“Say hello to your friends (Baby-Sitters Club)”
I’ve always been a super-fan of something. When I find something that I love, I tend to jump on the bandwagon and become infatuated. It happened with “Full House.” It happened with Pogs and snap bracelets. It happened with Elijah Wood (have you seen “The War”?). It happened with “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” and “Lost.” But before any of these things, I was obsessed – OBSESSED – with “The Baby-Sitters Club” books.
(Note: if you have no context for or history with these books, then just stop reading now. This is headed toward pre-pubescent girl territory. You have been warned.)
There was a new book every month. EVERY MONTH! None of this “waiting for years” crap like J.K. Rowling pulls – Ann M. Martin cranked out a paperback novel every 30 days. I would pick up my copy at a local bookstore, and devour it within a few hours. And then, I would write letters to my friend Sheryl in California about how much I loved the BSC*.
(*Yes, I abbreviated. I was that down with these books. Granted, I was also known to sign off by saying, “See you on the pilf” – which was “flip” backwards – so I couldn’t have been THAT cool.)
Each book was narrated by a different member of the club – Kristy, Mary Anne, Dawn, Stacey, Claudia, Mallory, or Jessi – and there were 131 books in the series. Occasionally, there would be a “Super Special” edition, which were typically longer and featured narration that traded off chapter-to-chapter.
Wikipedia has some fantastic one-line summaries of each book, such as:
– Dawn and the Impossible Three – Dawn sits for the wild charges of a recent divorcee.
– Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery – Mary Anne gets mysterious letters saying she will have bad luck.
– Stacey’s Ex-Best Friend – Stacey’s best friend Laine believes baby-sitting is for babies, which causes a rift between the two friends.
– Get Well Soon, Mallory – Mallory has not been feeling well and finds out she has mononucleosis.
– Kristy and the Copycat – Kristy’s stepsister Karen continually copies her.
Isn’t it obvious how absolutely riveting these stories were? And all these things happened when they were 11-13 years old!
The characters were diverse, and pigeonholed in their roles. Kristy was the bossy, tomboy leader. Mary Anne was her quiet and studious best friend – and the only one with a steady boyfriend (Logan Bruno, so dreeeeeamy). Dawn was Mary Anne’s other best friend – a health-nut from California who ate tofu and had long, gleaming blond hair. Claudia was Japanese-American, dyslexic, and wolfed down junk food (don’t worry – she was always skinny). Stacey was Claudia’s best friend – a native New Yorker, very “urban-chic,” and had diabetes. Mallory and Jessi, the “junior members,” were only 11-years old, and… well, let’s be honest, no one really cared about them.
I dreamed about being as cool as these girls. It’s amazing how a 9-year old girl can idolize fictional characters; in my mind, they were very real. I paid $15/year to be a member of “The Baby-Sitters Club Fan Club,” getting me a quarterly newsletter and free junk – like BSC buttons and postcards. I had The Baby-Sitters Club wall calendar. I owned every paperback available.
But eventually, the magic faded. I BECAME a baby-sitter – and not just any baby-sitter: Annie the Nanny. I didn’t need to live vicariously through these make-believe girls. When I was in high school, we sold all of these books at a yard sale – chunks of my childhood pawned off for a quarter a piece.
Thank goodness I can go listen to the theme song any time I want.