Friday, February 20, 2015

“Life is a cheeseburger.” BSC #70: Stacey and the Cheerleaders (1993)

So I’m interrupting my weekend to read this book. I remember being super-annoyed by it the first time around, though I cannot recall why. All I can tell you is it’s going to take a lot of cocoa—peppermint cocoa covered in peppermint whipped topping—to get through it again.
Stacey gets the attention of a basketball player named RJ. The team has been winning and the players—and cheerleaders—are getting a lot of undeserved perks like getting to cut class and getting passed despite not doing the work. Things don’t work out between Stacey and RJ, but she makes friends with some of the cheerleaders and winds up dating basketball player Robert. After Stacey doesn’t make the cheerleading squad because of some shenanigans, Robert quits the basketball team and brings all the perks to the attention of the administration.
Meanwhile, Shannon’s sister Tiffany has been being a holy terror. The BSC realizes that little sister Maria has suddenly turned into a super swimmer, while Shannon, of course, is a super student. They both have all these awards, while Tiffany’s a terrible student with no hobbies and no awards. They help her decide she needs a hobby that’s something she enjoys, rather than something she can use to ‘beat’ her sisters. She winds up happy again, planning a garden for the backyard.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Stacey’s hair is not attractive here. And those shoes are very white. (Also, this doesn’t happen in the book. Stacey doesn’t babysit once in the book.)

