Writer: Michael J. Pellowski
Art: Stan Goldberg
Length: 124 pages (115 prose and 9 illustrated)
Publisher: Hollywood Paperbacks
Publication Date: 1991
Price: $2.99 ($3.99 Canadian)
I decided to review a book in the “Riverdale High” prose novel series. This series was written by regular Archie writer Michael J. Pellowski and started in 1991 as part of Archie Comics’ 50th anniversary celebration. The series ran for a total of twelve novels plus a double-length “Summer Special” that consisted of two additional novels, bringing the total number of prose stories to fourteen. Each book features occasional, black-and-white interior artwork (presumably also by regular Archie artist Stan Goldberg, who did the covers).
The reason that I’m reviewing a novel now is because this particular novel, “Bad News Boyfriend”, would be adapted in 2007 as a 4-part story titled “Bad Boy Trouble”, running in Betty and Veronica Double Digest Magazine, No. 151-154. The story drew a lot of attention for its new, more realistic art style for the classic Archie characters. What many people didn’t know, however, is that the story itself was written around sixteen years earlier. I am reviewing the novel before the comics, so it will allow readers to compare the two versions of the same story.
The summary will be divided up by chapter, and my review will be at the end. This novel – as all of the others – is told from the first-person perspective of one of the characters. In this case, it’s Betty.
When I say Betty “tells” of something in the summary, it means it’s part of her narrative, not spoken out loud.
This summary is a lot more detailed than I’d do otherwise, but it’ll help to convey the amount of material that didn’t get carried over when I review the comic adaptation.
The front cover shows Betty walking toward the front entrance of Riverdale High School, but she looks back in concern at Veronica, who is flirting with Nick St. Clair, a guy that’s casually leaning against a fence and dressed to look tough. It’s a nice cover by Stan Goldberg.
Betty tells about Veronica, their rivalry over Archie, and Betty’s “love” and “deep affection” for Veronica. This segues to Betty, Veronica, and Midge being dropped off by limo at the movie theater. Midge comments it’s “a beautiful spring evening”. Veronica would rather be with a boy. Betty would, too, but she points out that most of them are at the amateur boxing match at the teen center. Veronica buys three tickets with a $50 bill and expresses her dislike of Coach Clayton’s boxing program and boxing in general. Midge says she enjoys watching Moose slug Reggie, then Betty tells about Moose and Reggie. Betty mentions they’re seeing a horror movie. Midge asks about popcorn and drinks, which causes Veronica to mention Jughead, so Betty tells about Jughead. At Veronica’s insistence, the girls forget the snacks and go into the theater.
After fifteen minutes, the girls get bored of the movie. A guy sitting two rows behind them makes himself known. Midge says she’s never seen him around Riverdale High, so Betty tells about Riverdale High. Veronica says he’s cute. Betty feels uneasy when the guy waves at her, so she decides to go for a soda. Midge and Veronica go with her. The guy decides to join them, but Betty sternly tells him not to bother. He follows them anyway.
In the lobby, they get their first good look at him, and Betty gives a visual description. He’s tall and dressed like a tough guy. Betty considers him cute but too cocky for her liking. Veronica flirts with him. Betty considers him to be a hunk but goes for the clean-cut type. She isn’t attracted to him with his clothes and haircut. The guy admits he didn’t pay and sneaked into the movie through the exit door. Betty knows the theater owners and gives her negative thoughts of people that think it’s admirable to be dishonest and cheating. Betty puts some change into the soda machine. Midge asks where he’s from, and Betty believes Midge sounds a bit infatuated by him. Veronica asks where he’s from. Betty gets her cup of soda from the machine. The guy introduces himself as Nick St. Clair from New Jersey. His father shipped him to Riverdale to live with his uncle and aunt, who the girls know as nice people. Nick winks at Betty. She ignores him. Veronica introduces herself, Midge, and Betty. Nick calls them beautiful. Midge and Veronica giggle, and Betty has to smile at his “tough-guy charm”. She might have liked him if he hadn’t bragged about sneaking into the theater. She throws her empty cup away. As Midge buys herself a soda, Veronica asks Nick when he arrived. He says he rode in on his motorcycle a few days ago. Veronica says she thinks motorcycles are cool. Nick offers to show his motorcycle in the parking lot to Veronica, much to her delight. Midge finishes her soda, throws her cup away, and goes to the ladies’ room to wash her hands. Veronica joins her to powder her nose. Betty stays behind to buy some popcorn. She tries to brush Nick off, but he follows her to the snack counter and tries to pick her up while she waits for her order. Nick offers Betty a ride on his motorcycle. Betty gets her popcorn and turns down his offer. Nick persists. Betty says it wouldn’t be right for her to ditch her friends. Nick downplays the importance of friends. Betty counters. Betty smiles, feeling sorry for him. Midge and Veronica come out of the ladies’ room. Nick lies when Veronica asks what they were talking about, which leads to Nick finding out that Veronica’s father is “the richest man in Riverdale”. Nick makes a funny face that causes the girls to laugh and makes a joke. Midge says the family has billions. Veronica says they don’t but are “well-off”. Betty observes, for once in her life, Veronica seems to be downplaying her family’s wealth. Nick tries to convince Veronica to take a ride on his motorcycle, promising to have her back in time to catch her limo. Veronica asks Midge and Betty if they mind. They pull Veronica aside and advise against it, but Veronica accepts Nick’s offer.
The four of them go back into the theater, so Veronica can get her coat. Nick and Veronica go out the side entrance. Midge asks Betty what she thinks of Nick. Betty isn’t sure. The two of them sit down to watch the rest of the movie. Even though it’s rotten, Betty welcomes the distraction.
After the movie, Betty and Midge wait in the limo. Betty is nervous, but she finally has the chauffeur take them to the Lodge mansion, guessing maybe Veronica went home, or, if not, she might get in trouble with her dad. When Midge asks if Betty thinks Veronica is okay, Betty lies to hide her own concern. Midge forces a smile and agrees.
When they arrive at the mansion, the girls bound out of the limo and run toward the mansion. Smithers lets them in. Mr. Lodge greets them. Betty asks if Veronica is home. Mr. Lodge is confused. Smithers holds the door open for Veronica for a while longer before closing it. Betty tells Mr. Lodge everything that happened except the parts about Nick sneaking into the movie theater and trying to hit on Betty. Mr. Lodge has Smithers try to contact Nick’s uncle on the phone. Betty apologizes to Mr. Lodge, and Midge takes half of the blame. Mr. Lodge says it’s not their fault and leads them into the sitting room, where they sit down. Smithers enters and gives a mixed but generally positive impression of Nick. Mr. Lodge is relieved. They wait without doing anything.
After about an hour, Mr. Lodge gets up to call the police. Nick and Veronica arrive home. Midge and Betty jump to their feet and race to the nearest window. Mr. Lodge joins them and notes they’re wearing helmets. Mr. Lodge goes outside. Midge and Betty remain in the room to not witness a father-daughter scolding. Veronica gets off the motorcycle, takes off the helmet, and gives it to Nick. Nick drives off as Mr. Lodge arrives. Veronica waves at Nick. Mr. Lodge shakes a fist and yells at Nick, which Midge and Betty can’t hear. Midge and Betty walk over to the sofa and sit down. They hear Mr. Lodge and Veronica arguing and getting louder. Betty warns Midge that they’re going to be part of this after all. Veronica and Mr. Lodge enter the room, continually arguing. Veronica finally apologizes and asks for forgiveness. Mr. Lodge agrees to forgive her on the condition that Betty and Midge do. Betty dismisses it with a joke, causing everyone to laugh. Mr. Lodge forgives Veronica and gets her to agree to not go off with Nick ever again. Veronica protests when Mr. Lodge bans Nick from the mansion, but Mr. Lodge cuts her off, kisses her on the cheek, and leaves the room. Midge demands to know where Veronica has been. Veronica suggests getting a snack from the kitchen and going upstairs.
The girls sprawl on the plush carpeting of Veronica’s bedroom suite in pajamas and gorge themselves on junk food and soda. Midge wants to know “the disgusting details”. Veronica dreamily recounts the evening, which consisted of a bike ride and getting pizza at a new pizza parlor on the highway. Betty makes a joke about Nick sneaking in and stealing pizza, but an angry stare from Veronica makes Betty apologize. Veronica says Nick not only bought her pizza but also gave money to someone else in line. Betty doesn’t know what to make of Nick. Veronica says Nick had gotten into trouble in school in New Jersey (pushing a teacher and getting expelled), so his father sent him to Riverdale instead of military school as a last chance. Betty compares Nick to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which upsets Veronica, so Betty voices her concerns. Veronica says “Nicky” just needs a fresh start. Midge jokingly advises Betty to stop trying to discourage Veronica from hanging around with Nick, because Betty might have Archie all to herself for once. Betty says Veronica would never trade in a “hunk” like Archie for Nick. Veronica compares “cool and witty” Nick to “ordinary” Archie. Betty says she’ll take Archie over Nick anytime. Midge says the only boy for her is Moose. Betty suggests telling that to Reggie to save everyone a lot of grief. After a bit more discussion about Nick, Midge starts a gossip session. Betty thinks about Veronica’s infatuation with Nick.
