Power Play Never Pays
For the past several weeks, I have immersed myself in the literary sloppy joe that is the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I’ve been posing a creepy half-man puppet and blue bunny in various compromising positions all over my house, and have made a groove in my dining room table from repeated head slamming. Then a beacon of light in the form of an email shone in my inbox. (The trilogy has caused the decline in my ability to write so I apologize if the previous sentence does not make a lick of sense.) Angie Z, my blogging best friend forever, asked if I’d be willing to write a guest post. I murmuringly emailed “Yes” while my inner goddess stuck a fork in an electrical socket. My subconscious brought me back to reality by snapping, “What are you going to write about, you imbecile?” Good question, subconscious, and how are we able to have this conversation? Angie Z.’s blog is about childhood while I’ve mainly been writing about a pair of feeble-minded butt plugs.
Then I got to thinking about Sweet Valley High, the one series that was able to get me away from my normal childhood schedule of 12 to 14 hours of television. I was not much of a reader, preferring to let my imagination soar by passively watching the creations of others’ imaginations. But there was something about the sun-streaked all-American perfectness of the Wakefield twins that spoke to my prepubescent heart. My once sparse bookshelf filled up with the first 35 books. I think the series is now up to 1,325,237, and last I knew Elizabeth was recently impregnated by computer sperm. Thrilling stuff.
I chose to focus on book 4, Power Play, mainly because that was the only book available at the local library.
There were a few things I remembered:
- Jessica and Elizabeth are twins
- Jessica and Elizabeth wear matching lavalieres
- In one book, Elizabeth gets kidnapped by an orangutan and falls into a coma (I may not be remembering that perfectly)
Here’s what I forgot:
- Jessica is a manic, narcissistic sociopath
- Elizabeth is a doormat
- These books suck
The story begins with fat classmate Robin Wilson’s desire to gain acceptance into the Phi Beta Alpha sorority. A high school sorority? Was that a thing in the 1980s? Weird, and apparently forgettable because I didn’t remember this at all and it is a HUGE deal to Jessica, but not to Elizabeth who cares more about the school newspaper.
How do I know Robin’s fat?
“True (Robin) was ‘a little overweight’ as her mother had said. Much more than a little, actually.” – Those are Elizabeth’s thoughts
Robin hungrily unwraps and devours a chocolate bar—not a regular sized bar, but a large one.
Elizabeth becomes “hypnotized by Robin’s rhythmic chewing” and notes the bar is disappearing quickly into Robin’s giant pie hole.
Elizabeth snaps out of her chocolate-gazing stupor and says: “‘Robin, doesn’t eating like that make you’—don’t say ‘fat’ she warned herself—‘break out?’”
Again, she is the nice twin.
Robin licks her sticky fingers and blames her weight on her metabolism while Elizabeth judges Robin in her head and thinks how the twins have to watch their diets to maintain their perfect size 6 figures.
Robin “struggle(s) to get out of the deep cushions.”
Elizabeth offers to nominate Robin for the sorority knowing her sister won’t and thinks: Why should Robin be kept out of PBA because she’s a little overweight? All right, a lot overweight.
Robin excitedly calls her mom and opens another candy bar.
Hm. I’m having a little trouble here figuring out what the author is trying to convey about Robin.
Thank you. And that’s just in chapter one.
In other chapters, Robin wears different varieties of “tent dresses.” When Elizabeth nominates Robin against Jessica’s wishes, Robin consumes an entire cherry cheesecake in fatty happiness.
Pledge week begins. Jess forces Robin to run around the track every day for a week in front of a crowd of non well-wishers. She has to wear a bikini to the beach and play volleyball. She does all these things and then her friend Jessica drops the bombshell. Robin has to get the school’s top douche Bruce Patman to invite her to the Discomarathon. Ah, the 1980s. Elizabeth coerces him by promising to write an article about his tennis prowess for the school paper.
Robin’s tent dress at the dance is “prettier. . .than usual.” Oh, that’s so sweet to think, Elizabeth. There’s a lull between Funky Town and MacArthur Park when Bruce announces, “OK, that’s it. I brought you to the dance, Tubby. But I’ve got better things to do now. Hey! Anybody want to steer the Queen Mary around the floor tonight? She’s all yours!”
“Discomarathon had become Discodisaster.” Are you Discofuckingkiddingme?
Robin cries in the girl’s bathroom and Elizabeth tries for comfort with “You’ve got a pretty face.” She initially didn’t mean it, but on closer inspection of Robin’s snot-covered visage, Elizabeth sees a glimmer of beauty encased by fat.
At the PBA vote, Robin has a black ball cast against her, effectively keeping her out of the sorority. Elizabeth knows it was Jessica, but the voting remains anonymous. Elizabeth accompanies Jessica to break the news to Robin. Robin’s face contorts into a tragedy mask, and she yells, “There’s no reason for me to go on.” She knocks over a chair on her way out because…she’s fat.
Robin is absent from school for a couple of days. When she returns, she walks the halls like a zombie and spends most of her time running on the track in a shapeless sweat suit. Elizabeth’s reporter sense begins to tingle. Something is different about Robin. She sees Robin’s lunch tray is not piled with mounds of Crisco but instead lettuce leaves, tomatoes and a hardboiled egg. A light bulb goes off over Elizabeth’s head albeit a very dim one. Robin is losing weight. No kidding. A-derp.
Robin becomes super popular because her fatness was the one thing holding her back. She tries out for cheerleading and makes co-captain with Jessica. Robin starts to talk to Elizabeth again after realizing Elizabeth doesn’t suck as hard as Jessica. Because Elizabeth is a doormat and a dopey one at that, she tries to say “Oh no, Jess would never hurt you. She’s your friend.” And Robin is all like “The fuck?”
Robin eventually wins the coveted Miss Sweet Valley High at the Football Queen Pageant. The what, now?
Jessica was her main competition and Jessica decides it’s time to invite Robin to join PBA. Robin says suck it.
So what was the message exactly?
Well played, girls.