Penny Ayala, pathetic piece of crapa

[Cover from The Closet.]

The halls of SVH are all abuzz with the new personal ads in The Oracle. Oh, how archaic! People place personal ads and then people write letters to an anonymous mailbox. High-schoolers nowadays can place an ad on craigslist and be banging a thirty year old within the hour. Anyway, for some reason, Lynne Henry is organizing the whole thing, and she doesn’t even work for the paper. I don’t know why. One smooch from Guy Chesney and she goes from frumptress to Mary Tyler Moore.

Liz suggests that Penny place an ad and Penny gets all stand-offish, and Liz decides to pity her because Penny doesn’t have a boyfriend, and Liz is all, well, I’m awesome and I have a hot boyfriend so I should help her.  And Liz seriously won’t leave it alone, and writes endless entries in her journal about poor, pathetic, unlovable Penny. And practically puts a gun to her head to write an ad. And here is where we get to know the real Penny. No longer is she the secondary character that dumps big deadlines on Liz’s shoulders, but she’s someone who appears to be a bitch on the outside, because deep down, she just wants to be loved! Even Jeffrey thinks Liz is being annoying about it.

“Anything wrong?”

“Not really,” she said slowly. “Just someone I wish I could help, that’s all. ”

He chuckled. “The usual.”

Seriously, the gross thing about Penny is that she’s into school and writing and ambitious. My god, what a troll! This will all resolve itself when she goes off to college and meets a hot literature grad student but not having a date to the dance in Sweet Valley is akin to leprosy, so let’s all pity Penny for a moment, shall we?

Penny places an ad that tries a bit too hard, but is kind of funny and gets in equally funny response. Little does she know that who answered her ad was Neil Fremount, who hangs out with super dick Kirk Anderson. And we know Kirk is a dick because he drives a Trans Am. They answer the ad as Jamie, as a goof. They make plans to meet at the mall so they can see the gal show up and see what she looks like. And hence we get one of the first covers from Jimmy where the characters are not posing for a Sears portrait studio. That’s Penny, in the mall bookstore, annoyed that Jamie is late, and wearing her red headband to let him know that it is her.

The guys show up, laugh that it is Penny and tell Neil that she will make him write term papers for her. Seriously though? That seems way more exciting than stuffing my face with cheeseburgers and going to the Beach Disco every five minutes. Meanwhile, it started as a joke, but Neil has really started to feel something! And he’s gone out with lots of pretty girls (ahem, Jessica) but finds them boring. He likes Penny’s sass and brains.

Penny gets upset and Neil finally stands up to his dick friends and he and Penny meet at the Dairi Burger for some cutesy flirting. All is resolved. And Penny has a date to the dance! Phew! I thought she’s have to spend all weekend at home studying for the SATs. Thank god she was saved for that.

Meanwhile, Jessica and Lila have a wager over who can attract the best guy with their personal ad. Jessica meets one guy, Paulo, who she can’t even deal with because he’s overweight. Jessica makes up a story about how she has a deadly disease (Mono? MS?) and gets headaches. Paulo, the bumbling fat idiot thinks she’s really brave. Then she meets a totally hot college guy who wants to know all about her. Turns out it’s the same guy that Lila has met as well. Turns out that he is a student doing a sociology project on girls who place personal ads. So Jessica is made an ass of, which was nice.  Why in the holy hell are college students answering ads placed in a high school newspaper?

Here is Jessica’s ad:

Are you devastatingly handsome? Are romantic and wild? Do you like girls who aren’t afraid of danger? Are you the type of guy who goes for what he wants? Are you in college? If you answered yes to all the above questions, drop me a line. I’ve been looking for you.

That sounds like an open invitation for someone to kidnap her and feed her frozen pancakes.

26 thoughts on “Penny Ayala, pathetic piece of crapa

  1. Rio says:

    SVH Cliché #1: Liz falls all over herself trying to be the life coach of someone who falls under the very generous umbrella of “pathetic” (fat, unattractive, single, divorced parents, poor, etc., etc.), but still has brains and talent, which rank, of course, much lower on the importance scale around the joint.

    SVH Cliché #2: A douchey guy decides to make a girl’s life miserable for no apparent reason. Then he falls in love with her and a new couple forms.

    SVH Cliché #3: Another goddamn school dance.

    SVH Cliché #4: Jessica and Lila get competitive over a guy who turns out to see them both for what they really are. (Do I need to say what?)

    SVH Cliché #5: The school is overtaken by an allegedly awesome new trend, which people in real life generally consider lame.

    SVH Cliché #6: Liz doesn’t have sex with her boyfriend.

    SVH Cliché #7: The cover picture features a girl dressed in an outfit you wore in the 90’s and deeply regretted (and possibly burned) later.

    SVH Cliché #8: Headbands, lots of headbands.

  2. Jen S. says:

    Penny looks like a superpissed soccer mom on the cover. “Where the HELL is Jayden?? I told him to meet me here at four and it is FOUR FIFTEEN! There is so no Knight Rider for him tonight!”

    I really remember this one and read it many times (hangs head in shame). I did like that in the end she and Neil agreed on one date and had a brief kiss, rather than pledging their love for each other and running off to underage marry.

    Jessica’s ad sounds like it would attract every sleaze in Southern California. Luckily they would all be repelled by the superforcefield that surrounds SVU and keeps out undesirables until Liz is ready to lead them to the light.

  3. Malika says:

    Jessica’s ad = Guffaw! Beyond the valley of the cheap!

