gossip_oracle (gossip_oracle) wrote,

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137 and I return, more in love than ever.

Out of Control
March 1987

Will Aaron Dallas destroy Elizabeth and Jeffrey's happiness?

Mad at the world...

   Aaron Dallas, the handsome co-captain of the Sweet Valley High soccer team, used to be friendly and likable. But suddenly he's changed. He explodes whenever the smallest thing goes wrong, and lashed out at everyone, including his teammates and his girlfriend, Heather.
   Elizabeth Wakefield is concerned about the change in Aaron. Her boyfriend, Jeffrey French, is Aaron's best friend. Jeffrey keeps making excuses for Aaron, and Elizabeth can't persuade him that his best friend really needs help-until Jeffrey himself becomes the target of Aaron's rage.

   Earlier SVH books weren't so obvious in their Liz-bitchery, but ohmylord, did I want to smack Liz something awful each time she appeared. In fact, I remember wanting to do the same thing as a kid, and as a kid I was pretty good at swallowing the special-of-the-week messages without over thinking things. If you have Liz issues, don't bother with this. Have someone clip together the Liz-pain moments and focus on the Jessica sub-plot and have some Excedrin at the ready for those moments when the two stories intersect. Save yourself the pain!

  For those who don't remember, Jeffrey French and Aaron Dallas are best friends. Because dating a Wakefield gives you instant status, the soccer team is thrust into the spotlight, mostly because they have an honest to god chance of winning this year. Most of that is due to Aaron Dallas, which is a bit of a change, a Wakefield not dating the star and all... Um, anyway. Thing is, lately [as in, since the last book] Aaron's been acting like a total asshole to everyone. It's so bad I would be afraid to sneeze near the guy for fear of setting him off. Well, not quite that bad, but anyone who gets in his personal space and isn't Jeffrey is asking for a beat down. Seriously, I think he's got his personal space bubble up and there's a sign that no one can read that says, "If you cross this threshold, you authorize me to kick your ass. Repeatedly." Ballsy move, Dallas. Nothing makes friends happier than the threat of abuse.
  Two seconds in we find that while Liz liked the old Aaron, she finds new testosterone laden Aaron a burden and wishes Jeffrey would just stop hanging out with a loser with such awful anger management issues. The sad thing is she says as much. Repeatedly. If she actually used those words, it would have been awesome, but she comes close. Thing is, if Enid were acting like Aaron, Liz would be super glued to Enid's side and ANYONE who said a damn thing would suffer a look from Liz that would wither their insides. But the moment Aaron becomes difficult, Elizabeth says to hell with helping a friend, spend more time with me. Jeffrey politely tells her that Aaron is going through a rough time and needs his friends, and never once does he bitchily ask her to be more considerate or to use some of her infamous compassion for his BEST [and, truthfully, only] friend. He does ask the first, but without the bitch attitude Todd would have used. [I love you, Todd!]

  Liz doesn't though. Every time Aaron appears, you know she's got her bitch!face on. Aaron doesn't seem to mind, as she's his best friend's girlfriend as well as an old friend. Also, he's not always an asshole. Just... a lot of the time. And then... there's Heather. Heather is Aaron's sophomore girlfriend who Liz doesn't know but still can't stand. When Jeffrey wants to double-date with them instead of, I dunno, Jess or Enid and their date of the week, Liz nearly dies from having to spend time at the movies with them. That's right. Not dinner, but a movie. Why? Because of Aaron's aforementioned issues and Heather's adoration of Aaron and her interest in fashion.

   Take a moment.
   Let that sink in.
   I've got time.

