Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kimberly and Adrianne, part two

LAST TIME: Kimberly and Adrianne started the first day of the fifth grade with the world's most pointless friendship pact; I introduced a thousand and one extraneous characters; and the girls went to math class. Really. That's all that happened.

Chapter Two: I hate school

Lunch was great. Oh, math was OK. Mr. Matthews was so nervous. He kept glancing at the clock and saying "um" and "ah" too much. We have Lokkins for Science, Social Studies, and Health. Back to lunch.

We have the whole table to ourselves. "We" is me, Adria, Jackie Mendol, Rain, Lorraine, Nori, Barry, Danni, Silvie, Heather Dobbins, Michelle, Ivy, and Carole.

That must be one huge table.

Well, Adria and I met at the flying saucer for recess. We talked teachers. She has Ms. Dunn.

"Ms. Dunn thinks she owns the world." explained Adria. "It's so dull, you know?"

Adria has the apathy of at least a seventh grader! Also, "owning the world" is hilarious.

"Yeah." I answered.
"I hate school. I always have and I always will." said Adria.
"Always." I agreed.

Then recess was over.
"Hey," whispered Barry. "Let's start a food fight."

Wait, they had lunch, then recess, then lunch again? What are they, hobbits?

"Oh, grow up." said Heather.
"How will it make us look?" asked Michelle.
"Real good." said Danni.
"Like scum." answered Heather.
"Which is what we are." agreed Barry. "So come on."

Dude! Barry thinks they're scum! And wants to prove it with a food fight! I might love her.

"Well, Barry," said Nori. "I'm not so sure."
"Oh, live a little." urged Jackie.
"Do I look like I'm dead?" questioned Carole.
"Wellll..." began Jackie.

Jackie is kinda cruising for a bruising, eh?

"Oh, let's vote." interrupted Adria.
"I agree." agreed Rain. Adria's eyes were shining.
"I just had an idea." squealed Adria.
"What?" I wanted to know.

Yes, ol' Light Bulb Eyes is at it again. Hopefully she can come up with something better than "let's promise to be friends forever."

"Well...who here hates school?" she asked.
"MEEEE." shouted all 13 of us.

"Well, here's what we could do." Adria whispered. "Bring some food you don't like in your lunch. Then, well, I guess you could bring it later.
Then, we can meet later back here and smear it on the building so it says, 'I hate school'."

WATERED-DOWN PLAGIARISM ALERT! In the book Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You, Barthe DeClements' character "Bad Helen" spray-paints SCHOOL MAK ME PUK on her school. (Um, Helen has a learning disability, so don't make fun. Read all about it here. Or here.) But because I was way too much of a goody-goody to let my characters do anything actually bad, instead of spray paint Adria suggests they use, like, rotten bananas and pb & j with the crust still on as the tools of their "vandalism." (Because crust? GRODY!) What will queen bee Eleanor "Call Me Nori" Jefferson think of such a half-assed scheme?

"Adrianne Tyler, you are a GENIUS." shouted Nori. Adria's eyes were shining bright as ever as we decided what to do.

"When are we doing this, today or tomorrow?" asked Carole.
"Today." said Lorraine.
"I have piano today." Silvie announced.
"Tomorrow it is." said Ivy.

Well, Language Arts was OK. We have Miss Kudje. Adria was in my class. So were the rest of the girls from lunch. I like the afternoons, but Miss Kudje is bossy. YECH.

The boys were bugging us to death. Especially David and Ryan. David gave Rain this note:

We all had to admit it was pretty funny. It looked just like Angie. It really did.

I had serious doubts that Angie could really resemble that drawing. And then I found this:

Apparently poor Angie has a rat's nest of a hairdo and suffers from some sort of birth defect that left her with giant, three-toed webbed feet. Everyone, please contribute to the March of Dimes so we can end the blight of duck foot-ism once and for all!

Then Ryan started in. He was sitting behind me and he started to pull my hair. I slapped his hands, but really I liked it. Nori said he likes me. I hope so. Ryan's cute.

Oh, fifth grade flirting.

Rich started to bug Ivy. He kicked her chair and she kicked
[him] where it counts. I think Rich liked it, though. BARF*O*RAMA.

Nothing a 10-year-old boy likes more than a foot in the nuts, surely.

Well, Thursday was a lot like Wednesday except we had homework. Lunch was great. We all had great things for our 'I hate school' job. We agreed to meet at 7:30. It was late
[7:30 = late!], after dinner, and not real dark. Perfect.

Because I'm sure no one will notice 13 girls smearing a bunch of food on the school at dusk. Nope, that won't draw attention AT ALL.

It was 7:15. "Mom," I said. "I'm going to the playground. I'll be back by 8:00. Bye."

"Just one minute, young lady. Hold it right there." said mom. "What do you think you're doing? I'm not running a circus here, you know. Why are you going to the playground at this hour? What are you planning to do, miss?"

"I'm going to a meeting for a secret club." I lied. "Are you happy you forced it out of me?"

"Be back by 8:00 or I'm coming to get you." mom shouted as I left.

Oh my God, you guys, WHAT IS THIS? Parents who are involved in their children's lives?! Does this mean that if Kim decided to stay all weekend in an underground treehouse, someone would actually notice she was gone? Let's hope this isn't a trend. This could be disastrous for all of us!

I wasn't the last to arrive. Heather was. We had almost started without her.
"Is everyone ready?" asked Nori.
"Then let's go for it." shouted Barry.

And go for it we did. It took a while. We had to decide who did which parts. Not everything stuck at first. It was nearly 8 when we finished, but it was worth it. My arms were sore, my hands were slimy, and my eyes were tired, but it was worth it.

I really wish there were more details on the food, but all we get is "slimy." Maybe someone brought okra? Jell-o? Oysters? I'll bet Nori brought seaweed!

On the side of the building, in putrid shades read:


Just imagine it slimier.

Chapter Three: T.G.I.F. (Thank God It's Friday)

On Friday, everyone was talking about our 'I hate school' job. Of course, we couldn't confess because some geek could rat on us.

"Some geek could rat on us?" It's like they're already in a juvenile detention center. And they've barely committed a crime!

At lunch, we couldn't really talk about it. This is a part of our conversation:

Yes, they have an entire conversation where they pretend like they don't know who was behind the expression of school hatred, for the sake of... I'm not quite sure who.

"So," began Lorraine. "Who do you think did that 'I hate school' thing?"
"Well, I bet you it was a boy." said Rain.

Way to throw the bloodhounds off the scent, Rain!

"Probably." agreed Nori.
"Well, I thought it was cool." said Barry.
"Yeah." said Jackie and Danni.
"They'll probably catch whoever did it." Heather said.
"Probably not." I said.
"Yeah." agreed Adria. "No one looked guilty."
"I agree with you two." said Ivy.
"Heather does have a point, though." admitted Carole.
"Here we go again." muttered Kristen.
"I wonder what they used." said Michelle.

Me too, Michelle. ME TOO.

All this time Silvie said nothing. She just looked like she was going to burst.

Silvie is totally the weak link. Hope you don't get shivved on the way to your next piano lesson, Silvs.

When we got to Language Arts, we saw that Miss Kudje had been using the board. In huge letters across the board it read, "T.G.I.F."

