Sunday, January 10, 2016

“Will you be eating the leaves raw or steamed for dinner tonight?” BSC Super Special #13: Aloha, Babysitters! (1996)

I’d make an aloha joke, but the title already did that. Obviously, the BSC—or at least, most of it—is on its way to Hawaii. It’s a super special, so we have to go down the checklist of things that all super specials are required to have:
1.    Point of view of random people that we don’t normally see? Check. We have a Robert chapter and a Logan chapter. After this book, Dawn chapters start to count as well.
2.    “Romantic” drama? Check. Logan and Mary Anne are trying a ‘separate but together’ thing that means that he is off with his other friends for most of the book while Mary Anne spends some time mooning about that.
3.    Some big event? Check. Stacey is in a helicopter crash of sorts. I was expecting something volcano-related, given how much super specials love acts of god. (Hurricanes, snow storms, and a tornado we still haven’t seen.)
4.    Babysitting, of course? Check. Mal and Kristy are sitting at home, while Mary Anne and Claudia sit in Hawaii.
Listy-goodness. Here’s what everyone is up to:
Jessi: the book is Jessi’s project for Mal, who doesn’t get to go to Hawaii. She spends the whole book recording everything and taking so many photos that she doesn’t even really have fun
Abby: gets to be in a commercial
Mary Anne: tries the TBI—Together But Independent—thing with Logan…by babysitting random Hawaiian children. She and Claudia seem to spend a lot of time together
Claudia: gets upset because she feels personally responsible for Pearl Harbor or something
Dawn: tries to clean up a random beach with the help of some more random Hawaiian children
Stacey: her helicopter goes down and she has to walk a long way to safety, without food. She winds up hospitalized
Mal and Kristy: stay home. A lady sees Mal dealing with a client’s tantrum and makes a big stink about her babysitting skills…until her own child throws a similar tantrum in Mal’s presence
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. Mary Anne’s shorts are…weird, and she seems concerned by them. How is Robert the only one wearing flip flops? When I went to Hawaii, I never took my sandals off. Oh, and Dawn is totally hitting on Robert.

Aaaaand, on page 5, we have our first Claudia spelling, when she says that ‘You gyes are turning this into a totle mess!!’