On Monday morning, at school, before homeroom, Betty is fumbling with her locker combination and thinking about how, after she had arrived home from Veronica’s, Archie had called her up and invited her to spend Sunday afternoon at the park. The weather was beautiful, and she had a great time. She didn’t tell Archie a word about what happened on the night before at the movies. Even though she and Veronica are rivals for Archie, Betty doesn’t take cheap shots if she can help it. She’d let Veronica tell Archie about Nick if she wanted him to know. Nick is currently the farthest thing from Betty’s mind. Midge comes up to her and mentions the horror movie. Betty pulls out her biology book and suggests they forget all about Saturday night. Archie and Jughead come up. Archie has overheard. Midge explains about the horror movie. Archie tells Betty that she never told him that they went to see a movie. Betty says a girl is entitled to some secrets and shuts her locker. She tells Archie not to think the girls are going to sit home on Saturday nights just because the guys want to watch boxing matches at the teen center. Midge agrees. Archie says he likes boxing, and all of the guys are taking boxing lessons from Coach Clayton at the teen center. When Archie bumps into a freshman, Betty tells of Archie’s clumsiness, giggles, and says the boxing lessons might improve his coordination.
Betty, Midge, Archie, and Jughead enter Miss Grundy’s classroom. She is their homeroom teacher, and they also have her for English lit later in the day. Archie and Jughead chat about Jughead’s appetite. The bell rings, and they go to their seats. When everyone is seated, Miss Grundy goes through the usual morning announcements. Midge reads a note from Big Moose that she got earlier. Betty tells that Moose, Veronica, and Reggie are in another homeroom.
Soon, the bell rings, and Betty, Midge, Archie, and Jughead head for Professor Flutesnoot’s biology class. Archie is hoping against another boring lecture. Betty admits Professor Flutesnoot is a little long-winded at times but says he’s a good teacher. Midge kiddingly calls Betty a teacher’s pet. Betty tells that science is one of her best subjects, and she always gets straight As. The room is close. Jughead goes straight in, and the rest wait in the hall for the rest of the class to arrive. Archie sees Veronica with Nick. Betty can only stare, unable to speak. Betty tells of Nick’s strange effect on people. When Nick sees Midge and Betty by the door and waves, they have to wave back. Archie is surprised that they know “that comedian”, and Betty and Midge tell him about Nick. Archie is surprised at the extent of their knowledge and asks them about it. Betty says they met him at the movies, and Archie says “Ooh.” Nick greets Betty and Midge, and Midge and Betty greet him. Veronica greets Archie and tells Betty and Midge that “Nicky” is in her homeroom and biology class, which angers Archie. Betty introduces Nick to Archie. Nick shakes Archie’s hand and jokes about the “dumb stuff” that “Red” does. Archie is enraged and looks like he might explode, but the bell rings before anything can happen.
They go into the classroom and straight to their seats. Veronica takes Nick to Professor Flutesnoot and introduces him as a new student. Professor Flutesnoot checks Nick’s class schedule, gives him a spare biology book, and points him to an empty seat near Archie and Betty. Nick takes his seat and winks at Betty. Betty sees Veronica staring at Nick. Betty opens her notebook. Professor Flutesnoot tries to lecture on the liver, but Nick jokes and makes squeaking noises. After three times (with no one ratting on Nick), Professor Flutesnoot asks Nick what his problem is. Nick claims innocence and says Professor Flutesnoot can’t prove he did it. Betty is kind of amused by the entire incident until Nick tells Professor Flutesnoot to ask her. Betty is nervous. She doesn’t want to lie but also doesn’t want to squeal and get Veronica mad at her. Archie rats Nick out before Betty can speak. Professor Flutesnoot thanks Archie and writes a note. Nick sarcastically thanks Archie and gives him the dirtiest look that Betty has ever seen. Betty feels bad, knowing Archie had spoken up to help her. Professor Flutesnoot sends Nick with the note to Mr. Weatherbee’s office, noting Nick set a record for the briefest stay in a new class on the first day. Nick doesn’t care and blows a kiss to Veronica before he leaves the classroom. Professor Flutesnoot resumes his lecture.
Nick wasn’t in any of Betty’s other classes that morning. She didn’t even pass him in the hall and guesses he might have spent the rest of the morning in the principal’s office. His name doesn’t come up again until lunch, when Midge asks Archie what he thinks of him. Archie says he’s trying not to as he opens his lunch bag. Archie jokes he doesn’t know if Nick is a man or a mouse, and they all laugh. Reggie asks what’s so funny as he and Moose sit down at the table with the hot lunches that they’d just purchased. Midge tells them to sit down and then tells them what happened in Professor Flutesnoot’s biology class. They all laugh at Archie’s joke. As Moose eats his hot turkey sandwich, he wonders if Nick will try out for the football team next Fall. Dilton says Nick may not be here next Fall and joins them. He says Nick got in trouble in Miss Riley’s history class, too. Midge and Jughead, who joins them, ask what happened. Betty tells that Jughead brought a packed lunch from home and also bought a hot lunch with several extra items. Dilton says Nick kept whispering in Veronica’s ear and making her giggle. Miss Riley asked him to stop. He wouldn’t. She ordered him to leave the room. Nick stood up and told her to go play in some heavy traffic. The class cracked up. When the class stopped laughing, Nick sat back down and refused to budge. Miss Riley had to send for Mr. Weatherbee to get him out of there. Midge can’t believe Veronica is hung up on Nick and gives her opinion of him. Betty says Veronica will come to that conclusion soon enough. Archie asks where Veronica is. Her regular seat at the table is empty. Dilton announces her arrival with Nick. Veronica and Nick walk over to the table. Veronica says she invited “Nicky” to sit at their table and asks if they mind. Betty says no, and everyone else reluctantly agrees. Veronica and Nick sit down. Nick and Archie get into an argument over Archie ratting Nick out. They each state the philosophy of where they come from: where Nick comes from, it’s the students against the teachers; in Riverdale, teachers and students work together. Dilton and Moose agree. Nick looks at them. Betty is afraid an argument is going to break out. Veronica asks Nick if he’s hungry and says she’s famished. Nick asks “Beautiful” what he can get her. Betty sees Archie grimace. Veronica orders a salad, tells Nick to get something for himself, and starts to give him a $10 bill. Nick says it’s on him and walks away. Veronica calls Nick wonderful and generous. Archie finishes his lunch and offers to drive Veronica down to Pop Tate’s after school for a soda. Veronica apologizes but says she already promised Nick that he could take her to Pop’s on his motorcycle. Archie is mad, mashes his lunch bag between his hands, and tells her to have a good time. Wanting to change the subject, Betty asks Archie if he’s finished already. Archie says he’s had just about enough of this lunch and goes to get changed early for gym. Reggie and Moose get up and join Archie. Betty says she’ll see Archie in gym; they are both in the same co-ed gym class next period. Nick returns with a tray with a salad and several drinks on it. He puts it down in front of Veronica. Veronica asks how he got back so quickly, because the lunch line is really long today. Nick says he cut in front of “a couple of dorky freshmen” near the entrance and asks where everybody is. Jughead explains. Nick says he has gym next period, too. He sits down, takes a carton of milk from Veronica’s tray, and says he doesn’t go in for “all that fitness junk”. Betty rolls her eyes and tells that Moose won’t have to worry about Nick going out for football. Veronica says Betty is lucky for having both Nick and Archie in her gym class. Betty agrees as pleasantly as she can while watching Nick slurp up his milk through a straw. Betty is upset at having Nick in another class and wonders how Nick will get along with no-nonsense Coach Clayton. Veronica wishes she had gym with them and says she and Midge are “stuck in boring old health class” this semester. Midge reminds Veronica that Veronica hates gym for the sweating and danger of nail-breaking. Veronica tells her that ladies “perspire”. Nick agrees, pulls out a couple of wrapped sandwiches that were concealed in his leather jacket, and bites into one. Dilton says sweating and perspiring are exactly the same. Veronica asks Nick where he got the sandwiches. Nick says they were a gift; he picked them up in the lunch line. As Nick pulls a package of cookies out of one of his pockets, a pack of cigarettes falls on the floor. Nick picks them up and puts them into another pocket. Dilton asks Nick in disbelief if he stole the sandwiches. Nick says they were a gift and starts on his second sandwich. Diltons disputes that. Nick snatches Dilton’s dessert pie from his tray. Dilton protests. Nick says the pie and sandwiches are gifts and asks “bright boy” for confirmation. Dilton nervously agrees, excuses himself, and walks away. Betty feels sorry for Dilton and tells about him – including that he’s one of the few boys in school not participating in the boxing lessons at the center. Midge says she’s finished and needs to go to her locker before class. Veronica goes with her. Her locker is near Midge’s locker. Nick is finishing lunch. Veronica asks if he’d like to come with them. Nick declines and says he’ll let Betty show him where the gym is. Betty cleans up her mess and says Veronica can show him on her way back from her locker. Veronica tells Betty to go ahead and show him but not get fresh. Veronica and Midge leave. Betty and Nick stand up. Betty says bye to “Juggie”. Jughead looks up from his food and waves. Nick follows Betty to the trash can, where she dumps her garbage. Nick asks Betty why she doesn’t like him. Betty expresses her confusion and uncertainty.
