Sunday, January 10, 2016

“I love it when you talk legalese.” BSC #98: Dawn and Too Many Sitters (1996)

So how many of these books feature ‘too many’ of something? Mary Anne gets that a couple times. There have been a few times that it’s been Teeki and Too Many BSC Books (2015), too.
It’s summer vacay, and the BSC is trying to raise money because SMS is sponsoring a trip to Hawaii. Most of the club members get permission to go, but they have to raise their own money to pay half the cost. As such, they’re fundraising through dubious methods and taking as many sitting jobs as possible. They decide to take on Jeff and the triplets as babysitters in training (BITs) after the boys express interest in starting their own club. The BITs all have their shortcomings as sitters, and the four of them eat all of Claudia’s junk food. Just as the club starts thinking of dumping them, the boys quit. All the sitters save enough money and get to go on the trip.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Dawn and Kristy’s expressions are priceless here.

Does it surprise anyone that I love this book? It’s got high doses of all my favorite sitting charges, and then some. Plus, as I pointed out in the last entry, it uses the word fart! I’m basically a ten year old boy sometimes myself, so I love that.
Dawn says that Jeff used to be normal, but not anymore. That’s the definition of a preteen boy, I’d say. (Oh, and Sunny knows how to get rid of Jeff when he’s being annoying: she suggests she knows a girl he should meet.)
Sunny’s trying to study by osmosis. This is funny to me because, in seventh grade, my science teacher had us sit with our textbook on our head for an entire class period and then leave our books overnight with him. The next day, we took a test over a chapter we hadn’t studied yet, to see if we’d learned anything by osmosis. (We didn’t.)
Jeff and Dawn start bickering, so Carol yells, “Yo, chill!” I can see why Dawn would find this cringeworthy. That’s the kind of thing I’d say as a joke when I was still working with teenagers instead of thieves.
Reading material for the trip to Stoneybrook? Jeff has The Kannibal Krew and Dawn, a Sierra Club magazine. But Dawn winds up falling asleep and dreaming that the BSC doesn’t want her back. They take a vote and everyone but Mary Anne votes for Abby instead of Dawn. I don’t know why she thinks it needs to be a competition. If it were an Abby story, I’d understand. She is the competitive type, but Dawn shouldn’t really know that.
I’ve always wondered about Dawn and Jeff’s route from CT to CA (or vice versa). It’s always seemed like they take direct flights. I could never figure out which airport they were going to; it could be a Connecticut airport, which would be small, or a New York airport, which would involve a long drive. In this one, they had a connection in an NYC airport to CT.
I love this: Jeff goes straight to the perfect audience for his god-awful jokes…Richard. Not only does he enjoy Jeff’s jokes…he knows a few equally bad jokes of his own. And he actually says something funny the next morning at breakfast!
Sharon-itis: barrette in the spinach salad or house key in Jell-O (hypothetical but still funny)
Ooh, and then Sharon gets to be funny: she says she ‘must attack the mall.’ I know that’s how I always feel about, say, Christmas shopping. It’s a feeding frenzy and the products are chum. (Gross, I know, but I refuse to enter indoor malls between Black Friday and New Year’s.)
I’m so sick of the way the BSC and Dawn’s California friends throw her parties and give her presents every time she leaves or comes back. I could maybe understand it the first time. But think of how much money these girls have spent on presents for someone they’re going to see again in a few months.
Claudia’s the one who first brings up the exciting news that SMS is sponsoring a trip for the students. She doesn’t tell anyone where they’re going, instead asking for suggestions. Which leads to…Mexico, Antarctica, Palo City, Downtown Stamford, and SMS summer school. Yeah, I definitely would want to pay to go to the last two, if I were them.
Shannon can’t go on the Hawaii trip because she’s going to camp starting the next week. (Logan: And I’m leaving for the Swiss Alps tomorrow. Mary Anne: You are? Logan: Nahhh. Sounds cool, though.) Both Mal and Kristy are also unable to go, Kristy because her family is going to Hawaii shortly after the trip ends and Mal because her parents can’t afford to pay half.
