- Insecure teenagers
- Swim team!
- Yet Another Teen Hangout with a Fun Name
- Just Talk to Each Other for Goodness’ Sake
Join me as I struggle. Seriously, it’ll be fun.
NB: I misread “Chip” as “Chuck” but they’re the same person. (**headdesk**)
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Thank you to Jennie for sending me this link to a Houston Chronicle photoessay about mums.
You could spend hours looking at the Google Image search results like I did, too.
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Sarah Wendell: Hello there. Thank you for inviting me into your eardrums. I’m Sarah Wendell, and this is episode number 493 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. It’s time for us to deep-dive into another classic YA romance: it’s Sweet Dreams #7, Green Eyes, by Suzanne Rand. Julie has a problem with the green-eyed monster, and I have a problem with secondhand embarrassment, so join me, join me while I struggle. Seriously, it’ll be fun; I promise it’ll be fun. There’s really great outfits too. Whoo, yes, outfits.
Thank you as always to the podcast Patreon community, who are entirely made of fabulous. I want to say a special hello to Kendra, Mickie, and Kate. Welcome aboard! It is so lovely to have new members of the Patreon community. Because of you, every episode is accessible and I’m able to recap classic romances that I can’t get in digital format because they’re only available used! If you would like to have a look at the podcast Patreon, it is patreon.com/SmartBitches.
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It is time to get started with Green Eyes, but before we get started I have an email and I need to share it with y’all. Jennie wrote:
“You’ve probably already gotten a million emails about this, but I had to stop the Sweet Dreams California Girl recap to respond when you asked if I could imagine the one-hundred-dollar corsages with embroidered ribbons for Homecoming.”
I did say that!
“I totally can picture those corsages, because my husband is from Texas, and I’ve seen his Homecoming photos! Homecoming corsages are a thing down there, and they look just like that. They’re called mums, and they’re huge! This article –“
I will link to the article in the show notes.
“– goes into more detail and just has some really great photography. I never read any of the Sweet Dreams books, but I am loving your recaps. Hoping you have a great 2022 – Jennie”
Jen-nie! How did I not google this? I am so embarrassed. In front of all of you, I will admit I didn’t google this ‘cause it just didn’t occur to me, and y’all, it is amazing! It, it’s like – okay, I, of course, will link to pictures and to this article from the Houston Chronicle that Jennie was so kind to send me, but okay, seriously, it looks like somebody took a cookie sheet and glued flowers and ribbon all over it and then hung it around their neck! It is amazing! How did I not google this?! How did I not know this was a thing?! Like if it rains, do you just sort of hold it up over your head and shelter yourself and five or six other people? They’re enormous! I love it! Oh wow, did I miss out! So thank you, Jennie, for telling me about this, ‘cause it completely made my week.
Now we can get started on Green Eyes. [Sighs] It’s not about a girl with green eyes, although there is a girl with really pretty green eyes on the cover, and they manage to match her sweater to her eyes, like, really, really well? I’m very impressed.
There are no names or ownership marks on my copy, but the cover is extremely bent. I think someone read this a few times, and I suspect, given where the creases are – brace yourselves – that they folded the cover back over itself around the spine. You know what I’m talking about? I think that somebody wrapped the cover and the pages around the back of the book.
Here is the cover copy:
“Will Julie’s crazy jealousy destroy the love she waited so long to find?”
Well, judging by the title, yes – [laughs] – as a guess.
“Julie has had a crush on Dan ever since sophomore year. Now that Pam, Dan’s old girlfriend, has moved away, Julie finally has him all to herself, and he is worth the wait. Dan is one of the most popular boys in school, and he really cares for Julie. But something is wrong. Every time she sees Dan so much as talk to another girl, Julie becomes hopelessly jealous. And even when Dan reassures her, it doesn’t help. Then Pam returns and Julie is convinced Dan is seeing her again. Will Julie let jealousy ruin the best relationship she’s ever had?”
All right, I will admit, I am a little hesitant about this one. I don’t like jealousy plotlines, and also I am curious about the idea if this is a romance if the heroine is already in a relationship and the plot is about how she’s going to let her insecurity influence her behavior! Ugh, cringe! Secondhand embarrassment, oh, not my favorite. But I’m going to give it a try. Here we go:
Julie is watching Dan Buckley, her boyfriend, walk toward her in the hall after school, and she is blissed out! Like Christmas morning, she says. And then her mood plummets because Dan stops to talk to Mimi Carson. Maybe he was being friendly! Or maybe “he liked Mimi more than that. He couldn’t! He just couldn’t!” Oh, here’s a paragraph:
“My breathing went back to normal just a minute or two later when he said good-bye to her and started heading in the direction of where he belonged: with me.”
