Catching Up with the Pen Pals: Palmer dumps Simmie’s ass and then dates a townie

Ah, I’ve been neglecting our favorite boy-crazy boarding school broads. When we left off, Palmer stole Amy’s PP, Simmie Randolph tres, and evetyone forgave her for it.

I hate sports-related books. However, boys are involved, so a-okay! There’s a joint tennis tournament between the Ardsley and the girls’ school, so Palmer teams up with Simmie. However, he throws a huge shit fit when it turns out she’s better than him. So she starts playing like shit and actually loses her spot on the tennis team. Then, feminism triumphs over everyone and Palmer realizes she is being an idiot. She also thinks Simmie will ask her to the big dance (fuck, these schools have dances as much as SVH) but then he shows up with another hussy.

Other things happen, like the girls fight and Shanon has a big shit fit because they are not all getting along and her parents forgot to add the extra “n” to her name.

John and Amy write incredibly boring letters to each other, Mars continues to show signs that he has the mentaqlity of a three year old, and Rob and Lisa make sheep’s eyes at each other (as Ma Ingalls would say).

Palmer’s hair looks out of control, but she’s got the bitchface down. I wore the outfit Amy is wearing to my first day of sixth grade.

Sam the Sham, #5. Palmer needs a new pen pal, so the gals take out another ad in the newspaper. Sam writes back, and he is a cute redhead and plays in a band. Palmer and he write 2 short boring letters to each other, and suddenly Palmer is in love. However, it seems that no one at Ardsley has heard of him. The gals take a trip to the mall, and see him…GASP!…as a shoe salesman! How middle class! Apparently he dropped out of Ardsley and now goes to a local high school. Palmer runs away and Sam thinks she is a spoiled bitch, and I agree. Finally, later at another joint dance (again?) Sam’s band The Fantasy is playing and they make up.

Wow, did Pen Pals really jump the shark this early? I know the central plot is writing to boys, but it is just silliness now. I can’t stand John Adams and his dumb poetry, Mars thinking he is clever with his stupid inventions, Shanon’s “whoa is me, I’m a scholarshup girl” crying,and Palmer repeatedly acting like Jessica and Lila combined but the other girls bending over and taking it.

The best thing about the books are the outfits on the covers. They are pretty true to what the descriptions in the books are. Wow Palmer, in your closet of pricey designer clothes, you shose to wear the dress I wore to my Bat Mitzvah?

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Pen Pals #3, P.S. Forget It!

Why do these girls even put up with Palmer’s bullshit? So Palmer finally has Simmie for a pen pal, and Lisa mentions that he’s kind of a dumbass. Palmer gets her tweed slacks in a twist.

Mysteriously, Rob, Lisa’s pen pal, says he has to be away for a bit and won’t be able to write for a while. Palmer convinces her that it’s because Rob’s an ass. Finally, Lisa starts getting mushy love letters from Rob asking her to meet him somewhere. One is to go into town where he doesn’t show up, and the next one is to meet him at the boat house and he doesn’t show up, but Simmie does. it turns out that the kids at Ardsley boys school are pledging secret societies, and Simmie is pledging to be a part of the Hydraulic Dudes, so one of his tasks was to humiliate one of his roommates. If it is so secret, how come everyone knows?

Lisa finds out that Rob is really in the hospital and has an absolute shit fit, and tries to sneak out to go visit him, but their housemother Maggie Grayson finds her and feeds her cookies and enables her by not turning her in. Wouldn’t it fucking suck to be a housemother?

Finally, the school is having a Strawberry Pancake Breakfast and inviting the Ardsley boys. A Strawberry Pancake Breakfast sounds like fricking heaven to me. Maybe it’s just because I am starving right now. Simmie is dressed like Pee Wee Herman as one of his hazing sites, and Palmer is peeved to be seen with them. Lisa and Rob make lovey-dovey and he asks her to wear his pin. And Palmer gets away with her shit, yet again.

Lisa and Rob are actually a cute couple. I know, why not the snark? They seem to be pretty into each other and actually know about each other’s interests and seem to be genuinely interested in each other’s personalities. Rob is a cutie. Gross, he’s thirteen! But I’ll bet Logan Bruno couldn’t hold a torch to him.

Oh wow, chock full of outfit-y goodness. First, the cover: Lisa’s green outfit? Fantastic. And her layered scrunch socks and Bass boat shoes rock my world. Did anyone have shoes like that? You wouldn’t tie them normally, you would make little twists at the ends and have them stick out. You feel me?

