Spoiler alert: Stacey is still a spoiled brat. And the Fire Island jokes just keep making themselves, one after another.
Chapter five! For some reason this starts with handwriting, even though Jessi and Mal are not on the BSC's clock at the time. They crow about having a "real" job, "with paychecks," which is understandably exciting for an eleven-year-old (or anyone, really. I would love a paycheck but moms don't get one). Jessi does ominously mention, however, that their first day of work "did not go smoothly." This turns out to be a bigger lie than Stacey's titular lie.
Mal and Jessi are "the youngest junior counselors," because they were so highly recommended by Mrs. Braddock; the other junior counselors are 12 and 13, and no one except the head of this chicken outfit seems to be over 16. Mal and Jessi are assigned to a group of seven children, even though the other junior counselors only get groups of five. When I worked at a summer daycare/day camp I had fourteen children under my care at all times, Vanessa and Haley turn out to be in Mal and Jessi's group, of course, and they're glad to see each other. Their group is scheduled to use the pool right away, so they head to the locker room. There, some of the girls change outside the stalls because they're "not shy," which seems a weird thing to say. There's a difference between "shy," which usually means "socially nervous," and "okay with letting other people see your genitals." Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but combined with the whole "Ann was brave enough to wear a bikini even though she had a scar" sequence in the Nauseating Biography, I just can't not wonder about the values in BSC books.
In any case, there's a crisis because Haley and Vanessa have both accidentally picked out the exact same bathing suit. When Iwas a kid I'd have thought this was hilarious and fun; I wanted to be just like my friends. But Haley and Vanessa are furious, get into a horrible fight, make the whole group late for which the Very Responsible Junior Sitters are blamed, and try to kill each other with the beach ball in the pool. The last really isn't their fault, though, because the idiot head counselor is making them play a strange form of water volleyball where they can't hit the ball with anything but their heads. I guess, since it's a beach ball, this is low risk, but it's still very strange-sounding. Of course I don't understand the purpose of water sports at camp in the first place-- when I was a little girl, I just wanted to play in the water and practice my swimming, not have somebody suck all the fun out of it by forcing us to play a silly game. Of course I'm also fat and bookish, so if I were in Stonybrook I'd have been instantly labeled a brat by the BSC.
Next, the happy campers have to make lanyards, which I also would have hated... I love crafts, but I hate the kind that are completely about following instructions instead of being creative. Haley and Vanessa bicker over which colors to use. This counts as a "terrible day" for the Highly Mature Junior Sitters.
Chapter six! Claudia stomps out of the store in a huff, not that I blame her. Stacey has to chase after her and explain. She says that she only lied to Claudia because she "really wanted [her] to come," which doesn't really change the situation to me. Why did you lie to me? Because if you knew the truth, you would have realized that this vacation would be no fun for you. I wanted you to come anyway even though it was no fun. See, that's not a very nice thing to do to somebody.
Claudia is mollified by this; she's still hurt by the lie, however, which Stacey thinks is "pouty." She says it's "kind of romantic" that Robert is here, but she wishes she'd known.
Stacey squeals that then Claud wouldn't have come!!!!! Which is kind of the point.
Claud is again mollified, since Stacey "wanted [her] here that badly." But then Stacey asks her to keep the secret from her father as well. When Claudia protests, Stacey reminds her that she hides candy and books from her parents all the time, which makes Claudia promise.
Stacey promises never to lie to her friend again.
Just at that moment, Robert comes striding up the boardwalk on FIRE ISLAND, which makes Stacey want him so badly. "Another guy would have just taken off, not wanting any part of the problem. Not Robert. After giving me a little space, he was coming to see if he could help make things right." Translation: Robert hid out in the store until his girlfriend solved the problem herself; then he came over to pretend to care about what was going on, and Stacey has such poor experience in men that she thinks this is heroic of him. Wholesome values to teach tween girls, Scholastic.
The three go out for ice cream (and a cup of seltzer for Stacey). Stacey comments on what a "gorgeous, beachy place" Fire Island is to be with your boyfriend and best female friend together, and I cringe so hard I rupture several key blood vessels in both eyes because FIRE ISLAND FIRE ISLAND FIRE ISLAND.
Stacey then informs us that "everything was perfect" for the next few days. Her father barely ever works, though why she should care about that is beyond me because she spends next to no time with the poor man. Stacey visits Robert on his regular breaks at the dock; otherwise, she and Claud are free to come and go as they please. Ed says that Davis Park has no cars, so it's perfectly safe there, not like New York-- but considering the amount of freedom Stacey enjoyed in New York, I don't see the difference. Stacey and Claudia frolic on the beach all day long, except for the visits to the dock to see Robert. Her father spends most of his time with Stu Majors of the salmon-colored polo shirt, "playing chess" at his place. I spend most of my time giggling like an eleven-year-old (not a junior sitter but an actual normal immature eleven-year-old) at Ed and Stu "playing chess" on FIRE ISLAND while Stacey hangs out on the beach. And then I giggle again, because "Stu" just got auto-corrected to "Stud."
