mustard sandwich and brown lipstick

I find it amusing that there are small details about books that stick with me. Especially with this one. I hadn’t thought about this book in a while but as soon as I started reading it all started coming back to me.

This book bothered me when I read it back in the day, but I really had no idea why. It has the requisite amount of boys and kissing, but it never left me feeling right. Rereading it, I can figure out why: Laurie, the main character, is really troubled. And it’s subtle. She has no identity of her own, and always acts just like other people want her to. And I don’t think she even did is consciously. It’s the influence of her best friend Soap, who has problems of her own.

Soap constantly gets in trouble at school, and does it to get attention from her parents, which is my Freaudian interpretation. Also, she feels like an outcast, she kind of outcasts herself. laurie, her friend since childhood always goes along with it. Laurie has no other friends than Soap, because Soap tends to isolate the two of them from everyone else. Finally, Soap gets expelled and has to enroll in Miss Pringle’s school for girls, and convinces Laurie to convince her parents to enroll her there too, which she DOES! Talk about a pushover.

Laurie meets Hilary, who is super rich and sophisticated, and takes an interest in Laurie although Laurie is not so sure she likes Hilary, but is desperate to have friends other than sope. MEMORIABLE TIDBIT #1: She is at a sleepover at Hilary’s, and Hilary thinks her pajamas are babyish, so she makes her wear one of her sexy nightgowns. The fuck? Also, she suggests she let Laurie cut her hair, which Laurie of course goes along with.

Laurie hangs out with Hilary, her boyfriend Boots, and his various douchey friends. Hilary has a makeup party at her house. MEMORABLE TIDBIT #2: She puts makeup on Laurie, which includes borwn lipstick. Laurie also puts some on her cheeks (?) borrows one of Hilary’s bras and stuffs it with tissues. When some guy sticks his tongue down her throat, she goes upstairs to the bathroom and vomits. Which is, sadly, my reaction to courtship rituals.

MEMORABLE TIDBIT #3: Laurie goes on a double date to the movies with Hilary and the douchebags, and the guy stick his tongue in Laurie’s ear. That totally freaked me out when I first read this.

Meanwhile, Soap’s father is having an affair with one of their teachers, and they cut school to spy on them. They spy on them in the park. MEMORABLE TIDBIT #4: Soap’s father brings his mistress lunch, but it’s a mustard sandwich because he didn’t have anything else to bring.

Meanwhile Laurie’s new friends are mad that she is hanging out with Soap, but Laurie ends up choosing to hang out with Soap in the end, realizing Soap is her only true friend. Is that really a happy ending? Soap still has her troubles and once again she and Laurie are social outcasts. However, Soap does recognize that her parents’ marriage trouble was affecting her, and laurie does realize that Hilary wasn’t as good a friend as she thought she was. I don’t even think Laurie has grown much. Just go with me on this, but it reminds me of  Superbad, where the impressionable Evan is codependent on Seth and feels like he missed out on other friendships because of Seth. Yes, I do believe that Superbad was, in parts, actually endearing. And pretty fucking funny.

I wish there was some sort of sequel, so I could know if Laurie was able to grow some ovaries.

20 thoughts on “mustard sandwich and brown lipstick

  1. Rio says:

    Soap? Boots? Miss Pringle? They sound like viral video characters made out of random household objects.

    “Soap’s father brings his mistress lunch, but it’s a mustard sandwich because he didn’t have anything else to bring.”

    I take it he’d never seen the inside of a supermarket?

  2. Jen S. says:

    When your married lover brings you to a public park and brings you a mustard sandwich, you have officially lost the Mistress Sweepstakes. Heartless despots who kill and imprison millions at least cough up a diamond or yacht before the thumb-hanging!

  3. tinypants says:

    Possibly brown lipstick just was a good idea in the 80s. There’s a chapter in “The Bonfire of the Vanities” called “The Girl With Brown Lipstick,” wherein the lawyer character (whose name escapes me at the moment) obsesses over a girl he sees who’s wearing brown lipstick. I don’t remember if he ever gets to stick his tongue in her ear, but he makes it sound like this ugly-ass lipstick drives him wild with desire.

  4. gnatalby says:

    Laurie goes on a double date to the movies with Hilary and the douchebags, and the guy stick his tongue in Laurie’s ear. That totally freaked me out when I first read this.

    That totally freaks me out today. Tongues in ears are the freaking grossest. When I was sixteen I had a boyfriend who used to ram his tongue into my ear, and whenever he did it I would grab his face and kiss him deeply in order to get him to stop, but unfortunately, that meant he thought I was SUPER into it and just did it more. Master of communication, I was not.

  5. Rio says:

    My boyfriend loves to do the tongue-in-ear thing to me for some reason. I don’t really mind it that much. Once you get used to it, it’s kind of hot.

