Thursday, June 25, 2015

“Is this was a stakeout—or a pigout?” BSC Mystery #18: Stacey and the Mystery at the Empty House (1994)

Sorry that updates have been so sparse. Now that I’ve survived nasal surgery, I’m hopefully going to be back to doing one book a week, but updates may come every couple of weeks—or even once a month—like this.
We’re finishing up 1994 with this little gem, which I have not read before. Let’s see if I can solve the mystery before Stacey does.
Stacey’s housesitting for the Johanssens, and ‘mysterious’ things keep happening: small details like a warm coffeemaker that no one should have been using, a glass that was moved, a hairbrush with red hair in it. She worries that someone’s been in the house besides the dog. And someone has. He’s a friend of the Johanssens that pops in unannounced. He left Stacey a note but Carrot the dog ate it.
Meanwhile, Kristy throws yet another BSC party, because it can’t be a holiday without an illogical party. Watson was given a hay or sleigh ride as a gift, and the BSC decides to take a whole mess of little childers with them. Unfortunately, the Arnold twins only hear ‘sleigh ride’ and tell everyone that’s what will be happening. Luckily for the BSC, it snows at the last second, causing their butts to be saved.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Why do they always describe Stacey as having a perm, yet she rarely has one on the cover?

Ooh, I love when we learn things about the BSC parents. Stacey’s surprised to learn that her mother spent her junior year of college in Paris and almost married a boy named Jean-Paul.
Claudia Kishi, the Junk Food Queen of Stoneybrook
Haha! Charlotte speaks French as well as Tessie does. (Sorry, Tess, but it’s true.) Mercy buckets!
This book actually takes place before SS #12, because Dawn’s not back from Cali yet. I wasn’t sure when I planned book order out, and anyway, I didn’t want to read two Staceys back to back.
This isn’t surprising, but I don’t think it’s been mentioned before: Claudia is constantly redecorating her Kid-Kit.
Robert keeps calling Carrot other vegetable names: Zucchini, Rutabaga, Eggplant, Celery. Not only is it cute, it’s understandable. I mean, why did the Johanssens name their dog Carrot anyway? (I shouldn’t talk, though, given that two of the three cats I’ve named are character namesakes: Scout and Dobby)
Stacey thinks she’s silly for talking to Carrot. Obviously, she’s never had a pet.
Chapter three includes a detailed description of the Johanssen house. If I were a different sort of person, I’d definitely have to include a blueprint here for your perusal.
While Stacey’s mom reads the paper (about the dangerous escaped convict), Stacey checks her horoscope. Good to know she’s got her priorities in order!
Every time they describe Carolyn Arnold’s hair as being “short in the front with longer curls in the back,” all I can think is, ‘it’s a ****ing mullet!’
The Arnolds are that family everyone knows that over-decorate their house. There used to be a house in St. Charles, Illinois where there were so many lights that literally every brick was outlined. That’s how I’m picturing the Arnolds’ house. Also, Mrs. Arnold makes at least two batches of cookies a day. I love sweets, but that’s a lot of damn cookies. Maybe she should get a job if she’s got that much time on her hands.
So the mystery doesn’t start in earnest until chapter 6, when Stacey finds a drinking glass in the Johanssen’s sink that wasn’t there before. Then she finds the coffeemaker warm, trash in a previously empty trash can and Carrot’s leash is moved. She starts getting paranoid, understandably so, but she jumps straight to the assumption that the escaped convict must be living in the Johanssen’s house!
Ha! The meter reader who scares the shit out of Stacey tells her to never get involved romantically with a coworker. Stacey assures her she won’t, but I kept thinking about all the fanfic I’ve read where Stacey’s dated just about every member of the BSC.
The rest of the BSC doesn’t learn about the mystery until chapter 8, when Stacey counts up that nine weird things had happened. This is opposed to some of the other members who hear something slightly weird and automatically go straight to the rest of the club screaming that there’s a mystery! (Mostly this is just Mallory, which is funny because Mallory doesn’t even get to narrate any of the mysteries except that stupid cat one.) Does this say something about Stacey, or Mallory?
It’s definitely Stacey. She doesn’t even tell Robert what’s going on. Trust issues much?
Claudia praises Shannon for winning a debate, and then politely asks her what it was about. Any fool could tell you that Claudia wasn’t going to understand what Shannon was talking about, so I don’t know why a) Claud asked or b) Shannon even bothered answering.
