Sunday, April 8, 2012

Beezus and Ramona

Woowie, this is lookin’ to be a long one, folks. This is actually the first ‘official’ Ramona book, although it is told from Beezus’ point of view, and 4-year-old Ramona does so many freakin’ cute things it’s ridiculous – and of course Beezus is bitter through the whole thing. I do end up feeling kind of bad for the ol’ wet blanket, though.

Let’s get started!

We start off learning that Beezus’ life sucks because, unlike other girls’ her age with 4 year old sisters, she has Ramona, who blows into her lemonade through a straw and finger paints and wipes her hands on the neighbor’s cat. Really? I used to frame my big sister for my crimes so she would get a spanking instead of me. If that’s the worst you got, Beezus, consider yourself lucky. So anywhoo, one day Beezus is embroidering a laughing teakettle on a potholder and awesome? What kind of 9 year old does this for fun? I learned to sew to humor my grandmother when I was 13. At 9, I couldn’t sit still long enough for that crap. Anyway, while Beezus is busy being lame around, Ramona is riding her trike around the living room while playing the harlonica with no hands. Awesome. Beezus gets exasperated and tries to get Ramona to go play with her doll, Bendix. What happened to Chevrolet? Ramona says no, and that she wants Beezus to read her Scoopy book, which is her favorite and is about a steam shovel. What’s hilarious about this part is that Ramona has the whole book memorized, and Beezus skips, like, one word and Ramona goes postal on her. When Beezus finishes the book, Ramona goes back to her trike-riding, harmonica-blowing awesomeness, so Beezus asks Ramona if she’d like to go to the library to pick another book. Sa-weet! I love the library. Ramona runs off to get her sweater and comes back with her homemade Easter Bunny ears, refuses to take them off, and proceeds to hop all the way to the library. En route, the get stopped by two old ladies who talk about how adorable Ramona is, and Beezus reflects on the fact that no one will ever call her adorable. She gets ‘sweet child’ and ‘such a nice girl.’ This is when I start feeling sorry for her. It must be hard to be a wet blanket older sister to the awesomeness that is Ramona Quimby. They finally get to the library and Ramona picks out another book about a steam shovel, despite Beezus’ best attempts to redirect her. Hah! When it’s time to check out, Ramona wants her own library card. Apparently the only requirements then were that your dad had a job (sexist pigs!) and you could write your name. Ramona’s dad is gainfully employed, and she insists that she can write her name. When she does, all she writes is I’s and T’s, because she likes the way those letters look. Beezus tries to argue and Ramona explains to her that it’s her name, so she c`n spell it however she wants to. Word. I had a friend named Kristen who changed the spelling to Kristin in high school. It was weird, but I went with it. Needless to say, they check their books out on Beezus' card.

The day comes when the library book has to be returned, and the whole family is relieved because they’re sick of reading it to Ramona. Ramona, however, balks at the idea of returning the book, so she writes her name on every page in crayon. Genius. Pure, unadulturated genius. Beezus has a total panic attack, and Mrs. Quimby explains that, even though they checked the books out on Beezus’ card, she will not be drawn and quartered for this. Drama much? Instead, she gives Beezus some money and the girls head off to the library to pay for the book. They pay for it and, so that Ramona does not get the idea that she can just do this to any library book she wants to keep, the book becomes Beezus’. Beezus is pretty stoked, because this means she has some power over Ramona. Dictator.

On Friday afternoons, Beezus goes to art class at the rec center, and Ramona plays outside in the sandbox until Beezus is done. Now, this is probably a sign of the times, but when did people ever leave four year olds outside at parks alone for and hour or two at a time. I mean, these books were written in the 50’s and 60’s (wow, that’s awesome, Bev. Way to write timeless classics!) but I’m pretty sure they had pedophiles and kidnappers back then. **Note, I just called my mom and she said hells no, this didn’t happen, but she lived in a tiny southern town. Maybe in a mid-sized town in Oregon things were different?** Beezus is thinking about how people are always talking about how much imagination Ramona has, like the time when she dragged a wading pool up into the middle of the living room and pretended she was a on a boat, or the time she left to go find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and the police had to bring her home. Hah. Beezus is bitter because no one ever says that she has imagination, and she must not have any because the art teacher, Mrs. Robbins, seldom hangs her paintings on the wall at the end of class, and if she does, they are never in the middle where people will see them. Well, that’s just not a very good teacher. I’m sorry, but I teach dance and gym to kids age 2-10 and one thing I’ve learned is that you never make a child feel like they’re inferior to the other students in the class. One of my students is 8, has had my class for three years, and still can’t do a somersault by herself, but dadgummit, I make her feel like doing ht with my help is just as much of an accomplishment as the 5 year old in her class that’s turning cartwheels.