For her fake date, Lisa wears mutiple colored t-shirts (?) with striped bike pants. For the breakfast, Shanon wears long, oversized Hawaiin-print shorts and a bright red sleeveless T-shirt from Lisa. Lisa borrows a silky, knee-length scarlet shirt and a pair of snug-fitting white leggings. Oh, the nineties.

Pen Pals #2: Too Cute for Words

I hope you can see this cover clearly. The girls are looking at a blow up poster of Simmie Randolph the Third, that he sent to Amy. Conceited much? If you look closely, his pose looks very similar to another iconic teen idol image.

Same pose! I don’t know why the hell I knew this. Prob because I was obsessed with Cocktail because when it came out I wasn’t allowed to see it but I saw it at a friends house anyway, and we tried to toss around paper cups.  Also, Simmie is a dick. Who sends a poster of themselves? That is such a Bruce Patman thing to do.

So Palmer see the poster and falls in LUV. She is so jealous that Amy has Simmie as a pen pal and is really bored with her current Pen Pal, John Adams, not because he shares a name with a president, but because he writes her emo poetry.

Palmer is also hanging out with a rich, snobby older girl named Germaine. (And I totally kept thinking of Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords, which would have totally made the story way more awesome.) Germaine convinces Palmer to go behind Amy’s back and steal Simmie. Palmer steals the questionnaires they had the boys fill out so she can learn Simmie’s interests. It includes:

If you were a car, what would you be? Red Jaguar, which I am getting in two years
If you were a book, what book would you be? Don’t know
Please write down your favorite subjects in school. None
Favorite food? Lobster, steak, chocolate cake
Please write down an interesting dream: I am riding my red jaguar, which I will soon own at age 16 as it has been promised to me by my father. And I am coming to a cliff. But wings grow from the tires and I start to fly.

What a peach, huh? Sounds like a future heartless frat boy. I am not sure if this was included to use this as the epitome of me of the “perfect guy” or maybe to show what a shallow alpha male he is. Sometimes I hope that the writers have some conscious and try to send good messages. But maybe I ask too much. Palmer starts sending him secret admirer letters.

Meanwhile there is a winter carnival coming up and they all invite the boys to compete with them in their favorite sport. Lisa and Rob get into a dumb fight about the abominable snowman or something. Amy is writing a song for the talent show. Palmer writes a letter to Simmie telling him to meet her in her yellow ski suit. John writes a poem and sends it to Palmer and Amy sees it and they start to collaborate on a song. Palmer encourages it because it makes her feel less guilty for stealing Amy’s pen pal. Palmer does not write to John inviting him, and he writes to ask her why, and she writes him the meanest letter evs that she is going but don’t bother looking for her. Ouch!

Meanwhile, there is a brand new “technology” that the newspaper uses to communicate with the journalism club. It’s basically instant messenger and they sneak in late at night to talk to John Adams who finally fills them in on the dirt- Simmie is all about this secret admirer and thinks Amy is telling everyone that she is his girlfriend and getting him mad.

The gals find out what Palmer has been doing and she goes out to ice skate with Amy to apologize and she falls and hurts her ankle, so she can’t go to the carnival. Bwah! Germaine ends up showing up in the yellow ski suit and tries to steal Simmie. Why is everyone all up on Simmie?

So, they all decide to forgive Palmer, although this is like the thirtieth shitty thing she does to them. I have no idea why. So, John and Amy meet and they are kind of vibing off each other. So Amy decides that switching pen pals may be a good idea. Meaning she just bends over and takes it from Palmer. They bring Palmer out to meet Simmie and all is well. Rob and Lisa make up and Mars and Shanon say dorky things to each other. The end.

Why do they put up with Palmer’s shit????

Pen Pals: Boys Wanted!

I used to have such a fetish for boarding schools. I always wished I could attend one but as a preteen I was too scared to leave home. (And after reading Prep, I am glad I did not go.) Who am I kidding? I still am kind of obsessed with boarding schools. Despite the issues of privilege and access and class. After I graduated college, I worked and taught at Phillips Academy Andover and it was so fricking awesome. I’m forgetting that it was the same place that begat our president. Anyway, you can then imagine how much I lurrrvvvved this series. Reading it again totally gave me the warm squishies and longing for boarding school.

