Deep dish pizza with peppers, mushrooms and onions, or Taffy Sinclair and the Romance Machine Disaster

I read the shit out of this one when I was younger. I don’t know what I enjoyed so much. Maybe it was the sexual tension between Jana and Randy Kirwan.

I couldn’t find a pic of the cover, which is too bad because Randy Kirwan looks great. He is wearing a members only jacket, rully tight jeans, and his hair is slicked back.

At the end of the last book, whichever it was, Randy asks Jana out on a date to hang out and get pizza after his football game. (The elementary school has a football team, I guess). Jana is of course super excited, proabably more so because of all the attention she is getting from the other kids more than going out with Randy. So they go out and the date is pretty cute I guess. They talk about stuff they like to do for fun and about school. Taffy is super jealous and glares at them the whole time. ‘Sokay, Taff, you’re better than that! Pay no mind to Jana!

So the next day at school, Wiggins (the teacher) announces that they are starting a unit on computers. Ah, the eighties! I remember when we did our unit on computers. I loaded a cassette for eight hours into the computer so I could get a green screen and write my name. Okay, so a major pet peeve of mine is misrepresenting computers and technology. Like in a movie where the screen flashes and has unrealistic commands. [See Mission Imposible  for the most egregious violation. Enter “jam security sytem” and then press “enter”.] “For this experiment, you will each fill out a questionnaire about things you like and dislike. Then I will feed your answers into the big computer in the principal’s office . This afternoon, right after lunch, you will each get a personal reply from the computer. It will tell you which boy and which girl in this class you have the most in common with.”

First of all,

How is this allowed? A teacher pimping out their sixth-grade students to each other?

How in the hell will this work? The kids fill out essay questions and then they are simply fed into the computer? Is there handwriting recognition software? Don’t all the answers need to be coded? I can see if it was clearly scantron, but come on people.

How does this teach kids about computers? I smell a lawsuit from some kid’s parents who are matched up with creepy kids. Of course, you wouldn’t believe the shit schools did in the 80s. In first grade we had to dress up like pilgrims and Indians.

Meanwhile, Jana of course wants to match up with Randy, so she answers the questionnaire based on what Randy’s answers are. Nice. Give up your own interests and just pretend they are what the boy’s is.

Well, Wiggins, don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Most of the girls matched up with Randy, and he gets so embarassed he doesn’t want to say who his girl match it. Everyone gets mad at Jana because the boys follow his lead and won’t tell who their matches are. It’s kind of unfair, but is nice to see Jana get a kick in the ass. So Randy starts getting really conceited about all the attention and Jana gets mad at him for it. She even leads a semi-demonstration with the girls in the class where they stand in the playground and yell “BOYS ARE JERKS! GIRLS ON STRIKE!” Meaning, they go on strike from helping the boys out or lending them paper or pencils. Jana’s a regular Rosie the Riveter.

They go to another football game and Randy gets hurt and Jana gets all concerned and decides to forgive Randy. They sit together and then walk home together, and Randy reveals that he matched up with Jana (uh, obvs because Jana filled out the thing exactly how she thought she should answer) . And then he kisses her. On the lips! The end. Of course, any ending is wrapped up with a kiss, because that is the ultimate happy ending, right? Vomit.

Also, other stuff:

Melanie matched up with Taffy Sinclair for a friend. This is foreshadowing for when they become friends during their modeling class and Taffy teacher her to be bulimic. That one was awesome, I don’t have a copy of that one but I plan to.

Katie Shannon gets “Computer Error #14” for her boy matchup. Apparently because she’s a feminist and all feminists either hate men or don’t deserve a man. Great.

To the football game, Taffy wears lavendar pants and white rabbit fur coat. Um, glamorous?

I think I knew why I loved this book so much. I wish that I was involved in high drama in elementary school. My life was just not exciting. I mean, I loved school and learning long division, but never this type of drama. Here’s something I can’t believe I am admitting. I used to write “fanfiction” about the popular kids in my class. Meaning, I’d write stories with me and them as the characters, as if we interacted. I recently found these in the attic of my parents’ house and thankfully burned them.

29 thoughts on “Deep dish pizza with peppers, mushrooms and onions, or Taffy Sinclair and the Romance Machine Disaster

  1. Shannon River says:

    AHA! Now these books are starting to jog my memory. I knew there was some kind of book out there that I read where they went on a date with that kind of pizza and had a match making situation. And it was in a series, but I didn’t know how to figure out which series.

    Ok, now I must go find these books and reread them for myself!

