the smell of my desperation has become a stench

I thought Kristy’s stepdad was Winston Brewer but Kate knew it was really Watson

This is Sarah’s next guest post, and before we begin I have to admit that I’ve never cracked open a single edition of the Babysitters Club, although I think I read every single VC Andrews book ever written and I used to hoard Sweet Valley High paperbacks. And because I’ve got kids and they ate my brain, the only thing I can remember about those series respectively is INCEST! And I think there were two blonde twins who drove a Fiat? Or is that just my lesbian fantasy?

……..

One night last fall, I met my friend Kate for drinks. Kate and I lived practically down the street from each other for years in Brooklyn, but never managed to actually meet for drinks until we both moved across an ocean to another country. This was all fine with me, because we met for drinks at the Mayflower, which is a 500 year old pub with a fireplace. One of the upsides of drinking in England is that you can do so much of it by a fire. In fact, that was the third time just that week that I drank by a fireplace. It feels so decadent to even say that, like I’m the Marie Antoinette of cider.

As typically happens if I’ve had more than two drinks and the company is willing, talk turned to the Babysitters Club, specifically Stacey McGill, and I was very pleased to learn that Kate could also mimic Stacey’s distinctive handwriting. I could probably still mimic most of the (original) BSC members’ handwriting at 33 years old, despite the fact that the last book I read was in 1989, and I’ve taken several courses in algebra since then. In fact, I’d bet money that you could shake me awake in the middle of the night, shove a pen into my hand, and I could fake Stacey’s handwriting better than Ann M. Martin herself. I could also rattle off the full names and club offices held of each member. It’s this very sort of skill that keeps me at the top of my field.

The other day I actually thought how I’d like to track down a copy of Babysitters Club #18: Stacey’s Big Mistake, just so I could see how Ann M. Martin’s New York circa 1988 measured up to my own New York circa 2010. How sad is it that whenever I think of the Dakota, I don’t think that John Lennon lived there, but that Stacey’s friend Laine did? (Laine was so sophisticated, she didn’t have to have a perm. This was a serious gamechanger for eleven-year-old me.) I’ve spent my life thinking of things in terms of Babysitters Club titles. Like, god, she is such a Boy Crazy Stacey. Or once, when my college boyfriend Joey helped me watch the kids I nannied, I told him I loved how he was being Logan Bruno: Boy Babysitter. And he was all confused and sort of panicky, like, who? What? Does this mean you think I’m gay?

My parents gave me a small allowance, but otherwise I had to earn money doing chores, and save up if I wanted to buy something. But the one thing they’d never say no to was books. So I would call the Waldenbooks at our local mall for days, seeing if the newest BSC title had come in yet. They knew me, and they were not completely charmed by these requests. I would say, “Hello, I’m calling to see if—” and they’d be like, “Not yet, Sarah.” Then, the minute it was in, I’d make my dad drive me to the mall, and he’d always make the same joke on the way there: “What is this one, Babysitters Club #9000: Babysitters On Mars?” And I’d roll my eyes and will him to drive faster, all the while wondering what color this one would be.

I stopped reading after #22, Little Miss Stoneybrook… and Dawn, presumably because I discovered I could harass boys on the phone instead of my local Waldenbooks. Amazon.com tells me they went all they way up to #131, not counting spin-offs and Super Specials. Ann M. Martin only wrote the first 35. The rest were ghostwritten. Looks like I got out while the getting was good.

Just last week, I had drinks again with Kate, and she told me she’d heard that Ann M. Martin came out of retirement to write a Babysitters Club prequel. I was hoping she’d gone all David Lynch meets Muppet Babies, maybe written a story about the babysitters being babysat, but Kate said it’s just supposed to be about the summer after sixth grade, before they formed the club. I’m sad there’s no longer a Waldenbooks at the mall near my parents’ house for me to call to order it.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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