Nobody Likes Betsy Hanes, if she really did write this.

And at least I’ve reached the last of the Taffy Sinclair series. Mind you, this one overlaps with the Fabulous Five series. And let’s just assume that at this point, Bets just handed over a pen to a lowly editorial intern to write this one. I refuse to live in a world where Betsy Haynes produces this garbage. It’s like…a Sweet Valley High book.

To refresh your memory, Taffy just got back from Hollywood where she was filming a tv movie. She’s back in good ol’ Bridgeport, CT but it’s just so hard to adjust! I mean, she’s been to Hollywood! And no one understands what it’s like! She’s really not making it easy to adjust when she joins the video club at school and scoffs at everyone when they don’t know what “blocking” means. And no one believes that she’s friends with Raven Blaine!

Rumor has it that No One Likes Tiffany Stafford is going to be picked up as a tv series. Meanwhile, Taffy tries to adjust to life with her bff, Shawnie Pendergast, who made a new friend whiles she was away. The gal sings in a band, and Taffy plots to take over so she will be in the band. But, meanwhile, her movie is picked up for a tv series, and she has to leave to go back to Hollywood anyway. Ok…the point?

I don’t have anything clever for this one. Except that maybe it was a reject in the Taffy fanfiction contest.

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Did I write this book?

For real,I am doubtful that Betsey Haynes actually wrote this one herself. I think that one of my attempts at writing teen romance somehow got into the hands of publishers and was published under her names. I’ve mentioned my other series about teen models on a shoot together on a cruise? [Apparently in my young life I thought a cruise was the epitome of glamor.] Also, if this is Bets’ idea of Hollywood than…yikes, Bets. You should get out more.

So this is when Taf is in seventh grade, happening concurrently with the Fabulous Five series. She’s got gotten her big break- a role in a made-for-tv-movie! She’s sad to leave her besty, Shawnie Pendergast, and her new boyfriend, but seriously, how can she give up this opportunity! This part was MADE for her! She will play the role of Tiffany Stafford! A girl who is the victim of girl bullying by a clique led by Jillian Morris! Except that Tiffany finally wins them over in the end. Wow, sounds like a riveting plot. Wait a minute…Taffy Sinclair…Tiffany Stafford…Jillian Morris…Jana Morgan …those names are almost the same! It’s like the movie WAS WRITTEN ABOUT HER LIFE!

Taffy arrives in Hollywood and gets the star treatment. A limo, fancy hotel, and then a big fancy party at the director’s swanky mansion. And the director is Jerry Lowenthal, obviously a Jew. Nice stereotyping. She befriends Tess, who is fifteen, but looks like an eight year old and plays the little sister in the movie. Um, okay? Paige, who plays the nemesis Jillian Morris, hates Taffy because she wanted the main role. You see, Paige is a former child star who is looking for her big break. So, Taffy needs to win over Paige, just like in the movie, and just like her real life. THIS WORKS ON SO MANY LEVELS! Finally, there’s Raven Blaine, the seventeen-year old teen idol who plays the love interest in the movie. Who secretly is in love with Taffy but is too shy to let her know. Blaine, who is seventeen and drives a Porsche and has his own house in the Hollywood Hills, is in love with 12-year-old Taffy. Nice one.

The reason I say I wrote this is because not much in the book advances, the ahem, plot, but more describes various aspects of being in a Hollywood movie that my ten year old self would imagine. The gals all hang out in their trailer and gossip, and have to do schoolwork on the set. When they cast goes out and hangs out, Raven needs to go in disguise himself to block the fan pandemonium. I’m also pretty sure they film the movie in chronological order. The only realistic thing is that Taffy’s mother is on the set with her, for which she is embarrassed about. At least child labor laws are in effect.

Something like this movie would in reality be the subject of a Lifetime movie starring Meredith Baxter Birney. But those are filmed at some soundstage in Canada, and not quite with all the hoopla surrounding this movie. Then again, it could be a made-for-tv Disney movie where they break out into song and then the starlets later accidentally leak naked pictures of themselves online. Then I guess this movie could be a big deal.