A big deal is made out of how expensive this $500 trip is. Now, I know it’s been nearly twenty years, but four of the teens I used to supervise went on a 10 day trip to Europe this summer, very similar to SS#15. All of those girls either agreed to pay the whole total for their trip, or half, same as the BSC. And theirs was $2400.
Sharon says she’d be willing to approve Dawn going on a sailing trip along Long Island Sound. Is she nuts? Not a good idea for Dawn, considering how it worked out last time she went sailing.
Jeff wants some of the ‘orange gloppy stuff,’ at dinner, which turns out to be sweet and sour pork. Or, as Dawn and I would call it, ‘sauce-drenched hunks of cooked dead pig.’ Yum?
Dawn actually questions Jeff’s grammar. I get it, though: he’s taken to calling the triplets JAB and referring to JAB in singular, but I think that she’s missing the point of the whole conversation. (Which is that Jeff and the triplets want to become babysitters, of course.)
The title is what Sharon says when Richard lays out the contract about the Hawaii trip to MA and Dawn.
Dawn keeps trying to insult Jeff’s jokes, but it doesn’t faze him. He thanks her after she calls his joke the worst joke in the history of the universe.
In keeping with my tedious over-chronicling of the Pike triplets, Byron is the one who comes up with the BIT idea. In addition to being described as more sensitive (and sometimes, by certain people, nicer) than his brothers, he’s routinely the logical triplet—the one who has the good ideas.
Abby makes a really terrible joke and Dawn says she should meet Jeff. I knew my most recent-still-in-progress fanfiction had a source!
I like this: Kristy agrees to let Jeff and JAB be trainee sitters because she knows they won’t last at it. This is true specifically of this book, and also true in general of ten year old boys. She says they’ll last until the first diaper change, which is funny given what happens next.
Ahh, here we go. The ‘tooting’ scene, as my niece would say. This scene has been thoroughly analyzed, for one very specific reason. For those of you who haven’t read this book for a while (or aren’t as enthusiastic about bodily function humor as I am), Byron lets loose a silent-but-deadly, and all the boys make a huge scene about it, rolling around laughing and accusing each other of being the one who let one loose. The analysis all comes from one single line: right after the gas-passing, Byron shoots a look at Jeff. There are those who believe that he was embarrassed to fart in front of Jeff specifically; these are, of course, people who believe that Byron had a little crush on Jeff. Me? I just think he’d farted in front of Jeff before and knew it wouldn’t pass unnoticed. The girls could potentially ignore a horrible smell, but Jeff isn’t exactly the type to let that stand. \ bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbm/,. *
Here’s the real kicker on the poot smelled ‘round the world, though: Jeff, Adam and Jordan proceed to accuse each other of the act. Byron, meanwhile, is completely mortified and it shows. It should have been completely obvious to the others exactly who was responsible.
Ha ha! Jeff helps Jessi babysit for the Prezziosos. The whole point of the chapter is that, although he’s good with Jenny, he’s not so good with baby Andrea. The best part is that Jenny calls him a baby for being scared to change a diaper. You know you’re being a weenie when a four year old calls you a baby.
Dawn, Dawn, Dawn. *shakes head* She has a health-foods ‘bake’ sale, and is surprised when she barely sells any food.
So what else are the BITs doing? Jeff wore rubber gloves to his next sitting job. Adam didn’t like the sound of babies crying. Jordan enjoyed changing diapers (uh, no comment) but ruined Jamie Newton’s art work. Byron drank a bunch of formula (I know he’s supposed to like eating, but, seriously…WTF?) and then double booked himself. He almost left Mal alone to sit for his siblings by herself, but instead told his coach he had another commitment instead of staying at the Little League game.
There’s this on-going thing about how the BITs are too young—they aren’t responsible yet. Yet everyone seems to forget that they are only a year younger than Mal and Jessi. Of course, there are many scenes where the older BSC members mention how much younger Mal and Jessi are/act. I don’t know if this book is supposed to be funny/ironic in that respect…and also what happens in Adam’s next babysitting job.