Ho, ho boy. He asks if she’s been waiting long, and she talks really, really quickly.
“I knew I was rushing my words out like bullets to keep him from guessing I was upset, but I couldn’t help it, and I couldn’t help what I heard myself saying next, either. ‘What were you and Mimi talking about?’”
Mimi needed chapters for homework, and unless Mimi is the heroine of The Popularity Plan and has a scheme to talk to boys to get over her shyness, which I don’t think is this, this, this book, it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s going to be a big deal. Dan, on the other hand, is, like, demonstrably affectionate. He puts his arm around her, he smiles at her, and everything about his behavior indicates that he really likes her.
Then he says they should go to Hodie’s! Yay! Another teen hangout with a funky name, Hodie’s.
Now I need to know your teen hangout. Did you have a teen hangout in high school, like, where everyone went? I grew up in Pittsburgh, as you know, and probably the places I would go to most when I was in high school were Eat’n Park and Bruegger’s Bagels if I was getting breakfast, but I just learned that the Eat’n Park on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill is closing, and, like, I’m really upset about this. That just sucks! I ate so many grilled sticky buns at the Squirrel Hill Eat’n Park, so cheers to everyone who ate there with me or around that time or just knows what I’m talking about.
Anyway, back to Julie: Julie’s jealousy evaporates in a cloud of contentment because she was his girl, and Mimi Carson was nobody but another girl in class. “I even felt silly for the way I’d reacted.”
Well, okay. But why is she so insecure? Dan and Julie have been dating for two months, and Dan had been with a girl named Pam Kershaw, and they’d been one of the “star couples of Lincoln High School in ninth grade.” Julie had nursed this massive crush on Dan, but she didn’t think he would ever ask her out because he was too popular and too good looking.
Pam is gorgeous, and Julie says she’s the kind of girl who made you feel awkward, but I have a feeling that Julie might be projecting. She also describes Pam:
“She was tall and slim without being skinny, and her hair was the natural color blonde they write ads about, cascading down her back in thick curls or swinging behind her in one thick braid the color of lemon meringue.”
All right, so first of all, I’m getting total Elsa vibes, but wow, lemon meringue! Okay! Cool!
Anyway, “I guess you could say Pam Kershaw made me feel insecure.” Yep, I can totally say that because you also said it, and it’s like page five. [Laughs]
Dan is on the swim team and on the diving team, and he’s a class officer, but Dan did inspire Julie to join the water ballet club. I would laugh, but I was totally on the synchronized swimming team in middle school, so heck yeah, water ballet! Julie is really into swimming now and she wants to be on the swim team, so she joined the water ballet club so she’d get more practice. She also saved up to join the Green Hills Swimming Pool, which cost a whopping fifty dollars a year. Whoo!
But surprise! Dan is a lifeguard at Green Hills, aaand maybe she’d have gotten over her crush if he wasn’t around, but she didn’t because he was, and then Dan and Pam broke up, Pam’s family moved to Pittsburgh – ha-ha! – and Dan asked her out! They started dating in July, so that’s the conflict.
Chapter two: It’s hot. Everything about Dan is shiny and new; it’s warm outside; she feels wrinkled next to him, partly because his mom makes him iron his clothes!
Here is one of my favorite character tropes; I’m sure I’ve talked about it before: the emotionally fluent hero.
“Dan was in the same mood I was. That was one of the things I loved about him so much. Other boys, even my brother Dave, whom I adored and who seemed so mature now that he was a sophomore at Rockway State College, acted as if they were afraid they’d seem silly or, I don’t know, sissy-ish if they talked about things being beautiful or their feelings or anything like that. But not Dan. He was never ashamed to let people see he was sensitive and caring, maybe because his mother was a guidance counselor at the junior high school and his father was a psych professor at the college. Or maybe it was just because he knew that if he felt something, it couldn’t be ridiculous.”