‘Chapter 2’ (really chapter 1) starts off by Kristy describing her family as large: ‘Not large as in fat, but as in numerous.’ Now I’m picturing the whole Brewer-Thomas clan as being 300 pounds apiece and it’s making me snicker.
I don’t know why, but this is one of my all-time favorite Abby moments. She’s ‘rowing’ an imaginary boat on Claudia’s bed while ‘doo-dooing’* the theme to Hawaii 5-0 when Kristy calls the meeting to order. Abby then makes a screeching sound and explains that’s the brakes. Stacey: ‘Canoes don’t have brakes.’
*That’s what it’s ‘officially’ known as when you ‘sing’ a song by going ‘Dee-da-dee-da doo doo!’ or whatever. Back when I used to play a lot of Cranium, my friends and I made an unofficial rule that doo-dooing was allowed to be considered whistling for those who couldn’t whistle.
Speaking of Hawaii 5-0, Abby mentions that she’s been watching a lot of reruns of both that and Magnum PI. It seems almost normal for Abby, who’s acknowledged to watch both Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy. But I also like the fact that she says she’s watching them on the Stoneybrook version of Nick at Nite.
Here’s a valid question: Why is Anna not going to Hawaii as well?
Abby packs like Claudia (read: suitcase is waaaaay overfull) but for different reasons. Claud packs like that because she has to have fashion for every occasion; Abby packs like that because she waits until 5 minutes before she’s supposed to leave the house to throw things into her bag.
“This is a tour bus, not the Magic School bus.” This is what is said when Jessi suggests the bus to the airport got them all the way to Hawaii. Who said it? I’ll give you a hint: she’s dressed up like the teacher from the Magic School Bus before.
Now Logan is using The Brady Bunch as his Hawaii reference.
Mary Anne name drops Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The title quote is a Logan line this time. You can guess upon whom it was aimed.
Jessi writes a super-long note to Mal at the beginning of her second chapter. It was really TL,DR but I did catch this part: Jessi indicates that Abby was snoring. Abby crossed it out and said I WAS NOT. Oh, honey. You have allergies. Of course you were snoring. Get over it.
Ooh, spelling mistake. Jessi continues her journal entry to Mal all through the chapter, and at one points she says that Abby is ‘suffed up’ instead of stuffed up.
Holy potatoes, people. This conversation about gave me a heart attack:
            Claudia: I don’t photograph well when I’m hungry.
            Dawn: You just ate a whole bag of Doritos upstairs.
            Claudia: Not true! I gave you three of them.
YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT DAWN ATE DORITOS?!?!?!! They’re full of preservatives and ingredients you can’t pronounce. I’m not surprised in the slightest that Claud ate Doritos before breakfast; I’ve been known to do that with Funyons before. But this conversation would have made a lot more sense if Claud said she’d given the three Doritos to someone else.
It’s amazing how, every now and then, I actually learn something from BSC books. I have this other series of books that I’ve loved for a long time and am trying to collect all of. In that series, the principal of the school the characters attend returns from years abroad…in Hawaii. He has a ‘Hawaiian accent’ that’s all kinds of strange and uses Hawaiian words. When he finds out the main female character doesn’t know how to swim, he tells her ‘That’s kapu.’ I could use my context clues for most of the Hawaiian words, but never exactly figured out what that meant. Now Jessi’s tour guide explains that kapu was the Hawaiian culture, which the white settlers killed by forcing the Hawaiians to behave like the whites. I’m still not sure what it means in the context of not being able to swim, though.
I do love this: Jessi has gone through two rolls of film in one walking tour, taking photos of everything, but she gets mad when Claudia knows exactly what Mal would actually want to see a photo of: Jessi’s face after she accidentally swallowed a spicy pepper.
More Claudia spelling: Jessi mentions Claudia’s eating the world’s biggest banana split, with four flavors of ice cream and multiple toppings: ‘Rong! Its only three difrent flavers of ice creme. They cheeted me.’
When Jenny Prezzioso first shows up in the story, she’s throwing a tantrum. Mal calls her Tropical Storm Jenny. OMG…Mal made a funny. And Dawn ate Doritos…first and second signs of the oncoming BSC-apocalypse? (Oh, and in case you couldn’t tell/haven’t read this one in a while…it’s Jenny who throws the tantrum in public. Her parents are actually trying to discipline her gently, instead of giving her whatever she wants to end her tantrum. Mal is instructed to just walk away from the tantrum and let Jenny work it out on her own, which is actually solid parenting.)
I like this, too: Jenny saw a commercial and didn’t understand what was going on…just the visual image of a fairy waving her wand and making toys appear. So she wants to be that fairy, too…by using phrases from the commercial like ‘low, low prices’ and ‘enchanted world of deep discounts.’ Reminds me of the kids who want the latest as-seen-on-TV product, even though they don’t know what it does. The commercial just made it look so cool.
Claudia spelling: buntch, Perl (Pearl), musiam, intresting (after she tried fascinating twice), reccomend, Mallery. Oh, and she uses your for you’re.
A food Claudia won’t eat: baked breadfruit with pe’e pe’e. When my family and I were in Hawaii, we drove by Pe’e Pe’e Street on the same day we went to the Boiling Pots. There was a lot of toilet jokes that day…mostly told by my dad.
Real book: A Fence Away from Freedom, about Japanese internment camps
Abby reads a book about how people speak in Hawaii, and how directions on Oahu are all toward the volcano (diamond head) or away from the volcano (ewa), or towards the beach or away from the beach (or something like that.) So when she orients her towel, she puts it “surfer”—in other words, pointed towards the surfers.
Here’s what I don’t get about Abby’s appearance on a television commercial for sunscreen. They were short an actor, Abby piped up and said she could play volleyball…okay, I buy that. But they ask her how old she is, she says eighteen…no one bothers to check this; instead they just tell her to show up tomorrow for the shoot. And then none of her teachers bother calling her mother or finding out more about this alleged shoot before agreeing to let Abby go. What if it were really a porno or something? (I’m getting images of a BSC porno, with all sorts of disgusting inappropriateness…and it’s way funnier that the 300 pound Karen from earlier….)
Haha! Stacey starts her first chapter by saying Wowee, Maui. We used to have to watch a video at my last employer where a woman would say, “Maui? Wowee!” in a really horrid perky voice. Every time Stacey speaks now, I am going to hear her having that voice.
