Thursday, June 18, 2009

BSC Mystery #4: Kristy and the Missing Child

One of the members of the team that Kristy coaches is missing! Little Jake Kuhn is gone and Kristy is the last person to see him go (Thursday night). So she feels majorly guilty about it, and decides to try to find him by mounting a series of search parties full of little kids from the neighborhood and babysitters. It's a pretty uneventful book, actually, full of chapter after chapter of searching. And wondering if maybe Mr. Kuhn (the Kuhns are divorced) kidnapped Jake because that's what fathers in BSC books do. (See also Buddy Barrett.) Finally, Kristy leads a search party on Saturday morning and one of her searchers, Matt Braddock, has the idea to look in a construction site where he and Jake loved to hang out. Turns out Jake pulled a baby Jessica and fell down a hole where the floor wasn't completed. He gets rescued. And scene.
  • What do I love most about this book? The fact that Mary Anne clearly cares way more about her Home Ec grade than little Jake Kuhn. She even misses an emergency BSC meeting about finding Jake so she can stay home and work on some sewing project. Actually, I agree. C'mon, if you're going to write a book about a missing child, choose a kid I give a shit about. Nicky Pike. Jamie Newton. Damien. Not some little boy I've barely seen before.
  • Speaking of Home Ec, I don't remember ever being graded on things like table setting or recipes. We'd have to bake things in groups and sometimes sew, but it wasn't like they were tests. You'd probably have had to drop arsenic into the cake batter to fail. Or tell the teacher that you didn't make the cookies with love, but rather with spite, and also Ipecac. (Even then, her idea of "failing" you would be to give you a B+ but no smiley faced sticker.) Anyway, Mary Anne makes a Jell-O mold that's too hard. She gets an idea while babysitting to put the Jell-O in a long pan so she can make cookie cut-outs and ends up salvaging her grade. Can anyone say JIGGLERS?! In the distance, I hear Bill Cosby loading his .45 and muttering about how he's going to cut a bitch. Now I know why Ann M. Martin decided to make Charlotte's favorite show The Cosby Show when you know she was jonesing for it to be I Love Lucy--anything so that Bill won't sue, right?
  • Mrs. Kuhn's first thought is that Mr. Kuhn must have snatched Jake. Which reminds me of the time Dawn is sitting for the Barretts and Buddy Barrett gets into a car with Mr. Barrett who takes him away somewhere. (The Barretts are also divorced.) So, to recap, in Stoneybrook, it's totally normal for a father to try to kidnap his son, for criminals to just set up shop for a while, and for people to regularly get creepy letters in the mail. But no one knows about anorexia, the stork brings babies, and no one drinks.
  • Kristy mentions that Jake used to be pudgy and that the Bashers used to make fun of him for it. Translation: fat kid walking! Oink, little piggie, oink! Why the hell is it that Kristy befriends all these people who "used to be" jerks. (She should befriend people who still are snarky, like me!) But really, Bart's Bashers made fun of a lot of Krushers back in the day (like Matt Braddock for being deaf or Gabbie for being a superhuman baby) but it's okay because it was in the past? And Shannon used to be a heinous bitch to Kristy in her first book and even calls in a fake fire alarm when Kristy's babysitting but we overlook all that for some reason because she's a perfect size six blonde.
  • Kristy's mom picks Kristy and Shannon up from the emergency BSC meeting Thursday night so she can stop in and visit Mrs. Kuhn afterward (Kristy's mom and Jake's mom are friends). Kristy suddenly feels guilty at the prospect of seeing Mrs. K because she feels responsible for letting Jake go off on his own. Even though Mrs. K says it's not her fault, she still knows she won't rest until Jake is safe. Hm, you think maybe Mrs. Kuhn feels guiltier that that her alimony wasn't covering the rent and she had to sell Jake to the Colombian Drug Cartel to finance her dirty little habit?
  • Laurel and Patsy, Jake's two little sisters, are sent off to the Pikes to have dinner the first night Jake is gone. Patsy, the youngest, turns up her nose at spaghetti and says she wants hot dogs. And then all the kids request hot dogs. Mallory offers to boil up some dogs and Mrs. Pike just goes with it. Well, with the Pike kid count up to eight, we know that woman can't say no to a wiener, amirite? (Thank you, thank you, here all week. Hey, did you ever know me to pass up a Dee Pike loves the cock joke?)
  • After dinner, Laurel and Patsy Kuhn spend the night with Stacey and her mom night since their mother is, understandably, spazzing out. They have a popcorn party. The girls want to know if Stacey has The Little Mermaid and Stacey says she's afraid that most of her movies are probably too old for them. Um, Mary Poppins is your favorite movie, Stacey. Imagine if the girls were at Mary Anne's house post Internet, though. A thousand archived youtube videos of animals romping, sorted by size, species, and of course, by level of cuteness. (C'mon, don't you think an adult Mary Anne Spier was responsible for Cute Things Falling Asleep? I bet the woman's making a mint on the Internet these days.)
  • Mrs. Kuhn calls Kristy at one point saying that they found letters from her ex-husband to Jake that mentioned Mr. Kuhn's girlfriend and that she may know where Mr. Kuhn is so they can contact him. Kristy thinks it's odd that Mrs. Kuhn doesn't seem upset or jealous about her ex having a special lady friend. Uh, because she's probably more concerned with getting her prize pig missing child back than with playing at drama queen? What's the matter with you, Kristy?
  • David Michael's a teeny bit jealous of how good Jake's getting as relief pitcher for the Krushers. Kristy always goes out of her way to describe DM as kind of klutzy, too. Is it wrong that I think he pulled a Tonya Harding? Then again, this is Stoneybrook, CT, not South Park, CO, and I doubt that David Michael would stash Jake Kuhn in a nuclear fallout shelter a la Cartman. Still, it made for an entertaining fantasy.
  • The BSCers arrange to make groups to help search for Jake. Claudia makes a sign with a sketch of little Jake. Sketch? You didn't have a single photograph to use? Come on, guys. Through the magic of googling I managed to find a few likenesses.

