Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ms. Ayala if you're nasty.

#35, Secret Admirer

Tagline: "Who is Penny's secret love?" At first, when I read that, I thought it said "secret lover." And I was all, "OH SNAP! There's going to be boob-touching in this book!" But there is not. Alas.

So I think Penny Ayala might be the most well-adjusted and genuinely coolest person at SVH. Evidence?
  • If you ignore the pleated pants, ugly watch, man's belt, and shitty red headband, she actually looks all right on the cover. What I mean to say is that I like her shirt. It's an Oxford that appears to have Dolman sleeves, and I am intrigued.
  • Instead of sitting around weeping about the fact that she doesn't have a boyfriend, Penny actually *gasp* does something about it. I mean, in this case it's running a personal ad in the Oracle which pretty much guarantees you'll be dating some tertiary character like Aaron Dallas or Tad Johnson. And it's also kind of like issuing an engraved invitation to Elizabeth Wakefield that says Penny Ayala cordially requests the honor of the presence of your nose in her business. Still, points for proactivity!
  • "I know I turn boys off," says Penny. "They just don't like serious students, I guess. And frankly, I can't see pretending to be something I'm not just to snag one." Jessica Wakefield, walking past the Oracle office at that exact moment fell down in a dead faint, hearing those words.
  • The ad Penny writes for herself reads thusly: "The ideal candidate will have a doctorate in Australian theology, love caves, and speak Urdu. If you're looking for a girl who giggles, don't bother to respond. I'm strictly the guffaw type." Aw. The ghostwriter is trying his hand at irony, and it is working. I want to rescue poor Penny, spirit her away to Brooklyn, dress her in Urban Outfitters, and pierce her nose. FREE PENNY!
So because Penny is smart and thinks for herself, the SVH kids must destroy her, a la Claire Middleton. In this case, a group of guys make up a fictitious dude named Jamie and have him answer Penny's letter. The culprits are Kirk Anderson, Michael Harris, Chad Ticknor and Ron Reese. Um, who are the last two? Do they even go to SVH? Will we ever hear of them again? No. So no matter. Oh, and Neil Freemount is involved, too; you remember Neil, right? He punched his black friend in the stomach because Charlie Cashman told him to? Yeah, Neil's a catch. And he's the one Penny gets, in the end. Penny falls in love with Jamie through his letters, and is utterly destroyed and vulnerable when "he" stands her up. But it's OK. Because in the process of cruelly bullying her, Neil falls in love with Penny, and whatever, every smart girl needs to date one asshole in her life. When Penny's a film studies major at NYU she can make a short film about this experience.

In B-plot news, Lila and Jessica have officially dated every boy at SVH and so they run personal ads to find fresh meat. They compete to find the awesomest date to bring to the upcoming Spring Fling dance.

Here's Lila's ad:

Glamorous, sophisticated, mature high school girl looking for someone with the right stuff. I like fast cars, caviar, and the Caribbean. Don't talk to me about committment--I'm looking for excitement, not a bridge partner. If you can keep up with me, I want you. Kids need not apply.

And here's Jessica's. With extra annotation. I love footnotes.

Are you devastatingly handsome?[1] Are you romantic and wild?[2] Do you like girls who aren't afraid of danger?[3] Are you the type of guy who goes for what he wants?[4] Are you in college?[5] If you answered YES to ALL the questions, drop me a line.

[1] Meaning, do you look like this? Or this? Or this?

[2] "Extra points if you are a stalker."

[3] Because there's going to be plenty of it.

[4] It's like she wants to attract a date rapist.

[5] Seriously? You're running this ad in a HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER.

Anyway, Jessica and Lila end up dating the same guy, who's name is John Karger, which sounds to me like a serious serial-killer name. But John turns out to be totally awesome. He's only dating both of them because he is writing a paper on personal ads for his sociology class. He asks Jess and Li both to meet him at the beach and breaks the news to them. They're also wearing matching leopard-print bikinis when this happens.

The leopard print bikini is actually Jessica's second bikini of the book. Her other one is white. And it's a string bikini, of course. Honestly, I think if you went through Jessica's closet and tallied up what fabrics her wardrobe was made of, it would look like this, in the end: