#49: Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street

“The first time I heard Janine mention ‘calculus’
I thought she was talking about
a Roman emperor.”
– Claudia Kishi

Claudia’s status as a non-genius is at the heart of yet another BSC book. In the first chapter she’s watching a TV documentary about Andy Warhol, which makes me want to hang out with her immediately. In the middle of it, she gets a ~brilliant idea~ for her next art project: she’s going to paint her true love, junk food. (Kind of like how Andy Warhol painted Campbell’s soup cans.) At the BSC meeting, the club gets a new client looking for a regular sitter three times a week for a month or so; Mrs. Wilder has a seven-year-old daughter whose “career” she manages by hiring private instructors to come teach her lessons. Claudia gets the job, but she has a funny feeling about it.

Turns out Rosie, the seven-year-old, does a math club, an advanced reader’s group, piano, ballet, violin, takes voice and tap dance lessons, and has an agent in New York where she sometimes goes on commercial and modeling auditions. Yikes bikes. Mrs. Wilder is a stage mother for the ages. Rosie is a little asshole, too. Claudia hates her from the get-go. She’s kind of rude, totally condescending, and a total show-off. Doesn’t she realize that Claudia is actually cool and she should be taking lessons from her? Ugh. Youths.

Claudia tries to put murderous thoughts out of her mind, because she has to sit for Rosie about a dozen more times. At one point, Claudia invites Janine over to help Rosie with homework; meanwhile, Claudia keeps sketching Twinkies and Milk Duds, feeling useless. Rosie has been in a couple of commercials and already has a trust fund with the residual money set up for her college tuition. That’s smart, but what’s not smart is being a bragging snob to other seven-year-olds about the fact that you’re in commercials, when really you’re just jealous that they’ve all been to Disney World and you haven’t been able to because of your ~career~. Nobody likes Rosie.

That includes Stacey, who has to tag in for Claudia one Thursday afternoon. On that day, a TV personality named Uncle Dandy (sounds like a total molester) is coming to audition Rosie for a potential stint on his talent show. Stacey has to help Rosie by reading lines in a scene and totally flubs it and is 100% embarrassed. My poor sophisticated Queen Stacey. She does not deserve this. But Claudia does deserve an art show to show off her junk food collection, which is Kristy’s latest Great Idea. They’re going to have the show in Claudia’s garage (high class) and invite their clients. It’s basic, but for Claudia – I’ll do it.

Jessi takes a turn with Rosie, hoping they can bond over dancing. But Rosie’s a little prick as usual, and Jessi ends up calling Janine to help Rosie with crossword puzzles for a competition. It seems strained, though, and then Rosie throws a little fit in which she demands that only Claudia can baby-sit for her, because she likes Claudia the best. The girls are actually starting to feel bad for Rosie, though, because they think she’s feeling pressured to do all the stuff she does and doesn’t actually like it all. What she does like, however, is drawing. Claudia finds that out one day when she catches Rosie sketching a Mounds bar as Claudia is working on a Doritos sketch. But it’s clear that Rosie’s parents don’t approve of art in the same way they do of her other talents, so Rosie hides that she likes to draw.

Claudia gets to accompany Rosie and the Wilders to the taping of “Uncle Dandy’s Star Machine” (ew). She slays, but she doesn’t seem excited about it. She’s excited about getting ice cream, but her parents say no – she has to get home and sleep so she can nail another audition. She finally has a breakdown and screams, “I want ice cream like a normal kid!” but no dice – her parents don’t budge. Claudia and Mary Anne go to see Rosie compete in the crossword puzzle competition at SES – her parents can’t be there – and Rosie wins, but a ton of kids in her grade boo her and make fun of her. Claudia and Mary Anne are appalled and after, holding her trophy, Rosie finally cries. Claudia explains that sometimes when you’re different, people have a hard time understanding you. And when they go home to Rosie’s house, they draw and actually have fun. Claudia convinces Mr. and Mrs. Wilder to let Rosie include some of her drawings in Claudia’s art show, and she agrees.

Claudia’s art show, Disposable Comestibles, finally premieres. (Interesting that she chose a name for her show which she definitely cannot spell.) Of course, Alan Gray crashes the show, putting up his own crude drawings and littering the garage floor with chewed gum. What a dick. On the bright side, Claudia actually sells three paintings – one to Ms. Besser from SES, one to Janine, and one to Watson Brewer, resident millionaire. Rosie has a victory of her own: she tells her parents she’s starting to hate everything that she’s doing and needs more free time and wants to cut her schedule down to one academic thing, one performing thing, and one creative thing. She chooses math club, violin, and art classes. They sort-of agree (reluctantly), but at least there’s hope. And Rosie wants Claud to be her art teacher (duh) and, let’s be honest, probably her new mom.

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