you knucklehead...we said that cut wasn't you."
These same girls who encouraged MA to get out from underneath her father's thumb in terms of fashion and hairstyle have now taken over that role. *They* say she can't look how she wants and she must obey. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?
Best friends you'll ever have? Best hosebeasts you'll ever have is more like it.
MA admits that she knows Kristy's trying to play it off as a joke, but the tone of her voice gives it away: "Some best friend." No kidding. Stacey and Claudia are no kinder, with Claud telling her, "It'll grow out." Their faces are sympathetic, as if MA went in for a simple trim and came out missing half her head, and she goes, "Their comments were sort of mean." Yes. Yes, they are. I half expect Claudia to grab her boob to see if it's raining right about now.
Since there's a meeting that afternoon, and MA feels trepidation at going alone, she asks Logan to come with. By now they're outside her homeroom, with Dawn inside; she overhears the conversation and smirks.
It's Claudia's turn with the Arnold girls, and in her notebook entry she pleads with the other sitters to explain what the hell is going on with Carolyn and the whole time-travel deal. Jessi, give the girl your copy of Back to the Future, would you? Carolyn's back in the basement, and Marilyn spends some time practicing; when she finishes, she invites the Braddocks over along with Stacey, who's sitting for them. They play while Claud and Stacey gossip--MA assumes about her--and soon enough the sitters are so engrossed in their discussion that they lose track of the kids. Good job, girls. They find them outside, spying on Carolyn through a basement window. Undeterred, the kids open a door leading directly into the basement; Carolyn comes over and yells at them before slamming the door closed. I now see why Claud is sitting for them today; I don't doubt she got inspiration from this outfit: "On [Carolyn's] face was a snorkel mask, complete with pipe. A pair of fluffy earmuffs was on her head, and a big wool scarf around her neck. Between the mask and the muffs, her hair was sticking out every which way." Claudia thinks she looks ridiculous, but I don't doubt she put her own spin on it and looked fabulous. Besides, she had to find another way to wear those Ms. Frizzle jellies. Back to the job at hand, things stay relatively quiet for a while until Carolyn pounds up the stairs, now wearing a wool hat as well, and looking "positively demented." She claims she'll soon be ready for her first flight, and the way she says it causes Claudia to almost believe her. Or else maybe it's about to rain again.
Vocab time! Your word is pariah. MA tells us it simply means "outcast," but the non-dictionary definition is "girl who dares to get haircut without anyone's permission save for her father's, who really should be the only one who matters in this situation, but like that's really the case." It also means "girl who is forced to eat lunch alone with her boyfriend--meaning she's not really alone, but that's another story--because her hosebeast friends still can't get over that she deigned to do something without informing them or getting their expressed permission first." The other members of the BSC aren't making life easy for her; Monday's meeting was "torture," and since she dared to wear a new Steven E outfit on Wednesday, she was pelted with rude comments at that meeting. Holy hell, girls. At what point does the notebook become a slam book?
Rumors start going around school that a high school boy--a friend of Sam Thomas'--is interested in MA; she's sure the club is behind the rumor. She's discussing things with Logan over lunch, including that she's sure the whole school is talking about her because when she walks past people they start whispering. Great; we found they way to make MA more insecure. Logan tries to reassure her that she's really not *that* interesting. They make plans to get together after school, even though MA's supposed to go supply shopping with Kristy. MA breaks that date, noting Kristy's neither thrilled nor disappointed. At Logan's, she tries to get him to come to another meeting that day, and I'm thoroughly confused. She opened the chapter by saying it was Thursday. Uh...when did meetings expand to four days a week? Way to go, editors. Logan already has plans to have dinner with Austin Bentley's family and tells MA she can handle the rogue meeting herself. This *is* the same girl who saved the day all those books ago, right? They start play-acting scenarios, basically where the BSC cuts MA down and she lobs comebacks at them. Okay. She can do this. But just as she and Logan leave his house, the Junk Bucket drives by without stopping.
Things are quiet at the meeting until the first call comes in; it's Mrs. Prezzioso needing a sitter "A week from this Thursday," which, by my count, would be a week from that day. Unless it's supposed to be Friday, in which case why not just say Thursday? What the hell day of the week is it supposed to be? Hosebeastday? MA ends up taking the job, but Kristy gives her a look, then asks if she's sure Logan's not going to ask her out that day and she'll have to cancel on that, too. MA had thought she was prepared for anything the other sitters might say to her, but she didn't prepare for that. The thought finally enters her mind that maybe the BSC wasn't the place for her.
