Nugs: When I was in high school, I hung out with this dude who was a massive stoner. He slept near his bowl the way old people keep their fingers on their LifeAlert. The best part was that as long as he didn’t get arrested or thrown out of school or anything, his parents were actually OK with it, so he was super high, like, 24-7. It was pretty hilarious.
Lily: That sounds like someone I know … I … V … A … N ….
Nugs: Way to out your boyfriend there, Lil.
Now that we’re functioning adults, my friend realized that it might not leave the best impression to have paraphernalia haphazardly lying around his living room, so he keeps everything in the basement of his house. During the entire time that we’ve known each other, he’s acquired a collection so huge that he could probably open his own head shop. He’s got so much shit down there it’s insane- even more so now that he started growing his own plants. When I first took on Stay Out of the Basement, my first reaction was to call my entrepreneurial associate and ask him to write a guest post, if he wasn’t stoned or sleeping. I figured that this classic novel could only be about one of two things: his stash or my collection of RyanGoslingBluRaysohhaaaai.
Then I saw the book cover:
More monster shit? Way to be a liar, RL Stine and/or GWC. My sad, single little heart just broke.
Lily: I’m not even going to lie… I wouldn’t mind Ryan Gosling in my basement.
Nugs: I think we’ve already established that I’ve laid claim to this one, Lily. There are plenty of other viable candidates for you. PICK SOMEONE ELSE.
How have I not yet ben committed?
Anyway, Stay Out of the Basement opens by talking about this edition’s idiot children in the third person, although the GWC (no relation to NWA) still manages to throw in that the girl, Margaret, has “dark coloring.” >
BTW, can we please make a Gbumps crossover with NWA? That would just be amazing.
Lily: FUCK YEAH! I can rap. Like for real, for real. Not sucky.
Nugs: I still have yet to see vlog evidence of this. We’re all waiting…
Immediately while reading this I realized that this is the most glaringly ghostwritten of any book in any series we’ve covered at Childhood Trauma. I mean, yeah, continuity is for people with no imagination, but I’m pretty sure the GWC all work at Scholastic; it probably wouldn’t have killed them to have collaborated just a little on the format. The siblings don’t constantly try to murder each other, there’s no annoying first-person narration, the kids are ten and eleven as opposed to eleven and twelve and (OMGSRSLYNOWAYLOLOL) there’s an actual level of suspense! Well, for five pages, anyway.
Lily: Hey, in those five pages, a 4th grader could have a heart attack!
Nugs: An actual death? Don’t be ridic.
Margaret, her brother Casey and their mom have a mad scientist father who got fired from his job for doing something weird in the basement (where I come from we call this “pedobear”). Their mom has to go to Arizona to visit her sister in the hospital, and Dr. Brewer is left to babysit the kids, even though he spends all his time with his stupid plants. Gold star for you, NMotB!
Lily: I love that one of the parents always has a ridiculous ass job: mad scientist, genetically modified foods farmer, professors. Also, I was going to put a picture of pedo bear, but, I don’t want this guy coming to our blog:
Nugs: Do you think he even knows what the word “blog” means? I’m assuming we’re safe.
Also! The family in this book is named Brewer, and I was SO praying for a Kristy Thomas cameo where she gets eaten by whatever the monster of the week is. A pre-teen mutilating tree would make my year. Please?
OK then. Maybe next time.
Margaret, Casey and their cunty friend Diane settle in to watch a movie, which Diane immediately complains has too many explosions and “guts flying all over.” Does it make me a sadist if that’s exactly why I pick my movies?
Lily: Not at all. That’s totally normal.
Nugs: Egged on by uber-bitch Diane, the kids, who were warned by Dr. Brewer to “stay out of the basement” (and there it is!), decide that that’s exactly where they want to go as soon as their parents leave for the airport. As soon as they get downstairs, they come across all their fathers’ experiments, which includes a bunch of creepy-ass plants that of course they have to start touching and messing around with. We also get treated to gems like these:
“‘…just rub your hand on it.'”
“His entire body began to shake and vibrate. His head jerked wildly from side to side. His eyes rolled up in his head.”
“‘You were faking it?! I don’t believe it!”‘
Yeah, well, believe it, kid. You’ll be seeing that one a lot.
Lily: That whole dialogue sounds so wrong. Maybe their dad created Pedobear?
Nugs: And we’re the ones with issues. Whatever, RL.
Since #kidsaredumbyo, their father comes home and catches them in the basement, where they’re treated to the “I’m disappointed in you” lecture that always used to make me feel like total shit. I’m serious, that was way worse than being grounded or anything. The kids think that’s strange, since they usually get yelled at for fucking around, but they assume it’s because he’s upset that their mom is gone.
Lily: No, he just knows Pedobear is going to get the kids. Duh.
Nugs: Margaret and Casey start to notice other changes around the house, like how their father has taken to wearing a baseball cap, and how he’s pretty much stopped interacting with them altogether. Then Margaret runs into her dad eating plant food, and when she panics and runs to her brother, he laughs it off, because this is totally and completely normal. I eat plant food all the time. It’s Subway’s new Five Dollar Footlong.
Nugs: Right? Why would you not just FUCKING LEAVE? Or at least, I dunno, call your mom???
