Friday, April 26, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Racing Hearts

Blammo! It's book nine o'clock!

Sweet Valley High #9: Racing Hearts

The book begins with Elizabeth Wakefield discovering her sister Jessica trying on their mother's "chocolate-brown suit" which sounds just LOVELY. Elizabeth has no idea what the hell is going on with her sister, as she seems to have abandoned her plans to become a famous actress, isn't going to the beach with Cara Walker like she was supposed to, and is all talk about responsibility and the future. It's all very boring and un-Jess. It turns out that she wants to work in their father's legal office after school, as she has decided she wants to be a hotshot lawyer. Grand so.

The next day at school, it's been raining in Sweet Valley but worry not! Both Jessica and Lila Fowler still have perfect hair, as we’re informed that Jessica’s hair is “frizz-proof” and the rain has given Lila “a fullness to her wavy hair that Jessica could seldom achieve with her curling iron”. PHEW. I’m so glad that the beautiful popular girls remain flawless regardless of weather conditions. Jessica fills Lila in on her grand plan to work in Ned's office, and Lila's all "ewww, work" because Daddy’s Girl don’t need no stinkin’ job.

They run into Roger Barrett who's in love with Lila, but the hallway is slippery and he falls and lands on his arse in front of his dream girl. Poor Roger! And actually poor Roger, because he secretly works as a janitor in the evenings and weekends in Ned Wakefield’s office building, to pay the rent at home. Apparently there’s no such thing as part time jobs in petrol stations, delis or shops of any kind in Sweet Valley. Anyway, Roger runs off all embarrassed and Lila calls him Bugs Bunny while being a cunt about him with Jessica. She then explains that she calls him Bugs because he bugs her. Wildean wit, that one.

Meanwhile, in the boy’s locker room Bruce Patman, Todd Wilkins and John Pfeifer have an awesomely homoerotic conversation about the upcoming trials for the Barton Ames race, more commonly known as the Bart. There's also a dance afterwards (OF COURSE) called the Bart dance. Seriously. Every time it's mentioned, this pops into my head. Anyway, Bruce is bragging about how he’s going to win the race hands down, even though the prize is a scholarship to SVU, which he doesn’t exactly need seeing as he’s super rich. But never mind all that, we get these wonderful sentences which are MUCH more interesting:

“Droplets of water dripped from his dark hair onto his red and white Sweet Valley running shorts”

“Todd eyed Bruce coldly as he took off his soaked t-shirt”

“I imagine I have as good a chance as anyone. These legs of mine do ok on the basketball court”

They’re just a damp towel-snap away from a sweaty orgy on the wooden bench. There’s also some talk about Coach Schultz leaving over an argument with the school board about money, but who cares, BRUCE’S SHORTS ARE ALL WET.

After school, Jessica arrives at her father’s office to start her shiny new part time job. She’s expecting work to be like an episode of Ally McBeal, so she’s none too pleased when she’s put to work photocopying legal documents. However, things look up for Jess when she meets a handsome dude in the lift. His name is Dennis, he goes to a rival high school and he works part time in his father’s ad agency across the hall from Ned’s office. They flirt about handbags and he asks Jessica if she’s training to be a secretary. Really, Dennis? Anyway, Jessica thinks he’s cute and of course he fancies her, seeing as he's got a pulse and the Wakefield twins induce boners wherever they roam.

The next day at school, everyone is out for the Bart race trials and Elizabeth is being an insufferable wench, pestering Roger to try out for the race, as he could really use the scholarship prize. He’s visibly annoyed with her, but Elizabeth won’t let up because she’s a self-righteous pain in the hole, and even though we’re told how she’s saying everything “gently” like she’s the good guy, she’s acting like a dick and you just desperately want someone to turn around and tell her to shut the fuck up. Anyway, Lila overhears the conversation and starts to egg him on too for her own amusement and because she thinks he’ll make a fool of himself. So because Roger loves Lila, he decides to run as it might give him a chance to win her over. He joins the other runners on the track at the last minute and kicks everyone’s ass, beating Bruce to the finish line and surprising everyone. He also does it all in “faded army fatigue pants and red t-shirt”, rather than fancy running gear like the other athletes, and although according to Jessica, “his taste in clothing leaves something to be desired”, what he’s wearing actually sounds pretty fucking hot if you ask me.

Everyone is all over Roger after he wins the race, telling him how brilliant he is. Everyone except his friend Olivia Davidson, the alafalfa sprout munching hippy. She’s sullenly writing about her feelings while sitting on the bleachers (the big emo head on her), and barely congratulates Roger on his win because she fancies him and now she's jealous that Lila is suddenly showing an interest in him. She goes off in a huff, presumably followed by a cloud of patchouli. 

GO HOME ROGER. Nice jumper, Lila.
The school principal gives Roger a fancy SVH tracksuit, which makes Lila suddenly think he’s SEXAY, so she butters his bread for him in the cafeteria. I really wish that was a euphemism, but the line genuinely reads:

“Oooh, let me do that,” Lila said, taking the pat of butter and his knife away from him.

