Perfect Size Six

August 14, 2010

#11 Too Good To Be True (or Bitches, Tramps, and Thieves)

“Is Suzanne as perfect as she seems?”

You know this is going to be awesome from the cover alone because Elizabeth is pulling the most intense bitch face ever. I wish Suzanne was doing something other than checking herself out (like maybe directing a good sneer or grimace at Saint Liz).

So it’s finally spring break at Sweet Valley High (the first of many), and for the next two weeks, Jessica is going to swap lives with the glamorous, angelic, beatific, altogether superlative  Suzanne Devlin from New York City. (Devlin/devil –subtle, SVH ghostwriter)

While Jessica is presumably terrorizing the upper west side, Suzanne is casting a spell over Sweet Valley. (Jessica, who?) Besides being Brooke Shields beautiful, she seems to be bordering on sainthood. She’s varnishing canoes with Stephen, scrubbing down Wakefield manor, making breakfast for the whole family, and humoring her many suitors.  Yes, Suzy has attracted the attention of four of Sweet Valley’s most eligible bachelors: Aaron “anger issues” Dallas, Tom “maybe gay” Mckay, Winston “borderline stalker” Egbert, and Bruce “date-rape” Patman. Decisions, decisions, Suzy Q.

At some point, totally out of the blue, Suzanne reveals in a dramatic inner monologue that she is a mean-spirited klepto! Unlike Lila who was ripping off jewelry/acessories from some anonymous mall outfit,  Suzanne steals from Elizabeth friggin’ Wakefield (her iconic lavaliere, no less). (I always thought that lavaliere was fug anyway. On the cover, it looks like  a golden dangling phallus, which is not cute.) What is it with these rich bitches and their sudden attacks of thievery? I guess this was cutting edge, before Winona Ryder and her Saks shenanigans. I’m sure you can see the moral of the story coming from a mile away. Money can’t buy you happiness or love or parents who give a damn. Sage, Sweet  Valley.

The only person who seems immune to Suzanne’s charm is Mr. Collins. That, of course, is a huge turn on for her. At the class picnic, Suzanne pretends to drown, so Mr. Collins, who is chaperoning/ lifeguarding will come rescue her. This is the first step in her multi-level, get-her-man plan. Mr. Collins somehow senses right away that something is rotten in Sweet Valley. I’m sure he’s used to the female students of SVH throwing metaphorical panties at him everyday, so he starts connecting the dots.

Later, Liz, Todd, and Suzy go over to Mr. Collins’ house to drop some papers off. Suzy convinces them to stay in the car, so she can have some quality seduction time with our favorite English teacher. Freudian hijinks ensue…..

“Mr. Collins was standing out on the lawn watering the shrubbery. Quietly she crept up behind him, a low, mischievous laugh escaping her. Mr. Collins whipped about in surprise, nearly dropping the hose.

Seriously, hoses are being “whipped about” in Suzanne’s presence. Then, she takes a sloppy drink from his hose, and it’s like a PG-rated wet t-shirt contest.

I remember reading that chapter over and over, just fascinated by this overt sexuality. I was really, really sheltered growing up. I went to parochial school, and I never had Sex Ed or even a basic biology class in school. I found out what a period was from Sweet Valley Twins. My fourth-grade girl scout troop took us on a field trip to Tampa General Hospital, where we watched a video about becoming a woman. That was officially it for me for sex ed. Thank God for HBO and Skinemax, or I would have experienced some real embarassment.

When I was 16-ish, my (gay male) best friend and I befriended a girl who didn’t even have the luxury of sex ed vis a vis HBO/Skinemax. One day, she asked my BFF where her vagina was/is. You know you live in a repressed society when a gay dude is having to inform you where your vagina is.

But I digress. Mr. Collins dismisses Suzanne, but there’s some blushing and flushing on his part that gives Suzy hope that she can eventually play out her seduction scene. Her next opportunity comes when she goes to his house to baby-sit (in place of Elizabeth). He rebuffs her again, so she decides to tell everyone he attacked her. Seriously, how many books can we go without mention of some sort of male predation/ date rape?

It seems like everyone at Sweet Valley High has jumped on the “Collins is a creeper” band wagon. Even Elizabeth is torn. Et tu, Liz.

True Story: When I was in high school, my 10th grade English teacher was dating a student. (they later moved in together, while she was still a sophomore. Her mom was also a teacher at our school. Awkward) Anyway, the first thing I said when I heard this was, “Dude, that’s so lecherous….” I think I was channeling this book.

