Analyzing the cover: They were really short of ideas for this one, weren’t they? Peter is such a loser and Olivia’s hair is way blonder than normal.
The entire first chapter deals with Tara accidentally scratching Sean during practice, and Coach Engborg demanding she trim her nails to the same length as Jessica’s.
Peter is tired of having to get rides with Sean. He wishes he had a sweet car like Sean’s red Fiero. Peter also wishes for a lady friend. “What he wanted was a smile that showed they thought he was the most desirable hunk in town.” He gets home and finds out that his mom is off to the will reading of his Uncle Ned, who has passed away and is leaving money to Peter’s mom and her three cousins. After getting off the phone with his mom, Peter tries to call Stephanie Carlisle, a girl in his math class, to ask her out, but she isn’t home.
Peter’s mom tells him Uncle Ned left her $30,000. She wants to put $10,000 of it in a savings account for his college education. Peter’s not exactly grateful. “Ten thousand to waste in a savings account? It seemed criminal. They should be able to use some of the dough for fun stuff, he thought unhappily.”
Ugh, Duffy is back. He’s done waiting around while Olivia dates Walt and keeps him on the hook, so he wants to take her to a fancy restaurant. “Puttin’ on the glitz was the way he’d phrased it.” Ugh. I hate him so much. When Walt calls her, Olivia tells him about her date with Duffy, and he seems bothered but asks her to go out with him a different day.
Olivia feels “like a queen” out on her date with Duffy, who is wearing a leather yachting cap and oversized leather trench coat. UGH. But then Duffy starts acting like his radio show personality, which gets on her nerves. She tells him to cut it out, and he says, “Listen, woman, if you want to date a celebrity, you’ve got to get used to the persona.” Olivia says drop the act or take her home, so he stops. By the end of the night, “Olivia was starting to wonder why she had decided to cool things with such a cool guy.” Um, maybe because he’s a grade A tool who needs to be punched in the face?
Meanwhile, Walt buys an old motorcycle for 30 whole dollars and rides around angrily thinking about Olivia and Duffy on their date. Later, he finds out that the old bike he bought could be worth thousands of dollars. When he tells Olivia, she instantly fears that if he gets enough money, he’ll go back to New York City permanently. If she cares so much, why is she still dating this other loser?
Peter’s mom gives him a cashier’s check for $10,000 to open a college education fund, and tells him he can take $200 out of it to use for something fun. On the way to the bank, Peter sees a 1979 MG convertible for sale, and strikes a deal to buy it for $2,700.
Olivia tells Tara about a new college scholarship that only senior cheerleaders are eligible to apply for. It’s worth $10,000. Peter thinks applying for the scholarship will get his mom off his back about buying a car, but she’s furious. Peter somehow turns this around on her and accuses her of not believing that he could win the scholarship, and says he would need a car at college anyway. Then he storms out! What a brat!
Tara’s parents hear about the scholarship and try to pressure her about applying, even though she doesn’t plan to go to college because she’s getting married to Patrick within the next year. They tell her if she decides to go to college and applies for the scholarship, they will support her marriage to Patrick and give her money to go toward furniture for the house he’s building. Tara knows a bribe when she hears one. Surprisingly, Patrick sides with her parents. “I don’t expect you to just sit at home twiddling your thumbs all day. Especially since you’re not exactly panting to have babies right away.” I mean, she’s 18 at best. He reasons one year of college nearby wouldn’t hurt, and they could use the monetary gift. Tara finally relents.
The next practice is strained with all 5 seniors on the squad applying for the scholarship. Diana gets wind of the news, and it angers her that these cheerleaders could possibly have something else to be proud of if one of them wins the scholarship. She plans to find a way to undermine their chances. WTH? This Diana stuff is just getting more and more ridiculous. She’s not even a senior, so it’s not like she’s being kept from the scholarship just because she’s not a cheerleader.
Diana sees how much the cheerleaders are arguing and competing with each other due to the scholarship, and corners to Jessica to plant bad thoughts in her head about Sean. Then she goes over to Peter and tries to make him worried that his grades aren’t good enough to win.
Walt arranges for a motorcycle dealer/expert to fly into town and appraise his motorcycle. Duffy is mad when he hears Olivia is going to be with Walt for the visit. He claims he’s the one with a bright future: “This deejay job in lil’ old Tarenton is just the springboard to bigger and better things. It’s NBC, ABC, or CBS after this.” Olivia laughs at him, and he gets mad and tells her to have fun with her “rinky-dink salesman.” Walt sells his motorcycle for $5,000, and Olivia is happy for him but sad that he might end up leaving again.
Walt takes Olivia dancing to celebrate, and they run into Duffy, who’s there with another girl. He takes a jab at Walt for not usually being able to afford the cover charge at this kind of place, and Walt asks if he’s spying on them. “Just here kicking back with a PYT from the station,” Duffy says. Duffy again talks about how he’s going to make it on one of the big networks, and Walt says he’s kidding himself, he doesn’t have enough talent. Olivia defends Duffy and tells Walt to take her home if he’s going to take potshots. Ugh, Olivia is so stupid. Walt says sorry, but inside is disgusted (as am I). “Why couldn’t Olivia see that Duffy was full of hot air?” Then, he asks her to go with him to New York City. He’ll pay for her plane tickets and they’ll stay with his parents. She says yes and gets permission from her parents to go.