  2. megan says:

    hehe we did that computer match up thing! I was matched with some popular guy, and my best guy friend was put on the not a match section and it made me sad lol.

    Cept that was in middle school, not Elm school and the teachers didn’t do it, but I forget who did. I think it was a scantron, because I can’t remember how else they would have done it.

  3. laural says:

    HAHAHAHA. To the fan fic comment. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I’m tempted to retrieve mh SVH collection from my attic and relive my tortured childhood.

  4. cnester says:

    LOVED this one. I totally remember the cover, and Randy was pimpin’ with his slicked back hair. I remember Jana looking pretty on this cover. One of the few times I thought she was actually deserving of Randy’s attention.

  5. Tiny Pants says:

    I remember seeing these books but I don’t think I ever read them. I did read whatever that series was with the other characters though — the name Jana almost jogged my memory, but then as soon as I hit Katie Shannon I immediately thought “Red haired! Really judgmental!” I feel like in the series I’m remembering they were middle school-aged, and known as the Fabulous Five — ahhh, this is why I love this blog.

  6. Annie says:

    I ABSOLUTELY loved this book, and I’m so glad that you covered it because I had forgotten about the whole computer match-up and “Boys are jerks” thing. Holy crap. Now I really want to read it.

    I’m still kinda confused about the whole bicuspid thing..

  7. southcitysadie says:

    We did a school-sponsored computer match-up in junior high. I think it cost $1/person, which was about 1/100,000 of the emotional damage caused by the results.

  8. Abby says:

    Annie– Taffy had a crooked bicuspid tooth, and it was the one flaw in her appearance. Jana makes a lot of references to Taffy smiling or laughing in a certain way to conceal it, or forgetting to do so and then getting upset that she had exposed her crooked bicuspid. Lame.

    Jana mentioned Taffy’s crooked bicuspid almost as much as she mentioned Randy’s stupid 1,000 watt smile or Jana’s poison-dart looks. Also, at one point when I was reading the Romance Machine Disaster, I started keeping track of how many times Jana said she was so happy (or angry, or sad, or whatever, some feeling) that she could just die. Jana didn’t need a romance machine– she needed a thesaurus.

  9. ihatewheat says:

    “I started keeping track of how many times Jana said she was so happy (or angry, or sad, or whatever, some feeling) that she could just die.”

    WOOOORRRRDDD!!! I forgot to mention this but she always says this.

  10. Eli says:

    Oh, a Members Only Jacket. Sexxay!

    We also did the whole computer matchup thing, but it was in high school, not junior high. The one dude who was actually “out” in our class at the time listed his sex as female so he’d get matched up with the boys in our class, and of course being 15 year old Midwestern homophobes, they were so skeeved out by it. Of course, at least 20 of them came out after HS graduation, so maybe it had some basis in reality…

  11. WickedWonder says:

    I totally wrote fanfic about my classmates too! Of course, they were set in the ‘future’ and featured our children, which we all had with each other, being codependent and all. I thought I was the only one that did that!
    Ah, Jana. I really liked these books as a child, now, not so much.

  12. Lucy Honeychurch says:

    We did this in high school. It was called DataMatch, if I remember correctly. The people who ran that program should have been prosecuted.

  13. MaggieCat says:

    They made us do this in middle and high school too, around Valentine’s Day every year. Because it’s just a great way to spend class time and emotionally scar large portions of the student body all in one fell swoop.

    Just when I’d almost managed to repress those memories…

  14. Jeaniy says:

    God, we did the same Data Match thing in high school. I agree–the inventors should have to pay up for the extensive emotional trauma inflicted on teenagers across America.

  15. Amber Tan says:

    OMG, I totally remember reading this and being confused by the whole officially sanctioned match-making sitch. I attended Catholic school 5th grade through high school and DataMatch was most definitely *not* part of the curriculum.

    But we did have a “computer unit” similar to what ihatewheat describes.

    “Jana didn’t need a romance machine– she needed a thesaurus.”

    LOL — good one, Abby! 🙂

  16. Redstar says:

    I remember this one, and that pizza – and the 1,000 watt smile and poison-dart looks!!!! You and this site are genius.

    I am crying laughing over the “fanfic” of the popular kids. I, on the other hand, spent HOURS in middle school creating a fake life for my friends and me, oriented around what I thought was the most glamorous road in our town, Hollingsworth Rd – it had a center divide w/trees and big colonials up and down it, and was in the “nice” part of my side of town. (Foreshadowing my current urban planning grad program much?????) But while I spent endless time on figuring out who lived in which house, the relationships b/w us all, and even the house design, all these details, details, details, I never wrote an actual story.

