Monday, April 1, 2013

"I spent a lot of time imagining myself cruising to Manhattan in a hot red convertible." BSC #94: Stacey McGill, Super Sitter (1996)

Stacey needs to raise a lot of money so she can take Robert to a Broadway musical, so she takes a special sitting gig with a new family, the Cheplins. Mrs. Cheplin keeps piling more and more chores on Stacey, and Stacey can't get it all done. She misses out on fun times with her friends and Robert and eventually has to quit the job. Lame.

After Becca and Charlotte spy Logan and Kristy out shopping for a present for Mary Anne, they assume Logan is cheating on MA. They start a hate campaign against Logan and Kristy until the whole thing is sorted out. To make up for it, the kids make Logan and MA a "romantic" dinner. How realistic. (Also, how do they make it up to Kristy?)

Interesting Tidbits
We start the book with Stacey and Robert heading home from school; they go to Stacey's house to study. Her dad calls and freaks out because the two of them are home alone. Stacey says her mom's rule is that they have to stay in the kitchen. 1) How easy would it be to break that rule and never have mom know, as long as they keep track of time? 2) It's not like it's that hard to do in the kitchen what you can do in any other room.
Celebrity name dropping: Keanu Reeves, Winona Rider, Macauley Culkin. (Doesn't Dawn mention in one book that Maggie has met the first two of those? And Macauley Culkin wasn't exactly "cool" any more by 1996.)
Kristy calls Stacey from the mall to ask the BSC can afford to buy glue. Yeah. Even now, glue costs a couple bucks a container. If the treasury can't handle it, I'm sure someone could just pay for it and get paid back later.
Yet another BSC Valentines Day.
Claudia channels Dawn: she uses wax paper bags because they're more biodegradable than plastic.
I find it highly amusing when "super mature and sophisticated" Stacey calls out Mal and Jessi for acting like little kids. They're only two years younger than she is, and and it's not as if she's Miss Perfect. Sad bit is, when she does it (not out loud to them, just in her head), it's usually because they're having fun and being silly about something. Like in this one, they're doing high fives, low fives, behind the back fives, and every other kind of five they can think of. Doesn't sound so bad.
Mal says she needs the club notebook so she can write in it. I've always wondered about the logistics of that. How do they find time at the meetings to write up all the jobs, and also read everything everyone else wrote?
Isn't it convenient that, right after Stacey decides she needs to raise a lot of money, the BSC gets offered a daily sitting gig that pays really well? I think it might have been more interesting to watch Stacey try to steal everyone else's sitting gigs out from underneath them and get as many jobs as possible to raise the funds.
When Mrs. Cheplin meets Stacey, she complains right away that she's so young. She invites Stacey for a meeting without finding out any information about her. With the type of job Stacey's signing up for, it's different than a typical BSC job. You'd think Mrs. Cheplin would ask for some details before allowing the potential sitter to come to her house.
Actually, Mrs. Cheplin says she was hoping for a high school girl. A) Don't they always says that Stacey looks and acts older than she is? Then how does Mrs. Cheplin know she's not in high school anyway? B) What the Cheplins really need is a nanny or a housekeeper who is willing to babysit for a few hours. Something like the arrangement Dawn's dad has with his housekeeper, who keeps an eye on Jeff.
Robert is the king of bad bowling puns.
Robert and Stacey go on a double date wtih MA and Logan. It's actually fun to read, because they playfully banter back and forth.
Logan wants Stacey to go with him to pick out a V-Day ring for Mary Anne. Since she can't go, she suggests Kristy. Logan had enough sense to ask Stacey, who has fashion sense and whom Mary Anne kinda wants to be when she grows up (pathetic but true) and yet he still goes for this. Who lets Kristy pick out jewelry? Wouldn't Claudia be a better second choice?
Stacey's mom asks if Logan wants to ask Mary Anne to go steady. And I feel like we're back in the fifties. Instead of a ring, he should just pin her and take her to the sock hop. (Later, Stacey points out to her mom that Logan and MA are not getting engaged.)
Dana is a bit of a brat. She invites her best friend Mandy over and always wants her own way. When Stacey tells Dana to let Mandy choose the game, she fakes a diabetic reaction. She keeps doing this throughout the book whenever the other kids want to do something different than she wants to do, or when she doesn't want to go to her piano lesson. Part of this comes from, I'm sure, the fact that her family had to revolve around her diabetes for a while after she was diagnosed. She keeps telling Stacey that people should treat her special because she's sick.
Stacey told all the club members sans MA about Logan's plans for V-Day. Wouldn't it make more sense to keep it as secret as possible? The more people who know, the more likely it is someone will let it slip to MA. Isn't that what happened when Dawn moved back to CA?
Stacey actually has nightmares about Mrs. Cheplin's list of chores.
Apparently, Stacey is making more than double their normal babysitting rate. Even though she hates the job, she seriously starts thinking about sitting for the Cheplins for several years, so that she can get a down payment for a sports car. (No way you can afford to pay the payments AND the insurance on that one, sweetie.)
The triplets are making a snow fort and keep taking items from inside the house to make their fort even cooler. (I had to smile a bit when they wanted to put ice cream in the fort's ice chest.) Mallory tells them they can't take certain items, and that they're tracking mud and mess all through the house. It was actually fairly realistic when they ignored her/were rude to her--after all, she's their older sister and only one year older than they are!
Apparently, the kids of Stoneybrook really like Mary Anne and don't want to see her get hurt by Kristy (Crusty Toenails) and Logan. And they're poetic about it! To wit:

Crusty is a girl we know
she looks like Pinocchio
When she comes down the street
you can smell her dirty feet.
When she runs around the house
she looks like a scrawny mouse.
Crusty's clothes are never clean
she's ugly and she's really mean.


