Analyzing the cover: This must be in the cafeteria when Mary Ellen is crying over Patrick, except in the book no one comforts her, she just yells at them all and then runs away.
The squad is sitting around at Walt’s house gossiping about Pres, who isn’t there. Walt hopes Pres isn’t off with a new chick. “Pres and his women always mean trouble for the squad.” In the last book Pres and his quiet younger girlfriend Kerry had a falling out, and now apparently Pres is off gallivanting every weekend while Kerry mopes around school like a kicked puppy dog.
Nancy doesn’t feel sorry for her. “Anyone with the bad taste to get involved with Pres Tilford isn’t getting any sympathy from me.” Hear, hear! Nancy says if her boyfriend Josh did to her what Pres did to Kerry, “I’d simply kill him, that’s all. I certainly wouldn’t mope after him the way Kerry is doing. Doesn’t that girl have any pride?”
Pres is in fact tearing up the dance floor at a club in Cedar Point with Cassandra, a girl who had dissed him at the end of the last book, but I guess he decided to go back for more. Kerry sits at home wondering where Pres really is when he avoids her.
Meanwhile, Perfect Patrick has been acting down in the dumps lately, and for once it has nothing to do with Mary Ellen being a shrew. He confides in ME that he thinks his dad is cheating on his mom. Mary Ellen tells him he should just let his parents worry about it, and Patrick gets pissed. “I should have my head examined coming to you with this. You’re about as deep as a slice of cheese!” Patrick storms off, and Mary Ellen is mostly sad they didn’t get to make out.
At school on Monday Patrick isn’t there, and Kerry confronts Pres. He thinks he can just start kissing her and make her forgive him, but she tells him she doesn’t want to go out with him anymore. Considering the fact that he’s been ignoring her for like 3 weeks, this declaration seems a little unnecessary. She yells at him to shut up when he tries to deny going off with another girl, and he’s impressed. “Wow! He didn’t know she had it in her. Now if only he could talk her into using some of that spirit in a more constructive way – say, in the backseat where it belonged – maybe he wouldn’t have to spend weekends in Cedar Point.” Wow, what a pig. He tries to imply that if she really loved him, she would understand his need to get off with other women since she has refused to give it up to him. She threatens to impale him with her umbrella if he doesn’t get her home ASAP. Kerry calls Pres so many names in this segment, I will have to recap them at the end.
Patrick also isn’t at the basketball game that night, but when Mary Ellen and the squad go for pizza afterward, she spots him in a booth by himself. He gives her a mean look when she comes up to him. She had been planning to apologize for her insensitivity, but what comes out is, “Come on Patrick, stop pouting. So I’m not Ann Landers. I’m sorry! Honest!” Surprisingly she is not immediately forgiven. But after a few more minutes of silence, since he can never resist her, Patrick thaws out and starts talking. He takes her home and they make out, but he’s still upset about his father.
Mary Ellen considers composing an anonymous letter: Dear Mr. Henley, It has come to my attention that you are driving your wonderful son, Patrick, crazy by going out at night all the time. Please cut it out right now. – A friend
Since Mary Ellen goes home with Patrick, Pres switches to Plan B and takes Vanessa for a ride in his Porsche. This guy really couldn’t be more stupid if he tried. Meanwhile Nancy complains about Pres and Vanessa to Josh, who couldn’t care less. They argue, and Nancy is starting to think their romance is boring. I agree.
Mary Ellen wants some advice on how to help Patrick, so she ends up telling Angie about Patrick’s fears. She figures if she can trust anyone to keep a secret, it’s Angie.
News about Pres and Kerry’s final breakup and her seeming reunion with Angie’s brother, Andrew, makes its way to the girl cheerleaders. Nancy thinks this could mean bad news now that Pres was eyeing Vanessa. “At least when Pres was dating Kerry he paid attention to things, sort of.”
She is proven right when Pres shows up late for a practice at Walt’s house with Vanessa on his arm. Vanessa sits down to watch, but Pres keeps interrupting practice to go over and “nuzzle” her and the squad can’t get anything done, so they quit for the night. ME threatens to pour acid in Pres’ sneakers while he’s still in them if he ever pulls something like this again.
