So I got out of work early last week for a crawfish boil, which meant I had time to cruise the old Blooming Deals thrift store (oh Junior League, how witty you are) where I stumbled across a few incredible finds, including this copy of Fifteen. I know I read it once or twice as a kid but I'd totally forgotten about it, mostly because it is... let's be honest... a bit forgettable. It's like reading the novelization of an episode of Pleasantville before Reese Witherspoon sexually liberated 1955. Let's examine our cover, shall we?
Ok, so doesn't it look like something way more interesting is going to happen? Come on, cover designer! Clutched arm, pleading eyes, guy who won't make eye contact? This is all YA for "Unwanted Pregnancy" and how dare you insinuate that anyone in this book even THINKS about sex? I went in looking for a story, and found instead two characters that I actually think have Barbie and Ken style anatomy. And that tagline? Having a boyfriend isn't the answer? Ok... answer to what? Jane's lesbian tendencies? Her bastard child fathered by a handsome stranger? Her abusive situation? This cover is promising so many things that just aren't going to be delivered. Sigh.
On to our heroine. Jane Purdy. Christ, could we make her sound any plainer? Our story begins with Jane en route to a babysitting job with an apparently sociopathic little girl named Sandra, who enjoys trapping and killing flies. Watch out Jane. Jane's being very careful not to step on any cracks, because apparently she believes not stepping on any cracks will help her meet boys. Um, you're doing it wrong. She apparently realizes this, and her new cunning plan is to go hang out at Nibley's Confectionary and Soda Fountain after babysitting in the hopes that a new boy, old enough to drive, tall, cute and funny (Damn Jane, demanding much?) will ask her to get a root beer float or whatever the fast crowd is doing these days. I wouldn't count on it. Just to hammer home how much of a sad apple Jane is (You can thank the Gilbreth kids for the phrase "sad apple", I had a slight obsession with those books too) two of the kids who are popular and wealthy and probably heading off to Lover's Lane to neck and get pinned (heh, dirty) stop and remind Jane that she's a loser. Marcy smiles at Jane with "the kind of smile a girl riding in a convertible with a popular boy on a summer day gives a girl who is walking alone" which I'm assuming is 1955 for "bitch face". Jane spends a few pages thinking about how bad she sucks compared to Marcy and eventually we arrive at the Norton house and Jane's babysitting job with this kid:
Sandra wreaks general havoc, mocks Jane's bad French, threatens to dump ashes on the carpet when Jane can't remember a vocabulary word (I kind of like Sandra actually) and eventually lets the stupid yappy pug Cuthbert (Yay, Marilla!) out into the yard which will apparently piss off her snotty bitch mother and her cloud of Chanel Number 5. Jane is frantic, and now that the damsel is officially in distress, in comes our Gallant Hero, Stan, the new boy in town who apparently works for the Doggie Diner delivering dog food. (Dude, they used to deliver EVERYTHING back in the day, what the hell happened? We have way less incentive to leave the home than the people of the 1950's what with cable and the internet.) Stan saves the day by distracting the little brat with some pig latin, and Jane officially has a crush. On the Doggie Diner guy. You so know that if Jane had decent girlfriends, that'd be his nickname when they talked about sexcapades.
Jane's in like, so there's a chapter of obsessing about how she's going to meet Stan again, blah blah blah where she tries to talk her dad into getting a dog so they can have Stan deliver dog food, No such luck. She then considers finding out his last name, looking him up in the phone books, and casually strolling by his house "accidentally". Man, Facebook makes stalking so much easier. Eventually she decides just to volunteer to babysit Sandra again, which goddamn Jane, that is some hardcore devotion considering all he did was throw out a little pig latin. Ok, so she's thinking about all this, Stan calls, and it's so boring I start fantasizing about this book with an alternate ending:
Jane fights with her mom, obsesses about what to wear, and blah blah blah it's so cliche'd (but still adorable, Beverly, I SWEAR!) that I'm not even going to bother retelling it, just insert your preferred "First Date" episode of any sitcom that reran on Nick at Nite in the mid-nineties. Stan meets the parents and Jane feels embarrassed, they walk to the movies and talk about the weather, they stop at Nibley's for ice cream, and Marcy the bitch and Greg the latent homosexual crash their date and make Jane feel awkward. See, every show ever has done this plotline.
Ok there are more dates, their relationship progresses, we get it. No need to relive it. Eventually, Stan asks Jane out for a fancy dinner in the city to celebrate the end of summer, with two other couples. Marcy and Greg are there, and Jane sets her friend Julie up with Stan's friend Buzz. Buzz sounds desirable doesn't he? Guys called Buzz always are. They go to dinner, all riding in the Doggie Diner truck, and Jane has a bad time because she's an unsophisticated moron who's never eaten chinese food before and she's totally afraid to try anything. Seriously who doesn't love chinese food? If you're reading this blog and you don't like chinese food, GTFO. I mean, at one point, Buzz teases Jane and asks her if she'd like some "flied lice" in the second most racist depiction of an Asian stereotype ever (Mickey Rooney still holds the top spot) and Jane actually THINKS THERE IS REALLY LICE IN THE FOOD because yes, she's stupid. Jane, I liked you in the beginning but I'm kind of starting to hate you, just so you know. Also, I feel the need to post a picture of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's imitating post Pearl Harbor propaganda:
Moving on. I'm about to cheat you guys, but I'm sorry I just can't take much more. Jane and Stan are in love, blah blah blah, everyone knows Jane's Stan's girl blah blah blah, Jane feels validation cause she has a man blah blah... WTF? Sigh. Pages and pages detailing her rapture at being half of a couple, so I'm almost happy when the first dance comes around and Stan doesn't ask her and Jane ends up staying home dateless. Yes, I know, I suck. I wish ill on all characters that make me want to reread The Feminine Mystique. Julie reports back, Stan was there with some cute petite girl called Bitsy (I've hated that nickname since I read Tiger Eyes, incidentally, but I thought it was stupid even before that) and Jane is sad. Stan apologizes and explains the date was a family obligation, and Jane accepts his apology, but she later lets Buzz kiss her in front of Stan because she's a passive aggressive slutbag and a terrible friend. Stan gets all weird about it, and Jane apologizes and tells him to call. He doesn't. She waits around. She panics. Turns out he had appendicitis and was brought to the hospital for surgery that day and that's why he didn't call. Um, Beverly? Way to give girls everywhere waiting by phones that won't ring the idea that if he doesn't call, the reason is probably because he had to have emergency surgery, and not the obvious:
Jane brings him flowers, meets his mom, finds out from his little sister that Stan really likes her, and it's pretty clear we're looking at happily ever after. They go to the big senior movie and date night, more comic blocks to their romance occur, and the book ends with Stan giving Jane his I.D. bracelet and asking her to go steady. I'm not mocking, that's actually what happened. Go Jane. The moral of the story is that nice boys like smart, understanding girls like Jane and not hot bitches like Marcy. Jesus, no wonder most of us who read lots of YA novels are totally dysfunctional when it comes to adult relationships.
Thanks for reading my first recap guys! It was an experience. I look forward to many more nights of staying up way too late reading books so sickly sweet they give me the dibeetus.