Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #18: A Spooky Idea

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at

Oh, it’s an exciting one this week! It started with a letter from Kristy.


Anchovies are fine, and Chinese food is great. Cool letter, Kristy. Thanks for writing.

Now let’s get to Stacey’s idea. What is is going to be, Stace?


A . . . Halloween . . . Comedy . . . Club? Seriously? Who the fuck is going to book this? You guys going to have a two-drink minimum? If Jackie Radowsky starts heckling Mallory, is Kristy going to come in and throw him out?


Excuse me? You guys are the ones who came up with this idea, why are you making me do all the work? I think all the kids should just Trick-or-Treat and then get stomach aches and nightmares from too much sugar. This is your mess, don’t drag me into it.


Why, my favorite comedy stars are the members of the BSC! White boy comedians who have never told jokes in front of an audience will be there! This Comedy Club is shaping up to be a Halloween Treat! Can I stop making decorations now? Also, why isn’t she the Master of Scare-imonies? I have to carve pumpkins now? I shouldn’t have said anything.


Guys? Excuse me? By “guys” do you mean me and my good friends construction paper and scissors, because I didn’t see any of you chuckle-fucks cutting anything between your jokes.


Meanwhile, I’ve had to turn away twenty-one comedians who keep asking if they can get a tight five at that Halloween Barn Show while y’all are chatting it up with daycare directors. Yes, what do you need? No, a guy who calls himself Davie Entendre will certainly not get a spot.


Great jokes. Hey, Abby, I’m having trouble finding a giant inflatable ghost for, how much did you want to pay? Yes, um, I can’t find a giant inflatable ghost for twenty dollars. The cheapest? Yeah, something of that size is going to run us close to $200. No, I can’t make one. Oh, hold on, I have five more e-mails asking if it’s a paying show.


Can Mrs. Hobart make a likeness of Frankenstein out of pipe cleaners and glue? Then she’s of no use to me.

Rereading My Childhood – The Baby-Sitters Club #13: Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye

Previously On Rereading My Childhood – The Baby-Sitters Club #12: Claudia and the New Girl

Separation is difficult, especially when you’re a child and another city might as well be another country. If your best friend moves to another city, it’s not like you can’t just jump in your car and see her. More so twenty years ago before text messaging and video chat. You had to write letters if you wanted to stay in touch. And there was only one phone per house, so you were relegated to an hour of phone time a week with your best friend.

This is the future of Stacey and Claudia in The Baby-Sitters Club #13: Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye. Why Ann M. Martin decided to separate the girls only to have Stacey return is beyond me, but this book is nevertheless sad and bittersweet. Charlotte genuinely moved me in this book, but there’s some weird shit in this one.w


The Baby-Sitters Club #13: Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye
Honey! Those McGills are leaving. Good riddance, Phil, they kept their car on the lawn and the HOA wouldn’t tell them to park it in their driveway.

Stacey’s books usually start with food. In this one, she’s having a dream reminiscent of Homer Simpson’s imagined land of chocolate. There are three Stacey characteristics: she likes math, she likes boys, and she has diabetes. This book starts with her Tootsie Roll craving. It eventually goes into the usual describing of the BSC members, complete with the need to tell us that Claudia is Japanese and that she and Stacey are more sophisticated than Kristy and Mary Anne.

The important early complication occurs during a family dinner, where her parents have some news.

“All right,” [Dad] went on. “This is the truth. Do you remember when my company opened the branch in Stamford?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Right before we moved here.”

Dad nodded. “Well, the new branch isn’t doing well at all. The company decided to get rid of it-”

“Oh, no! You lost your job!” I cried. Frantically, I began to calculate how much money I had saved from baby-sitting jobs, and how far it could be stretched.

“Not quite,” said Dad. “They’re coming the Stamford branch with the Boston branch. And I’m being transferred back to New York.”

Stacey tells Claudia that her family is moving back to New York, so the girls have an impromptu sleepover. They come up with what they think is a great idea: Stacey can move into the Kishi household, taking the spare bedroom, allowing Stacey to stay in Stoneybrook. Stacey’s parents object to the idea – they need to watch Stacey’s food intake and they would miss her. Claudia’s parents don’t want to be responsible for someone with diabetes (cool thinking, Mr. and Mrs. Kishi).

The next day, Stacey calls an emergency meeting of the BSC to announce that her family is moving.