Julia’s nervous about not making swim team, and Dan reassures her. Julie feels insecure, like everyone is, at Hodie’s is judging her against Pam, and Julie is “always afraid that once Dan really got to know her, he wouldn’t like her.” But they’ve been together like since July, so – okay. She is still convinced everyone in Hodie’s is thinking about why Dan is with her and comparing her to Pam. Julie does tell herself to stop worrying. “I was going to make myself not care, just enjoy what’s happening here and now. Dan likes you, not Pam Kershaw! Why are you so terrified?”
I do have a question: do you think Julie is going to sabotage her own relationship, ‘cause it’s only chapter two and we’ve got a lot of piles of insecurity here? Yeah, probably that’s the case.
Chapter three! They’re at Hodie’s, and Mimi Carson sits down at their table next to Dan. Julie describes her as “always just a little bit too much to be true.” Not a lot of girls like Mimi, Julie says, probably because she doesn’t seem like she has interest in other girls as friends. And I am beginning to wonder how reliable of a narrator Julie is here.
Dan is nice to Mimi, who whines to him to come to her house to help her with homework – right in front of Dan’s girlfriend; whoa, Mimi! Dan sounds really embarrassed and turns her down, but Julie stays really upset about this. Dan tries to laugh it off, but Julie stands up really angrily and snaps at him and says she’s ready to leave and, like, flounces out the door!
Dan gets in the car to drive her home and says, do you want to tell me what that was all about? And she admits that she was mad about Mimi, and he says, yeah, she’s a lot, but you can humor her, even if she’s, you know, pushy, and he says Julie is the one acting uptight. Oh boy. She keeps fighting with him, and he calls her on her behavior.
It is page twenty-one and my stomach is in a knot. This book is going to be something.
“’Do you really think I haven’t noticed, just because I haven’t said anything? I’m starting to feel you won’t be happy unless you have me under lock and key.’ Dan looked really sad. ‘You’re not the same girl I started swimming with at Green Hills, Julie. That’s the girl I care about. If you don’t trust me…’”
Oh, but she does, she does! And she apologizes! And he calls her on her behavior again. “’And you don’t get jealous every time I talk to someone else?’” And then she admits that yes, she does. Maybe this book will be three chapters long. [Laughs]
“’It’s only because I know how many girls are hung up on you. It’s not because I don’t trust you! I know I’m the luckiest girl in the world.’” And his face brightens. “’You really mean that?’” He really does reassure her like he really likes her a lot, and then he kisses her, and it is only the end of chapter three, and I am really kind of dreading all the pages to come.
Chapter four: Her mom’s making veal cutlets, and she asks Julie to shuck the corn and put the garbage in the disposal. There’s a whole thing about the disposal and the kitchen and the renovation, and I just want to tell all of you that corn silk and corn husks in the disposal are a bad idea unless you have a monster of a garbage disposal.
And Julie talks to herself while making salad and shucking corn, saying that she has to get over her jealousy or she’s going to drive Dan away, but then her nasty inner voice says, he’s going to break up with you sooner or later. He’ll find someone prettier or more athletic. Oh, honey.
Julie recalls the first time Dan talked to her at the pool. He had noticed her working on her diving and her swimming and took time out of his lunch break to tell her she was really good and that he hoped she would try out for the team. He offers to coach her in the butterfly, and in exchange he wanted her to coach him on “doing the perfect jackknife every time.” Over the summer they practiced together. She’s totally overwhelmed by her feelings and convinced she’s super boring because she’s too scared to talk to him, but then he asks her out! When she says she doesn’t want to go out with someone else’s boyfriend, he’s like, you didn’t know Pam and I broke up and she moved to Pittsburgh? I figured everybody knew. Julie is elated and agrees to go to the movies with him, and they, they leave to go change, and he says:
“’Hey, Julie, if you thought Pam was still around, why do you think I kept asking you to practice with me?’ His laughter was loud now, but it was like music to my ears. ‘Boy, don’t tell me you think I care about swimming that much.’
“Giggling, I dashed in to change, and that’s how it all began.”
Chapter five: Julie’s dad comes home, and he reads the paper while her mom finishes dinner. Bro, go help your wife. The family makes evening plans, and Maryjo invites Julie over. She loves hanging out with Maryjo because “That’s what’s nice about girlfriends, you know? You can let yourself go and be yourself around them without always worrying whether you’re being boring.”
Maryjo noticed their fight at Hodie’s and asks her about it, but Julie plays it off. But Maryjo and their friends thought the fight was because Dan was jealous that Gary Howe was watching every move Julie made. And Julie has no idea who Gary Howe is, so that’s a little strange, but then Julie has a great idea.