The next day at school, Vanessa is kind of annoyed because while she has tried to rub her romance with Pres in Kerry’s face, Kerry doesn’t seem to care. So she decides to go bother the cheerleaders and Patrick at their lunch table, where she and Patrick get into it because he doesn’t have time for her crap. Their argument escalates, Patrick makes a joke about her father, the superintendent, so Vanessa busts out with, “At least my father doesn’t cheat on his wife!” Patrick looks at Mary Ellen, the only person he confided in, with hatred, and leaves the cafeteria. Mary Ellen looks at Angie, whose eyes claim innocence, and then Mary Ellen starts “weeping” at the table. She goes after Patrick, who is crying and tells her he never wants to see her again. My poor baby. Back in the caf, the cheerleaders try to interrogate Angie who cries that she didn’t tell Vanessa and runs away. Such dramatics at lunchtime!
The squad has to go cheer for the girls volleyball game. I would have bet cash money that we’d never hear about the volleyball games again after the last book ended so randomly, but I would have lost. They perform like robots at the game, and Coach Engborg makes Mary Ellen promise to fix this mess as captain. ME finds Nancy and Olivia comforting a crying Angie, who swears she didn’t tell a single soul. ME doesn’t believe her, but Nancy calls ME out on her hypocrisy, pointing out that Patrick must have made ME swear not to tell anyone, but she told Angie. I wish Nancy always had this much of a backbone with Mary Ellen. So instead of fixing anything, Mary Ellen says she doesn’t care if they all hate her and storms out, crying. Soooooo much crying and we’re only to chapter 7!
Mary Ellen tries to get Vanessa to tell her how she heard about Patrick’s dad, but Vanessa is of no help and implies she should ask Pres. Patrick doesn’t come to school again and Mary Ellen eats lunch by herself in the library. Don’t these people have any other friends? After the next basketball game, in which the squad is still miserable and terrible and Coach Engborg tells them how disgusting they all are, ME asks Pres how he knew about Patrick’s dad. Pres didn’t know anything. And he’s distracted trying to figure out how to juggle Vanessa and Cassandra, who drove in from Cedar Point to see him. Pres promises Mary Ellen he’ll try to figure out how Vanessa heard the rumor. I’m not sure if I trust Pres to do this correctly.
Because Pres is an idiot, he first tells Vanessa he can’t hang out with her because he has plans with someone else. That pisses her off. THEN he asks about her comment to Patrick, and that Mary Ellen wants to know how she knew. He is such a moron. Vanessa decides she wants to make Pres as mad as she is, so she tells him she saw Patrick’s dad coming out of the Tarenton Hotel with a brunette. Pres wants to know why Vanessa was at the hotel, and she smirks, implying she was there with another guy. Whatever who cares.
Mary Ellen goes to the Senior Class Car Wash hoping to see Patrick or Pres, who still hasn’t told her what he found out from Vanessa. Doesn’t he understand we have a national crisis on our hands? Neither of the P guys are there, and the other cheerleaders ignore Mary Ellen. Vanessa starts putting 2 and 2 together to realize that Mary Ellen blames Angie for the rumor getting to Vanessa. So of course Vanessa goes up to ME and implies that very thing, that it was Angie who told her. ME isn’t sure Angie told Vanessa outright, but now she thinks maybe Angie told her mother who told Vanessa’s mother, and why didn’t Angie just admit it? Sigh.
Pres didn’t show up to the car wash because he was out living life in the fast lane with Cassandra, and then he skips the next day at school. When he finally reappears, ME almost kills herself trying to find out what he heard from Vanessa. Why didn’t she just call his house? He tells her what Vanessa said about seeing Patrick’s dad at the motel. Pres thinks ME should reconcile with Angie, but find some other way to fix things with Patrick, because if ME tells Patrick about the scene at the motel, he’ll hate her even more.