Dear Mrs. Robbins,

Beezus is going to grow up looking for validation, get pregnant at 16, and it’s going to be your fault. Just sayin’.


OK, back on track. Beezus loves Fridays because it’s the one time when Ramona can’t interfere, which makes me feel kind of bad for her when, midway through art class, Ramona comes bursting in with Ralph, her imaginary lizard, and says she will no longer play in the sand pile because Howie threw sand on Ralph. Howie, you’re a douche. You get better when you get older, though. Anyway, Mrs. Robbins says Ramona can stay for class, and since they’re painting imaginary animals, she should paint Ralph. Beezus hates this idea, but sucks it up and represses her emotions. Boy, that’s going to cost you a few years down the road, Beez. Ramona starts painting, licks some boy's sucker, and chaos ensues. Beezus finally tells Ramona that she has to go back outside and play or Beezus will tickle her. Tickling being the Kryptonite to Ramona’s Superman, she backs off. Beezus ends up painting a very creative picture (of Ralph, no less) and it gets hung up in the middle of the bulletin board. Way to go Beezus! Crap, I can’t believe I’m cheering for you.

In the next chapter, Henry, Beezus’ friend, comes over to play checkers. Ramona gets mad because no one will play with her and rides her bike into the coffee table, upsetting their checkers game. Ramona gets in trouble, has a tantrum, and gets sent to her room until she can stop bothering Beezus and Henry. She actually opens the door a few times to ask if she can come out, and when her mom asks if she can stop bothering them, she says ‘No.’ and closes the door. Hah. Anyway, when she finally leaves her room her mom gives her a cookie, which is spelled cooky in this book. Did the change the spelling in 1970 or something? A bit later, they hear Ramona screaming to be let in the bathroom and saying that Ribsy, Henry’s dog, is in the bathroom and won’t let her in. Apparently, Ribsy took her cookie, so she made him go to the bathroom, since he doesn’t have a bedroom to be sent to. I actually LOL’d at that one. Ribsy locked himself in, everyone is freaking out, and Ramona makes the announcement that she has to go to the bathroom. Good timing, Ramona. Luckily, when they go next door to borrow a cup of toilet, the neighbor tells Mrs. Quimby how to pick the lock with a nail file. THIS DOES NOT WORK! I just tried it on our bathroom door. No, really, I did. Henry goes home and Beezus has a silent bitter fit about how bad Ramona is and how she always gets her way, and how Ramona thinks that, now that she’s gotten rid of Henry, Beezus will play with her, but Beezus won’t because she doesn’t like her one little bit! Seriously, it’s a run-on like that in the book, too.

One day Beezus gets home from school and her mother asks her to watch Ramona while she goes to the market. Beezus agrees, but during the time that it takes her to change into her play clothes, Ramona has disappeared. Beezus searches the house in a panic, with vision of Ramona trying to cross streets alone and talking to strangers. That is some scary shite, Beezus. Finally, she hears a noise in the basement, and when she goes down there, she finds Ramona eating apples from a crate that they apparently keep down there. You know, I eat a*lot of apples. This may be a good money saving idea for me, too. I wonder if you have to keep them in the basement to keep from going bad, though. We don’t have a basement, so if I buy a crate of apples and they all go bad, that’s a case of false economy. Beezus is relieved until she realizes that Ramona is only taking one bite out of every apple and then tossing it to the side. When Beezus freaks, Ramona explains that the first bite of the apple is the best bite, so she’s taking the first bite out of every apple. OK, Ramona, I’m pretty lenient with you, but this is going a little too far. Beezus is all ready to scold Ramona until they get upstairs, and Ramona sits herself in a chair, closes her eyes, and tells Beezus that she’s resting. As this is similar to time-out and makes life easier for Beezus, she goes along with it.

The phone rings and it’s Aunt Beatrice. Beezus vents to her, and Aunt B laughs and says that she should ignore it, and talk her parents into ignoring it too, because a lot of times small children will be naughty to get attention. Then she suggests that their mom make applesauce with the ruined apples, and hangs up the phone. Beezus likes this plan, so she intercepts her mother before she gets in the house, and Mrs. Quimby agrees to go along with it. Apparently, it was sound advice, because Ramona announces pleasantly that she was very bad that afternoon and is really disappointed when she fails to elicit a reaction. Dad is enrolled in the scheme, applesauce is made, and it seems that Ramona has learned her lesson… this time.

