Friday, July 18, 2014

BSC #54: Mallory and the Dream Horse

By Ann M. Martin, ghostwritten by Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner. Published May 1992.

Y’all, I swear I don’t actually intend to do themed posts. It just happens. So, two horse books in a row. Mal and Jessi would love it. And no, no Saddle Club next.

Mal and Jessi are hanging out at the Pikes’, and reading books about horses. And watching a movie about horses. And of course talking about horses. All this is a bit hard to accomplish because the little kids are pretending to put on a circus, and being generally annoying.

But what do you know! Mal gets the mail, and finds a flier for riding lessons! Has this not occurred to her as a possibility before? She actually does a little twirl of excitement, holding the flier to her chest. But oh snap, time for a BSC meeting! No time for your silly celebrating, Mal, there’s serious business to take care of!

Mal sits at the Marshall’s. Nina has just started preschool, but her mom says she’s been quiet about it. Mal gets it out of her that she’s been being teased some by taking her blanket, Blankie, everywhere with her, including school. She intends to tell Mrs. Marshall about it, but she’s about to be late for a BSC meeting. Because God forbid you be late to a baby-sitting meeting because you’re taking care of an actual baby-sitting issue.

Mallory tries to be all extra helpful the night she’s going to ask about riding lessons, but her dad totally calls her out on it. Dude’s got eight kids, Mal, he’s not stupid. But she lays it all out for them, pointing out she could ride her bike there, it would only be for eight lessons, and she would pay for half herself. It would be less than Jordan’s piano lessons. That brings up a good point. Why, out of eight kids, is only one taking lessons of any sort? That doesn’t seem fair. Anyway, her parents consider it, and agree to the plan. Not such good news for Jessi, though. She doesn’t get to take them. Her parents say she’s busy enough with baby-sitting and ballet. Which is totally true.

So Mal has her first lesson and it goes really well, aside from being teased by some snotty girl about her clothes. Everyone else in the class is wearing the full English riding costume, while Mal is wearing jeans, a plaid shirt, and winter boots. Oh well, she doesn’t let it bother her. Good for you, Mal. And then she spots her “dream horse.” He’s a white Arabian named Pax. Mal is in LUV. When she gets home, she immediately calls Jessi. Jessi doesn’t say much though, and sounds distracted. She’s totes jealous of course, but Mal can’t see that through her horse-induced haze.

Speaking of Jessi, she sits for the Marshalls. And Nina is in worse shape than before. She seems totally depressed. In her notebook entry, Jessi asks Mal if Nina was that way the week before. Does that mean Mal didn’t write up her job? Kristy’s gonna kill you! Jessi figures out on her own that Nina must be getting teased about Blankie, but decides to hold off on saying anything to Mrs. Marshall; she’ll talk to her friends first. Sigh. You’ve got a seriously depressed four-year-old, and you won’t do what you can to fix it right away? That seems cruel.

The younger Pike kids come by, because they’re holding door-to-door auditions for the talent show they’re putting on. Nina doesn’t want to audition, but they watch the Pikes do their circus stunts. They’re funny, and they even get some laughs out of Nina.

Mal has her second lesson, and is overjoyed when she gets to ride Pax. She also tries to make friends. The first girl she talks to, Megan, is obviously a liar, saying she has eight horses at home. Mal believes her, though. Then she talks to a girl names Kyle, who actually seems pretty nice. After class she talks with David, the boy who read Pax last time. David likes horses alright, but he’s only there because his parents are making him. I’m proud of Mal for putting herself out there, but she comes on REALLY strong to these kids. She tells them her numbers in the book, and even gives it David. She’s so certain they’ll call during the week, but they don’t. And she tries to call Jessi and tell her about it again, but Jessi’s really having none of it.

At her next lesson, Mal gets a difficult horse, Gremlin, who bucks her off, and she takes a pretty bad fall, getting the wind knocked out of her and hitting her head. She was wearing a helmet though, unlike some people recently. Her parents take her to the ER, and she’s fine. On the way home, Mrs. Pike isn’t so sure Mal should continue with her lessons, but Mal insists. However, she’s pretty freaked out for the next few lessons. She makes herself get on the horses, but she now dreads going to class. And of course, she won’t talk to her parents about how scared she is. And she doesn’t have Jessi to talk to anymore, either.

