Saturday, December 10, 2016

"He's practically one big bald spot by now." BSC Friends Forever #10: Stacey's Problem (2000)

Every time I read this title, I giggle to myself and say, "Stacey has a lot of problems." The one she's referring to here, though, is this: her father announces his engagement right as Stacey's mom has started to seem sad and distant. Stacey wants to help her, so among other things, she tries to find her a date. After running into Laine, she realizes how her mom feels--she may not want Stacey's dad in her life anymore, same as Stacey doesn't want to be friends with Laine any more, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have pleasant memories of their time together.
In the b-plot, Mallory is home from boarding school for the summer. After Claire makes an off-handed comment about Byron being the oldest now that Mal is gone most of the time, Mal realizes that her family has continued on without her. She feels lost in her own home. Then she realizes that part of the problem is that she's changed some as well, but everyone expects her to be who she was before. It's realistic because it's not really resolved; Mal just changes her attitude a little.
Interesting Tidbits
The back cover of the book actually says, IT WILL TAKE ALL OF HER NEW YORK SOPHISTICATION to think of a solution to this one. Good night, Irene, how stupid can this get?
Ms. McGill is making a pizza with Stacey and Claudia as the story opens. She wants to put anchovies on her third of the pizza. Claudia thinks this is reasonable, but Stacey objects: "What if they swim over to the rest of the pizza?" Stacey's mom: "They're dead." (What she really meant was, what if the fishiness 'contaminates' the rest of the pizza?)
An update on the Stacey-and-Ethan coffee situation: now, they both hate coffee. He drinks cocoa, she has tea.
After Stacey's dad announces his engagement to Samantha, he takes the two of them to a restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center. Makes me really wonder what would have happened in the series if it had continued after 9/11.
When Stacey realizes she doesn't know Samantha very well, she starts observing her very closely, trying to learn details about her that way. She wonders to herself whether Samantha's a secret agent or maybe a homicidal maniac. As normal as that is, there's a moment when she contemplates whether Samantha is an alien. Has she been hanging out with Karen, perhaps?
Stacey's mom cries when she learns her ex-husband is getting married...then calls him to congratulate him. Given how upset she feels, that's actually pretty brave of her. Stacey tells her how proud she is. (Stacey's mom also says she doesn't know why she's crying, other than that she doesn't like change. Understandable.)
Stacey offers to stay home from Mallory's welcome home party to keep her mom company. Ms. McGill does something pretty smart and says she'll go out instead. She actually kind of threatens Stacey with it. Not only would it be good for her to get out of the house and try to get out of her funk, but also no sense dragging Stacey and her mom-complex down with her.
Nicky and Vanessa want to fly a very-special flag to welcome Mallory home: a pair of tighty-whites belonging to one of their brothers. Lovely, but very typically Pike.
Claudia references Alan--how she's considering a relationship with him. She mentions the interview he did back in #130, about how no one will give him a chance to be serious. If I remember correctly, she'd gotten mad with him because he'd written something like I Love Alan on a shirt she had planned to decorate. She should wear that the first day of high school.
When Claudia tries to discuss her Alan dilemma with Ms. McGill, the response is, "Well, Anne Bancroft married Mel Brooks." I know who both those people are, but most 13-year-olds probably don't.
Stacey hits the Mallory problem on the head the second she gets Mal talking. When Mal left, she expected that she would slide back into the same role in her family, and that nothing would have changed in her absence. But life goes on. And just as Mal comes back from boarding school a little different--more confident, holding herself better--everything is a little different in the Pike house. When the triplets became the oldest siblings in the house on a daily basis, Byron relished the big brother role and actively took it over. I understand Mallory's point of view entirely--she IS the oldest, and her being in another state doesn't change that--it would make sense that her leaving would cause an opening in the family. It seemed to me that the Pikes were pretty easygoing parents. If someone in the family chose not to do their homework, then that was their choice--they'd just have to accept the consequences (like a bad grade.) Mal always seemed like the one who'd actively convince her sibs to do their homework--or to come down for a group snack--or whatever. And now Byron's taken that same role.
