Friday, July 25, 2014

BSC #55: Jessi's Gold Medal

By Ann M. Martin, ghostwritten by Peter Lerangis. Published June 1992.

Wouldn't they be wearing swim caps? And then, why is their hair dry?

I so very clearly remember reading this back in the day. I thought it was so cool to have this come out during an Olympic year. Because I was dork.

So, it’s very, very hot in Stoneybrook, even though, with the way the timeline seems to work in this book, it’s only, at the latest, the end of April. Jessi is glowing (not sweating) like crazy after her dance class, and she thinks this would be a hell of a good time to get a pool. She brings it up at dinner, and her parents surprise her by saying they’ve actually thought about it, but it’s just too expensive and too much work. No shit. I always thought I wanted a pool, until I saw my BFF taking care of his, and I’m over it. What a pain in the ass. Anyway, her parents say they can definitely get passes to the Stoneybrook Swimming Complex, which has three pools, and sign up for swimming lessons if they want. So Jessi’s cool with that.

At the next BSC meeting, the girls are talking about the upcoming SMS Sports Festival. Most of the girls are down with participating, except Mary Ann, who straight up says “Hell no!” and Mal, who just gets all quiet. And Kristy tells everyone that Alan Grey challenged her, in the lunchroom, that he can beat her in any race. So of course, Kristy accepted the challenge.

Ugh, Jessi and Mal have to do swimming for gym class. I was unfortunate enough to have a pool at my middle school. It was awful. What a terrible age to force kids into bathing suits, around the opposite sex, and then afterwards make them shower. Jessi is apparently good with this sick torture, but Mal is, of course, mortified. Especially since her bathing suit has a skirt on it. Oh Mal, you loveable loser, you. I just adore you. Anyway, SMS does not have a pool, but the swimming complex is conveniently within walking distance. Their teacher tests them the first day, to see how well they swim. Mal actually does pretty well (yay!), but Jessi feels like she barely manages, and sees her teacher talking to another woman while watching her. Jessi thinks she must really suck, and she’ll have to do remedial swimming or something. But the other woman, Ms. Cox, is actually the synchronized swimming coach, and she wants Jessi for the team, because she’s so damn graceful, of course. Practices are during school, and she gets out of gym. So Jessi’s all, “Hell yeah!” Way to just abandon Mal, though.

At Jessi’s first practice, she gets paired up with Elise, who is the exact opposite of Jessi; strong swimmer, but bad form. Elise teaches Jessi all sorts of moves and terms, and it’s hard. But she better learn quickly; Ms. Cox announces they’ll be in the Sports Festival, performing in two small groups, then competing in pairs. So, no pressure.

When Jessi gets home, Becca is entranced watching the Olympic Trials. She wishes the Olympics could be in Stoneybrook. Jessi thinks it would be great for the kids to be involved with the Olympics. Uh-oh, I feel a Great Idea™ forming.

Of course, when she brings it up at the next BSC meeting, the girls love the idea of a Mini-Olympics. Yay, Jessi. They also discuss what they will be doing in their Sports Festival. Stacey’s swimming the breaststroke, Claudia’s doing something “track-oriented”, and Dawn’s doing the javelin throw. Because, sure, why not? Kristy is going to do the obstacle course, and challenge Alan to compete with her. The winner gets the loser as a personal servant for a week.

Kristy sits for her brothers and sisters, plus half the neighborhood. Of course. She tells them about the Mini-Olympics, and they all get super excited, and start practicing. Andrew can’t successfully do anything, though, and gets quite upset.

Elise and Jessi are working hella hard on their routine. Jessi has choreographed an Egyptian style routine, and Elise is having trouble with the arm work. Meanwhile, Jessi is still working on not drowning during certain parts. They agree they don’t want to give up, though, and decide to work every extra minute they have, after school and on weekends.

Stacey sits for Charlotte, and she tells her about the Mini-Olympics. Charlotte’s reaction is about like Mary Anne’s, “Aw, hell no!” Stacey tries to talk her into it, but Charlotte’s having none of it. They invite Becca over, and Stacey gets them playing a bunch of silly games. She then points out that’s pretty much what they’d be doing in the Mini-Olympics. After Becca leaves, Charlotte gets all quiet and moody. She thinks Stacey doesn’t like her anymore, because she doesn’t want to participate. Stacey says that’s not true, and she’s sorry for pushing her. They’re still almost-sisters.