If we hadn’t been sitting smack in the center of the Stoneybrook Middle School cafeteria, I’m sure all five of us would have started wailing away. As it was, we were pretty close. Mary Anne (who cries easily) picked up her napkin and kept touching it to the corners of her eyes. Dawn put her fork down and began swallowing hard. Kristy (who rarely creis) bit her lip and stared out the window. I didn’t do anything except not look at Claudia, but even so I knew she was not looking at me, too.

After a moment, I said, “Your enthusiasm is underwhelming.”

That brought a few smiles, at least.

I laughed. I thought it was kind of funny.

The BSC spends some time reminiscing about things that happened in previous books, like when Mary Anne and Stacey took the Pike kids to miniature golf, when Charlotte and Stacey were scared by Charlotte’s dog, and when Stacey took Kristy’s cousins to the movies. Riveting stuff. I’m being a little reductive, but that is, essentially, what they remembered.

When Stacey leaves, the rest of the BSC plan to have a Going Away Party for Stacey. However, they don’t have enough money to throw a good party. They need to get to a-baby-sittin’ if they want to have enough money to throw Stacey an early-’90’s style teen party. Luckily, Stacey gives them a solution.

Apparently, the McGills have accumulated a house full of stuff they don’t need – just like real upper-middle-class suburbanites. They can’t take all their crap with them to New York City, so Mrs. McGill lets the BSC sell stuff at a yard sale and they are allowed to keep any money they receive. Good, that plot complication is done and dealt with, long before it could be interesting.

Meanwhile, over at the Pikes’ house, the Pike children (minus Mallory) are playing spies, with Jordan as J. Edgar Hoover in this mini-CIA. They have new neighbors, the Congdons, and the Pike children believe those outsiders are up to something. The Pike parents didn’t instill a sense of welcoming to outsiders in their children, did they? Just like proper upper-middle-class suburbanites who may or may not be involved with the mob.

Let’s get back to the Sixteen Candles-style teen rager the BSC is planning for their boy-crazy friend. They come up with fliers with catchy rhymes to advertise the yard sale. They rummage through mounds of crap to price things. We learn that Dawn doesn’t know what to price things because, as she says, “People in California don’t have yard sales.” No, Dawn, or should I say, actual writer Ann M. Martin who clearly grew up on the east coast, people in California do have yard sales. They’re just filled with surfboards, hacky-sacks, and they’re all celebrities so all their stuff is autographed.

There’s a side plot with Morbidda Destiny and Karen and bunch of neighborhood kids. Morbidda gives them lemonade and is perfectly nice. Ugh. Not interested. Moving on. Need to get to Kid ‘n’ Play in House Party.

Stacey baby-sits for Charlotte – her favorite charge. We get this heartbreaking scene.

“I have to tell you soemthing, Charlotte. We’re moving again.”

Charlotte wrenched her neck around and peered at me. “What?”

“We’re moving back to New York in a couple of weeks.”

“You mean you’re leaving Stoneybrook? You’re leaving me?”

I nodded. I watched Charlotte take in the awful information. She looked like she ahd just swallowed horrible medicine.

Iggy’s House slipped to the floor as Charlotte put her head in her hands and began to cry.

“I’m really sorry, Char,” I said. “I don’t want to go. But my dad’s job is changing. We have to move.” I wrapped my arms around Charlotte, and she let me hold her for several moments. Then suddenly she leaped up and started shouting. “I hate you!” she cried. “I hate you! You’re mean! I thought you liked baby-sitting for me.”

Fucking harsh, but I have to remember that this is the ’90s. There was no video chat. There was no texting. If you wanted to call long distance, you had to have a calling card and it cost a dollar a minute. Now, the only people who call me are the helpful Pakistani employees of “Visa Mastercard” who just want to lower my credit card rates and all I have to do is give them my credit card number, my name, the number on the back, my social security number, the hospital where I was born, my mother’s maiden name, my father’s first girlfriend, my grandmother’s favorite cigarette type, the first name of the third friend I made in third grade, my sister’s licence plate number, my thoughts on Sioux Falls, and my partner’s DNA.

Getting back to Charlotte and Stacey, their only hope is to become pen pals and that’s impossible to maintain. Name a pen pal that you’ve had for longer than a year. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Cool. You thought of one? Now think of another. Yeah. I thought so. And Charlotte would have to compete with Claudia. Who would you rather receive letters from? An 8-year-old with a shy streak, or a crazy judgmental person who is on the brink of murdering her family and painting her walls with their blood? (That went dark but you can see it. Her family would die but, on the bright side, they would be a part of some beautiful art, especially when compared to the shit that other murderers have created. That’s right, Gacy! I’m calling you out!)

