Monday, February 11, 2008

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit

I know I neglected this all weekend, but it was my birthday yesterday! I had to mourn the fact that I am now 23 and can't give up Babysitters Club books...but who can?

I promise Petals on the Wind will come soon. I just didn't feel like reading it today, so I decided to do something different. Plus, my dad decided to buy an iPod, and I had to show him how to do everything for it, so I needed to do a short book for today.

Anyway, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit is a classic. I think I have the sequel somewhere around here, too, but I didn't like it as much. I mean, it was okay, but I prefer fat Marcy to skinny one.

So Marcy Lewis is 13 and in 9th grade. Can someone please explain to me this whole 9th grade thing? Our junior highs end at 8th grade, and 9th grade is freshman year of high school. Is having 9th grade a part of junior high a regional thing? Whatever, Marcy is fat, and she describes herself as a blimp. Her mom is a huge wuss who can't stand up to her father and takes tranquilizers all the time. Her dad sucks. He's angry and verbally abusive and just plain mean. Her 4 year old brother, Stuart, stuffs orange pits into his teddy bear, Wolf, but is pretty cool otherwise. Marcy hates gym class, and thinks up the best excuses ever for sitting out, like the cat ate her gymsuit. I can sympathize, I have always hated gym class and I'm convinced that gym uniforms were designed to torture anyone over a size 2. As if I didn't feel bad enough being picked last for every sport (even when my friends were captains), I had to do it in super long gym shorts (because I'm short) that, no matter how large you got the waist, stayed really tight in the elastic, and a t-shirt that faded super light blue because it was a different material from the awful dark blue polyester gym shorts. I totally would've used some of Marcy's excuses, except our stupid male gym teacher wouldn't even let me sit out because of debilitating cramps. He sucked.

Anyway, Marcy's English teacher leaves for some reason, and they have a string of substitutes that they pull tons of tricks on. One day they have a new sub, a young woman named Ms. Finney. Marcy thinks that the use of Ms. is weird. I guess to really understand this book I would've had to be in junior high/high school in 1974 when the book is written, because I've had plenty of teachers use Ms. The kids give her a chance, and find out she's the awesome. She has tons of interesting ways of teaching them boring grammar rules, and really cares about the kids. She even stops in on other classes, like home ec, shop, and gym, just to hang out with the kids on her free periods. Of course, since she doesn't teach in the conventional ways and the kids all adore her, the principal sits in on her class all the time and is totally on her case. Principal Stone is not cool!

Ms. Finney starts an after-school club called Smedley, named after a guy in their English textbooks, which is a way to let the kids all talk about what their feelings are and stuff. It's pretty cool, and all the kids love it. One day, however, Ms. Finney isn't in class. Principal Stone comes by and says that she will not be teaching there any more. Some of the kids cry, including Marcy, and everyone wonders why such a great teacher has been fired. Joel Anderson, the smartest boy in school, finds out from his father, who is on the school board, that the official reason Ms. Finney has been fired is because she refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Can they fire you for that shit now? Nancy Sheridan, who Marcy thinks only likes her because their mothers are friends, invites a bunch of Smedley kids over to her place to discuss what they are going to do to get Ms. Finney back. A hearing is set for her by the school board in a few days. Also, Nancy thinks Joel wants Marcy. Sexy!

At Nancy's house the kids come up with crazy ideas to get Ms. Finney back, but finally decide to get as many people to stay in their homerooms the next morning after the bell rings until Mr. Stone listens to them, and to start petitions. They elect Joel, Nancy, Marcy, and this kid named Robert as their leaders.

Marcy's mom is all needy and asks her if she loves Ms. Finney more than her. The fuck? Her dad yells at her when he comes home and says he hopes Ms. Finney is fired and that Marcy is fat and a huge disappointment and stuff. What. An. Asshole! Marcy runs to her room and cries, and her mom gives her ice cream to feel better, thus the reason why she is overweight. It's all Dick Dad's fault!

Stay in Homeroom Day! Mr. Stone calls the 4 leaders to his office before homeroom even ends. What a cockblock. All their parents are in there, and all say they stand behind their kids, except for Robert's mom. They kids are all suspended for 10 days, and the school is closed until the hearing to discourage any other acts of rebellion. I wish my school was closed because of that! Also, 10 days is a bit much, isn't it?

Nancy is having a party, and Joel asks Marcy to go with him. Her mom takes her shopping to get a new dress. Marcy says she has to shop in the "Chubbies" section, and I pray that there isn't a section actually labelled that. She gets a purple jumpsuit. Hot! She hopes Joel doesn't think she looks like a grape, and I laugh. Marcy's self-deprecating comments are all pretty funny. Nancy has an older child molester boyfriend, and they have beer at her party. Where are her parents? Marcy tries a beer, but doesn't like it. I'm with her, beer's gross. Joel tells her not to do something just because everyone else is doing it. Joel has never heard of peer pressure. They talk about their favorite Ms. Finney activities, and Joel takes her home. He kisses her on the forehead, because he's a grandpa. Grow some balls, Joel, slip her the tongue!

