To make up for the fact that I barely posted in September, I'm putting this one up a few days early. Have a great weekend!
The babysitters splurge on lotto tickets. They each buy one and decide that if they win, they'll split the money seven ways. Even though they don't win, they get the second prize--ten thousand dollars. They pool their funds and go to California to stay with Dawn's father and brother for two weeks. (And no, I have no clue why we don't see the bloodiest murders in California since the Tate-LaBianca killings. Mr. Schafer must have remembered to fill his Klonopin scrip before the BSC arrived.)
Dawn's mostly a heinous bitch because Carol (her dad's young girlfriend whom she hates) is spending a lot time shuttling the gals around. The gang also meets Dawn's California friends who have their own club, the We Love Kids Club. Kristy and Mary Anne take sitting jobs while they're out there. Stacey hangs out with a wild older crowd who love to surf. Claudia dates a guy who intimidates her because he's so smart/cultured. Mal gets a horrible makeover (dyes her hair and spends all her money on makeup) and Jessi spends time hanging out with Derek Masters, a boy who's in a sitcom that the BSC used to sit for in Stoneybrook.
Most of the Dawn chapters just deal with her being bitchy to Carol. Something tells me Carol's going to be in for a fun adventure when she marries into this family despite the fact that she always goes out of her way to be really nice to Dawn and Jeff. You know, stuff like, "Hey Dawn, do you want to borrow that top I bought last week?" "Um, I can't wear large, polyester clothing." Or, "Dawn, Jeff, do you guys want to make tofu dogs for dinner?" "Tofu dogs contain a percent of a percent of dairy, and I'm a level five vegan, DUH."
- On the plane on the way over, the girls watch Vertigo and are terrified. I think Ann M. has a very quaint idea of what scares teenage girls. Vertigo's suspenseful, but not all that scary, especially for 13 year olds in 1990 who have probably grown up on a steady diet of Halloween and Friday the 13th films. I love how outdated Ann is in terms of scares--one time when I
obsessively stalked herattended a book signing, she was asked to name one of the most frightening moments she'd had reading a book or seeing a film. She replied with, "The conclusion of the Velveteen Rabbit--I thought he almost wasn't going to become a real live rabbit." Please, guys, let's invite Ann to a sleepover party where we screen Donnie Darko?
- This is when I knew I was wrong to identify with Mallory. Only Mallory gets to undergo the proverbial makeover and go from ugly duckling to radioactive swan. Even Meg Griffin managed to look hot when she got her makeover. Is it because Mallory forgot to take her hair out of a ponytail? Or to remove the glasses?
- Luckily, I soon read Mary Anne's Makeover, my favorite G-Rated "mousy girl becomes a head turner" story of all time. Not till Nick Arrojo and Carmindy entered my life would I experience such a great vicarious makeover. (Incidentally, I blame both Mary Anne and Mia Farrow in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby for why every few years I think I can pull off the pixie cut. Yup, I know lots of people are hating on old Roman for that fleeing justice stuff--not me. I blame him for so many horrid haircuts of bygone years.)
- When the gang goes to Universal Studios, some director chooses some extras for a movie. Mal sulks because when she asks, he tells her that she doesn't have the right look. Aw, Mal, they already cast all the trannies for To Wong Foo--they don't need any more.
- Claudia dates a guy called Terry Li. He's into artsy films and foreign food. He's also pretty serious and conservative, and she doesn't seem to like him all that much. But since his last name is Li, I'm going to assume he's Asian, and so of course Stacey gives Terry their phone number, without asking Claud. Claud gets pissed because she's not into Terry, but Stacey knows better: in sitcom/YA lit land, minorities date other minorities. So even if you're hot and a good dresser, until the editors/casting directors find another guy of your race, you're stuck fielding come-ons from losers and sighing over the hot guys in Ethnic Tiger Beat. (See also: Lisa Turtle.)
- At one point, Claudia and Terry go to a French restaurant and Claudia orders the only thing she can pronounce--escargots. Which are snails. Claudia thinks they're slimy and horrid and can't help thinking of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts as she chokes them down, but doesn't want to say anything because Terry's the artsy/sophisticated type. So delectable garlic infused snails are disgusting, but snouts and hooves are fine? (I toured the Hostess factory least year--I know how Twinkies are really made. No, the secret ingredient may not be...people but after that tour, you really wish it was.)
- Incidentally, escargots are so small that they're a pretty sucky entree. Terry was probably sulking the whole time over the fact that he's going to have to shell out all this for about twelve tiny snails--and all this on a girl whose idea of culture is wearing a silkscreened Warhol t-shirt. And considering how nauseated Claudia looked after chowing down, I bet he was tempted to pay off the bathroom attendant to check for signs of a purge after.
- Mary Anne thinks babysitting on vacation is awesome, so she agrees to spend a few days sitting for Stephie, a shy little girl whose mother is dead. Oh, MA, I can't relate to this even a little bit because I feel boxed in when my neighbor down the hall asks me to stop in over the weekend to feed the fish and water the Chia Obama head. (And I'm so passive aggressive that my idea of revenge was to scowl at the head.)
Incidentally, Chia Obama is hotter than post makeover Mallory. Stuff like The Princess Diaries and ad campaigns that make sexy versions of even Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite may make awkward girls think that hair straightener and contacts are enough to make hotties of us all. But Chia Obama says, "Yes, we can't," to you, Mal.
- Later on in the book, when Mal has redyed her hair red (it would take too long to let the blonde hair grow out) and is embracing her inner and outer nerd, Jessi points out a guy checking Mallory out. Mal finally feels cute. (Conveniently edited out by Scholastic, the part where the guy comes over and says, "Hey, I'm a female impersonator, too--don't you love the store Ain't It a Drag over on Rodeo?")
- Stacey hangs out with a cool California crowd of older kids and goes surfing with them. One of them is a wild driver. There's even a bit of foreshadowing where he comes near to swiping a truck. But since Stacey is more of a Gia than a Stephanie, she's in the car when it gets into a terrible accident. The other kids ask her to lie and say that it was the fault of a truck driver. Stacey refuses, and the others get pissed. FYI, Stacey later hangs with the cheerleader crowd who blackball her for being too pretty and talented, and with the bad girls who use her good girl image to get away with drinking and shoplifting. Can this girl pick them or what? By my calculations, by the time she hits high school, she'll be convincing her parents why she should shave her head and chill with the Hare Krishnas at JFK. (They'd save a lot of money on perms!) And by college, she'll be begging her parents to donate all her tuition money towards a turkey dinner for every poverty stricken Stoneybrookite, sponsored by the Symbionese Liberation Army.