Heh. Since Dawn’s gone, someone has to suggest that a ghost is at work! (Plus, it gives Jessi a purpose.)
Oh, look, a whole page long description of a book I just read a few weeks ago. I better read that closely, in case I forgot what just happened. /sarcasm
This is followed by a three page discussion of Chanukah, which is already over. (Mary Anne is sitting for the Kuhn family, so that’s good consistency.)
Hah! Stacey is still wearing a Swatch. It’s not 1987 anymore!
A new clue (a bright red hair in a hairbrush at the Johanssens’) sends Stacey calling Claudia in a panic. When Stacey shouts ‘hair’ into the phone, Claud assumes she’s having a ‘hair emergency.’ Leave it to the two of them.
Ooh, time for an emergency BSC meeting!
I love the on-going BSC logic that they shouldn’t call the police, even though they believe that someone has broken into/trespassed in the Johanssen house. I get it, to some extent, given that they got the brush-off from cops in the past, but they don’t even call the police when they have actual evidence of a crime in some of these books.
When Nicky says he hates all girls, Jessi tries to lighten the situation by asking him if he likes her. He says she’s the only girl he likes—not even his own sisters (or Marilyn Arnold, the reason the topic comes up in the first place.) That sounds about right for an eight year old boy.
The title quote comes from the stakeout-sleepover at Jessi’s, which is designed to allow the BSC to keep an eye on the Johanssens’ house. Jessi discovers that the Johanssens have the same answering machine her family does; it also has a really stupid feature that will help their surveillance. Basically, it’s like an extremely primitive nanny cam: by calling the house and putting in a special code, they can hear what’s going on in the same room. Mary Anne asks if that’s legal, but Stacey figures that being paid to watch the house means it’s fine to eavesdrop on it in any way, shape or form.
Sharon made hot chocolate. Is it made with carob and coconut milk?
During the post-sleigh ride party, Logan and Mary Anne ‘slipped off quietly.’ My brain went straight to a quiet make out session outside of the barn, but they really went to dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus.
So the kids decide they luuuuuuuuuuv the BSC so much they have to give them gifts. Kristy gets a personalized ball cap; Stacey, papier-mâché earrings; Claudia, junk food (lol); Shannon, bead necklace; Jessi, hair ties; Mal, sketch book. The lamest gifts were Vanessa ‘portrait’ of Tigger for Mary Anne (canNOT be good) and Logan’s…rock with his name on it.
Sappy ending. Blah!
Stacey: silk teddy (ooh!), thermal shirt and leggings, turtleneck, heavy multicolored sweater…but apparently, no pants besides her thermal leggings. And why does Stacey even own a teddy?

Next: #82 Jessi and the Troublemaker

“She has these things called lava lamps, which look like pig embryos swimming around in colored water tanks.” BSC Super Special #12: Here Come the Bridesmaids (1994)

Okay. Can I go on record right away and state that I think this is the stupidest of the super specials? Dumber than when the Ramseys left Jessi in charge for the weekend (hello, social services!) and even dumber than Watson wanting to bring 700 kids on every single one of his vacations. Let me rephrase that: The meta-plot itself is not dumb, but the plot that comes about because several of the babysitters don’t have basic common sense is just mind-numbingly stupid. Part of it is just plain stupidness and part of it is that this is the ultimate “Dawn is self-centered and annoying” book. Let’s have a look at her logic for a second, shall we?
1.    My dad is getting married.
2.    I have a step-sister I call my sister.
3.    Therefore, Mary Anne is a bridesmaid.
Now, I never read this one in 1994, but I think I would have had to call bullshit on that even then. Let’s change the point of view on this logic for a second, shall we?
1.    I’m getting married.
2.    My future step-daughter has a step-sister down the other side of her family that she calls her sister.
3.    Therefore, my future husband’s ex-wife’s stepdaughter is a bridesmaid.
In case you couldn’t tell, Dawn’s father is getting married. And, coincidentally (and stupidly) Mrs. Barrett is also getting married on the same day on the other side of the country. There are several things going on here, although not everyone really has their own plot. Here’s the highlights.