Claudia and Stacey sit for the Pikes, who are having a dress rehearsal for their talent show. Which means another case of sitters being left in charge of the entire fucking neighborhood. How is this not a problem? Anyway, the kids are taking themselves very seriously, but it’s pretty much a huge clusterfuck. Claud and Stacey just laugh. Mary Anne brings the Marshall girls and Blankie over to watch, and Carrot, Charlotte’s dog, grabs Blankie. It’s very dramatic for a moment, but Blankie is fine. The girls agree that Blankie is becoming a major problem.

Mal is having a terrible time controlling her horse in class. She’s glad there are only two more classes left. But her teacher gives them some bad news. Once classes are over, there will be a horse show and everyone participates.

But there is good news, too. One of the girls in the class, Amber, is having a birthday party, and she invites the whole class. She even smiles at Mallory. Mal is totes excited! But the party does not go well for her. To start with, she’s dressed wrong, all preppy while everyone else is cool.  Amber does wave her over, but just tells Mal to introduce herself to people. So Mal mainly just hangs around the food table for two hours. When she gets home, she calls Jessi, who she hopes will be sympathetic. But yeah, she’s totally not, hearing about a freaking party with riding class people.

Mal has an ok last class. They work on things they’ll be doing in the show. And speaking of the show, they pick the horses they’ll ride, by drawing lots. Mal’s second, and she gets to choose Pax. Huzzah!

Dawn’s at the Marshall’s, where the Blankie saga continues. When she gets there, Blankie is in the dryer, while Nina keeps watch. She’s all over Dawn to get him out when the buzzer goes off. But when Dawn goes to pull him out, he’s stuck to the sides, and as she pulls on it, all she gets is a little piece. Blankie is falling apart. Nina Freaks. The Fuck. Out. She yells at Dawn that she’s killed him. Nina reaches in for the rest of Blankie, and winds up burning herself. After she runs Nina’s finger under water, Dawn gets the rest of Blankie out. Nina is still in hysterics, but Dawn has a Great Idea™. She takes a piece of Blankie and puts it in Nina’s pocket, and says he’s now small enough to take with her easily. She continues to put pieces on Nina, up her sleeve and in her shoe. Dawn points out Nina can take Blankie to school with her, and nobody will know. Nina loves it. I know I’m down on you a lot, Dawn, but this was pretty good.

At the BSC meeting before Mal’s show, they ask her if she’s ready. Mal breaks down, and explains to everyone what’s really been happening, and how scared she’s been. But some good comes out of this. Jessi feels terrible for her, and they make up after the meeting. Jessi apologizes, and tells her she was jealous and thought Mal was bragging. Mal apologizes too, and they’re besties again. Mal tells Jessi that there’s another session coming up, but she feels like she can’t tell her parents she doesn’t want to do it. They spent so much money on the first one she doesn’t want to let them down. These girls will never learn just talking to your parents is the best thing.

It’s the day of the show, and Mal is flipping out all morning. But something great does happen. Her teacher stops by with a borrowed riding habit for her to wear, so she doesn’t stand out. When Mal gets to the stables, she braids Pax’s mane and tail, and that calms her down for a little while, but then she gets all nervous again. However, she actually seems relatively calm when she gets in the ring. She makes one pretty big mistake, but it’s ok. She winds up winning sixth, out of twelve. I’d say that’s pretty good.

Her parents are so proud of her, they offer to pay the full price of the next session. So Mal finally comes clean, and tells them how she hasn’t really enjoyed it since she fell. She says she may want to ride in a few years, but not for a while. Then she has to say goodbye to Pax, and that’s sad.

Then it’s time for the talent show. Everybody in the damn neighborhood shows up, of course. It starts off about the same as the rehearsal, a clusterfuck. But they get past that, and do pretty well. Nicky even walks on stilts. Mallory had no idea he could do that. She realizes she’s been so busy with lessons, she’s been neglecting her relationships with the BSC and her siblings. So she’s glad that’s over now.

That’s right, Mal. Never have an interest outside of kids and the BSC. Keep drinking that Kool-Aid.

o   Oh, Claudia. You are just so frustrating. She and Stacey shared a notebook entry, and Stacey wrote “laugh.” ON THE VERY NEXT LINE, Claudia writes “laff.” Twice. Sigh.

o   Ok, full confession time. I still sleep with my stuffed animal that I’ve had since I was three. I’m not ashamed. I did grow out of carrying her with me everywhere, though.

This is Belle. Not Snoopy, but his sister. And this is actually her second dress. She’s lived a rough life in her 29  years.

1 comment:

  1. Aww, cute Belle. I still have my Pink, a quilt I was given as a baby. It's in my daughters' room now.