ME is going to apologize to Angie, but is stopped by Coach Engborg for a little pep talk. Meanwhile, Pres reveals to Angie, Olivia, and Nancy that ME found out the truth and knows Angie didn’t spread the rumor. So why hasn’t Mary Ellen apologized yet? Nancy asks. Nancy gets everyone all worked up at the table, practically ready to lead a mob to Mary Ellen, and Angie decides she’s not coming back to cheerleading until Mary Ellen finds her and tells her she’s sorry. Geez, these girls are a mess. When Angie isn’t in the locker room later that day, Nancy and Olivia attack Mary Ellen for not hurrying to patch things up with Angie, and for thinking the worst of her. Coach Engborg asks ME to leave the squad and not come back until she has truly fixed things with Angie.
Side note, Nancy rages to Josh about Mary Ellen, and then they break up because they just really don’t care about each other anymore.
Mary Ellen apologizes to Angie in front of the squad in the cafeteria, but Angie gives her a hard time and says she wants them both to be back on the squad but not really friends. Later, Mary Ellen is out searching the town for Patrick, while Angie has decided she needs to really make things right with ME. She recruits the squad to help her track down Mary Ellen, since this can’t wait until tomorrow, apparently? Mary Ellen searches all around Tarenton and can’t find Patrick, so she starts to head home when a white van that has run a red light careens into her vehicle. Her last thought is that she never buckled her seat belt.
The squad, who had been out looking for Mary Ellen, see the whole accident happen. They all rush to the hospital and wait in the emergency waiting room. Patrick, on his way home, hears about the crash on the radio, mentioning Mary Ellen by name, so he too rushes to the hospital. As soon as he gets there, Nancy, who was previously leading the witch hunt for Mary Ellen, turns to Patrick and says “She was looking for YOU,” all accusingly. A doctor comes out and tells them Mary Ellen is going to be okay, she just suffered lots of cuts and bruises and a concussion. The doctor says she can’t have visitors right now, but she’s been asking for her parents and Patrick. They can go see her for a few minutes.
Patrick tells Mary Ellen he was wrong about his father, it really was just business. His dad was thinking about buying a carting business from some woman in Cedar Point, so that’s what all the calls were for, and the meeting at the hotel was just in the restaurant there. Patrick calls the cheerleaders to give them a report, and the squad spends the next day at school trying to quell all the crazy rumors going around about Mary Ellen’s condition.
The doctor had warned Mary Ellen’s family to keep her away from mirrors so she wouldn’t be shocked by how bad she temporarily looked, but for some reason no one informed her nurse. When ME sees her cut up and swollen face, she screams. “She looked like someone had thrown her against a brick wall.” She doesn’t want anyone to see her, but Patrick busts in the room and insists that she has to see the rest of the squad and no one cares what she looks like. They all come in and visit, and she and Angie make amends.
When ME is released from the hospital, they drive her to the high school, where students have packed into the gym to welcome her back. Everyone screams a corny cheer about how great Mary Ellen is, and she cries AGAIN, but this time of happiness.
Other notes and quotes
- Whilst breaking up with Pres, he refuses to bring Kerry home at first. “You really are some prize!” she yells. “Mr. Macho, King of Beasts!” She also calls him Mr. God’s Gift to Women, a creep, and finishes with a “Thanks for nothing!”
- Nancy calls Vanessa “Vicious Van.”
- More homicidal jokes about Vanessa. Nancy, who had previously said she’d kill Josh if he cheated on her, says “Somebody ought to tie her hands and legs together and dump her in the lake!” Something tells me Nancy might eventually be featured on an episode of Dateline.
Sign of the Times
- While modeling at Marnie’s a shopper asks Mary Ellen for directions somewhere. She is upset about Patrick and says “What do I look like, the Yellow Pages?!”
- ME hopes Patrick misses her and might call her. “Right,” she thinks, “and you’re Jane Fonda’s baby sister.”
Author: Diane Hoh
Next time on Cheerleaders… Nancy thought she’d gotten over Ben. What happens when he transfers to Tarenton? Read Cheerleaders #11, CHEATING.