As they go into the hallway, Nick asks who cares about “those dorks”. Nick says friends can’t be trusted. Betty asks what they’re talking about. Nick tells “Blondie” that he’s talking about them; he has a thing for blondes. Betty stops, turns, stares at Nick, and asks what, exactly, he’s saying. Nick says Betty should give him a chance and go out with him; once she gets to know him better, she’ll really like him. Betty reminds him of Veronica. Nick says Veronica’s money makes her appealing, and she’s beautiful, but she’s not his type. Betty is upset and calls Nick “slime”. She asks if he cares anything about Veronica or is just using her as some kind of toy. Nick asks what’s it to her. Betty says Veronica is her friend, she’d never do anything to hurt Veronica, and Nick better not either. Betty is relieved when they reach the gym. Nick makes a joke and leaves Betty by herself. The changing bells ring. Doors open, and a “flood” of students enter the hall. As Betty walks into the girls’ locker room, she wonders aloud what Veronica has gotten herself into this time.
Betty tells of her, Veronica’s, and Archie’s feelings regarding Nick and how Archie and Betty are spending more time together as a result. Betty doesn’t enjoy it, because she’s seeing her best friend being taken advantage of. Betty has tried to tell Veronica several times about Nick but couldn’t. She’s not sure that Veronica would believe her. Betty tells of how love being blind must be true in Veronica’s case. Nick got into some kind of trouble every single day. Betty finds it apparent that Nick isn’t looking for a fresh start in Riverdale but to pick up where he left off at his old school. The teachers are getting fed up with Nick, too. He never comes to class prepared or does any homework. He constantly disrupts lessons. By his second week in school, he’s been thrown out of all of his classes at least once – except for Miss Grundy’s English lit class. Miss Grundy refuses to throw him out, no matter what. She’s as hard on Nick as he is on all of his other teachers. Betty finds it almost funny to watch Miss Grundy make Nick squirm in his chair each time that he fails to turn in a homework assignment.
As she exits the girls’ locker room after gym class, Betty thinks about the homework assignment that Miss Grundy gave the day before: twenty tough questions about a story that they’d read in class (which Betty spent most of the night before answering). Midge calls Betty as she walks down the hall, so Betty stops and waits. Midge storms up to her angrily. Betty asks what’s wrong and if something happened in health class to tick her off. Midge says Nick asked her something. Betty wonders if Nick asked Midge out behind Veronica’s back. Betty hasn’t told anyone that Nick keeps trying to hit on her when Veronica isn’t around, “not even Midge”. In a way, Betty hopes Nick had asked Midge out; given Moose’s temper, that would be the end of Nick. Betty asks what Nick did. Midge says the “crumb” asked her to give him her English Lit homework to copy during gym class. Betty and Midge discuss Nick and Miss Grundy. Midge says Nick isn’t scared enough of Miss Grundy to do his own homework, and Midge isn’t scared enough of him to give him her homework. Betty compliments Midge on that.
Betty says she’ll see Midge in class and goes into the girls’ room to comb her hair. She and Veronica literally bump into each other. Veronica asks Betty if her parents are still going away this weekend. Betty nods. During a phone call, several days ago, Betty had mentioned to Veronica that she’d have the house to herself this weekend, because her parents are flying out to visit her older sister, Polly. Betty asks Veronica why, rules out a party, and reminds Veronica that her parents don’t allow parties when they’re not home. Veronica asks if she could spend Saturday night at Betty’s house. Betty happily agrees, calling it a payback for spending the night at Veronica’s. Betty notices a mischievous twinkle in Veronica’s eye and suspects something else is going on. Betty asks if there’s a special reason that Veronica wants to spend Saturday at her house. Veronica admits she wants to go out with Nick on Saturday, and Nick’s not welcome at Veronica’s house. Betty concludes Veronica wants to cover up the date. Veronica says she’s not really disobeying her father and pleads with Betty, saying, if she doesn’t go out with Nick on this Saturday, she’ll “just die”. Betty doesn’t want to agree but doesn’t know how she could refuse her best friend. Betty finally agrees but wants Veronica to promise to come home early – and then keep that promise. Betty then thinks she sounds just like a parent. Veronica promises, kisses Betty on the cheek, and thanks Betty. Veronica rushes out, happy. Betty quickly combs her hair and wipes off Veronica’s lipstick. Betty walks to class, trying to beat the late bell. Miss Grundy, standing in the open doorway, tells her to hurry.
Veronica wonders to Betty where Nick is. After taking attendance, Miss Grundy says to pass the homework forward. The door opens, and Nick swaggers into the classroom. Miss Grundy asks if Nick has a late pass and his homework. Nick has neither. Miss Grundy asks when he’s “going to get with the program”. Nick yells at Miss Grundy and tells her to back off before she gets hurt. The room is “deathly silent”. Even Veronica seems surprised by Nick’s sudden outburst. Miss Grundy lectures Nick, but he jokes. She scribbles a note on a scrap of paper and tells him to take it to Mr. Weatherbee. Nick snatches the paper and jokes that “The Bee” and he are “becoming real buddies”. He leaves the classroom and slams the door behind him. Betty sneaks a peak at Veronica and sees a shocked expression on her face, but Veronica sympathizes with “Nicky”, because everybody is against him. Betty’s mouth falls open. She can’t believe her ears. Betty wonders what it would take to make Veronica see Nick for what he really is.
At Betty’s house on Saturday night, while Veronica puts on makeup in Betty’s bathroom in preparation for her date with Nick, Betty reminds Veronica of her promise to get back early. Veronica says she will and tells Betty to stop nagging her (she’d been doing it ever since Veronica arrived). Betty stops nagging her but wishes Veronica wouldn’t go out with Nick. Betty exits her bathroom, flops on her bed, and asks if Veronica’s dad suspected anything. Veronica says no; her father trusts Betty more than Veronica’s other friends and likes it when Veronica spends time at Betty’s house, thinking it gives Veronica a firsthand glance at how the middle class lives. That makes Betty both mad (at Veronica’s snobby crack) and sad (for helping Veronica to deceive her father). Betty gets up and says she hopes Veronica won’t make a habit of dating on the sly. Veronica says she’ll think of another safe place where Nick and she can meet in the future. Betty grunts her agreement, looks into the empty hallway, and wonders what her own parents would think of this. Betty feels ashamed at helping a friend be deceitful. Veronica asks Betty if she’s staying home. Betty says yes; Archie was going to take her to the mall, but Betty told him that she had to stay in; Betty thought it would be best if she just stayed home tonight. Betty tells that going two Saturdays in a row without a date wasn’t much fun. Veronica comes into the bedroom, wearing expensive designer jeans, new boots, and a beautiful sweater. Betty tells that Veronica looks gorgeous. Veronica teases Betty that giving up a date with Archie to play mother hen is quite a sacrifice and adds that she can remember when Betty would have killed for a date with Archie. Betty says the same thing regarding Veronica. Veronica says that was before Nick. They hear a motorcycle outside. Veronica is nervous and tells Betty to keep Nick company while she finishes dressing.
Betty agrees, walks into the hall, and thumps down the stairs. She hears the motorcycle engine stop and the front doorbell ring. Betty takes a deep breath, opens the door, and invites Nick in. Nick thanks her and walks in. Betty shuts the door, explains Veronica isn’t quite ready yet, suggests they sit down, and leads Nick to her living room. Nicks glances this way and that. Betty sits on the sofa and asks him if he’s looking for hidden video cameras. Nick laughs and says Betty’s sense of humor is almost as good as his. Nick sits right beside Betty, making her uncomfortable. He tries to sneak an arm around her. Betty orders him to stop, pushes his arm off her shoulders, and tells him that Veronica is right upstairs. Nick suggests a kiss before Veronica comes downstairs and tries to pull Betty into his arms. Betty breaks free, gets to her feet, warns Nick to never do that again, says she decides who is going to kiss her and when, and adds, if Veronica wasn’t here, she’d punch Nick’s lights out. Nick chuckles and says he bets Betty could do it. Veronica comes down the stairs, announces she’s ready to go, and apologizes for keeping Nick waiting. Nick gets up, compliments Veronica on her appearance, and puts an arm around her. Betty tells that it’s as if nothing happened between herself and Nick. Nick pulls Veronica toward the front door. Veronica says bye to Betty and thanks her again as she and Nick leave. Betty says bye to Veronica and tells her to have a good time and remember her promise. Betty closes the door and locks it. She hears the motorcycle engine roar outside. Betty catches a glimpse through the front window of them speeding off. Betty says it’s going to be a long evening.
