It’s time for Mary Anne and Stacey to head off to Sea City, New Jersey to spend two weeks helping the Pikes on their annual family vacation! It’s the Baby-sitters Club version of “Jersey Shore”. (With 99% less STDs!) Stacey is a little wary about spending two weeks with Mary Anne, who is shy and acts pretty young – unlike Stacey who exemplifies eighth-grade sophistication and has already had a couple of boyfriends. But visions of bikinis, beaches, and boys are dancing in Stacey’s head. She’s hella stoked, to put it elegantly.
Stacey’s parents are not hella stoked. Remember, they’re super anal worrywarts because Stacey’s diabetic and they always think shit is going to go wrong. Stacey has to placate her mother by showing off her insulin-stocked travel kit and reassuring her over and over. As Stacey says, “it’s awfully hard helping your parents grow up… but it has to be done” (page 20). Stacey also smuggles a bottle of SUN-LITE in her luggage so she can lighten her blonde hair while she’s tanning at the beach. Don’t tell Mrs. McGill!
The Pike gang has to take two station wagons to Sea City since there are, like, forty of them. Stacey’s in a car with Mr. Pike, Mallory, Nicky, Margo, and Claire. Stacey hates to see people barf, which is too bad because Margo starts turning green pretty quickly. Margo and Mallory even switch seats in the car while Mr. Pike is driving on the highway. The 80s – simpler times.
The crew arrives to their rented house in Sea City, which is right on the beach. There’s even a lifeguard stand right in front of it so they can just leave the house and walk right into the ocean. Stacey and Mary Anne are sharing the “yellow room”, an old-fashioned bedroom that Mary Anne loves (of course) and which has a great view of the beach. The Pike kids give Stacey and Mary Anne an hours-long tour of Sea City, which is full of restaurants, candy shops, Trampoline Land, mini-golf, arcades, a boardwalk and, of course, the beach. When they settle back in at the beach Stacey catches a glimpse of a super hottie on the beach and utters that famous sentiment: “I’m in love… with that gorgeous lifeguard” (40).
The next day Stacey and Mary Anne take the kids to the beach, but instead of watching the Pike kids, Stacey wants to watch her hunky lifeguard. Too bad he’s surrounded by a gaggle of like-minded girls. Mary Anne is like, “uh.. Stacey.. our job??” but Stacey’s like “GODDAMNIT, MARY ANNE, I’M IN LOVE”. Stacey gets me.
While Mary Anne and Stacey are dealing with a triplet issue (Byron refuses to go in the ocean and Adam and Jordan are annoyed) Stacey sneaks off to chat with the hunky lifeguard, who calls her “cutie” (swoon) and whose name turns out to be Scott. (Scott’s a hot name.) Then Mallory comes running over with Claire, who’s cut her foot on a shell. Hunky Lifeguard Scott comes to the rescue, cleaning and bandaging Claire’s wound under Stacey’s adoring gaze. Stacey spends a lot of time that afternoon hanging around the lifeguard stand and swooning over Scott (who’s eighteen and heading off to college in September…) and fetching him sodas and the like. (Wait. Stacey. You’re the queen… make him fetch you sodas. Diet sodas. Because of your diabetes.) She even manages to get rid of all the other girls crowded around him because his attention’s on Stacey.
STACEY + SCOTT = LUV
Stacey and Mary Anne take all the Pike kids to Burger Garden for dinner. This place is cray – the tables are shaped like mushrooms and the servers are all dressed as animals and the ketchup and mustard are pre-mixed. This place was dreamed up by someone who was clearly tripping balls. (Maybe Mrs. Pike in the 70s?) They walk the boardwalk and get ice cream, and Mary Anne realizes she’s sunburned to shit. Serves her right for trying to get Stacey to back off Scott! (I mean, okay, Mary Anne is just doing her job. But she’s still sort of a buzzkill.)