Heh: the story starts with Stacey getting hit by a snowball while wearing new pants. The pants leave streaks all over the snow.
Did your middle school/junior high have one basketball team, or were the teams divided by grades? We always had separate teams for the grades. Much like the SMS team (for all three grades, although it mostly seems to be eighth graders), our seventh grade boys’ basketball team went undefeated. Our coach—and math teacher—had promised the boys that if they went undefeated, he’d shave his head. I think he regretted that.
Stacey says she’s not boy-crazy. Um, there’s even a book talking about how boy crazy she is. I think that by this point she’s dated or been obsessed with more boys than all the other BSC members put together. She mentions Sam, Pete, Austin, Wes (the sub), and there’s the Scott the lifeguard. I’m sure we could come up with others in the comments, too.
When Stacey tells everyone RJ asked her out, Kristy can’t believe someone in The Group* would date someone who wasn’t a member of The Group. Claudia suggests that maybe RJ’s dated all the girls already.
*The Group seems to be a common name for selective cliques in the media. I remember it was the name of the kids who smoked marijuana on an episode of The Facts of Life. (It was quite possibly the second cheesiest anti-drug episode in the history of television—after that Saved by the Bell one. “I’m so excited! I’m so…scared!”)
There’s this one sentence in the description of Kristy that so poorly written that I had to read it four times before I figured out that it wasn’t a mistake.
Dawn’s been gone for a couple months, but MA is talking about her like she’s dead: “Dawn loved blue chips.” She’s also depressed because she hasn’t heard from her for two days.
Stacey suggests that Claudia dresses hiply and funkily. Reminds me of how my sister and I used to make adverbs out of everything, to the point where if you were being a jerk, you were behaving assily or assholily.
Shannon is mentioned as being an associate member, despite the fact that she’s been the alternate officer for the past two books and is listed as the alternate officer on the back cover. It would be fair to assume that she wouldn’t be able to come to every meeting, though. (She actually is at that meeting, when the job they can’t find a sitter for…is at her house.)
Tiffany, who was introduced as age eleven, has, like many other characters behind her, traveled back in time. Shannon says she missed the terrible twos and is now having the terrible tens.
Did you know Logan is cute with a capital Q? I didn’t. That must be the new alphabet, like the new math.
Why would anyone wear a unitard? Especially a plaid one and especially on a date. It’s like a camel toe waiting to happen. Stacey calls it a ‘beautiful new outfit.’
The date with RJ is a movie and pizza. After the movie, Stacey rates it as a 3 out of 10, but then she gets over it because they run into RJ’s friends at Pizza Express. She clearly likes his friends more than she likes him.
And we’re introduced to Robert, who becomes Stacey’s boyfriend for the next almost thirty books.
Ahh. Middle school cheers. I mostly remember our KMS cheerleaders doing the old “You say Kaneland, we say Knights” and “What’s your battle cry? V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!” I’m trying to decide which of these cheers is better; feel free to vote:
            A tisket! A tasket! Put it in the basket! Who’s the best? SMS! Yeaaaaa, team! (SMS Chargers)
            The Lions can’t be beat! They’re lightning on their feet! They’re the best team on our street…or lots of other streets. (LHS Lions)
Reading this book this time around (now that I’ve had the privilege of reading #83, which will definitely be a OH HELL YEAH! moment) is way more interesting. You get all the little hints that Stacey finds the BSC embarrassing and childish. Love it!
I like Kristy, but you all know I find her to be a little much. (She’s the kind of person I would never have been friends with growing up.) After SMS wins the big game, she totally embarrasses Stacey (and probably everyone else in the club) by whistling loudly and shouting across the entire gym.
I love this: when the BSC arrives at Kristy’s for their sleepover, they find a giant spread of food and Watson wearing a chef’s hat and apron. They all get ready to thank him for all the effort…until Elizabeth points out he just called the deli and ordered it all. He laughs and runs away before Kristy can peg him with a strawberry.
The title quote is part of Stacey’s confusion after Sheila tells her that Robert likes her. She can’t comprehend the idea. I’m still having trouble understanding why myself. Don’t get me wrong, Stacey’s not my least favorite babysitter. She ranks somewhere in the lower middle of the group. (As much as I love numbers, I will NOT actually rank the BSC…right now.) I just don’t understand why so many guys are so into her. It must be because she’s so sophisticated, right?
Stacey said she’s never seen cheerleaders before she moved to Stoneybrook, because they didn’t have them in her school in NYC. Let’s ignore the fact that she’s apparently never watched a professional sports game; I’ll buy that. (I’ve never actually seen a sports game with cheerleaders outside of school games.) She says that girls preferred having their own teams to cheering the boys in her old school. Well, Title IX says that, in publicly funded institutions, schools cannot discriminate between boys and girls. Therefore, there must be an equal number of girls’ teams to boys’ teams and the funding must be the same. In high school we counted up the sports teams and sure enough, they were equal. (Well, sorta. You had to compare girls’ bowling to boys’ wrestling, but there you go.) Yet we still had cheerleaders anyway. And my junior year, boys even started joining the squad. We had three guy cheerleaders my senior year.
We finally get to the B plot in chapter six.
There is apparently a ‘Haitian cotton’ couch in the Kilbourne’s TV room. I don’t even know what that is, so how is Kristy (of the turtlenecks and jeans) supposed to recognize that?
Kristy’s sitting job for Tiffany and Maria reminds me of me and my sister growing up…except that I didn’t hit her with a yo-yo. I usually just hit her upside the head (and she usually antagonized me into doing it.) Tiffany’s taking out some aggression and hostility on Maria, who’s actually an innocent victim…at first. Later she’s totally egging Tiffany on by pointing out all her honors and trophies and saying Tiffany’s just jealous. (Probably true, but completely unnecessary…also completely realistic.)
I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I like Shannon’s family because it’s sort of realistic. Her parents don’t really get along but also don’t fight constantly like Stacey’s before the divorce. In families with more than a couple kids, there’s always the one who feels like a screw-up in comparison to the sibs. There’s also the ongoing fighting and trying to outdo each other….you almost get the feeling Maria got so into swimming so that she could get some recognition instead of Shannon having all the awards.
Claudia math: 98.2% of girls under age 14 with a single hair kinks report that their dates fell madly in love with them. She read a study, you know. In the Connecticut Journal of Hair Disorders.
Ha! Mary Anne the Meek and Tiffany the Terrible. Awesome. What’s interesting is that Mary Anne figures out Tiffany’s problem…well, half of it. She suggests that Tiffany needs a hobby, but she doesn’t catch the significance of Tiffany’s last statement: “I know I’ll find a hobby I can beat Shannon and Maria with.” I really read into that when I was a kid. I guess I find this more significant than the average person because every activity I joined growing up, my sister followed me into. I did Girl Scouts and 4H; so did she. I played with the band and wrote for the school paper; so did she. The only thing we differed on was sports; she played tennis and I played soccer. And I always felt that she did that to try to one-up me. She wanted to beat me at being me.
Mallory’s too sick to babysit, but apparently she’s not too sick to watch Stacey try out for the cheerleading squad. (Don’t get me wrong; I realize this takes a lot less effort than sitting, but I feel like her parents wouldn’t approve of that.)
Hell, even Shannon came from her school to cheer Stacey on. I’m surprised Logan wasn’t there, too. (Too much estrogen for him, perhaps?)
Claudia spelling time: Tifany (twice), hobies, knoe, realise. She also uses hopping for hoping and says that mary ann opened a can of werms.
Claudia solves the second half of the Tiffany problem by pointing out that a hobby isn’t a weapon against others, but something you enjoy doing. She sets out to try to turn Tiffany into an artist but obviously that doesn’t work out. The two of them also commiserate over having older sisters they feel inferior to.
Because Tiffany is so happy when Mrs. Kilbourne comes home, she jokingly asks to adopt Claudia. But all Claudia really did was say, “What really interests you?” If her parents weren’t so busy and self-involved, they could have done the same thing.
Stacey is so charming in this book. She nearly barfs, she burps and she’s got hiccups. At least she’s realistic.
I never tried out for cheerleading because I knew I could never be a cheerleader. But my sister did once, and the girls who were already on the cheerleading squad had absolutely nothing to do with selecting the new crew. Only the coaches had a say in who got selected. It prevents the kind of pettiness that leads to Stacey—the best candidate—not getting the spot on the cheerleading squad. The other girls are afraid she’s too good and will show them up.
And of course Stacey’s the best. The BSC is only bad at things as a plot point. Claudia’s a terrible student, but that’s okay, because she’s the best artist ever. Stacey is a math genius. Jessi’s the world’s greatest dancer (and choreographer). Mallory gets straight As and wins awards for her writing.
I’m still not sure what annoyed me about this book as a kid.
Stacey: plum corduroy pants and white down coat; black and white plaid unitard, black sweater; jeans, white cardigan with floral embroidery (seems a little girly for someone who just wore a unitard), suede ankle boots
Claudia: baggy wool pants, black belt (or a black leather band, as the book calls it for some reason…), white tuxedo shirt, flats, one black sock and one white sock, glittery bow tie barrette; men’s white shirt, spandex bell bottoms, vest (put a hat on her and she’s Blossom)
New characters:
Basketball players: RJ Blaser, Robert Brewster, Marty Bukowski, Malik Joffrey, Wayne McConnell (party on, Wayne!)
Cheerleaders: Darcy Redmond, Sheila McGregor, Margie Greene, Penny
Weller, Corinne Baker
Next week: Ready for some extra-extra-stupidness? Mystery #12 Dawn and the Surfer Ghost


