Yesterday (Friday), the plan was this: Junior, my brother Ted, his fiancée Holly and I would meet at 5:00 p.m. and go on the Saybrook Stroll (Chuck would be busy ghostbusting). There would be free hot cider, free horse-drawn carriage rides, free caroling, and free holiday badabing badaboom.
At three, I called Ted to see if he and Holly had left Boston yet to meet up.
“Bad news,” he said. “I told Holly I need the month of December off.”
“What? What about working it out? What about the fricken Saybrook Stroll?”
“Relax. She’s on her way.”
“You dumped her and she still wants to hang out? On a Friday night? With me?”
“I know. Weird.”
You know how just this week I said: “I swear, if my brother breaks off the engagement, I will date Holly myself”?
Well, we officially had our first date. I, a haggard woman with a toddler (seriously, by Friday I’m toast) and she, a 22-year-old buxom blonde, carted Junior around Old Saybrook for four hours. She cried. I tried to navigate Junior through crowds of people cradling hot cider, a free toothbrush and a bobbing red balloon.
I don’t know who needed my ear more: poor Holly or Junior, who was having a meltdown because the wind was blowing his balloon to the left, when he wanted it to blow to the right. I swear, you show a kid majestic Clydesdale horses with bells and he obsesses about the direction his balloon is floating in.
Over dinner, Holly cried into her pizza. My heart broke for her. She really loves my stupid, flatulent brother. The more she talked, though, the more I realized that Francine Pascal covered the exact problems Holly and Ted are having in #22 of her Sweet Valley High book, “Too Much in Love.”
(Laugh if you will but I went through a hardcore Sweet Valley High stage in middle school and for some reason, this particular book stayed with me. In fact, it may explain why Chuck enjoys such free reign—that lucky bastard.)
As per the back cover of the book:
Bill Chase and DeeDee Gordon have been happy together for a long time. But lately DeeDee has become too dependent on Bill. She wants to do everything and go everywhere with him. Bill feels that he doesn't have any room to breathe and decides it's over between them.
Elizabeth doesn't know why DeeDee is acting the way she is, but she knows DeeDee's strange behavior is killing her relationship. Can Elizabeth help DeeDee regain her strength and independence before it's too late?
So, perfect Christmas gift, right? But now, the questions.
Do I give Holly #1-#22 so she can get acquainted with the series and my intentions aren’t glaringly obvious? But the poor girl only has a month. What if she's a slow reader? What if she only makes it to #6 Dangerous Love—about a motorcycle tearing a couple apart—and she becomes even clingier? Do I just give her #22 and a cheery card along the lines of "Hey, you should totally read this book geared toward awkward teenage girls. It's, like, awesome"?
Or maybe I'll just see how our second date goes.
Damn you, farting brother. Damn you.
P.S. Special thanks to this site for making this post possible. The noggin was a wee bit rusty.