  Right. Two excellent reasons to dislike someone. They like their boyfriend and they're interested in fashion. *eyes roll out of sockets* Anyway, to be fair, Heather sounds a bit dim, but she's also a year younger and she's thrown into a situation where she feels she has to impress Liz, and lest we forget, Liz is Popular. So, naturally, Heather trips all over herself and goes down in flames. She does what a thousand other people have done before, told Liz her life story in the five minutes they're left alone, but this time Liz thinks, "This is weird..." When Heather tries to find out what Liz would like to be when she grows up, or maybe even what her favorite ice cream is [Liz hasn't been paying attention, so we don't know for sure], Liz says, "I'm a private person, Heather..." Or, in teenage girl: "Fuck off, skank." Heather realizes Liz doesn't like her, and lets things die until Aaron blows up. Jeffrey brings him back to the table and Heather does what Jeffrey cannot. She calms him down, but her methods freak everyone in the immediate vicinity out. Baby talk. Liz and Jeffrey can't get out of there fast enough. Later we learn that the baby talk is because Aaron thinks it's cute and hey, it had the intended effect. Aaron stopped trying to kill people. Suck it, Liz. Your job has been outsourced.

  Plots collide! Reading the previous book, you realize Jessica's going to do one of her get rich schemes any second now. Sure enough, this is the book. The best get rich of them all. Tofu-Glo. Jess joins the Tofu-Glo cult and they send her twelve boxes of crap, all for the low-low price of $150. She has most of it, but has to borrow the last fifty from Liz. Where'd she get the hundred to begin with? Money burns a hole in Jessica's mind, let alone in her pocket... Anyway, Jessica has a big Tupperware Tofu-Glo party and invites all her friends, and Elizabeth's [that'd be Enid, folks], and when Heather calls for some unknown reason, there's an incredibly cute scene where Jess tells Liz to invite Heather, and Liz says no, and Jessica pleads... and it's my favorite moment of the whole book. Anyway, Heather comes along and the party's a hit, but Jessica foolishly offers a money back guarantee, which is the exact moment you know the stuff's going to end up being no good. Until then you just suspected, but the moment you realize she ad-libbed that, you knew Jessica was sunk. Heather leaves and Liz mentions the baby talk and then recreates the moment and all the girls laugh. Even Enid is amused, although she seems a bit freaked out that Liz is being such a true PBA member. You know, stabbing someone else in the back. Liz feels bad, but not bad enough to not think an extremely bitchy thought as she excuses herself from the mess she's made. I was always painfully disappointed that Heather never found out about Elizabeth's impression immediately following it's debut , because, let's be honest, teenage girls would spread that shit around so fast heads would spin. When she does find out, she does a perfect imitation of Elizabeth's Eyes and Ears column, only hers sounds far more interesting than the real one. :P
  Blah, blah, Liz ends up writing some story on the soccer practice where Aaron conveniently loses his marbles and tackles a teammate [to which no one tells him wrong sport] and beats him up. Or punches him but good. Whatever. Who's telling this story anyway? Liz is faced with a choice. Does she write the article and mention that maybe tensions are running a smidge high, or does she totally out Aaron's anger issues and make him seem like he needs therapy, which he totally does. Duh, she goes for the sensationalism under the guise that it's news and news must be shared!
  Personally, I don't know whether to smack her or just hold my head in pain. On the one hand, I can see how tempting it would be to go ahead with the Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth. On the other hand, um, by now you know Aaron's mother cheated on his father and is moving to New York to be with her other man, and that the boy has anger management issues, and he's Jeffrey's best friend, and oh yeah, the paper won't be out until next week so this is something where a throwaway comment at best would work, not to make it the focus of the article. And yet, that's how it's received. While she expects Aaron to be pissed, she doesn't seem to expect Jeffrey to be as upset as he is.
  Again I say if it were Enid and not Aaron, Liz would have castrated Jeffrey. Some might argue that she already has.
  Aaron flips out, Jeffrey's pissed, and yet... somehow Jeffrey is swayed to Elizabeth's side. Heather says she agrees with Liz, who is floored, and then realizes that Heather and she have a lot more in common than she thought. Why, because she agrees that Aaron's got issues? Or because she makes her own clothes? Because, last I checked, Liz doesn't make her own clothes or give half a damn about them to begin with. She wants to look nice, but not make a big effort. Heather has such a specific idea in her head that she's usually left with no recourse than to make her own stuff because nothing else will do. Um, how similar does this make the two? Liz just likes Heather taking her side, even if she'll never really tell Aaron this. My head has split by this point.