·      Dawn tells Mary Anne she’s a bridesmaid, even going so far as to buy her a matching bridesmaids dress. When Carol and her dad tell Dawn she’s the only bridesmaid, Mary Anne ends up feeling hurt and angry (sorta understandably). But for some crazy reason, she wears the stupid bridesmaids dress to the wedding anyway.
·      Claudia is an unpaid wedding planner for the Shafer-Olson nuptial. She has no idea what she’s doing but everything turns out okay anyway. And for some unexplained reason, Kristy also goes to the wedding.
·      Due to some really ridiculous circumstances, Stacey winds up a bridesmaid in the Barrett-DeWitt wedding. It’s even more boring than it sounds.
·       No one else really has any story, but we still get chapters from the point of view from Jessi (who plays a mall Santa), Mallory and Shannon (who babysit the Barrett-DeWitt rejects* during the wedding, and, in Mallory’s case, get into stupid fights that no one cares about), Jeff (who’s being a typical ten-year-old), Logan and Suzi (Logan helps everyone move in and solves a book-long problem. *turn on sarcasm font* Way to go, Logan!)
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: hideous bridesmaid/faux-bridesmaid dresses. Why does Mary Anne have a bouquet, though?

OMG…the picture of Dawn and Sunny dress shopping is awesome…if only because a) take out the scrunchy and b) turn the boots into shorter Docs and you have ME, circa 1994! I lived in those babydoll dresses and fake boots! I tried to upload it to from my phone but no go. I'll try again later.
Jill says that Dawn can totally wear her bridesmaids dress again. This is always patently false.
In the notebook entry for chapter two, Stacey gives us this classic line: “What is figgy pudding anyway? It sounds revolting.”
She then follows this by singing Christmas carols with redone lyrics to match what she’s doing at that moment. Still not as good as the “Not Always Working” post with my favorite song parody of all time: “Do you want to hide some bodies? It doesn’t have to be just one!” (sung to the tune of Do you want to build a snowman)
I feel like the ghostwriters shoved Stacey into a whole bunch of scenes with the Barrett-DeWitts over the last so many books just as an excuse to have Stacey be the last-minute bridesmaid stand-in. Honestly, I don’t get why a replacement bridesmaid is even really necessary. You don’t have to have the same number of attendants on each side. My sister had seven bridesmaids and nine groomsmen, and it was fine. No one died.
Stacey’s sitting job? Supervising the Barrett-DeWitt kids at the house, outside in the snow, while the house was being worked on. Wouldn’t it have made much more sense for the parents to hire two sitters and have the kids stay somewhere else? (Although it does lead to this humorous moment: The adults are discussing the paint color in the kitchen. Mrs. Barrett suggests it’s too dark, and Lindsey suggests it’ll cover food stains better that way.)
I actually like this: Mallory is mis-singing song lyrics. I mean, the triplets had to learn that skill somewhere (or maybe she got it from them.) But she’s purposely singing the lyrics wrong to songs just to make her friends laugh. It’s Shannon’s fault: she makes her friends sing (which Jessi calls “a little like getting rhinos to try to tap dance.”) When Mal insists she can’t sing, Shannon makes it her mission to force Mal to sing. She ends up agreeing that Mal, indeed, cannot sing.
I should have known this was a Peter Lerangis book. They’ve got the best lines. Claudia, regarding Bellair’s “lost Santa Claus”: “Disappeared between men’s shoes and home appliances, huh? I know that area. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle.”
Jessi’s worried that they won’t want a black eleven year old girl for a Santa. The Bellair employee’s response? Last year’s Santa was a teenaged boy with long hair and an earring who kept saying, “Yo, what’s up?” instead of the standard Santa fare.
Claire’s favorite Christmas gift last year? A hole puncher from Mallory. I don’t know if this is awesome or pathetic.
Mal and Ben are singing Christmas carols with a bunch of little kids, including all Ben’s brothers and their friends. One of the kids is Jake Kuhn. He’s established to be Jewish, but I guess it really doesn’t matter. “Deck the Halls” isn’t a religious carol; you could argue it’s a New-Years carol instead.
Oh, and they sing “Oh Chanukah” later, so I guess it’s fair.
Mal and Ben’s fight? It’s not as dorky as the time they were arguing about how to use the card catalog, but still pretty dumb. Mal agreed to take the kids caroling with Ben, only she accidentally double-booked herself by agreeing to sit for the Barrett-DeWitt kids during the wedding.