The next day on the beach, Scott calls Stacey “princess”, “honey”, and “love” (uh, SWOON). There’s also a quick panic – SHAAAARK alert – which is terrifying. But no one gets eaten. That we know of. Stacey spends more and more time hanging out around the lifeguard stand, even when Mary Anne gets huffy about the lack of help she’s getting. “Since she was sunburned,” Stacey says, “I forgave her” (page 72). There’s a guy mother’s helper on the beach with another family who keeps helping Mary Anne – Stacey doesn’t understand what she’s so complainy about. And Stacey doesn’t have time to care, because Scott gives Stacey his whistle for being “a lifesaver” and fetching him sodas and sandwiches all day. And that’s when Stacey loses her damn mind: “I already knew… Scott was in love with me” (page 73).
As the days go on, Mary Anne gets increasingly annoyed with Stacey for spending so much time with Scott. Stacey assumed – as pretty girls are wont to do – that Mary Anne is just jealous. Mary Anne, on the other hand, is mad enough to stop speaking to Stacey – at least for a little while. When the Pikes give Stacey and Mary Anne the night off, Stacey convinces Mary Anne that they should dress nicely and go to the boardwalk, so they do. They’re having a good time until Stacey starts spending an inordinate amount of time shopping for a present for Scott. She finally decides on a heart-shaped box of chocolates that costs ten dollars. And then… Mary Anne and Stacey spot Scott. Unfortunately, he’s on a bench making out with a gorgeous curvy girl his own age. Stacey is devastated.
The next morning Stacey fakes a headache so she can avoid the beach (and Scott). Mary Anne is not into it, but Stacey is too heartbroken to care. Byron asks if he can stay home with her and she says sure. They take a walk over the the bay side of Sea City and Byron actually wades in the water. Stacey is surprised. He confides in her that he doesn’t like the waves and he doesn’t like it when he can’t see the bottom – he’s afraid he might be on the edge of a cliff or something – and that’s why he hasn’t been going in the water with his brothers. Stacey helps him swim around a little bit in the bay and get more comfortable in the water before they head back to the Pike house and the beach.
Stacey realizes that she and Scott were never a thing – he probably just thought of her as a friend or a cute kid, and he probably had a real girlfriend, and he was way too old for her anyway. So she and Byron go to the beach and face their fears, and Stacey apologizes to Mary Anne – who has been getting very chummy with Alex, the boy mother’s helper. The next day, Mary Anne takes a few kids into town and Stacey stays at the beach with the rest. She ends up talking to Alex, the mother’s helper, and meets Alex’s cute cousin Toby: “He was about fourteen years old (perfect!)… his brown hair was sort of waved back from his face… it was held out of his eyes with a blue headband… they were a beautiful deep brown, almost velvety looking… a handful of freckles was sprinkled across his nose and cheeks” (page 111). She spends the whole afternoon hanging out with Toby, learning everything about him, and falling in love again. (GET IT, STACEY!)
Mrs. Pike gives Stacey and Mary Anne the next night (their last night in Sea City) off. Stacey suggests that they ask Alex and Toby out on a double date but Mary Anne balks. She says girls aren’t supposed to ask guys out, to which Stacey replies, “Mary Anne, that is so old-fashioned”. (Tell her, Stace.) The girls make plans and, later, meet the guys at Hercules’ Hot Dogs, where they all eat together. Then Stacey and Toby branch off to the arcade, where Stacey wins Toby a hat and he wins her a teddy bear (which she names Toby-bear) and then he buys her a tiny pale pink shell to remember him by. (FRIGGIN’ ROMANTIC!) Of course, they have to hit the Tunnel of Luv. They ride through some floating water in a swan-shaped boat and right near the end, Toby gives Stacey her first kiss. SIGH.
STACEY + TOBY = LUV
The next day it’s time to pack up and head home to Stoneybrook. But first Toby and Alex come to say goodbye to Stacey and Mary Anne. Stacey also says a less emotional goodbye to Scott, who she’s totally over, and who tells her “you be good now, babe”. Ugh, Scott. I can’t believe
we Stacey ever loved you. #TeamToby #Stoby