It’s not a great idea, y’all.
She hadn’t really had a boyfriend before Dan, and she made no secret of the fact that she was just happy being with him, but no wonder he was so smug. Julie thinks that Dan thinks he has her right in the palm of his hand, and she was going to make Dan love her by making him jealous. That’s her plan. Oh no.
Chapter six: Julie’s dad asks how much she’s saved up to buy herself a car and then offers to make up the difference for her birthday. It’s a hatchback from 1975, and she is over the moon, and also, that is the year I was born, and cars were really funky looking then, so awesome!
Then there’s this massive jump in time where Julie has made the swim team, she’s feeling more secure in her relationship, and Maryjo is saying that she thinks Dan will give Julie his class ring as a holiday gift, and I guess that’s like a gesture of going steady? You wear the guy’s ring around your neck? But then at Christmas, Julie learns that the Kershaws are leaving Pittsburgh to move back, and Pam Kershaw will be back in school! Oh boy.
I have to say, I don’t like this decision. I don’t like that the book skipped all the good parts that would make me understand the dimensions of their relationship and, and feel more sympathy for Julie. Mostly I just want her to talk to somebody about her anxious thoughts and how they’re interfering with her ability to be content and happy and talk to Dan about how she’s feeling, and I feel like I am reading this book with, like, my hands over my eyes and I’m peeking through my fingers.
Interestingly enough, totally a coincidence, I started reading, or listening to an audiobook called Chatter, which is all about the voice in your head that is basically you talking to yourself? Or, you know, your inner monologue, however you want to call it. Sometimes it can be really helpful, and sometimes it is not so helpful, and I kind of want to buy Julie a copy of this book.
It’s Christmas Eve, and everyone in the family has a party to go to. Julie’s brother Dave is giving his girlfriend a fraternity pin as a gift, which the family seems really excited about, and Julie is very nervous because Dan hosts a Christmas party every year, and this year she is his date instead of Pam. Is she a bit of a wreck about it? Yes. Does Mimi tease her about Pam returning when she gets to the party? Yes. Does she flirt with some dude named Chuck all night, leaving Dan feeling very hurt? Yes.
Julie gives Dan a sweater in his favorite shade of green, and he gives her a bottle of very expensive perfume. I looked it up; it’s called Arpège, and it’s from Lanvin, and you can find it at the Vermont Country Store, which is one of those catalogues that has lots of old cosmetics and old perfumes? I’ll put a link in the show notes; don’t worry. But this is a very expensive bottle of perfume.
Julie had been hoping that Dan would give her his class ring, and she’s visibly disappointed about it, which only adds to the mixed-up feelings that are building between them, but then they kiss at the end of the party, and Julie is happy again because all of this emotional whiplash is fun for everyone except me.
Chapter eight: Swim practice! Julie is one of the strongest divers on the team, and she and Dan flirt with each other every practice. Then Pam shows up looking super gorgeous, and Julie gets all weird.
Hang on, there’s an outfit; I just need to find it. Ah-ha! Here it is: “Pam just stood there, poised as a fashion model, her simple pleated skirt and peach angora sweater –“ Whoo! “– making everything in my entire wardrobe seem dull and drab to me.”
Chuck from the holiday party is super into Pam and invites Pam to Hodie’s, and Julie and Dan are supposed to go as usual, but Julie says she forgot and she can’t go because she has to help her mom with winter squash – as you do – but she encourages Dan to go without her, and Dan’s like, no, it would be awkward because – and then he doesn’t finish his sentence. Now, I’m pretty sure it meant that Dan would feel awkward because Chuck and Pam are super into each other, and because Dan and Pam used to date it would be weird, and he’s not wrong. But Julie thinks that Dan was going to say it would be awkward because he was still in love with Pam, and I would like to hit Julie with a pool noodle.
Chapter nine: Starts off with “I wish I could say I’d had the guts to talk the whole thing out with Dan, but I couldn’t make myself do it. I was afraid it would only make things worse.” Well, we have got sixty more pages, like half of the book, and this is the next sentence: “Coward that I was, I reverted back to plan A: I might as well pull out all the stops now to make Dan jealous.” Nooo! No, don’t do that!
Okay, I’ll let all of you in on a little secret: I flipped to the end, and the last line is reassuring, but I think it’s going to be a bit of a road to get there, so get a beverage, grab a blanket. It’s going to be kind of a lot. Get ready.
