Thrown for a Look cover



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[overall synopsis]


Vicki's summer vacation takes several surreal turnsat the beach in Fort Lauderdale, a country club fitness center, a contentious family reunion, and especially a bombshell exposé by (and of) her sister Tricia.
    “You are not going back to the beach tonight, young lady!”
    “I wasn’t planning to, Daddy! It’s raining again.”
    (Still, if the rain should tail off…)
    Which it didn’t till next morning, at the same time and in the same way as before: after Vicki’d pulled on the mulberry maillot, grabbed a towel, strolled past the Los Vistazo pool deck and down the drive to cross the street... and set Gidget Goes to Florida back in motion. Again her flipflops touched the sand; again this caused the rain to stop and clouds to part and sun to shine through; again an invisible director cried lights! camera! action! and the throng of beach party extras sprang up with a gladsome shout. Again Vicki was encircled by her Studly Trio, for a second day of fun and frolic and funnel cakes, chase-and-catch between pelican fly-bys and warily sipped beer—till five o’clock struck and the rain resumed its descent, washing away A Whale of a Time Part II.


Fiona Weller spends her summer vacation in the Punkamonium that is '77 on the Sunset Strip—with sidetracks into Jazz Age starlet-harlotry, and arrival at the "L" Station that has no train.
    —since this was breakneck, a plunge into the jungle, as abrupt and precipitous as the doomed plane’s to the island in Lord of the Flies
    —and here came a stormburst of shredded riffs and stompdown chords to engulf the mob and pound it with pulsing throbbing thunderbolts, galvanize it into savage tribal chants that celebrated darkness and lightning, without and within—
    —so no choice but to dance and no room to do so except by jumping up and down, as if at a demented trampoline convention (pig’s head on a pogo stick!) yet space enough for you to be swept off your feet and knocked to the floor, fearing you’d be bouncily flattened—
    —but a dozen hands promptly reached to haul you upright. Only one belonged to Rerun (who stuck so close by your side you could feel the metallic nibble of her safety pins) and one each to Tawdry Meadows and Shudder Bugge (who honed in on you unerringly through the Whisky crush) but the others belonged to stranger-neighbors, unknown friends; and when they too took tumbles, you in turn reached and helped with their uprighting. It might be a savage mob, yet not a brutal one; no biting, no mauling, no tearing with teeth or claws. However...

33—A Pitcher of Gossipade

Laurie Harrison (everybody's favorite blabberyap) spends a rainy summer day watching her entire life unreel before her tearful eyes. hitch the sarong-towel more snugly under your armpits and trudge upstairs, remembering the “Tropic Island Cruise” costumes at last May’s Cicada Dance, and how Kim Zimmer’s had fallen off when she’d tried to hang herself afterward. Now there was talk that the Zimmers had separated and left Vanderlund, neither parent wanting custody of poor Kim, which in spite of all the mean things she’d said and done to you was a terrible thing to contemplate—
    —but nowhere near one-hundredth as bad as entering your own personal private bedroom wearing just a couple of wet towels to find your own little sister making out with Patrick Baxter while both were stretched out on Susie’s mattress WITH NOTHING ON ABOVE EITHER ONE’S WAIST—
    Laurie let out a scream that set the Clevinger sheepdogs to barking and Susie to saying “Can’t you knock first?” and Patrick to going “All riiiight!” at the sight of so much Laurie in so little covering, for which topless Susie slapped his face just hard enough to leave no doubt that no ménage à trois would be taking place here or anywhere, now or ever....

34—The Vhite House

Their bunch fragmented by unfeeling schedulers, Vicki & Co. face the First Day at venerable Vanderlund Township High School—where they are joined by a standout dash of color. 
    “We’re going to have so much fun! This is going to be the time of our lives!”
    And other axioms to similar effect. Leave it to Alex to associate so much fun with going to school—especially the First Day at a new (Joss would say old, old) school.
    The Big Green Limousine, mercifully on time, trundled into view; as did a figure racing up the sidewalk alongside it. This enlarged to a sapphire skimmer containing a young black female who clearly wasn’t cut out for cross country. “Running like a girl,” as an epithet, might be hotly resentable; but seemed apt for the ladylike flaps and flails propelling this latecomer and threatening to lose one or both of her shoes, if not the satchel jangling dangerously from its shoulderstrap.
devil with a blue dress blue dress blue dress
devil with a blue dress on
echoed in Vicki’s brain for no good reason, as she raised a hand in what she hoped would be taken as reassuring encouragement..


Vicki, somewhat against her will, joins the JV volleyball team and attracts attention from both a fast-talking madcap and a vengeful identity-confuser.
    (we now rejoin this program already in progress)
    Hands up to block the incoming torpedo… no longer in flight. Hands taken and squeezed by teammates on either side… of a really weird perspective.
     Are you lying (or is it laying?) on the floor? With Coach Celeste pressing a chilly something to your nose? If it’s smelling salts, it’s (or is it they’re?) not doing its/their job: your nose feels completely stifled. And the wrong size. And the wrong shape. And so hot it authenticates you as a Broil. And IN PAIN
     —Marcia-Marcia-Marcia “Oh my nose!!” PAIN
    —that’s in no way lessened by Celeste saying “Tell me your name.”
    —OhmyGahd don’t you know me? Did I trip and stumble into the Twilight Zone?...

36—Una Gran Mano Para La Pequeña Dama

Vicki and Laurie each have to deal with impairments of their capabilities, on and off the volleyball court and at the hands of Dennis Desmond; while Fiona seeks professional (mercenary) retribution.
    Vicki instinctively executed an upright reverse dig-and-roll, overturning her popcorn tub and Filbert’s root beer as she wound up at arm’s length but with its end still clamped snakelike around her wrist as Dennis flung the driver’s door open:
    “Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume! Off, off your lendings! Come unbutton here! Naked as jaybirds shall we dance the night away, and not go to bed till noon!”
     Springing backwards into the deluge, he was promptly engulfed: fair hair turning sodden green in the murky neon, face bone-white in a fresh FLASH of fulguration, wide bright Joker-teeth all a-slaver...

37—After School Specials

Vicki's presence is requested by three different girls on three consecutive afternoons, for artistic/neurotic/disclosive purposes.
    For a minute they sat listening to the familiar lickety-click of public transit in motion. Then, just loudly enough to be heard, Is said: “When I was little, Mauly’d tell me the noise a train makes is really chains being dragged by the ghosts of everyone who’d ever ridden it—and are still riding it, there beside us. Not friendly ghosts like Casper, but zombie vampires that crawl inside your head through your mouth and nostrils and earholes, to suck your brains out while you sleep.”
    “,,,well, y’know, big sisters,,,”
    “Then she’d hide under my bed and make sucking sounds. Night after night. ‘Cause I’d scream every time…”

38—Shade Air

Vernonique Smith unburdens herself of a story (in G Minor) about what she'd gone through before coming to Vanderlund, and what she was up against a New (Black) Girl in the 'Burb.
    So Nonique finished that First Day of New School feeling miserable, and ever more so during her solitary walk “home” from the bus stop—solitary as in the only brownskinned person visible on the length and breadth of Kessell Road.  True, no Caucasian accosted her by word or glance; but all the other really fine places along both sides of that lilywhite street sounded the same challenges as the Rented House’s interior:
     Who are you?  What do you think you’re doing here?  State your business.  Show some ID.  Servant’s entrance is through the REAR door.  No excuse for failure to wear a maid’s uniform.  How long before you turn tail and go the hell back where you came from?...