But let’s talk about more important things, likie this cover. I am pretty sure the model for the cover is the same girl who plays Stacey in the Baby-Sitters Club videos. The fact that I know this makes me hate myself.  And that outfit! I had the same one. Except that it was red with black spatter paint design on it. I got it and wore it through the Bat Mitzvah season.  I think with a black turtleneck underneath. Sometimes I just wore the vest over a HUGE button down shirt and leggings. What designer ever thougtht that having a skirt that was tight over the abdomen and then flared out would ever be flattering?

Oh Taffy, you don’t have to buy your friends.

Continuing on with our favorite crooked-bicuspid blonde.

BLACKMAILED BY TAFFY SINCLAIR

In this one, Jana gets blackmailed by Taffy. I know right? Totally unexpected. Jana finds Wiggins’ wallet in the girl’s room and Taffy sees her. She makes Jana do her homework for her and then even sit with her in the cafeteria and walk around with her. In a sick way to maybe make Jana her friend. Turns out Mona Vaughn stole the money to buy a new sweater so maybe Taffy would want to be her friend. Everybody wants something they can’t have! Jana is also angsty about Randy Kirwan who, if that’s him on this cover, I am really disappointed.

In other news, Jana’s deadbeat alcoholic father needs money and I don’t know why Jana’s mother feels obligated to give it to him? He also tells her that he may need to move in with him, and again, not sure why Jana’s mother allows it. At the last minute he finds a job and doesn’t come, and Jana is disappointed. Boo hoo. I just had a thought. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Jana’s deadbeat Dad was also Kristy Thomas’ deadbeat Dad and he had two families going? They both live in Connecticut. Hmmmm…

TAFFY SINCLAIR AND THE MELANIE MAKEOVER

Whoa. Ten times of awesomeness. Definitely on my top ten of all time. Firstly, the cover. I thought Melanie was sooooo gorgeous. Not sure if you can see it well. She has her hair in that style where you pull back the sides, then push it forward a bit, so it’s kind of puffy. I always had really thin hair, so I could never do it. Plus, her dress is the kind with the tight bodice and the layered, flared skirt. I HAD to get one like it for my sixth-grade graduation. Except mine had a bolero jacket to go with it. Hot. Taffy actually not looking all that.

Ok, so Melanie has lost some weight, and of course that means she can now be obsessed with boys and clothes. And she starts hanging with Taffy, because Taff knows those things, and there’s tension and of course Jana and crew are kind of jealous. But, newsflash! The local department store will be offering modeling classes for pre-teen girls. Wow! Way to raise self-esteem! Jana doesn’t think her mom can afford it, but her mom is all, you should do it, it will be great for you! Which, if it were my mom, I would be insulted. It is taught by Laura McLeod, world-famous model, and she teaches the girls how to frame themselves in the doorway, how to walk into a room, and how to do jumping jacks for exercise. Uh, I’d want my money back!

Melanie and Taffy strut their stuff in their fancy dresses in school and Jana is all jealous that Randy will find them more glamorous than her. Shut up, Jana. Taffy then claims she knows “model’s tricks” to get thin and proceeds to stuff her face during lunch in front of Jana while the gang eats carrot sticks and hard-boiled eggs. Jana catches them barfing the bathroom. Oh Taffy…just no. Finally she tells someone what Taffy and Melanie are doing, and Taffy gets in trouble. Melanie comes to her senses and dumps Taffy’s ass. Although that was shitty of Taffy, did she know better? And really, she just wanted to keep Melanie as a friend.

Meanwhile, the Fab Five decide to do a charity case on poor ugly Mona Vaughn, and do her hair for her. Randy sees what a caring person Jana is and admits to Jana that he was afraid she would become too glamorous after going to modeling school and not have time for him. Excuse me, but..BWAHAHAHAHA. And when he sees that Jana is reaching out to Mona, he sees what a caring person she is and Jana is “so happy I thought I’d die”. So Jana makes it all about her and not Mona. What a little brat.

At the last modeling class, Laura McLeod does a big speech about inner beauty. Too little too late, Laura. If it were about inner beauty, you’d be out of a job.

Taffy’s side of the story, or The Truth About Taffy Sinclair

Gee Taff, that’s not just a sweatshirt, that’s a SWEATSHIRT. With matching stretch pants. That matches the color of your hair. And while you’re at it, run a comb through it, will ya?