There’s a bunch of yard sale shenanigans, including a scene involving Kristy and the Barretts attempting to sell their stuff on their own. They don’t sell anything and, instead, show up to Stacey’s yard sale and sell their wares.

And speaking of Stacey’s yard sale, the BSC has one. People show up. Charlotte and Stacey make up. It’s successful. Now we can get on with the plot.

What kind of party is the BSC going to throw for their favorite boy-crazy sitter? A rager on the levels of Sixteen Candles, complete with problematic Asian character falling out of a tree? How about the toga party in Animal House? This is Stacey after all and they did just make a ton of money at the yard sale. They have to go all out! Maybe it will be on the levels of the house party movie of my childhood: Can’t Hardly Wait. C’mon, BSC, it has to have boys! And lots of ’em!

The guests were not who I had expected at all. Claudia, Mary Anne, Dawn, Logan, and Shannon werethere, but the other guests were children . . . all the kids (except for babies) that our club sits for. As I looked slowly around at the grinning faces, I saw the eight Pikes – Mallory, Byron, Jordan, Adam, Vanessa, Nicky, Margo, and Claire; Jamie Newton; Myriah and Gabbie Perkins; Charlotte Johanssen; Buddy and Suzi Barrett; Dawn’s brother, Jeff; Kristy’s brother, David Michael; Karen and Andrew; Nina and Eleanor Marshall; Jackie, Shea, and Archie Radowsky; Hannie and Linny Papadakis; Amanda and Max Delaney; and even Jenny Prezzioso. (I guess they couldn’t really leave her out.)

Okay, so a couple things. First, it’s not really a teenage party, is it? You’d think boy-crazy Stacey would want a party with, you know, boys. Secondly, I’m glad they left out the babies, I guess? Third, she just spun around and counted the children who were there? As they’re grinning? If this were any other novel, the grinning would be menacing and they were planning to kill her and eat her. Lastly, shade on Jenny Prezzioso? Don’t throw shade on children, especially one that’s at the mercy of her overbearing mother.

There’s a cake for everyone and a smaller, sugar-free cake for Stacey, which I’m sure tastes exactly the same as the real cake. It also features a giant drawing of everyone’s houses. Cool. So, Stacey has to get rid of a bunch of stuff because she’s moving into a small apartment in New York City, and the BSC thinks it’s a good idea to give her a giant drawing that she has to take with her and hang somewhere in her limited space. Good thinking, BSC. I can see why you’re so successful.

Claudia Outfit Alert!

She was wearing a wonderful Claudia outfit – a purple-and-white striped body suit under a gray jumper-thing. The legs of the body suit stretched all the way to her ankles, but she was wearing purple push-down socks anyway. Around her middle was a wide purple belt with a buckle in the shape of a telephone. And on her feet were black ballet slippers.

I found my Halloween outfit!

The big day comes and Stacey has to leave, but not before a final goodbye from the BSC. Stacey also gives them business cards with her new address and phone number (JK 5-8761) and the words “The New York Branch of the Baby-Sitters Club.” Since I know that Stacey returns to Stoneybrook, that “JK” in her phone number seemed like foreshadowing, but this book was written in 1988. And, according to a brief letter at the back of the new books, Ann M. Martin intended for Stacey to stay in New York.

This book was fine. I felt for Charlotte, but I couldn’t read this book without the knowledge that Stacey returns. I also feel like the children should have said goodbye during the yard sale and a party closer to the one at the end of Logan Likes Mary Anne would be more appropriate for Stacey. One with classmates and music and dancing. And the giant picture is just not a good gift for someone trying to get rid of things. The whole book is about her trying to get rid of things – why gift her more things?

Next Time On Rereading My Childhood – The Baby-Sitters Club #14: Hello, Mallory

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #17: Haunted House Explanation With My Dad

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at

I don’t normally post the “front page” of the BSC Friendship Kit, but Kristy’s advice seemed . . . strange.


“Inside and out?” I must be unfamiliar with these magnifying glasses that enable you to see the “inside” of things, like the aforementioned bugs. Maybe Kristy shouldn’t let her babysitting charges look inside bugs, just a thought.

We have the results of Mary Anne and Hannie’s costume conundrum.


