Thursday, March 28, 2019

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #8 - Boy-Crazy Stacey


So, in the last book, we ended with the information that the Pike family were going to go to Sea City on holiday and needed two sitters to go with them. Stacey and Mary Anne are the lucky pair, and off we go. 

The U.S version of the series included a "Dear Reader" letter from Ann M. Martin at the back of every book that explained how she came up for the concept of each story. This one was based on family holidays she had herself as a kid - Sea City is based on Surf City in New Jersey

Stacey served as my introduction to diabetes (I'd imagine many of us can say the same). As an adult, I really appreciate this - it wasn't who she was, it was just something she lived with and had to manage. Her friends were all understanding and accepting, and Claudia always had some plain crackers or popcorn for Stacey while the others snacked on candy.

So, it's August 1987 and the girls are all gathering at Kristy's new home for a last hurrah before the new school year. Stacey bemoans the fact that she really wants her ears double pierced, which led to an obsession with me wanting, and getting, mine double pierced. When the gang arrive, Kristy is sitting at the front door reading People magazine. 

One of the August 1987 issues of People featured Ryan White on the cover, a teenager who contracted AIDS via a blood transfusion. The whole article (Breaking America's Heart) is available to read on the People archive and I'd highly recommend it, it's still a powerful piece of writing 32 years later. I love that Kristy was reading something like this - I'm hoping it was intentional on behalf of the author to show that the kids were aware of what was going on in the world. Actually, reading this recent New Yorker article featuring Ann M. Martin, I'm convinced that it was intentional. 

Back to the story - Stacey and Mary Anne are going to Sea City for two weeks to be "mother's helpers" and mind the eight Pike kids. I LOVE that Stacey muses on the term, wondering if they should be called "parent's helpers" as they'll be helping Mr. Pike too. She boldly packs a bottle of Sun-Lite, which I assume is the same as the Sun-In we used to use to lighten our hair in the 1990s. 

At Sea City, Stacey almost immediately spots a couple of hunky lifeguards that she reckons are about seventeen years old and immediately declares herself in love with the blond one. She wears her new bikini proudly, and Mary Annes eyes "nearly bug right off her face" when she sees how skimpy it is. The hunky lifeguard is wearing "Noskote and lipcoat" which are both Sunscreen, but teenage me thought he was sporting lipcote, which was a lipstick sealer that my mother wore. 

Stacey is jealous of other girls who are friendly with the guards, and grumbles about not having "the supreme honor of doing favors for them. These girls got to bring them sodas and pick up anything that fell off the sand, one was even asked to fix them sandwiches for lunch". Stacey soon begins to neglect her responsiblities and forget why she's there, leaving Mary Anne to do the bulk of the babysitting while she obsesses over Scott, the eighteen year old lifeguard who calls her cutie, princess, love, honey, sweetheart, beautiful and continues to flirt with her even though she has told him from the beginning that she is thirteen. He later gives her his whistle (which is ridiculous, I mean it's a fairly crucial piece of equipment for a lifeguard). Stacey buys him a massive box of chocolates, but then sees him kissing a different girl (thankfully one his own age). 

Stacey is embarrassed and decides to avoid Scott for the rest of the holiday, and meets a boy her own age, Toby. She has her first kiss and all is right with the world once more.

The two notable outfits this week both come from Stacey: 

To Kristy's House: A pink shirt with bright green and yellow birds splashed all over it. A pair of baggy shorts, a wide green belt around my middle, silver bangle bracelets and a pair of silver earrings shaped like bells.

On Holiday: A white cotton vest over a pink cotton dress and a big white bow in my hair. 

Reading this as a teenager, I probably just fangirled over Scott and felt inadequate. I had regular crushes on people but generally was so lacking in confidence that I wouldn't have dreamed of having a kiss at 16, never mind 13. Reading it as an adult, I'm glad that this was a part of my little bubble when I was a child. Subtle little things (like the "parent's helper" quip, the part where Mary Anne's Dad openly cried, Stacey being perfectly responsible with managing her diabetes and the fact that there was a boy sitter on holiday) are what I definitely needed to read about in that era, when I consumed a huge amount of American teen TV and the only peers I saw were pretty cheerleaders who were devoted to boys. I'm glad that Stacey saw through Scott and came through the whole experience with a fond memory to look back on rather than something that could have been really damaging.  

No snack watch this week as Claudia didn't really feature, but the Pop Culture references were strong: 

Stacey packs an Agatha Christie mystery book. 

Mary Anne is reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. 

The group make an ice-cream stop at Howard Johnson's - HOJO were once as popular as McDonalds, with 28 ice cream flavours on the menu. Only one official branch remains. 

Mallory read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and talks about Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

The younger kids mention Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

See you next week!

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