Sweet Valley High #103: Operation Love Match
The Moral of the Story: You should just stay in bed when Mercury is in retrograde.
The Big Deal: Winston and Maria throw a barbecue beach party. It’s a total snooze.
Jessica and her friends are all about the zodiac right now, and Mercury rules Gemini and is in retrograde, which basically means that anything Jessica tries to do is going to go wrong. (Yes, the twins are Geminis. What else would they be?) This is bad news because she’s supposed to be trying to get Bruce’s parents back together. She asks Bruce what his parents’ zodiac signs are and decides to write a love letter to Marie from Hank. Disaster strikes when she goes to mail the letter: for plot convenience, Jessica decides to mail the letter from the corner mailbox instead of the Wakefields’ very own mailbox. As soon as she drops the letter in the box, she realizes she forgot to stamp it. She reaches in to try to get it out, but her bracelets get stuck and she can’t get her arm out. Just then, two cars pull up. One is driven by a hot new senior named Michael Hampton. The other is a police cruiser. The officer tells her he’s taking her to the station for tampering with the mailbox, but she says she’s stuck. Michael gets out of his car, assesses the situation and manages to get Jessica unstuck. Jessica, embarrassed, tells him she’s Liz. Ned has to pick her up from the police station.
Liz gets home from a date with Todd later that night and the family has a meeting. For throwing a party while their parents were out of town the previous week, both twins are grounded. For living with her boyfriend, Liz has to do all the chores while she’s grounded. The twins go upstairs to try to come up with a new plan for Bruce’s parents since the letter plan didn’t work. I guess it’s too much trouble to just write a new letter. Jessica, Liz and Bruce plan to meet at lunch the next day, but Jessica doesn’t show up. As they pass Jessica’s locker on their way to their next classes, they hear someone shouting for help. Jessica has locked herself in her locker. They get her out, and then Jessica notices Michael watching her. Totally embarrassed again, she turns to Liz and loudly calls her Jessica before running off to class.
Bruce and the twins meet at the Dairi Burger after school and Jessica devises a new plan while spilling her milkshake everywhere. The Patmans are meeting with their lawyers the next morning, so Jessica comes up with a way to get them together without the lawyers present. Bruce and Liz leave, and Jessica sees Michael sitting alone at another table. She sits across from him and starts babbling on about sports and cheerleading, then she orders an espresso and talks with a British accent. Michael leaves. Jessica is confused. On his way home, Michael thinks about “Liz” and how cute and clumsy she is. Michael is from the east coast, so that means he doesn’t play any sports and is used to a more conservative environment. Girls like Jessica make him nervous.
Bruce picks up the twins at five o’clock the next morning and they go to the Traceys’ house. Martin and Jan Tracey are the Patmans’ lawyers, and to get them out of the way, Jessica and Liz put Krazy Glue on their ignition locks. Both cars are unlocked, of course. As a disguise, Jessica is wearing one of her mother’s scarves and one of Bruce’s jackets. The next step is to go to the Traceys’ office during study hall and put the Patmans’ wedding album out where they can see it. Jessica gets stuck in the elevator. The Patmans start to bond in the waiting room and Hank says he was never having an affair with Alice. Marie believes him and agrees to go out to brunch. She asks him if he still has the scarf that goes with the jacket he’s wearing. Having mixed up his coat with Bruce’s that morning, Hank reaches into his pocket and pulls out a scarf that says “Alice” all over it. Marie freaks out and runs away.
Liz gets flowers from Michael, and the card attached mentions her clumsiness. Liz understands everything at once. Instead of just telling Michael what Jessica’s been doing, she goes to Michael posing as an extra aloof version of herself. Michael gives her a ride home and she acts totally calm and together. At home, Liz runs inside and then runs out a few minutes later dressed as Jessica. She pretends to trip on her way to the Jeep. Then she sees Michael, so she turns to the house and loudly yells, “Bye, Jessica!” Michael, thinking he’s caught her in the act, figures out that Jessica has just been posing as Liz to hide her embarrassment.
Jessica’s next plan for the Patmans is to fill Marie’s new house with flowers. She picks goldenrods because Bruce says gold is her favorite color. Turns out Marie is allergic to goldenrods. She ends up in the hospital. While she’s there, Jessica puts her next plan into motion. She gets a mini cassette recorder and tells Liz to record Alice talking about the reasons she broke it off with Hank back in the day. Liz does it and lets Jessica deliver the tape. Unfortunately, Jessica accidentally delivers the test tape she and Lila made on which it becomes clear Jessica is the one who has been interfering with the Patmans’ lives.
The last plan before Hank and Marie sign the divorce papers is a trip down memory lane. Bruce and the twins find a bunch of slides from the Patmans’ honeymoon and love letters and junk, and they set everything up in the “screening room.” Bruce has arranged for Hank and Marie to meet him and the twins at seven o’clock the next night.
Everything is a disaster, of course. Jessica is taking a bath and gets her toe stuck in the faucet. Liz comes running in when she screams for help. She gets Jessica’s toe out, but the doors have gotten stuck, so now they’re stuck in the bathroom. Meanwhile, Bruce is on his way home with a rented slide projector when he gets a flat tire. His spare is also flat, so he’s waiting on the motor club when his mother arrives at the Patman mansion. When Bruce and the twins finally get there, they find Hank and Marie kissing on the loveseat.
Michael finally ends up asking Jessica out, but they have a horrible time because Michael is an even bigger klutz than she is. Bruce gets back together with Pamela.
“Your mother’s right,” agreed Mr. Wakefield. “As a family, we’ve never believed in meddling in other people’s private affairs, and I don’t think this is the time to start.”
What family does Ned think he’s part of?
Elizabeth had saved up for a laptop computer and had given Jessica her old word processor.
Could a sixteen-year-old really save up and buy herself a new laptop in March of 1994, especially if she had no job and only an allowance?
The Cover: The twins are hard to tell apart here because neither one is wearing a watch or barrettes, but I’m going to guess Liz is the one comforting Bruce by patting him on the shoulder. Jessica looks bored, and I swear Bruce looks just like that guy from That Thing You Do.