Well, let’s get the background stuff settled. There are 4 girls in their first year of school at the Alma Stephens School for Girls in New Hampshire. They are:

  • Shanon Davis” One “n”. That always annoyed me. She’s the token scholarship girl and kind of the killjoy.
  • Lisa McGreevy- the token I don’t know what. Ordinary girl?
  • Amy Ho: the token student of color- Chinese-American and from NYC. Is funky and plays the guitar. Plays the “funky Asian” first originated by Claudia Kishi.
  • Palmer Durand: from Palm Beach, FL. What is with the name? It’s like if my parents were to name me Long Islander. Think Jessica Wakefield and Lila Fowler combined into one character.

Shanon really wants to write for the school paper. So the older editor makes her a gofer. As in, makes her sweep the floor and get coffee. And she does it. Amy tried out for chorus but gets kicked out because she can’t read music. Palmer basically hates everyone and is judgemental and bitchy. They all kvetch about being at an all-girls school and they come up with the idea of advetising for boy pen pals at Ardsley Academy, an all-boys boarding school conveniently located nearby.

Writing to boys cute idea, of course shows the age of it, because if this happened now they would be posting naked pics of themselves on myspace and meeting up in TGIF restrooms to do it. They send out an ad, calling themselves the Foxes of the Third Dimension and finally get a suite over at Ardsley who call themselves the Unknown.

They almost get in trouble with the headmistress, Miss Pryn , thinks it’s an underground sorority prank. I feel like every headmistress character is named Miss Pryn. Finally she says something like, there’s nothing wrong with some old-fashioned letter-writing. Amen!

When I first remembered these, I expected them to be kind of shallow because it revolves round boys, and yes it does, but I think the message is way better. Obviously, they are getting to know the boys and lerning about ech other’s interests and insides (not like that, you perv). The boys seem pretty cute, and seriously very mature for thirteen year olds.

ALTHOUGH reading the letters they send back and forth made me physically cringe. Well, they ARE only thirteen. John writes really bad poetry and Palmer is really mean to him. He’s a redhead with big muscles (oooooh, me likey the redheads). I pictured him as Prince Harry. Minus the nazi costume. Rob Williams is Lisa’s pen pal, and apparently he’s the athletic type. Shanon has some guy named Mars who is basically a tool. Amy gets the infamous Simmie Randolph the Third. Think Bruce Patman. But dumber.

Shanon in her letter to Mars:

P.S. If I were a flower I’d be a petunia, and if I were a piece of music I’d be “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Isn’t that a riot?

No, Shanon, it’s really not.

John sends Palmer this poem:

This arch age
Over the mushroom sky
Roars with muzzled discontent
Tricked by rates of percentage
Until we are mortgaged
Ragged souls, sons of
Energy Wasted, spilled in the
Deep Ocean, but not deep enough

And it’s an acristic for TORTURED. Someone refer this boy to the counseling center.

They all decide to send pics so they take polaroids, but Shaonon has a zit so at the last minute she sends a pic of her older sister instead. Shanon’s insecurity and low self-esteem gets old really quick. So when they realize they are having a Halloween mixer, she gets nervous and decides to dress as an astronaut she Mars can’t see her face. When they meet up he thinks Shanon is playing a joke on him, so Shanon cried and mopes some more. Whatevs.

Well, finally they make up and decide to write more. This is the start of a beautiful friendship! Until Palmer screws them over about a billion times.

Ah, now the cover. I worked hard to find a pic that had detail, because the clothing is AWESOME. Sorry, that was the best one I could find.

Firstly Palmer: what is with the look on her face? Is she weating a SILK CAPE? Next, Amy Ho, who idolized Joan Jett. Noyce leggings. Shanon has on those brown leather lace-up boots that were ALL THE RAGE I had a pair, I thought I was awesome. They are kind of hard to exlain, they were like army boots but feminine. Ok, and Lisa has a shirt with her name on it. Wha? I had one with my name in puffy paint, but I was eight. I made it at a spin-art brthday party. Plus her shoes- I SWEAR THEY ARE PUNKY BREWSTER SHOES! I had a pair. Anyone else?

They also wear a bike pants. A. Lot. At school they need to wear conservative skirts and blouses, but in their dorm they can just go crazy!

The bike pants Lisa had chosen for herself were hot pink; her bright orange turtleneck sweater decorated with hot-pink sequins was set off by a long purple muffler wrapped several times around her neck; her dark hair was swept up on one side with a pink plastic comb. Amy had traded in her clunky shoes for some black cowboy boots with gold tips; she was wearing a black body suit and a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Palmer was dressed like a naturalist in a tweed pants suit, wide-brimmed hat, rubber-soled oxfords.

Lisa is auditioning for the Ice Capades. And Palmer is 62 years old.

I am kind of jealous. A part of me wishes I went to Alma Stephens.