How old are you now?
I’m guessing if you’re a woman of a certain age (say old enough to have had a bus driver punch your paper ticket on the way to school but not quite old enough to understand negative gearing or the popularity of Pauline Hansen) you’ll remember the Sweet Valley High series of books. A quick Google search reveals that although I thought I was obsessive about Jessica and Elizabeth, I did not own the full 603 books in the series.
Obviously author Francine Pascal had some help penning these classics, and according to the internets ghost writers were plugging away at these in I what I imagine is a plush Los Angeles home designed by someone a lot like Alice Wakefield where Francine sits atop a white horse and shouts ‘their eyes are aquamarine you hopeless hacks, AQUAMARINE!’. Either that or the episode from The Simpsons where a thousand monkeys are typing on a thousand typewriters. One thousand monkeys
Are you old enough to have (sort of) found porn without a computer?
I say women because I’m assuming these books didn’t appeal much to the boys of my youth who I know looked to their Dad’s toilet copy of The Truth for their soft porn rather than having to trawl through hundreds of descriptive passages about high school dances and red sports cars and even the odd murder mystery only to get to their ‘good bits’.
But although there was always a romance element (that very conveniently only ever extended to ‘heavy petting’ a term I ludicrously asked my Mum to explain one night while we were watching ‘Hey Hey it’s Saturday’. Talk about #totesawks) I forgave Elizabeth and Jessica for their stance on waiting until they were married because I fell under the spell of their amazing sweet, Sweet Valley lives. For a girl who lived out the back of Frankston, this magical world included things I couldn’t even imagine; try outs for the cheerleading team, school dances and lockers! Lockers that you could lean back on with one leg propped up, clutching your school books to your chest and tilting your head to the side and discussing important things about your life with Bruce Patman. Oh stop!
Are you willing to write off Jessica and Elizabeth?
Bear in mind this was at a time where our exposure to North American high schoolers was low, we didn’t have much apart from books and the odd episode of ‘Saved by the Bell’ and the contrast between these amazing tales and the reality of my existence was stark.
We didn’t share a soda and fries after school at some brilliant old timey diner, we hid behind Frankston station to sneak a few drags of a Peter Jackson Super Mild and watch as our school fellows mooned us from the back of the bus to signal their departure.
These books had a lot, yes they were predictable, and probably reinforced some shameless stereotypes about women and as I re-read a couple now had quite an unhealthy obsession with materialism but at the time I loved them! And I guess the fact that I still have a few (at least not 603) lying around, I guess I must love them a little bit now even after all this time.
Jeff claims not to know much about this series perhaps because that’s because it’s a book and it doesn’t involve cricket. Anyway check out the video where Jeff and I chat about why our decluttering projects are seemingly doomed to fail…