In any case, While Ed and Stud are having chessy times at the other vacation cottage, Claudia and Stacey swim and build sand castles. I'm glad about this, as most BSC vacations seem to culminate in spoiled Stacey ignoring all the wonderful sights to go shopping someplace obnoxiously expensive. Claudia, for once true to her character trait of being a brilliant artist, builds gorgeous sand castles and photographs them as they're slowly demolished by the tides. That actually sounds like a fun idea for a piece of art.
Claudia is meek as a lamb at either being left alone at the beach while Stacey sees Robert or, in order to further deceive Ed, occasionally dragged out to the dock with Stacey and then abandoned there while Stacey sees Robert. She cheerfully claims she wants to see the Harbor Store again, or read a book in bed. Stacey doesn't seem to notice that Claudia is just being polite, because Stacey is a spoiled brat.
As they walk, Robert chats with her about the fun things that happen while he's working at his job doing... whatever it is that a thirteen-year-old boy with no ocean experience does all day on the Fire Island ferry. I'm from landlocked Ohio but I have been on a ferry a couple of times, across Lake Eerie to Kelley's Island and back. I didn't see much need for a huge crew there. There was a captain, I suppose, and a couple of people who stood there watching the cars board and would presumably help in case of emergencies, but that's all. I certainly didn't see any thirteen-year-old employees, or even any older teens. I can't even imagine all the possible liabilities of having a minor employee on board a moving, car-infested ship.
This particular day, the three of them eat what must be an exceedingly awkward dinner at the local pizza joint. Then Claudia volunteers to sit at their table and read her book, so that Robert and Stace can have a moonlit walk on the beach. As they walk, Robert tells Stacey the thrilling tale of a passenger's missing pet chinchilla. Robert rescued the beast for the passenger, but not before the trip had turned into a "wild chinchilla hunt." Maybe that's Robert's official shipboard position? Ensign Robert, Ship's Chinchilla Catcher? Stacey and Robert agree that this is the best summer ever; they exchanged a lingering kiss in the light of the full moon. When they get back, they find the pizzeria closed and Claud sitting outside, still poring over her book.
Chapter Seven! All these chapters begin with handwritten postcards that contribute nothing whatever to the story, so I'm skipping them. I can't imagine that anybody as inconsiderate as Stacey would write a postcard anyway.
Claudia and Stacey see a poster inviting everyone to march in the fourth-of-July parade! Oh good death, the BSC is going to be in a parade on FIRE ISLAND. I need to take a puff on my husband's inhaler.
Claudia is excited; she wants to make a float! I don't know if she's ignoring the blatant lesson she learned in Kristy and the Baby Parade, or if she just figures that she'll have better results since this one will be baby-free.
Stacey is surprised when Claudia admits to being bored. Claudia patiently says that she doesn't strictly mind being bored, but she is indeed bored.
"You mean you're not having a good time?" asks spoiled little princess Stacey, actually feeling a bit guilty. This is the first time she's attempted to empathize with Claudia.
Stacey tries to invite Claudia to have lunch with Robert and her that afternoon. Speaking as someone who actually has been invited along as a fifth wheel on a date, let me just say that lunching with two dating people is the most awkward experience EVER. I think I'd rather sit in the front seat of a car watching lovers make out in the back than go through it again. So I'm glad for Claudia when she instead goes to the Harbor Store to sign the BSC up for the parade. Claud convinces Stacey to promise to wear a costume as well.
Stacey prays that Robert will never see her in a costume. Stacey dear, a few chapters ago you were talking about an European honeymoon with Robert. If that ever happens, he'll be seeing you in the nude. If you're ready for that commitment, seeing you in a costume really shouldn't be that big of a deal.
Then again, this is going to be a costume parade on FIRE ISLAND, so maybe Stacey has a point.
As Robert approaches, Stacey promises Claud that she'll spend the evening with her instead of Robert, and Claudia cheers up. She cheers up even though Stacey explains that this is because Robert has to work until ten o'clock. Great, now we have minors working on ferries overtime after dark. Somebody needs to call CPS on this whole outfit. Claudia hands Robert her used rolls of film, asking him to get them developed on the other side of the ferry route. I can't believe there's not a single place in Davis Park to develop photographs and am beginning to think this is a plot device.
Robert and Stacey have a picnic on the grass. Robert says he has good news: he got the night off!
Stacey feels horrible. When Robert isn't working or seeing her in the evenings, he has to be all alone in the house his parents found for him to stay in-- the "couple" he's staying with on FIRE ISLAND doesn't have any kids, so he feels out of place.
Robert suggests that Claudia and Stacey spend time together all day today instead of hanging out with him. Stacey asides that he is "SO SENSITIVE!" But she "can't bear the thought" of being away from him for twelve whole hours, so she says she'll meet him this afternoon anyway.