Okay, let’s describe this aforementioned sitting job in detail—or at least in summary—before I explain the implications. Stacey takes Adam to sit for the Braddocks. Haley freaks out about the idea of Adam being her sitter, because he’s only a year older. So she starts acting like a little shithead, suggesting Adam is Stacey’s boyfriend. (He brought her flowers on Mal’s suggestion.) Adam proves he’s not ready to be a sitter by egging her on and making things worse. Being Haley, she’s ready to punch Adam. Stacey has to play referee during her whole job, making it much harder than it should have been.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss what this means. First, it’s proof of what the sitters have been saying: Adam (and the rest of the boys) aren’t really ready to be sitters. A big part of me wants to say duh because they’re only ten years old and most people would agree that kids that age probably should have their own sitter rather than be the sitter, but okay. The other point is Haley’s idea that Adam can’t be her sitter because he’s just a kid like her. She says, “It’s like we’re the same age.” This is the same complaint the triplets occasionally make about Mal. Like I said, I can’t decide if this is supposed to be funny, or ironic, or if this kind of went over all the writers’ heads.
(Oh, and I can’t help but read this and think how much it sounds like Adam and Haley were flirting when they’re calling each other ugly dork and cootie breath and birdbrain. If they were a couple years older… Feel free to let that form all kind of opinions about me in your minds.)
I’d forgotten all about this! Remember how Mary Anne’s behavior in #88 was sort of left dangling? She was cold and distant to Dawn and told her she had to sort things out in her own way. Dawn took that to mean she was planning her own special goodbye, but it never happened. This is Dawn’s next book with Mary Anne (and her second-to-last book in the BSC, period), so it finally gets addressed. MA tells Dawn she thought she had done something to make Dawn leave. It’s so normal-teen and so Mary Anne, but it’s nice that she’s self-aware enough to know it and over it enough to tell Dawn.
Mary Anne actually tells Dawn that because Dawn’s been charged with firing Jeff as a BIT. Mal is supposed to do the same for the triplets. But the two of them wind up getting lucky because the BITs have decided to quit. It’s kind of a cop out, but I think it was another attempt at humor or irony. In the note to the reader, AMM says the boys decided they weren’t ready to sit, but that’s not really true. They decide that sitting is taking up too much time—in other words, they got bored with it.
I don’t know who Livi Becker is, but the book is dedicated to her, and she’s randomly mentioned in the middle of a scene.
In order to raise enough money to get to Hawaii (and not lose their parents’ deposits), the BSC put on a fair at the Fourth of July before the fireworks. It’s all pretty standard BSC fair, although this was funny. The BITs help out, with Adam and Byron as Kristy’s magician’s assistants. When one of the audience members realizes he has the same magic kit at home and knows how all the tricks work, Kristy says, “I shall now perform the magic trick of making Linny Papadakis disappear,” and motions for her assistants, who come at him like bodyguards. Linny pipes down.
So it looks like the BIT experience did some good for the Pikes. Mal and Jessi babysat, but barely had to do anything. Byron played with Claire, Jordan played with Nicky and Vanessa, and Adam made lunch. It’s suggested that, if the triplets are around, only one sitter will be necessary for the Pikes for the future. That lasts for all of, like, ten books or so, I think. We’ll see.
So that’s it. My final Dawn book. I’m actually kind of sad about that. Dawn may not have ever been my favorite sitter, but I’ve invested a lot of time (read: too much time) in this series and the idea of not getting a whole book of Dawn again is a little depressing.
The BSC just depressed me. Oh man, I need a life.
*Sorry. Scout (formerly the B3 kitten, now the B3 fat cat) decided to sit on the keyboard because I was ignooooooooring her. I didn’t notice she’d typed something until I posted this. But the letters in question are appropriate given the topic, so I decided to let it stand.
"Grr! I am vicious!" says Scout
Kristy: big purple glasses, loud striped shirt, mismatched suspenders, a pair of antennae
What’s next? Of course! SS #13!

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