Analyzing the cover: This is pretty easy – Nancy and Olivia being idiots over some doofus neither one of them actually likes.
A basketball player named Jimmy has come off the bench during a Tarenton basketball game and taken the court by storm, impressing Nancy and Olivia. (I had to check and make sure this wasn’t the same Jimmy that dated Nancy’s friend Susan in Book #1. Different last names). Turns out Jimmy had asked Olivia to the school dance before he turned into a basketball hero. Last we saw Olivia she was dating some guy named Michael. It didn’t last, what a shocker.
ME gets so offended when Walt tells her everyone knows she and Patrick lust after each other. Maybe if she didn’t kiss him every time she saw him, no one would know. “Patrick is a jerk!” she responds. Screw you, Melon. Patrick is perfect.
Turns out Jimmy went out on a date with Nancy (whose boyfriend Alex went back to England, so I guess that means they broke up? Out of sight out of mind? Who knows) the SAME DAY he asked Olivia to the dance. And all this before he became a star. This guy is GOOD.
Cartoon Villain Vanessa finds out from her dumb sidekick Cindy that Angie’s hot older cousin is a new teacher at Tarenton. Vanessa is infuriated that her father, the superintendent, didn’t keep her apprised of the latest faculty news. I am pretty sure I could not care less about what was happening with the teachers when I was in high school.
For some reason Vanessa decides to plant a seed in the new teacher’s mind that Walt has been talking crap about him. Not sure why Walt is her random target this week. There’s no understanding Vanessa’s demented mind. I really thought this story would be about Vanessa falsely accusing the teacher of assault, so I guess good job in going a different stupid direction.
Pres overheard his parents discussing getting separated/divorced. Okay I feel sorry for him now. His mom gets drunk in the afternoon and walks in on him and his girlfriend Kerry making out, then rudely proclaims that “All Tilford men are liars.” I mean, she’s probably right. She also calls Kerry a floozy. Pres is embarrassed and Kerry is upset.
Perfect Patrick gives Mary Ellen a ride home and they stop to get a soda. She actually agrees to ride in his garbage truck because she is “that desperate.” This shrew. Then he confronts her about her dumb comment calling him a jerk. ME immediately suspects that Olivia snitched to him. “Now that Michael is so involved with running, maybe she wants to see the rest of us suffer too.” I think Melon does a great job of making herself suffer ALL ON HER OWN. In actuality it was the squad’s bus driver who had been sitting nearby when ME made the comment. The bus driver didn’t know ME’s name but told Patrick a “stuck-up blonde” said it. So of course Patrick knew immediately who it was. ME then explains that she called him a jerk because he makes her so confused and he’s always pressuring her to be serious with him, but she’s not ready. Maybe they can hang out casually, “low-profile” (because she is ashamed of him). Patrick agrees, and then ME is immediately upset that he didn’t push for something more serious. I think she might have multiple personalities. They kiss when he drops her off. I call Patrick perfect but his main flaw is his willingness to be treated like garbage by this girl.
Olivia goes parking with Jimmy even though she’s mad that he went out with Nancy too. She asks him what’s going on and he insists he and Nancy are just “pals,” then attacks, er, kisses her. Surrrrre, I believe that story. Olivia is turned off and pushes him away. Jimmy gives her a guilt trip about sending him mixed signals (this guy is a true winner) and asks her to go to a movie the next night. So then Olivia starts worrying about if he will expect her to go parking with him again and she doesn’t want to be called an icicle, etc.etc. Sad. On their next date, Olivia refers to Nancy indirectly and Jimmy picks up on it. “Nancy’s very sexy, uninhibited if you know what I mean.” So now he’s trying to pressure her into doing stuff with him that he’s implying Nancy would do. But I thought they were just pals! During the movie, Jimmy insists they sit in the back and rests his hand on Olivia’s knee, then squeezes it. Olivia is super uncomfortable. Vanessa and Cindy are at the movies too, and afterwards Vanessa asks Jimmy for a ride home. Now Olivia is upset. Make up your mind girl! Olivia uses the extra girls in the car as an excuse to be dropped off first. Vanessa actually saved the day this time.
Except, Vanessa then spreads the word at school the next day about Olivia and Jimmy, and now Nancy is pissed. At cheerleading practice that day, Olivia complains that their cheers are too violent. “What should we say? Hug the Grizzlies, aren’t they cute?” Mary Ellen snipes. Olivia wishes cheers had more positive messages. “Like loyalty?” Nancy asks. Got her.
Walt is still having trouble in Angie’s cousin’s class. You might think someone who’s a teacher wouldn’t hold a grudge about a rumor that a student said something bad about him. But not Angie’s cousin. He is apparently still mentally 14. In response, Walt isn’t doing his assigned work. That’s smart. Walt’s choices are 1) do the work but appear to be a wimp backing off from his feud with Mr. Gaetano, or 2) fail the class. Somehow to Walt this will be a “disaster” either way. From where I’m sitting it’s an obvious decision. But I’m not a 17-year-old idiot. Walt and Pres start to bicker at practice, then Walt tells Angie what a loser her cousin is, while Nancy jumps in for some reason and attacks Walt too. So everyone on the squad hates each other, basically.
Pres gives ME a ride home and she accuses him of snitching to Patrick about her “jerk” comment. She is pretty mean to people who bother to give her rides home. Then someone FINALLY tells Mary Ellen how it is – “Don’t blame me for your problems with Patrick, Mary Ellen Kirkwood. You treat that guy like a yo-yo, reeling him in whenever it suits your purposes.” Preach, Pres. I’m starting to like him more.