Later the kids are playing Frisbee (hello 1990’s) and they accidentally hit Dr. Brewer in the head, causing his cap to fall off and revealing the bright green leaves that have sprouted in place of his hair. Like I didn’t see that one coming. (Lily: LOL, WUT?) He finally sits them down and “explains” his work with some science shit that I don’t understand because I suck at science (and math, and history, and mostly everything having to do with academia), and basically what it comes down to is that he’s trying to breed animals with plants. Oh, OK then. That’s awesome. This better not end like that one time when I went to the Santa Monica pier with my mom and the parrot had a sword and tried to fucking kill me and my mom laughed at me because I freaked the fuck out and why do parrots talk because that is totally unnatural and not right and what the fuck? No.
Lily: Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Wait. Uh… what the? I don’t even … What? So he’s like the Green Giant now?
Nugs: Shhhhh, Lily. Don’t think. Just keep reading. Too much brain.
Later that night, Margaret is woken up by a sound coming from the bathroom and sees her father with green blood dripping from his hand. Later that day, they go into his room and find dirt and worms in his bed. Seriously, kids, it’s time to GTFO. I grew up in a house with three guys, and I was just worried about accidentally pulling a Ceiling Cat. Actually, I don’t know which would have been worse. Both sound equally as terrifying.
Lily: This just doesn’t sound right on any level.
Nugs: I know. It’s dirty for all the wrong reasons.
However, in their defense, they don’t eat the nasty green shit their dad makes for them for lunch. They throw it away when Dr. Brewer’s old boss, Mr. Martinez shows up. As the two men are talking, Margaret and Casey head into the basement. Uh, what? Oh, right- #kidsaredumb. Casey freaks out when a squirrel runs by and Margaret teases him, stating that there’s no way there could ever be a gray, furry plant, but after everything they’ve seen, is this girl retarded?
Lily: AN ETHNIC! WHOA! And he’s someone’s boss!
Nugs: Must be a mistake. What’s next, a Jew? Apparently I’m the only one RL isn’t in love with.
Later, the kids come across Mr. Martinez’s belongings in the basement, and realize that while he may have accidentally left without his jacket and tie, there’s no way he would ever have taken off his pants. Just what exactly goes down in this place? Is this Oz? And if it is, can we get Chris Meloni up in this shit, because my Wednesday nights are sorely lacking now that Stabler’s left SVU.
Lily: Oh, Mr. Martinez is Pedobear? Or he’s the Green Giant?
Nugs: Margaret and Casey do some detective work, which is really just picking a lock, because it’s RL Stine and/or Ghostwriter, and realize that most of the plants are gross half-humans, and that Mr. Martinez and their real father are locked in the basement along with the experiments. The kids are forced to determine whether the guy claiming to be their father is telling the truth, but really, girl, you just saw this other dude eat dirt, so apparently logic is not your strong suit. Luckily, Margaret gets the idea to cut one of the plant guys with a knife, and his blood comes out red, so she chops the other one in half, stating that she knew her “real dad” would have real blood. Um, thanks. Remind me never to get a paper cut around you.
Lily: Oh, it’s making sense now. Listen, Margaret and Casey, you guys are freaking dopes. Up until now, did you ever see your dad eating worms? Did you ever see your dad bleed green? No and no. Right? SO WHY WOULDN’T YOU INVESTIGATE SOONER!?
Nugs: See: #kidsaredumb
Later, Dr. Brewer explains that he’d been trying to make a “super plant-” mixing all the plants’ DNA molecules together- when he’d accidentally cut himself, creating a plant/human hybrid. He got super excited and carried away, and couldn’t stop himself, and eventually created a clone, who overpowered him and locked him in the closet. So basically, he’s really creepy and insane, and probably should have stayed trapped where he was. Mr. Martinez offers him his job back if he’ll destroy all the plants, and Dr. Brewer agrees, except for a “few normal ones” that he can plant in the garden.
Lily: Oh god. I hope he wasn’t getting federal funding for this project.
Nugs: This would have been a lot more fun with a chorus and a jive-talking hybrid.
Lily: Okay, so I have a Musicals station on Pandora, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing Little Shop of Horrors. And I bust out in song and dance when “Suddenly Seymour” comes on. It’s okay. You can judge.
Nugs: I TOTALLY won’t!
Fun fact about me: I was actually in this play when I was like eleven, at summer camp. I was in the chorus. This is a really awesome musical and everyone should click on this link. You know you want to.
After a long family dinner where Dr. Brewer claims that he’s destroyed all traces of everything totally cracked and the basement has been transformed into a rec room, Margaret decides to hang out in the garden that her father has planted. If I were anyone in this family I would stay away from plants for the rest of my life, but hey. Anyway, Margaret is just hanging out, sitting on a hilltop when a FUCKING FLOWER tugs at her foot and claims to be her real father. Whatever, Stine. We already know that the guy in the house has red blood, so he’s not a plant, and you’re not fooling us.
Lily: I don’t like this book. I mean… A huge pot plant is chasing me… I’d just light it on fire. Duh. C’mon Margaret!
Nugs: Me too, of course. I mean… no, that’s EXACTLY what I mean.
Also there’s a good chance that Margaret is high because this entire book is a metaphor for “getting baked,”and this shit is all in her head. Really, everything in Stay Out of the Basement was such a thinly-veiled cover-up for weed that I wondered if my lunch really contained just food.
Lily: They’re all high.
Nugs: I do appreciate the references, though. Thanks for taking me back to the ’90’s. I mean 2000’s! Yeah.