Friday, April 2, 2010

BSC #50: Dawn's Big Date

In this book, Dawn decides that at the ripe old age of thirteen, she's a failure because she just can't get no guy reaction. She decides to make herself over so that boys will like her better. It also turns out that Lewis, Logan's cousin back home in Louisville, Kentucky, who Dawn has been writing to, is coming to Stoneybrook for a visit. Dawn realizes she can try to woo Lewis as practice for getting a real boyfriend. She wears some wilder clothes and experiments with changes to her hair and makeup routine.

She realizes it's not her and decides to be herself. Go female empowerment! Hell, it was the 90s. Between Title IX and Take Your Daughter to Work Day, how could you not come away with that message?

Not so subtle subplot: The BSC members babysit for Norman Hill, a fat kid who's getting teased. Norman learns to stand up for himself and that it doesn't matter what's on the outside--you should be true to yourself. Unless you weigh too much in which case it's OK to crash diet to avoid Fat Camp.

Don't make me over.

First things first.

I really want to know how Suzanne Weyn got away with Dawn's make up and clothing in this book. I mean, I read somewhere that Ann M. Martin won't even wear lipstick because she hates the way it smells.

Ann M.: "I read over your notes, Suzanne. I loved the teddy bear stationery but I'm not sure I agree with Dawn wearing so much makeup in this book. In my day, ladies pinched their cheeks. Whores used rouge."

Suzanne: "No, it's OK. I'll have Dawn cry off her aqua eyeliner when she goes on a date with Lewis. During the tearjerker moments in Dirty Dancing, Dawn will sob off all her eyeliner, looking like a hot mess."

Ann M.: "I do approve of a strong anti eye make up message. But...Dirty Dancing? That's that a stag film? You know that the approved date movies are selections from the Haley Mills film festival, Gone with the Wind, and To Kill a Mockingbird."

I don't want your, I don't need your...photograph.

Mary Anne photographs the "new Dawn" (read: Dawn after the curling iron, make up, and a cut up Flashdance-esque sweatshirt).

Mary Anne: "You look really pretty. It's too bad you're not sexy."

Dawn: "I can be sexy!"

Mary Anne: "Okay. Show me sexy."

Dawn puffs out her lip and scowls at the camera.

Pillow talk.

Dawn sends Lewis a postcard with a picture of an armchair with a woman's curvy legs hanging over the side. Dawn writes, "Dear Lewis: Dying to see you Friday night. Mary Anne said you have an extremely hunky voice. Can't wait to hear it whisper in my ear. Until then, Dawn."

Oh, Dawn. Hunky for a thirteen year old boy just means less Theodore and more Alvin.

Second, I know you're trying to channel some of the sexiest women Suzanne Weyn knows, but I'm seeing less purring Eartha Kitt and more Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan singing about how she'd like a man to nibble on her ear.

Lastly, did Suzanne Weyn have to promise she'd take Ann M. on a trip to see the world's largest thimble to get away with that sexy postcard?

Picking up Lewis (from the airport, sickos).

Outfit: Short silver skirt, black lacey leggings, black and white top, ballet flats.

Hair: Piled on her head with six braids.

Jewelry: Long feather earrings in the two holes in the right ear. Black hoops in the two left holes.

Logan and his parents, the Brunos, drive to the airport to pick up cousin Lewis. Mary Anne and Dawn tag along.

Mrs. Bruno: "Lewis, how was your flight, honey?"

Lewis: "They done gived us an airsick bag and peanuts, Aunt Mae!"

Mary Anne: "Lewis, is Dawn how you pictured her?"

Lewis: "Not really. You do look a mite like the second picture you sent me. Ah had a different impression, is all." Sadako consulted her translator for this. "SLUT! SLUT SLUT SLUT! SLUUUT!"

The real Dawn

In literature and movies, there are two kinds of makeovers. The kind where a shy girl lets her inner beauty shine through, and it's a rousing success. Think Mary Anne's Makeover or Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club.

There's also a second kind. Where a girl who's fine the way she is sluts herself up and then humiliates herself, learning a valuable lesson: be yourself, no matter what. Think Mallory dyeing her hair blonde in California Girls. Or Meg in Little Women getting dolled up and partaking of champaggin. Or Sandy in Grease. (What? You mean you don't remember the deleted scene where she passes out due to pelvic corsetry and hairspray fumes?)

Dawn's change falls squarely into the latter category. But she soon decides to change back.

Dawn: "Lewis? This isn't the real me. I just wanted you to think I was cool and sophisticated."

Lewis: "Why, I already thought you were jes' as purty as a speckled pup in a red wagon."

Dawn: "There's still time, though! You can know the real Dawn. Okay, meet me at my place in an hour for spinach pie and a tofu burger."

Lewis: "Ah'm actually not really into tof--

Dawn: "Oh, you want a cheeseburger? Is that it? Fine. I hope you know that the beef in that burger's going to come from steer. That's castrated bull. And the cheese is going to come from dairy cows who work all day getting milked and don't have time to see their calves. Congratulations. You just contributed to the breakdown of the bovine family."

Norman Hill

If you're wondering if Norman is a stereotypical fat kid who eats a lot when he's nervous, depressed, or well, conscious. Yes. Yes, he is.

Dawn: "Wouldn't you prefer a tofu sundae?"

Older Sister, Sarah: "Norman doesn't have the willpower. He eats non low fat ice cream."

Norman: "Time for a binge."

Claudia: "Norman's kind of annoying. I don't understand why he needs to eat so much--oh my GOD, who took my frozen Milky Ways...oh, they were underneath my Raisinets."

Mr. and Mrs. Hill: "Good news, son! If you really don't want to go to fat camp, we'll wire your jaws shut."

Norman: "Mrs. Freshley, Mrs. Fields? I turn my lonely eyes to you!"

At the end, Norman decides to stand up for himself to the people teasing him and decides he's going to drop the weight so he won't have to go to fat camp. He's no longer ashamed to send his girlfriend/penpal a picture of himself, and he tells her in a letter that even though he's fat in this pic, he won't be by summer.

Dawn: "Gee, are you sure you have the willpower?"

Norman: "I'm going to pretend I'm Stacey and that every time I eat sweets, it could make me sick."

Kate Harding: "Get this child into protective custody NOW."

Norman: "Would you take the photo of me?"

Dawn: "Sure." Thinking: "He was too adorable for words. He posed proudly for the picture, lifting his chin and smiling his sweet smile."

Sadako: "Dawn, careful, you've still got Charlotte and part of the web in the shot."

And finally, Dawn and Lewis decide to continue their epistolary relationship. I decided to loan her my collection of cheeky postcards.