She was leading a double life!
Background: Is it a major holiday? You can bet that Elaine Harper and First Love From Silhouette have got us covered with another teen romance featuring bizarre gender politics, absurd plot twists and highly detailed descriptions of eating corn muffins!
This week in Blossom Valley, the local teens have forgotten about the peril at the bird sanctuary and the freshman class running a prostitution ring out of an abandoned shed because it is the most exciting time of year of all- Easter!
The Plot: Fifteen year old Robyn Rowe has been engaged to the boy next door, Charles Butler, since they were three years old. Their parents and the other residents of Gazania Street are enchanted with the young couple. Sort of to the point of an unhealthy obsession. In fact, the only thing that the grown-ass adults of Gazania Street are obsessed with more than Robyn and Charles Butler is Gazania Street. Especially at Easter:
The Gazania Street parents had decided to have their own neighborhood Easter egg hunt, rather than letting their children go to the general hunt held in Plum Tree Park by the town of Blossom Valley. You could never tell what might happen to a child at that big community hunt.
There were often fights. It was a noisy, rough free-for-all that the Gazania Street parents wanted to protect their kids from.
It was no wonder, then, that the Gazania Street parents preferred for their children to associate with other kids on the block. That way they could keep them out of the way of any pot or other illegal substances that some teenagers might be subjected to.
Obviously, all of Gazania Street is constantly all up in each other’s business, so everyone knows the story about how Robyn and Charles Butler (a boy who is begging to be called by both of his names) have been “engaged” since the first day of nursery school and all seem to have an unwholesome investment in the emotional state of their relationship.
Charles Butler, at fifteen, has grown into an obnoxious proto-TechBro, since his family is the first on Gazania Street to get a home computer. He has become so involved in inventing a new video game based on The Tale of Peter Rabbit that he has been neglecting Robyn. In order to help Robyn pass the time, Charles Butler’s mother has taught her how to crochet in order that she may pass the hours in a more Penelope-like fashion while her beau figures out how to make Mr. MacGregor’s rake shoot lasers. This is where the trouble starts.
Stopping at the pet store next door to the yarn shop, Robyn notices a display of bunnies for sale in the window, and strikes up a conversation with the shop’s owner. Soon Robyn hits upon a merchandising idea for the shop, and gets the owner to sell crocheted collars for the rabbits on commission.
Charles Butler and the rest of Gazania street is not impressed or supportive, because what does that have to do with taking an interest in Charles Butler’s interests or keeping strangers off of Gazania Street?
“Pet collars? Weirdissimo!”
When she delivers her first batch to the local pet shop, she meets Antonio “Marty” Martinelli, whose family owns the rabbit farm outside of town. It is love at first sight- but what will she tell Charles Butler and (more importantly) the rest of Gazania Street?
Robyn convinces her parents to let her get a pet rabbit for her younger brother, and secretly makes arrangements to visit Marty’s farm. Then follows about 100 pages of descriptions of petting rabbits.
Robyn also befriends Marty’s entire family and convinces Marty and his younger sister, Alice to attend the school’s spring dance. There is nothing weird about your sister being your date! That’s the way things are done on Gazania Street!
Meanwhile, Charles Butler is completely occupied with finishing his video game, because he has attracted the interest of Entertronix, a company that wants to hire him as a consultant and programmer. This makes Charles Butler even more insufferable than usual:
“You really take this business seriously, don’t you?” Charles Butler’s eyes bored into hers as he shook his head back and forth in a signal of disapproval.
“Of course I do. So do the shopkeepers I sell them to,” Robyn snapped.
“In case you hadn’t realized it, the whole thing is wrecking your disposition. Naturally, I am distracted right now by the demands on my time. But once the game starts being distributed, and after Easter, when you quit all of this nonsense, everything will be like it used to be, only we’ll be a lot richer.”
Charles has to skip the spring dance in order to go to San Jose to meet with Entertronix executives, just as the demand for Robyn’s handiwork reaches an all-time high. Gazania Street is not impressed:
Mrs. Butler scrutinized the ad. “I was afraid of this,” she said. “I just knew when Charles Butler got so busy with his inventing, Robyn would get restless, and maybe a little resentful, and compete with him to make up for his lack of attention. Well, it’s just temporary, dear. As soon as this weekend meeting is over, Charles feels like he’ll be able to unwind.”
Robyn and Marty meet at the dance and pass a romantic evening under the watchful gaze of her fellow Gazania Street teens, who know something’s up. Robyn is torn by her feelings for Marty and her loyalty to the cult of Gazania Street. Of course, back here in realty, Marty also kind of seems like a dangerous stalker:
“What’s the matter, Robyn? Something always keeps you from me. You aren’t scared of me? Just because I’m so crazy about you, you’re probably afraid I might get out of hand. When a guy feels about a girl the way I feel about you, he’s not going to take any chances of upsetting her. And I’m going to love you forever, Robyn!”
DUDE! You literally met her last week!
Impossibly, Charles Butler comes back from San Jose more insufferable then ever: Entertronix has arranged for him to be interviewed on a national TV show called Kolossal Kids and provided him with a brand-new, top-of-the-line home computer! [So, a Commodore 128? –Ed.]
The TV crew interviews the whole Gazania Street crowd, and of course include the whole story about Robyn and Charles Butler’s long-standing “engagement”.
It soon becomes clear that Marty and his family were also watching the TV show when he and his sister start giving Robyn the cold shoulder. She is determined to break up with Charles Butler and win Marty back. But what will her parents and LITERALLY EVERY OTHER FAMILY ON GAZANIA STREET think of her? The mothers’ reaction to the news is not promising:
“Who is this fellow, anyway?” Mrs. Rowe demanded. “How can we tell if he is acceptable? Your father is going to feel terrible about this, Robyn.”
“It is a disappointment for us all,” Mrs. Butler added. “Charles, you should put up more of a fight. If she persists in this infatuation, you may find yourself very lonely.”
“The whole neighborhood will have to learn about this!” Mrs. Rowe exchanged an alarmed glance with Mrs. Butler.
Eventually things are resolved on Easter morning, when Marty comes to deliver the pet rabbit for Robyn’s younger brother and Charles Butler’s younger brother, Bubba, steals a rabbit out of the back of his truck. Isn’t Gazania Street supposed to be above this sort of thing? When Marty chases down Bubba he meets Charles Butler and they works things out:
“You guys have my blessing. I found out he’s a good Joe and a worthy rival.” Charles looked loftily over the crowd of Easter egg hunters, shook hands with Marty, and sauntered off down Gazania Street towards his computer.
See, girls? Just let the men work out all of the problems/your entire life. The End.
Sign It Was Written In 1984 Department:
The way the game came about was that the Butlers were the first family on Gazania Street to have their own home computer. Charles picked it up in an instant, and being around the computer made him quiver and radiate with enthusiasm. It was almost as if he had plugged the thing into himself.
Ladies And Gentlemen, We Have A Title! Department:
“A rabbit collar! Where did you get such an idea? Do you know someone who has a rabbit? Bunny Hug! Isn’t that an old dance they did back at the turn of the century or in the Roaring Twenties?”