Analyzing the cover: This is clearly Olivia, sitting among her pompons and megaphone, contemplating the chance that she’s knocked up while Walt watches on with vague concern.
The students vs. faculty basketball game is coming up, so Coach Engborg will soon be defecting to lead the teacher contingent of cheerleaders while Mary Ellen will lead the student cheerleaders for the game. How teachers who don’t normally play basketball or do cheers are supposed to be better than the students who do these things regularly is beyond me.
Meanwhile Olivia has been acting super weird. Walt says she has been really tired lately. Uh oh. At practice, she feels nauseous and thinks maybe she had the flu, or maybe it’s something else. Did Olivia get pregnant from making out with that loser in the last book, or what? She’s a week late for her period. She knows she was drunk when she and Boomer made out, and now she’s starting to worry that they may have done more and she just can’t remember because she got blackout drunk. That’s pretty horrifying.
Olivia thinks if anyone would know whether or not her and Boomer did more than kiss, it would be the terrible Vanessa Barlow, who was the first to stumble in on them. Just recently Vanessa had come up to Olivia and said, “I would have never guessed you were so experienced, and with someone you hardly knew…” Olivia wonders what she would do if “it” turned out to be true (that she might be pregnant thanks to date rape is not spelled out in so many words.)
In an effort to prove to her boyfriend Josh that she’s not spoiled, Nancy is getting up at 5 a.m. to join him on his newspaper delivery route. Nancy’s parents are upset. “I don’t know what we did wrong,” her father complained. “We give you all the advantages, and you insist on getting up at dawn to do hard labor.” Why does Josh think she’s spoiled again? At least she’ll work out her bicep with all that hard labor of throwing newspapers in people’s driveways.
Angie has been getting tutored by the “class brain” Arne Peterson, who Angie never looked at in a romantic way until her mom suggested she date him. Now she keeps getting distracted by his big hands. Hmm. And she doesn’t understand what he’s talking about most of the time, but she enjoys listening to his velvety voice. She’s so bored that she takes up his invitation to come over and look at the stars with his telescope. They stop for pizza together too, where they are harassed by Vanessa, who happens to be there with Mr. Lutz, a student teacher. Safe to say him being out in public with a student, especially the superintendent’s daughter, seems like a monumentally stupid thing to do.
Pres sees a letter from Princeton in the pile of mail and hides it in his jacket. He didn’t even attempt to look good in his application, so he is certain it’s a rejection. He has a line of relatives who attended Princeton before him, but he left the “Family Who Are Alumni” part blank on the application because he doesn’t want to get in on the “Tilford” name. I’m pretty sure if you put Pres Tilford anywhere on the application, the school knows you’re a Tilford. Anyway, he throws the letter in the backseat of his car without opening it. I’m sure that’s not going to come up later in the book or anything.
The Eismar twins are having a party. Pres goes with Kerry, who is still dating him despite the fact that he was a complete and total asshat in the last book. Patrick is there too, “nibbling on the ear” of new girl Mindy Norris. Mary Ellen goes stone-faced when she sees them, and as she tries to pass by unnoticed, Patrick calls out her name. Patrick has no chill. “She thinks my garbage truck is cute!” (If this was set in Texas it would be ‘she thinks my tractor’s sexy’). Mary Ellen sulks for the rest of her time at the party and then makes her escape.
“I think Patrick is disgusting,” Kerry (the girl who is still with Pres even though he took Vanessa to Lookout Point and made out with her) declares. Of course Pres disagrees, and I have to agree with him in this case. “He’s been chasing after Mary Ellen for months and she can’t make up her mind. If he found another girl, good for him!” Then Kerry starts talking about how one thing Patrick has going for him is that he knows what he wants to do in life. Since Pres does not, he changes the subject with a makeout sesh.
Someone painted the statue of Hubert Tarenton, the town’s founder, hot pink in honor of the faculty/student game. Superintendent Barlow vows to find the culprit and suspend him/her, while Patrick, Pres, and Walt all claim innocence. While that scintillating mystery unfolds, rumors are starting to make their way to the cheerleaders about Olivia’s unexplained illness. Angie, Mary Ellen, and Nancy gossip about the possibility that Olivia could be pregnant with Walt’s baby.
Patrick offers Mary Ellen a ride home, and sure enough they’re making out as soon as possible. He tried to convince himself he likes Mindy, but Mary Ellen is his disease and the only cure is more Mary Ellen. They end up fighting as per usual, and Mary Ellen storms off. “There goes one crazy girl. When will I ever learn?” Patrick asks himself. I wonder the same thing, you big dummy. Later he and Mindy go on another date, and Mindy accuses him of thinking about another girl. He tries to deny it, but she guesses that it’s Vanessa. Since he just wants to be rid of her, he says sure, it was Vanessa, are you happy? Mindy thus begins her revenge plan on the girl who stole Patrick away.
Nancy is running herself ragged trying to keep up with school, cheerleading, and her quest to prove herself unspoiled by helping Josh on his paper route. One morning she breaks down in tears and tells him she can’t handle it anymore. He didn’t even know that she was trying to show him she’s not spoiled, and can’t even remember telling her he thought that. His van breaks down in mid-delivery, and Pres drives by, stopping to help. Nancy catches a ride to school with Pres afterward, and he can’t stop checking her out. “I am a connoisseur of women,” he tells her. Barf. He imagines himself touching her knee, then thinks, “Kerry can’t expect me to be totally faithful. I’m only human.” Before he can make a move, Nancy spots his Princeton envelope in the backseat. She opens it and it’s not a rejection, but a letter saying his application was incomplete and he still has to fill out his essay on “Why I Want to Attend Princeton.” I might be wrong but I would think an Ivy League school wouldn’t waste its time with someone who doesn’t complete the application process correctly on his own. Oh God, I keep reading and Pres expresses this very thought. “Obviously anyone who’s too dumb to send in the essay in the first place doesn’t belong at Princeton.” I hate myself for thinking like Pres.
