“I realized you can talk to a boy the same way you talk to a girl. You just have to choose your topics more carefully. Obviously, with a boy, you can’t talk about bras or cute guys you see on TV, but you can talk about school and movies and animals and sports (if you know anything about sports).”
Okay, so Mary Anne may have had a little bit of a renaissance in Sea City, but she’s still a little bit old-fashioned when it comes to gender norms. (You can bet your ass that if Stacey wanted to talk about cute guys from TV, she’d be like “Pete Black, we’re talking about cute guys from TV, and I don’t care if you like it.”) Still, Mary Anne has come a long way from when we first met her. She’s dressing better, she doesn’t have to braid her hair every day, and – thanks to her dalliance with Alex the mother’s helper in Sea City – she’s not scared of boys anymore. She’s also obsessed with Cam Geary, a heartthrob who regularly graces the pages of Sixteen magazine, which she subscribes to. She even puts a picture of Cam Geary up in her locker. Dawn is all, “who are you and what have you done with Mary Anne?”
Summer vacation is officially over and the BSC is back to school – they’re in eighth grade now (and will remain in an eighth-grade time warp until the end of the regular series). At lunch, all the BSCers sit together for once. Mary Anne doesn’t know why suddenly Claudia and Stacey are willing to be seen in public with her, Kristy, and Dawn, but she’s glad so she doesn’t jinx it by bringing it up. Then, across the crowded cafeteria, Mary Anne spots Cam Geary! Wait a minute. Calm the hell down, Mary Anne. A movie star doesn’t go to Stoneybrook Middle School… that’s just new kid Logan Bruno from Louisville, Kentucky, who has a southern accent and just happens to look like your favorite movie star. He’s in Stacey’s homeroom and Mary Anne is immediately jealous.
She’s in full-on crush mode and her friends can tell. She also just got her first bra!
“Kristy was gaping at me. We’ve both always been as flat as pancakes, but I’d begun to grow a little over the summer. Kristy must have felt left out. She was the only one of us who didn’t wear a bra now.”
This explains a lot about Kristy’s bossiness. It’s like penis envy, but with boobs. So the Big Boss has some new marketing ideas: advertising the club at the SMS PTA meeting (parents = children = business, right?) and to start advertising with fliers in her own neighborhood, where the girls aren’t really working yet. They do those things, and it’s successful.
A little bit too successful, because the calls come flooding in and Claudia is totally overwhelmed trying to answer all the between-meetings requests. They have to have an emergency club meeting at lunch to schedule everything, but they manage to. They’re worried, though – how can they handle this long-term. What if they get even busier? Then the clouds part and an angel appears. Just kidding. But from the other end of the table Logan Bruno speaks up and says he’s had a lot of baby-sitting experience. Suddenly the girls are all over him. Mary Anne is having a partial nervous breakdown. Logan tells them about his experience, and that he can stay out until ten-thirty on weeknights and midnight on weekends, which is pretty baller in the eyes of the BSC. Kristy invites Logan to the next meeting to see what the club’s about and talk a little more. Mary Anne is basically trying not to faint.
Everyone’s super excited and gets to the meeting early. Mary Anne takes extra time to primp and look nice. Everyone can tell what she’s doing and who she’s doing it for, even though she denies it. When Logan arrives, everyone’s kind of flustered and even though Claudia, Stacey, and Logan try to keep things light, awkwardness occurs (mostly surrounding Mary Anne). When Mrs. Rodowsky, a new client who lives near Logan, calls, Kristy offers Logan the job – but she wants a member of the BSC to sort of supervise him and see him in action before he officially becomes part of the club. And of course, Mary Anne is the only one free. Ooh la la!
Mary Anne and Logan baby-sit Jackie Rodowsky. Not quite a romantic first date if you ask me, but Mary Anne moves at a glacier’s pace. Anywho, Jackie turns out to be “a red-haired, red-cheeked, freckle-faced little boy” who is a total handful. Over the course of one afternoon, he manages to almost cannonball into the piano, fall in the bathroom while trying to do chin-ups on the shower rod, get his hand stuck in a glass jar, spill a glass of juice all over the living room carpet, and knock Mary Anne right into Logan’s arms (“sigh” – Mary Anne). All in all, though, Logan does a great job.
“I was melting, melting away. I was turning into a wonderful Mary Anne puddle. And all because of Logan.”
At the next BSC meeting the girls have to decide about Logan – should they ask him to be a member of the club? They all like him, and Mary Anne vouches for him as a baby-sitter, but they all felt a little awkward having him at a meeting. The girls decide that first, they should find out if Logan even wants to join the club. Mary Anne gets the job of calling him. When she does, he tells her that, actually, he’s decided not to join the club. She’s surprised, but then she’s even more surprised, because he asks her to go to the Remember September Dance with him. (Of course she says yes!)