"Thank god it's Friday." whispered Barry. Of course, we all knew it was Thank Goodness It's Friday.

Bwa ha. How cute.

Miss Kudje looked like she really meant it.

"So, Kim," Ryan said, yanking my hair to get my attention. I
dry humped hit him. "What did you think of that 'I hate school' thing on the building?

What was I supposed to say? I thought it was cool, of course, but what if he didn't.

Rubbing nasty scraps of old food on a building? Who wouldn't think that's cool?

"It was cool." I finally said. "What did you think of it."
"I think it's cool, too." answered Ryan.

"Everyone, FREEZE." shouted Miss Kudje. "NOW COME QUIETLY TO THE FRONT OF THE ROOM." Look who's talking, I mean screaming. "We have to have a talk. Honestly, how many of you hate school here?"

Whoa, Miss Kudje, laying it on the line! Time for a good "rap session" with the youngsters.

Everyone except about 5
people raised their hands. "OK, hands down. We need to have a discussion about our little 'I hate school' thing out there. We took a close look and saw that it was made of food so there's no damage done really. It will wash away when it rains. Still, it doesn't make our school look very good. What if there were visitors or something coming or..." Miss Kudje blew her nose.

Wait, wait, wait! They've ascertained that the "graffiti" is actually foodstuffs (I wonder if they brought in a forensics expert...?), but they're going to leave "I HATE SCHOOL" up there until it happens to rain? What about utilizing, I don't know, a HOSE? A few buckets of water? I'm just brainstorming here. But back to Miss Kudje and her runny nose...

"Miss Kudje, why are you crying?" asked Rain.
"You see, Noraina,"
"Rain." said Rain.

The woman is in tears, but Rain still takes a moment to insist on being addressed by nickname.

"Rain," said Miss Kudje. "It reminds me of when I was in 5th grade. Me, my friends, Sarah and Maria, my boyfriend, Tim, and his friend Jon, we did almost the same thing."

This is where it starts to get a little inappropriate.

"YOU HAD A BOYFRIEND?" screamed Heather.
"Yes, Heather, I had a boyfriend." said Miss Kudje.

What grown woman seriously refers to someone she "dated" in fifth grade as her boyfriend? Miss Kudje is majorly creeping me out.

"Was he cute?" asked Ivy.
"Yes, Ivy, he was cute."


"Gee." said Angie Duck Feet McCall.

"Can I finish the story now?" asked Miss Kudje. "Thank you. Except we spray painted. On the black top playground. There it was right there in big huge letters on our school playground, 'I HATE SCHOOL'." Miss Kudje reached for a tissue.

Yes, this totally sounds like a person who would grow up to become a fifth grade teacher. Right?

"Is that all? That's the end?" asked Ryan.
"No," said Miss Kudje. "We got caught."
"What happened to you?" asked Barry.
"We got in trouble." answered Miss Kudje.
"DUH." said Rich.
"Oh, shut up, Rich." said Kristen.

"We were suspended for a week. Our parents made us pay them since they would have to pay extra taxes. Except then they just gave the school the right a mount. It was awful." said Miss Kudje. "All right, back to your seats, I have some fun sheets. No home work on Friday."

In Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You, Helen finds out that it will cost $6 in paint to cover up the SCHOOL MAK ME PUK graffiti. Apparently I didn't realize that $6 does not a heavy tax burden make.

Also, I like how Miss Kudje goes directly from the tear-laced tale of woe into Friday fun sheets. She so made up that story to get a confession.

I felt really guilty and I knew what we would have to do.

"Let's confess." I said. We were standing outside afterschool.
"No way." said Barry.
"I agree." said Heather.
"Only to Miss Kudje." said Nori. "She'll understand."

"So I see." said Miss Kudje. "Well, it was very clever, Adria. Much better than a food fight. You do know that it was wrong."

"Yes." we answered.

Miss Kudje burst out laughing. "Go home. Don't worry, I won't tell a soul." She got her things and left.

Miss Kudje is definitely getting fired before the school year is out.

"I really like Miss Kudje." said Adria.
"Yeah." agreed Ivy.
"Do you guys have an umbrella?" asked Nori. "It's going to rain."
"No." we all answered.

"Great." said Nori. Just then there was a huge clap of thunder and lightning filled the sky. We were soaked in a second. IT WAS POURING.

Good thing, since the janitor is too lazy to soap up a frigging mop and wipe that crap off the building.

"Thank god it's Friday." muttered Carole.
"Thank god I'm getting my hair done tomorrow." said Heather.
"There goes 'I hate school'." said Adria.
"THANK GOD." I said.

Um, Heather's getting her hair done? Is she 60?

Soon we all got home, soaking messes.

"Thank god it's Friday." I said to mom.

Chapter Four: You can only take so many practical jokes

"You're soaked." exclaimed mom. She ran to get a towel. "Go dry off." I went into the bathroom. "It wasn't Roger, was it?" mom called through the door.

I came out. "No, but what do you mean?"

"MOM." yelled Tiger. Tiger's real name is Philip, but he's only 3 so we call him Tiger.

Excuse me, but whaaa? That's scoring a zero in the sense-making department.

I threw on my sweat pants and a T-shirt and rushed down the stairs after mom. She had to answer some questions for me. What was Roger doing that could get me soaked. I had to know.

Roger is 15 but he looked younger all hunched up against the counter. Small. "I asked you to fix your brother a snack."

Roger snickered. "I did." he said.

"Yeah, you really look like Mr. Innocent." I told him. He crossed his
[eyes, I'm assuming, though it doesn't specify what]. I stuck out my tongue.

"Stay out of this Kimberly." warned mom. I sat down at the table. "There has been entirely too much practical joking going on, young man. I want an explanation and I want it now."

"I gave him milk and an ice cream sundae." said Roger.

"AND." said mom.

"And I put the milk in a dribble glass. That's why there's milk on his shirt. And I made the sundae out of, well, the ice cream scoops were raquet balls and the whipped cream was shaving cream."

KILL HIM MOM, I thought.

And that's where the story ends. It was just not going to get any better than a racquet ball sundae topped with shaving cream!

NEXT TIME: Another ludicrous scheme involving fake midgets, the long-awaited Def Leppard haiku, and much, much more when we meet the rest of Adria's wacky family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kimberly and Adrianne, part one

After looking over a few of the stories in the Friendship series, I'm realizing that more often than not I applied the "Friendship" label after the fact. Don't get me wrong: The 100 (and then some) characters are here in all their Anglican-named glory. But I think my ingenious idea to name the school—and the town—Friendship happened kind of late in the game. Many of the books (this one, for instance) don't even bother to specify a setting, but others take place in cities in western New York that I had actually visited that summer. However, for the sake of everyone's sanity, I will continue to refer to both the school and the town as Friendship.

One of the first entries in the Friendship canon is Kimberly and Adrianne, which manages to get pretty frickin' emo for the fifth grade.


Chapter One: Friends Forever

"Let's make a pact." said Adria. Her real name is Adrianne. She's my best friend. We were standing outside the school, the bell would ring any second and 5th grade would begin. I should have been happy, but I wasn't. Adria had been separated from me for the first time ever. I glanced at my watch. 5 more minutes.

