Wednesday, June 11, 2014

BSC SS #6: New York, New York! Part One

By Ann M. Martin. Published June 1991.

I HIGHLY doubt Stacey and Claudia would wear Hard Rock Cafe shirts
I have such a love/hate relationship with this book. Almost everyone bothers me, Dawn being scared-annoying, Claudia being jealous-annoying, Mary Anne and Stacey with a most ridiculous sitting plotline, and Kristy with a boring, throwaway plotline. Just, ugh. And yet…I love the New York aspect. I know, so Mary Anne of me. I lived in Connecticut for four damn years and never got to go. I know, right?! *Side-eyes parents* Obviously, I was neglected. Anyway, I enjoy reading about it.

Oh my god, the prologue is four handwritten pages of Claudia’s, full of her trademark spelling mistakes. Shoot me now. Anyway, she gets it all set up for us. They have YET ANOTHER two-week vacation coming up. What the hell, Stoneybrook schools? They had two weeks off a mere six books ago! Maybe this is the real root of Claudia’s school troubles. She’s never fucking there!

Right. The setup. Vacation. There’s an open art school in the city, and Claudia wants to go, and she can stay with Stacey at her dad’s. And then Mr. McGill says any of her other friends are welcome, too. Of course. So everybody gets permission to go, even Mallory and Jessi, when TWO books ago they weren’t even allowed into the city to visit Stacey in the hospital. Whatever. Mallory will be joining Claud at the art school, to work on her illustrations.

They make a spectacle of themselves at the train station in Stoneybrook. Everyone’s entire families come to see them off, and Kristy’s brings Shannon (the dog), and Mary Anne brings Tigger. What the fuck? Do you people know how to behave in public? The parents all start talking together, and the girls worry they’re going to change their minds about letting them go. But they don’t, and the girls get safely on the train. Where Mary Anne pulls out her guidebooks. Sigh.

So the girls aren’t all staying at Mr. Gill’s; half of them are staying at Laine’s. Nice of you to invite everyone when you couldn’t actually accommodate them, Ed. Stacey (obviously), Claudia, and Dawn will be staying with Stacey’s dad, and the others will be at Laine’s. Everyone goes over to Laine’s to get them settled in, and while they’re there, the doorbell rings. It’s the Harringtons, who have switched apartments with Laine’s neighbors upstairs, while they go stay at their place in England. And what do you know; they’re staying for two weeks, just like the BSC. And they have two stereotypically perfect British children, Alistaire and Rowena. But oh noes! The Harringtons do something with the government, and will be working the whole time. So they wonder if Laine’s parents know of a good nanny service. Laine’s all, I do! So they discuss it, and say they’d like to hire two of the girls to show the kids around the city. The girls decide on Stacey and Mary Anne.

So Dawn has turned into a huge, irritating scaredy-cat, for some fucking reason. She wasn’t frightened any of the other times she’s been to New York. I guess they just didn’t have anything else for her to do? She completely freaks out over every little noise, and thinks she sees criminals everywhere. Then she doesn’t want to leave the apartment, or later the restaurant they go to for dinner. And the next day, she decides to not leave the apartment at all. Kristy takes pity and comes over to baby-sit her.

Stacey and Mary Anne have their first day with Alistaire and Rowena, and the kids want to go to Central Park. They read about it in a book. First they go to the children’s zoo. Stacey says the cost is ten cents a person, and always will be. I don’t know where you pulled that from, Stacey (Ann). It may have been at the time, but Google tells me now you can only get into the children’s zoo with admission to the main zoo. And the cost is currently $12 for adults and $7 for kids, if you’re wondering. I also learned all about the history of the zoo. It’s interesting. Anyway. Then they go to the main zoo. They buy some toys (the Harringtons gave them a whole wad of cash). They have lunch, and climb all over the Alice in Wonderland statue. Good day.

Claudia and Mal go to their first day at Falny (or Fine Arts League of New York, but Falny is what the cool kids call it). Claudia is ready to pee her pants, because their teacher is going to be McKenzie Clarke, some famous artist. She calls him Mac in her head. When they arrive, there’s a circle of drawing tables around about thirty boxes all thrown together. Mac comes in, and tells them their assignment for the day is to draw the boxes. Claudia’s all, wtf? How boring. But she does it, and does it quickly, while Mal struggles. By the time Mac gets to Claud, she’s done and ready for the next task. But Mac just tells her she went too fast, and to do it again. This goes on pretty much all day, while he just keeps telling Mal “fine”. Claudia is crushed, and wonders if she came all the way to New York to find out she sucks.