Betty spends the next few hours channel surfing. The telephone rings. Betty wonders who could be calling. Midge and Big Moose were out at a movie. Betty guesses it might be her folks checking up on her – or, better yet, maybe Archie. Betty answers the telephone cheerily but shivers when it’s Mr. Lodge asking to speak to Veronica. Betty gasps and decides to stall. She tells Mr. Lodge that Veronica can’t come to the phone right now. When Mr. Lodge asks why not, Betty has to lie, even though she doesn’t want to. Betty says Veronica is in the shower. Mr. Lodge gives Betty a message for Veronica: Mrs. Lodge and he won’t be home tomorrow when Veronica returns, because the Van Pelts invited them to brunch. Betty promises to tell Veronica and asks if there’s anything else. Mr. Lodge says no, says good night, and tells Betty to have a good time and tell Veronica that he loves her. Betty says she will, hears him hang up, and hangs up. Betty feels terrible and has a sour taste in her mouth. She vows to talk with Veronica about it when she returns. Betty goes back to her spot in front of the TV. After a while, Betty finds an old, black-and-white romantic flick, and then she watches an old, unnamed sitcom that is obviously “The Honeymooners”.
Betty dozes off and wakes up when she hears a motorcycle outside. Betty checks her watch; it’s 1:30; Veronica had promised to return no later than 1:00. Betty hears the motorcycle drive away. One minute later, Veronica unlocks the door with the key that Betty had loaned her. Veronica rushes into the house and explains Nick had trouble with his motorcycle. Betty says she thinks Nick is the trouble, closes the door, and re-locks it. Veronica swears she’s not kidding and says Nick’s bike needs a tune-up real bad, but he doesn’t have enough money to do it. Betty, disgusted, says she hopes Veronica didn’t loan him any money. Veronica says no, but, if she did, she knows he’d pay her back. She asks Betty what she did while she was gone. Veronica gets out of her coat, walks into the living room, and helps herself to some of Betty’s leftover snacks. Betty tells her about the TV and phone call. Veronica nervously asks if Betty told him where she was. Betty says she lied for Veronica; she lied to cover for Veronica this time but will never do it again. Veronica says she wouldn’t expect Betty to and apologizes for putting her in that position. She calls Betty her best friend and says she’d never do anything to jeopardize their friendship. Betty admits she feels the same way but wishes Veronica would reconsider this relationship with Nick before something bad happens. Veronica says she knows Betty doesn’t care much for Nick, and most of their friends dislike him, but there’s something about him that she’s attracted to. Veronica can’t explain it exactly. Betty nods. Veronica says maybe it’s because Nick is “so witty and macho” – or because people notice them when she rides with him on his motorcycle. Betty says people notice Veronica without Nick. Veronica says they notice her, because she’s Veronica Lodge, “the richest girl in town”; this is different. Betty agrees, yawns, and says she’s tired. Veronica admits she is, too, and suggests going to bed. As Betty shuts off the living room lights, she gives Veronica the brunch message. Veronica yawns and nods. Betty adds the love message. Veronica says she knows and that she loves her father, too.
The next week, all of the teachers at school begin cracking down on Nick’s wild antics. According to gossip, Nick’s aunt and uncle and Mr. Weatherbee had a serious meeting on Wednesday; Nick’s attitude and work had to improve quickly, or he’d be sent to a private military school. Whether the gossip is true or not, Nick’s behavior doesn’t change very much. Nick especially gets in trouble in Miss Grundy’s English lit class. Miss Grundy tells “Nicholas” for the fifth and final time to stop “pestering” Veronica. To Betty’s amazement, Nick doesn’t argue, but, soon as Miss Grundy turns her back, he mutters “Drop dead, you homely old hag.” Miss Grundy doesn’t hear him. Miss Grundy assigns a 1,200-word essay about likes and dislikes of the novel that they read in class this week. Everyone except Dilton groans at getting a homework assignment on a Friday afternoon. Dilton enjoys doing homework. Betty guesses, if she was a genius, she would, too. Miss Grundy says the assignment will be due next Monday. Midge says there goes the weekend. Veronica agrees. Miss Grundy says she expects everyone to turn in a good effort, looking directly at Nick as if privately warning him. She adds the paper will count for a good part of this semester’s grade; anyone that doesn’t turn it in is almost guaranteed to fail the course. Nick gives Miss Grundy a look of hate. She stares him down. He finally looks away, muttering something under his breath that Betty doesn’t catch. The changing bell rings. Everyone gets to their feet. Dilton expresses his enthusiasm for starting the assignment and his love of the novel. Betty notices Nick looking at Dilton strangely as he and Veronica follow them into the hall. Betty and Dilton say bye to each other. Midge, Archie, and Betty go in one direction. Nick and Veronica go in another.
It isn’t until the final bell of the day sounds that Betty sees Nick again. Archie and she walk out to the student parking lot. Archie is going to drive her home. As they exit the building through a seldom-used door near the gym, they stumble across Nick holding Dilton up against the building’s brick wall. Nick has his free hand balled into a fist in front of Dilton’s nose. Dilton’s books are scattered on the ground. Dilton is struggling uselessly to free himself. Nick threatens the “little wimp” with physical violence if he doesn’t write his essay for him, but Dilton bravely refuses. Just as Nick is about to hurt Dilton, Archie yells at Nick, drops his books, and bolts toward them. Betty has never seen Archie move so fast before – not even on an athletic field. Archie catches Nick by surprise and shoves him backward onto the pavement. Dilton thanks Archie. Archie nods but keeps his eyes on Nick. Archie slowly curls his hands into fists. Nick gets to his feet and moves toward Archie. Betty can’t help but scream. Nick boasts to Betty about beating up Archie. Dilton backs up beside Betty. The door behind them swings open, and Coach Clayton rushes out, demanding to know what’s going on. Nick tells him to keep out of it. Coach Clayton moves between Archie and Nick and tells them to put their fists down in a tone that sends slivers down Betty’s spine. Archie instantly obeys. Nick hesitates. Coach Clayton demands he obey. Nick slowly uncurls his fists. Betty believes Nick has no intention of defying Coach Clayton face-to-face. Nick and Archie banter for a bit. Coach Clayton demands to know what this is all about. Archie says it’s private. Coach Clayton prods Nick. Nick says Archie was going to give him a boxing lesson. Coach Clayton offers to referee a boxing lesson at the teen center tomorrow morning, an hour before it opens. Archie and Nick agree to be there at 9:00 AM. Coach Clayton reminds them to follow the rules. He also invites Dilton and Betty (but no other spectators) to attend. Dilton and Betty agree. Archie and Nick also agree. Coach Clayton tells Archie and Nick to stay away from each other until then. Nick agrees and goes to meet Veronica at his motorcycle (announcing it as he leaves). The others watch him leave.