Logan is no friend of mine
He looks just like Frankenstein.
When he comes down the street
you can smell his dirty feet.
Logan is a dirty bum and he is
a great big crumb.

Stacey's mom gets a bit bitchy with her. Instead of saying, "I don't like you working so many hours because your grades are slipping, I never see you and I don't think it's healthy for you to be rushing around all the time," she accuses Stacey of being a workaholic like her dad. OUCH! And then she gives her fake smiles and the same kinds of looks she would give Stacey's dad when she wasn't happy with him.
Stacey's doing a slap-dash job on a massive research paper that's worth a quarter of her grade. Now, it's been a long time since I was in middle school, but I do recall that when they assign research papers like that, they don't just assign them and then have the students turn them in at the end of the term. There's a due date for some small step every so often. You have to turn in your list of resources by this date, you have to have made so many "note cards" by this date, you need to have an outline by this date and so on. Not only does it teach good habits on how to prepare a paper, but it also means that the kids can't "forget" about it until the week before and then turn in garbage...which is basically where Stacey is.
Stacey arrives at the Cheplins one day to find a ridiculously long list of chores, which she is unable to complete because Dana actually does have a diabetic reaction. Mrs. Cheplin doesn't even wait to hear why the house is a mess before she lays into Stacey. If I were Stacey, I would have quit right then. (I also take offense to the fact that Stacey always has to clean Adam's room. Adam's six, and he's old enough to clean his own room, for the most part.)
Totally out of nowhere, I just noticed two things.
1. Generally, kids in Stoneybrook all tend to have different names. That way, when they say Norman (Hill), or Charlotte (Johanssen), or Matt (Braddock), or Jenny (Prezzioso), there's only one of them. (Even though in real life, there would have been tons of Matts and Jennys in the 80s, and Kaitlins and Zachs in the 90s.) Yet Adam has the same name as another well-established character.
2. This book obviously takes place after MA got her hair cut in book #60. Yet the picture on the side of the front cover shows her with long hair, as she appears on the earlier books. Huh.
Logan notebook entry! He's babysitting for his brother and sister when a whole group of sitting clients, including the female Pikes, Becca, Haley, Jenny and even Kerry accuse him of seeing "another woman." Some of the lines are kinda hilarious (in a bad way.) For example, Margo actually says, "Poor, sweet, trusting Mary Anne." Of course, the whole truth comes out, and we learn that Kerry actually cancelled Logan's dinner reservations for V-Day. MA tells the kids they're sweet for being concerned, but Logan just scowls at them. (BTW, Buddy Barrett was with them too. He seems to be the only boy in the group. I'm not going to say it, but I'm sure you know what gutter my mind jumped into.)
During the V-Day dinner for Logan and MA, the kids sing the "romantic" songs from Lady and the Tramp and the Lion King, and Stacey says they're awful.
Stacey actually lets MA supervise her sitting charges during her dinner with Logan so that the Cheplins' housework gets done.
Ahh, I should have seen this coming. Part of the reason Stacey's mom has been so cranky and wanting to spend time with Stacey is that she's sad not to have a valentine of her own. With the BSC having 300 V-Days in eighth grade, it's truly easy to forget that it's been less than a year since Stacey's parents divorced.
After Mrs. Cheplin extends Stacey's "trial" for another two weeks, Stacey actually bursts into tears at the BSC meeting. After that, she finally tells them what's been going on. (I guess she doesn't have write notebook entries for the Cheplin jobs.)
I found the "author's note" in the back a little scary. It says that readers would write to AMM with their sitting problems. To me, this means that either A) the ten and eleven year olds that I remember reading the series were babysitting or B) the kids who were really old enough to babysit were still reading these books. Hopefully, it was more along the lines of the kids who used to read the series were now old enough to sit, but still dumb enough to think that AMM had the time to individually answer their letters and solve their sitting problems.
Once again, totally off topic. I was reading a fanfic series for a TV show I loved that began airing shortly after this book was published. In the fanfic, a geeky teen boy is trying to find "legitimate employment" and takes a babysitting job. He discovers too late that the sittee is insane and a psychopath. He calls the show's main character during dinner and asks her for help. When she comes back to the dinner table, she says, "Emergency Babysitters Club business."
Stacey: hot pink parka and woolen gloves
Claudia: long sleeved tie-dyed shirt, black leggings with patches of tie dye sewn into them; tie-dyed scrunchie. (Remember when scrunchies were cool?)
New characters:
Dana and Adam Cheplin (8 and 6)--25 and 23
Next week: Mystery #1 Stacey and the Missing Ring

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