  • The kids look in garages, in bushes, and in backyards. What are they expecting to find? Jake sleeping? Or longer with us? In which case, is it really appropriate to bring kids along?
  • Andrew, David Michael, and Karen start freaking out because they're scared they might be kidnapped. Karen, you know they're going to pull a Ransom of Red Chief and pay your parents to take you back, right?
  • Later, Kristy, Bart, and a bunch of kids (Matt and Haley Braddock, Karen, Andrew, and David Michael) set off looking for Jake on Sunday. Matt's first idea is to go to a store where he and Jake used to buy baseball cards and candy called Jugtown. (Yeah, that's why they went to a store called JUGtown.)
  • Kristy wants to stop looking, but Matt convinces her to go look in a construction yard where a house is being built. And it turns out he's right. Are you really surprised that the deaf kid pulled it off? For one thing, the Krushers are chock full of shitty players and the one consistently talented one is Matt Braddock. I'm not screaming about PC Gone Amok just yet (not till Rush Limbaugh successfully possesses my body anyway), but c'mon. The only thing more feel good than the spunky disabled kid finding Jake would be if Jake were found by rag tag team comprised of Becca Ramsey, Danielle (the cancer kid), Susan "Rain Girl" Felder and a little person.
  • When they find Jake (isn't it always the last place you look), Bart calls the police and Mrs. Kuhn and tosses Jake a paper bag full of Twinkies, Doritos and Kit Kats, courtesy of the owner of JugTown. When Mrs. Kuhn arrives, she says, "'This is one time I don't mind if he eats junk.'" Uh, the fact that you just discovered your missing son who hasn't eaten in 36 hours and your first thought is to point out how much you don't care about the junk food issue makes me doubt that. Methinks she'll be subtracting out these calories from Jake's feed trough tonight.
  • At the end, they have these eighth grade awards. Stuff like Class Clown, Best Dresser and so forth. Mary Anne gets one for Most Improved Home Ec student. They give Kristy a very special award because of her work that led to Jake Kuhn being rescued. Kristy does give Matt Braddock a shout-out since it was his idea to look there. I do have to give Kristy props for organizing the search groups. Of course, you know she only organized this because she'd have a fit if someone else could take credit for finding Jake. But I don't think this is one of her Great Ideas. It's a nice effort but NOT an imaginative idea. Seriously. How many other options were there? A kid goes missing. Do you A). Look for him. B). Design a hat. C). Have a snickers bar. D). Throw a party. E). All of the above. (It's only D. if the kid in question is Karen Brewer.) I have the same beef (okay, tofu, whatever) with Dawn's "great idea" of helping the Zunis. ("The Zuni kids are in trouble? What should we do?" "Um...well, we could...HELP them?")
  • So they find Jake in the end. In other news, every single member of the Stoneybrook police was summarily fired. Out of a cannon, into the sun. No, but I bet they made Matt Braddock a junior police officer with a little badge and all the other cops were jealous and made snide remarks about him right in front of his back because he can't read lips. And Kristy jealously looked on and pointed out, "Even though Matt may have technically found him, I'm the one who orchestrated The Great Idea(TM) of looking for him. And the one who recorded the Stoneybrook remix of Sending Our Love Down the Well Construction Site featuring Logan on bongos."
  • When I reread this, I tried to make a mental note of people who could have kidnapped him. You know, just in case I remembered wrong and he really was stolen. At the top of my list, crazy old Mrs. Towne. I can imagine her defense. "I just wanted a little boy of my own to play with! My own son's all grown up now and the only boys I have are little gingerbread boys! Wouldn't Jake love to live with the gingerbread boys?"
Next. The old lady, Aunt Tea, from the Bewitchin' Pool episode of the Twilight Zone. (Only slightly creepier than Mrs. Towne, really.)

But the right answer, of course. He's being fattened up at Morbidda Destiny's crib. Just 'cause Karen Brewer's an ass gasket doesn't mean Morbidda can't really be a witch.

This was sort of a fun book when I was younger. But today it just scares me to think that you could fall down a construction site and not be found for days. What if Kristy hadn't been searching? Would he have died down there?