Sunday, June 19, 2016

“Mary Anne had never imagined herself hanging around outside the boys’ bathroom.” BSC Mystery #33: Stacey and the Stolen Hearts (1998)

I actually kind of like this mystery. Why? Because it’s something that could actually happen. As opposed to when Stacey actually helped the Secret Service catch a counterfeiter (M#10) or appeared in the world’s worst horror movie (M#24).
Pete and Stacey create a Valentine-Gram fundraiser, which is a pretty standard school fundraiser. The problem? The bag of valentines goes missing, and then someone starts posting facts gleaned from the bag to embarrass various students. The BSC suspects Cary, naturally, along with a variety of random students. It turns out that Cary didn’t steal the bag, but he did post all the notes around school. The culprit was actually Alan, who’d asked to get a valentine back and had been refused. He returns the bag and the valentines are (almost) all delivered.
The B-plot is so stupid, I almost didn’t write about it. The BSC throws a ‘festival’ for V-Day for the kids, because the kids are all bummed out about the holiday. It has snacks and crafts and everyone’s required to make a valentine for every other person who goes to the festival. In other words, it’s exactly like nearly every elementary classroom’s party. It’s pretty par for the course these days that, in elementary school, valentines are required for every member of the class, there are heart shaped cookies and crafts, and romance is pretty much not allowed.
Interesting Tidbits
Not only is Stacey appropriately V-Day garbed, she’s overly horrified by the hearts all over the lockers. I tried to read them, but all I can discern is a few capital letters. Very disappointing.

YAY! Stacey finally cut off her perm. For someone so (allegedly) stylish, she’s at least five years behind the times, there.
Apparently Ethan scores a gazillion on the hunk-o-meter. Very mature, Stacey. She describes him and I’m totally picturing him as a borderline-Emo artist.
We meet the BSC by what kind of Valentine they send. I swear, some of these intros are so cheesy, they have to stretch quite a bit to make them work.
Heh. When Kristy makes fun of Stacey’s fish sticks, suggesting they look like gopher nuts, Stacey shoots back that it’s actually monkey snot. Not only does this gross Kristy out, but all I could imagine when Kristy said gopher nuts was gopher testicles…Now I’m grossed out.
Should I transcribe all the Valentine-Grams? Sure, why not. This first one is to Claudia from ‘an admirer’ (aka Josh): Sometimes roses are white/And sometimes violets are too/I’ve been as high as a kite/ever since I kissed you. BLECKK!
The first note that’s plastered all over school? Cokie sent her latest boyfriend 12 valentines, and he sent her none in return. It also says that Cokie called him Sugarbear.
Cary has an alibi for the time of the theft—he was at the dentist. He even offers to provide Stacey a sworn affidavit from the hygienist. Everyone say it with me: I love Cary Retlin.
The second note is similar to the first, only it’s addressed to Jacqui, the ‘bad’ girl Stacey used to hang out with, who has a big thing for Robert and sent him several valentines.
Abby takes Logan’s joke, and when Kristy calls the meeting to order, she asks for a BLT. I rolled my eyes, but Kristy’s response was pretty good: “That joke is so old. Last time I heard it, I fell off my dinosaur.”
Suspects: Brian and Rose Marie, this couple who got together through Claudia’s matchmaking service in #71 (I had totally forgotten about them); Alan; Pete; Robert; Cary; Cokie. The only way to narrow the list down? You got it. The BSC divided it up and played spy/detective.
Claudia spelling: franckly, dissapointed, brot, gess. She also uses there for their, ferry for fairy. And she spells Brian as Brain. (This makes me laugh. I have a cousin named Brian, and my one uncle went to Disney for his honeymoon. He brought back mouse hats for all the nieces and nephews with our names on them, but Brian’s said Brain.)
The title quote comes from Mary Anne’s stakeout of Pete. Mal and Jessi also do the same thing of lurking around the potty, but Jessi calls it Lavatory Listening. (The book says the two of them were hiding in a stall. Were they sharing a stall? That’s going to get noticed. Now I’m picturing an episode of Degrassi the Next Generation in which three boys were reading the directions to a penis pump while sharing a bathroom stall…)
Valentine thief strikes for a third time, plastering the halls with valentines exchanged between Rose Marie and King.
Oh boy, a Logan notebook entry! It’s not actually that interesting, except that he tells Kristy she’s right, and Stacey thinks Logan is pretty much now Kristy’s new best friend because of that.
Stacey explains what a focus group is, which is boring. However, the items she makes up to describe focus groups are pretty awesome: Maxi-Clean for Small Dogs, Spring-Fresh Mitten Deodorizer, and, my personal favorite, Chocolate Covered Fish Zingies (which apparently snowboarders think are ‘totally awesome.’)
Becca, about Valentine’s Day: “I like to send cards to my friends, but that doesn’t mean I want to marry them.” No, of course not, Becca. You’re in third grade. When you start pulling their hair and calling them Puke Face, then you want to marry them.
Valentine-gram from Jim Poirier (who?) to our favorite, Sabrina Bouvier: Dear Sabrina, I knew from the moment I saw your beautiful eyes and perfect nose that you were something special. Will you go out with me?
The Scooby-gang gets their first and only clue, which breaks the case open: when Cary copies the Jim-to-Sabrina VG, part of his hand and stripy sleeve appear on the paper. This is not up to his usual standard of sneakiness. (Earlier in that same chapter, Stacey tries to sneak information about his dentist out of him. He figures it out and gives her his dentist’s name and tells her to look him up under ‘alibi.’ Of course, because HIPPAA or however it’s spelled does not exist in the BSC-universe, the dentist’s receptionist gladly verifies that Cary was indeed there during the crime.)
While trying to figure out who’s wearing stripes, the characters check the cafeteria: “It was strange to be looking only at people’s clothes and not their faces.” Of course. You can’t fully judge someone unless you check their hair and makeup in addition to their fashion.
“The BSC version of the SWAT team.” BSCSWAT…if it were a TV show, I’d watch it.
Claudia is actually the one who makes the Cary connection: not only is he wearing stripes, but he offered an alibi for the time of the crime before they ever told him when it happened. It’s like this situation we had at work: an employee was accused of going into a single-stall bathroom with a customer. When I interviewed her and told her what she was accused of, she said, “I never even go into the men’s room unless I’m cleaning it.” I’d never told her it was the men’s room she was accused of going into.
“Should we syncopate our watches?” Ahh, Claudia. (By the way, Stacey is wearing a Swatch. Hee hee!)
My random thoughts about the boring Valentine’s Day party? Jake and Laurel show up without Patsy. There’s no age minimum, though, because Ryan DeWitt and Marnie Barrett are both there. (Besides, the BSC usually sets a minimum at five or younger, to prevent Claire Pike tantrums.) Adam Pike made a really gross, bloody card that Stacey assumes must be for one of his brothers. Mathew Hobart asks MA to be his Valentine, despite the fact that all his friends say she’s too old for him.
Stacey winds up going to Alan’s house, and suggesting that he tell whoever took the bag of VGs to bring them back. She was originally very angry with him, but Cary had told Stacey that Alan stole the bag to retrieve both a note he’d written and prank notes that had been written to him. Alan realized a bunch of girls—including the one he’d written to—were writing prank love notes to him and stole the bag to avoid the embarrassment of the girl discovering he liked her. I think just about everyone’s been teased or bullied at some point or another and can relate to Alan’s pain. Stacey, who was ostracized due to her diabetes at her old school, definitely should be able to.
Rose Marie: olive green sweater, denim miniskirt

Next: #117

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