I remember being stoked for this one, because it is from Taffy’s point of view. I wanted to hear what she really thought of Jana. I really wish this one was better and that Taffy had a little more substance. It was really hyped up as being “the other side of the story”. I remember my anticipation on my way home from B. Dalton at the mall when I got it. Sure, she was misunderstood and most kids were jealous of her. And Jana and her friends really are nasty little bitches. I wish Taffy was nicer to Mona Vaughn, who was really her only friend through all of this. But Mona is poor and not pretty, and Taffy holds that against her. Well, they are only in sixth grade. Taffy should be nicer to people considering how she’s been treated. But I guess as a kid, all she knows about relationships is what she sees around her.

Can I mention that it made me hate Jana even more? Her clique is really a bunch of little bullies. I agree with Taffy, why is Jana popular? She is arguably as self-absorbed as Taffy. When I pictured Jana, for some reason, I always pictured her as…unwashed. Like she needs to be called into the school nurse’s office for some lessons on hygeine. I don’t know why I always had that picture in my head. It has nothing to do with the fact she comes from a single-parent home, I think it just matched her bitchy personality.

While they are cleaning out their lockers, someone takes Taffy’s diary. She is freaked out because people will know the truth- the truth being… that she is vulnerable! That she is a normal pre-teen girl! Funny, last night before I wrote this I dreamt that I was in a clique led by Amy Winehouse and I really hated them all, but I had to act all mean and aloof to not show my true feelings. Taffy wrote entries about the events of the other books, and basically admitted how hurt she was by Jana’s actions and how she secretly longed to be friends with Jana and Melanie. And also wrote some bitchy stuff about the other girls. Funny, she glossed over the whole teaching-Melanie-to-be-bulimic thing.

Oh, she also writes how she is sooooooooo in love with Randy Kirwan, who is Jana’s boyf. What is with this kid and his hold over women? If you say it’s his 1000-watt smile, I will kill you. She spends a lot of the book flirting with him. Curtis Trowbridge, class nerd, is having a graduation party and someone is threatening to read Taffy’s diary aloud. Really, it was just class perv Clarence Marshall who balckmails Taffy into kissing him. He stole her diary and in an act of metaphorical cleansing, Taffy throws her diary into the fire at the party. Taffy, bad idea. As much as you think you shouldn’t write those things, you’ll want it later. I wrote tons of short stories and once tried to write a teen romance novel, and I threw them away before I left for college and was cleaning out my room. Not a day goes by where I wish I could read that stuff. I would have even posted excerpts from the novel on this blog if I had it. Oh, and I also made a lot of illustrations to accompany The Fabulous Five books. All rotting away in a landfill somewhere.

Anyhoo, Taffy’s mother is a scary stage mother and tells Taffy she can’t eat a lot because she has to keep her figure so she can get tc gigs. Taffy also has an audition lined up for the night of the party and her parents hire a limo to take her to the audition. Taffy reschedules the interview so she can take the limo to the party. She had planned on giving Randy a ride home in her limo to “seduce” him, but she ends up giving the whole class a ride home, which was pretty cute.

I remember that Jana and the gang had a new set of enemies in junior high, but I can’t remember much about Taffy. I know she did still try to steal Randy from Jana and failing at that. I do hope that she did come into her own and find some people to hang with.

I just had a thought- the girls that were considered “really pretty” in my sixth grade class…turned out to be not so pretty as they got older. Being pretty as a child and as an adult can be mutually exclusive.

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.

Taffy Sinclair, Queen of the Soaps

Jana’s bratty antics are getting really old. I can’t believe I didn’t see it the first time around. Taff gets a role on Interns and Lovers, a daytime soap, and Jana and the gang are so obviously jealous. She goes to NYC two days a week to film, and when she gets back she is tutored by Mr. Scott, the assistant principal.

Christie has a mad crush on Mr. Scott, so this sends her into a rage. I know she’s a kid, but does she actually think that something can actually happen between them? What an idiot. The gang convinces Jana to write a really mean expose in their sixth-grade newspaper. Somehow, no teacher looks at it before it is published, so everyone reads it and Taffy is so upset she doesn’t come to school for several days. Because Jana and her friends are wretched little witches.

Finally the girls think that Taffy is about the commit suicide. Jana asks Randy to go check on her and that makes Randy believe Jana is caring and he asks her out on a date. Which leads into the next book…

So the bulk of the book is Jana getting addicted to watching soap operas and starts imaging her life is one. It’s kind of funny, mostly to see how dumb Jana is. She convinces her self that she has a twin sister that is living with her Dad. She writes a letter to her father saying she is on her deathbed and he calls Jana’s mom and work and is all, wtf is with your daughter.