The cheerleaders are trying to come up with new cheers that rhyme the teachers’ names in an insulting way for the faculty/student basketball game. All they have is Mr. Lutz the Klutz. Unfortunately Lutz isn’t actually a klutz, Walt says, and Mr. Gaetano is also pretty good for an old guy. “He’s 30,” Angie put in. “That’s what I said,” Walt replied. I am 30 now. I’m so freaking old. Sigh. Olivia wants to practice a routine that involves her flipping, but Mary Ellen is hesitant because she is secretly wondering if Olivia is pregnant and it would be too dangerous. Walt later asks Angie why everyone is acting so weird, and she tells him about the pregnancy rumor. Walt tells her it couldn’t be true because he and Olivia have not yet been horizontal with each other. Then Walt remembers that Olivia went out with Boomer a second time after he caught them at the party. He has no idea if she actually slept with the guy. He wants Olivia to confide in him, but she hurries home and takes her phone off the hook so he can’t reach her.
Olivia has been having trouble getting in touch with Vanessa to find out if she saw Olivia and Boomer doing anything more than kissing. She has still been getting sick in the mornings. She has to stalk Vanessa outside a movie theater in order to corner her and ask about what happened. That horrible wench just plays coy and says Olivia will have to figure it out herself. I know violence is not the answer, but someone needs to punch her in the face before graduation or I am going to go crazy.
Kerry and Pres fight because he didn’t tell her about the Princeton letter, and Nancy let the cat out of the bag. Pres writes an essay for Princeton that basically says how miserable he’d be if he attended there, and his father finds it and rages. He wants Pres to write a suitable essay and let him read it before it gets sent. Later Pres tells his dad he didn’t write an essay and is withdrawing his application. His father surprisingly takes the news okay.
Nancy has compassion on Olivia and gets her to confide all of her worries about being pregnant. Nancy convinces her to confront Boomer and ask what happened between them. Olivia goes to some studio where he works. He doesn’t even remember her name and doesn’t seem disturbed to see her, despite the fact that the last time he saw her, he was trying to force himself on her and she hit him upside the head with her metal thermos. She has to wait for him to finish filming a commercial to talk to him, and she is feeling faint, so she takes her medication (related to her childhood heart condition). Then she passes out in the bathroom.
When Olivia doesn’t show up to practice, everyone starts worrying about her. Nancy was the only one who knew she was going to see Boomer, so they all rush to the studio to see if she’s there. Boomer is long gone, but they still look around for her. Meanwhile she has been locked in the bathroom because no one knew she was in there when they all left. She stuffs one of her leg warmers in the crack under the door in hopes it will signal to someone that she’s in there, and Walt comes around the corner and sees it. She calls out his name, and they free her.
At the doctor, Olivia is told that her new medication is what had been causing her to be so sick all the time. She finally tells Walt what she was afraid had happened, and Walt assures her that nothing could have happened at the party, because he walked in only a few minutes after Vanessa did, and if they had slept together, Vanessa would have told the whole school. Not that Vanessa can’t be counted on to lie as well.
As it so happens, Vanessa has started spreading the rumor that Olivia is pregnant and hopes Olivia will be kicked off the squad and she can replace her. But Olivia is better than ever after getting off her troublesome medication, and Vanessa fumes as she watches her cheering at the faculty/student game. She’s also mad because it turns out she had been pursuing Mr. Lutz, who only took her out to tell her she needed to back off. As Vanessa starts to approach Coach Engborg to tell her about Olivia, Mindy, Patrick’s new ex who thinks Patrick loves Vanessa, approaches her. Mindy pulls out a can of hot pink spray paint, which was evidently used to deface the Tarenton statue. “You had no right to go into my locker!” Vanessa exclaims, in a Perry Mason-like confession. Her father witnesses the whole thing, and the Vanessa/Mindy exchange quickly overshadows the Olivia-is-pregnant rumor.
Angie’s new man Arne reveals that he helped Mindy figure out how to get into Vanessa’s locker and that he and Mindy both separately figured out Vanessa defaced the statue in convoluted and complicated ways that I do not care to recount. With this story he is immediately welcomed into their circle of friends.
Other notes and quotes:
- Patrick thinks Mary Ellen looks super sexy in her aviator jacket and white scarf. No, she’s not going to flight school.
- Olivia’s mom makes “healthy meatloaf” – ground meat and wheat germ glued together with yogurt sauce.
- Nancy wears White Shoulders perfume, which Pres can identify immediately by smell. Weirdo.
- It is mentioned multiple times that Arne drives a Japanese car, as if this is some sort of weird quirk. Was it a Toyota or a Honda, I wonder? So unique.
- Patrick/Mindy and Vanessa all go see a horror movie, “Valentine’s Day Victim.” I wish that was a real movie. God I love 80s horror movies.
Sign of the Times
- Nancy’s radio alarm plays Bruce Springsteen.
- Angie’s brother Andrew asks if there’s anything good on TV, and she suggests The A-Team.
- Pres types up his admission essay on an electric typewriter.
- As mentioned in the main recap, Olivia is saved by her LEG WARMER.
Author: Lisa Norby
Next time on Cheerleaders… How do the girls react to being called nasty names? Read Cheerleaders #9, PLAYING GAMES.