Chapter 10 (or, Sabrina Bouvier is the only person in the history of the series to actually age properly)
The people are coming out of the woodwork to talk to MA. Random character Hannah Toce admires MA's new sweater, and snobby girls Sabrina Bouvier and Susan Taylor turn out not to be snobby at all! Why, they're complimentary, too! We get this thought from MA: "I was beginning to realize that snobbery can go two ways. Maybe it was the BSC members who were sticking their noses up at other girls, just because of the way the girls looked." With the BSC fashion choices ranging from Kristy, who only owns one set of clothes, to Claudia and Stacey, somehow I doubt it's how people *look* that causes the divide. You guys are a clique, plain and simple. When Kristy had you all spit in the palms of your hands and then shake on it, you entered a realm where you weren't allowed to have other friends unless they were several years younger than you and their parents paid you to hang out with them. Now that you're out from under her thumb, you're realizing that there are, in fact, other people in the world--or simply in the school hallway. Really. It's okay to have non-babysitting friends, or to know people where you have something in common with them other than babysitting. For all you know, SHS has a varsity crying club that likes to go to airports and wave goodbye to people, then spend the afternoon watching Old Yeller and Marley and Me, which would be something to look forward to if you ever get to high school. Take this opportunity to expand your horizons.
...Speaking of ever getting to high school, one of those names looks familiar. That Sabrina! We've seen her before! You may remember her as the winning contestant from #15, Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Blonde Hosebeast #1. Gosh, that book was years ago...and wasn't she just in elementary school? Well, there can't possibly be two Sabrina Bouviers in a town the size of Stoneybrook, so the only explanation must be that Sabrina, in all her wonderfulness, found the way to break free from the time warp and actually age. Maybe that was really her prize for winning the contest; they just told us it was a savings bond or scholarship or something to throw us off.
(True fact: I went to high school with three separate Jennifer Smiths. Two of them were constantly getting called to the office for whatever reason and they had to be differentiated by middle initial. As Jennifer was super-common, and Smith was super-common, I could see there being more than one of them even at my small-to-medium high school. Sabrina? Not a common first name. And Bouvier? Not a common last name. Peter Lerangis and your editors, you are hereby sentenced to judging little kids' dance contests in perpetuity for this egregious error.)
Ahem. Where was I?
So, anyway, apparently the terrible previous meeting was on Friday (though, really, I think I like "hosebeastday"), and afterward MA made a decision: She wouldn't quit the club, but she wouldn't attend any meetings until someone was nice to her. An apology would be great, but she'd settle for kind words. She would still honor her sitting commitments, at least.
Hey! We get extended time with Time Warp Breaker Girl. She's heard that some high school boy named Carlos Mendez is interested in MA and wants to take her to the Winter Dance! MA's all, what the hell, does this school have weekly dances now? No, silly, the Winter Dance is SHS's January dance, which is of course fabulous and Sabrina somehow knows it. "She sounded as if she'd been going to it since she was a toddler," MA says. Oh, man. Now there's a *second* high school boy potentially interested in her? MA practically feels like she's cheating on Logan and is uncomfortable around him during lunch. Thankfully, being a boy, Logan is blissfully unaware and instead asks how the feud is going. He can't believe MA isn't at least talking to Dawn, but "It's a big house" that they live in. Maybe she divided it into sections using salami or something. Dawn wouldn't cross that threshold. Logan's still amazed that MA would skip her beloved BSC meetings--"Isn't that a little extreme?"--and when it comes down to it, MA *almost* attends. It's 5:15 and she's dithering when she hears the door slam--Dawn has left without her, and without so much as a goodbye. Stunned, MA stays home. At dinner that night, Dawn (whom MA calls the "Stepsister from the Black Lagoon") goes into full-on hosebeast mode, getting in tiny digs. The last one, alluding to MA missing the meeting, upsets her enough to leave the table:
"I'm starving," Sharon put in.
"Me, too," I said.
"You should be," Dawn said. "You missed all your favorite junk food."
Hosebeast, party of one, your table is ready.
Chapter 11 (or, the Arnold girls are the only charges existing in this book)
There isn't a handwritten intro to this chapter, meaning MA is the sitter du jour. Kristy actually called her to make sure she was still planning on going, but that was the extent of MA's BSC contact.
Carolyn for once wasn't working on her time machine; she asks to go out and play while Marilyn practices for a recital. Now, she's eight, and she's playing "The Well-Tempered Clavichord" by Bach. I don't know how long she's supposedly been playing, but this is no beginner piece. Also, there are two books, each with 24 pieces in all the major and minor keys. Is she playing all of them? Just one book? Just one piece? Dancers may have issues with the Jessi books, and diabetics with Stacey; my fellow musicians, join me in scratching our heads over this one. There's even an English lesson stuck in there: When Marilyn finishes, MA cheers. Marilyn says, "Mary Anne, that stunk." Mary Anne replies, "That stank." Marilyn thinks she really means it; MA has to explain the difference between stink, stank, and stunk. Apparently she's still sneaking over to Claudia's but turning left down the hallway instead of right. Unleash your inner Janine, girl.
