First, a few notes on the cover: Dawn and Kristy’s bathing suits are hideous, and don’t even get me started on Mary Anne’s pathetic getup. Once again, Mallory surprisingly looks like not a loser…? Color me impressed. And of course Queen Stacey is killing it in a perfect early 90s string bikini. Bow down, bitches.
Anywho, this Super Special may begin with the most ludicrous Baby-sitters Club plot so far: the BSC wins the lottery. Well, not quite – they all pitch in and buy seven tickets when the jackpot is 23 million dollars, and decide to split it seven ways if they win. They end up getting six of the seven winning numbers, so they win $10,000, which equals $1428.57 each. (Um, nothing cool like this happened to me when I was thirteen. Once I won $20 on a scratch ticket, but that’s it.) They decide to visit California for their two-week school break. (Again, must be nice…) Side note: the lottery ticket-buying was Claudia’s idea and even though she doesn’t know what frivolous means, she’s pretty smug about the fact that they won. But don’t worry – Claudia makes smug, like all of her weird outfits, look cool.
On the plane, they’re served lunch. Everyone except Dawn and Stacey get spaghetti; the “healthy eaters” get chicken (although I’m so confused – isn’t Dawn a vegetarian?!). When they land in California, Dawn is not pleased to find her dad’s girlfriend Carol at home cooking dinner for everyone. But Jessi is pleased that she’s gotten in touch with Derek Masters and will be able to go see an episode of “P.S. 162” film! On their first full day, the BSC goes to Sunny Winslow’s house to meet her (Dawn’s best CA friend) and the rest of the We Love Kids Club, which is basically a hippie version of the BSC. Kristy is horrified at how unstructured their meetings are, of course. Colonel Thomas likes RULES! Somehow, Mary Anne ends up taking a sitting job with an asthmatic girl named Stephie, and competitive Kristy takes a sitting job with two boys named Erick and Ryan, of whom the We Love Kids Club has nothing good to say. Kristy is out to prove she’s the best baby-sitter ever and doesn’t need their advice.
On Monday, Carol (Dawn’s apparent arch-nemesis) takes everyone to the beach. Stacey decides to take surfing lessons, because she’s a boss, and Claudia starts to fall in LUV with a dude on the beach named Terry (who, despite his name, is somehow not 47 years old). The problem? Terry’s a brainiac and Claudia… can’t spell brain. But they seem to hit it off. Meanwhile, Stacey is in LUV with surfing, and Dawn introduces her to a few older kids she knows who are into surfing as well. And Mallory continues to lament her station in life, declaring that everyone on the beach is blonde and she wants to be blonde too.
The next day Stacey heads back to the beach with her new surfer friends, Paul, Alana, Rosemary, and Carter. They’re all sixteen or seventeen, and Paul drives a convertible with broken doors. He also drives way too fast. At the beach, Stacey surfs all day and is able to ride in a few waves. She also runs into Terry and gives him the Schafers’ phone number so he can call Claudia. When Terry calls Claudia and asks her out, she says yes, but she’s mad at Stacey for butting into her business. Claudia doesn’t think she and Terry have anything in common, but Stacey just thinks Claudia has low self-esteem and doesn’t think she’s smart enough for Terry. (Weeell… she does write “who are you!” instead of “how are you?” on her postcard to her parents…) They have a boring lunch and see a boring foreign film that she doesn’t understand, and then she misunderstands some advice from Carol to mean that she should change her personality to be more appealing to Terry. D’oh.
Mary Anne is excited about her baby-sitting job with Stephie. (Why? Didn’t she go to CA to have a ~Hollywood vacation~? The last thing I would do is baby-sit, unless I was baby-sitting for Jacob Tremblay.) Everyone is also making a huge deal of Stephie’s asthma. Like… it’s asthma. Chill. Anyway, when Mary Anne arrives she realizes Stephie is a lot like her – her mom died when she was young, she’s really shy, and her bedroom is really babyish. They really hit it off, except that Mary Anne is so worried about Stephie’s asthma that she won’t let her do anything involving even moderate physical exertion, like riding her bike or going on the swings or slide at the park.