Julie is miserable. Maryjo calls to tell her that Tim, the boyfriend that Maryjo was previously ambivalent about, has asked her to go steady and given her his class ring, and Maryjo is over the moon about this. Julie is even more bummed out. Julie’s other friend, Sue, asks out loud, without really thinking, if maybe Pam was using Chuck to make Dan jealous, which really upsets Julie even more, but at swim practice she maintains this act like everything’s fine, and I’m very tired.
They make plans to go to Hodie’s as usual after practice, and Julie flirts with the co-captain of the swim team right in front of Dan, and Dan is clearly very upset, and now we are just compounding Big Misunderstandings. It is not my favorite kind of plot math.
Chapter ten: Julie plans an absolute pile of double dates and activities with Maryjo and Tim so Dan won’t break up with her. She envisions Dan breaking up with her nonetheless, and she rehearses so many different reactions.
“Between classes, I scoured the halls with my eyes, combing the corridors from side to side, as if my head were the periscope of a submarine. I was looking for the one sight I didn’t want to see: Dan walking with Pam. The only time I did see that they were walking with Chip*, Mike Schultz, Diane Abbott, and a bunch of other kids, and as far as I could tell Pam and Dan weren’t with each other any more than they were with everyone else. Still, I ducked into a doorway, terrified that if my eyes met Dan’s I’d read signs of his betrayal there.”
*[Remember Chuck from earlier, who Pam was into? His name is actually Chip, so this is the same guy.]
[Sighs] Oh honey. And her grades are slipping too, which she’s not very excited about.
And then on the next page, guess what happens. Dan says they should stop seeing each other for a while. Yep! He thinks she needs to go out with other guys and play the field, because she’s flirting with everybody. And when she accuses him of still being hung up on Pam, he gets really upset and says, “’Do you expect me to just sit around and do nothing while you throw yourself at every guy in school? You’ve been making me look like a fool!’”
I am curled up in a little ball right now, y’all. Oof!
And then she yells at him to go back to Pam. Seriously, it’s like they are having two entirely different conversations at each other? And she storms out of the car and runs to Maryjo, begs Maryjo to drive her home.
Now, Maryjo is an absolute queen. She drives Julie to her home and makes her tea – what a nice friend – and says, okay, what’s wrong? Julie says, Dan is still in love with Pam, and we broke up, and Maryjo is like, what are you talking about? Is that what he said? And Julie said, “’No. He said he thinks I need my freedom.” And then Maryjo becomes my very favorite character in the book so far.
“Maryjo looked relieved. ‘It seems to me you’ve gotten yourself into a state over nothing. You know he really likes you, and you don’t have any reason not to believe that.’ She was quiet for a moment, and then she said, ‘You’re jealous of Pam, aren’t you?’”
Oh, Maryjo, my girl. Yep, called her on it, and she denies it.
“I knew Maryjo was right. In fact, she wasn’t saying anything I hadn’t told myself a thousand times before. The rational part of me knew I was letting this crazy jealousy get the better of me, but whenever Pam’s name was mentioned, all the old insecurities came back to crowd out the resolutions I’d made to try and control the jealousy. I didn’t know how to overcome it.”
The next month – we have another time jump – is a blur of misery. Julie places very well in the diving meet that they had been practicing for. She’s third against two of the best divers in the county. Her grades are now straight As ‘cause she’s studying all the time, but she is miserable. And she’s convinced that any minute she’s going to hear that Dan is back with Pam. Even Maryjo pointing out that Dan also looks miserable doesn’t wake her up. She tells Maryjo it’s because Pam doesn’t want to get back together with him that he’s so unhappy.
Her narrative of reality is such a distance away from everyone else’s, and the way in which her negative thoughts about herself and about Pam have just distorted her worldview is really something.
The Spring Swing Dance is announced. Dun-dun-duh! It’s the big social event of the year, and Julie will not have a date! Who knew?!
Chapter eleven: Julie is determined to make sure “the right guy asks her to the Spring Swing,” and then she realized that “none of the guys who I thought would be beating down my door when Dan and I split up have asked me for a single date! Maybe it was my fault because I hadn’t projected an open and available image.”
