Sweet Valley High #77: Cheating to Win
The Big Deal: All-County track meet
Liz and Todd have been so busy lately they’ve hardly had any time alone. They manage to ditch their friends at lunch one day and eat together, but then Roger Barrett-Patman sits down with them and says the son of a friend of his mother’s is coming to visit. Mitch is thirteen and going down a bad path. Roger asks Liz to come to a barbecue on Friday to welcome Mitch to town and Liz agrees, even though she already promised Todd they would do something alone. Liz goes home that night and passes Roger’s barbecue invite along to Jessica. Jessica can’t go because she has to go to some store opening and cut a ribbon because she’s Miss Teen Sweet Valley, a title she hates now that she’s found out she actually has to do stuff.
At the barbecue, Liz thinks Mitch looks pretty rough because he’s wearing all black and has a pierced ear. Annie Whitman is at the barbecue with Tony Esteban, track star extraordinaire. Liz and Annie start grilling burgers while the boys talk about sports (don’t even get me started), and Annie says that Tony is the first guy she’s really liked since she broke up with Charlie Markus, but they haven’t even been on a real date yet. When Tony drops Annie off later, they share their first kiss. Tony feels like he’s on top of the world, which means something is going to happen pretty soon to make him miserable. Tony goes to the gym to get something and we find out his father is one of those overbearing “I will live vicariously through my children” kind of dads and Tony’s sick of it. At the gym, Tony sees a guy named Lou and thinks there’s something strange about him. Lou’s a nice enough guy, but something about him makes Tony uncomfortable.
Everyone goes to the big track meet the next day. In a ridiculous contrivance of plot, Liz is covering some sports for The Oracle now because some staff writers have resigned. She takes notes on the track meet while sitting right next to John Pfeiffer, the sports editor, who is doing nothing. Anyway, Tony falls and busts his knee. At the hospital, his father yells at the doctor when Tony is told to stay off his knee and walk on crutches for a week. After a whole day of being cooped up at home, Tony is tired of being an invalid and feels like he needs to get out. He goes to the gym to sit in the whirlpool. Lou is there and offers him some “magic vitamins” to help him get better. Tony is an idiot and doesn’t know what Lou is talking about.
Annie hates seeing Tony so down, so she suggests they go mini golfing with friends. Todd and Liz go, but Todd is pissy the whole time because Liz accepted the invitation on his behalf and he’s still whining about them not spending any time alone. Roger brings Mitch, who seems to be responding really well to Tony. Roger tells Tony that Mrs. Patman found an empty beer bottle in Mitch’s room. Tony offers to take Mitch to Saturday’s track meet and talk to him. He tells Mitch drinking is bad and makes him promise not to do it anymore.
Tony goes to the doctor, who tells him he can start running again. Tony is disgusted with himself when he’s not immediately running as fast as he used to. He goes to the gym to swim and Lou offers him his “magic vitamins” again. He claims he gets them from a doctor up north and they won’t prescribe them as far south as Sweet Valley. He promises Tony that his knee will heal super fast and he’ll feel great. Tony shells out ten dollars for the pills. He’s clearly never heard of steroids.
After a week, Tony is feeling great and running as fast as ever, but he only has four pills left. He goes to the gym to find Lou, and Lou tells him ten dollars was a special deal and if he wants more it’ll be an even hundred. Tony promises he’ll be back early next week with the money. He takes his last pill on Friday and worries about how he’s going to get through the weekend. He and Roger overhear some guys in the locker room talking about a guy who took steroids. Something they say makes Tony worry about Lou’s magic vitamins, but he does his best to ignore the idea. On Sunday morning, he goes to the gym and Lou tells him to come back on Tuesday. He won’t tell Tony what’s in the pills and gets pretty unfriendly. So Tony’s pretty sure they’re illegal or something, but feels like he needs to keep taking them, at least until the All-County track meet. The whole gang goes bowling one night, and Tony gets really competitive and ends up screaming at Mitch and accusing him of cheating. He also starts getting really testy and annoyed with Annie.
In case you care, Todd is now being really obnoxious. Liz tries to make dates with him and he bails, I guess as some kind of payback for her not taking his requests for alone time seriously enough. Jessica tells Liz she should kidnap him and take him to Miller’s Point. Todd has the same idea. He tells Winston he and Liz never have any time together (maybe you shouldn’t be canceling your dates then?) and asks Winston to blindfold Liz and kidnap her for him.
Annie goes to get one of her books out of Tony’s locker one day and finds a full bottle of mysterious pills. She takes one of them and puts it in her pocket so she can find out what it is. Her cousin, Beth, has access to a lab or something and tells Annie the pills are steroids. Annie confronts him, but Tony denies everything. Annie tells Liz and Roger what’s going on, and Roger suggests she get some fake pills made to look like Tony’s pills and replace the steroids with the placebos. Annie’s cousin makes the placebos and Annie and Liz switch out the pills. That afternoon, Mitch comes by the school to say goodbye because he’s going back to L.A. Tony apologizes for yelling at him at the bowling alley, and Mitch says he’s going to turn over a new leaf and stop drinking. Tony feels like a phony. Good.
Winston kidnaps Liz. Enid and Annie kidnap Todd. They all end up at the same restaurant at the same time. Does anyone care? I sure don’t.
Tony unknowingly takes the placebo pills for a week, then goes to the gym and overhears Lou and another guy talking about the pills. So now Tony knows for sure he’s been taking steroids and decides to tell his father and coach. He and his father have a heart to heart and Mr. Esteban realizes he’s been pushing Tony too hard, blah, blah, blah. Annie tells Tony he’s been taking fake pills for the past week, so that’s good news when he talks to Coach Featherston. He calls some kind of meeting and makes Tony take blood tests to make sure he’s okay to run in the All-County meet. Turns out he’s fine and hasn’t even been taking the pills long enough to feel anything but psychological effects. Tony runs like the wind and wins the race.
Elizabeth believed that beauty pageants were sexist, dated, and fundamentally unfair, and had argued that beauty queens weren’t selected for their talents or intelligence, but on the basis of their appearance only. Once she’d participated in the pageant herself, Jessica had grudgingly conceded that her twin was right. Elizabeth was glad Jessica wasn’t one hundred percent thrilled with her title. The lesson she’d learned might not have been easy, but it was very important.
I don’t even have the words to express my hatred for Elizabeth and the smug cloud that hovers over her day after day.
“Liz and Todd,” [Bruce] drawled. “I guess you’ve come for our ‘rescue a hoodlum’ barbecue.”
Bruce can be pretty funny sometimes. I just wish he wasn’t such a total ass.
“Just tell me when and where, and I promise to produce one blindfolded blond Wakefield twin for a little lesson in romance!”
Tony felt as if his heart would burst with joy. He knew now that magic didn’t come from pills. Magic was something you made yourself.
I think Tony should work at Disney World.
The Cover: Annie, what are you doing with that slob? Look at this guy. Put on a shirt that fits, would you? (I am not a fan of muscle shirts.)