  6. Malika says:

    Wasn’t brown lipstick more 90’s? I remember girls in high school wearing it and it looked like they had overdosed on kit kats.

    IHW, it’s really not surprising you found it depressing. Dweeby lead character seems to go from one shadow to the other. The ending just sees her going back to the slightly lighter shadow. Not exactly uplifting is it? A bigger pay-off would have been her moving away from both friends and developing something resembling a personality. Having said that, we’ve met a fair share of Lauries throughout our lives haven’t we?

  7. Bart_Templeton says:

    This is the first time I’v questioned the honesty of IHW’s recaps.

    Can it possibly be true that a book marketed toward MIDDLE SCHOOLERS features more sex than SVH? Tongues being stuck into ears is pretty graphically sexual…a lot more sexual, IMO, than the few piddling times Bruce laid a hand on Liz and Jess’ “breast.” Really does not belong in YA lit, if only ’cause kids will only see the grossness, and not the sexiness that Rio and her BF enjoy.

    That’s why when I read about that stalker sticking his tongue in Liz’s ear in the first SVU, I almost gagged. And I was in high school then and had 7-8 years worth of paperback romance novels under my belt.

    Malika, brown lippie was indeed very early 90s in my neck of the (U.S.) woods. People did not understand: dark brown (or its fascimiles black cherry or super-dark blackberry) lipstick on skintones lighter than Naomi Campbell’s looks a hot mess. It just does.

    [notable exception: Fairuza Balk in THE CRAFT because she was supposed to look scary and, well, because Fairuza Balk rocks].

  8. Malika says:

    Ah, you see? I the lived in the back end of Dutch nowhere, so i was surrounded by very pale girls wearing chocolate lipstick and it put me off lipstick for about a decade.

    The Craft! Now that is 90’s nostalgia! Me and my friends still reunite and watch The Craft. F- Twilight, The Craft is the real teen must-watch! I think we even tried to channel their cool-divas-walking-through-school bit in the middle after the first time we’d watched it. Which, yes, is sad. But we were 16, so that is some kind of an excuse.

  9. Bart_Templeton says:

    But when you did your cool divas walking through school bit, did two of the four of you display major “nippage” through your sheer white blouses? No?

  10. Malika says:

    We were two cool divas and two cool divos and while we did not have any major nippage we did do our serious grunge-goth look and one divo even had a dog collar on! Once again, yes, sad. hmmm, i think i’ll reserve a post for our Craft experiences. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Propagatrix says:

    “She is at a sleepover at Hilary’s, and Hilary thinks her pajamas are babyish, so she makes her wear one of her sexy nightgowns.” Shades of THE TROUBLE WITH THIRTEEN by Betty Miles!

  12. Sam says:

    I seem to recall her throwing up as a result of the Coq au Vin that Hilary’s parents served at the party (the hell? who serves that at a Junior High party, regardless of how rich you are…). Yeah, still remember parts of this book, I must have read it many times…

  13. Pokey McCord says:

    Oh god, I read that book DOG-EARED, and so help me, just reading this recap, I hear the echoes of the infamous limerick that got Soap busted at one point:

    Miss Pringle’s girls are icky,
    (a line that ends with -icky).
    (blah blah blah BLAH),
    (blah blah blah BLAH),
    They all act very cliquey.

    Sadly, that’s more than I remember of any poetry I might have learned back then. Poor Soap! I never related enough to Laurie to like her; mostly, my heart just went out to the lonely little delinquent-with-soul. And reading this, I DO remember some awkward, mustard-flavored mashing in the park that repulsed me even more than brown lipstick flecked with coq au vin vomit. Parents…. SO gross. it’s a wonder we’re ever born at all.

    Sorry to switch subjects, but did anyone (who happens to still be following this thread) read the one about MAX, the super-hot alien teenager who gets beamed down one day from Planet Peroxide (in the Pixie-Cut System) and talks local teen Randi into being her Intergalactic Host Sister? (sheesh, I got the stank-eye if I brought a stray CAT home, but whatever..) MAX wasn’t actually her name; it was some sort of acronym or abbreviation (hence the caps-lock) that MAX’s people used to identify her humanoid life form: MAXimum blonde-ness? MAXi-thin premise? Mad-cute Albino seXtraterrestial? Anyway…the main thing I remember is that there was a superbiatch at school (isn’t there always) named Desiree, and MAX – being a good little humanoid sister – helpfully outed Desiree and her cheating ways to Desiree’s faithful honey, who just happened to be the super-secret love of Randi’s (fantasy) life, too. Cue hijinks. That book taught me a valuable lesson about picking up words beyond my own experience and using them without bothering to look up the phonetics: I amused several adults that summer with my frequent, breezily nonchalant use of “clandestine” as if it rhymed with “Palestine.”

    • Pokey McCord says:

      PS – also taught me about going on context clues alone. I assumed “clandestine” had something to do with the candles, and used it as such.

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