“You are Sarah Robsin, aren’t you?” the woman asked.
“Yes,” Sarah answered, surprised. “How did you know?”
“You are known for the things your group pulls off,” Miss Grayson smiled. “The Neighborhood War, the Katrina Masquerade, and haven’t you punched some people?”
You may not be quite as well-informed as Miss Grayson is. You may be wondering just who this amazing person of many talents (and apparent violence) is. Well, let me tell you.
Sarah Robsin is the heroine of several stories I wrote as a young teenager. She lived on Hartford Drive along with her best friends, Amy and Daryl; her cute blond boyfriend, Jeremy; and her arch-rival, Susan. Hartford Drive was one of “three neighborhoods all in a row,” and Sarah was referred to, unironically, as the Queen of the Three Neighborhoods.
She was pretty, popular, tough, and absolutely, positively not a fantasy self-insert. As I explain in this post, mind that H!
Some time back, I walked everyone through the classic Sarah drama Trapped! I realize that this isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but I think it’s funny, and this is my blog. So I’ve wanted to do another one for a while.
But it took a while to find a story. Not that I had a lack of choices — I think I wrote over a dozen Sarah stories. I just needed one that I wasn’t too embarrassed to talk about. I nixed the one where Sarah disguises herself to spy on her boyfriend. I also decided against the one where Amy’s sister turns out to be not dead after all. I guess her parents decided not to tell her, because all adults in these stories are idiots.
I settled on Talent Show Trials. You definitely should keep in mind that this one was the least embarrassing of the catalogue.
Talent Show Trials takes place before Trapped! Sarah still lives on the Three Neighborhoods and is locked in a neverending feud with the snobby Susan. The twist in this story is (I think) that they have to work together. Gasp.
This story does offer some vintage 80s references. And they’re completely authentic, because I wrote this in 1989.
So hang on tight! Once this story gets started, the action… um… well, sometimes occurs. Anyway. Here we go.
Talent Show Trials
By: Sara Roberts, age 12
“Come on, Amy! That’s an awful song!” Sarah Robsin exclaimed.
“Is not!” Amy White returned.
“Could’ve been so bu-u-u-tiful! Could have been so ri-i-ight!” Sarah screamed in a high, squeaky voice. Several people turned to look.
“She doesn’t sing like that!” Amy said huffily. ‘Could’ve Been’ by Tiffany was her favorite song and singer. Sarah hated it.
The story launches, as usual, with conversation between Sarah and Amy. I see that I had discovered the trick of showing emphasis with italics. Yes, indeed, I liked this device. I liked it a lot.
I think the actual lyrics of the song did spell “beautiful” correctly, but there wasn’t a such thing as Google to check these things. I didn’t like the song, just like Sarah didn’t. What a coincidence, seeing as Sarah wasn’t in any way a reflection of me. Remember that H.
Sarah says she doesn’t like the song because “Katrina likes it.” Oh, dang, I can’t avoid the Sarah-in-disguise story after all.
“You are Katrina!” Amy exclaimed. A few weeks ago, Sarah, Amy, and two of Sarah’s old friends went to a costume party. But Sarah went as Katrina Bell, Amy’s cousin, since Sarah was supposed to be gone. It was to see how Sarah’s boyfriend acted behind her back. As it turned out, Jeremy Wallace began to like Sarah as Katrina better than Sarah as herself.
Jeremy Wallace is not only a terrible boyfriend, he’s a kind of awful person. But he’s cute! Aww, I grasped that very important romantic trope at such a tender age.
Jeremy realized his mistake when Hollie Tipton, who was Katina Bell, and Jamey Harvey, who was Kasandra Bell, broke down laughing when Sarah, as herself, was chewing Jeremy out.
I stand in absolute awe here of how I introduced two new characters, their false identities, and recapped a previous story’s climax in one sentence.
Everyone called it “The Great Katrina Masquerade,’ since no one had known it was Sarah when she was Katrina, not even Jeremy.
My characters often talked about episodes of their lives under specific titles—just like in real life and everything!
Amy gets back to the question at hand.
“On the subject of the Mini-Concert. What song will we sing?” she asked.
“How about one from the 50’s? It’s more your style,” a snobby voice said behind them.
I think this was supposed to be a really cutting remark about how Sarah wasn’t up-to-date with 80s fashion. The 50s weren’t quite as vintage and cute thirty years ago as they are now. But Sarah snaps back with some current, in-the-moment commentary on 80s clothing fashion:
“Just because I don’t take a bath in a paint can every morning, Susan, doesn’t mean I’m out of style,” Sarah said without turning around. Susan Nicks was known for her crazy clothes.
“Crazy clothes” probably referred to the trend of neon colors and geometric designs that came into their own in the 90s. Or maybe Susan wore the hides of animals, I don’t know.
The next page or so reviews the fact that Sarah and Susan are enemies, and Susan is always trying to lure Jeremy away from Sarah (you have to admit Susan has some justification for hoping). It also brings in Sherry Smith, Amy’s personal enemy who is—this is going to shock you—trying to lure away Amy’s boyfriend, Daryl.
Sherry wants to know where Daryl is because she has to talk to him about the Mini-Concert. We still have no idea what the Mini-Concert is, except that whoever named it was about as creative as a 12-year-old during a boring summer in Mississippi. Just for example.
Anyway, Sarah and Amy won’t answer, so Sherry calls for backup. Evidently the population of the Three Neighborhoods includes thugs.
“Terecia!” Sherry yelled.
Terecia Jones, a pretty girl who seemed to take pleasure in bullying everyone on her neighborhood, Greenwood Circle, and the one beside that, Sun Street, and Sarah and Amy’s, Hartford Drive [running out of breath for this sentence, get to the verb already!], stalked over.
