abby’s un-valentine: no means no!

it’s february YET AGAIN in stoneybrook, & abby is complaining about how much she hates valentine’s day. she’s allergic to flowers, she doesn’t want a boyfriend, & she sick of all the emphasis on goopy love stuff. she says something about how february is awesome because it’s the one month of the year where there aren’t a lot of allergens. i could have sworn there is another february abby book in which she declares february to be the worst month of the year because the weather is rotten & you can’t go jogging & play soccer. but leaving aside these inconsistencies…

at school, a boy named ross brown starts paying abby a lot of attention. he’s in abby’s english class, which is doing a section on shakespearean sonnets. when abby complains about the readings & criticizes them for being too romantic & cheesy, ross gets her back…but in weird ways that abby doesn’t agree with. he asks to walk her to her classes & compliments her jokes & her contributions to class discussion. abby doesn’t pick up on the cues until ross asks her to the upcoming valentine’s day dance. abby is kind of dumbfounded & says no without thinking about ross’s feelings.

when she gets home from school that day, anna corners her & tells her that ross is going to ask her to the dance. abby explains that he already did & she said no. anna is stunned. she thinks ross is nice & funny & would be a great guy with whom to go to the dance. abby shrugs & says that she’s not interested in going to the dance or having a boyfriend.

but ross doesn’t give up. she shows up at abby’s house with a bouquet of roses. they make abby sneeze & she is annoyed, but anna thinks they’re beautiful & puts them in a vase. abby tells anna she can have them.

abby tells the other babysitters what’s going on. kristy supports abby in knowing what she wants–or doesn’t want, as the case may be, but the other babysitters think abby should have accepted the invitation to the dance. they’re worried that abby hurt ross’s feelings by saying no. abby concedes that maybe she did, but says she’s not going to do something she doesn’t want to do just to spare someone’s feelings. go, abby! if these girls carry on with their “say yes to avoid hurt feelings” routine, they are going to be getting pregnant when they’re 14 years old. the babysitters insist that ross is a nice guy & would be a good date. abby says that ross is nice, but she doesn’t care–she doesn’t want a date. somehow this turns into a weird fight in which the other babysitters think abby is accusing them of dating people just for the sake of having dates. it’s pretty clear to me that she’s not, but if that’s what the other babysitters want to believe, maybe they need to look at their own guilty consciences.

ross leaves a carnation outside abby’s locker. he is really starting to creep me out. why can’t he take no for an answer? abby thinks the flower sitting at the bottom of her locker looks like a tombstone. then she thinks it’s fitting because she is feeling grave. then she laughs at her own joke. this is why i actually like abby. what a goofball. he also leaves her a book of “new yorker” cartoons, which seem a little sophisticated for a 13-year-old. abby likes them, but not enough to go to the dance with ross.

then abby has a brainstorm: ross likes classical music. anna likes classical music. abby realizes that anna has a little crush on ross. all she has to do is get ross to see that anna is the right girl for him, not abby. she concocts a plan to invite ross over while anna is home, & then have kristy place an emergency call to anna. abby will leave to talk to kristy, giving ross & anna some time to talk to each other, causing ross to realize that anna is the one he really likes. she gets anna & kristy on board with this plan.

unfortunately, right before ross shows up, abby lets anna borrow her lucky shirt. she puts on anna’s sweater instead. then abby tears a contact & has to put on her glasses. so when ross shows up, he thinks abby is anna & vice versa. abby tries to correct him, but anna rolls with it. so abby lets it happen. but then their mom comes home & she can tell the girls apart even when they are twin switching. sure enough, mrs. stevenson blows the girls’ cover & ross is pissed because he thinks they deliberately tricked him…even though his conversation with anna had been going well. he storms out, & anna is pissed at abby because she really liked ross & now she thinks he hates her.

abby spends a few days in turmoil before deciding that ross may not listen to individual apologies from anna & abby, but if they ambush him at home & in tandem, maybe they’ll get somewhere. that’s what they do, & ross concedes that he should have listened to abby the first time she said no, & that he was less angry than embarrassed about mixing the girls up. he expresses interest in anna & invites her to go see a chamber music concert or something. she gladly accepts. the date goes well & ross invites anna to the valentine’s day dance. she accepts again. everyone is happy.

while anna & the other babysitters are at the dance, abby & kristy take in a romantic viewing of a new horror movie called pepperoni man. abby wins a big box of chocolates that she decides to share with the babysitters at the next club meeting. all’s well that ends well, i guess.

the babysitting B-plot focuses on the thomas-brewers & their guide dog-in-training, scout. in kristy thomas, dog trainer, it was established that guide dogs-in-training live with their puppy walker families for 18 months. apparently those 18 months have passed magically, with no one except for scout getting any older. scout is now ready to enroll in their guide dog school on long island. but andrew had decided that scout is his dog & he doesn’t want to give her up. he even lets her do things that guide dogs aren’t supposed to do, like eat treats, sit on his bed, & go outside with her training vest on. every time he does something like this, everyone is like, “andrew! no! scout’s not your dog & you’re going to ruin her!” do they not get that andrew is four years old? four is a little young to conceive of the idea that something does not belong to you & that you might mess something up if you do what everyone around you is doing. karen has a new kitten, david michael has shannon, so andrew sees the other little kids in his family playing with their pets in a normal pet way, giving them treats & letting them misbehave. HE’S FOUR. a four-year-old is not just a tiny 30-year-old with the same intellectual & emotional development. they’re going to give him a complex.

however, this storyline also shows that karen doesn’t have the market cornered on brattiness. andrew is pretty bratty about scout. abby catches on to andrew’s distress before anyone else, & brings it to kristy’s attention. kristy tells watson & elizabeth, who are like, “yup. he thinks the dog belongs to him. but she doesn’t, so we’re taking it to long island.” they literally do NOTHING to help ease the transition. andrew even asks to get a dog of his own after scout leaves & watson & elizabeth say, “no. we have too many pets as it is.” um, one dog leaves, another dog comes, what’s the diff? i do think four is probably too young to have a dog, but they could do SOMETHING to make him feel better.

finally kristy saves the day by pretending to be blind & acting like scout is her new guide dog. she gives a big speech about how much she needs scout because she can’t see, & how she heard that scout’s puppy walker family did a great job training her, & scout has worked really hard to be an awesome guide dog. for some reason, this gets through to andrew & he lets scout go. not that he ever had a choice. i think this was one of the more fucked up babysitters club B-plots, from beginning to end.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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