The next morning, at the teen center, Archie and Nick are in separate corners of the ring. Coach Clayton reminds them of the rules and then gives some instructions to Dilton (such as each round lasting two minutes), the bell-ringer. Betty looks around, hardly believing she’s there at “that hour in the morning” to watch a fight. She tells her feelings regarding violence and when to use it. She admits to wanting to see Archie hit Nick but is there to show her support for Archie. The bell rings, signaling the start of the match. Archie knocks Nick down, but Nick gets back up. Archie dodges most of Nick’s punches and keeps hitting Nick, but Nick does hit Archie a few times. Betty eventually can’t bear to watch any more and looks away. The bell rings to end the first period. Betty looks up. Coach Clayton is checking on the two fighters and asks them if they want to continue. Nick and Archie agree. Betty tells of Nick looking tired out and Archie looking “fresh as a daisy”. Betty also tells that Nick is slower and more awkward. Coach Clayton nods to Dilton. Dilton hits the bell, and round two begins. Archie does a lot better than Nick. Betty tells her observations of the fight and that Nick’s cigarette smoking has something to do with Nick looking fatigued and out of condition. Round two ends. Coach Clayton asks Archie and Nick if they’re ready for the last round. They both nod. Dilton hits the bell, and round three begins. Betty tells her observations of Archie, Nick, and Coach Clayton. She’s proud of the fact that Archie holds back and doesn’t knock Nick out, even though he could. Betty wishes Veronica was here to see this. The bell rings to end round three. As Archie drops his hands, Nick punches Archie in the face with his right fist. Archie falls to the canvas, a bit dazed. Betty dashes toward the ring and calls Nick on what he did. Dilton and Betty scramble into the ring. Betty doesn’t care that she’s ruining the knees of her new jeans; she wants to get to Archie. Archie mumbles he’s okay. Coach Clayton helps prop him up. Nick asks if Coach Clayton isn’t going to count Archie out. Coach Clayton tells Nick that the fight was already over and that Nick fights dirty. Nick says winning the fight is what counts where he comes from, not how you win it. Betty says she wishes Nick would go back to where he came from and that Riverdale was a better place before he arrived. Nick says things change and gloats as Betty, Dilton, and Coach Clayton help Archie to his feet. Nick unties his gloves with his teeth. Betty, Dilton, and Coach Clayton remove Archie’s headgear. Coach Clayton says Archie’s going to have a little bit of a black eye. Archie laments he won’t be able to get a date for tonight. Betty assures him that he will. They smile at each other. Nick tosses his gloves on the canvas and invites “Blondie” to call him for a date with “a real man”. He drops his headgear and mouthpiece and climbs out of the ring. Coach Clayton remarks he doesn’t think he’s ever met anyone like Nick and that Nick actually likes making enemies. Dilton agrees. Betty sighs and says some people just don’t like to change for the better and that Nick has a lot to learn about the value of friendship.
On Saturday night, Archie and Betty stargaze in Old Betsy, Archie’s bright red jalopy, at the top of Hamilton Hill, a dead-end country road in Riverdale where couples go to “talk”. Betty tells that her own parents often stopped there when they were teens. Betty tells Archie that he was wonderful today. Archie has a black left eye. He thanks Betty and jokes about it. Betty giggles as Archie holds her close. It feels good for Betty to rest her head against Archie’s shoulder. Betty tells that all of her troubles seem to vanish and refers to Archie as the boy of her dreams. Betty tells of the “spectacular sight” of the stars. Archie asks if Betty is sure that she doesn’t want to go someplace else. He says just taking a drive and stopping at Pop Tate’s for a bite to eat isn’t much of a date for her. Betty kids/reminds Archie that they don’t have to go anywhere special tonight; she’s just glad to be out on a Saturday night for a change. She winks at Archie. He smiles. Archie admits he didn’t feel much like seeing any of their friends when he picked her up and says explaining how he got this black eye won’t be easy. Betty understands and asks Archie what he’ll say. Archie says he’s going to keep the fight private and will say he walked into a door. Betty chuckles and says, knowing him, everyone will believe that story. Archie laughs. Betty tells of Archie’s “notorious” reputation for clumsiness. Archie asks Betty if she’s getting hungry. Betty admits she is and expresses a desire for a cheeseburger. Archie agrees and starts up Old Betsy. Archie brags about Old Betsy (even though the engine sounds awful). Betty good-naturedly agrees. Archie barely misses bumping into a huge oak tree as he turns the car around. Archie announces going to Pop Tate’s.
Betty and Archie arrive at “Pop Tate’s soda shop and video arcade”. They spot the cars of many of their friends parked nearby. As Archie parks his car, he jokes about everyone in Riverdale High getting hungry at the same time. Betty jokingly suggest it’s “an epidemic of the dreaded Jughead Jones appetite-out-of-control disease”. They both laugh. Before they enter Pop’s, Archie asks Betty if his black eye doesn’t look too bad. Betty tells him to not worry about it and that probably no one will even notice it.
They go into Pop’s. Reggie rushes up and jokes about Archie’s black eye. Archie looks at Betty. Betty silently denies saying anything. Archie asks Reggie how he found out. Before Reggie can answer, Luiz Martinez, one of Archie’s friends, walks by and jokes about Archie’s black eye. It seem to Betty that everyone that sees Archie comments on the fight. They can hardly move through the crowd. Reggie continues teasing Archie. Archie grits his teeth and unbuttons his coat. Betty tells Archie to relax and says they’ll find out how this got started. Archie and Betty try to ignore Reggie and spot Midge, Moose, Jughead, and Dilton seated at a table in a far corner. Archie mutters Dilton’s name. Betty surmises Archie suspects Dilton. Betty and Archie start across the room. Betty finally asks Reggie to “put a clamp on it”. Betty and Archie walk toward “Midge’s table”. Moose greets Archie at the table and mentions the fight. Midge, who’s twirling a straw in her milkshake, says Nick had it coming to him. Jughead, whose mouth is stuffed with a cheeseburger and fries, grunts in agreement. Archie angrily asks Dilton if he told everyone about the fight. Dilton, who is eating an ice cream sundae, slowly nods but doesn’t look embarrassed. Reggie confirms it and says Archie is lucky that Dilton spoke up: everyone knows the story that Nick is spreading about the fight is not true. Archie and Betty are surprised that Nick is spreading a story about the fight. Moose and Jughead (after finishing all of his food) confirm it. Midge says Dilton set everybody straight after hearing Nick spread the rumor. Dilton apologizes to Archie but says he couldn’t let Nick get away with it. Archie smiles, says he owes Dilton an apology, and says he suspected Dilton. Dilton denies it and says he’s Archie’s friend. Archie admits he should have known better. Betty calls Dilton a doll and kisses him on the forehead. Dilton blushes. Everyone laughs at that. Moose invites Betty, Archie, and Reggie to join them. Archie and Reggie find three of the few remaining empty chairs. As Betty, Archie, and Reggie sit down, Archie treats them to pizza. Jughead agrees and asks what they’re celebrating. Archie says friendship. Jughead approves, locates Pop, and orders two “extra friendly” large cheese pizzas. Pop doesn’t quite understand Jughead’s odd order but says they’re coming right up.
Later on, they are finishing up the last slices of pizza and and talking about the English lit homework that Miss Grundy assigned when they hear the roar of a motorcycle outside. The noise silences their chatter. Midge predicts “you-know-who” is here. Nick and Veronica march through the front door “as if they were leading a parade”. Veronica spots them at once and waves. Reggie, not happy, asks if they’re coming over here. Jughead says yes as he gnaws on some pizza crust. Archie grumbles and refuses to even glance in Veronica’s direction. Betty implores Archie to not get upset, says Nick’s not worth it, and reminds him of what Dilton did. Veronica greets them. Nick stands behind her with his hands in his pockets and a smug expression on his face. Veronica asks if there’s room for them. Midge says it’s a little crowded and that she’s not sure that they can fit both of them in here, emphasizing the word “both”. Veronica looks hurt. Betty reluctantly contradicts Midge. Nick immediately says they’ll sit at the counter and asks “Red” how he’s doing. Archie says fine, faces Nick and Veronica, and asks how they’re doing. Nick says excellent. Veronica spots Archie’s black eye, asks if it hurts, and says it looks painful. Archie jokes only when he laughs and then grins. Everyone except Nick and Veronica laugh. Nick takes hold of Veronica’s arm and starts to lead her toward the counter, saying he’s starved, but Betty quickly asks Veronica for a brief conversation in the ladies’ room. Veronica agrees and tells Nick that she’ll meet him at the counter in a few minutes. Nick glances at Betty and then Veronica and then nods and agrees.
As Betty and Veronica stroll into the ladies’ room, Veronica asks about it. Betty explains she just wants to make sure that everything is all right with Veronica. Veronica, taking a guess as to what Betty means, says her father knows she’s out with Nick and that Nick faced up to her father and apologized. Veronica says her father was very impressed and that it took courage to do that. Betty tells that she agrees and that buried somewhere very deep inside Nick are a few redeeming qualities. Veronica says her father was so touched with Nick’s apology that he told her that she could go out with him anytime. Betty says Veronica’s dad is quite a guy but that she isn’t sure that he made a good decision. Veronica warns Betty to not “start that again”. Betty says she doesn’t understand how Veronica can still like Nick. Betty asks Veronica if she saw Archie’s eye and says Nick did that. Veronica admits she knows and that she hates fighting as much as Betty does but that Nick had no choice; Archie challenged him to a boxing match and started the fight, and Nick was forced to finish it. Betty sputters in disbelief and believes Veronica either hasn’t heard Dilton’s version of the story or doesn’t believe it. Veronica insists she knows the truth and says there’s no sense in trying to convince her otherwise. Betty sighs and leans back against a sink. Betty tells that Veronica is right and that nothing that she could say would change Veronica’s opinion of Nick. Veronica smiles, puts an arm around Betty’s shoulder, and wishes Betty and Nick would get along; she wants her “steady guy” and her “best friend” to like each other. Betty’s ears perk up, she gasps, and she asks if Nick asked her to go steady. Veronica admits not yet but is sure that he will. Next Saturday is the one-month anniversary of when they first met. Veronica is making special plans to celebrate the occasion and is sure that Nick is waiting for then to ask. If he doesn’t, she’ll ask him. Betty shudders and tells that she knows he’d accept even though he doesn’t truly care for her. The thought of them going steady figuratively ices Betty’s blood. Betty decides something has to be done quickly, so Veronica would see what Nick is really like. Betty believes Veronica would be hurt but better off in the long run. She wonders how she could get Veronica to believe her. Veronica says she’d better get back out there and that she’s kept Nick waiting long enough. Betty mutters in agreement.