Meanwhile, Dawn, Kristy, and Mal are sticking together for the day. Dawn and Kristy want to go look for stars’ homes in Beverly Hills, but Mal convinces them to go to a big mall instead because she wants to shop for makeup. The mall they’re in has a skating rink, so they do that. They eat lunch at a health food restaurant. And then Mallory runs to the makeup counter (even though she’s not allowed to wear makeup), gets a complete makeover, and buys all the makeup, leaving her with only $6.28 in spending money for the rest of her vacation. Oh, Mallory. Makeup can’t work miracles…
Mal also buys hair dye and turns herself into a blonde. Everyone else is like “WTF Mal” but Mallory doesn’t care. She finally feels like a California girl. (Uh, but you just blew all your money on stuff you can’t use a week from now, so… cool?) Jessi gets to go to the set of Derek Masters’ show “P.S. 162”. She expects everything to be super-glam, but she gets picked up in a station wagon instead of a limo, and the studio is just a brick building with a marquee on the front. She watches the actors rehearse, and then she gets the chance to be an extra in a scene! It takes three hours to film the 10-second scene, and Jessi doesn’t get paid (isn’t that illegal?), but she feels like a star. She even considers trying to get an agent while she’s out in L.A. Yeah, Jessi, you and everyone else.
The next day everyone agrees to go to the beach, but Stacey wants to ride with her cool new surfer friends. They pick her up and this time she and Dawn don’t know the driver, but Stacey is too cool to care. The new driver is Beau, and he’s even more of a crazy driver than Paul, but Stacey doesn’t die and so she finds it all terribly exciting. At the beach she decides not to take a surfing lesson and just rents a board and heads for the waves. She rides the first one in but takes quite a tumble on the next one. The BSC, watching, is worried about her, but she brushes them off. BECAUSE SHE’S STACEY AND SHE CAN DO WHAT SHE WANTS.
If I have to read the words “dibbly fresh” one more time…
I feel about “dibbly fresh” the way Dawn feels about Carol, even though Carol has been nothing but nice to Dawn and her friends and has driven them around and bought them lunch and been, generally, pretty cool. But Dawn resents her and thinks she’s too old to be friendly with the BSC but too young to be dating Dawn’s father. Meanwhile, Kristy resents the We Love Kids Club because they seem to think she can’t handle baby-sitting Erick and Ryan, especially now that the boys will have to come to Universal Studios with the whole crew. She is determined to show them who’s boss. (Oh, and she gets a postcard from Bart in which he first flirts with CA girls but then signs it “love ya.” A study in contradictions, that Bart.)
Claudia has another date with Terry and she’s nervous, even though her friends repeatedly tell her to just be herself and that she’s not inferior to Terry. Still, she borrows a lame dress from Dawn and agrees to a French restaurant where the menu is entirely in French. She doesn’t want to ask for help, so she orders something she thinks she can pronounce – escargot. She doesn’t realize until her plate arrives that she’s ordered snails, which she says taste like “garlic-coated rubber.” Still, she manages to choke them down, because she’s a champ.
On Saturday, everyone (sans Carol, plus Stephie, Erick, and Ryan) loads up in two vans to go to Universal Studios. The first thing they all do is buy disposable cameras, because it’s the 90s, and then they go on the tram tour. The first stop is the special effects show, where Mallory is annoyed that she doesn’t get picked as a volunteer despite her newly blonde hair and the makeup gooped all over her face. Kristy realizes that Erick and Ryan are just about as much work as Sunny, Jill, and Maggie said they were, but she’s too proud to admit it. Though the boys get wild, Kristy eventually manages to wrangle them, and is still pretty damn proud of herself. (Because she’s Kristy, and that’s how she rolls.)