  Aaron punches Jeffrey and runs away in horror. Heather follows him and he tells her that his father hit him and she convinces him that he needs therapy so he'll be able to deal without hurting other people, and mostly so he won't be bleeding out emotionally. She's also sure Jeffrey will forgive Aaron, but Aaron's not so sure. "I haven't forgiven my father." Deep, man. We need something to distract us...
  Liz makes sure her pretty boy is still pretty and then fucking asks, "Do you think he was justified then?" FUCK OFF. There's a bit of a backtrack about how she's not happy about being right, but he just had his teeth rattled by his best friend because he stuck up for YOU when you kicked the guy for your journalistic needs that the gossip mill already doled out. *makes strangling motions*
  That didn't help distract me. Aaron comes back, he and Jeffrey kiss and make up and they offer to forget the whole thing. But we can't go down that road because this Very Important Book wouldn't work and also, everyone knows that if Aaron got into another fight after kicking Brad's ass, he'd be off the soccer team, so we need to race down to the drama. Aaron fully apologizes, is forced to apologize to Liz [yes, forced, and I feel that's unfair since he's entitled to be mad at the girl for being such a bitch towards him, just as she was entitled to think he was a complete headcase], and then Aaron's off to admit his misdeeds. Mrs. Green calls his father and after a lengthy chat with Coach Horner, it's decided that Aaron will speak to someone who specializes in divorce and after much promising, Aaron can play in the game, which they win. Naturally.
  Jessica comes out ahead, even after all her customers demand the refund she foolishly promised them when their product rots since Jessica didn't know to tell them to keep it in their fridge. Ned finds out that Tofo-Glo has been sued by people in Jessica's shoes, and as a result the company has to pay back their Tofo-Glo girls for the cost of the starter kit, plus any damages. Jessica somehow managed to come out ahead, even if it's not enough to buy a fur coat. Luck's got nothing on Jessica Wakefield.

Trivial Pursuit:

  • Jessica reads the Sweet Dreams romances. Which might explain why foreign editions of the SVH books tend to be almost identical to the SD books, although maybe that's just sneaky [effective] marketing.

  • If you want to be a Tofu-Glo girl, you need to send them $150 for their starter kit which will be about twelve giant boxes, and your UPS guy will come back later that night to throttle you for killing his back. Where's the Thriller edition about that?

  • More importantly, where exactly did Jessica come up with the original hundred bucks? Jessica should be in debt to her parents until we're 80, folks. There's no way she's got a spare hundred lying around. Do you think those stories of the cheerleaders and their locker room businesses are true?

  • I get that the powers that be really, really want to sync the SVH and new SVT series, but could we get any other story to be our "go read our wacky middle school hijinks tales right now, at a bookstore near you!" go-to BESIDES the Ms. Bramble, Jessica-dog sitting story? Please?

  • There's a moment [page 11 to be [precise] where Elizabeth 'teases' Enid and tells her that she had her chance with Jeffrey but that she blew it. That? Is really bitchy. I'd slap one of my friends for that, and not in that friendly sort of love-pat sort of way, but in an all out, "What the hell did you just say, bitch?" way.

  • The soccer team seems to consist of Tony Esteban, Jeffrey, Aaron Dallas, Michael Schmidt [the other co-captain besides Aaron], Brad Tomasi, and Coach Horner.

  • Aaron's mother cheated on his father and left her husband for a new guy who lives in New York. Despite hearing this tale of woe, Liz is painfully unsupportive.

