Monday, December 7, 2015

“Hello Spier, this is Schafer.” Portrait Collection: Mary Anne’s Book (1996)

Mary Anne’s autobiography time!
From birth to six years: It’s only one chapter, with little snippets of memory
The tea party: In first grade, the teacher throws a Mother’s Day tea. Not having a mother, MA doesn’t know who to invite. She accidentally invites both her father and Mimi
Stage fright: Mary Anne takes ballet class and hates it. When she finds out there will be a recital, she gets so upset that her dad lets her skip the recital
E is for eyeglasses: Mary Anne’s new friend April wears glasses, so MA decides to flunk her eye test so that she’ll need some as well
Exploring my secret past: Following the events of Mystery #5, Mary Anne went to Iowa to visit her grandmother (which is covered in a series of letters in the last chapter of the aforementioned book). This chapter tells the story of what happened there
Interesting Tidbits
The Infamous Cover, in Which Mary Anne Clearly Wears a Wig

Also, what the hell is MA wearing? It looks like her shirt is off center and has a big keyhole over her cleavage….
“I opened a can of yummy chicken parts for Tigger and poured cereal for myself.” MA sounds more enthusiastic about Tigger’s cat fud than her own breakfast.
Mary Anne acknowledges that she and Abby have something in common, since they both lost a parent at a young age. I’ve always liked the fact that, when it’s just the two of them, Abby actually manages to get MA to do less conservative things, such as singing oldies at the top of her lungs.
Sweet: When MA tells her grandmother she’s working on her autobiography, grandma finds MA’s baby book, which her mother had started and grandma finished.
Sharonitis: ice cream in the vegetable bin and lettuce in the freezer. Can I admit I’ve done that before?
Mary Anne always complained about the way her dad was raising her, but a) he obviously did a pretty good job and b) he has some pretty good ideas. From the time she was little, he took her out to dinner every Sunday night to teach her how to behave in public. You can bet he never let her run around the restaurant screaming the way so many parents do these days.
I love that Mimi was such a big influence on MA. A motherless, grandparentless (she thought) child would need someone like Mimi in her life. I do wonder whether Mimi just knew Mary Anne would need a little bit of grandmothering, or if she saw the way Mary Anne reacted to her and went from there.
Mary Anne is fascinated by the way Janine can walk and read at the same time. I can do that too…and I’ll bet Mallory can as well.
“I’m going to talk to Alan Gray…with these.” (Kristy, holding up her fists.) Alan’s actually not that bad, other than being a loudmouth and immature. He laughed at Mary Anne when she said she was inviting her father to the Mother’s Day Tea, but later, when Kristy explains that MA’s mother is dead, he apologizes and promises not to laugh at her any more. And that’s him at age seven or so.
Wow, little Mary Anne is so ugly in the internal art in all these books. Also, even though Richard always puts her hair in braids, she’s rarely actually shown with braids.
Everyone’s actually really wonderful to MA at the tea. The teacher, who yells all the time and whom none of the kids likes, gets a second chair for MA’s second guest. After MA explains she didn’t think she was supposed to invite a man to the tea, the teacher says it was completely acceptable to invite her father to the Mother’s Day Tea, as her father is both mom and dad to her. Mimi expresses delight at being invited at all, and Richard is very understanding as to why Mary Anne invited Mimi (because she’s not a man!)
Kristy is commenting on all of Mary Anne’s babysitters, and then says that someday they’ll be babysitters, and they’ll be way better than MA’s babysitters. One of them used to drink beer while at work, while another expected Mary Anne to be her errand girl. Where was Richard finding all these lousy sitters?
This is interesting: Kristy, Claudia and MA are signed up for ballet, and Mimi takes them to be attired. The clerk states that the teacher is a stickler for specific dress code (see below.) Claudia and Mary Anne dream of sparkly pink tutus (which I can totally see, for different reasons), but there are no tutus in their uniform, which they find disappointing. I know everyone is thinking of Mme. Noelle and her dance class rules, but this is actually pretty accurate. I remember a friend of mine complaining because her daughter went to her first ballet class wearing a little dance skirt over her required leotard. Quite a few of the little girls were not in the prescribed attire, and she felt her daughter was being singled out because she was the only one forced to remove part of her wardrobe. (The other girls were wearing the wrong color, or one-piece outfits. and couldn’t remove their incorrect clothes.)
Mary Anne has a whole conversation with a sales clerk she doesn’t know without getting shy. Because she was wearing a pair of readers at the time, MA decides that getting herself glasses is her ticket to a more outgoing way of life. I don’t get it, but I’m not a nine year old, either.
HA! Mary Anne is such a nerd that she actually finagles how to fail her vision test without people catching on. She figures out that she needs to do things like say Es are Fs instead of saying Qs.
When she has to go to the optometrist, MA suddenly decides she hates the idea of having to wear glasses. Of course, because she now doesn’t want them, the doctor tells her she needs glasses for reading. It was mentioned in the early books that she wore reading glasses (as did Jessi) but they haven’t mentioned them in a while. I vaguely have memories of one of the books mentioning that MA got contacts, but how do you have contacts just for reading?
When Mary Anne visits her grandmother, grandma keeps expecting her to remember when she was in Iowa last. Um, if I remember correctly, she was about a year and a half old when she left Iowa. How would she remember her grandparents or anything else from that time frame?
Ooh, Mary Anne actually gets so mad at her grandmother that she snaps at her and tells her she’s sorry she came to visit.
There’s a picture of Alma, MA’s mom, sewing. And she’s wearing bell bottoms! I love it! (Also, they make a big point of how much MA looks like her mother, and the artist did do a good job of making them look alike in the drawings. Although her mom’s less uggo.)
Although, the next photo is of grandma and Mary Anne, and Mary Anne had short hair. That vacation to Iowa took place before she cut off her hair.
Leave it to Mary Anne to finish her autobiography early and get an A+.
The title quote is what Dawn says when she calls at the end of the book. It’s in response to MA answering the phone, “Spier-Schafer residence.” Although, I don’t get why it’s not just the Spier household these days. Sharon is Sharon Spier, because Dawn makes a whole big stink about wanting to keep her maiden name, unlike her mother.
Kristy, Claudia and Mary Anne (in ballet class): black cap-sleeved leotard, pink tights and pink ballet shoes
April: red high tops, jeans, blue sweatshirt that reads ‘I swam with dolphins’

Coming next:  #96

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