Betty is deep in thought as she follows Veronica out of the ladies’ room and walks back over to the table. Archie asks Betty what’s wrong and says she has a strange look in her eyes. Betty tells her friends of Veronica’s intention to go steady with Nick. Everyone gasps in disbelief. Betty tells them everything that she’s been holding back, even the parts that embarrass her. Archie says he “should have slugged that creep” when he had the chance. Betty says it’s too late for that now but not too late to stop Veronica from asking Nick to go steady. Dilton asks how and says Veronica won’t listen to reason. Betty says she thinks she has an idea and suggests putting their heads together to come up with a way to make her idea work. Midge agrees they owe it to Veronica and that they’ve got to break up this romance even if Veronica ends up hating them. Betty looks around the table at the concerned faces of her friends and says, if her idea works, it’s her that Veronica will end up hating. Betty sighs at being about to put her friendship with Veronica to its most severe test.
By Monday, the idea has grown into a plan based on Veronica’s friends’ suggestions and assistance. Before the first bell of the school day sounds, the plan is put into effect. They talk about a big party next Saturday night. Betty meets Archie and Midge in the hall near English lit class and discusses it with them. All of their friends know about it. Betty tells Archie that he knows what to do. Archie says he knows but hopes he can do it. He spots Nick coming and tells them to cool it. Nick greets them as he walks up. He mentions the party and guesses they don’t want to invite him. Midge asks how he heard about their party. Nick says he overheard Reggie talking about it at lunch. Archie acts angry at Reggie. Betty tells that Archie is a great actor and that Reggie let Nick overhear his conversation on purpose. Betty forces herself to smile at Nick and asks Archie what’s the problem with Nick and Veronica coming to the party. Nick glares at Archie and asks what’s the problem. Midge mutters it’s no problem, winks at Betty, and invites Nick and Veronica to the party. Archie is upset, turns, and walks toward Miss Grundy’s room. Veronica asks what’s the matter with Archie as she rushes up to them. Veronica says he looks mad and begins to shuffle through a bunch of papers in her notebook. Nick automatically assumes the party is at Midge’s house and says “Carrothead” doesn’t want them to go. Veronica stops searching and reminds Nick of their anniversary. Nick says he didn’t really plan on going; he just wanted to make sure that they were invited. Betty believes the anniversary means little, if anything, to Nick. Midge shrugs and invites Veronica to the party, and then she heads for English lit class. Veronica hands Nick an English lit essay that she wrote for him in health class, mentioning she disguised her handwriting as his. Nick thanks her, snatches the papers from her, and hurriedly scribbles his name at the top of page one. Nick calls her “a real doll” for saving his skin and says he’d flunk the course without her. Veronica smiles faintly at Nick and asks how she could refuse to help; he said, if he fails English lit, he’ll probably get thrown out of school. Veronica sighs and says they’d better get to class; the bell is about to ring. Betty looks at Nick as he walks away with Veronica, a smug grin across his lips. Betty rolls her eyes in exasperation and follows them down the hall.
As they step into the room, the late bell rings. They take their seats and settle in. When Miss Grundy finishes checking attendance, she tells the class to pass in the essays. Miss Grundy checks to make certain that everyone had done the assignment, calling special attention to Nick’s paper and mildly praising him. Nick says English lit is quickly becoming his favorite subject. He says he hopes she’ll give him a good grade and that he worked hard on it. Nick winks at Veronica. Veronica just lowers her eyes. Betty knows Veronica isn’t proud of herself for helping Nick cheat. Miss Grundy studies Nick’s essay more closely and grows suspicious. Betty tells that Miss Grundy’s voice sounds strange. Miss Grundy gives the class the rest of the period to read the first three chapters of a new novel, and then she sits at her desk and looks over the essays. After Betty reads a few paragraphs of the novel, she glances at Nick. He’s holding a book open but is sound asleep. Nick awakens with a jolt when the bell rings at the end of class. He opens his eyes and slams shut his book. Betty asks him if he likes the book. Nick says yeah and gets to his feet. Betty smiles sweetly at him. He looks at her strangely. Archie calls for Betty as he and Dilton head for the door. Betty says she’s coming and slowly collects her books. Nick hurries Veronica toward the hall. Miss Grundy tells Veronica that she needs to speak with her in private and tells her to stay after class. Veronica meekly agrees, glances at Nick, and shrugs. Nick tells “Babe” that he’ll see her later and follows Betty out of the room.
Archie is waiting in the hall. Betty turns down Archie’s offer of walking her to class to go to her locker instead. She flirts with Nick as he walks with her, which confuses him, even when she offers to stop. She reminds him of his offer. Nick asks about the suddenness of her being turned on to him. Betty references Nick defeating Archie in the boxing match. Nick believes her. Nick asks about her friendship with Veronica. Betty compares fighting over Nick to fighting over Archie: no-holds-barred. Nick halts and pulls her over to the wall. He asks her if she’s saying she wants to go out with him now. Betty says yes and asks if she has to draw him a picture. Nick is happy and asks when. Betty says Saturday night. That makes Nick bitter. He says she knows about his date with Veronica. Betty shrugs and tells him to wait until the last minute and break it. She says their date has to be this Saturday or never and that she wants him to prove that he cares more about her than about Veronica. Betty doesn’t believe Nick cares about anyone but himself. Nick is suspicious. Betty explains she wants to go out with Nick but doesn’t want it to seem like she’s suddenly double-crossing her best friend. Nick doesn’t understand. Betty explains all of her friends will be at the party; Nick can take her to a movie, and no one will even know; besides that, Nick can use the party as an excuse to break his date with Veronica. Betty tells Nick to send Veronica to the party and tell her that he won’t go, because he knows no one really wants him there. Betty claims it’s a perfect excuse and the perfect chance for her and Nick to be together. Nick thinks for a minute and admits he likes it. He says, when “Blondie” puts her mind to it, she’s almost as sneaky as he is. He’s still not sure that he wants to break his date with Veronica; she’s been making a big fuss about this weekend. Betty looks up into Nick’s green eyes. Betty says she thought he had a thing for blondes. She adds, after this weekend, he may not be seeing much of Veronica anymore. Betty certainly hopes things will work out that way. Nick laughs unpleasantly and says, where he comes from, a guy that hesitates is lost. He tells “Blondie” that it’s a date. Betty says good and adds she’s sure that this will be one date that he’ll never forget. Betty walks away, leaving Nick leaning against the wall in the quickly emptying hall. She smiles to herself, happy that everything is going just as planned.
Betty has told her parents about Nick and the plan in advance of their Saturday night date. Betty’s parents peek out the window at Nick, sitting on his motorcycle parked in their driveway. Betty’s mom sneaks another look and then expresses her almost-gladness that Nick didn’t bother to come to the door. She asks if Betty’s positive that Archie doesn’t mind her dating Nick. Betty reminds her that it’s part of the plan and zips up her jacket. Betty’s dad asks if she’s sure that she’ll be all right. Betty assures her “folks” and says everything is taken care of. Betty smiles, reaches for the doorknob, tells her parents to trust her, and says this is going to be a one-date relationship. Betty’s dad says they do trust her; that’s why they’re not interfering. Betty thanks the “guys”, goes outside, waves to Nick, and walks over to his idling motorcycle. Nick complains about her tardiness, hands her a helmet, and says he doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Betty apologizes, puts the helmet on her head, buckles up the chin strap, and asks how it went with Veronica. Nick says okay; he waited until this afternoon to call and break their date; he said his bike suddenly broke down and needed fixing; Veronica was pretty upset, but Nick smoothed it over by turning on “the old St. Clair charm”; he convinced Veronica to go to Midge’s party while he spent the night repairing his bike. Nick pats the gas tank of his motorcycle and says he told Veronica that they’d get together on Sunday. Betty gets on the back of Nick’s bike and asks what Veronica said to that. Nick says Veronica tried to make him jealous; she said Archie had phoned earlier and invited her out; she said she was going to call him back and take him up on his offer. Nick laughs, shakes his head, and asks how about that. Betty says it sounds fair to her. She puts her arms around Nick. Betty says she’s going out with Veronica’s boyfriend, so Veronica might as well go out with hers. Nick shifts his bike into gear. Betty says she’s just surprised that Veronica didn’t throw a fit when he broke the date and adds Veronica has some temper. Nick agrees and says Veronica almost freaked after Miss Grundy questioned her about his English lit essay; Veronica had to admit writing it for him; she stayed “steamed” for two whole days. Nick asks if it was his fault that “Grundy” suspected that printing wasn’t his. He says he’s the one that should be mad about it; all that Veronica got was a week’s detention; he’s the one that is going to flunk the course. Betty consoles Nick by saying Veronica should be ashamed of herself for getting Nick into trouble like that. The motorcycle rolls down the “drive” and into the street. Nick twists the accelerator, and away they drive.