At my elementary school—and so, of course, at Friendship Elementary—you had subjects like science, social studies, gym, art, and health with your homeroom class, but you switched classes for math and language arts. Therefore, even if you and your be fri were in different homerooms, you still had a pretty good shot at being in class together at some point. It was not quite the death sentence Kim makes it out to be.

"What kind of pact?" I asked.

"A friendship pact." answered Adria. Her eyes were shining, so I knew she had a great idea.

You know how the cartoon representation of a bright idea is a light bulb illuminating? Apparently Adria has a couple of those light bulbs in her eye sockets.

"A friendship pact about what?" I asked.

"Sort of a promise that-"

"Duh." I interrupted.

What an ass. This is probably why they need a pact in the first place.

"A promise that," continued Adria, ignoring me. "If we fight, we'll apologize right away." she suggested.

"And that we'll always be friends forever." I added.

"Right," said Adria, her eyes shining. "Friends forever." We both smiled because we new it was a great, long-lasting pact.

Yes, well, it doesn't get much more long-lasting than forever.

I was just about to tell Adria where we should meet for recess, when the bell rang.

"The flying saucer." I told her.

"Right." said Adria, but her eyes stopped shining as we went in. Who new what 5th grade held.

I'll tell you what it holds: introductions to about a googolplex more characters than we need in this story. Hope you're ready for a whirlwind tour of Friendship students!

I followed Mrs. Lokkins into the classroom. She said we could sit wherever we wanted. Who would I sit next to? There was no Adria to sit with.

"KIM." someone called. "Oh, Kimberly."

I turned around. It was Rain. Her real name is Noraina. I smiled. She was sitting with Barbara Manitelli and Lorraine Tailore. I like them. Barb's funny.
[You might even say she can't be serious!] I sat down on the end, next to Barbara.

"So what do you think of Lokkins?" whispered Lorraine.

"She's OK so far." said Barbara.

I think Mrs. Lokkins has been their teacher for about 30 seconds at this point.

"HEY, ELEANOR." shouted Rain. "OVER HERE."

Eleanor Jefferson is so popular. "Hi, Eleanor." I said.

Eleanor Jefferson: Popular fifth grader or wife of a founding father? You tell me.

"Hi, Kim. Call me Nora or Ellie though, please." said Nora/Ellie. "Hey look there's Angie McCall." Nora/Ellie said, sitting down next to Lorraine.

"Ewww. Old Duck Feet herself." said Rain

"Quack. Quack." quacked Barbara.

Quacking, that's always classy. What exactly is the deal with the duck feet? Is Angie the opposite of pigeon-toed? (And does that have a name?) I was totally pigeon-toed as a child—I had to wear a brace on my feet and everything—so I should not be making light of such afflictions.

"SILVIE EVANS." yelled Lorraine. "WE SAVED YOU A SEAT."

Silvie Evans is cute and nice. She has the prettiest hair. She sat down next to Nora/Ellie. By that time we had taken up the whole row except for one seat next to Silvie.

"DANNI SIMONSON, COME ON DOWN." called Silvie. Her real name is Priscilla.

"Hello all." said Danni. Her name is Danielle. She sat down on the end next to Silvie. We had the whole row to ourselves.

"OK. I have a name." Nora/Ellie said decidedly. "Call me Nori."

She's now gone from First Lady to sushi wrapper.

"You know," said Rain. "You and my mom should have a talk about what to name the baby." We all laughed. Noraina has 5 other sisters named Coral, Lanira, Korina, Bonita, and Ranella. Also, her mom was pregnant again.

Well, Lokkins did attendance. Then she told us what math class we were in. Rain, Nori, and Silvie were in mine. Lorraine and Barbara were together. We headed for Mr. Matthews room.

"Bye, Lorraine." I said. "Bye, Barbara."

"Call me Barry." Barbara said.

"Bye, Barry." called Nori.

Egad, the nicknames! It's like a Russian novel! Only... not.

So I have illustrations of some of these characters that were meant to accompany another story, but as Kimberly and Adrianne is about as exciting as Silent Lunch so far, I'm going to throw them in here. These illustrations are courtesy of neither Kimberly nor Adrianne, but instead:

Actually, I'll be straight with you: Noraina's story doesn't even make it past page two. For some reason, many of my most beloved characters were also the most boring. I would spend tons of time drawing them, their families, their friends; perfecting their handwriting; writing poetry as if I were them... and then eke out only a handful of paragraphs before I tired of their lameass plotlines. I believe Noraina's barely-begun book was going to focus on the arrival of Baby #7. (And, I'm sure, introduce another under-the-influence baby name.)

But at least Noraina (I'm sorry, Rain) managed to provide us with pictorial representations of many of the characters in this story—albeit not the protagonists. Kim and Adria must have had a falling out with the popular girls at some point, because my records show they were demoted to hanging out with Ivy Swanson, Cathy Johnson, and Nina Castor. I wonder if Eleanor and crew ever made animal sounds at them.

First we have Noraina, looking a bit bashful:

It's like someone just told her how much sex her parents have! After she had taken a time machine back to 1964. But don't worry, she didn't always look so glum. Here she is, cheerfully representing the late '80s. Leggings and jelly bracelets? Done and doner.

Next we have Miss Popularity herself, Eleanor Jefferson. Seriously, she has four personality traits listed, and popular is one of them. She's also pretty, smart, and nice. And wearing a Mr. Rogers cardigan:

And if you think her abundant coif could be the result of haphazard scribbling on my part, think again! Also, check out her bobby socks. I was seriously into bobby socks, preferably those with lacy trim.

Silvie Evans is also pretty and nice, but instead of popular or smart, she is SMALL. Really! She is literally half the size of Eleanor Jefferson! Note her distraught expression, her awkwardly outstretched arms, and the seizure-inducing print on her dress.

Lorraine Tailore is cute, nice, smart, and a little too into hearts. I'm not sure if the weight of her XXL sweatshirt has thrown off her center of gravity, but she seems to be struggling to regain balance. Or maybe she's drunk. Everyone seems suspiciously flushed, don't they?

And of course there's Barbara Manitelli, who is
nice, funny, AVERAGE (translation: not so much attractive), and a QUEERO. I think queero is supposed to mean she's kind of weird, but feel free to chime in if you also suspect Barry may be transgendered. Apparently our girl's into suspenders and snakes. SNAKES! Could she have picked a more phallic animal? I rest my case.

And Danni Simonson must be the least popular of the popular girls, because she's nowhere to be seen. Probably because she's Jewish. I mean, I'm half Jewish myself, but since I seem to be snubbing all sorts of ethnicities in this series, I wouldn't put it past me.

After I scanned the drawings, I noticed this on the opposite side of one of the papers:

Yes, Sada + Sig. Because if I wrote it enough times, it might actually happen! But enough about my love life. Where were we? Oh, that's right, on our way to math class.

The first thing I saw when I walked into Mr. Matthews was Rhoda Delacore. She is huge. She really is. "Hi, Kimmy." said Rhoda. I ignored her. This summer she thought we were best friends. Can you believe it? BARF*O*RAMA.

Remember how in Gossip Central I took baby steps forward in my treatment of overweight characters? I've now taken a giant leap back. Do you guys think Kim and Rhoda hung out over the summer and now Kim is trying to ignore her all Breakfast Club–style? I love how Rhoda calls Kim "Kimmy." I like to think she's taunting her.