Mary Anne has Stephie, who is extremely well-behaved. Mary Anne, though, is extremely worried and has one hand on Stephie’s inhaler at all times. Turns out, though, Stephie doesn’t need it – she’s fine when King Kong pops up, when Bruce from Jaws pops up, when there’s a flash flood and an earthquake. Mary Anne finally unclenches when she realizes Stephie isn’t a ticking asthma time bomb.
Claudia decides to ask Terry to come along with everyone to Hollywood the next day, even though she isn’t sure he’d be interested; it’s actually after advice from Janine, of all people, that Claudia puts it out there. And Terry is actually excited! People keep telling Claud to just be herself and she’s finally starting to listen. She didn’t need to worry – Terry is totally into everything, holds her hand, and kisses her goodbye at the end of the day. Schwing!
Jessi and Mallory are on rocky ground; Jessi’s annoyed at Mal for changing her whole appearance and being so obsessed with the hair and makeup, not to mention spending all her money on it and then having to borrow from Jessi for the rest of the trip. But, being the good friend that she is, Jessi invites Mal to come with her to the “P.S. 162” studio the next day. Mal obviously says yes, because who wouldn’t want to go to a TV studio? The best part, which Jessi and Mal don’t understand, is that Elaine Stritch is the guest star for filming that day! COLLEEN FRIGGIN’ DONAGHY. (Pour one out.) The director calls for extras again. Jessi’s over it, but Mal is on board. She runs over but the director says her “looks aren’t right.” She’s devastated; she finally looks like she wants to (blonde hair, tons of makeup) and it’s still not right? Bummer.
Stacey’s favorite movie, Mary Poppins, is playing at a nearby theater that only shows old movies, and everyone except Mallory goes (she’s staying home, depressed about her looks and money). The next day they all go to Knott’s Berry Farm and, again, Mallory stays home alone and mopes. Finally Kristy snaps on her that she’s being a jerk and they all like the old Mallory better. Mallory finally smartens up and Beauty Queen Stacey informs her that they’ll have to re-dye her hair red (to match her natural color) before they go home. Stacey and Claudia also offer to buy Mal’s makeup off her, since they actually use it, and Mal can pay Jessi back. Stacey is a stone-cold genius.
Okay, maybe Stacey isn’t always a genius, because she gets back into a car with her surfing friends and Beau, the maniac driver, gets them into a four-car accident on the freeway. Stacey thinks she fainted, but no one is seriously hurt. Still, it’s a bad look for all of them. Stacey’s taken to the emergency room (she’s fine) and gets picked up by Dawn and Carol. She expects Carol to be cool about it, but Carol says she has to tell Dawn’s father what happened. So Stacey confesses…
Dawn is, at first, furious at Carol. Then she realizes that she actually likes Carol better when she behaves as a parent and isn’t trying to be the BSC’s new best buddy. Is it… could it be… that Dawn actually respects Carol?! GASP. Dawn actually makes the mature decision to tell her dad that she’s okay with Carol and she’d even be okay with him marrying Carol. She also writes Carol a letter apologizing for being kinda bitchy, but decides to wait and mail it after she’s left CA, just to avoid any awkwardness.
Mary Anne baby-sits for Stephie one last time, and Stephie says she wishes Mary Anne was her mother, and then begins to cry, and – BOOM. Asthma attack (brought on not by activity, but by emotional stress). Mary Anne is freaked out, but handles it well – Stephie uses her inhaler, takes a pill, and Mary Anne makes her lay down on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. They also decide to be pen pals, because Mary Anne’s a nerd. She even sits out most of the good rides the next day when everyone goes to Six Flags Magic Mountain, but everyone else has a blast on all the rides. That night they go to Medieval Times for dinner and Dawn has had such fun day with Carol that, when they get home, she gives her the letter in person. Carol is thrilled. Carol’s not like a regular mom, she’s a cool mom. Claudia says her goodbyes to Terry over the phone; he says he’ll never stop thinking about her after their last date (activity and food on Claudia’s terms).
Finally the BSC is back in Stoneybrook, where they will get back to their tame misadventures and maybe buy more lottery tickets, because they are yet the luckiest thirteen-year-olds around.