  • Heather Sanford is a sophomore on a perpetual diet who makes most of her own clothes, not because she's poor [can't steal that staple from some other character, y'know] but because she has very distinct ideas of how she should dress and the labels just aren't sharing her vision. That's why she wants to go to a fashion institute after her stint at SVH. She's also got horrible timing when talking in movies.

  • A fur coat is the first item on Jessica's to buy when she's rich list.

  • Alice Wakefield sold cleaning products in college and remembers it to be fun. That'd be the drugs you were on, honey. Steve sold magazine subscriptions when he was in the Boy Scouts. Due to their trailblazing ways, Alice says it's cool for Jessica to be a Tofu-Glo girl. Ned is wary and decides to check out the T-G company.

  • Liz decides Heather is a shallow, vapid, fashion obsessed freak when Heather wants to discuss the costumes from the movie they just watched. Liz, when you see a period piece, even one that's obviously heavy on the romance, you're supposed to marvel at the intricate costumes before, during, and after the movie. It does the costume designers a disservice otherwise. You live with Jessica. You should know this. Quit being such a judgmental bitch.

  • Heather baby talks to Aaron when he's upset, which freaks both Elizabeth and Jeffrey out. Later Liz will do a spot-on impression and Heather will eventually hear about it, but she'll do an even better impression of Liz, but it won't be as cruel or, I dunno, behind her back. I only wish Heather didn't like Liz and later she'd pop up to kick Liz when she's on her way down. Sigh.

  • Jessica's first customer, after the impressionable gaggle of SVH girls, is Mrs. Bowen, who lives in Moonglow Terrace. Mrs. Bowen is a customer of Alice's and when Jessica invokes Mrs. Bowen's name on the rest of the neighbors, doors instantly open.

  • Thing is, Tofu-Glo has to be kept refrigerated because of the lack of preservatives/chemicals, and no one aside from possibly the Fowlers, Patmans, or Morrows would have enough fridge space for that much junk. When Jessica is asked if a customer can try the product, the skin cream smells horrible and will not rub in. Various other previous customers call later to detail the horrors of Tofu-Glo, including Cara, who cannot get the disgusting shampoo out of her hair and now her date with Steven is ruined. Upon hearing this, Alice asks if Jessica ever tried the products herself. Jess admits she hasn't, and then FOOLISHLY goes to use the same shampoo Cara just bitched about. At the end of her experiment, she's an oily skinned, gunked up hair, red faced mess who smells horrible. Because she's offered a money back guarantee, she's also fucked six ways to Sunday. This is a case where improv is a bad idea, kids. I hope you caught that Very Important Lesson.

  • Aaron beats the crap out of Brad Tomasi at soccer practice, and Liz happens to be there covering the practice for the Oracle [slow news week] and naturally she has to write the incident up.

  • Liz is surprised by how upset Jeffrey is, although she and Enid fully expect Aaron to be ready to kick her ass. Can we put this down as proof that the girl is insane?

  • Then again, maybe not, as Jeffrey does forgive awfully fast.

  • Mrs. Green is the guidance counselor, or at least one of them, at SVH.

  • It costs Jessica $65 to cart away the Tofo-Glo disaster.

Quotable SV:

  "He looks really great, Liz. I don't know how you always manage to get the cutest guy around, but you do."
  "Oh, you poor thing," Elizabeth said, teasing her. "Remember, you had your chance." When Jeffrey had first moved to town, Elizabeth concocted a scheme to fix Enid up with him. The plan had backfired, but Enid hadn't minded at all. It was still a good joke between them, though. - These are not real girls. I repeat, not real girls. p11

  "Oh, Dad! Do you think I'd get involved in something that wasn't completely legit?" Ned refuses to answer Jessica. Wise man. p25

  To her closest friends, Elizabeth was a great listener, and she was always willing to help out with any advice she could give. But that kind of soul baring from a casual acquaintance made her extremely uncomfortable. - Um, have you met Liz lately? p34

