How am I supposed to…sing when your face is so freaking close to mine?

Wipe the drool off your chin there, buddy.

Zack announces that it’s time for the annual costume ball (funny, since this is the first costume ball they’ve ever had), and he plans to be crowned king. And his queen is going to be…cue dramatic pause as Zack points at the staircase…Screech! You know, that would have been so much funnier had it been Slater. Anyway, no, the queen is going to be Kelly, only she can’t go because she can’t afford the costume due to having to provide for her large family, blah, blah, blah. Before she can guilt-trip Zack into throwing her another prom picnic pity party, Lisa mentions that the Max is looking for a waitress. How Kelly could not know that considering they spend every waking moment there is beyond me.

Later, Kelly is at the Max applying for the job. Jeff (aka The Sketchinator) gives her the once-over before talking to her about her application. He says he would rather hire someone with waitressing experience, but Kelly wows him with her many qualifications, such as having a big family and being perky. But it’s her “Go Bruins!” cheer that finally seals the deal. The Sketchinator agrees to hire her on a probationary basis. Kelly, being a high-school junior, has no idea what “probationary” means and has to ask Jeff to clarify. Hmm, The Sketchinator thinks, young and stupid. Perfect!

Meanwhile, the dance committee is meeting in Belding’s office. After some spirited discussion about who will be crowned king and queen (Zack and Kelly or Jessie and Slater, like are there no other couples in the entire school?), Lisa reveals that there is no budget for decorations. Couldn’t they just recycle the sparkly streamers from the last dance? It was probably only a couple of weeks ago. But Zack has a better idea and offers the Zack Attack as entertainment, thereby freeing up the DJ money for some new sparkly streamers. Belding agrees, but only if he can sing a song with the band. Oh, this idea just has fabulousness written all over it!

And the seduction begins. Also, why is Jeff wearing the same outfit he was wearing yesterday? This is just further proof of The Sketchinator’s man-whoring ways.

The next day, Kelly has her first waitressing shift. It’s already going badly when some goth/biker types complain that they didn’t want mayonnaise on their hamburger. Kelly’s all, “Oh, I thought you said you wanted mayonnaise.” OK, Kel, rule number one of waitressing: Always blame the kitchen. Kelly offers to fix it and pay for it out of her tips. Rule number two: Don’t offer to pay for anything out of your tips, because they’re measly enough as it is. Jeff overhears the argument and tells Kelly that the customer is always right…until now. (And he says it all dramatic like that, too!) Then he tells the biker types to get lost. Damn straight, Jeff! Oh, except for the part where the customer actually was right in this situation. Might want to check on that before you drive away all of your business.

Later at Kelly’s house, Zack comes in wearing a hat with a plume and bearing a flowy Shakespearean dress. Kelly’s all excited because she made $22 in tips. That reminds me of the measly tips I used to make when I was a waitress! But at least I had the good sense to know I should have been making a hell of a lot more for the crap I put up with. Anyway, Kelly tells Zack that she can’t go to the costume ball because she doesn’t feel comfortable asking for the night off. Wasn’t the whole point of her getting the job so she would have enough money to go to the costume ball? Gee, that was a great plan.

Zack decides to take matters into his own hands and approaches Jeff with some story about how Kelly is an only child and Saturday is her father’s birthday. Too bad Zack didn’t know that having siblings was listed on the “skills” section of Kelly’s resume. Jeff calls him on the bogus story, so Zack admits the truth. Jeff acts all good boss by agreeing to give Kelly the night off. Ha! You may have fooled Zack, but I am on to you, Sketchinator!

Yes, that look of apprehension mixed with terror clearly means, “Take me now, Sketchinator.”

To wit: Later that night, Kelly and Jeff are cleaning up and she’s gushing about making $30 in tips. An improvement, sure, but still not great. Anyway, Jeff tells Kelly she can have the night off to go to the dance with her boyfriend, then immediately starts macking on her. See? Sketchy. Jeff kisses Kelly, and her reaction is what I might call “terrified,” but that doesn’t stop him from kissing her again. Finally, she runs away. Jeff looks off into the distance, thinking, damn, these high school girls are easy.

The next day, everyone is hanging out at the Max and talking about what a great waitress Kelly is and how hot she looks in her uniform. Speaking of which, why is Kelly the only waitress who has to wear a midriff-bearing shirt? You’d think this was Hooters or something. I blame The Sketchinator. Anyway, Kelly sits down with the rest of her friends, and Zack innocently puts his arm around her, as he has done so many times before in this very booth. Kelly looks like she’s mildly constipated. The Sketchinator walks up, and Kelly looks even more constipated. She asks Zack to kill it with the PDAs while she’s at work, and Lisa and Jessie exchange a Look. I don’t know how Zack missed said Look, since it was supremely obvious and lasted several seconds, but whatever.

Later at band practice, Zack asks the guys if they think Kelly’s seeing someone else. Slater says that’s crazy because she’s at school all day. Screech adds that when she’s not at school, “she’s at the Max with that good-looking college guy, Jeff.” OK, I’ll give you “college guy.” Well, maybe not “college,” because Jeff looks old enough to be Kelly’s dad, which only adds to the sketch factor. I’ll give you “guy.” And good-looking? Actually, I’m embarrassed to admit that I did find Patrick Muldoon attractive when I first saw this episode. But I also bought a Michael Bolton CD because it had the song on it that Jessie and Slater sing at the end of the episode. So I obviously had some problems. (In my defense, I was 13. Everybody has problems when they’re 13.)

Hey, Sonny and Cher—a little space here, please?

At the dance, Kelly’s constipation has reached all new levels. I mean, she’s beyond “dramatization in an Ex-Lax commercial.” She also can’t concentrate on any thing that’s being said to her and keeps giving Zack answers to questions he didn’t ask. Dude, pull yourself together! You’re giving cheating a bad name. The final straw is when, while basking in the glory of being crowned king and queen, Kelly calls Zack Jeff. I guess in the land of SBTB, this is equivalent to saying another person’s name during sex or at the altar or something.

The Zack Attack is ready to play the last song, but Zack is nowhere to be found, so Slater has to take his part. You know, the person who sings for Slater isn’t half bad. They should let him sing more often. Or maybe I’m just comparing him to the dying-cow noise emitting from Jessie. Anyway, Slater and Jessie sing “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” with their faces so close together that Slater is visibly recoiling from Jessie’s punch breath.

Did they ever have a chance? I mean, really?

Meanwhile, Zack and Kelly are breaking up on the very picnic table where they had their prom picnic. Bittersweet, huh? Or an example of the show being so low-budget that Kelly and Zack are severely limited in their choices of where to break up. Anyway. I have watched this episode so many times that I can actually quote the lines along with them (“Oh, Zack, it wasn’t supposed to be this way…not for us”) the way some people quote, say, Casablanca or The Godfather. How pathetic is that? Wait! It gets better! When Zack says, “I thought we’d always be together,” I improvise a little and start singing the next line (“I was sure our love would last”) to “Did We Ever Have a Chance.” Hey, I know it’s pathetic, but I’m not the one cribbing my eloquent break-up speech from a pop song (even though it was a pop song that Zack himself supposedly “wrote”). Then again, I did buy that Michael Bolton CD, so I guess I can’t say anything.

Quote of the episode

Zack: “I feel like I’m getting the cold shoulder.”
Screech: “Sounds like the flu. I’d wear a turtleneck tomorrow.”

Grade: A+
Not since this episode of SBTB have I been inspired to buy supremely bad music because of a TV show. That’s probably a good thing.

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