Adria saw me before I saw her, but I couldn't sit with her. She waved and I waved back. It still didn't change anything. She was sitting with Ivy Swanson, Carole Bakerwitz, Kristin Seals, and Michelle Brewer.

"Kim. It's time for math. Back to Earth. Are you home, Kim, are you home?" It was Danni.

"Hi, Danni." I said sadly.

"Hi nothing. Mr. Matthews looks like he wants to murder you. You'd better find a seat so come sit with us." They were sitting in the row behind Adria.

"Friends?" Adria whispered uncertainly.

"Forever." I whispered back. I knew we always would be.

Well, now that we've introduced all 40 jillion tertiary characters, maybe something can actually HAPPEN in this story.

NEXT TIME: I plagiarize the bejehu out of Barthe DeClements as the girls engage in some candy-assed vandalism.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friendship: The Series

YA series were clearly where it was at, so I decided to start my own. But unlike, say, every other series, I didn't limit the action to one core group of friends. Why confine myself to writing about only five or so characters when I could write about a hundred? I mean that literally: My series was about the 100 fifth grade students enrolled at Friendship Elementary School, located in the fictional town of Friendship, NY. Well, at least I thought the town was fictional—imagine my shock when I Googled it just now and found that it actually exists! Although, okay, it does seem unlikely that in a town of only 1,927, 5% of its residents would be in the fifth grade.

In fifth grade (and into the sixth) I spent massive amounts of time configuring the logistics of Friendship. Some characters I created especially for the series, and others I co-opted from books I'd already begun. I came up with names for the 51 female and 49 male fifth graders, but I didn't stop there. Oh no—I also started constructing families for them. Because what was more fun than coming up with character names? NOTHING!

If the 60 families on the "census" are representative of Friendship as a whole, there are a few things we can deduce about the town. I like to consider the following a list of Things I Never Knew About Friendship Until Now:

1. They put fertility meds in their water instead of fluoride. Of the 60 families listed, almost half have five or more children. In fact, the Smith family features a single mother with a record 12 kids. Where is Mr. Smith? Probably in a mental institution!

2. Your marriage has a slightly better chance of survival if you live there. About 60% of Friendship residents are still married to their first spouse. However, it is noted that the Lorbers are fighting, which means that statistic could drop to 58%.

3. Either judges in custody cases have no predisposed gender biases, or there is a suspicious trend of death among young mothers. There are nearly as many families headed by a single father (15%) as by a single mother (17%). Holla, Friendship dads! That means that 32% of the population are single parents, which the Interweb tells me is pretty on target for the national average. I'm thinking they should just hold a singles mixer in the caf. Who wouldn't love to snag rich Mr. Burroughs? (Seriously, he only has one kid! Mr. Winberg and Mr. Franklin each have six! And Mr. Knowles has seven! Good God, grab him while you can!)

4. Friendship is even whiter than Portland. A quick translation for those of you not living in the Portland, OR, area: That's pretty fucking white. In fact, I don't remember envisioning any of these characters as African-American. Why? (Especially when I grew up in a city densely populated by African-Americans...) I'm pretty sure it's because I was into drawing pictures of my characters and I just felt weird about drawing black people. Like, did I color their skin in with a marker? Shade it with a pencil? Opt for a crayon? Not knowing the proper etiquette made me very uncomfortable, so I circumvented the issue entirely by leaving black people out of the books. Popular YA series only had, like, maybe one black character anyway, so surely I could get away with it too. And I imagined Friendship was in western New York, an area I frequented while visiting relatives—and in which I saw nary a person of color.

[Horrible, I know. I promise you, in sixth grade there are TWO black characters in a single book! Really!]

It is worth noting, however, that there is at least one Asian family (the Yungs—they operate a Chinese restaurant, what else?). And then there are the Estaucias, who have six daughters, named Coral, Noraina, Lanira, Bonita, and Ranella. I assumed for many years that they were just white hippies, but I'm starting to think they might be Latino. Um, Bonita Estaucia?

I had absolutely NO IDEA about the correlation between name and ethnicity. I remember my mom commenting that the Mendols must be Jewish, and inwardly I was all, "Wha...?" But I probably played it off like, "Yeah... I mean, totally. Jackie's already studying her Torah portion."

Speaking of which, there are a handful of Jewish families: Along with the Mendols, there are the Greens, the Stones, the Zaners, the Dorfs, and the Rocklins. But most Friendshipians originally hail from the United Kingdom. There's a lone Italian family (the Manitellis), as well as several families of indeterminate origin, i.e., I totally made their names up: The Kheeches? The Tomleens? The Alzones? The Onnleys? The frigging Burnings??? Wait, maybe the Alzones are Italian too. Alzone sounds kinda like calzone.

I made alphabetized class lists and even mapped out a chart of the fifth grade social circles. You can totally tell who the losers are because they have only two members in their group. Angie "Duck Feet" McCall and Rhoda Delacore, I am totally looking at you.

I have resisted transcribing the class roster—seriously, it's 100 names—but I will give you the proposed titles in the Friendship series (some of these I mentioned in my first post; asterisks mean I have at least the paltry beginnings of the story) as well as the character they are based around:

Syra Cuse* (Syra Cuse; as you will learn, Syra's name is the bane of her existence)

My Life As A Pre-Teen*
(Samantha Rhodes)

In the History of the World*
(Loni Hopkins)

Adria Tyler, the Girl Who Had Something More Than Nothing
(Adrianne Tyler. This story was never written back in 1989, but I, uh, may have turned its premise into a screenplay in college. Or the first two-thirds of a screenplay, because I seem to be unable to finish any sort of large writing project. Hypothetically.)

Cynthia, The One Who Hates The World* (This one's about Cynthia Tyler, the younger sister of Adria Tyler, the girl who had something more than nothing. Occasionally I branched out and wrote about the older or younger siblings of the fifth graders. However, I did decide to cut Cynthia from my screenplay. Allegedly.)

Kimberly and Adrianne* (Kimberly Fielding, though you can see I give second billing to the Tyler family member)

Nobody's Perfect (Heather Dobbins)

Being Me
(Ellen Irving)

My Diary*
(Jennifer Scott)

Don't Be Yourself
(Gloria Gilford. This one has a folder, but it actually contains...)

Living In A Princess's Land... When You're Not a Princess
(Which is about Patsy Gilford, Gloria's little sister. The alternate title is Baby of the Family.)

No Way To Spend A Summer*
(Co-narrated by Melanie Tibbets and Elaine Foster, who are TOTALLY NOT FRIENDS)

Life After Death
(Melanie Tibbets)

Second Chances
(Michelle Brewer)

Ivy Twists*
(Ivy Swanson)

Me, Super-Girl
and Super-Girl Flies Again (Sara Doone narrated two books that were never written! I think I just liked the ring of Super-Girl Flies Again.)

You Can't Be Serious
(Narrated by Barbara Manitelli, the class clown. Get it? Get it???)

Angie (Duck Feet) McCall
(Guess who?)

Take-Out Order*
(Narrated by Lisa Yung, the Chinese girl. No stereotypes here!)

One Of The Best Friends You Ever Had
(Regina Grubble)

Again and Again
(Elizabeth Robbins, who I have absolutely no memory of. Wait, could she be black???)