    Is it just me or does cover Penny look just like under age marrying Cara in the last dairi burger entry! Did Mandy Moore’s big sister moonlight as a model for the cover artist? And unless you’re Blair please don’t bother with the headbands once you’ve passed your ninth birthday.

  4. Amber Tan says:

    ZOMG! I totes had the same baggy tweed pants with the belt!

    “We know Kirk is a dick because he drives a Trans Am.”

    Just had to see that again…

    And the SVH cliché list is pure genius, ihatewheat. 🙂

  5. Regina Sorrow says:

    “That’s Penny, in the mall bookstore, annoyed that Jamie is late, and wearing her red headband to let him know that it is her.”

    Somehow I remember the cover of this book as being Penny photocopying something in the oracle office; I can see it so clearly in my head!

    Look at the books on the display behind Penny. One of them is called “Monkey Mania” and another is a church-style pamphlet simply entitled, “Poems”

    Prolly about Jesus.

  6. tinypants says:

    “High-schoolers nowadays can place an ad on craigslist and be banging a thirty year old within the hour.” = LMAO. If/when the “new” Sweet Valley books reach #39, this may well be the plot.

    I almost feel like I should re-read this one though for the sociology shout-out — and if I can go all nerd on you for a second, mention that yes, a college student finding subjects for anything legit via a high school newspaper would nevvvver happen — institutional review boards consider under-18s to be a “vulnerable population,” so I don’t think they’d approve this project, which this guy probably titled “Operation Get-Me-Some” (if I can just go ahead and toss a Venture Brothers reference in there too).

  7. Amber Tan says:

    “Why in the holy hell are college students answering ads placed in a high school newspaper?”

    It’s probably one of Steven Wakefield’s frat buddies. 😉

  8. BartTempleton says:

    “Penny looks like a superpissed soccer mom on the cover. “Where the HELL is Jayden?? ”

    LMAO, Jen S.

    How is it that I’ve neither read nor seen this SVH before? Somehow, the books featuring the least significant characters never made it onto my radar. I must have been born with a truth-honing sensor: only the Wakefileds are worth reading about.

  9. Tannaqui says:

    Tbh, this seems like one of the better ones.

    I like that she looks pissed off, and not sad and ashamed that she is:
    a) a brunette
    b) alone
    c) not a wakefield.

    And there’s a slight Molly Ringwald resemblence…

    God, Liz needs an intervention to stop her interfering in other people’s lives.

  10. BartTempleton says:

    Hey, speaking of 80s vintage: Does anyone know if in the late 80s, Billabong jackets were popular around the U.S.? I grew up in a coastal surf town, so I always figured it was a Florida/Cali (and possibly Hawaii) thing, but now I wonder if it was popular everywhere. (Same goes for Shark watches and Body Glove tee-shirts). These things were omnipresent to the point of saturation (the way, say, Uggs, big Chanel sunglasses, and LouisVitton-esque bags are for the teens of today).

    Actually, it’s safe to say you were nothing without a Billabong and Shark; you merited Liz’s pity.

  11. Cat says:

    I grew up in Hawaii and I remember Billabong and Body Glove! However, I do not remember Shark watches. Does that mean I merit Liz’s pity?

    Tannaqui, I see the Molly Ringwald resemblance, too. I wonder if Mathewuse used her as a cover model?

  12. BartTempleton says:

    No Shark watch? Look, just face it, Cat: if Liz had grown up with you in Hawai’i (I just shuddered), you would have been on the well-dogeared, tearstained page of her journal that lists her human projects.

    I genuinely am not seeing the Molly Ringwald everyone is seeing lately on the covers. Though I a

  13. BartTempleton says:

    Oops–I meant to say though I DO see the Mandy Moore effect in last post’s Cara Walker, though Cara looks like the Stepford/android version of MM. I always liked Mandy’s flat, wide face. Her music makes me gnash my teeth, however.

  14. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    I remember this book distinctly. I may have read it…quite a lot…as the idea of personals ads (there was a Baby Sitters Club book with the same plot) seemed really appealing for some reason. I think you described Penny’s ad perfectly, ihatewheat.

    This book seriously reinforces some weird SVH stuff, you know, fat = bad, single = death, college age guys = fair game for sixteen year old girls…

  15. Tannaqui says:

    You could be right, Cat!

    I remember Billabong, in fact I still see it all the time as I live by the beach in Western Australia ^_^

  16. Vanessa Saxton says:

    I can see the Molly Ringwald resemblance but I always thought Penny looked like Terri from that movie Just One of the Guys (Joyce Hyser). I can’t find any good pictures of her on the ‘net but I remember back in the 80’s thinking this.

  17. R. G. Quimby says:

    Didn’t Jess learn her lesson with college-age guys in that one book, “All Night Long,” where the guy on the cover had a mustache and looked like Freddy Mercury?

    There’s actually a Sweet Valley Twins book (when the girls are about 12) where Jessica picks up a 16-year-old guy. Gross, yes, but also… Naughty!

  18. Allison says:

    Sweet Valley needs more stringent rules on statutory rape. It seems like college guys are always trolling for underage girls int his town.

  19. 88keys says:

    Bart- I remember wearing Billabong t-shirts in the mid to late ’90’s. I live in the middle of the U.S., so we may have been behind the times.

  20. Lara says:

    I love the cover, especially the lame book covers… I *do* have a book called Monkeemania, ha.
    As someone who actually *does* have chronic headaches, I couldn’t help but write “FUCK YOU” in the book when Jessica said “I’ve been kind of an invalid my whole life” to get out of dating (gasp!) a chubby guy. KILL! *Why* is she such a sociopath???

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