Taffy Sinclair 002 - Taffy Sinclair Strikes Again

BOOK: Taffy Sinclair 002 - Taffy Sinclair Strikes Again
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TAFFY SINCLAIR STRIKES AGAIN

Betsy Haynes

A BANTAM SKYLARK BOOK®

NEW YORK
· TORONTO ·
LONDON
·
SYDNEY
· AUCKLAND

TAFFY SINCLAIR STRIKES AGAIN

A Bantam Book
/
February 1984

Bantam reissue
/
October 1991

Skylark Books is a registered trademark of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Registered in U. S. Patent and Trademark Office and elsewhere.

All rights reserved.

Copyright
©
1984 by Betsy Haynes.

Cover art copyright
©
1984 by Rich Williams.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

For information address: Bantam Books.

ISBN 0-553-15645-4

Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words "Bantam Books" and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10103.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

OPM 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8

For Ellen Burkhart, my own very special Wiggins

CHAPTER ONE

"Move
over Taffy Sinclair. Here we come!" I shouted, drawing big applause from my four best friends.

We had formed this self-improvement club and were holding our first Saturday afternoon meeting in my bedroom—we being Beth Barry, Katie Shannon, Melanie Edwards, Christie Winchell, and me, Jana Morgan. In our club, we planned to work as hard as we could to become the most gorgeous, popular girls in the sixth grade at Mark Twain Elementary. We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we were determined to do it, anyway.

Once, about a year ago, we had formed another club to try to increase our bustlines faster than Taffy Sinclair, who is not only the most beautiful girl in our school, but also a very snotty person. That club had not worked out quite the way we planned, but we were older and smarter now.

"Oh, I don't know," said Christie in a voice that was dripping with sarcasm. "Maybe we should ask Taffy to join. It would be a public service since there are so many areas where she needs improvement."

"Yeah," said Melanie. She was rubbing her hands together and licking her lips as if someone had just set a five-layer German chocolate cake in front of her. "How about working on her big head for starters?"

"Or her absolute
ly chaaahming personality, dah
lings?" added Beth.

"Maybe we
should
ask her to join since we're not at war with her anymore," I said. "She might even give us some pointers if we're nice to her."

All four of my friends stared at me, looking as if they were going to throw up. I knew immediately that they were right—Taffy Sinclair was just too gorgeous. She had long blond hair and big blue eyes, and next to her, Brooke Shields looked positively plain. We would all die before we would ask her for advice.

"Okay. So it was a bad idea," I conceded. "Exactly what are we going to do in our club, anyway?"

"Well, for one thing, we're going to improve our minds as well as our bodies," piped up Katie, and I thought for a second that she was launching into another one of her feminist sermons. "We're not going to become mere sex objects. We're going to work on our personalities and become so super and so terrific that we'll be known all over school as—as—THE FABULOUS FIVE!"

I knew she had made that up on the spot, but it did have a nice ring to it. The Fabulous Five. I jumped up and started the applause rolling again. It looked as if we had just named our club and stated our goals—at least part of them. But Katie Shannon or no Katie Shannon, we were not going to neglect our bodies. Not if I had anything to say about it. That was what boys noticed first. You could slip intelligence and great personalities in on them later.

We adjourned the meeting without accomplishing much more. We decided not to elect officers because, as Katie pointed out, we were all in the club as equals. We decided not to take minutes of the meetings, either. That way we wouldn't have to worry about losing them and embarrassing ourselves. We had learned our lesson on that score a long time ago.

The only other thing we decided was to analyze ourselves before the next meeting and think of all of our own faults.

It was Christie who came up with that. "If we're really going to improve ourselves," she said, "we'd better go about it scientifically. First we'll analyze, and then we'll act."

The idea was sort of depressing. I had dozens of faults, and I knew every single one of them. But figuring out
where
we needed improving did seem like the logical place for a self-improvement club to start.