(Carole Bakerwitz)

Silvie, Open The Door
(Priscilla "Silvie" Evans)

I'm Elaine
(Elaine Foster)

If The Shoe Fits, Wear It
(Anne Montgomery)

Who Needs Another Mother?* (Narrated by Erin Kronheimer, the older sister of Justine Kronheimer)

Caitlin Says* (Narrated by Allison Mitchell, but the titular Caitlin is Caitlin Alzone, sister of Allison's beloved, Rich Alzone. This folder contains the oddest assortment of items ever. Like typewritten "love tests" for Allison and Rich, and cartoon drawings of sexy rabbits. I'm totally serious. I cannot figure out what the rabbits have to do with anything.)

And of course Friendship (the book), which was like my version of a Super Special.


NEXT TIME: Kimberly and Adrianne, which is basically an excuse to introduce as many of my characters as possible in a 12-page span.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Sabrina Story

The sequel to Gossip Central really functions much more like a television spin-off: One of the club members moves away, and we get to follow along and observe her new, way crappier life. Unfortunately, that means no Barbara Nelson. I know! I can't apologize enough! In a perfect world, Barbara would get the spin-off. All of our days would be spent watching her wreak havoc at the mall by walking like an Egyptian in the middle of "Burger's" and acting out the infamous Top Gun tongue-kissing scene with a pair of men's underwear in "Luxury." (Or wherever it is that one can buy men's undies at this mall. "Machismo" maybe?)


Instead, which Gossip clubber did I choose to write about? Our old pal Kim, with her fluffy side ponytail and knack for creating highly illegal surveillance equipment? "Weird" Andrea with her gorgeous green eyes and ear for gossip? Odd-looking but determined Denise with her half-baked revenge schemes? Stubby-legged Tracy, with her detective novels and peer pressure–induced eating disorder? Nope. Instead we get the character who had by far the least amount of "page time" in the last book: loud, tall, bossy Sabrina. Can't wait!

Lucky for us, this one features a back-of-the-book synopsis, so we know what was supposed to happen:


Sabrina just moved here and all the kids call her Loudmouth. What happened to her nice life she used to have with all her old friends? They don't even write. All her parents can think about is having another baby. Don't they love Sabrina? Sabrina's teacher keeps picking on her and nobody tries to stop her. Sabrina feels all alone with the popular kids looking down on her. So she thinks up a plan to ruin those popular girls lives forever. When the time comes, can Sabrina make it happen the way she planned?

Um, ruin their lives FOREVER? In the fifth grade? Kinda harsh, Sabs. Were they even the ones who instigated the name-calling? Who knows! It sounds to me like Sabrina is a little depressed and angry about a whole mess of crap—and decides to take her frustration out on the in crowd. Did I know how to craft a sympathetic character or what?

First, let's take a glimpse at the manuscript:

Yes, this story is typed on assembler coding forms (???) poached from my grandparents' massive paper supply. If the dates referenced in the stories are accurate (and I think they are), I wrote this about five months after Gossip Central. I just had to listen in on more phone calls! I had a fever, and the only prescription was more phone bug.

Also, you may have noticed that it's all written as one enormous paragraph. But because no one likes staring at a wall of words on the computer, I'm going to break it up into smaller sections. You're welcome! Now let's get to it:

This is the only paper I could find for a rough draft [because everyone has assembler coding forms lying around] so Miss Crainon better be satisfied. I am not good at writing stories, but I can type so maybe I can make this all work.

Sure, typing is almost as good as writing.

I can't believe she gave us homework
[it's dated 1/1/89, so she's on winter break], but you never know what to expect from Miss Crainon. I just wish I didn't have her for reading.

Remember how the preadolescent promo material claimed that Miss Crainon picks on Sabrina? That's not actually shown in the story, so Sabs just seems like a whiner.

This paper is due in 8 days. I'm awful with words so how can I possibly write a story. And of all things it has to be a fairy tale or fantasy. YECH. That's gross. I have no fantasies. I don't know what I want to be when I'm grown up. I don't fantasize about boys. I don't like any boys. I don't like Kirk Cameron or Chad Allen or any of them. I don't put posters up.

Do you like how in my hormone-addled little brain, fantasy automatically led to BOYS? ...Which led to posters of Chad Allen, natch.

I have no friends except for my cat and my cousin Candice. My cat's name is Tabby which isn't original. We just moved here this summer.

Where did she move from? Where is she living now? Pshaw, useless details.

I used to be real loud. I was when we moved here too. Then all the kids at my new school made fun of me. They called me Loud Mouth and Motor Mouth and Big Mouth and nosey.

Hi, you belonged to a club dedicated to gossip! You go to the mall and take notes! You listen in on people's private phone conversations like the freakin' Stasi! I think you're just going to have to live with "nosey," Sabrina.

I'm real quiet now. I used to be in this club called Gossip Central with my friends, Kim, Tracy, Denise, and Andrea. We knew all the gossip first. We had special ways of knowing it, too. We used phone bugs. You stick them on phones and can hear other peoples conversations. I only used one once.

Kim was awfully stingy with the phone bugs, wasn't she? Hey, wouldn't it be cute if the phone bugs looked like little spiders or ladybugs? (Let's work something out, Kim. Call me. Phone bug me even.)

I dialed Kathy Simon, this stuck-up, popular, 0ver-developed girl.
[Wow, I really had it out for Kathy Simon's breasts, didn't I?] The phone rang so I had to hang up. If I didn't someone would answer and I'd be in trouble. I'd have to talk to Kathy or hang up. If I hung up they'd think it was a prank call and trace it. Someone might get in trouble. Her family consists of rich buttheads.

A) I like how she's worried about a prank call being traced (correct me if I'm wrong here, but I don't think that was even possible for a hang-up call in 1989), but she has no qualms whatsoever about listening in on other people's conversations, which is infinitely more illegal.

B) The word "butthead" really needs to make a comeback. Who's with me?

Back then my last name was Long. That was before mom remarried. I'm glad she married Steve. He's real nice. The problem was he had broken his leg and was saying with his Aunt Ida, our neighbor. This summer he went back to work. Not before he married mom.... or "adopted" me. So that's why I have a different last name. Mom and Steve want to have a baby. I'm not sure that's such a hot idea.

Once again, in my elementary-school mind, life COMPLETELY STOPS when you break a leg. You can't go to work, you can't do anything. You're so incapacitated, you have to spend the entire summer in the care of your maiden aunt. Actually, doesn't this sound like some kind of tween twist on Rear Window (sans Shia LeBeouf, please God)? A guy breaks his leg and spends the whole summer as an invalid—only to fall in love, have a whirlwind romance, and end up with a stepdaughter who's spying on everyone? Man, I wish Sabrina would witness a murder! Maybe someone will garrote Barbara Nelson with a bra at "Luxury"!!!

Well, when I left my friends gave me various items. From Andrea I got a hand-painted bandana. I got a shell necklace from Denise. Tracy gave me two mysteries she really liked. From Kim I got a notebook I really wanted and a sheet with 20 phone bugs on it.

Nothing says "besties" like a hand-painted bandana and a notebook! And of course, illegal phone taps.

