the best friends you’ll never have

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My favorite Stacey outfit is far easier. It has always been the kind of out-there outfit Stacey wears to her dad’s dinner in Stacey’s Choice. Now, I think some people might question wearing a leotard to such a fancy event, but I love that Stacey went with something daring and fashion-forward. Leotards are so Edie Sedgwick. Plus, light pink and black is one of my favorite color combos.

Now, the real question–who is your preferred BSC Fashion Plate, Claudia or Stacey? Or do you hate both and prefer Kristy’s “uniform,” Mary Anne’s selections from the LL Bean catalog, Dawn’s California Casual, Jessi’s “I didn’t have time to change after ballet,” Mallory’s desire for glitter, or Abby’s umbros?

I don’t like many of Claudia’s outfits. If you have to preface an outfit with, “It sounds crazy, but on [person] it totally worked!” I believe that you are just filtering your view of that outfit through your love of your friend, and not the aesthetic reality of their sartorial choices.

I do, however, like the outfit Claudia puts on to go to Serena McKay’s class in Middle School Dropout. I believe it is just black jeans and a black sweater and her snake bracelet and converse sneakers, or something like that. I basically wear that every day. I also secretly want a snake bracelet. In my mind, the snake bracelet is a wooden and painted green. I would wear it with my imaginary I’M AWESOME necklace that I am also still searching for.

If I were to have a deep, dark fandom secret, it would be my love for Friends Forever. A lot of BSC diehards can’t stand Friends Forever. They think it doesn’t have the same spirit of the original series, especially the spirit of the beginning of the series.

In contrast to most, I actually prefer the crappy, later-series ghostwritten books. They have the flavor of my childhood, and focus more on things that interest me. Plus, less appearances by the Perfect Perkins Girls. (What did happen to those kids, anyway? They just seemed to drop off the face of Stoneybrook.) Friends Forever focused pretty much entirely on boy problems and family problems, and there was little to no sitting. Awesome!

Some of my favorites of the series are Claudia and the Disaster Date, where Claudia and Alan explore their newfound relationship and Claudia works out some issues with her mom, Mary Anne’s Revenge, where Mary Anne tells Cokie to shove it with the help of Cary Retlin (and everyone knows that MA/Cary is my OTP), and Welcome Home, Mary Anne, featuring architectural porn in the form of the BarnHouse and an appearance by Sunny Winslow.

But really, I could reach for any FF book and be satisfied by the lack of sitting jobs and the importance of dude drama.

This is quite apropros, since we’re coming up on the holiday season. For my choice, if we think about holiday books in terms of the complete mindfuck that is the BSC Time Warp, I’m going to go with the darkest timeline.

I don’t think there is a terribly popular opinion, but I am a pretty big fan of the Super Mysteries and read them probably more frequently in comparison with other books. The stakes are just a little bit higher and the danger heightened.

So anyway, for favorite holiday book I’m going to go with Christmas Chiller. This one also comes with the added bonus of an Ethan-heavy storyline, so, score. I do realize that Fright Night could also be considered a “holiday” book, but that one is slightly more boring since it does not have ETHAN. And isn’t that the book where Mallory is really annoying about needing the special Mystery Notebook, and somehow cajoles an SMS faculty member or their spouse to bring the Notebook to Salem? Relax, Pike.

But yeah Ethan Carroll forever! Even if he dated a psycho named Sybil and really, ghostwriters, couldn’t you have been a little less obvious and NOT picked a name associated with mental illness for this character?

One of the problems I’m having with this Challenge is that for some of the questions, as a person who has blogged upon the BSC on and off for years and who has participated in online discussion communities for just as long, I feel like I’ve already answered them sufficiently enough. This happens to be one them.

I am, as long-time readers of this blog probably know, an unabashed Ethan Carroll fangirl. Now, we all know that my girl Stacey, as my teacher of (language of country I currently reside in) said today, “changes men like gloves.” Ethan, however, is undoubted the coolest. He is an ARTIST. He has an EARRING. For a while, he had BLEACHED HAIR. He has a PSYCHO STALKER EX (oh wait, that part wasn’t so cool). Unlike all of the other guys the BSC dated, with the exception of MAYBE Trevor Sandbourne, but I probably wouldn’t want to date a poet because then you’d have to listen to their poetry and who wants that, I would totally date Ethan if he weren’t fictional and ten years younger than me.

I find it interesting, now that I’m thinking about it, that Stacey seems to like to surround herself with artistic people. Both her best friend and her boyfriend are artists. Perhaps Stacey herself has a hidden artistic soul she hides with her talent for numbers, and lives vicariously through Claudia and Ethan. Although she did mention that she was good at interior decorating, and she obviously has a keen eye for fashion, so perhaps Stacey should try picking up a sketchpad one of these days.

Obviously, the best fight title belongs to the “Stacey Goes Bad” arc, which is my favorite plot in the entire series. I outlined why I like this plot so much here and here. But yeah, this fight is just full of awesomeness. A party! Dawn spying behind the jukebox! Someone daring to suggest that there is more to being a teenager than being a part of a “successful business”! And god, the mid-90s-ness of it all!

Play along here, in the comments, or on your own blog!

OK, this one is actually difficult for me, because I happen to like a lot of the mysteries. Yes, they are unrealistic for the most part, and I am always like, “Why haven’t I ever come upon a mystery in my own life?”, but I find them quite enjoyable. Good job, Ellen Miles. Actually, as I write this, I am looking at the list on wikipedia, trying to decide.