When Stacey finally meets Claudia, Claud has an antique postcard she got from an art gallery. It has a picture of a sand castle with a princess, a prince, a dragon and so forth on top of it. She squeals that this is going to be their parade float! She'll make a real, enormous sand castle and the BSC will be the characters!
"Shouldn't you do something patriotic for the fourth?" asks killjoy Stacey.
Claudia says that everyone will be doing that; they should do "something beachy." This is the second time "beachy" has been used as an adjective, but it's not. It's just not. AMM, you're not James Joyce. You have to use actual words.
When they get back to the beach, Ed has been raptured away leaving all of his things on the blanket. Claudia immediately starts brainstorming a list of costume supplies to fax to Kristy. She's working on sketches the next two times that Stacey goes to visit Robert.
That night, Ed has left a note that he's having dinner at Stud's cottage, and won't be back.
"He sure loves Mr. Majors," Claudia astutely remarks, and I wet myself.
The two shower off (and we're painstakingly told that they use separate showers) and head to the pizza place. Of course, Robert is there, so they eat with him after all. Stacey does have the decency to leave with Claudia instead of Robert (FIRE ISLAND FIRE ISLAND FIRE ISLAND), but Claudia is still pissed. She stands on the boardwalk, waving her hands wildly and complaining about wanting to spend time with Stacey.
Stacey mollifies her by saying that tomorrow night, they'll have a fancy dinner for two at a nice restaurant and she'll specifically tell Robert not to be there.
Claudia relaxes immediately; she calls this a "best friend date." I pass out in a puddle of my own spittle, and wake up laughing several hours later.
Chapter eight! Stacey and Claud take the ferry back to the mainland the next morning to fax the list of demands to Kristy. On the way back, Stacey meets Mitch, Robert's coworker on the ferry, who is apparently an older teen. I try not to read anything into this, but I laugh anyway.
When they get back to FIRE ISLAND, CLaudia starts "experimenting..." with different types of sand castle. She wants one that will hold up very well when she goes to build a large castle. She's so engrossed in her project that she doesn't notice Stacey leaving to go see Robert again.
Robert waves to Stacey from the deck, which Stacey thinks is incredibly romantic. She imagines herself as some kind of olden-days sailor's wife in a long white dress, though I imagine Stacey as more of an old-fashioned dockside doxy in a bustier.
Robert is delighted to tell her that Mitch has invited them to go sailing on his boat that very night at sunset-- because teenagers just randomly own boats and go sailing alone off the coast of FIRE ISLAND. Why not? They work on ferries and plan their European honeymoons, don't they?
Stacey is heartbroken. She reminds him that she has a date with Claudia that night.
Robert tells her to switch her date with Claudia, because Mitch is lending his boat to somebody else for the entire rest of July after this weekend.
Stacey says she can't... then she gets an idea. What if Robert takes her sailing later, at 8:30, when Stacey and Claud are done with their date?
Robert thinks that's a great idea, and it's settled.
Stacey immediately begins fantasizing about making out with Robert onboard the sailboat in a long white dress, with no Mitch anywhere to be found. Perhaps she's going to murder him.
Stacey skips seeing Robert at five so that she can push Claud out the door for an early dinner without saying why. Claudia protests that she's not really hungry yet, and Stacey claims that she's starving.
At the beach house, Ed looks up guiltily from a phone conversation and hangs up. I suppose this is another plot device.
Claudia takes an extremely long time to pick out a nice outfit; finally she settles on a frumpy-sounding denim jumper. Stacey puts on a white dress so she can live out her fantasy-- look out, Mitch. Then she has to shower and braid her hair; it's late by the time they leave. Stacey finally gets Claudia out the door by pulling the diabetic card and saying she needs to eat right away, which is monstrous of her.
Ed tells them he's going to be at a party at Stud's house, and they're off.
It's six-twenty when they finally get to the restaurant. Stacey decides on her entree immediately; Claudia obsesses over whether to get the shrimp cocktail or the crab leg appetizer. Then she orders a soup course, the lobster thermidor, which will take an extra twenty minutes to prepare. She savors every tiny bite, muttering "this is Heaven," and I wish I was there with her. Love me some lobster. Stacey wants to scream at her to JUST EAT, but she doesn't dare. Claudia must not find out about the planned date with Robert. Stacey is finally about to ask for the check, when Claudia asks to see a dessert menu. "Somehow I always have room for dessert!"
Stacey's original plan had been to slowly walk Claudia home when they finished their date; instead, she's running down the boardwalk and runs into Robert on a bicycle.
Robert tells her they're "late," and the whole story spills out. For some reason Claudia says "Boy, am I a jerk," and I don't think that really sums up the problem at all. But 100 points to AMM for including the word "jerk" in a children's book about FIRE ISLAND.
Stacey chases after Claudia, trying to apologize, but Claudia will have none of it. She moves her things into the other guest room and slams the door.
That's all I have time for tonight, folks; more soon!