Wednesday, September 24, 2014

“I didn’t know you could apply physics to cosmetology.” BSC #58: Stacey’s Choice (1992)

So it’s apropos that I’m reading this book now. I was supposed to read it last weekend, but instead my dad decided to come visit me. He says he didn’t find out that the Red Sox were playing the Royals until after he booked the trip. I said (not to his face, mind you) that he’s full of bull. On the plus side, we actually got to talk without trying to kill each other and the Royals beat the Red Sox while we were at the K. Go Royals! Anyway, back to Stacey’s dad problems instead of mine…
Just when you think Stacey’s parents are actually going to be civil to each other…. It was only 15 books ago, after all, that Stacey had her emergency and told her parents off for putting her in the middle. They promised to do better, but I guess they failed. Stacey’s mom gets really sick, and, seeing as they’re a two person family, Stacey feels responsible for caring for her. Her dad gets a promotion at work and wants her to come to some event with him, but she feels like she can’t leave her mom. Communication in this whole family pretty well stinks, and it only improves whenever Stacey forces the matter.
Meanwhile, the kids have been ordering stuff from the back of magazines and comics, and when it doesn’t live up to the advertisements, they try to sell it to others.
Interesting Tidbits
Well, I feel foolish. I was looking at the cover, thinking, ‘Which one is Stacey and which one is Dawn?’ Then I looked to the left, where all the babysitter faces are sitting…and the ‘Stacey’ face is from this book. Whoops.

Other than that, these girls are very fashionable for 1992. Except I would have expected to see more mall-hair style bangs. Oh, and this actually happens in the book!
According to this, Dee is just a nickname that Ms. McGill calls Mrs. Pike.
Hee hee. Dawn has “a lot of admirers.” I don’t know why that phrasing strikes my fancy, but it does.
Oh, I’ve always remembered this! One time I retold this story to my mom, only I thought it was something that had happened to one of my friends (rather than Kristy.) She says she bought a tape of old rock and roll songs performed by the original artists, but when the tape arrived, it was a bunch of remade songs performed by a band called…the Original Artists.
The introduction of the Rosebud Café! I didn’t realize it wasn’t around before this. Although, they do tend to go to places like Good Time Charley’s and Friendly’s in the earlier books.
Stacey’s dad may regret inviting her to his promotion dinner when he sees the type of outfit she buys for it. (see below) Stacey’s mom says it’s perfect, however.
Buddy wants to order a book called How to Become Mr. Muscle so he can look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I’m enjoying the plotline with the kids ordering crap from the back of magazines (something I was never allowed to do, as my mom told me all of it was a rip off) way more than Stacey’s plot. Is that bad? Dawn is sitting for the Barretts when half the neighborhood comes over and talks about what they’ve ordered. Haley ordered wart remover and Jake ordered a kit to grow catnip. When Dawn asks if she has warts/he has a cat, they’re both like, no, but….someone must!
Stacey wants to write a Divorce Handbook to help children of divorced parents through. Even though I’m in my thirties and my parents get along better than Stacey’s do, I’d buy it.
One of the funniest bits about the mail-order storyline is that Vanessa ordered a bust developer. Everyone (especially the flat-chested Kristy) is interested in seeing it and if it works. Later, when the kids are trying to sell their products off, Claire keeps asking everyone what a bust developer does, but no one will tell her.
During an argument between Buddy and Suzi, at one point Suzi’s name is spelled Suzy, despite the fact that it’s spelled correctly in the paragraph before and after.
Stacey and Dawn have a talk about divorce, which is actually quite nice. It’s one thing the two of them have in common, and it’s good to see them getting along after the last book, when Stacey (rightfully) wanted to kill Dawn. Dawn points out that she doesn’t get caught between her parents as often as Stacey does, but when she does, it’s much worse because a plane trip is involved.
Stacey goes to the Pikes to do her homework, but she can’t get anything done because all the kids are feeling ‘gypped’ over spending all their money on mail order garbage, when all they really want is yo-yos. (Like a family like the Pikes wouldn’t have a yo-yo or five lying around somewhere). Mal suggests they go ask for an advance on their allowances…just so they’ll leave her and Stacey alone. Every now and then, I love Mal.
And now I love her even more. Mrs. Pike picks up Stacey, Mal and Jessi at school with Claire riding along. Mal, Jessi and Claire start pretending Stacey is going on a long trip (instead of just staying overnight in NYC) so they start yelling stuff like, “Don’t forget to write,” and “Have fun in Spain!”
I have spent most of the book feeling sorry for Stacey, but there have been a couple of times I’ve just wanted to slap her. Like during this line: “I decided I had been away from New York too long. I was losing my grip on sophistication.”
Stacey wonders what happens to the homeless when they die. Her dad thinks she’s being morbid, but it’s a valid question. I read a book about street kids—runaways, throwaways, foster kids, rebels, etc—and every so many chapters began with the backstory of one of the kids…who then left the streets during that chapter. Truly sad and depressing. One froze to death; one was murdered; one’s parents came and picked him up (not so sad); one’s grandparents were found so that she could safely go home; and one was carted off to the loony bin, if you’ll excuse the term. I wish I could remember the name of that book. The main character went by the street name of Maybe. Sound familiar to anyone else?
When Stacey gets back from NYC, the issue of communication comes up. Stacey’s dad had told her he’d schedule a visiting nurse to watch her mom, but never told her he’d actually followed through on that. Meanwhile, both Stacey and Mrs. Pike were arranging neighbors to watch Stacey’s mom as well. Apparently, instead of drawing up a calendar or a schedule, they each just called people. (Later, you find out that Stacey had made a calendar, but Mrs. Pike never saw it.) So there were multiple people showing up at the same time, when they weren’t even needed. Stacey’s parents both try to tell her she can’t be responsible for everything and everyone, but to me that’s not really the issue. If her dad had just said to her, “Stacey, don’t worry. I will hire a visiting nurse to spend the weekend with your mother so you can come visit me without worrying,” and then later told her exactly what he’d lined up, this book wouldn’t have happened.
Haley has to figure out how to explain what a rap is to Matt. I don’t envy her for that task.
This book made me laugh twice. Once during the Pike family rumpus and once during the door-to-door show the kids make up for selling their products. (They don’t sell anything, but the parents pay the kids for their plays and raps and pantomimes.) When the wagon train shows up at the Pikes, Mr. Pike says, “Heavenly days!” Mal (who is helping, along with Stacey, supervise the show) gets all embarrassed, and Stacey responds, “My father says ‘I swan,’” which he did indeed do earlier in the story.
One last question about the little traveling show. All the kids who were involved in skits or raps or whatever earned money from the parents they performed for. That explains how most of these kids recouped their funds. But Haley steadfastly refused to perform, so is she just out her lost money, or did they share with her?
The title quote is a Claudia line. She bought crow’s feet remover from Haley (so I guess she did get some money. I don’t know why I wonder about crap like that) and wrinkle remover from the Pikes. Stacey explains that what Claudia’s worried about its just laugh lines, and that your skin has to go somewhere when you smile: “It’s, like, a law of physics.”
“Children are never boring.” Thank you for that insight, Kristy.
Kristy: jeans, red sweatshirt, sneakers
Stacey: hot pink silk jacket, black leggings, pink and black socks, black bodysuit, black flats

Next week: We’re finishing out September with mystery #6: The Mystery at Claudia’s House, one of my favorite mysteries


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Can't Get There From Here? Todd Strasser

  3. The book sounds really interesting. Google thinks it's Can't Get There from here, like Rose suggested.