I mean, I know Lila’s hot and rich and all, but that’s some fucking weird flirting, whatever way you look at it.

The coach and the school principal both tell Roger that he has to run in the Bart race, but he doesn’t have time to train because he’s the only one bringing money into the house with his part time job and doesn’t think his boss would give him the time off anyway, so he keeps failing to show up for practice. He also can’t meet Lila after school because of it, so she thinks he’s playing hard to get. While discussing this with Jessica at lunch, there's a great bit that just reminds us how genetically blessed and amazing the Wakefields are, in case the focus had been pulled away from them a bit too much.

Jessica took a big bite of her cheeseburger. Lila eyed her friend enviously. How could Jessica eat so much and never gain an ounce? Lila had to work like crazy to keep her slender figure. 

Boom. All the money in the world can't buy you the sexy Wakefield metabolism, Lila. Anyway, in a bizarre attempt to win Roger over, Lila writes this godawful poem for him:

Roger Barrett, a boy so fine
His speedy running is divine
In school too, he is very smart
He’ll walk away with the trophy at the Bart
In everything he operates at the highest stratum
We at Sweet Valley are so proud to have him.

I...just...what? Stratum? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Meanwhile, Jessica has been hooking up with hot Dennis after hours in her Dad’s office, when everyone else is gone home. Elizabeth has gotten suspicious about what her sister is up to, so she sneaks into the building to spy on Jessica, presumably because she has nothing better to do and is an unbearable busybody. Ugh. She sees Jessica and Dennis shifting each other, the big stalker, and then sees them run into Roger while he’s doing his janitor thing. Elizabeth then blackmails her sister into keeping Roger’s secret, otherwise she’ll tell their father that Jessica has been dry humping some dude in the office every evening.

When he gets home, Roger rings Olivia in a panic and tells her all about his cleaning job and how he can’t run the Bart race at the weekend because he won’t be able to get time off and how worried he is that Jessica will blab to everyone in the school. While all this is going on, Lila calls Jessica looking for help to bag Roger, so Jessica comes up with a plan and tells Lila to throw a leaving party for Coach Schultz before the Bart dance, so Roger will have to attend. However, she also evilly plots to reveal Roger’s secret job while at the party, which will both humiliate Lila and somehow make Jessica the “star of the party”. Is that even a thing? Do parties have stars? I must be going to the wrong ones.

Anyway, the next day at school, the pressure is getting to Roger so he admits to Lila that he works as a janitor, and begins to feel proud of himself, even though Lila now looks at him with barely concealed disgust.  

“Roger’s integrity was admirable, but Lila wanted nothing to do with it.” 

Amazing. Who needs a guy with integrity or honesty or any of that stupid stuff? Not Lila Fowler, that's for damn sure. Roger then goes to tell the coach that he won’t be able to race on Saturday but it just so happens that Liz had her father call Roger’s boss and make him give Roger some time off, and then rang the coach to say that was all fine and dandy. It also turns out that the coach isn’t leaving at all, but we don't really care about that. Roger thanks Liz, and then runs off to Olivia, suddenly realising that he loves her. How handy.

Back at Ned’s office, Jessica has been getting frustrated that Dennis hasn’t picked up on her hints to get him to ask her to the Bart dance. Finally, she does the asking herself but he says he can't go, which makes her angry because NO ONE REJECTS JESSICA WAKEFIELD. Anyway, it turns out he’s fifteen, so Jessica dumps him because he can’t drive, even though she actually really likes him.

The day of the big race arrives, and Roger wins, breaking the Bart record while he’s at it. Lila suddenly reappears and lobs the gob on him, going on about how she never lost faith in him and she’s throwing a party in his honour. He turns her down so she gets all indignant and demands to know what could be more important. He tells her to mind her own damn business and goes off with Olivia. Hooray. 

I have to say, it wasn't exatly the best Sweet Valley High book, but the next one is all about slutty Annie Whitman, so things are looking up, kids.

Notable outfit:
There weren't nearly enough hilarious clothes in this book, but I'll give this one to peasant skirt enthusiast Olivia Davidson.

Olivia proudly showed off the floral print skirt. It was so long it nearly covered her Chinese sandals. “The latest in chic from Martha’s Thrift Shop. Goes well with the scarf, don’t you think?” She fingered the long strip of faded silk tied loosely around her neck.

Good for you Olivia.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 158
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 2 (Must try harder.)
References to eyes/eyelashes/eyeballs: 52

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Quelque Chose #22

Two weeks ago, my lovely, bold and brilliant grandmother died at the rather decent age of 93. She was Nanny Nonie to me, her thirty other grandchildren and her twenty-seven great-grandchildren. It's a frankly massive family tree that she's responsible for. Nanny was tiny, a demon for sweets and unfailingly honest. "Sit your big bum down here beside me, Kitty!" The picture above is from 1941 and she's with my grandad who died long before I was born. Her bobby socks are awesome.

As such, I hadn't really been in the form for blogging for the last while, but Sweet Valley snarking and general silliness will resume shortly.