The next morning Nancy calls Marcy and tells her that some kids were throwing up after her party and that her parents said they'd be home during parties from now on. Marcy and I are both like, "That's it? That's your punishment?" Marcy hangs up and goes to read the comics in the morning newspaper, but her asshole father grabs them out of her hand and says that since he paid for the paper he gets to read everything first. Douche! She says she hates him and runs upstairs. Her dad screams at her mom and brother about how hard he works and how ungrateful Marcy is and shit, and her mom comes into Marcy's room to talk to her. She's crying, and her dad starts screaming again at Marcy for making her mom cry. You made her cry, asshat! He almost hits Marcy, but settles for calling her more names and then leaving. They go to visit Marcy's grandma, and he just insults Marcy the whole time. Father of the year?

Marcy goes shopping with Joel for a birthday present for her mom, who he hates. He buys her the fugliest pin ever because she'll be forced to wear it when he sees her, and I laugh. Joel's okay!

Hearing time! There's tons of editorials in the morning paper. Marcy's mom gets to show them to her because I guess her dad had read everything already. One of the letters in favor of Ms. Finney's reinstatement is from Marcy's mom. Marcy is surprised, and asks if her asshole dad knew about it. Her mom says that he knows, but doesn't approve and says that a woman's place is in the house, not in politics. Apparently Marcy's dad is not for women's rights. He says she's not a good wife now because she's talking back and shit. Divorce him! He says that he's decided they're not going to the hearing now because his wife gave him some lip. She tells Marcy not to worry because she has an extra set of keys to the car. She calls Nancy's mom and gets a ride from her instead. I'm surprised Marcy's dad even let her get her license.

At the hearing Mr. Stone makes his case against Ms. Finney. He basically has got nothing, since he says that she dresses strangely, her teaching methods were not traditional, her students were consistently rude to him, and she didn't say the Pledge. Ms. Finney points out that there is no dress code and that she never dressed immodestly, and that her different method of teaching was in hopes that she could have her students learn to love and appreciate the English language. She also says that she chooses not to say the Pledge because she doesn't believe the country offers liberty and justice for all. The school board basically says their verdict on whether she stays or leaves is based on her feelings on the Pledge. Again, can they do that now? The kids talk to Ms. Finney while they are all waiting for the board's decision, and she says how proud she is of all them and stuff. The school board members come back and say that they have decided to reinstate Ms. Finney. Everyone is all excited, and Ms. Finney stands up to makes an announcement. She says that since the community is so divided on whether or not she stays, she feels she will not be able to teach effectively, and resigns. The students are shocked, and Joel and Marcy cry. They feel betrayed by her, but their parents comfort them.

A month later Marcy says that her mom is taking night classes at the community college. What will her father do without his hot meal every night? Marcy says her dad hardly talks to her any more, and she still hates him. I hate him too! Marcy also says she's flunking gym, Stuart refuses to go to nursery school without his teddy bear, and she's seeing a psychologist. I think her dad should see one. Marcy also got her first pimple, which she named Agnes. Um, what? Don't name it, slap some Murad spot treatment on it and say goodbye!

EDIT: I forgot to ask, how much pot do you guys think Ms. Finney was smoking? I think she visited the home ec classes because she got the munchies.

Marcy's pretty fug, but it's nice to read about a girl who isn't gorgeous and skinny.


Robyn said...

I know I read this book when I was younger and I know that I read the sequel, There's a bat in bunk 5, but I don't remember any of that. Now I'm going to have to hunt them down and read them again.
I do, however, have recently read The Pistachio Prescriptio, which is also really rocking.
Love the 1970's YA!

Kamala said...

I read this book when I was younger, as well; there was a three-in-one with this, There's a Bat in Bunk Five and Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice?.

I have to say, I called ALL my female teachers "Ms" from grade 5 onwards (this was the 2000s, though, not like the 70s); I didn't assume they were married, and I didn't assume they weren't. Even when I did know, though, they were still Ms.

I always used to want Marcy's parents to get a divorce. Her dad is such as asshole.

Jen said...

I loved Paula Danziger books when
I was younger! I don't remember reading this one but I specifically remember reading Pistachio Prescription and Divorce Express.

Anonymous said...

I used to love this book so much...

I was just thinking about it the other day. I was hoping you'd eventually write something about it here :)

I love this blog!


Jenny said...

I knew the names of these books but never actually read them. Weird. ^_^ pits? So, orange seeds? Do you actually call them pits? Huh. Weird (which I say in a non-judgey way so that you will keep updating ^_^).

Oh, and thanks for the detailed Flowers in the Attic post! Our mom wouldn't let us read trashy trashy VCA, and by the time we were old enough that she didn't care, I couldn't force myself to read the insanity masquerading as literature, but I always wanted to know all the gross details.
So thanks! ^_^

must said...

Have u try the online bookstore

I get all my textbooks for this semester from this bookstore. All are brand new textbooks and half price discount textbooks.

Good luck and wish some help.

hehe ^_^

snappleaddict said...

They called them orange pits in the book. I don't eat oranges, so I don't call them anything!

Anonymous said...

I loved all the Paula Danziger books I owned/read, but for some reason I never really think of her as one of my favourite teen book authors. I was a bit gutted when she died, though. I might have a look in the library and see if there are any of her books there.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm really late, but Happy Birthday and Happy Valentine's Day!

I enjoyed your recap, though I've never read the book myself.

Anonymous said...

Woohoo, I now have this on the way from paperback swap! =) Thanks for the reminder.