My mother is a gifted crafter and she made most of my costumes. However, the last year I trick-or-treated (I was twelve), I put on black pants, a black sweater, and I painted my face white with a trickle of red down the side of my mouth. When people asked if I was a vampire, which would be a perfectly reasonable thing to think I was, I insisted I was a “bloodsucker.” I think its a vampire without getting the teeth or the dope outfits. I was just a crazy person who bit people, really.


Why couldn’t the BSC have a haunted house? You could make it kid-friendly. My elementary school once had a kid-friendly haunted house. It was fine but my dad went in with me and spent the whole time explaining the gags. “You see, there are two people in that couch. One is poking out the top and he screams while another person sticks his legs out and moves them around.” Dad, I did not know that but could you do this after we leave the haunted house and not in front of the actors? We’re holding up the line.


Got that right, Jessi.


You heard her, guys. For some reason, she can’t just tell us. We have to wait until next time. What will her idea be? A haunted baby-sitting session? A baby-sitting session inside a haunted house they have no affiliation with? A boycott of the SMS Haunted House on the grounds it promotes Satanism? Find out next time, on A Year With the BSC!

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #16: The Costume Conundrum

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at

This week started with a letter from Mallory, who is always writing to me.


The game asked me what my favorite game was and I said Final Fantasy VIII, which it is, don’t @ me with your undeserved love of VII. I don’t know how she won a 40-hour fantasy epic that is about true love in the face of witches, corrupt schools, and time travel, but okay. You won, Mallory. Sure.

Most of the BSC is still dealing with the “Hannie problem.”


Maybe Hannie doesn’t want to celebrate Halloween. It’s her choice. Halloween is my favorite holiday, but I’m not going to make someone celebrate it. Unlike Abby, my love for Halloween doesn’t come from costumes. It comes from the one time of year people live the way I want to live all year around. There are haunted houses, horror movies, and cool decorations you can buy at Target and pop-up stores. I wish I could live like that all year around – haunted houses, horror movies every weekend, and buying skull decorations in July. (Okay, to be fair, I watch a horror movie (or horror TV show, what’s up, The Haunting of Hill House!) about once a week – even in May.)


Why should Mrs. Papadakis buy a costume that her kid is only going to wear once? I understand that it’s a complete waste of money and resources.


And just like that, once again, Mary Anne proves she’s the best babysitter. That’s an elegant solution to a non-problem.


And just like that, once again, Claudia contributes so much to the conversation.

Rereading My Childhood: A Year With the BSC #15: Let Women Live, Dammit!

It’s been a few weeks. The computer I use to run the software was out of commission. Is the BSC the same? Do they still have their funny ways? Is Mary Anne still a crybaby? Or has she grown up a little? What about Kristy? How is our favorite president? And Claudia! Has she grown a little? Decided to buckle down and study? Has she worked on her spelling?


Of course she hasn’t. And Abby is there to don her “Abbysplaining” cap.


That’s not helpful, Abby. You just look like a jerk.

Meanwhile, Jessi has some legitimate concerns about the test.


Not really, since I’m past the standardized testing phase of my life. I did worry about passing my math class a few semesters ago. If you didn’t get at least a C on the final, you couldn’t pass, even if you had 100% in the class up until that point. My school is serious about math, I guess.

Kristy also did a thing.


Oh, Kristy, you did what every woman has done: laughed at a dumb boy’s joke so you don’t make him feel bad. Welcome to womanhood, where if you don’t laugh at a man’s joke, he’ll take it as an attack. This wasn’t a good few weeks for women. (Remember to vote!)

The BSC has a new problem! This time, it’s Suzi Barrett.


You know what? You shouldn’t do anything. Let the girl live, dammit. She’s only got a few more years of blissful ignorance, let her wallow in it. And while I’m at it, would everyone just let woman live? Like, in general? Just let us hang out with our friends and drink in peace. Stop it with the death threats. And the assaulting. Especially the assaulting. Just let women live, dammit.


Yeah, but we all have to grow up someday. Whether it’s when you buy your first bra or the first gross dude shouts at you on the street, we all have to grow up.

Until then, let Suzi wear her Halloween costume. Hannie Papadakis can say she’s too grown up for Halloween, and that’s okay. Let her pretend to be too grown up for the best holiday of the year. (It’s true, don’t @ me.) Let the BSC worry about standardized testing. I do think Claudia should improve her spelling, though. That just seems useful. It’s very useful when you want to read a voting ballot.