“‘Well, I believe it,’ said Cara, who was passing out sodas. ‘I’ve always thought he was the lecherous type. I’ve caught him looking at me more than once. Besides, he gave me a D on my last English essay.'”

“‘Mr. Collins! What did that lecherous creep tell you?'”

Luckily, Liz discovers that Suzy had stolen her lavaliere , so that must mean that Suzy is lying about Mr. Collins too. After a visit with Mr. Collins to sort everything out, Liz prepares for a showdown with Suzy at Lila’s party.

Liz confronts her about the stolen necklace first (obviously because the lavaliere is more important than Mr. Collins). Suzy denies it, of course, but mysteriously confesses all when Liz calls her a liar. (This is what I like to call the Murder-She-Wrote ending, because at the end of every episode of that show, Angela Landsbury would confront the killer with non-existent evidence, and said murderer would describe how they committed the crime, to the very last detail—thus, ensuring their downfall.) Liz vows to expose Suzanne for the liar she is, but Suzy is a force to be reckoned with. Before Liz can say anything, Suzy starts spreading a rumor that Liz hit her head in the pool and is acting all cray-zay, like when she was in the motorcycle accident.  That was especially devilish of you, Suzanne. You would have been my new hero if you could have taken out Mr. Collins and Liz within the span of one book.

Luckily, Winston heard Suzy’s confession, so he figures that he can expose her treachery by spilling a drink on her. (????) And it works, crazily enough. When Winston soils her, Suzy loses her cool and berates him. (If some idiot who had been stalking/harassing me for two weeks had ruined my white, Halston dress, I probably would have gone batshit crazy too.) Because of  Suzy’s momentary flash of bitchiness, everyone decides that she must be lying. This is the sort of black/white dichotomized world of false conditionals that Sweet Valley is built upon. And yet I still read. What does that say about me?

On the bright side, Suzy doesn’t have an epiphany and drink the Sweet-Valley-High, bad-girl-reformed Kool-Aid. (She will eventually, but that’s another story, a special edition called Special Christmas.) I don’t understand why Suzanne didn’t just embrace her bitchiness from the beginning, anyway. She wastes so much time and energy trying to get into the good graces of people she doesn’t give a shit about. In the end, she sort of just disappears, and we get Jessica back. Joy.

Jessica’s been co-headlining throughout with her NYC adventures. I feel like the entire book was pushing this small-town, middle-class morality while critiquing the big city and its resident bitches and tramps (post-structuralist, Marxist essay is forming in my head).

Anyway, Jessica has fallen for Suzanne’s older boyfriend, Pete. Jess obviously doesn’t remember what happened the last time she tried to hook up with an age-inappropriate man (i.e. Scott “Pornstache” Daniels in #5 All Night Long). Can wine coolers and bennies ever be far behind?

At first, Pete shows no interest at all, which only fans her flirtatious flame. Finally, he kisses her, which she is into until she realizes that he wants to do more than kiss. Cue the attempted date-rape. It’s actually a fairly threatening scene. There’s this sense that Pete is trying to teach her a lesson, that she can’t swim with the sharks or that she needs to go back to the kiddie pool of Sweet Valley. While Pete and Jess are in mid-grapple, the Devlins arrive at home for the night. Phew! Every few books, there seems to be a losing-virginity-by-force scare. Hmmm.

Perfect Size Six moment: “(Suzanne) was flawlessly proportioned, with legs that seemed to go on forever, and not an ounce of fat anywhere. Suddenly, Elizabeth felt self-conscious about her own lovely size-six figure.” If perfect-size-six Elizabeth Wakefield is feeling like a heifer, we should all just kill ourselves now.

My real-life advice to fictional authority figures: Students are not your friends. It bugs me every time Liz says that she and Mr. Collins are “close friends” (hence my often used tag, “Mr. Collins is inappropriate”). It’s not okay for students to pop over to your house. They shouldn’t even know where you live.

Nerdy English major moment: “‘Remember that book we all had to read in tenth-grade English – East of Eden? There was that beautiful girl, Cathy, who everyone thought was so sweet and wonderful.’

Elizabeth shivered as if caught in a sudden draft. She remembered the book well. It was one of her favorites.

‘And underneath Cathy was really rotten to the core,’ she finished for Todd. She wraped her arms around herself in an attempt to stop shivering. ‘But that was just a book. If someone was really like that, you’d know wouldn’t you?'”

lols at Todd for comparing Suzanne to a multiple murderer/ prostitute/ blackmailer/ brothel madame. He might want to reserve this judgement for when he actually meets a 16-year-old psycho path (oh hai, Margo)

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