Suzi Barrett wants to write like Stacey someday, with hearts on her Is. Aim higher, Suz. Aim higher! (Later Stacey helps her write a letter and she does, indeed, put a heart on the I in her name.)
Did you know that Suzi is five and five-twelfths? I swear, I learned fractions as a kid only by describing my age. “I’m seven and two-thirds!”
When did Mr. Barrett move to Milwaukee? I think it’s interesting how many of these recently-divorced dads in these books move halfway across the country from their kids. It’s not just Mr. Barrett; Mr. Kuhn lives in Texas. I think there are other examples as well. I know that sort of thing happens, especially as Mr. Kuhn was described as moving for work. But Suzi actually refers to her BIOLOGICAL FATHER as her “old daddy.” That tells me that he makes no effort to see her and she considers Franklin DeWitt her “new daddy.”
Come to think of it, what happened to the original Mrs. DeWitt that Franklin has custody of their kids? Maybe she’s dead or moved away. But I prefer to think that Franklin has never been married before and his four kids all have different biological mothers. Maybe I’m just a sick person, but I get a lot of pleasure from that thought.
Suzi’s biggest problem with her new house? It has no chimney, so Santa can’t get in. I didn’t have a chimney in the house I lived in when I was Suzi’s age, so such things never occurred to me. We moved when I was six to a house with two fireplaces, and we got to hang our stockings by the chimney for the first time. That’s when I started wondering about Santa for the first time. Buddy suggests that Santa will come in via a hole in the bathroom floor that’s waiting for a toilet. That is such a big brother line.
Suzi logic: Santa doesn’t know they’re moving, so when they aren’t at their old house, he’ll assume they’re dead and give their presents away. I don’t know why Mrs. Barrett doesn’t just say, “I already called Santa and gave him our new address.” (BTW, I have Santa on speed dial from two Christmases ago when my niece and nephew wouldn’t go to sleep.)
When Mary Anne wants to leave early for the airport to make sure she’s on time, Richard pretends to be insulted that she’s trying to get away from him. Oh, and Sharon gets brownies for the trip. MA says that the last time she made brownies she forgot the eggs, but I’d be more concerned that they were green bean-carob brownies. (Yes, these exist. And they’re actually pretty good…if you’re not expecting them to be chocolate.) It’s okay, though, because she didn’t actually bake these; she bought them.
MA logic: she doesn’t watch the safety presentation on the plane because Kristy’s watching it, and if they crash, she’ll just do whatever Kristy’s doing.
The only reason Jeff writes in Dawn’s wedding journal? Mrs. Bruen tells him to. You know who has the real power in that house.
Carol apparently has a lot of lava lamps. Jeff’s commentary on them is the title quote….although, how does he know what a pig embryo looks like? He hasn’t taken high school biology….
The reason Jeff gets chapters, other than he’s there? (He was also ‘there’ in several other books, where he didn’t get chapters. I think this is actually the first time we get Jeff’s POV, and you know I love it.) He hates Carol’s furniture and doesn’t want it taking over his house. It’s really just symptomatic of the way he feels Carol will be taking over his house. He also worries, for example, that Carol coming in means Mrs. Bruen will go away.
Jeff logic: Don’t get married; you’ll just fight. If you want to fight, just fight with your friends. That way you never have to kiss and makeup.
I have to take bets on how long the Schafer-Olsons will stay married. Their planning is as good as Sharon and Richard’s: they don’t discuss which furniture will go and which will stay until Jeff brings it up…two days before the wedding. The difference between those set of Jeff’s parents and the other is that it causes a loud argument between Jack and Carol. Considering they just broke up a couple months ago…it doesn’t look too good.
Hey, Maggie! Quit stealing my nickname for Mary Anne! Get your own!
Interestingly enough, in the photo of the We heart Kids club meeting, Maggie is wearing exactly what she’s described as wearing. Though I’m not sure how she was able to grow her hair so long….hmmm….
Oooh, Claudia spelling time! Pallo (Palo), Desember, persin, weding, servise, gere (gear). She also uses your for you’re and then…drumroll…writes a whole sentence without a mistake in it! Shock!
Claudia tried to cajole her parents into letting her go to the wedding…even though she doesn’t know what that means.