So far I haven't gotten up the nerve to use even one. I'm not sure they work anyway.
[Kim's electronics skillz really come under attack, don't they?] I think I'll use one after dinner on this snob, Terese McLaine. She is so popular I really want to ruin her reputation. Not that anyone would believe Loud Mouth Sabrina. Knowing something bad that everyone else didn't was still pretty good. It would be more fun to ruin her.

Soooo, yeah, she seems to hate them just because they're popular. But they are snobs, so I say RUIN 'EM!!!

Steve just called me to dinner. I can smell it. BBQ Chicken. Steve's favorite. Well I'm at the end of page 2 so I'll start page 3 after I phone bug Terese.

Back in the day, my mom read this story and told me she liked it... until the phone bugging began.

I phone bugged Terese's house. I didn't get Terese. I got her older sister, Monika. What a bore. She was talking to her friend about her date tomorrow. It was stupid. She was so fired up cause he only dated the prettiest, most popular girls. And oh it was an exception that she was in a grade lower even. Whoop-dee-doo. So I thought, I'm not going to waste the phone bug. If mom or Steve found it I'd be in trouble. You have to take them off when your done. Once you take it off it stops working. So I called Lawrence Tread. He is a nerd but it was worth a try. The phone rang. I next

I wish I knew what was going to happen in this aborted plot thread involving the nerdy Lawrence Tread. Phone sex with Miss Crainon? Just kidding, I had absolutely no inkling of phone sex at age 11.

So, I called Trixie Laston. B#I#N#G#O. [Old habits die hard, guys.] She is popular and she was crying to her mother about how scared she was being home alone. Her mom said they'd only be gone an hour more and not to worry. She hung up and so did I. I called back 5 minutes later. J$A$C$K$P$O$T. This time she was talking to Terese and Diane. I guess one of them has 3-way.

Oh man, three-way. It was a staple of my young existence. Had a crush on a boy but didn't know if he liked you? Your friend would call and ask him—with you secretly on the third line! However, beware! A friend could also call you up and get you to start talking trash about some other friend—and then you'd find out she was on the phone too. W
ith three-way came great power, but great responsibility.

Trixie sounded fine now. She was saying what a ball she was having and how she was snooping in her parents' room until Diane called. What a phony. Then she said how she found all her mom's hidden jewelry and she was trying on some of it. She was she was even wearing a diamond necklace and matching earrings at the time.

Rich butthead.

The funny thing was, I could picture Trixie with the jewelry on. I could see her snooping in other people's room. I hated her so there was no way her friends would doubt her. I still knew something they didn't. And I'm proud of it, too.

I like how she wants to ruin Trixie by outing her phobia. So likable, that Sabrina!

I have the perfect idea for my fantasy story. Last night, Steve rented the movie, Date With An Angel. My story will be about an Angel named Angela who comes down to earth to help a sick little boy. They become good friends. Then there is a tradgedy. The boy's mother is killed by a bear. The angel becomes his mother and they live happily ever after. Great idea, huh? Well, I owe it all to my parents. They're the best.

Date with an Angel? Sabrina, sweetie, you should not take literary inspiration from subpar '80s films. We all know Date with an Angel is the poor man's
Splash. And by "poor" I mean destitute, begging for spare change outside 7-Eleven poor. Really, why in God's name would a grown man like Steve rent that movie? But whatever—I guess all that matters is that Sabrina has come up with her brilliant fantasy story, which is somehow going to involve the divine, a life-threatening illness, and a bear attack. Thanks, Date with an Angel!

I have been thinking. I've been thinking about what to do about Trixie and Terese and Diane. Right now I'm going to phone bug them in this order:

1. Diane-because I didn't yesterday.
2. Trixie-cause she's lucky
3. Terese-last and least
When I called Diane her father was on the phone talking to a buisness client. No one answered at Trixie's. L*U*C*K*Y at Terese's. Terese was talking to Kathy peterson.

...And that's it for The Sabrina Story. Well, except for Sabrina's story itself, which you'll be pleased to know follows in full. The bad news: The bear attack got cut. The good news: It is still unbelievably craptastic!

Angelic Angela
by Sabrina Martin

Once there was a little boy named Timothy. He had a disease called pnemonia and was very, very sick.

PLAGIARISM ALERT! I am so ripping off The Secret of NIMH here. Not only does Mrs. Brisby's sickly mouse son have pneumonia, his name is frigging Timothy. Shameless!

God called on the good angel, Angela to help the boy through his troublesome time.

Disguised as a doctor, Angela did just that.

Dude! I am so suing Lurlene McDaniels!

Soon she was spending all of her time with Timothy. With Angela's love he grew stronger and stronger. Angela became his best friend. The cottage was there shelter and love was their food.

What the...? The COTTAGE? I guess undercover angels heal sickly children in cottages as opposed to hospitals??? Actually, that makes sense, as hospitals tend toward using treatments like antibiotics, saline, nutrients, etc., rather than LOVE.

It was then that something terrible happened.

Timothy's parents were killed at sea. They drowned during a storm.

Serves them right for going on some sort of joy-sail and leaving their ailing son in the care of a highly suspect physician! Cottage therapy?! Who would buy that?

Timothy's world began to collapse. He became very ill again. The only help was Angela.

God called Angela back to Heaven.

"Is the boy's time over now?" asked Angela. "Do you want me to bring him up now? I shall go straight away then."

"No, Angela."


Yeah, hold your horses, Grim Reaper.

"I want you to go back to Earth and be the boy's new mother. Give him the love he needs to be strong and healthy again. You're the best I've got, Angela. I know you can do it."

I think this is similar to what happens at the end of Date with an Angel. Except the angel, like, bones the guy instead of becoming his mom. Right? It's been nearly two decades since I've seen it.

So Angela went back to Earth.

"Timothy," asked Angela. "Would you like to be my son?"

"Then you would be my Mama?"

"Yes, Timothy." replied Angela.

"I would love to have you for my Mama." squealed Timothy.

And that's the end. Apparently you don't need social services when you've got God on your team. Timmy sure got over the tragic (tradgic?) death of his parents real quick though, didn't he? All thanks to that wacky disguised angel!

I'm still not sure if this story was supposed to be bad because Sabrina is a shitty writer (as she claimed), or if "Angelic Angela" was really the best I could come up with. I'm so hoping it was the former.

NEXT TIME: Get ready to meet the fifth grade class of Friendship Elementary School, because I finally start writing my own series. Oh, hells yes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gossip Central

Fifth grade was the year I got really into reading YA series. I had started a few in fourth grade, and by fifth grade I was completely hooked. The queen of them all, of course, was The Baby-sitters Club—but its throne was actually a director's chair and it wore a visor instead of a crown. Ann M. Martin really tried to offer a little something for everyone: fashionistas, artists, tomboys, introverts, dancers, bookworms, health-food nuts, the learning disabled, diabetics, crybabies, catty beeyotches... There was surely one character you could relate to (e.g., Mary Anne: short, shy, overly sensitive, cried at the drop of a hat—most likely one of Claudia's many fedoras), and possibly an entirely different character you yearned to be like (e.g., Dawn: purportedly didn't care what anyone thought of her, was from California).

Gossip Central, although not a series, is definitely the first of my stories to show the obvious influence of the BSC. For one, it's about a club. With five female members (Mal and Jessi probably hadn't joined up yet) who look really different, but tend to sound exactly the same.