Peter peels out of the school parking lot, showing off his new car, and gets reprimanded by the principal the next day. Sean says he tried to warn Peter that he was going too fast, and Peter thinks Sean is just jealous of him. Peter starts getting asked by girls to give them rides in his car, so he thinks he’s hot stuff. He picks up Stephanie Carlisle, the girl he’d been wanting to ask out, and takes her for a ride. She’s so excited, she asks him to do figure eights in the school parking lot (I guess I always called them donuts), and he does so. A janitor still at the school writes down his license plate number and tells on him to the principal. She gives Peter one final warning to stop acting like an idiot with his car on school grounds.
Olivia listens to Duffy’s radio show, thinking how embarrassed she would be if any of her friends listened to him and how he talks these days, like some big-shot DJ using Valley language. “She wanted to tell him how ridiculous he sounded.” So tell him! He calls her as a song plays and asks how he sounds. She tells him that Walt says Duffy doesn’t have a shot to make it in the big leagues, and she doesn’t want him to get his hopes up and get hurt. He’s satisfied knowing she still cares about him.
Diana targets Sean, telling him he’ll look second rate next to Jessica, who’s a real star, when the scholarship judges come to see them perform. Next she makes sure Olivia overhears Diana talking about how bad Olivia has been performing, and that she’s dragging down Peter with her. Olivia does hear and gets mad, thinking it’s actually been all Peter’s fault that their stunts aren’t working. Meanwhile, Hope and Melissa, the two juniors who aren’t going for the scholarship, put their heads together to try and find a way to heal the divisiveness in the squad.
Diana heard about Peter getting in trouble with the principal, so she goes to Stephanie and calls Peter a stick-in-the-mud who probably never takes his car over 30 MPH. Stephanie says that’s not true, and vows to get Peter to do a car trick in the school parking lot where Diana can see him. When she tells Peter she wants him to do a demo of some tricks at school, and he says he can’t because of Mrs. Oetjen, she basically calls him a loser for being afraid of the principal. When he drops her off and asks if she’ll go out with him again, she says, “I don’t date wimps,” and tells him to call her when he’s a man instead of a boy.
At the next practice, all of Diana’s meddling comes to a head – Jessica yells at Sean, who yells at Peter, who yells at Olivia. Coach Engborg flips her lid and cancels the rest of practice. Diana smiles from the shadows.
Olivia and Walt have a great time in New York, but she’s annoyed that he has his TV show host parents listen to Duffy’s radio show and call it “amateur,” and that he harped on Duffy’s flaws all the way home. When she gets home, Duffy shows up with a limousine and insists on taking her out even though it’s a school night and she says she has to study. He says they’re having pheasant and caviar for dinner, and she thinks both he and Walt are acting like children in their war to impress her.
At the next game, Walt and Duffy start fighting in the stands, which leads Olivia to fall in distraction. Olivia has to get her ankle wrapped, and Coach Engborg yells at the boys and banishes them from the gym.
Hope and Melissa go to Mrs. Perfect Mary Ellen for advice on how to fix the squad. She suggests they have a party and invite everyone including Walt and Duffy and Patrick. She and Pres will go too. Of COURSE a party is the solution! Duh!
At the party, Hope and Melissa get everyone’s attention and tell them that they need to settle their differences. All they get is backlash from Sean, who points out that those two don’t have to worry about the scholarship like the rest do. Everyone starts arguing again. Olivia tells Walt and Duffy they need to stop acting like “men of the world” and go back to being themselves, or else she wants nothing to do with them. Peter storms out of the house after being insulted by Sean and yells, “Nice party!” One by one, everyone leaves. Great idea, Mary Ellen.
Peter is leaving school when he hears Stephanie call out, “Look, there goes Peter the Wimp. He’s got a nice car – and no guts.” Who talks like that? She continues to taunt him and he thinks, “That little witch!” I think he meant another word that rhymes with that one. He decides to accelerate the car and then screech to a stop in front of Stephanie, and suddenly a girl he didn’t see from Stephanie’s group is walking backwards into his path. He has to turn the wheel sharply to avoid hitting her, and the girl dives into the sidewalk. The girl fractures her wrist, and Peter gets a ticket for reckless endangerment from the police. Peter also gets suspended for three days and is banned from bringing his car to school.
The incident brings the squad together, and they all apologize and promise not to let stupid things tear them apart again (until the next book, I’m sure). Diana tries to taunt them again and say that none of them are worthy of the scholarship, but they stand up against her and tell her they’re a TEAM. So Peter almost killing someone brought them all together again. A happy ending indeed.
Sign of the Times
- The guy selling Peter the MG says he is hoping to find an ’88 model in England and ship it back to the U.S.
- Diana wears a black tube top and acid washed jean jacket and miniskirt to school, and has used pink mousse to temporarily dye one side of her hair. She gets reprimanded in the principal’s office for her “wild” and “revealing” appearance.
Author: Ann E. Steinke
Next time on Cheerleaders… When Mary Ellen and Tara are kidnapped, who will save them? Read Cheerleaders #42, FIGHTING BACK.