The best part about Claudia the wedding coordinator (other than the fact that she just nodded and agreed with everything the florist said)? She’s not spending her own money and wasn’t given a budget, so she’s not even paying attention to how much money she’s spending. Hee hee! I’ve read this before, so I know it works out well, but there was a fair shot that Mr. Schafer would demand his money back for the half of Claudia’s plane ticket he paid for.
When Dawn tells Mary Anne she’s a bridesmaid**, she expects Mary Anne to be thrilled. Instead, she’s horrified at the idea of having to walk down the aisle in front of the whole wedding. (Of course, she’s shhhhhhhyyyyyyy.) This makes her mood when she finds out she’s not actually a bridesmaid even more amusing.
**Even Claudia knows MA’s not a bridesmaid. When she ordered flowers, she got a bouquet for the bride and one for the maid of honor…nothing for other bridesmaids.
“I was too stupid.” Yes, Dawn, you were.
MA logic time: “Didn’t I deserve to be a bridesmaid?” Umm, why, no, Mary Anne. That’s not how life works, sweetie. You don’t get to be a bridesmaid by being the groom’s ex-wife’s step-daughter. You’re lucky you’re even attending the wedding. Mr. Schafer was actually really big to even allow that. I probably wouldn’t have, if I were him. (“Dawn, you can invite one friend from Stoneybrook, but not your stepsister. What do you mean, why not?”) This might be the single dumbest statement in the whole book, and it’s not a Dawn statement. (See? I’m not just insulting Dawn in this book. She’s not the only one who can think stupid things. She’s just the most constant one.)
That said, I don’t blame MA for being put out. Dawn told her she was a bridesmaid, which she didn’t even want to be, and then it was whipped away from her a short time later, just after she’d gotten used to the idea. I would honestly feel much the same way, except I wouldn’t have felt as entitled about the thought as MA did.
“No one wants to watch zee doncing heepos, except in Fantasia!” Possibly the only time I’ve loved Mme. Noelle.
Once again, I love Jessi’s dad. He suggests his growth was stunted as a child because Aunt Cecelia used to steal his breakfast. (He’s 6’2” and 200lb).
Sharon-itis: sunglasses in the oatmeal. Mary Anne suddenly realizes how much Dawn in her mother’s daughter…despite the fact that Dawn used to be the one cleaning up Sharon’s messes and keeping them organized. Maybe Sharon-itis gets worse as you age?
“It’s Group Bad Hair Day!” This laugh is courtesy of Claudia Kishi, proprietor of the Kishi Hair Clinic.
Dawn’s dad drives like a maniac. Hee hee!
The only way Jeff agrees to wear a tie to the wedding is when his dad says he can take it off and toss it in the air after the bride and groom kiss.
*I think it’s pretty horrible to have a wedding that involves joining two families with seven children and only let two of them be in the wedding. It wouldn’t be too hard to find some role for each of the kids to play. Instead, Lindsey and Buddy are the ring bearer and flower girl and the rest of the kids sit in the back of the church with Shannon and Mallory….
Barrett-DeWitt logic. Suzi states that the wedding is boring and asks why her mom is getting married. Taylor: “Because she’s old. She has to have a husband!”
You know who I really feel sorry for in this book? Shannon. She was a full-time member of the BSC for 12 books (#69-#80) and several mysteries and super specials. Yet she only rates one book of her own and one chapter in this book…which she spends camped out in the church nursery, missing the whole wedding. Bye, Shannon. We hardly knew ye!
Stacey and the other Barrett-DeWitt bridesmaids are all that kind of silly that you become when you don’t get enough sleep. One of them misplaces her flowers and then they all start calling them like a dog. An old lady finds them behind the toilet paper, stating something like “Either these belong to you, or this is some fancy church.”
Stacey suggests she could have picked her nose while Mrs. Barrett was coming up the aisle, because no one would have noticed. Not only is it true, it’s also super-sophisticated.
The only good part of that wedding? Mal is left watching four small Barrett-DeWitts after Shannon takes Ryan out of the church. She basically spends the whole time shushing them and trying to get them to sit down. Marnie winds up getting up and running down the aisle, joining her mom and Franklin for the vows. The minister applauds it because this is not the joining of two people but of two families. Plus it means that leaves Mal with only three kids in the back of the church.