Of course, while the BSC formed their club around the wholesome act of caring for other people's children, my gals' club is dedicated to digging up dirt on their classmates. At times, illegally.


I'm really into the asterisks in this one. G*E*T U*S*E*D T*O I*T.

"Up higher." instructed Andrea, using her hand to sheild her gorgeous green eyes from the sun.

"Lower." demanded Denise, pushing her thick, black bangs out of her face.

"Left." insisted Sabrina, pointing a long skinny finger in that direction.

"Right." Tracy squeaked. When everyone turned and stared at her she blushed and softly said, "I think."

"Ugh." I muttered.

The Gossip Central Club couldn't decide where to hang the sign on our clubhouse. U*N*B*E*L*I*E*V*A*B*L*E. We usually agree on everything. My dad was having a heck of a time trying to follow everyones commands.

"Dad," I called. "Hang it where you want."

For a moment or two, everything was quiet.

"Thank you, Kim." said Dad. "Now, run along, girls."

"Yeah," agreed Denise. "Let's go to the mall and grab some gossip."

Gossip at the mall? In 1988? That's like shooting fish in a barrel!

"YEAH." We all shouted. Everyone made a dash for my back door and the five of us grabbed our "gossip bags".

Not to be confused with Kid-Kits.

"Gossip bags" are purses filled with gossip equipment: A cassette player, blank or re-usable tapes, pens and pencils, a special pen with special "invisible ink", a 5-way walkie-talkie that my dad made for us, binoculars, dark glasses, a notebook, emergency numbers, and a sheet of "phone bugs".

Holy God! Are they going to the mall or on a stakeout mission? Way to keep it discreet, girls. Recording devices? Walkie-talkies? Frigging binoculars? Yep, I'm sure no one's going to notice that in the middle of the food court. And what's up with the emergency numbers? Is that in the (likely) event that their cover gets blown? No amount of invisible ink can help you then!

Oh, but wait—what are these mysterious "phone bugs" you speak of, Kim?

"Phone bugs" are something I made using my dad's equipment. First, let me tell you something, my dad is an electrician. I'm going to be an electrician when I grow up..... or an inventor, if that's what they're called. I'm not sure..... anyway, back to "phone bugs". "Phone bugs" are round and they look like this:

only bigger.

Can you believe how precise and technical that drawing is? You've got an amazing career ahead of you as an electrician/inventor/whatever they're called, Kim! I can feel it!

This is how they work:

#1. Stick "phone bug" on any phone.
#2. Pick up phone (hook, receiver, whatever) If at pay-phone, put in 25¢.
#3. wait. If phone rings, hang up.

If the phone doesn't ring, guess what? You'll be listening to someone else's conversation. And it works.

That's right, you guys, another electronics lover. In case you're wondering, my dad owned a diner and I had absolutely zero electrical know-how. Although you probably guessed that from the nonchalance with which my characters wire clubhouses and tap phones from afar.

The "phone bug" (the quotes seem to be an official part of their name) is something that I thought would be AWESOME. I was a bit insecure and always wondered what other people thought of me. However, if I'd had enough electronics love to miraculously invent such a device, I'm sure that listening in on my classmates' conversations would have resulted in nothing but misery. Well, that or extreme boredom.

"Let's go." shouted Sabrina.

Well, I guess it's only fair for me to tell you about my friends and fellow members of the Gossip Central Club.

...And welcome to the "Chapter Two" portion of our story.

#1. Denise Locker. Denise is actually rather pretty but, if you told her she'd simply reply, "Nonsense."

Yeah, she's 10. Going on 60.

She has straight black hair that is about shoulder-length. She has gray eyes and a pale complection. Denise moved here about a year ago and is very determined.

#2. Andrea Dolinger. Andrea is really strange, once you think about it. She has sand-colored hair and the most gorgeous eyes you've ever seen: aqua-green. She immediately became friends with Denise, who looks a little strange. She, Denise, and I are about average height. Andrea has an ear for gossip.

Wait, I thought Denise was pretty. Pretty weird-looking?

#3. Tracy Tackman. Tracy isn't your average girl. She has short dark brown curls and dark brown eyes. She's short, shy, and easily embarrassed. But listen to this: Tracy loves to read mysteries, and she solves them before the detectives in the book do. She's great. She and I have been best friends forever.

I love how Tracy's claim to fame is solving fictional mysteries. Perhaps she should think about relocating to Cabot Cove.

#4. Sabrina Long. Sabrina has long, reddish hair that just about reaches her waist. And glossy blue eyes that are almost as gorgeous as Andrea's. She's just about the opposite of Tracy, loud, bossy, gets what she wants, and she's big. Tall, I mean. She always knows what's going on first. Sabrina and I have known each other for a while, we live on the same street.

But there's no description of Kim! Fortunately, we have this illustration. Please note that she dots her i's with hearts. Of course she does.

I'm pretty sure I owned that exact outfit (and that it came from T.J. Maxx): a black sweater with purple polka dots and a matching black sweater-skirt. Man, they would make anything out of a sweater in 1988! However, my side pony was nowhere near as impressive as Kim's.

When we got to the mall we went our seperate ways.
I got my notebook out and got busy. I wrote:

Thanks again, Ann M. Martin, for making me realize the integral role of notebook entries in exhibiting your extremely different characters' extremely different handwriting. I've scanned these in so you can fully appreciate the lengths I went to in order to give each character's handwriting its own personality. But I'll save you the squinting by transcribing the notes too:

August 28, 1988
#1. Jenni Stopner and Karla Philips were trying on bra's at the lingerie department, "LUXURY"! #2. Steve Philips was making goo-goo eyes at Linda Best, the high-schooler! #3. Barbara Nelson was looking at men's underwear, I mean fingering it!

This mall has completely awesome store names. On a sidenote, what 10-year-old girl fingers men's underwear? Especially when there are people with dark glasses and notebooks watching?

A*N*D*R*E*A*'*S P*A*G*E: Andrea wants to tell you about what happened to her at the mall.

Like in a BSC Super Special, the other club members get to put in their two cents.

I got into the booth and put a quarter in the pay-phone. I pulled out my cassette player, which I knew had a tape in it. I stuck a "phone bug" on and carefully dialed Stacy McKay's number.
This was my first time using a phone bug and I wondered if they really worked.

Believe me, they work. Without "phone bugs," this story is nothing.

I was in luck. But the voice I heard wasn't Stacy's. It was Donna Worthington's.

"So," said Donna in a sugary voice. "Do you want to go to the movies with us?"

"Yeah," said Stacy, in a voice just as sweet. "Are you? Please come. Please. Pretty please with sugar on top and honey, too."

The voice on the other end cleared it's throat. "Well, I guess that would be..... okay." I almost dropped the phone and do you know why? That voice belonged to Scott Harris, the boy Denise has had a crush on for ages.

Not only does Andrea have an ear for gossip, she also has an ear for identifying voices. That's no small feat! It's hard even to discern that a prepubescent boy is male over the phone. My poor brother was mistaken for our mother for YEARS.

"Great my mom will pick you up at 12:30 on Saturday." Stacy gushed.

"Don't forget," cooed Donna. "Roger Rabbit, Oz Theater, 1:00."

It is, of course, completely unnecessary for her to repeat this information since Stacy's mom will be picking Scott up, but okay...

