So the baby-sitters have a two-week school vacation and, as usual, they can’t just chill. Claudia wants to go study at a New York art school which is open to anyone but has some prestigious instructors, and convinces her parents to let her stay with Stacey and Mr. McGill, since Stacey would be visiting. Mr. McGill also invites the rest of the BSC, so all of a sudden Mallory is joining Claudia’s art class and everyone else is coming too. (Reminder: these girls are thirteen and eleven and their parents are just like, “Yeahhhh, go wild in NYC for two weeks.”) Also, the cover blurb says “They’re not sleeping till they see all of it -” … again, thirteen and eleven.
Right off the bat, my blood pressure has spiked because the BSC has yet another new slang word for “cool”: chilly. GAG ME. GAG ME WITH ONE OF CLAUDIA’S FORK EARRINGS. The girls take the train to New York and Mary Anne is already being annoying as shit with all her guidebook stuff again. But everyone arrives un-murdered (so far) at Grand Central in NYC, where Mr. McGill meets them. Claudia, Dawn, and Stacey will be staying at the McGills’ apartment, while Kristy, Mary Anne, Jessi, and Mallory will be staying at Laine’s apartment. (What did Laine do to deserve that?) You may remember that Laine lives in the Dakota, home of Yoko Ono and filming location of Rosemary’s Baby. Mary Anne has already peed herself with excitement. Oh, and while they’re there, the BSC meets British dignitary/diplomat friends of the Cummingses who hire Stacey and Mary Anne to show their two children (dressed in matching sailor suits, ew) around the city for the next two weeks. I don’t understand why these girls want to baby-sit on vacation all the goddamn time, but at least this time they’re getting paid a shit ton.
Dawn is still terrified of being murdered in New York, which is one of the only things Dawn and I have in common. Still, even I think she’s being a little over-the-top about it. And would it be the worst thing if Dawn got murdered? Anyway, she’s going to ruin her whole vacation because she’s literally scared to go outside. She’ll have a whole roll of disposable camera film of Stacey’s couch. Sweet.
Claudia and Mallory begin their first day of classes at the Fine Arts League of New York (based on, I’m guessing, the Art Students League of New York?) with renowned artist McKenzie Clarke. Claudia, right off the bat, is disappointed. The FALNY building is much dumpier than she’d expected, their first assignment is to draw a pile of boxes, and McKenzie Clarke (“Mac”) keeps telling her do work more slowly or do things a different way without heaping any praise on her. Meanwhile, he keeps telling Mallory her work is “fine.” Mal is thrilled. Claudia is gutted. (Mallory is also the worst person for Claudia to be stuck with, due to the differences in their aesthetics and ~sophistication. Claudia is not having it and Mallory can tell.)
Jessi goes to Lincoln Center and sees a performance of Swan Lake at the New York State Theater and loves it. She also loves Quint, the cute boy ballet dancer sitting next to her. They hit it off and he gives her his phone number. Ooh la la! That night everyone goes out to dinner with Mr. McGill in Chinatown. Dawn is in awe when she survives the night. Will she unclench now and start exploring New York? Kristy has been baby-sitting her but she’s like, “fuck this – I wanna see New York.” So the next day Kristy goes with Jessi to Central Park. They spend a few hours walking around and then Kristy finds a lost dog whimpering in the bushes. She smuggles it into Laine’s apartment building (pets aren’t allowed) and decides she’s going to bring it home to Stoneybrook. Only one problem – when she calls home and asks about it, Watson says “absolutely not.” Ruh roh.
Stacey and Mary Anne take Alistaire and Rowena to the Museum of Natural History and all day Mary Anne feels like they’re being followed and watched. She also keeps seeing men in rain hats and sunglasses, and she’s getting suspicious. Well, M.A., you’re baby-sitting the children of foreign diplomats/dignitaries, so you’re either being followed by a kidnapper or a security guard. Take your pick.
Meanwhile, Dawn’s staying-home-scared thing has one perk: she meets Richie Magnesi, a cute guy who lives downstairs from the McGills and who has a broken ankle. He convinces Dawn that her chances of getting murdered in New York are one in four million and that by sitting around she’s missing out on all the great stuff in the city – and not just the tourist traps. Claudia’s out in the world but she’s not necessarily loving it; McKenzie Clarke seems to be besties with Mallory but still hasn’t said a nice thing to Claudia (so he obviously has terrible taste). She can barely enjoy her time at Rockefeller Center and she super-resents Mal’s apparent friendship with “Mac” so she is snapping at Mallory constantly. It’s not the best look for Claud, but it’s understandable.
Jessi calls Quint and he invites her over for a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers marathon. Quint seems like a perfect first love interest for Jessi… a dancer, non-threatening, and probably gay. Anywho, she agrees to go to his family’s apartment and asks Laine to walk her over. Laine is worldly and sophisticated like Stacey, and she’s like, “uhh… you’re going to a rando’s house and you’ve only met him once?” She walks Jessi over, writes down Quint’s name and address, and is very motherly about the whole thing. (Another reminder: Jessi is eleven.) It seems like Quint isn’t shady, though, and he and Jessi have a lovely afternoon until they walk down the street to return the videos. Jessi sees first-hand how Quint is taunted by the other guys in the neighborhood, who make fun of his dancing and call him a sissy. She tries to encourage him to not let that stop him from dancing, especially because he’s supposedly good enough to go to Julliard. Jessi and Quint should def sic Kristy Thomas on those assholes.
Halfway through the vacation, Mr. McGill actually takes the afternoon off work and takes the BSC, Laine, Rowena, and Alistaire on a Circle Line boat tour of the city. When they get back, they find Mrs. Cummings sitting on the couch with Kristy’s smuggled dog, Sonny. She explains that Kristy needs to either find Sonny’s owner or find him a home before she goes home to Stoneybrook. Kristy resignedly puts fliers up around the neighborhood and the park and puts an ad in the newspaper.
Dawn has apparently overcome her fear of New York due to her desire to spend time with Richie (who is now in a walking cast); they spend the day motoring all over the city and Richie even gets Dawn to eat chocolate. Whoa. It must be L-U-V. Meanwhile, Claudia is getting fed up with art class – until “Mac” finally says something nice about her work. He tells her he’s been hard on her because she’s extremely talented but undisciplined and he wants her to learn to focus and not get distracted. Once she finally gets validation from him, a weight lifts off her shoulders, she stops considering a career as a cab driver, and she apologizes for being a stone-cold bitch to Mallory. Mallory, meanwhile, has decided that art (at least not this serious, Claudia-and-Mac type of art) is not her thing, and that she’d rather just illustrate the book she wants to write about Ryan Mouse and Meaghan Mouse in New York City. (Yes, seriously. Ugh.)
Kristy finally finds a home for Sonny, with a little boy named Brandon who gets lonely without any siblings. She’s happy that Sonny will have a good home. (And Watson is glad Kristy won’t be bringing a stray home – other than Mallory, that is.) Jessi gets her first kiss from Quint after she talks him into auditioning from Juilliard. She’s about it. Stacey and Mary Anne very seriously inform the Harringtons that a sunglassed man is stalking their children, only to find out that they know – and that it’s Bill, their bodyguard. (Duh.) Relieved, Stacey, Mary Anne, Alistaire, Rowena, and the entire BSC set out to enjoy their last day in New York.
After they drop Alistaire and Rowena off, the BSC and Laine get all gussied up for a night on the town. Mr. Cummings has rented them a limo and they go shopping, eat dinner at Tavern on the Green, and then see a Broadway show. They’re all jazzed about being fancy schmances. The next day, it’s back to boring old Stoneybrook!