Ooh, more Claudia spelling! Weding, valubile, traning, lerned, skcills, pade, Shafer, enormis, buffay, catererer (lol…who hasn’t done something like that once or twice), flowerist, exept, leves, taist, flaver, bole, chocklit, pixtures. Come on, Claud. You need to learn how to spell chocolate at the very least. (Btw, it was a chocklit mouse she was eating. Yum?)
Mr. Schafer gives Claud his point-and-shoot camera so she can take candids at the reception. He calls it a Ph.D. camera…as in “press here, dummy.” I think it’s cute that Claud gives all this technical camera info about it, given we know she likes photography.
In a nice piece of continuity, the outfits on the front cover are exactly the same outfits those girls are shown wearing in the interior art. Oh, and I forgot to mention that this cover led to one of my favorite BSC pictures:

Speaking of forgot to mention, back when Mrs. Barrett asks Stacey to be a bridesmaid, she asks him what size dress she wears, suggesting a six. Stacey’s supposed to be super-skinny; I’d think that would be too large on her.
The church where the B/D wedding took place (you try typing that combo name this many times!) won’t allow people to throw rice. They probably believe the urban legend that it makes bird’s stomachs swell up and explode, given that the guests throw bird seed instead. (I’ve always been partial to blowing bubbles myself, especially when there are children.)
The kids change the lyrics to the Christmas carols when they finally go caroling. Their new lyrics aren’t as good as Mal’s, but….My favorite was when Becca sang that Rudolph wasn’t wearing clothes.
The solution to the Mal-Ben fight? They agree to carol another day. This is so dumb that I actually had to go back and see if she’d tried to reschedule it when they’d had their fight. I can’t believe two eleven year olds couldn’t think of something like that to end a disagreement.
The best part of the second Jeff chapter? He’s summing up the reception in his journal entry and says that Dawn’s toast was stupid…then crosses it out and writes that it was really nice after Mrs. Bruen tells him it was mean. Brothers.
Jeff wants to wear a sign with the answers to all the stupid questions he keeps getting asked on it. Last time I went to a family reunion, one branch of the family all had shirts that said things like, “Zebryna, daughter of Helga. Sixth grade. 12. Yes, they’re my brothers, but they’re half-brothers.” The shirts were hilarious. (Hi Bryna, btw, if you’re still reading this!)
Jeff finds Dawn’s friends annoying, but Claudia is okay because she’s funny.
The S/Os get the world’s most hideous clown lamp for a gift. Every wedding has to have that one ridiculous gift, although my sister apparently loved her R. Kelly kitchen apron. (There’s no accounting for taste.)
The solution to the Jeff problem? All of Carol’s furniture is mysteriously lost by the moving company.
Sunny is never allowed to plan a surprise party again. Basically, Kristy gets two chapters in this whole book; she spends the whole time whipping a surprise going-away party for Dawn into shape and making Sunny and company worship her, however briefly. But then as they’re leaving the wedding reception, Sunny actually says, “See you tomorrow at the party!” Slick, that one.
“Claudia can make a production out of packing a lunch bag.” Hah!
Double hah! The cake at the party looks like Dawn’s face. Who wants a big piece of nostril or ear?
Stephie logic: She once saw a truck pulling a house, so Dawn should fly her CT house from that state to CA so she wouldn’t have to leave.
“Newlywed middle-aged man dies in domestic piano-moving incident. Details at eleven.” And I now officially love Franklin DeWitt.
The solution to the Suzi problem—which Logan doesn’t actually come up with but does help her implement? A Hansel and Gretel trail of cookie crumbs from their old to new house so Santa can find his way.
Why in the world are Dawn and Jeff flying on Christmas Day? That seems like a lousy way to spend a holiday, although Dawn thinks it’s great because she can spend the day on both coasts.
Dawn got a sign on both coasts this time. When will the BSC and Kids club get sick of making those? (Hopefully never!)
So Dawn’s back on the East Coast and the BSC shows up for Christmas dinner. (Yeah, right, but let’s forget that for a moment.) When they describe who’s talking, at one point “Dad” talks. Oops, that’s got to be a mistake.
And we’re about finished, because the epilogue is boring, except for the Claudia spelling! Crad (card), pictur, restuarant, woldnt, thro, befor, hunymoon, horible, wen, nasturshums.
One last bibbit (as my grandmother would say). Ben’s gift to Mallory? A tape called “Ten Steps to Better Singing.” Guy will never get any if that’s the kind of gifts he gives girls.