Oh, and there was this thing in an earlier chapter (I can’t remember where) where Stacey was pissy at Robert and they had a fight on the plane. Meanwhile, Abby and Claudia kept seeing this girl Sue flirting with Robert. I assume this is setting up #99, which I have never read (but think I read next.)
Claudia spelling: Mowy (Maui), Coolaw mountans, windword, Oahio (Oahu), hotell, clift, hunderds, soldgiers, awthentique, ourselvs, plesent, sumer, Ema (Emma). Oh, and she’s just jocking again—this time, about being hurled off a cliff (clift?)
Oh, look, a Gilligan’s Island reference. This one is legitimate, though: the island in the opening credits can be seen from the girls’ hotel.
Even though the whole story about Mary Anne deciding to babysit during a Hawaiian vacation she’d scrimped and saved and tried to sell health food for (whhhhhhhyyyyyy) is beyond stupid, I did like the idea that she found a missing boy—which then led to her sitting job. The little boy went missing from the lobby, and when MA heard his little sister screw up the room number by putting the digits in the wrong order, she checked all the other rooms with the same numbers and found him locked in one of those. It reminded me of a scene in one of my favorite books. The boy (Thomas) gets locked into the bathroom at the back of the bus, and no matter how much he gets told to ‘turn the handle to the right’ he can’t get back out. Even though he’s nearly grown, he breaks down crying. Just as they run out of ideas, one of the brainier kids tells him to turn it to the left and click! it opens.
Only Robert note of interest? He’s decided he wants to be a paniolo, a Hawaiian cowboy. He’s a little old for that fantasy, but I can still dig it. Oh, and he thought sugar was mined, not grown. This makes me giggle because I can totally picture that.
The people in Stacey’s helicopter when it goes down: Pete Black, Renee Johnson, and Mari Drabek. I don’t know about Renee, but all the other names mentioned as being on this trip (Austin, Trevor, Alan, Sue, etc.) have all been eighth graders we’ve already met.
Pete pukes just before the helicopter crashes, and when Stacey comes to after blacking out, she doesn’t think Thank the heavens I’m alive; she thinks about how much it smells like barf.
‘Stalking people in playgrounds is not exactly a normal thing for an eleven year old girl to do.’ But Mal’s never really been normal, has she? She has this whole speech planned for when she finally runs into the woman who gave her a piece of her mind during Jenny’s tantrum. But she decides to be the bigger woman—er, eleven year old—and not gloat when that woman’s son throws an even bigger tantrum in front of her.
Ooh, yet another spelling mistake in a handwritten entry! Mary Anne (of all people!) spells Hawaii as Hawii. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing someone other than Claudia make a spelling error, but it would make more sense to see it from anyone other than Mary Anne. Or Mal. I picture the two of them being very conscientious with their writing. (I actually think that no one spell checks the handwritten parts other than Claudia’s—to make sure she mispells enuf wurds.)
So, the first outfits (other than vague ‘bikini’ or ‘swimsuit’) belong to the kids Mary Anne is babysitting. So, boring, and I’m not going to repeat them. I would if they were interesting, like the kids in SS#6. I liked this aspect of it, though. MA took the sitting job because she wanted to learn about Hawaiian culture, but the Reynoldses are very typical Americans, eating Apple Jacks, wearing normal clothes and watching cartoons. She realizes she didn’t expect them to be wearing leis and hula skirts and eating a luau, but she was expecting something different and exciting. It’s a little bit of unconscious racism I think a lot of kids her age experience. They don’t mean anything bad by it; it’s a learning experience.
Claudia spelling: elven (eleven), oclock, nite, havn’t, serch, partys, calld, noboddys’, beleave, shes, manely, becuz, cant. She also uses were for we’re and writes togetherness (spelled properly) after trying twice to spell solidarity.
Abby tries to cheer everyone up: ‘Knowing Stacey, she’s probably found the only electrical outlet in the forest.’
Mistake in the text, not in the handwriting: ‘breakfast wasn’t exactly a laff riot.’ WTH? How did that slide by someone?
When Dawn convinces everyone to go clean up a beach she found, Jessi calls her weird—until Dawn explains it’s better than moping about Stacey—and Abby calls her ecologically correct. Interestingly, Dawn says she hates that term, although she’s such a future Democrat (she’s totally be voting for Bernie) I’d think she’d love political correctness.
Dawn actually contemplated boycotting the luau because they were serving the traditional roasted pig. Look, I don’t want to look at a roast pig either, but there’s so much more to a luau than the food. Just don’t look, Dawn. Just don’t look.
Logan should press charges. Mary Anne actually socked him in the shoulder. Don’t put up with that abuse, Logan. Women can beat men, too.
Wow, a modern (for the time) television reference! When Abby was in the sunscreen commercial, she didn’t wear any sunscreen. She tells Mal in her final entry that her skin is coming off in ‘chunks’ and she looks like something off The X-Files.
Last Claudia spelling: parints, Perl Harber, dilemna, lauhg, atall, cusin, injurred, fiting (fighting), freind, inturnmint, normul, hav, refusd, gess, kno. She also uses now for know.
Aww, happy ending again. Mal thanks Jessi for the journal. She says she would thank her a million times…except she’s afraid Dawn would yell at her for wasting paper. ‘Bout right.
New Characters
Scott, Lani, and Raymond Reynolds (8, 5 and baby)—27, 24 and 19
Next stop: We end 2015 by finishing off the BSC’s summer and taking a peek at Stacey’s Broken Heart


  1. The bit about Mary Anne expecting something exotic...

    I actually lived in Honolulu for a year. I helped chaperone a field trip for my oldest kid's preschool class, to the zoo. We found a baby bird there, sitting in the middle of a pathway. We couldn't get it to move so I carefully picked it up and put it on the grass (it's okay to do that; the parent bird won't care if the baby smells like humans and might not even notice as many birds have a poor sense of smell). I had the teacher take a picture first so I could find out what kind of bird it was, figuring it would be some interesting tropical bird.

    The Hawaii Audubon Society was able to identify a rock pigeon. The same pigeon you find all over the US.

  2. Guarantee void in Tennessee!

    And from your CK, MSD post: Fellow 'Puffs unite! (And congrats on the engagement! Clink! Or whatever the heck noise pizza makes when 'clinked' together.)

    SS13: Well, when you get paid, like $0.02 per sitting job, $500 probably is a lot of money.