I like Stacey and the Mystery at the Mall, despite its ridiculousness, because it takes place at a MALL and I love malls. I live across the street from an awesome one now, and it’s great. H&M and TopShop all day, every day. Plus a food court. But I digress. I like The Mystery at Claudia’s House, because, spoiler alert, Janine gets a boyfriend! Stacey and the Haunted Masquerade is DEFINITELY the creepiest! I also always had a little crush on Thrash from Dawn and the Surfer Ghost.

I think, though, that it’s a tie between Claudia the Mystery at the Museum and Stacey and the Stolen Hearts. I like Museum because the descriptions of the Stoneybrook Museum make it sound really cool, like if you combined an art museum with the Franklin Institute. Stolen Hearts is very gossipy, which I enjoy. You get to see a lot of the minor SMS characters in that, and I like to have more information about the minor characters. Cary Retlin, too, is a particular favorite of mine.

So yeah, I guess this a cop-out, because I couldn’t really decide. It’s honestly easier for me to talk about which mysteries I DON’T like, but that’s tomorrow.

EDIT: I just realized I skipped Day Four, least favorite regular book! I’ll do THAT one tomorrow. Also, Donica reminded me that Masquerade is the book where Cary moves to Stoneybrook, so I may need to just rethink this whole thing. Deciding which Mystery is your favorite is SERIOUS BUSINESS, guys.

Stacey and the Bad Girls happens to be one of my all-time favorite BSC books. It might in fact be my #1, but I haven’t really considered this question thoroughly yet. Anyway, this book, if you’re one of those people who missed out on the later series, takes place after Stacey vs the BSC, where Stacey is kicked out of/quits the BSC, depending on whether you ask Kristy or Stacey. Stacey realized that maybe there is life outside of baby-sitting, and starts running with a different crowd. She starts skipping BSC meetings and sitting jobs to go to dates at places like Pizza Express and Burger Town, and throws a blowout party and only invites Claudia. Stacey is BSC history.

So in this book Stacey has these cool new friends, who are into things like nose jewelry and like to come over every day, watch MTV, and eat. Stacey’s mother thinks that it is time for Stacey to get a job. Hi, Mrs. McGill. Let me introduce you to a little something called “child labor laws.” (Paging the Rosebud Cafe.) There is very little for a thirteen-year-old to do except baby-sit, and as someone who was kicked out of the BSC, there aren’t really any baby-sitting jobs for Stacey to do. Stacey’s mom gets her a job at the Kid Center at Bellairs, which I kind of think is illegal, but moving on. Stacey’s cool new job gets her an employee discount, so her cool new friends use her and squeeze some money out of Bellairs, while also shoplifting paperback books. OMG.

All hell breaks loose when Stacey and her friends go to a U4Me concert. They sneak in miniature bottles of wine in their flop socks. Stacey and her new friends are no more. And Stacey doesn’t even get to see the one and only Aristotle Dukas in person. It’s very tragic.

Stacey is let back into the BSC. Good for her, I guess.

The one thing I don’t like about this book is the annoying subplot. Sharon Spier’s cousins are dropping off their six-year-old daughter for two weeks while they go to Europe. Um, yeah. Apparently the dad did not get along with Jack Schafer, so they were estranged or something. So these model parents are dropping off their daughter Amy with people she’s never seen before while they gallivant around Europe for two weeks. Obviously this does work out well, and Amy is really annoying and runs away to… the Bellairs Kid Center. Where Stacey happens to be working. It’s a bit awkward, since Stacey hasn’t made up with Dawn and Mary Anne. It’s hard to forgive a friend who spies on you from behind a jukebox.

One of the most notable things about this book is that it feels the most concurrent with its time, somehow. Now that Stacey has left the BSC, she is free to be a slightly more average teenager, so a lot of this book is filled with MTV-watching. There is talk of grunge, and flannel, and fashion that does not involve papier-mache. Stacey is hanging out with the cool kids, so we get to learn all about the mid-90s from a fashion perspective that does not inhaling paint fumes.

Stacey does not, however, live up to her sophisticated Chapter Two trait in this book. She dresses kind of dorky, bringing a white cardigan sweater to the U4Me concert. She also is hoodwinked by those “friends” of hers. Oh, Stacey. You’re the most sophisticated of the BSC, but it seems as if that is not a very large accomplishment.

My favorites never win! Since that’s really depressing, I decided to make my own list of bests/worsts. Feel free to post yours in the comments, or just write about how you disagree with my choices. I’m only going up to where the pageant has, so when more are posted I’ll add them.

Best Kristy Book

Kristy + Bart = ?

Best Claudia Book

Claudia and the Perfect Boy

Best Stacey Book

Stacey and the Bad Girls

Best Mary Anne

Mary Anne’s Makeover

Best Dawn Book

Dawn on the Coast

Best Abby Book

Abby’s Lucky 13

Best Mallory Book

The All-New Mallory Pike

Best Jessi Book

Jessi’s Big Break

Best All-Around BSC Book

Stacey and the Bad Girls

Best Super Special

Baby-Sitters on Board!

Worst Kristy Book

Kristy Thomas, Dog Trainer

Worst Claudia Book

Claudia and the Little Liar

Worst Stacey Book

Stacey and the Mystery of Stoneybrook

What’s your favorite BSC Christmas book? Mine is Christmas Chiller, which I finished today. I’m now reading Here Comes the Bridesmaids. CC has it all–dangerous moments, touching moments, funny moments.