Saturday morning is cold and rainy, and Beezus is helping her mom with housework while Ramona rides her trike around singing ‘I’m going to have a par-tee. I’m going to have a par-tee.’ Strangely, no one takes this as a warning sign, even when Mrs. Kemp calls asking if she can leave Willa Jean at their house when she drops Howie off. Mrs. Quimby thinks she must have just forgotten that she’d said Howie could come over… until he shows up, followed by about 10 other kids! They realize that Ramona is having an unsanctioned house party ! Oh noes! Chaos ensues, with Howie threatening to suck everyone up in the vacuum cleaner and Ramona having a hissie fit because no one will play with her toys. Suddenly, Howie grabs a drum and announces that they’re having a parade. Beezus, thinking fast, creates instruments and flags for all the kids to march with, and they parade around the house. For refreshments, they have tons of applesauce thanks to Ramona’s recent apple adventure, and fig newtons. Things are going smoothly until Ramona announces that the cookies have worms in them. This grosses people out, and the fig newtons become the bane of the partygoers’ existence. Ramona, upset that the refreshments at her party are not getting good reviews, has a fit. She gets sent to her room mid-party and the kids resume their parade. Ramona is still in her room when the kids’ parents come to pick them up. When questioned about why she had a party without asking, she replies that when she asks, no one lets her do things. Good logic, girlfriend. It looks like you got away with it, too.

Later, it’s Beezus’ 10th birthday, and all she wants is a pink cake and to have Aunt Beatrice over for dinner. Hey Mrs. Quimby, you just got off easy. Beezus is super stoked because she just played Sacajawea in a play at a P.T.A. meeting and will get to AW about it, and because she will get presents. Word. Unfortunately, when she gets home from school, her mom asks her to watch Ramona so that she can make Beezus’ birthday cake. Apparently, she tried earlier, but while she answered a phone call Ramona dropped all of the eggs, shells and all, into the mixer with the cream and butter and the cake was ruined. Man, that sucks. Beezus is angry because Ramona isn’t sorry at all about this, but her mom starts up a new cake and Beezus reads ‘Hansel and Gretel’ to Ramona to keep her quiet. Once the cake is in the oven, Beezus figures she’s safe, so she sits down to read 202 Things to do on a Rainy Afternoon, which does not sound like a fun book, but to each his own. Hey, I'm 26 and I still read Beverly Cleary and Harry Potter. Ain't no other loser quite like me. Ramona starts walking through the living room playing Hansel and dropping graham cracker crumbs from her pocket in case she, I don’t know, gets lost on the way to the dining room? Beezus tells her to try playing Gretel instead and, surprisingly, Ramona agrees. Ruh roh. The baking cake smell in the house is replaced by an odd smell, and Beezus and her mom go to check on her cake only to find… Bendix the doll is in thd oven with the cake! OMGWTFBBQ? Ramona had decided that Bendix would play the wicked witch to her Gretel, and tossed Bendix in the oven. Beezus starts crying and Ramona starts crying, and Beezus stops repressing her emotions for once and tells Ramona off for ruining two birthday cakes in one day. You know, that really does suck. Ramona is sent to her room and Mrs. Quimby calls Aunt Beatrice to pick up a cake at the bakery. Beezus puts herself on a guilt trip because she doesn’t love Ramona right now, and she knows sisters are always supposed to love each other. Aw, Beezus, that’s OK. Even the Olson twins don’t always get along .

Aunt Beatrice shows up with presents and a birthday cake, and things are looking up for Beezus. Aunt Beatrice has brought Beezus a real grown-up sewing kit which, um, SQUEE! She’s also brought a blue dress for Beezus that matches her eyes, which actually sounds really pretty.

At dinner, Beezus keeps trying to tell Aunt Beatrice about her stellar acting debut as Sacajawea, but Ramona keeps interrupting with inane comments about liking purple jelly better than red jelly, then putting jelly on her mashed potatoes, which everyone freaks out about, and I probably wouldn’t. My sweet husband puts hot sauce on spaghetti, maybe jelly isn’t that much of a step away. Ramona gets sent to her room and Beezus finally gets to tell about the play, but her moment is ruined. Aunt Beatrice notices that Beezus is upset and talks her into telling the family about it, and Beezus spills her guts – she doesn’t always love Ramona, and she’s knows she’s awful for it, but she can’t help it! Aunt Beatrice and Mrs. Quimby laugh, and explain that they didn’t always love each other growing up either – they even tell some stories about Aunt Beatrice, the younger sibling, doing some very Ramona-esque things. Beatrice realizes that things will get better, and Ramona is `llowed to return to the table post-jellygate. Aunt Beatrice brings out a beautiful pink cake and they all sing happy birthday. Ramona gets carried away and sings it several times, and although Mrs. Quimby tells her that once is enough, for once Beezus thinks that her little sister isn’t exasperating at all. Aw

The End