"See you then." replied Scott.

"Bye, Scott."

"Thanks, Donna." I muttered. Looks like the club is going to see Roger Rabbit..... plus Stacy, Scott, and Donna. I took off the bug and left to meet the rest of the club. My time was up.

Next we have the rest of the club's notebooks entries. Go ahead and click if you'd like to see my chameleon-like writing abilities, but I'll transcribe below.

N*O*T*E*B*O*O*K P*A*G*E: This page is everyone's notebook entries for August 28, 1988.

Sabrina's Notebook: 8-28-88
I stopped at "Burger's" and heard this:
Cindy Lane was telling a bunch of girls that she goes steady
with Bobby Ellsworth! [Did I say it was 1988? Excuse me, I meant 1968.]
(Listen to my "Gossip Tape #3")

Yeah, she totally busted out the cassette player at "Burger's." Slick! And yes, I said Burger's, which implies that the restaurant is actually owned by a hamburger.

Denise's Notebook: August 28, 1988
#1. Barbara Nelson was running around screaming out the lyrics to "Monkey" and doing "The Monkey"!
#2. Justin Harlin was looking in Audrey Farell's dressing room at "Luxury", while she tried on a bra!

Okay, fingering men's underpants and then singing George Michael songs at top volume in the mall? Accompanied by embarrassing dance moves? Barbara Nelson is either starved for attention or has some sort of substance abuse problem.

Also, "Luxury" is clearly staffed by a bunch of apathetic high school students.

Tracy's Notebook: 8/28/88
I looked around and saw about 10 girls following Drew Stevenson, who was with Kathy Simons! (They don't have a chance)

Tracy, that's the best you could come up with? Didn't Barbara Nelson fellate a corn dog on a stick or something? Yeesh.

Andrea's Notebook:
I "phone bugged" Stacy McKay. I found out about her and Donna Worthington going to the movies with Scott Harris!
(Listen to my "Gossip Tape #1")

The Gossip Central clubmates are rather liberal with their quotation marks usage, "aren't they"? Also, I like how all the gossip is punctuated with an exclamation point because it's so! exciting!

When we all got to our meeting place at the mall, we didn't say what had happened to us. We said "hi" and we walked outside together and hopped on our bikes. We got to my house and compared notes.

I like how THIS is when they choose to be discreet. Not when they were taking notes and tape-recording conversations at the mall.

"Drew Stevenson." I said softly. I've had a crush on him since second grade (we're going into fifth). Kathy Simon is a girl in our grade but only the stuck-up kids hang around her (besides Drew). She's also overdeveloped youknow. Very.

Because we all know that boobs make you instantly evil.

And then there's Drew, one word: adorable ADORABLE A*D*O*R*A*B*L*E. I think he's the cutest boy I know.

Her attraction to Drew obviously runs very deep.

"Scott Harris." moaned Denise. I couldn't believe it that Scott would actually do that.

Going to the movies = a mortal sin.

Denise has a mondo crush on him and, to make things worst, Stacy McKay is her worst enemy. They hate each other. H*A*T*E.

"Well," Andrea said brightly. "Has anyone seen Roger Rabbit yet?"

* * * * *

"I don't feel right about this." Tracy told me as she pulled up her sock.

"Don't worry." Sabrina called over her shoulder.

"Yeah." agreed Andrea. "It's for a good cause."

"Yep." agreed Denise through clenched teeth. Her hands formed fists at her side. "To get even with that brat.... Stacy McKay and her fat little sidekick, Hefty Donna."

Tracy blushed. "Watch what you say." I hissed into Denise's ear. Luckily, Tracy was too busy being embarrassed to notice why I was giving Denise 'the look'.

If you've seen the pictures, you should realize I would have made a toothpick look hefty. However, I beg you to consider the millimeter of progress I've made with my treatment of supposedly overweight characters:
1) The protagonist's BFF is chubby, and
2) This was (surprisingly, I'll admit) not mentioned in her initial description!

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

"All right." Sabrina announced in her usual-loud tone. We had just approached Oz Theater. The reason for its name is simple. The first movie played there was, you got it, The Wizard Of Oz. Oz Theater is really a beautiful theater- in one part they show movies, in another they hold plays and concerts- past the doorman (yes, it's so fancy there's a doorman) are cardboard Oz characters- Dorothy, Toto(in her basket), Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, 2 munchkins, Glinda the good witch of the North or South
[I could never keep that straight], and finally, The Wicked Witch of the West.

This theater has absolutely no basis in reality. A doorman? Ritzy.

We got drinks, popcorn(except Andrea who's got braces), and candy. Except for Tracy who said, "i'lljusthaveadietcokethanksanyway."

Nooooo! Don't feel bad, Tracy! Remember, Denise is funny-looking!

We sat down in the back row, waiting for Stacy, Scott, and Donna.

I'll admit, we got fidgety. All of us except Tracy. Tracy was too busy sucking in her cheeks and stomach and hiding her stubby legs under her skirt. Sabrina was buckling and unbuckling her sandals, I was checking my watch every 5 seconds, Andrea was picking at her braces and humming Wait. But Denise was plotting revenge.

D*E*N*I*S*E*'*S P*A*G*E: Denise would like to tell you about what we did, in her own words, at Oz Theater.

R*E*V*E*N*G*E. But Kim was wrong. W$R$O$N$G.

Whoa! Way to switch it up!

I was trying to plot revenge while at the same time pick the wad of gum from under my seat. I had no good ideas.

That goes double for me as the author.

That's when they came. Donna was walking in front, swaying her hips from side to side. She took up so much room that Stacey and Scott had to walk behind her.

Have you noticed that hip swaying seems to be a detestable character action in my novels?

Stacy was swinging her hips too.
[See? SEE?] She kept bumping into Scott(purposely)until, finally, she banged against his side so hard that he dropped the popcorn and half of it spilled on the floor.

Andrea giggled. She started laughing(silently)so hard that Kim and I had to pat her on the back so she wouldn't choke on the sip of 7 up she had just taken. Some things that really aren't very funny strike Andrea as hilarious.

I actually found that pretty funny myself. That must mean I'm a big weirdo like Andrea! However, choking in the middle (er, back row) of the theater is probably not the best way to remain incognito.

Big Donna, Screwy Stacy, and Sweet Scott sat down in the middle of the theater so we all got up and moved down so that we were in the row behind them but so that we weren't directly in back of them. They were on the end and we were more in the middle of the row behind them.


The conversation was boring. They talked about school, oh I hope I get so-and-so for a teacher, and stuff like that. Stacey kept giggling when it wasn't funny. The best part was when Stacy spilled her pop on Donna. What a bore.

But I liked the movie.

And that's it! So much for the crazy revenge plots. I hope Denise was at least able to unstick the wad of gum from under her seat. I'll bet she was—she's very determined.

I think my favorite thing about this one is how they seem to have the club purely for the love of gossip. Because seriously, what are they doing with all of those gossip tapes and invisible-ink-penned notes? I know Denise said she wanted revenge, but I'm not buying it. I think they just want to be in the know so that later they can head to the clubhouse and secretly talk some mondo smack about everyone.

Gossip Girl would be appalled.

NEXT TIME: This book may have been only eight pages long, but that didn't stop me from writing a sequel! Or, you know, the beginning of one.