Marilyn asks to practice some more, sans audience, so MA reads for a while. Pretty soon an hour's gone by and Carolyn's still out. After playing for MA once more--much improved--Marilyn and MA finally go searching for Carolyn. She's down the block signing up neighborhood kids for rides on her machine--and charging $1 apiece. What a racket. Carolyn claims her first flight will be the following Thursday night. MA watches the scene but doesn't intervene, even though she knows it won't work. She believes either Carolyn actually thinks it'll work, in which case she'll be sorely disappointed, or else Carolyn knows it's a scam and she's basically stealing from people. Oh, dear, what to do? If only she could talk to the BSC and get their opinions, but she can't! Because it was too hard to go up to Carolyn, pull her aside, and tell her to give the kids their money back. Thinking is hard, guys.
Oh, lord. Sabrina's back, ambushing MA at her locker, wondering if Carlos has called her yet. Well, of *course* he has, because the two of them are totally going to the SHS dance together! MA's all, whatever, I have to go...wash my hands or something; she abandons Sabrina and starts wandering the halls to get away. Man, as if the whole BSC deal wasn't bad enough, she has the Carolyn scammer thing on her mind, and now this, too. She goes to lunch and watches the sitters laugh on the other side of the cafeteria; she thinks she'll feel better once Logan gets there. Except he never arrives. She heads to the library; still no Logan. She doesn't see him until after school; he's playing basketball in the gym but doesn't see her. She leaves, not wanting to embarrass him...but why wasn't he around all day? Mopey, she heads home, curls up with her perma-kitten, and falls asleep, dreaming of hosebeasts and basketball hoops. Really--she gets trapped in a tower by a king and queen played by Kristy and Dawn. Read into that what you will. She wakes up when the phone rings and it's Logan, asking about the January Jamboree. His hesitation leads MA to think he wants to go with somebody else, yet it turns out he's heard the Carlos rumors and thinks it's the other way around. He then wonders why MA didn't bother to mention it to him, which is totally fair. She just didn't want to give credence to the rumors so she ignored them; he realizes she's ignoring or avoiding many things these days. That's not working out so well, is it? She realizes this and--you'll be stunned--starts crying. Okay, time to take control of the situation. She'll have a talk with Sabrina & Co. at school tomorrow. But first...Blonde Hosebeast #1 hears the end of the conversation and wonders if MA had been talking to Logan...or Carlos. As she flounces off, MA decides to take action. Enough of this.
MA calls after Dawn, who is stunned that her stepsister is actually talking to her. It doesn't go well; Dawn accuses her of skipping meetings, talking to Logan every waking moment, and spending her evenings admiring her "boy haircut and clown makeup!" Mary Anne replies, "Oh, go choke on an alfalfa sprout." I snort. But the exchange unleashes the floodgates, and MA has to bury her head in her pillow in order not to be heard. Once everything's out, she realizes that Dawn's not the only hosebeast in the house: "Dawn had been mean, and her comments still stung. But I hadn't exactly been full of compassion myself." Um, what compassion is necessary? You didn't actually have to coddle her or your other friends because you got a drastic haircut and updated your wardrobe. Again, while it's nice to have friendly input--emphasis on friendly--you have the right to do things on your own and because you want to do them. Don't let them turn this around on you. But this is MA we're talking about, the child born without a spine, so she has to go apologize. She goes down to the kitchen where Dawn is boiling tofu, which A) sounds disgusting, and B) also doesn't sound possible, because the tofu I know of would disintegrate in such a thing, but I am no tofu expert. Dawn agrees to talk nicely ("No throwing tofu allowed") but it doesn't start off that way. MA apologizes and waits for Dawn to do the same; when she doesn't, and Dawn accuses her of being mean, MA's confused: "I didn't do anything to hurt you!" And yet she did, by daring to have a father-daughter day that, somehow, was only two weeks earlier. It seems like a month ago. Anyway. Dawn eventually admits that she was hurt because MA made all these changes without bothering to mention them to her, and she thought they were sisters and shared everything, especially when they involved drastic changes. Why wouldn't MA come to her sister for advice? It seemed like she was going behind everyone's backs for this. ...For getting a haircut. Dawn, seriously. Shut. Up. It's not like she's planning to move out of state and didn't bother to consult you. It's not like she's pregnant and trying to decide what to do with the baby. The fact that you got bent out of shape so badly over a cable-knit sweater and short hair shows you have don't just have issues, you have subscriptions. She goes on and complains that MA was spending all her time with Logan...because Logan was the only nice person, or could you not see that? And then there was the whole Carlos situation, which, had it been true, would really have involved going behind someone's (Logan's) back in hiding things. That would be worth getting upset over. Dawn finally apologizes for assuming rather than flat-out asking about things. Okay, so that's over. Now for the rest of the BSC. Wednesday, 5:30, MA attends the meeting, and after hashing everything out, the sitters finally tell MA that they like her hair. Really? So all this time, you thought she looked fine, but you couldn't bother to tell her because of something stupid. Maybe they should pack MA up and move her to, say, Iowa with her grandparents. They have barn cats there, too.