Jessi wants to go to the ballet, of course. But I certainly don’t blame her. The only problem is, she’s not allowed to walk around New York by herself. So she catches up with Stacey, Mary Anne, the kids, and Laine (who’s tagging along for the day), and begs them to take her to Lincoln Center. They agree, and that’s how she ends up watching the New York City Ballet perform Swan Lake. Hell yeah. When she sighs happily at intermission, her neighbor asks if she liked it. She turns and sees a total hottie, about her age, with a dancer’s body. His name is Quint, and this is the fifth time he’s seen this ballet. Jessi asks if he’s a dancer, and he hesitates, but then admits he is, and is good enough to go to Juilliard, but he’s not going to audition, because he gets picked on enough as it is. He asks for her number, but she can’t remember Laine’s, so he gives her his instead. Oh yeah, get you some, Jessi.

Ok, ballet nit-pick time. There is no youth dance program at Juilliard. There is one for music, and there’s a short summer program for dance, but only for high school students. Now, maybe it was different back in the day, but I doubt it. The program he’s describing, though, sounds just like the School of American Ballet, which is just as prestigious in it’s own right. It feeds directly into the New York City Ballet. Did she just pick Juilliard because of name recognition? Just a little bit of research would have gotten you the right school. Like I said, nit-picky I know, but it’s always really bothered me.

We pick up with Mal and Claud for their afternoon class, and Claudia just turns mean on Mallory, calling her teacher’s pet. That night they all go to Chinatown, and Claudia either ignores Mal, or calls her a dweeb when she gets excited about stuff. They go souvenir shopping, and eat dinner, then, as a relief to Mal, take separate cabs home.

Kristy can’t stand another day of baby-sitting Dawn. All she does is clean. Fun. So Kristy and Jessi spend the day in Central Park, and have a good time. As they’re leaving, they hear a whimpering in the bushes, and find a dog with no tags. So Kristy decides to take him home, first to Laine’s, then to Stoneybrook. They figure that Laine’s building doesn’t allow pets, so Jessi distracts the doorman while Kristy sneaks the dog in. Only Laine is home, and says he’s not allowed, but Kristy doesn’t really give a shit. She uses all her souvenir money on supplies for the dog. Then she calls home to ask about keeping him, and Watson flat-out says no. Well, shit.

Mary Anne and Stacey have all sorts of plans for the Harrington kids. And on their way to the museum, they come across a street fair, so they stop there first. The kids get balloons. At the museum, they tie the balloons up outside, but Mary Anne warns them they may not be there later. But when they come out, they’re there, but one one balloon is a different color. They then head to the library, and let the kids pick out books and listen to story hour. Now, all day, Mary Anne has been seeing men wearing rainhats and sunglasses. She thinks it’s a new weird fad. But at the end of the day, she realizes they’re all the same man, and he’s been following them. She figures it’s more like he’s following the kids, because the Harringtons are pretty important. She tells Stacey, who says they shouldn’t say anything, or they could lose their jobs. Mary Anne says she’d rather lose the job than the children, but Stacey just shakes her head. Well. Nice to see where your priorities lie, Stacey.

Dawn’s throwing a major pity party for herself, saying Kristy and Jessi have “abandoned” her. Get over yourself, Dawn. Then she freaks the hell out when someone’s at the door. She actually answers, though. It’s a boy, her age. He says his name is Richie, and he lives downstairs. He was going to introduce himself to Stacey, he knows her father. Then he asks if he can come in; he has a broken ankle and needs to get off of it. Dawn actually lets him in, but only after she sees his I.D. He asks her why she’s holed up in the apartment, and she tells him the city makes her nervous. Understatement. So he goes on a whole spiel about how great New York is, and all about these hidden gems. Dawn thinks she may even leave the apartment the next day. Doesn’t hurt that he’s cute, of course.

Claudia and Mal have been drawing boxes for two whole days. Woo-hoo. So they’re relieved when the class takes a field trip to Rockefeller Center. Claudia even starts to talk to Mal, but she’s talking to Mac, about horses and books his daughter’s read. So Claud gets all pissy again. And she’s not really paying attention to instructions when they get there. She does hear about how there’s a skating rink in the winter. She can see it in her mind, so that’s what she decides to draw. But Mac comes up, and is like, that’s not the fucking assignment! So she draws what she sees, which is the actual assignment, but she does it too quickly for Mac’s liking. And then when she does slow down, he doesn’t say anything, She thinks she just can’t win. And then Mal goes off with Mac to a bookstore, just to rub salt in the wound. Although Mal did ask Claud to come, and she blew her off. I don’t like bitchy Claudia.

Alright, part two tomorrow!

o   Mary Anne sings “New York, New York, a wonderful town” instead of “a hell of a town”. But Stacey tells her it’s actually “a he_ _”, written just like that. That was more than enough for me to figure it out when I was eight. How risqué!

o   My copy has a “win a Baby-sitters Club party with Ann M. Martin” graphic on the cover. Can you imagine what a riot that must have been?

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