#firstworldproblems … or, Canby Hall #14, What’s a Girl To Do?

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I have at least one piece of good news: it seems that the last book’s purging of one Randy Crowell has stuck, at least for now. He was nowhere to be found throughout this book. I’m no fool, I know it doesn’t last, but I welcome the respite, and I’m sure his fictional character does too. He’s probably somewhere power-washing watercolours off his truck.

Back to the task at hand. I’m not really sure what the title of this gem refers to, since this book was about a collection of random and rather unrelated issues that our intrepid threesome was facing, but maybe it’s a philosophical question. When faced with the varied paths one’s young life might take, what’s a girl to do? When contemplating the deeper meanings of life, what’s a girl to do? When one has spent the entire weekend navel-gazing in despair, what’s a girl to do? And by girl, I mean reader. Seriously, what are we to do with this?

Well, in today’s episode, the girls have to sign up to be hospital volunteers for a social studies project. Call me gifted, but I’m making my prediction now: medical shenanigans will ensue! Dana is assigned to work with the hospital dietician, whose work is so complicated that she uses a computer. Seriously! Dana is inspired by her mentor and forces all her friends onto a health-food diet. (Aside: One of the patients is ornery because he had foot surgery two weeks ago and the doctor wants to keep him a few more days. 3 weeks for foot surgery? Today, he’d be in and out in a matter of hours! Ah, the old days.) Terry becomes a hypochondriac, exhibiting the symptoms of every patient he sees. Faith meets an attractive (black, naturally) doctor at the hospital that she starts crushing on, thus introducing one of the most skeevy storylines in Canby Hall history. First of all, the dude was not a doctor, he was a 4th-year med student. In what era were med students called “Doctor”? I’m really asking: did that ever happen? Because in my med school years, no med student would have dreamed of calling themselves that, since everyone else above you in the hierarchy would have taken you down a peg, and fast. You’re not a doctor till you have that M.D. in your flattering, attractive palms, buddy.

Meanwhile, Shelley is obsessed with thoughts of the new school play (it HAS been three hours since the last one, after all.) She’s positive she’ll get the lead, but she loses the part to an unknown freshman, Elizabeth. Shelley, even though she’s a junior, is cast as her understudy. Tom, Shelley’s local boyfriend (not to be confused with her long-distance BF, of course) dumps Shelley for Elizabeth. Shelley cries oceans of extremely annoying tears. Even the other characters started seeming a little homicidal after a few chapters of this. This girl is lucky that a) she wasn’t my roommate, and b) she doesn’t exist.

Dana, too, has her own problems outside the hospital. Her little sister Maggie may be coming to Canby Hall next year, and Dana’s not happy about it. She’s worried that she’ll be expected to revert back to the big-sister role and be responsible for her. Naturally Shelley’s microscopic brain cannot wrap itself around Dana’s feelings, and she persists in making Dana feel even worse. Flawless Faith, of course, is completely sympathetic.

With all these unconnected storylines, I’m not sure if this next one is the B-plot or the L-plot, but headmistress PA is also thinking about instituting uniforms. Instead of taking a vote, or even just making a unilateral decision about it, she comes up with some harebrained scheme wherein each dorm votes for a girl to model one of three possible uniforms for a month so all the other students can point and laugh make an informed decision. To stick it to Pernicious Pamela, Baker House votes her as their unwilling model. (However it’s later mentioned that Mary Beth is one of the other models, and she’s also a Baker resident, isn’t she? Continuity, people!) Really, how on earth would you enforce that a student has to be singled out to wear something against her will — especially when that student is Pamela? With all her powerful Mommy connections, why didn’t Pammy put up more of a fight?

Faith, though, is too consumed with her crush on Frank the “doctor” (the quotes are mine, unfortunately) to worry about these teenage trivialities. Fake Fhysician Frank asks Faith to take some pictures of him to send to his parents. In return, he’s going to take her out to dinner. She is unsure if it’s a date, but hopeful that it is. Really, Faith, are you serious? This dude is well into his twenties and you are sixteen!!! Also, there’s the minor issue of your boyfriend, but I realize in this series that is a very minor issue. Fake Fhysician Frank actually picks her up at her high school for their dinner — and gets lost first, so he hits not one, but two dorms looking for his teenage dinner partner. I am trying to think of another synonym for “creepy.” But really, “creepy” will do.

During their dinner Faith blurts out that she doesn’t want him to think of her as his little sister, but wants to be his girlfriend (nice going there Faith), and he does at last tell her she’s too young for him, so I guess we can hold off on that call to Child Protective Services. But he then goes on to say that in ten years she should look him up. He has her write her home address on the photos for future reference. Wow, life was hard back then. When someone moved away, you really basically never heard from them again. Fake Fhysician Frank also gets a lot of sympathy for the hard road ahead of him. A 1-year internship, then a 3-year surgical residency. And … that’s it. Um, most surgical residencies are 5-7 years, not including fellowship. But why am I quibbling. Here’s a snippet of dialogue from their date:

Fake Fhysician Frank: “Do you think you might have a little crush on me?”

Faith: “I think I might.”

FFF: “That’s nice.”

WHO IS THIS WEIRDO?

Faith may not feel much concern about going out with another man behind Johnny’s back, but Johnny sure seems upset when he sees them in town. However he is quickly comforted when Faith explains what’s really going on (which isn’t actually very clear to me, personally. As far as I can see, a grown man is taking a teenager out to dinner and sweet-talking her. Where is the comforting angle in this scenario?) Frank is very welcoming to Johnny, but “warns” him that in 10 years he’s going to give him a run for his money where Faith is concerned. They all laugh and think this is cute, but all I can think is that this 25-year-old is so taken by this random high school hospital volunteer that he can’t find one other woman to pursue? FFF then finishes his rotation at the Greenleaf Hospital and rides off into the sunset.

While all this was going on, Shelley was still blubbering her days away, but I can’t be bothered recapping all of that. Just trust me, she was singlehandedly supporting the Kleenex industry and solidifying herself as my least favourite character. Theatre star Elizabeth turns out to be a shrew who’s a prima donna and is rude to everyone, and Tom starts regretting his wayward ways. Shelley tries hard to be strong. The night of the play, Elizabeth gets stage fright and refuses to go on. This could be Shelley’s big chance to play the lead after all, but Shelley does the right thing and pep-talks/bullies the freshman into going on and doing a good job. Turns out Shelley did it because even though she was the understudy, she never bothered to learn any of the lines herself. Ha ha! So charming, Shelley! Tom and Shelley decide they’re going to start seeing each other again, but not exclusively. Yeah, that’ll go well.

As for Dana’s problem, housemother Alison suggests that Dana invite Maggie up for a weekend to discuss her conflicted feelings. So Dana does, and it turns out Maggie’s equally worried that if she comes to Canby Hall she’ll lose her own independence and have to answer to her big sister. Immensely relieved, the sisters agree to let each other live their own lives. Problem solved!

Oh, and the student body unanimously votes against uniforms. The end.

Next up: social experimentation on minors without informed consent? Bring it on!

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One response »

  1. Pingback: The Perils of Temporary Honesty … or, Canby Hall #15, To Tell the Truth « The Girls of Canby Hall … Revisited

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