There's one more thing of importance to attend to: Carolyn and her time machine, which is set to have its first flight the next day. Kristy will be their sitter--how convenient that it won't happen while their parents are home--and MA will be sitting for the Prezziosos. MA offers to come over just in case Kristy needs help fending off hoards of angry kids.
Bad editor alert: This is the first time MA's seen the record book in a week and a half. She complains about how messy it is, yet the handwritten, smudgy record we see? Is in her handwriting.
It's launch day! Jenny P. has the right idea--she's not thrilled at the idea of going to the Arnolds' basement. But she does, along with MA and Andrea. Carolyn greets them wearing goggles, earmuffs, and deely-boppers. The machine is hidden behind sheets and swathed in red light. Kristy and Marilyn are already down there, waiting. When it's unveiled, the machine is covered in foil and doodads. A curtain hangs over a small doorway where a single chair is; a tape recorder plays science-y sounds. Marilyn goes first, but Carolyn freezes; she can't pull the lever to "start" the machine. MA recognizes what's going on and "consults" with Carolyn, who admits she doesn't think it'll work. As it turns out, it doesn't matter. The kids play pretend and really seem to enjoy the experience, plus they all get their money back; they come traipsing into the basement the whole afternoon. Kristy later compliments MA on how she handled things...and her haircut.
Bad editor alert: Marilyn ends up going to Paris in 1900 and sees the dancer "Mickinsky." So much for hiding Mozart's pencils. Also, that was Jessi's choice. Copycat.
Time for the dance--the SMS dance. Dawn is back to faking nice and she and MA are busy getting ready. She thinks MA is "stunning!" MA finally looks at Dawn and calls this outfit "breathtaking": Her dress "was made of black velvet, with a sheer bodice trimmed with beading and lace, and a flared, above-knee skirt. [She also wore] black stockings and shoes, and [had] her hair pulled up in a French braid." Even better, she was going with Pete Black. Sigh. Seeing how good MA looks causes Dawn to admit how much she's changed, and MA tells her that it must really have bugged her when MA "stopped being this demure, plain stepsister." It comes out that Dawn was really bothered by how close the Spiers are, and that she'll never really be Richard's daughter, and it's hard for her at times to deal with that: "It was unfair of me to put that on you." Yes. Yes it was. But all is forgiven, and MA understands, so let's get a move on and go dancing, shall we?
Outfits! Logan wore a tux. Kristy started out in heels and a long dress but was barefoot within minutes. Claudia had on "a lamé outfit that was all sharp angles and flashy colors," and I've only ever heard of gold lamé, so the only thing I can picture is Elton John from the '70s. Stacey wore "a slinky silk gown that belonged to her mother," which is all shades of wrong, plus her date was Sam Thomas. We may joke about him and Stacey hooking up, and I'm sure someone out there would make a mention of how fast he'd have gotten that dress off her had this been prom, but the truth comes out: Sam is just an older, taller version of David Michael or Alan Gray. He brings a rubber spider to the dance. The Thomases: Keepin' it classy since 1975.
Peter Lerangis *really* didn't do his research on this book: MA actually dances without putting up a fuss! Will wonders never cease. During a break in the action, the time machine comes up. Pete Black would go back to Super Bowl III. Logan would go back to the day he first met MA (gag). Dawn would go back to when their parents were in school in order to see them at one of their dances. A fun song comes on and they get back to dancing, and MA notices Sabrina with her date. He's not someone they recognize, but they come to the same conclusion and end up declaring in unison, "Carlos!" The boy hears his name and starts looking around the gym. Across the room, MA and her group can't stop laughing.
So, what lessons have we learned from this book?
--Getting a haircut and new clothes is a federal offense.
--Jessi and Mallory are barely worth mentioning.
--Editors are overrated.
Who says you can't learn anything from the BSC?