So she starts trying to make connections, or as she puts it, “pick up the threads of my fraying friendships,” and keeping watch on who was acting how, including Pam Kershaw, and she notices two important things: one, none of – [laughs] – oh boy; okay – none of the guys she had “played the vamp with” – whoo! – seem to have cared! Bob was with Lisa Hughes, and Chip jumps into the pool to get away from her – [laughs] – when she asks if he wants to go get a Coke after swim practice. That’s one way to avoid a conversation! Maybe that’s the new social distancing: I’m just going to jump into the pool! Nobody come near me!
Julie also notices that now that she felt like Pam had “beaten her,” and she had no more to fear from Pam, she appeared more as a real-life girl now, not some goddess who could get anything she wanted by just being herself. Then Julie overhears Mimi complaining to Pam about some girls being really cold to her after she just joined them uninvited at their lunch table, and Pam is really gentle and kind and says:
“’I don’t think you see how easily you can rub people the wrong way, Mimi. I know that when you over do it, it’s because you’re a bundle of nerves, but I think the other kids mistake it for being pushy. Try to be a little softer, more mellow.’”
Julie feels terrible because she has misjudged Pam, and she has misjudged Mimi. It doesn’t occur to Julie that she also acts ridiculous because she’s a bundle of nerves ‘cause she doesn’t know what else to do, but, you know, I’ll take the progress where we get it.
So Julie resolves that she is going to be nicer to Pam and tells Pam when she sees her looking at the play audition info that she should totally try out for the lead role, and Pam’s like, oh, no, no. “’That role carries the whole show, and they’re looking for someone with real talent.’” Pam says she sews and thought she would apply for wardrobe mistress instead, and Julie is dumbfounded that Pam is unsure of herself too.
Then Julie finds out from Maryjo that the other boys weren’t asking her out because Julie had flirted so outrageously when she’d been Dan’s girlfriend that they were afraid she was “’just a runaround, and they don’t want to risk getting mixed up with you.’”
Okay, ouch, and also, ew! with the judgment there.
But then, according to Maryjo’s boyfriend Tim, everyone is also sure that she and Dan are going to get back together because Dan hasn’t shown any interest in anyone else and still looks miserable. Julie says, “’That’s just because they don’t know that Dan is secretly seeing Pam.’”
Based on what evidence?! There is no evidence that this is true.
Maryjo tries to correct Julie and seems kind of exhausted by this repeated conversation, but Julie just changes the subject, and I want to hit her with a pool noodle again.
Julie is sad that she won’t have a date for the Spring Swing, but even though there’s this really shy dude who clearly has a crush on her, she decides not to use him, and instead she will let him get over his crush and find a girl who is really interested in him for himself.
Yay! Growth! I like growth! Good, growth! This will help me get over the, like, ball of secondhand embarrassment that I’m carrying around in my abdomen.
So instead of trying to find a date, Julie volunteers to serve refreshments at the dance. Aw! More growth! And the Home Ec teacher, Mrs. Blythe, remembers Julie and remembers Julie’s mom Peggy, “the first of my girls to start gathering ribbons at the state fair.” I mean, Julie’s mom does cook really, really well; I mean, she makes veal cutlets on a week night, so yeah, cool! Also, I wish Home Ec were more of a thing: cooking, learning how to feed yourself, learning how to take care of your money. That’s all really important stuff that I did not know how to do when I graduated from college or high school.
Julie observes that Pam inspired her. She’d always taken for granted that the kids with nothing better do deserved to be stuck with the dirty work. She’d never considered that people might volunteer because they wanted to.
Julie, every time you take a step forward into progress, I want to reach for my pool noodle, because come on!
So Julie’s decided she going to be more active and considerate, and she confides in her mom everything that has happened, “the whole awful story of my envy and my attempts to make Dan crazy with jealousy.” Her mom is really understanding and gentle and says that, “’While flirting with everyone isn’t a kind or clever thing to do, it was because you were scared and not thinking straight.’” Then her mom says:
“’Dan is a person, not a thing. You can’t own him or control him or make him feel something that isn’t there. Maybe if you hadn’t tried so hard to hold him, he wouldn’t have slipped away. Love only matters if that commitment is made freely, fresh every day, if someone is with you because that’s exactly where they want to be.’”
Julie is surrounded by really lovely people who are thoughtful and kind and encouraging, and I hope she listens to them.
Dan had never made her feel second best; she’d decided that all on her own, she says, so Julie decided she’d never make that same mistake, even if she never got a chance with anyone else.