As they drive into the lot of the Riverdale Theater, Betty confides to Nick that she never realized riding a motorcycle was so much fun. Nick says, when you date him, you always travel in style. Nick finds a space, parks, shuts off the engine, and locks up his bike. Betty and Nick remove their helmets and secure them to the motorcycle. Nick hopes this movie is better than the horror flick that was playing when they first met. He holds Betty’s hand and leads her toward the theater. Betty says it’s supposed to be a great adventure flick and that’s why she wanted him to take her to it. Nick brags being with him is an adventure. Nick stops at the alley that leads to the theater’s side exit and asks Betty if she wants to sneak in. Betty says she feels better using the front entrance and adds she’ll pay for the tickets. Nick agrees. They resume walking. He warns Betty about wasting her money on “another loser”. They stop at the front booth. Betty pays, just as she “promised”. Betty figures, considering what’s in store for Nick, it’s the least that she could do.
As they walk through the lobby, music begins to play inside the theater. The movie is starting. Betty glances at her watch, tells Nick that they’ve got to hurry, pulls Nick toward the theater doors, and says there’s no time to spare. Nick asks what’s the big rush. Betty drags him through the doors and into the dimly lit theater. Betty lies that she doesn’t want to miss any of the picture. Betty suggests they sit in Nick’s “favorite spot” by the side exit. Nick agrees. As soon as they’re seated, Nick slips his arm around Betty’s shoulders. Nick says this is more comfy, looks at her, smiles, and tries to pull her face toward his. Betty tells that the “crumb” wants to kiss her. The thought of their lips touching almost turns Betty’s stomach. Betty says not now, pushes him away, glances at her watch, and has to keep Nick at bay for at least ten more minutes. Nick is surprised and asks Betty about her avoidance. Betty points at the screen and says she wants to see the beginning of the movie. Nick agrees but says that’s the second time that Betty’s done that and that he’s not used to girls pushing him away like that. Betty thinks maybe that’s because he hasn’t been out with the right girls and hopes to stall him a bit longer. As the movie begins, Betty keeps sneaking peeks at her wristwatch. Finally, it’s time to make the “ultimate sacrifice”. Betty tells that she would sooner kiss an old shoe than Nick St. Clair but also that one emotionless kiss is needed to make the plan work. Betty turns to face Nick. She tries to look dreamy-eyed and whispers “Now”. Nick is confused. Betty repeats herself and tells Nick to kiss her. Nick eagerly agrees and lowers his face toward Betty’s. Betty closes her eyes and holds her breath as their lips meet. Betty hopes Archie is carrying out his part of the plan. Veronica shrieks at Nick, asking how he could do this. Nick quickly pulls away from Betty and sits up stiffly in his seat. He gasps as he focuses on two shadowy figures standing in the aisle behind them. Nick, babbling, asks Veronica what she’s doing here. Veronica, sputtering and sniffling, asks Nick what he’s doing here with “Betty Cooper” and what he’s doing kissing her “best friend” on this of all days. Nick gets to his feet and says Betty asked him out. Betty turns and looks to where Archie is standing in the aisle with Veronica. Betty tells Archie that his timing was perfect and gives him a “high sign” with her hand. Archie says it wasn’t easy, but they arrived right on time. He adds everything went according to plan. Nick indignantly asks Veronica if she heard that and says it was a setup. Veronica bursts into tears. All at once, her pent-up emotions come gushing forth. She tells Nick off, breaks up with him, covers her eyes with her hands, peeks at Betty through her fingers, ends her friendship with Betty, turns away from them, sobs uncontrollably, and runs up the aisle and into the lobby. Betty tells Archie to go after Veronica and not let her be alone at a time like this. Archie dashes up the aisle. Nick stares down at Betty, yells at her, and demands to know why she did this. Betty says she “did if” for a reason that Nick wouldn’t understand: friendship. Betty begins to gather up her things as two ushers approach them. One of them says Betty and Nick are making too much noise and tells them to leave the theater. Betty says that’s just what she was planning on doing. She stands up and walks toward the side exit. Nick goes after her and asks where she thinks she’s going. Betty doesn’t stop. She pushes open the door and walks out into the alley.
Waiting for her, just as arranged, are Midge, Reggie, Jughead, and Dilton. Midge asks how it went. Betty says perfectly and adds Veronica was really upset, but Betty says she’s sure that Veronica will get over it. She then amends it to hoping that Veronica will get over it. Betty isn’t sure. Nick tells Betty to hold it as he bursts through the exit door. The sight of the group makes him stop short. Nick whines that a phony party was part of the scheme, too. He asks if the whole school was in on this. Midge says only all of Veronica’s friends. Nick scowls at them and says they’re all against him. Betty tells him that he’s wrong, they wanted to give him a chance to make friends and start fresh, and he didn’t want to. Nick decides to even the score, shakes his fist at them, and asks who will stop him. Reggie, Jughead, and Dilton each say he will. Big Moose, just returning from parking his car, steps out of the shadows behind everyone and adds himself. Betty tells Nick that Riverdale is a special place and that, where they come from, friends stick together. There’s nothing else that Nick can do. He stands there silently as they turn and walk out of the parking lot. Betty thinks Nick finally realizes the party that they’ve been planning was a good-bye party, and it’s for him.
Bright and early Monday morning, Betty is standing at her locker with Midge, talking to Archie and Jughead, when Reggie comes rushing up to them excitedly. Reggie breathlessly asks if they heard the news about Nick. Archie says he hasn’t heard a thing about Nick since he drove Veronica home from the movie theater on Saturday night. Archie guesses Veronica called Nick “every name in the book”. Betty shuts her locker and sadly says she wishes Veronica had called her something – anything. She says she hasn’t heard a word from Veronica since that night and that she wanted to phone her but thought Veronica would just hang up. Midge looks at Betty and says Veronica took it very hard and hid out at her home on “the entire weekend”. Reggie is eager to share his news. Jughead, munching on a granola bar, allows “Motor-Mouth Mantle” to tell them. Reggie smiles and says Nick is leaving Riverdale High. Archie is in disbelief. Reggie explains he had to deliver a note from home to the office to get excused from detention today; while he was there, he saw Nick and his uncle and aunt speaking with Mr. Weatherbee. Midge guesses he eavesdropped. Reggie says he didn’t have to; Nick saw him standing there, came over, and told him that, because of his grades, he’s transferring to a private military school – and glad about it; Nick said he hoped the discipline there would help him get his life together. The others are astonished. Archie asks Reggie if this is another one of his little gags. Reggie holds up his hand as if taking an oath and swears it’s the truth. He says Nick told him to say good-bye to everyone, especially Veronica and Betty; Nick said going to Riverdale High, even for just a little while, made him see things differently; Nick said he knows now that real friendship is a valuable thing to have. Silently, they all exchange glances. Betty says she guesses Nick wasn’t entirely bad after all. Jughead finishes his granola bar and says Nick was pretty bad but can change if he wants to; it sounds to Jughead like Nick might want to. Betty tells that Jughead’s more scholarly than he looks and has an uncanny knack for saying the right thing at the right time. Midge says maybe someday a new and improved Nick St. Clair will come back to Riverdale High. Betty sighs and says Nick is right about friendship: it’s valuable to have and devastating to lose. Betty stares down the hall. Everyone turns to see what she’s looking at. Coming right toward them, her eyes trained directly on Betty “like gun sights”, is Veronica. Veronica walks up in silence. The group around Betty parts. Veronica looks deep into Betty’s eyes. For an instant, no one says anything. Betty begins to speak, but Veronica cuts her off and says she has something to tell Betty. Betty nods and waits for Veronica to tell her off. Veronica talks about spending all of Sunday sitting in her room and thinking about what happened on Saturday night and that she came to a painful conclusion. Betty sniffs, upset and thinking she might cry. Betty tells that losing a cherished friend isn’t easy. Veronica says she was wrong all along, and Betty was right. Betty’s eyes open wide, and her ears perk up. She wonders if she heard right. Veronica sniffs, says she knows Betty did what she did for her, says she doesn’t deserve a best friend like Betty, and asks if Betty can ever forgive her. Betty cries tears of joy. Veronica cries, too. Betty throws her arms around her “best” friend and hugs her tightly. Veronica hugs Betty back. Betty glances at Midge, who looks misty-eyed. Even the guys are sniffling. The first bell of the day rings, saving them from becoming “a bunch of blubbering idiots” right there in the hall. Archie says bye to the “gals” and walks off with Reggie and Jughead. Veronica says bye to Archie as she flashes him a big smile and bats her eyelashes. Midge warns Betty about Veronica seeming to be back to her old self. Betty nods in agreement and watches Veronica flirt outrageously. As the three girls walk down the hall together, Betty confesses that she minds but doesn’t mind; she can do without the added competition for Archie, but it’s great to have her best friend back.