One last thought that occurred to me a couple days after I finished this one but before I got around to posting it? The B-D family moves into this not-big-enough needs-a-lot-of-work house because they can’t afford anything nicer in Stoneybrook. If they’d had a less formal wedding: a justice of the peace, just them, the kids and their best man/maid of honor going out to dinner afterward, then they might have been able to get a better house. I mean, Mrs. B’s wedding dress must have cost a grand or so by itself from the way it’s described (and no, I didn’t include it in the outfits; it’s a formal wedding gown. You know what that looks like.) Just a thought.

Maggie: dreadlocks (dyed red and green), neon-patterned jumpsuit (No Maggie BAD MAGGIE!), eighties power suit jacket (tailored with shoulder pads…very Dynasty

“So, I thought, breathing’s going to be the big activity around here.” Stacey’s Book (1994)

Just like Kristy’s book, this is a collection of random memories designed to act as Stacey’s autobiography. I’ve broken the story down the way Stacey does.
The early years: Just a bunch of small memories; not anything too important or special
When I was five: Stacey becomes obsessed with Cinderella and, amazingly, her mother is able to get her on the Cinderella float during the Macy’s parade. She’s excited to appear on television, but she winds up leaning off screen to save Cinderella’s crown, missing her big shot. But she gets to keep the crown.
When I was eight: Stacey and Laine’s parents enroll them in ballroom dancing class. Since the class looks boring (and is full of kids they don’t like), they skip it and trek around town alone, something they’re not allowed to do. They are really late getting back to the dance studio and get grounded from seeing each other.
When I was ten: The McGills take a summer vacation on a small island in Maine where there is nothing to do. The only other girl Stacey’s age rubs her the wrong way at first,
but when Stacey’s dad breaks his ankle, the girl is able to safely get him to the hospital on the mainland and becomes Stacey’s friend.
When I was twelve: Claudia comes to visit Stacey while she’s in NYC before her parents get divorced. Claudia’s acting depressed the whole time, and Stacey can’t understand why. Eventually she gets Claud to admit that seeing all the places Stacey loves just reminds her that she and Stacey live so far apart. They end up having a great time.
Interesting Tidbits
They don’t often mention that Stacey is tall, just that she’s rail-thin from the diabetes.
Ha! After describing what she’s wearing, Stacey describes what her room is wearing.
Stacey says she was born at 1:30 in the morning. In #3, she was born at 2:26 a.m. This has me getting out all the other character’s books to compare birth times….
·         Kristy was born at 4 a.m. even after her mother went into labor at a Yankees/Red Sox game (interestingly, Kristy is a Mets fan….) which matches #3.
·         Claudia’s book doesn’t mention a time of birth, although I just noticed that she shares a birthday with both my childhood best friend and my youngest nephew. In #3, she was born at 4:36.
·         Mary Anne’s book doesn’t mention her birth either. It skips straight to her mother’s death and the time she lived with her grandparents…understandably. The closest she gets to her time of birth is Mimi remembering that her parents left for the hospital shortly after dinner and that she may have been born around 11 p.m.
Awww. Stacey took her first steps (at ten months) into her father’s arms. That’s kinda sweet.
Her first childhood memory? Packing to move at age three. She thought all of her toys were gone forever.
Isn’t Stacey special? When she has her fourth birthday at the Palm Court restaurant in the Plaza, everyone sings to her…including Pavarotti.
Stacey sees Cinderella in the theater because it was re-released. According to Wikipedia, this occurred in 1957, 1965, 1973, 1981 and 1987. (Before home videos were common, Disney did a lot of that. I remember seeing Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Song of the South—which has never been released on video or DVD in the U.S.—and others in the theaters.) This is plausible…in 1987, I was six, and at the time this book was released, I was the same age as Stacey.
Stacey’s mom asks if she wants to be in the Macy’s parade. Stacey’s dad: “What a great idea. We’ll make a Stacey balloon. The Stacey McGill balloon floating down Central Park West.” (Laine would rather see a Madonna balloon.)
Stacey has an aunt, uncle and cousins having Thanksgiving dinner with her family…who will never be seen or mentioned again.
Eight year old Stacey’s idea of a good time? Watching music videos on MTV while playing with a Victorian dollhouse.