Chapter twelve: Julie does not want to go to the Spring Swing, but she had given Mrs. Blythe her word, so she goes. She wears a favorite dress too, and this book has been a little sparse on the outfits, and now we’ve got some really good ones. It’s late in the book, but I like this.
“Since the weather had begun to warm up, I wore one of my favorite lightweight dresses, a blue-flowered peasant print in the thinnest wool crepe, with a scoop neck and little puffy sleeves, along with my new powder-blue ballet slippers with the delicate satin ribbons that wound around my ankles and tied in bows.”
Aw! [Laughs] She looks so cute!
And then Julie’s mom kisses her good-bye and says, “’You should feel proud of yourself, Julie. Humility isn’t a lesson easily learned by anyone.’” Aw!
So Julie’s there early, ‘cause she’s working the refreshment table, and the chaperones are already there, and the decoration committee was there working on the gym, and there’s a band!
I love it when these school dances have a band; we’ve talked about this. I just think it’s so great. This school has a school rock band, The Rockway Rockers. I love it! Rockway Rockers! I’ve mentioned we had a band in school. They didn’t play any school dances, but they did play this one thing, I think it was like my junior year, and one of their songs, the first – [laughs] – I don’t know why this stuck in my memory, but the first line of the song was “Tower of power, like a big ol’ mother!”
Julie feels really sad that she doesn’t have a date and that, you know, she and Dan are broken up, but she’s glad that she volunteered because two girls canceled when they got dates to the dance, and Mrs. Blythe really needs Julie there to help with the cookies and punch. And now I want cookies.
Some of the girls who’ve arrived at the dance were open-mouthed in shock “when they saw me at my lowly station,” and the boys that she had flirted with looked really uncomfortable, but Julie endures her feelings without reacting outwardly. Yay! Good job!
Maryjo arrives with Tim, and we have another great outfit. Maryjo is wearing peach slacks and a ruffled satin top that matched. I love this, except I have to say that every time I’ve tried on peach slacks I’m in the dressing room and I don’t have my glasses on, and I have spectacularly poor eyesight. So, you know, you take your glasses off to try on clothes, right? Every time I try on peach slacks, I don’t have my glasses on, I look in the mirror, and I think I look naked, so I don’t buy peach slacks. But I am betting that Maryjo looks absolutely fabulous.
Maryjo says that Julie deserves a Purple Heart because it was so hard to do this, which okay, just dial it back, but all right. I’m glad your friends are supportive. Julie is dreading seeing Pam walk in with Dan. I don’t know why she would think that this was something she was going to see, because she has never seen Pam with Dan at all up until this point.
But then, in walks Mimi Carson, who’s really snide to Julie and says, “’My, my, does this mean that if you can’t have Dan Buckley, no one else is good enough?’” But instead of snapping back at her, Julie remembers the conversation she overheard between Mimi and Pam, and she says, “’To be honest, nobody asked me, and I figured since I go to the school I may as well do my bit to help.’” Totally takes the wind out of Mimi’s sails, and Mimi mellows out instantly because she didn’t get a rise out of Julie.
Then, guess what happens? Pam Kershaw walks into the dance with Chip Richter as his date, and she’s wearing his class ring around her neck because they are going steady. She’s also wearing a white angora camisole top and a pale blue wool skirt.
An angora camisole sounds really soft and very fuzzy and also kind of chilly. Like, I’m thinking a camisole’s like a spaghetti strap tank top, right? Or maybe it’s just a sleeveless top? I’m not the most fluent in clothing words, but white angora camisole and a wool skirt sounds both gorgeous and – [laughs] – also sounds like anytime she touches metal she’s going to set off electric sparks. Zap, zap!
It will not surprise you that Chip and Pam have had it bad for each other for ages, and Pam had gone out with Chip a few times before she’d even moved to Pittsburgh, after she’d broken up with Dan, and she’d had no idea at the time that Chip really, really liked her, and they’re just telling Julie about their whole relationship, and poor Pam had been pining for Chip, and Chip had been miserable without Pam, and they’re so happy, and Julie congratulates them on going steady and is really happy for them. Aw!
And then she realized, wait, that means – [laughs] – oh my gosh – that means – [laughs more] – that means Dan and Pam really had broken up before she was, moved to Pittsburgh! Why did she not believe him?
I have no idea. Oh, Julie.
“If only I’d talked to him, maybe he’d have told me that, but no, I was too busy playing stupid games and punishing myself with comparisons to Pam.”
