Ohhhh, the Baby-Sitters Club. There is not a book series that defines my childhood quite like this one does.
I devoured those books as a kid; I’d pick one up when we went into Wal-mart and be half finished with it by the time we got to the checkout line. I read the mysteries, the super specials, the autobiographies (loved those!) and everything in between. (Maybe as recently as…two summers ago when I got really bored one day and wanted to revisit my youth.)
No one loves the BSC — or remembers the most obscure details — quite like my best friend Beth. When we were 13, we wrote a scathing pretend letter to Ann M. Martin, ripping apart each character and the overall premise of the books. (Janine Kishi got a particularly bad verbal beating.) I can honestly say I have very few times in my life when I’ve ever laughed that hard. We were hyperventilating and unable to breathe — she peed — as we had this totally cathartic experience of saying “fuck you” to the books we had loved as children. Freshman year of high school, she went as Kristy Thomas (turtleneck, sweater, jeans, sneakers, ponytail, baseball cap, clipboard) and got a bunch of her friends to go as the other members. Two summers ago, on our white water rafting road trip, we had an hour-long conversation in the car about the BSC and discussed some of the topics you’ll see below. I gave her a BSC board game I bought on eBay that year for her birthday.
I still get texts from her from time to time that say things like, “Why the fuck was Shannon Kilbourne the only normal one and yet appeared in like one book every twenty or so?!” When she’s down, I’m going to be the first one to say, “Listen…remember when Stacey and Robert broke up? You know you’re gonna get through this…” Our love/hate relationship with the BSC is one of the defining things about our friendship.
I know Beth and I aren’t the only ones who loved these books but can look back now and wonder why. Why, ladies, were we all obsessed with such a ridiculous series about such a ridiculous group of people? I know I wrote at least one letter to Ann M. Martin when I was a kid, and there was that legendary letter at the age of 13, but today, I’m writing her another one, woman to woman, writer to writer.
I’m sorry, Ann, but there are some things I just have to know…
1. Why were there so many broken homes in Stoneybrook, Connecticut? Seriously, how does such a small, sweet town have such an out of control divorce rate? OK and maybe the real question is — Why doesn’t Kristy Thomas try and do something about it? This seems like the exact situation when she’d put on her Krushers cap and get to work.
2. Why did you subject us to Karen Brewer? Karen Brewer with her two sets of glasses and “gigundo” attitude problem was quite possibly the worst character ever created. And I have to think you knew she was a brat and a pain in the ass, so I’m not sure why she got her own spin-off series.
3. Be honest — did you create Dawn’s mother Sharon to be read as a total pothead? She’s from California. She puts her car keys in the linen closet and her high heel in the freezer. That’s not absentminded. That’s fucking high. (But you’d think if she were a pothead then at least Richard Spier would get a contact buzz at some point and loosen up.)
4. How much cutting and pasting was involved with chapter two? Every once in a while, did you throw something crazy and outlandish in there just to fuck with your editors/us because you knew no one was reading it very carefully?
5. Did Scholastic force you to introduce Jessi (the black one) and Abby (the Jew) in an effort to be more diverse? Or was that your idea?
6. Did it drive you crazy writing in Claudia’s Engrish? I mean, you’re a writer. I have to imagine that either drove you crazy or was the highlight of your day.
7. Two-part question: a. Was Mary-Anne inspired by a real person? and b. Did the real person actually cry that easily? I’ve had a lot of girl friends come and go due to Greek life and I’ve never met anyone who cried at a commercial with a kitten. Not even like a sad kitten. Just a kitten.
8. Why did Stacey and Claudia hang out with people like Mallory Pike? Who didn’t “luv” Stacey and Claudia? They were sooo cool and had such fun and slutty potential. They would be girls I’d like to party with, except Stacey had diabetes so she couldn’t drink. I just don’t think people who wear cool outfits like black and white checkered high tops and purple suspenders would hang out with uber-nerd Mallory Pike. When you’re trying to make out with 15-year-old Sam Thomas, you can’t hang out with sixth grader gingers!
9. Did Laine get into coke? I just always thought she did. She was scary but super cool. I love when she comes to Stoneybrook and tells Stacey what’s up.
10. Where did you come up with some of these words and expressions? I’m thinking things like pocketbook (it’s a purse), bureau (it’s a dresser), raid the refrigerator (what they did at every sleepover)…no one ever says things like this.
If you could just let me know, Ann, I’d appreciate it. And I really need to know about #2. I’m reading Karen Brewer’s Wikapedia entry and getting pissed off all over again and giving you a Look.
I know I’m not the only one who loved these books! For some hilarious BSC reading, check out…
- Mallory Pike’s Letter to Ann M. Martin
- What Claudia Wore
- The Baby-Sitters Club Revisited (this one will suck you in and totally have you searching your mom’s garage for your old books)
- The Frenemy’s The Baby-Sitters Club: Where Are They Now?
- blog.stoneybrookite.org: the best friends you’ll never have
- Incredulous Kristy (this one had me LOLing)
Also, I know have the theme song from that awful VHS series stuck in my head.
Did you love the BSC? What would you add to this list of questions for Ann M. Martin?