My friends had barely gone when Pink came over. Pink is short for Wallace Pinkerton, and he and my mother go out together. My mom and dad are divorced, and Pink is a printer at the same newspaper where Mom is the classified ad manager. They make a nice-looking couple since Pink is tall and blond and Mom is sort of medium and has dark hair like me. Pink and I are pretty good friends, and I especially like it when he takes Mom out for supper and then bowling, which he does practically every Saturday night. Pink is an absolute bowling nut. And not only does he get Mom out of my hair for an entire evening, but he always picks up a deep-dish pepperoni, green pepper, and mushroom pizza for me on his way over to the apartment to get Mom. That way I can gorge myself with junk food instead of those well-balanced, nutritional, boring meals Mom makes me eat the rest of the week.

Usually after Pink and Mom leave, I watch TV on the living room sofa while I devour my pizza. Then I talk on the phone. But that night I had other things to do. Instead of flipping on the tube, I got my old Against Taffy Sinclair Club notebook out of its secret hiding place in the boot box under my bed. That's where I keep all the things I don't want anyone in the world to see. Next, I took a black Magic Marker and blotted out the words THE AGAINST TAFFY SINCLAIR CLUB. Underneath that I wrote THE FABULOUS FIVE.

I felt a little guilty knowing how mad my friends would be if they knew I was actually starting a notebook on the new club, especially since it had been my notebook that had fallen into enemy hands and caused so much trouble before. But no one was ever going to know about this one. I'd see to that.

On the first blank page I put a heading, JANA MORGAN, and a subheading, All My Faults, and then I began numbering down the side of the page. I stopped when I got to twenty-five. There were only twenty-five lines on the notebook paper. Besides, if I had to work on more than twenty-five faults, I'd be a member of the club for the rest of my life.

I took a big bite of pizza, stringing the cheese out in front of me as far as my arm could reach and then reeling it back, winding it around my tongue, and I thought about my faults.

Number one was easy. I was the world's greatest klutz. I had not two, but three left feet. There was no object, no matter how small, that I could not stumble over, no wall, no matter how brightly painted, that I could not crash into. If I could hold it in my hand, I could drop it.

I closed my eyes and imagined it all. There I was, on a stage surrounded by at least a million sixth-grade girls, most of them wearing braces. I heard someone call my name, and the other girls began to applaud;
some even started to cry. As I hurried forward, I tripped on the hem of my dress and was caught by a tall, dark-haired man. He was smiling as he took my hand and led me toward a runway that was pointing like a finger into an audience full of frowning parents. Then he began to sing, "There she is, Miss Klutz America." I opened my eyes, nodded solemnly, and filled in line one. "Klutz."

I sat there for a long time before I came up with number two. In fact, I almost got up and turned on the TV. It wasn't that I didn't have other faults. It was just that the more I thought about them, the more they seemed trivial compared to the ones my friends had. Take Katie Shannon, for instance. She drove everyone crazy with her flaming feminist lectures. How many boys were going to want to listen to that? And then there was Melanie. She gorged herself with brownies and candy so she looked like the "before" picture in a diet ad. On a scale of 1 to 10, she was a definite minus 12. How many boys would she attract with a figure like that? And another thing, boys didn't like girls who always got carried away and overdramatized every little thing the way Beth did. Beth had been my best friend for a long time, but occasionally she got on my nerves. And poor Christie. Someone should tell her that boys don't like to feel inferior to anyone, and there she was, a mathematical genius.

Someone should tell her.
The words rang in my mind. Maybe that was the answer. None of my friends even realized what their worst faults were. It was obvious. Otherwise, they would have done something about them a long time ago. It was a good thing they had me around. Instead of thinking up our own faults, we would level with one another. Be honest. We would really help one another that way. We could take it. No one's feelings would get hurt. Why should they? We were mature, and we were all very best friends.

Even though I wasn't president of the club, I decided to call a s
pecial meeting for the next day.
No one would mind if I took charge of things. At the very most, they might think that I was the teeniest little bit bossy, and I wrote "bossy" in small letters beside number two before heading for bed
.