Stacey and Laine logic: They want to get their own apartment—a studio, because less space equals less cleaning and less furniture to buy. They make a list of what they need: a convertible couch, two bean bag chairs, two bowls, two forks, two spoons, two plates, two knives, a gumball machine, a decorative giant crayon…and a bunch of takeout menus. Reminds me of the brides who register for two place settings of dishes and then can’t figure out why they need more than that.
Even funnier: Laine later determines that they also need a TV, a VCR and a phone. Stacey points out that the only people they call are each other and Laine replies: “Stacey. We need a phone to order takeout!”
Instead of taking ballroom dancing, Stacey wants to learn how to moonwalk. She’s definitely a child of the eighties.
Heh. One of Laine and Stacey’s classmates—Randal Peterson the Third—goes around bragging that he’s going to be a senator someday. That’s the kind of thing that a kid who introduces himself as Randal Peterson the Third instead of Randal Peterson or Randal or Randy would do.
We actually get a map of where Stacey and Laine went when they ditched dance class.
Mrs. Cummings is named Peg.
You know Stacey’s dad is mad because he calls her Anastasia.
Consistency: Stacey mentions her family went to Ireland and Scotland, something she mentions in SS#15. (Although, if you were going to those two countries, wouldn’t you go to England while you were there?)
Ten year old Stacey can eat with chopsticks.
Laine explains to Stacey how to cook lobster by boiling them alive. That’s a nice thing to tell someone whose parents just pointed out how much lobster they plan to eat on vacation.
The title quote is Stacey’s reaction to her father pointing out how fresh the air is in Maine. Stacey thinks it smells like ‘bathroom deodorant.’
When Stacey complains about how the cabin’s neighbors make their living by catching lobsters and her opinion that eating lobsters is barbaric, her mom replies by asking how she thinks burgers are made. Heh.
Stacey and the girl who lives on the island, Mara, spend a lot of time putting each other down while arguing about rural v. urban living. Not only is it slightly comical, it’s actually pretty realistic. Mara calls Stacey a snob (true) and Stacey calls Mara a hick (also true.)
Wait a minute. The last section of the book is called “When I was Twelve,” but it takes place in the time between book #13 and book #28, when Stacey was living back in NYC after living in Stoneybrook. Stacey moved back to New York when she was in eighth grade. Given that she was born in April, she’d be thirteen by then already.
Here’s what’s interesting about those chapters, though. Stacey says her parents think they’re keeping their unhappiness from her, but she knows that they’ve been fighting. Yet in book #28, she seems surprised by the divorce. I guess when things slowly get progressively worse (her parents were even fighting when she was 10), you don’t see that things have progressed to divorce-style fights. (Heck, she says at the end of the book that they even saw a marriage counselor who…told them to get divorced.)
I like this: Stacey buys a bunch of junk food for Claudia’s visit and, to make Claud feel more at home, hides it all over her bedroom.
FAIL. Stacey tries to get Claudia to tell her something by saying she’ll ‘go crazy mad out of her mind.’ She says that’s something one of their sitting charges says and she thinks that will make Claudia smile, which it does. But the problem is that it’s Marilyn Arnold…who first shows up in book #21 and whom Stacey has never met at this point. The same thing happens in the next chapter when she says Matt Braddock loves penguins. Again, he shows up in book #16. Stacey may have met him if this takes place after #24 (she goes back to the Brook for the Mother’s Day Surprise and he’s there) but chances are she didn’t get to have enough of a conversation with him—in sign language, which she doesn’t speak at this point—to know what his favorite animal is.
Of course, Stacey gets an A.
Stacey: black tights, pink/black oversized sweatshirt, pink hightops (no pants? ooh, scandalous!); at age eight: pink shift dress with lace collar, white tights, black patent leather shoes, giant sweater; at age ten: jeans, red hightops, long-sleeved blue polo shirt, straw hat
Laine: at age eight: plaid silk dress, giant sweater.
Claudia: purple jacket, black tights, red cowboy boots (clown colors!)

Next week: I’m having surgery next week and, if I’m able to see well enough around my broken nose, I’m hoping to do both Super Special #12 and Mystery #18. I’ll be continuing June with #82 and #83. The former needs a vlog…which will follow as soon as I no longer look like Marcia Brady (“Ow, my nose!”) And then if I stay on track, we’ll finish off with Claudia’s book.