Stacey and Charlotte read a book about birthdays, and it gets Stacey thinking about Mary Anne’s upcoming thirteenth birthday. Charlotte thinks Stacey should throw a surprise party, but Stacey knows Mary Anne is shy and might not want all of that attention; however, she could throw a regular party and just bring out a surprise cake for Mary Anne. So Stacey plans a party, with a guest list that includes girls (the BSC, Dorianne Wallingford, Emily Bernstein) and guys (Pete Black, Howie Johnson, Rick Chow) – and she’s going to tell everyone to bring a date. It’s Stoneybrook’s first boy/girl party! (Of course, thrown by Queen Stacey.)
Mary Anne gets her dad’s credit card to go to Bellair’s Department Store and buy a new outfit for the Remember September Dance. The BSC (mostly Claudia, Dawn, and Stacey) help Mary Anne pick out a cute outfit. (Stacey tries to get Mary Anne to get cute underwear, too, but Mary Anne shuts her down – she’s totally a granny panties kind of gal.) The other girls are going to the dance too – Stacey with Howie Johnson, Claudia with Austin Bentley, and Kristy and Dawn flyin’ solo.
Logan brings Mary Anne a corsage at the dance. Sure, it’s an orange color that totally clashes with her outfit and he’d dropped it and someone had stepped on it, but still – very sweet. Good job, Logan. When Mary Anne and Logan start dancing, they jokingly do a Rockette-style kick and Mary Anne’s shoe flies off and lands across the room. She’s mortified and she doesn’t think it’s very funny when she gets back and Logan, Stacey, and Dawn are all laughing. She storms off to the bleachers by herself and watches as Logan dances with Dawn. (Gasp?) But then he comes and sits with Mary Anne. He asks her to dance a bunch but she keeps saying no and tells him to just go dance if he wants to. He’s like, “are you sure???” and she’s like “YUP” but it’s obviously a trap. Still, Logan goes and dances with Stacey, then Kristy, then Claudia, then Dawn again, then Claudia again. In between he comes back to check on Mary Anne but she spends the rest of the dance on the bleachers. Still, Logan’s not mad, and he tells her he had fun dancing with her. GOD DAMNIT, MARY ANNE, WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SUCH A BUZZKILL?!
Still, Mary Anne doesn’t scare Logan away. He calls her all week, sits with her at lunch, and invites her to the movies. Even though she sucks at talking to him, he still finds her interesting.
“It’s hard to be shy around someone who thinks you’re wonderful.” – Mary Anne
Kristy and Dawn are at the Brewer mansion, having a combination baby-sitting job (for Karen, Andrew, and David Michael) and slumber party. Kristy gets real, talking about how she’s worried it’s going to be an awful year – she moved across town away from everybody, and she feels like Mary Anne is “moving away from her” (aka maturing and liking boys), and she hasn’t made any friends in her new neighborhood. They also talk about Stacey’s boy/girl party and who they’re going to invite. Kristy is resigned to asking Alan Gray – at least she’d know what to expect from him. Dawn likes someone named Bruce Schermerhorn (honestly, Dawn, that last name is a total boner-killer) and might ask him. Neither of them are confident about it at all.
Stacey gets on Mary Anne’s case and Mary Anne finally invites Logan to Stacey’s party – and of course, he says yes. Mary Anne still has no idea the party has a surprise for her. When she shows up at the party, Logan is all about her. He tells her she looks nice, he brings her snacks and drinks, and he steers her toward the couch where they talk for a long time. He says he’s glad to finally get to know the real Mary Anne Spier – now that she’s finally opening up (although her main topic of conversation is how badly she wants a cat… come ON, Mary Anne). When the lights dim and a hush falls, Mary Anne doesn’t realize something’s up until everyone starts singing “Happy Birthday” to her and she sees Stacey holding a cake and Kristy and Dawn holding a bunch of presents, and everyone looking at her. And what does she do? She stands up and runs out of Stacey’s house and all the way home.
WHAT. True story. Introvert-as-hell, Mary Anne, but do what you gotta do. She lays on her bed crying, pissed at everyone for pulling a surprise on her. She knows they wanted to do something nice and she wrecked it, but she still feels like they should have known better. As she lays there, she assumes someone is going to call or come over any moment and apologize and see how she is. But no one does.
Feeling lonely and like she just lost all of her friends, Mary Anne asks her dad if they can get a cat – and he says yes! It’ll be her early birthday present. Mary Anne calls Logan to see if he wants to go pick out a cat with her. He’s relieved to hear from her, since they all thought she would never speak to them again, and she’s relieved that he’s not mad. He agrees to help her pick out a cat, and they meet at the animal shelter, where Mary Anne finds a gray tiger cat that she names Tigger. Logan also gives her her birthday present – a delicate silver bracelet – and asks her to the Fifties Fling dance next month. And, of course, she says yes.
The next day, an impromptu BSC meeting is held at Mary Anne’s house – the girls come over to meet Tigger, and they bring Mary Anne some leftover birthday cake and the presents she didn’t open two nights before. At the next official BSC meeting, the girls decide to invite Logan to become an associate member; they’ll offer him jobs when they’re all busy, and he doesn’t have to come to the meetings where everyone is awkward and embarrassed. Win-win! Logan says yes. Mary Anne is on cloud friggin’ nine. Happy birthday, Cat Lady Spier.