Thursday, June 25, 2015

“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


  1. This is my favorite Super Special because of all the ridiculousness.

  2. Adorable story time: last summer, my brother and his family moved. My mom was over there one day and my four year old nephew asked her if they were going to cut tree branches away from the house. He was worried they would hide the house and Santa wouldn't see it - because obviously Santa wouldn't know he had moved if he couldn't find the house. My mom and brother, trying not to laugh, reassured him that they had let Santa know where he was living.

    So I have to find Suzi's storyline absolutely adorable. And I love that her mother (who I'm usually not a fan of) was willing to take her back to the old house so she could leave a trail.

  3. I agree the plot was stupid, I remember reading it at thirteen and wondering why
    Dawn thought Mary Anne would be a bridesmaid. Or who flew their daughter's out
    for a wedding of someone they didn't know. They only met Mr. Schafer once. Plus,
    Dawn had friends in town to go to the wedding. Really, why did she get to have so
    many people at her dad's wedding.
    I'd love to take guesses on how long Jack and Carol lasted after getting engaged so quickly after their break up to the lack of planning for their wedding or her moving in
    which results in another fight. My guess is by the time Dawn's a freshmen in high school.