Nancy goes skiing with Jimmy, who comments on her figure in her ski pants. Now Nancy is uncomfortable. These girls are feuding over a douche bag that they don’t even like. Jimmy starts groping her in public and takes a long time to stop after she tells him to knock it off. But like Olivia, Nancy thinks maybe something is wrong with her and not him, and lets him kiss her later. No no no no.
Walt got detention for not doing his work in Gaetano’s class. He is supposed to have detention every day until he writes ONE paragraph in his journal. And when he shows up late to practice, he’s wearing a shirt that says FREE WALT MANNERS. I kind of hate this dude. Nancy and Angie are not amused.
ME runs into Patrick, who tells her “I wouldn’t bother you, you know, if I didn’t know that you really like me in spite of how hard you try to pretend otherwise.” This is the equivalent of “Your mouth saying no but your body saying yes” and is slightly rapey-sounding, but the problem is he’s EXACTLY CORRECT. Mary Ellen is the type of character that feeds into the message that guys shouldn’t take no for an answer because the girl really wants it underneath her protests. Mary Ellen definitely, definitely wants it. But in real life that’s not a good philosophy. So Patrick kisses her and she lets him, until she pulls back and sees his shirt reading Henley Trash. I can’t with ME’s snobbery much longer. She’s the worst. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get out of your small town and go pursue your dreams in NYC. But don’t lead a guy on and look down on him because of what he does, and use rich guys for their status and fancy cars. So after ME pisses Patrick off, he goes and asks Vanessa to the dance. Even though Vanessa has ridiculed his line of work in the past, she says yes, surely for some ulterior motive of her own.
Angie tries to talk her teacher cousin into cutting Walt some slack, but he won’t budge. It turns out Angie is a secret jogger. This is for some reason something she thinks would shock the squad if they know. What a rebel Angie is. While running, she spots Kerry at the park. Kerry dumped Angie’s brother for Pres, but Angie is nice to her. Kerry says ever since Pres’ mom walked in on them and made a scene, he’s been avoiding her. Angie realizes Pres might have real problems at home that make everyone else’s problems look like fabricated high school BS. Imagine that. Pres begs Kerry to stick with him, and though she considers that they might be better off apart, she agrees to go to the dance with him.
Walt is trying to spy on Pres, Nancy, and Angie and accidentally rear-ends Mr. Gaetano’s car. They bring his car to the shop and actually get along okay. Conveniently Vanessa comes by later to get her car detailed or something and finds out what happened. She was hoping that Walt would eventually get kicked off the squad, and lacking any other competent males in school, she could get the empty spot. Vanessa plants it in Walt’s mind that Mr. Gaetano is going around saying Walt hit him on purpose. When will these morons learn not to trust this wench? Later, Vanessa’s traitorous sidekick Cindy fills Walt in on what really happened, and he asks her to the dance. He finally decides to do his stupid schoolwork after this ridiculous feud has gone on for way too long.
Mary Ellen realizes that her biggest fear with Patrick is if she gives in to him, she will fall so hard for him that she’ll give up all her dreams to stay in Tarenton with him forever. I guess I could see that. But then she realizes that she shouldn’t “turn her back on love” for fear of what could happen down the road, so she calls Patrick and asks him to the dance. Whoops. He’s already going with Vanessa. Mary Ellen is furious and beats up her pillow. She’s scary.
Jimmy congratulates himself on the fact that both Olivia and Nancy think he’s going to the dance with them. He decides Nancy is more likely to give it up with his parents out of town. He invites her over and says she should tell her parents she’s staying at a friend’s house. Nancy is not going for it. She asks what would happen. “You know what I’d like, but it’s up to you. It’s a big house.” he says. “It couldn’t be big enough to suit me,” Nancy snaps. Booooooooom. That’s what she said. After striking out with Nancy, Jimmy calls up Olivia, who agrees to come over, her self-esteem in a dumpster fire. She goes to his house, accepts some wine, but when he starts to kiss her she finally wakes up and realizes she doesn’t want this. “All you want is a body. You’re really a creep.” At the next basketball game, it turns out Jimmy was a one-game wonder. He’s getting shut out all over the place.
Nancy somehow makes Jimmy think she’s still going to the dance with him, then shows up with Olivia and has him pay for both of their tickets. Somehow it’s punishment to make him take turns dancing with both of them (why are they letting him touch them?) Then they both ditch him for other guys. Cindy tells the group that Vanessa had planned for the girls to make a scene over Jimmy and then Vanessa could swoop in and steal him. Vanessa deserts Patrick as soon as they get to the dance, but Jimmy has had enough and leaves. Patrick sees Mary Ellen arriving and they slow dance in the hallway, but of course, she still won’t commit to him.
Other interesting notes and quotes:
- Pres says his mom has been spending a lot of time with a “do not disturb” sign on her door. Like, a hotel door knob hanger? Or is it like a Keep Out sign a child would put up to keep their siblings out of their room? I need one of those.
- Nancy’s friend Susan from the first book is mentioned for the first time in ages. All of a sudden she is referred to as “Sue,” and Nancy abandons her almost immediately.
- Jimmy’s conscience “was the only muscle that he never exercised.” Gross.
- When she gets ready to go to Jimmy’s, Olivia puts on a “shrimp-colored camisole.” That is an unappetizing description of lingerie if I ever heard one.
Sign of the Times
- Nancy lies on her bed watching a rock video on MTV. MTV was so hot back then. And music videos.
- Nancy describes Jimmy as “preppy.”
- Walt has “perfected his Michael Jackson imitation.”
- Olivia lusts over a jacket that has shoulder pads. How were shoulder pads ever actually a thing?
Author: Lisa Norby
Next time on Cheerleaders… If Nancy thinks Jimmy was trouble, wait until she meets Ben! Read Cheerleaders #5, ALL THE WAY.