Before I get into discussing the actual story, I want to talk about the artwork. There are nine pages of interior, black-and-white artwork. They are:
Page 10: Nick and Veronica chat by the soda machine in the theater’s lobby. Betty and Midge look on, Betty frowning while sipping her soda.
Page 23: Nick speeds away from Lodge Manor on his motorcycle. Veronica waves at him. Mr. Lodge shakes his fist at him. Betty and Midge watch out the window from inside the mansion.
Page 41: Nick walks out of Professor Flutesnoot’s biology class with the detention slip. Professor Flutesnoot angrily points out the door. Betty, Midge, Jughead, and Veronica watch Nick go.
Page 50: Nick takes Dilton’s dessert at lunch. Veronica, Dilton, Betty, Midge, and Jughead watch. Betty clenches her left fist in anger. Ms. Beazley (who doesn’t appear in the story) serves an unknown male student in the background.
Page 66: Nick is sitting on Betty’s couch. Betty is standing, hands on her hips, and frowning at him. Veronica comes down the stairs and waves at Nick.
Page 76: Coach Clayton breaks Archie and Nick apart as Dilton and Betty look on.
Page 86: Betty and Archie are sitting in Archie’s car on Hamilton Hill.
Page 106: Betty and Nick walk in the hallway. Jughead (who’s not mentioned in this scene) walks in the opposite direction, watching them.
Page 123: Betty and Veronica hug. Veronica is crying. Jughead, Archie, Reggie, and Midge look on.
The artwork is nice. It’s good, standard, Archie house-style artwork.
Now for the actual story.
Being a prose story, it has the opportunity to have more depth to it than a comic book story, especially since it’s told in the first-person. This is because I’m not a fan of the third-person, subjective, narrative mode (the so-called “over the shoulder” perspective). I believe the third-person narrator should be neutral (third person, objective), not channel the emotions of the characters. That’s why I enjoy reading first-person narratives. The narrator (in this case, Betty) can offer personal views and emotions.
In this story, Betty offers backstory on herself and her friends and offers her opinions/beliefs on many things (which I didn’t summarize above). There’s no doubt that this is Betty’s story, not Veronica’s. There is such a richness to this story, and it makes Betty seem like a real, three-dimensional character. Slapstick humor is absent. The story is more grounded. It has the feeling of a “Betty’s Diary” story. Those of you (such as myself) that love that series will feel right at home here.
Let’s get into the story specifics:
Veronica and Betty come off as kind of boy-crazy (or at least boy-needy) for wanting to be with boys instead of each other.
Midge enjoys watching Moose slug Reggie? Wow, that explains so much. Midge is a sick, twisted girl.
What kind of coin-operated soda machine dispenses soda in cups?
Mr. Lodge is the richest man in Riverdale. Okay. Well, is that it? What about the state? Apparently, the Lodge family is “well-off” but doesn’t have billions of dollars.
I totally understand Midge and Betty’s avoidance of witnessing a scolding. That kind of thing is always embarrassing to watch.
The girls gorging themselves on junk food and soda is such a wonderfully realistic moment. That’s such a refreshing change from the stereotypical “worried about their figures and counting calories” depiction of teenage girls in fiction.
Betty considers Archie to be a hunk? That girl is seriously deluding herself.
Ooh, Betty calls Midge on her two-timing. Of course, given Midge’s slugging fetish, she’s unlikely to stop.
Midge is so shallow for wanting to gossip.
Archie is so nosy. Good for Betty for standing up for her right to keep secrets. Archie also seemingly has anger issues. Not a healthy combination. Why are Betty and Veronica attracted to him?
Reggie and Moose sitting at the same table is kind of odd, considering their fierce rivalry.
Midge tells them to sit down…after they sit down. Um, a little slow, Midge.
Moose’s comment about next Fall doesn’t give any indication of their grade level, only that Nick isn’t a senior – or is a senior and is expected to fail. Hehe. However, Betty clarifies Moose’s comment later, establishing at least Moose as not-senior or doomed to fail.
Miss Riley, the history teacher, isn’t familiar to me. Is she in the comics, or was she made up for the novel? We never see her here, anyway.
Apparently, Pop Tate’s is “down” from Riverdale High, possibly meaning south of the school.
Um, Veronica? Sweating and perspiring are the same thing. You tell her, Dilton.
Betty should have just told Veronica about Nick, regardless of what she thought Veronica would think. A true friend would just offer up the information.
For that matter, why does Betty not tell anyone at all about Nick flirting with her?
Betty seems to be relying on Nick simply asking Midge out as a way for Moose to “end” Nick. Betty must be depending on either or both of the following: Moose overhears Nick, or Midge tells Moose. Does the latter happening surprise anyone at this point?
What’s the matter, Betty? Afraid of what people would think or say about the lipstick on your cheek?
For all of Betty’s goody-goody moralizing so far, it’s nice that she doesn’t like doing homework.
What kind of teacher assigns an essay that counts for “a good part” of the semester’s grade (the difference between pass and fail) with only three days to do it, though? When I was in high school, we had more time to work on such important essays. I wouldn’t want to have Miss Grundy as a teacher.
Apparently, Betty doesn’t have a car in this novel.
Betty refers to a boxing round as a “period”. That’s odd.
Couples go to Hamilton Hill to “talk”. Sure, Betty, and I bet you talk with your tongue.
Why does Archie announce going to Pop Tate’s? Who’s he talking to? Are there other couples on Hamilton Hill at the time?
It’s cool that Pop Tate’s is also a video arcade in this story. That’s similar to what was done on “The New Archies” (which aired four years earlier). It’s realistic that Pop would try to modernize his business to keep kids coming.
This Luiz Martinez guy, supposedly one of Archie’s friends, doesn’t sound familiar either.
Why are Archie and Betty surprised that Nick is spreading a story about the fight? I would have been expecting that.
Moose actually invites Reggie to sit at the same table as Midge? Shocking!
Jughead’s order is weird. What does “extra friendly” mean? Also, he’s presumptuous to order cheese pizzas. How does he know the others want cheese pizzas?
Due to this, Betty doesn’t get her cheeseburger. I’m just making everyone aware of that.
Nick says he doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Okay, but Veronica kept Nick waiting in Betty’s living room. That was okay? Maybe it’s because he was alone with Betty at the time.
Betty didn’t actually promise to pay for the tickets. She simply said she would. I guess, to her, something is a promise, even if she doesn’t say “I promise”.
Betty gives Archie a “high sign” with her hand? I’m guessing Mike meant either “hi sign” or “high five”.
Sunday isn’t “the entire weekend”, Midge.
I like how Reggie casually mentions his detention without explaining how he got it. It’s like it’s something that everyone just expects and needs no explanation.
For all of the talk of Mr. Weatherbee in this story, he never actually makes an appearance.
Betty’s mention of Jughead’s “scholarly” talk and “uncanny knack” is a bit of a stretch. It seems more like stating the obvious.
Earlier in the story, Betty, Midge, Archie, and Jughead were in one homeroom, and Veronica and Reggie were in another. What happened? Did Miss Grundy trade Archie and Jughead for Veronica?
Okay, so what about the title character? I think he’s a jerk. Here’s this guy that badmouths his teachers, doesn’t do work, smokes, steals, and bullies people. He comes to Riverdale and shakes things up. That’s fine. It’s what the story calls for. The problem is Nick’s nice moments are limited to “off-screen”, when he’s alone with Veronica. That’s why Reggie’s description of Nick’s profound change/revelation at the end of the story (which happens “off-screen” as well) astonishes not just the characters (rightly so) but me as well.
I also don’t understand why Veronica would remain attracted to Nick for one month. Is she that blind to his behavior? Does she not hear people complaining about him?
The big question is: Does an Archie story work in prose format? Yes, it most certainly does. It feels more like reading a junior/teen paperback novel (complete with back cover blurb) than a “Betty” or “Betty and Veronica” comic book, but that’s fine. It’s a much deeper and more involving reading experience in the “Betty’s Diary” style.
Tune in next Wednesday!
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