 

There is something special I do every night before I get into bed. You might call it a secret ritual since nobody knows about it except me. You see, I have this poster of Miss Piggy thumbtacked to the wall beside my bed. Every night when I'm sure Mom won't be coming in again, I take the poster down, and right behind it, only a little bit smaller, is my poster of Randy Kirwan, the cutest boy in the whole sixth grade. He's got dark wavy hair and a big smile and is just about the best baseball player in the Bridgeport Little League. The trouble is, everybody likes Randy.

My four best friends know I have the poster. They even know I got it by sending $4.95 to one of those companies that advertises in the backs of women's magazines, saying they will blow up any regular photograph to poster size. What my friends don't know is that I keep Randy's picture on my wall and plug in a night-light right underneath it so I can look at it while I fall asleep.

I have school pictures of some other cute boys, and I once thought of having posters made of some of them, too—maybe one for every day of the week. But $4.95 apiece is a lot of money, and besides, Randy is the one I like best.

Anyway, before I went to bed, I stashed The Fabulous Five notebook in the boot box under my bed, went through my secret poster ritual, and snuggled down to gaze at Randy and to think about how our new club was going to make me
irresistible
!

CHAPTER TWO

T
he next day was Sunday, and Mom and I went to church as we almost always do. I could hardly wait to get home and phone my friends about the special meeting of The Fabulous Five, but Mom had to stop and talk to practically every person in the congregation on our way out. It never failed.

As we opened our apartment door, I heard the phone begin to ring. Mom stood back so I could dive for it the way I alway
s did. I had this record going—
469 straight phone calls to our number without the phone ringing twice. Even Mom respected a record like that.

Beth was on the phone, and she was absolutely shrieking with excitement. "Oh, Jana, I'm
so
glad you're home! I've got this super-colossal idea for The Fabulous Five, and I'm calling a special meeting for this afternoon at my house. Can you come?"

There went Beth, upstaging me again. I couldn't help feeling deflated, but I reminded myself that once I was able to tell Beth about this fault of hers, things would get a lot better.

"Sure I can come," I said. Then I added as slyly as I could, "Actually I was thinking of calling a special meeting myself because I have a super-colossal idea of my own for The Fabulous Five. What time should I be there?"

"Come around two."

I got there right at two o'clock along with Katie, Christie, and Melanie. Mrs. Barry opened the door and told us that Beth was waiting for us in her room. We marched into her room and immediately burst out laughing. Beth sat cross-legged on her canopy bed, holding a paper cup over each ear and frowning like crazy.

"Hiccups," she said crossly and then hiccuped.

Beth gets hiccups more than anyone I know, and it makes her furious when anybody laughs at them. I tried to straighten my face, but the harder I tried to push the corners of my mouth down, the more they turned up. I could see that my friends were having the same problem, but finally we settled down enough for Beth to start the meeting.

"I called this meeting today," she began, "because I have this absolutely super-colossal—
hic
!
"

I couldn't help myself. I burst out giggling and was immediately caught in a cross fire of frowns from Beth and Katie. I stopped giggling as soon as possible, but I couldn't help thinking that Beth really had had a super-colossal hiccup. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that Christie and Melanie were trying not to giggle either.

Beth cleared her throat impatiently and went on. "As I was saying, I have an idea for The Fabulous Five that you're all going to be wild about—
hic
.
I think we should go to the Shir
t Shoppe after school tomorrow—
hi
c
—and have them put The Fabulous Five on matching T-shirts for each one of us—
hic!
"

Not one of us laughed when she hiccuped that time. I guess it was because we were all thinking that Beth's idea really was super-colossal. On Tuesday morning, when we wore our shirts to school, every boy in Mark Twain Elementary would see us for what we really were.

"That
is
a great idea, Beth," I said. "I got my allowance yesterday, and I haven't spent any of it yet."

"Neither have I," said Christie and Katie in unison.