Claudia and Mal sit for the Pikes, and some extra kids, and they practice for the Mini-Olympics. The girls just watch for a while, but then Mal says she wants to try the potato-sack race. But as she’s hopping along, she runs into a stump, and sprains her ankle. She has to stay off it for a few weeks, which means she can’t be in the Sports Festival. She’s just heartbroken. /sarcasm

It’s the day before the Sports Festival, and Jessi and Elise are still working their asses off, but still think they’re not doing that well. They have a talk, which they haven’t really done yet, and admit they’re both really scared. They’re glad tomorrow will be the last day.

It’s the day of the Sports Festival! Yay! The track and field events are first up, at the school. First, it’s Kristy in the hundred yard dash, and she comes in second, and first of the girls. Claudia participates in the backwards race, which is silly, and apparently so funny Jessi doesn’t even remember who won. Dawn doesn’t win in the javelin throw, but Jessi says she threw it beautifully. Jessi goes to get something to drink, and is surprised to find Mary Anne working the concession stand. She had talked to Charlotte, to try to make her feel better about not competing, and Charlotte suggested Mary Anne find a way to participate anyway. Sometimes I think Charlotte’s more logical than the BSC girls.

And then it’s time for Kristy and Alan’s big obstacle course race. It takes three whole pages to describe the entire thing, but I won’t bore you with that. Suffice it to say, they each mess up at times, and they each kick ass at times. It looks like they actually tie at the end, but it’s decided that Kristy is the winner. Which makes Alan her slave. Kinky.

Next, on to the swimming events. Dun-dun-DUN! The entire crowd walks down to the swimming complex. Jessi is sorry to say she completely misses Stacey’s event. I guess she didn’t do well, though, because it’s never brought up again. Next up is synchronized swimming. Jessi is a bit freaked out at the size of their audience; it’s standing room only. Their group routine is first up, and Jessi doesn’t drown or run into anybody, so she considers it a success.

The pairs competition is next. Jessi and Elise are up second, and sit there freaking themselves out during the first pair’s performance. While we got three pages of Kristy’s competition, Jessi’s big number gets a mere paragraph. Alright then. Jessi’s not sure how they did, but people clapped. So…that’s good, right?

OF COURSE it’s good! So good, in fact, they win the whole damn thing, receiving the gold medal. Of course, the freaking title told you that much, not a whole lot of suspense there. But Jessi and Elise are shocked and thrilled.

Then we move on to the most important thing, the kids’ big project! In all honestly, the Mini-Olympics are pretty boring. Charlotte made signs to be a part of it, Jackie Rodowsky falls into a mini pool, and everyone has fun for six whole hours. Jesus, that’s a beating. Andrew tries everything, and pretty much fails. Even in a race against other four-year-olds. He actually starts out strong, but fades in the end. He’s heartbroken.

But never fear! Our perfect baby-sitters have an award for everyone! Andrew gets Most Determined. Yay.

At the end, Kristy sits on her ass, while Alan takes over for her cleaning up. I think it would actually go better if they were both working, but remember, Charlotte’s the actual logical thinker here.

o   Jessi tells us Becca wears a bathing suit with strange, multi-colored designs on it. But then she jumps all over us, letting us know it’s not a fancy designer swimsuit. Really, is that necessary? Weren’t pretty much all bathing suits, even cheap ones, in crazy colors and shit? All mine were. It was the early 90’s! Anyway, it’s actually a white bathing suit Becca colored on with markers. None of that sounds like a good idea. Won’t the markers run? And is a white bathing suit a good idea in the first place? As you can see, this really bothers me.

o   The ’92 Summer Olympics is the first one I really remember. We had the Dream Team, and Shannon Miller and Kim Zmeskal in gymnastics. Oh yeah, that was the shit.

o   Back to normally scheduled programming next week, I promise!


  1. "Jessi Goes for the Gold" would be a better title. Doesn't give away the ending!

    Becca's swimsuit bugged me too. White for a swimsuit? Weird. My mom sewed me a lot of swimsuits, so when swimsuit material was on sale I could pick out my own crazy 90s designs. My favorite was black material with a bright, multi-colored pattern like a ribbon all around it.

    1. Yes, totally better! You can work for Scholastic! :)

      I have a very vivid memory of a black swimsuit with lots of bright colors on it myself. We must have been totally stylin'.

      That's awesome that your mom made yours. I'm surprised my grandmother didn't, but I mainly bugged her to make me mermaid tail. I did not understand how heavy that could get when wet.

  2. Yeah, I call bull on Jesse swimming in chlorinated water with no swim cap. Natural hair or relaxed, either way, it would not happen.