  1. Stacey BFs: Toby, Pierre, Ethan (though he hadn't appeared yet), Ross Brown (he and Stacey liked each other in 18 but I don't know if they ever went out with each other and then he dated Anna near the end of the series.)

    Just as a comparison,
    Kristy: Alan, Bart, Michel
    MA: Logan, Cam Geary, Alex
    Claudia: Tim, Will, Guy, Terry, Trevor, Mark, Josh, plus all her one-time dates in 71. Also likes Arthur Feingold in 50. I also think she, at one point, mentions that some guy named Ron Belkis is cute but it's too bad he's in grade seven. Reminding me of the DJH/DH episode I watched yesterday out of nostalgia where the Degrassi seniors are taking some classes at the high school and some guy sees Lucy and mentions her to his friend. The friend refers to Lucy as "a Minor Niner" but the original guy doesn't care because Lucy is so cute.
    Dawn: Parker Harris, Price Irving, Lewis, likes Bruce Schermerhorn, dates Pete Black starting in book 60.
    Shannon: tons of them (mentioned in 38, I think) but don't get their names
    Jessi: Quint
    Mal: Ben

    Was the Kristy sentence the one about K living across the street from C until she was 7?

    I like A Tisket, A Tasket better but neither is great.

  2. Regarding Title IX and Washington (state) cheerleading is classified as an activity rather than a sport, so it doesn't count as another girls' sport. Furthermore, boys can join if they want to.

    Ah, the plum pants. Outfits don't usually register to me, but the plum pants stand out in my memory.