Julie is so emotionally blown away by all of these revelations that she has to take a little break in the Home Ec room with some punch and pull herself together. And then she comes back up and sends Ms. Blythe down to take a breather, who is very grateful because she is very tired.
Then Julie gets so busy with the refreshments that she doesn’t even notice who’s coming up to the table until – dun-dun-duh! – Dan is standing there! She offers him punch and then she offers punch for his date, and he says he doesn’t have a date. The girl he was planning to ask had other plans. Oh no! But the other plans don’t mean that this girl had a date. He says, “’I saw her name on the refreshment committee list and figured the only way I’d get to see her at all was to come here by myself.
Julie starts crying. He asks her to dance, and they don’t speak, and then he goes out in the hallway with her to finally talk! Oh my gosh, finally! Julie says, “’I thought you hated me. I was so unfair, so horrid,’” and he says, “’Yes, you were!’” But he wasn’t exactly chill himself because he was really hurt and furious that Julie had accused him of still being after Pam behind her back, and he was hurt that she was flirting with everyone while they were together, and then he thought about it after they broke up and realized that she was only flirting because she really thought that Dan was still interested in Pam.
“’I’d never bothered to tell you that Pam was dating Chip, not me, when she left.’” Turns out Dan really, really likes Julie because Pam had struggled with how much Dan loves to swim, and here he met Julie after they broke up and Julie liked swimming as much as he did! Aw! “’Pam was jealous of the way I love the water, and there’s no way to fight that.’”
Julie says she’s noticed how lovely Pam is and that she’d never given Pam a chance, and Dan is really surprised to hear her say such nice things about Pam and notices how different Julie seems and asks if she’d like to give dating another try. “’No ties, no binds. Take it day by day, see what happens.’” And she promises to always trust him.
“Finally, after all the pain and confusion, I had a feeling everything was really and truly going to be all right. How could I ever have wasted so much time worrying over whether Dan was going to give me this ring or if he’d lose interest in me one day. Looking back, I couldn’t believe how easily I’d let my own happiness slip through my fingers. Never again, I vowed silently as Dan led me out onto the dance floor. Maryjo caught my eye and winked, and I grinned back happily. From now on, I knew I was going to be happy enough just being me.”
And that is the end of the book.
Now, I like the last part, but I have to say, I don’t enjoy Big Misunderstanding plots. I don’t like reading a lot secondhand embarrassment. I appreciate very much how Julie recognized how unkind she’d been and how she’d hurt Dan, that he was a person with feelings and not a thing she had to control, but gosh, y’all! One conversation with honesty would have helped a lot, and clearly he’s already a very emotionally open and fluent dude!
I would give this three out of five stars. I appreciated that Julie groveled to herself and acknowledged her own behavior, and I ap-, I appreciate that Julie acknowledged her behavior to Dan. I hope their second try goes a lot more smoothly. You know, another jump ahead in time would work really well here, because then I would know that, you know, she really is over her jealousy, but I guess I just have to take her word for it!
So that was Green Eyes by Suzanne Rand. What did you think? Have you read this one? I would be very curious.
I would also like to know where was your high school hangout and what was it called? Is it still there? ‘Cause apparently mine is closing. Was there a high school couple that everyone knew about in your school? I know of a couple very dramatic relationships in high school, but I don’t think we had, like, one couple that everyone knew about.
But yeah, this was, this was interesting. Thank you for hanging out with me to listen to this one. I, I hope you enjoyed it.
I will have links to – [laughs] – I will have links to the corsages – oh my gosh, it is so great! – in the show notes. Please do not miss googling them. I had no idea. I had no idea! They’re amazing. It’s like a cookie sheet got into a really big fight with both Jo-Ann Fabrics and Michael’s, and the, the, the hot glue gun just beat them all into submission. It’s really something.
You ready for the joke? Joke time! Okay, here’s the joke:
Did you hear about the cheese that’s been working out at the gym?
That cheese is shredded!
[Laughs] It’s so silly! That cheese is shredded! I think I have to use shredded cheese at dinner tonight. I’ll be like, this cheese is shredded!
On behalf of everyone here, I wish you the very best of reading. Well, me and Wilbur and the dog, who’s staring at me ‘cause he wants more treats. We hope you have a fantastic weekend filled with the best reading, and we will see you back here next week!
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more outstanding podcasts to subscribe to at frolic.media/podcasts.
This cheese is shredded!
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.