“What?” she roared. Amy and Sarah stood up.
“These two won’t answer me!” Sherry whined. Terecia was usually used as a defence divice.
My spiral notebook didn’t have spellcheck, okay? Okay.
So this Terecia is a scary girl. Is Sarah afraid? Ha, we scoff.
Then she saw Sarah. Her hand automatically went to her cheek. Sarah had socked her there once for insulting Jeremy. Sarah had a mean fist and a short temper, and she was the only one who dared to stand up to Terecia.
Good thing Jeremy has Sarah to defend his honor, what there is of it.
Terecia backs down and doesn’t make Amy tell Sherry where Daryl is, so Sherry flounces off to find him herself. Which was “pretty easy since they were right by the basketball court, and Daryl loved to play basketball.” What this says, in effect, is that the previous page was entirely wasted space. But that’s all right. Most of what I wrote at this age could be considered wasted space.
Finally, at the bottom of page 5, we find out about the Mini-Concert.
The Mini-Concert was the talk of Hartford Drive, Sun Street, and Greenwood Circle: the Three Neighborhoods. Every June 30, they had a Campfire to celebrate one month of Summer Vacation.
Because back in the olden days, children, schools got out on May 30 and didn’t start back till September 5.
They’d had the Campfire for 3 years now. It’d all been Sarah’s idea. Now she had another idea—a Variety concert, or Mini-Concert! Nearly everyone was doing something.
Um, so apparently it was named by a 12-year-old during a boring summer.
Sarah and Amy spot “the boys” talking to Susan and Sherry, so they rush over to prevent any unauthorized romancing. Susan is begging Jeremy to be in the Mini-Concert with her. Sarah sweeps in and announces that Jeremy and Daryl are going to be in it with her and Amy, and they drag the boys out of earshot.
“Thanks,” Jeremy grinned. “You rescued me.”
“Why can’t you just tell her to bug off?” Sarah asked.
“Don’t have the heart to do that to a pretty girl,” Jeremy answered. Sarah glared at him. He laughed. “I can’t tell you to bug off.”
“I couldn’t tell Katrina to bug off.”
Sarah clenched her fists. Amy hurridly stepped in.
Once again Jeremy is being his charming sociopathic self! Good thing Amy headed things off in a hurrid manner. PSA: do not get a boyfriend like Jeremy. Thank you for your attention.
Yet still, with all this thrilling drama, the burning question remains: What were they going to do for the Mini-Concert?
“Sarah won’t do ‘Could’ve Been,’” Amy said, as if Sarah was the dumbmest person in the world because of it.
I just included that line because I’m so impressed by my spelling of “dumbest.”
Sarah repeats that she hates that song, and suddenly Amy gets mad that Sarah expects everybody to follow her rules. She stomps away, gets on her bike, and pedals off furiously. Daryl and Jeremy glare at Sarah for upsetting Amy. Although I think Amy has a point, I’m honestly as mystified as Sarah is by this sudden personality change.
But hey, we’ll go with it. Sarah hops on her bike and heads after Amy. A huge black cloud is already over Greenwood Circle, from whence it would move to Sun Street, and finally Hartford Drive. Because they’re all in a row, you know, like neighborhoods are.
Amy’s personality change evidently includes superspeed, because she completely outstrips Sarah. Sarah finally sees her bike at Mario’s, “a nearby restaurant and amusement park” where Sarah and her friends often hung out. As a reminder, my town didn’t even have a McDonald’s yet.
Mario of course recognizes Sarah and is glad to see her, because he’s concerned about Amy. He points her out—she’s with a crowd of high schoolers.
Sarah didn’t like these people, so she jerked her away. She pulled her outside.
“Stop it!” Amy yelled. She tried to go back in, but Sarah blocked her.
“You smell like cigarettes.” Sarah’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You didn’t—”
“Of course not!” Amy yelled. “And what would you care?”
They shout back and forth for a bit and Sarah manhandles Amy to show how much she cares about her. Then Amy says, “Those people happen to be Sam’s old friends!”
Sam was Amy’s older sister, who died about three years ago. Amy tried to be like Samantha White in everything.
But she’s very discreet and has never, ever mentioned this sister until now as far as I know. As I said, there’s a later story where it turns out that Sam didn’t actually die after all. I can’t bring myself to read that one to find out more, though.
In the spirit of the 80s’ “Just Say No” anti-smoking and drug campaigns that pervaded our school, Sarah then lectures Amy about hanging around with people who smoke. “Just that smoke could kill you. How would Sam feel about that?”
That’s a pretty low blow, Sarah, really.
Sarah gets back on her bike and rides home in a pouring rainstorm. She can hardly see anything for the rain, and bumps into a telephone pole with a paper stapled on it. Since “she loved to put signs up on her walls,” she tore it off to keep it. I doubt it’s anything so helpful as a hotline to call if your best friend suddenly exhibits an alternate personality.
Daryl shows up in the rainstorm, asking about Amy.
“The creep is at Mario’s,” Sarah answered.
“Don’t call Amy a creep,” Daryl growled.
“Well, call her what you want. She’s in there with a lot of people. Smoking,” Sarah answered. Daryl looked surprised. Then he rode off.
By now, Sarah was soaked, so she rode on home, still clutching the paper. Sure, she lied a little. About Amy smoking, that is. But Daryl would get her out of there. She was worried about her friend.
Even if she was a creep.
It’s tough being friends with creeps, but feel free to be in a relationship with one *cough cough Jeremy cough cough*.
I hate to admit it, but that’s how I closed Chapter One.
Go to Chapter Two