"Good," said Beth. "That's just what I was counting on."

Melanie didn't say anything. She just sat there looking as if she had eaten a rotten brownie. We all turned to her. Surely she wasn't going to wreck our plans.

"I went to the movies last night," she admitted. "And that's not all. I bought a giant buttered popcorn, a large Coke, and a box of jujubes."

How much money—
hi
c
—do you have left?" demanded Beth.

"Seventy-five cents." I could tell she felt awful. Instant gloom. It would ruin everything if only four people showed up Tuesday morning wearing The Fabulous Five T-shirts. It would look as if we didn't have our act together, which was just the opposite of what we wanted everyone to think.

"Would your parents give you an advance on next week's allowance?" I asked.

"Are you kidding? They're already complaining about how much I get and saying I should do more around the house to earn it. I think sometimes that instead of a daughter wha
t they really want is a slave."

"I know what you mean," said Christie, nodding her head sympathetically.

Nobody else said anything for a while. Beth didn't even hiccup. I supposed they were all thinking about how Melanie wouldn't be able to buy her T-shirt when the rest of us bought ours, but I was thinking about Melanie and her worst fault—eating! If she couldn't see what it was doing to her figure, surely she could see what it was doing to The Fabulous Five. I could hardly wait to talk to her about it.

Suddenly I remembered I had $3.15 hidden away in the boot box under my bed. I had started saving money and hiding it there when I was thinking about having more pictures of cute boys blown up to poster size. How could I have forgotten a thing like that?

"I'll lend you three fifteen until you get your next allowance," I said.

"I've got a dollar fifty left from baby-sitting last Thursday afternoon," Christie offered.

Pretty soon we figured that by chipping in all the extra money we had stashed away, we could come up with enough for Melanie's T-shirt. She would pay us back with her next week's allowance, and The Fabulous Five would make
a grand entrance in the sixth-
grade room on Tuesday after all.

We spent the next h
our arguing about what color T-
shirts to get since we wanted them to be positively alike in every way. I didn't think we would ever settle on a color until Beth said that she preferred blue because it matched her eyes, and Christie and Melanie agreed with her since they have blue eyes, too. I have brown eyes and Katie's are green because her hair is red, so we were outvoted three to two.

Finally, we got to the end of the T-shirt business. I was just about ready to burst to tell my friends about
my
super-colossal idea for The Fabulous Five.

"I have a really great idea for our club, myself," I said before Beth could adjourn the meeting.

"Can't it wait until our regular meeting on Saturday?" asked Christie. "I have to be home by four."

"Wait!" I said indignantly. "Of course it can't wait.
If this self-improvement club is going to work, we've got to start right now and do everything we can to improve ourselves."

Everyone, including Christie, agreed with me, and I went on, "It's not enough to list our own faults and go to work on them by ourselves. We could do that without a club. What we really need is to help one another." I didn't say anything for a minute to let the idea sink in.

Melanie screwed her face into a frown. "How are we going to do that?"

I took a deep breath. This was the moment I'd been waiting for. "By being true and honest friends," I said, "and telling one another what our worst faults are." Silence. Christie's eyes sort of glazed over as if a computer had started up in her brain. Beth was looking at Melanie out of the corner of her eye, and I knew exactly what she was thinking.

"It's a super idea," said Katie. I should have known she would agree. She would probably tell each of us we were hopelessly stereotyped, and I made a mental note to add "hopelessly stereotyped" to my own list of faults.

"Good," I said before anyone could object. "We'll each make up a separate list for every member of the club and name that person's two or three worst faults. Bring them to the meeting Saturday afternoon."

Everyone was pretty quiet as we ended the meeting and left for home. I suppose each person was thinking over what she was going to put on her lists. I could feel Katie and Christie looking at me, but I wasn't worried. I knew what all my faults were. And anyway, The Fabulou
s Five were all my best friends.

BOOK: Taffy Sinclair 002 - Taffy Sinclair Strikes Again
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