Oh, and then Vanessa's pissed because she feels like Mallory's being an attention hog since she came home. Which is funny, but also pretty realistic.
The title quote is Kristy's comment on the fact that Watson is balding more each day. I'd go bald too, if I had to deal with seven kids and a ridiculous number of pets on a daily basis. Kristy also says she could never go for a bald guy, to which Mary Anne replies, "That's because you're thirteen!" Heh.
Stacey's mom is listening to a CD called "Feelin' Groovy." I actually own a CD by that title.
Ms. McGill mentions how the fall fashion preview gives her a chance to chat with the buyers from other stores that she's met over the years. But she just got her job when she got divorced. While Stacey was in eighth grade. Which she still is. But then again, she did get divorced circa 1989, so she's been doing this job for 10 or more years at this point.
Ms. McGill: "Stacey, I've been dressing myself for years, even before you were born." I'd hope so.
Stacey actually freaks out because she's in Manhattan while her mom is getting ready for a big date. She says she shouldn't be so far away while her mom is at the dance...but, as Ethan says, what would she do if she were in Stoneybrook? Go with her mom on her date? That's not awkward or anything.
I hate when the BSC makes references that point out how old I was when these newer books were published. Like the reference a couple books back to the 'older Parent Trap, only this time, it's a reference to "when Gianni Versace was alive." I didn't really know who he was until he got murdered; I was more into America's Most Wanted (which covered the hunt for his killer) than into fashion.
It's also super weird for Stacey to have her own cell phone. When Cokie had a phone, I could get over it; her parents are rich and she's spoiled. But in my head, BSC members should always have rotary corded phones...think of the original cover for #1....
Stacey runs into Laine while out with her dad and Samantha, and the two of them catch up. When she tells Laine about her fight with Claudia, Laine is quick to point out how much she didn't like Claudia, listing all of Claudia's flaws. Stacey says she knew how much Laine disliked Claudia (although I always remembered that as a jealousy thing). But if you know about the animosity, why say anything at all? You know Laine's not going to be nice about it.
Samantha used to be a model, and she's now a fashion photographer.
Stacey's mom makes a few choices at the end of the book. Firstly, she's reverting to her maiden name as a step of independence and separating herself from the old life she's leaving behind. Second, she's thinking of quitting her job to open her own boutique.
The BSC try to come up with names for Ms. Spencer's (that would be the former Ms. McGill) new clothing store. Kristy suggests Serious Clothing, while Claudia suggests Funky Petunia and Mary Anne votes for Amazing Grace.
Rather than trying to have all the BSC remember her new last name, Stacey's mom suggests they all just call her Maureen. I always called all my parents' friends by their first names, so that just makes sense to me.
HA! Maureen says that the BSC can't work at her store, because they're underage. Yet Mal and Jessi (who are both at the party) have gotten paychecks before. She does, however, want to sell some of Claudia's decorated clothes and jewelry, and Mal offers to learn how to put together a website--something she wanted to learn anyway--and help build the store's website when the time comes.
In the end, various BSC members decide they need to try new things as anchovies.
So what exactly is Stacey's problem? Most of the story, like several other Stacey plots, isn't really about Stacey, but about how she's affected by her parents. The problem here really belongs to Maureen, who feels stuck by a (probably) dead end job and is still mourning the loss of her marriage (ten years later or six months later, depending on how you look at it.) Stacey's problem is actually that she's waaaaay too worried about her mother--who is the adult in the situation. She did the same thing back in #58, when she almost ruined her dad's celebration because her mom was ill. However, this is a nice thing on many levels, because since Stacey and Mom only have each other most of the time, it's good for them to be so close. Also, it's good to see how far her parents have come since #58, when they were sticking Stacey in the middle on a regular basis.
Samantha: cream-colored suit; black pants, white t-shirt
Stacey: flare-legged khakis, short-sleeved ribbed tee with one horizonal stripe, platflorm slides (ugh), butterfly clips; khakis, sandals, green sweater
Ms. McGill: shimmery blue dress

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