Taffy, hang in there. It gets better.

Taffy Sinclair Strikes Again, or proof that Taffy rules

Reading these again has given me a totally new perspective: Jana is a supreme brat. And quite frivolous. And Taffy is kind of awesome.

Cover: great place to start. This scene never happened in the book, but kind of close. Taffy looks a good 22 years old. The other gals are hard to tell apart. Love the early 80s gear.

So the gals just started their new club, with the goal of becoming the most beautiful, popular, and sought-after girls in school. Well, starting a club and naming it is kind of negates this goal, doncha think? I am surprised the feminazi Katie Edwards agrees to this. They decide to start examining their faults. Jana, ever so kind to her friends, silently observes:

In fact, she takes every chance in the book to point out how fat Melanie is. They decide to make a list of each other’s faults nd show them to one another. Yes, THAT will end well.

Meanwhile, they get “Favulous Five” t-shirts but then checken out to wear them in from of Wiggins, the wiked old harpy they have as a teacher.

The big meeting with the faults: they all get peeved and everyone says that Jans is too “boy-crazy”. They all snub each other in school, which consists of “poison-dart eyes”, sticking out their tongues, and noses in the air. Jana decides to prove them wrong about the boy-crazy thing and make them realize that all the boys are crazy about her and so she can’t help it. And Taffy is supposed to be the conceited one?

Jana, desperate for attention, starts hanging out with Taffy Sinclair. Nice Jana. Make the girl you started a club against even more aware that you only talk to her when you need something. Taffy teaches her about body language, and how to send messages to cute boys and how to hate on people. She says her mother taught her these “when things were really bad”. In other words, when some bratty insecure girls FORMED A CLUB AGAINST HER. Serves them right.

Noe, here’s why I love Taffy. Seeing that Jana is in a vulnerble spot, decides to manipulate her for her own amusement. I would say it’s warranted, considering the shit Jana gave her. She tells Jana a cute boy has a crush on her, and Jana assumes it’s Randy Kirwan, man of her dreams. S she becomes all biy crazy about him and shit. Really, Taffy means Curtis Trwobridge and despite being a nerd, seems like a nice smart kid. Jana is all embarassed to be seen with him and acts like a totaly beotch to him. Because she’s a little bitch. Yes, I went there.

To make matters worse, all her friends make up and still hate Jana because she is hanging out with Taffy Sinclair. Thy get shirts that say “the Fabulous Four” and wear them to school. BURN!

Finally, Jana realizes that she is being manipulated and wants her old friends back…but realize, not because she misses them, but because Taffy screwed her over. If she and Taffy had remained friends, she wouldn’t have cared about them. It’s just all about Jana and her attention-seeking brattiness.

There ‘s a Halloween party at school and Jana’s por single mom spent her last dimes and time on a Jolly Green Giant costume for Jana (cute idea) but Jana secretly changes when she gets there into her Fabulous Five t-shirt as her costume to show her friends she still lurves them. All make up. Blah blah blah.

Oh, and Jana has a poster-sized pic of Randy in her room hidden behind her Miss Piggy poster. Kind of crerpy. Although I did know someone in junior high who had an honest-to-god shrine for the boy she liked, including one of his quizzes she stole and various pens he had borrowed from her. I was no winner in junior high, but even I looked at this girl in pity.

I am saving the best ones for later, like when Taffy’s diary gets stolen and she goes to Hollywood and stuff.

If you like movies, wear red to school tomorrow or Taffy Sinclair and the Secret Admirer Epidemic

Holy high-waisted pants, Jana! Mischa would approve. Mel looks great, I always thought she was pretty. The other girls look 35. And you can’t tell who they are. I am guessing Christie and Katie?

Jana is really getting on my fucking nerves. I wish now at age 29 I had her sixth-grade self-confidence. Even then its would be a bit much.

I jumped ahead: Randy and Jana are apparently a couple, and Melanie is now thin (the books where this happens is pretty sweet, son’t worry, I’ll get to them). All the guys are planning a trip to the movies and bringing dats. Scott Daly asked Mel, but Randy hasn’t asked Jana. Oh noes! Taffy moves in and flirts like crazy, careful not to show her crooked bicuspid.