    Christ, I was Francine Pascal. All I needed was the ghost writers……

  17. bella says:

    Hilarious entry as always, another book I never read…

    We had to dress up like Pilgrims and Indians in the second grade (which was ’96, so politically correctness had not made its way to schools then either) . . .I wanted to be an Indian but my teacher said I couldn’t be because I was blonde.

    Just something unpc I felt the need to share

  18. Kristin says:

    Ohhh my god, Taffy Sinclair!! Could there be a more 80s name? I am pretty sure I read this one as a kid. This site is rocking my face off.

  19. Melody Powers says:

    You and I are so alike its frickin scary. I loved these books – well not the Taffy Sinclair ones so much as the Fab Five. And I too wanted to be “popular” – I didn’t write fanfic but I did write pretend notes to my popular friends, so my parents would find them and think I was well-liked at school.

    …Yeah. I had parental issues.

    I love your blog. Really, its awesome. Thanks!

  20. Mary-Anne's Braids says:

    Ok everyone please dont jump all over me for asking… but how did the datamatch profram cause emotional turmoil for you? I am asking because I am in the PTA at my sons school and they are considering doing this for a fundraiser and Id like to be able to give a well-informed opinion durin voting – and if I am convinced its not good for the childrens emotional health, then I’d like to speak about why. Can someone please explain (nicely) why they find this program so harmful?

  21. Jade Wu's Toe Shoe says:

    Mary-Anne, in my humble opinion, children – even young teens – should NOT be involved in any kind of “personality match-up program” that has “potential romance” undertones.

    Not to mention that it’s extremely embarassing to be a twelve year-old who:
    a) doesn’t get matched up with anyone and therefore ends up feeling like a freak of nature b) gets matched up with another student who doesn’t like them, and proceeds to humilate them by proclaiming how they don’t like them, can’t believe they matched up with them, etc.

    Just my two cents . . .

  22. Sexy Sadie says:

    Remember the scene in this one where Jana goes into the ladies’ room at Mamma Mia’s and the other girls in her class are there asking her about her date with Randy?

  23. Krysten says:

    We did the computer generated match thing and I put answers that I thought would match up w/the guy I liked, but he didn’t fill one out, so I matched with this scary guy (think Bruce Patnum as a date rapist with no soul) as my number 1 match. So the next year I take the thing again and I fill it out w/my own answers & I still get scary guy as my #1 match.

  24. Lilli says:

    Hehe. And to think I sympathized with Jana at first! Maybe because I pretty much was Jana in grade school. I ruled an evil biotchy club too. But, now I see the error in my ways. And shall put my two cents in:

    Okay, Taffy was on the cover of this one, and looked awful, just like all the covers, except for TS Strikes Back. And shes supposed to be super pretty. Stupid artist.

    OMG, we did one of those stupid computer matchups! And I matched up with this one guy who wasnt the cutest in the world, but we ended up dating for a while. But I thought that Katie’s boy match up was stupid. Thank God she gets a boyfriend in FF!

    BTW I too read this one a million times. I guess the date and the kiss made it my fave. But, damn, kissing at 11! That was pure slutty back when I was a kid! Maybe we were all underdevoloped freaks of nature.

  25. CNJ says:

    Yeah, the whole Jana/Randy pairup was funny in its lameness. Already in 6th grade and at 11, they were acting like a married couple fused at the hip. Talk about unrealistic; when I was in 6th and 7th grade, many of my friends still played with dolls and tinker toys and we had our crushes, but no one was acting married like Jana and Randy.

    Thank Saturn for the BSC series; I love that even though the BSC girls had their share of NORMAL middle-school crushes, they were NOT all paired off like the Fab Five girls were by 7th grade.

  26. Prentiss says:

    RE: Jana needing a thesaurus
    I got sick of how she always, always described Randy as being the “kindest most sincere guy ever”

    • CNJ says:

      YESSS!!!! Me too! And Randy really wasn’t all that kind or sincere. Randy was actually kind of snobby and vain and shallow.

      Tony Calcaterra was MUCH better; he was the true sweetheart of all the guys in the series.

      I kind of laugh because as the Fab Five series went on, but midway thru their 7th grade year, it was a matter of the girls being glued to their guys. Except maybe Katie; Katie and Tony were one of the few couples that didn’t act married at age 12/13.

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