  " 'Soya-Soft cream is a revolution in skin care,' " she read, her voice assuming a dignified, professional tone. " 'Its totally naturally ingredients work in harmony to hydrate, tone, and rejuvenate the skin.' "
  "Will it make me look years younger?" Elizabeth asked.
  Jessica turned the jar over. "Are you kidding? You'll be fifteen again!" - Sometimes the very best parts of these books are the twins goofing around with one another. p44

  "As I said, the main active ingredient in each of these things is soybeans, the same stuff those chips are made of."
  "Does it taste the same?" Cara asked and giggled. She looked at the soy chip she had been nibbling.
  Jessica smirked at her friend. "Actually, Cara, I haven't eaten the shampoo. But go ahead and taste it if you want." - Win! p 56

  Elizabeth felt deeply ashamed of herself. It wasn't that she was afraid that Heather wound find out. The girl didn't seem to be very sensitive, and she probably wouldn't care. - How ashamed can you be, Liz, if you're still being a world class bitch about it in your own head? p63

  "And," he added, silencing Aaron's hot protest, "if you want to play in Thursday's game, you will enjoy being suspended." -Whoa, an adult with attitude. Marry me, coach? p73

  "Boy, are you asking for it. You really know how to win friends and influence people, as the saying goes. Do you think Aaron's going to strangle you or shoot you?" - Silly Enid, he'll beat her senseless. So, strangle, most likely. p94/95

  They were silent for a moment, feeling the newer, deeper love they shared. - All the goodwill you earned up til now, Ghosty? GONE. I'm still recovering from that horrible line. I might need medical assistance, it's so sugary sweet and diabetic coma inducing... p 115

  "He'll never forgive me for hitting him."
  "Of course he will, Aaron!"
  But he shook his head bitterly. "I've never forgiven my dad." - 116

  "What did E.W. say that made A.D. so mad? And they say J.F. avenged his ladylove with stern words. A bout of ferocious fisticuffs followed. I hear a certain serious student with the initials P.A. cut English class today. Also, this just in. E.R. was seen recently buying seven pints of pistachio ice cream at the Qwik Stop MiniMart. Do her friends know about this shocking addiction?" Heather was making up a fictitious item from Eyes and Ears, the gossip column Elizabeth wrote every week for The Oracle. And not only that, but the girl was mimicking Elizabeth's own voice and mannerisms perfectly. - Winner? Heather, p144/145

137's Triumphant Return:
  "It's totally natural and people go crazy for it. I bet I can sell a hundred and thirty-seven tons of the stuff." - Jessica's not too far off in her estimation of how much crap they're going to send her... p4

  "You're totally hopeless, you know that? A hundred and thirty-seven wild horses couldn't make you fetch." Aww, Prince Albert, if she mocks you, it means Jessica loves you. p39

   I managed to block out the Liz bitchery for the last decade and a half or so, focusing only on Aaron's anger management issues anytime I thought of the book. I wish I could go back to that blissful time because if it were possible to punch a fictional character, Liz would be dead. Hated, hated, hated her. The back of the book makes it sound like she's pushing for Aaron to get some yummy therapy. She's not. She's gunning for Jeffrey to drop Aaron. Also, Aaron would probably have gone after Jeffrey eventually, but had Elizabeth not painted herself a target and punched him where it hurt most, Jeffrey wouldn't have been up on the chopping block quite so early.

   On the other hand, the return of a hundred-and-thirty-seven! Obviously this was an old ghosty who didn't know times had changed. If not for that one super lame line, and the Liz bitchcraft, I might love them. Alas, it was not meant to be.

  For years I thought Aaron Dallas was blond, despite this evidence that he's a brunette. I blame years of SVT where he's a blond. I swear. At least on one cover, anyway. Jeffrey? Ain't all that cute here. Aaron, however...

As of this book, I desperately need a bitch!Liz icon.
Tags: 137, anger management, bitch!liz

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