Finally Jana gets a secret admirer notes and oh my god, it needs to be the topic of conversation among her friends at every second or else she gets pissed. In order to figure out who it is, Jana makes her friends track what boys look at her throughout the day. We have to read a couple of painful chapters of this and Jana proclaiming how popular she is with the boys.

Meanwhile, Christie has a crush on the Assistant Principal. Getting the idea from Jana’s letters, she starts sending him letter. Okay, creepy. She says she hopes “one day he will like her back.” I know she’s just a kid, but has REALLY thought through the logistics of that? Christie’s mom, who happens to be the principal, gets word of Jana’s letters and hints that she thinks Jana wrote them herself. Bwah!

Furthermore, Jana feels bad for her single mom and feels bad that her mom’s life is not as EXCITING as hers (shut UP Jana) so she decides she needs some excitement and writes her mom some secret admirer letters. Jana’s mom thinks it is from a psycho and gets all paranoid. Nice, Jana.

So, if you haven’t found out already, Taffy really wrote the notes to Jana, hoping that she’s forget Randy Kirwan and Taffy can get a grip on him. Turns out Randy can’t go the movie because he has to be in a wedding and wear a tux and he’s embarassed. I keep forgetting he IS just an eleven-year old boy. Finally he does go and take Jana and he smooches her in the back of the car.

Oh, eleven-year old dating:

I had finally decided on my lavendar pants and matching top, and I could tell by the way Randy looked at me when I opened the door that I had made the right choice. His dark green polos shirt was open at the neck, and his jeans were practically brand-new. He had never looked to handsome in his life!

I think I remember Jana chilling out a bit in the Fabulous Five series, but SERIOUSLY! She is incredibly immature and irritating. If I were Taffy, I’d fuck with her too.

TEAM TAFFY!

The Against Taffy Sinclair Club

The Taffy Sinclair books were the shit. I think because they were written in a very realistic way and really captured the kids’ feelings and what their lives were like without being condescending. Seriously, I know they are only in the fifth grade, but creating a club to terrorize one girl in their school is out of control mean. And sounds like something I would have done. (Hell, I’m the president of such a club now). I actually feel kind of bad for Taffy. It’s totally obvious that they are all jealous and Taffy has no other way to act that being mean right back. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself here.

So Jana, the narrator and Beth, Katie, Melanie, and Christie have the titular club where they sit around and bitch about Taffy (but oddly, never make fun of her name). They have secret notebooks about her. On the first day of fifth grade, Taffy shows up to school with boobs. So the plan in for the gals to also grow boobs. Beth sees an add in a women’s magazine for the Venus Milo bust developer, so they all fundraise to get the $19.95 to purchase it. Christie proposes that they call their mission Lambda Rho, which is code for Little Raisins. I didn’t understand it then, and I am not sure I understand it now. And they are afraid that Mr. Neal will find out what it means.

They do a bake sale. Melanie, the “fat” one, has a secret recipe for “gorgeous brownies”. I am just sayin’, maybe her mother shouldn’t make brownies so much. No, I am not getting down on Mel for being overweight. I am just saying her mother shouldn’t contribute her Type 2 diabetes and years of social stigma. (Later Mel befriends Taffy and Taffy teaches her how to be bulimic, so that problem is solved, don’t worry.)

Also, Jana lives with just her mom and has a deadbeat Dad. Her father promised to take her on vacation, but never did, causing awful pain for Jana. She writes him a long letter about it and all she gets is a box of chocolates. It’s pretty shitty. To compensate, she write her “how I spent my summer” essay about the vacation, making up all the adventures. The school loves it and wants to publish it. Although Taffy knows its a lie and uses it to blackmail Jana. I have to say, I was on Taffy’s side. The other gals are clearly jealous. Taffy also finds the Against Taffy Sinclair notebook and threatens to show it to Mr. Neal, their teacher that they all have a crush on. Taffy is actually really hurt about it. I feel bad for her. I feel like she is mean and bitchy probs because the gals were mean to her first after being jealous.

Jana’s mom finds the notebook and the bust developer and talks some sense into Jana. The gals decide to form a self-improvement club, which will later become the Fabulous Five series, which I thought was pretty amazing.

This time around, I totally felt bad for Taffy and wanted to smack the rude out of Jana.