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Authors: Natalie Standiford

Ex-Rating

BOOK: Ex-Rating
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Copyright © 2006 by Parachute Publishing, L.L.C. All right reserved.

First eBook Edition: February 2006

Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at
www.HachetteBookGroup.com

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and
not intended by the author.

The Little, Brown and Company name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

ISBN:

Contents

Copyright Page

1: Radio Stars

2: Demon Ex

3: The Rod Squad

4: An Awakening

5: Rob’s Sister Who’s Not Self-Centered at All

6: Is He Blowing You Off?

7: Rod Goes Godzilla

8: As Usual, Eavesdropping Proves Useful

9: A Member of the Clan

10: Going Underground

11: Elvira

12: Strike!

13: In like Flynn

14: Mads in Exile

15: The Bride Who Wouldn’t Die

16: Elvira Confesses

17: The Mystery of 1972

18: Are You a Pushover?

19: Kissing Is Good

20: Breaking and Entering

21: Pea-Green Wedding Cake

22: Most Likely to Meddle

23: Big Polka-dotted Surprise

24: Moonshot

25: Backne Check

Speed Dating

For Julie B. and Beth Z.

1
Radio Stars
To:
mad4u
From:
your daily horoscope

HERE IS TODAY’S HOROSCOPE: VIRGO: The success you deserve finally arrives! Then it spins out of control and crushes you like
a tick.

I
’m so nervous,” Mads said. “What’s that word for when your heart is racing so fast, your breath can’t keep up with it and
your stomach spazzes out?”

“I don’t think there is a word for that,” Holly said.

“Spatz-mania?” Lina tried. “Spazzo-nervitis?”

“It feels more like nauseo-spazzmosis,” Mads said.

She and Lina and Holly were sitting in a radio studio, about to be interviewed live. They were waiting for Mary Dando, the
host of the show, to give them their cue.

“There’s nothing to be nervous about,” Mary said. “Just be yourselves. You’ll be charming.”

“You don’t know us very well,” Mads said.

Mary had heard about the girls’ blog, the Dating Game, from her assistant, whose cousin went to their school. She called the
school and set up an interview with the girls, and the next thing they knew, they were in the studio with giant padded headphones
on their ears.

“Everybody at school will be listening,” Mads said. “There was that notice in the school paper. And our announcement on the
blog.”

“Everybody in town, too,” Holly said. “My mother told all her friends.”

“So did mine,” Mads said.

“Basically everybody we know will hear this interview,” Lina said.

“That was so stupid of us,” Mads said. “Why didn’t we keep this a secret? I think the nauseo-spazzmosis is infecting my tongue.
What if I can’t speak?”

“Okay, girls,” Mary said. “Ready? You’re on in five, four, three …”

“Please don’t let us sound dopey,” Mads prayed.

Mary Dando:
We’re back with
American Living
on the National Radio Network. I’m Mary Dando, and today we’re talking to the Dating Game Girls. Madison Markowitz, Holly
Anderson, and Lina Ozu are tenth graders at the Rosewood School for Alternative Gifted Education in Carlton Bay, California,
and they started a fascinating and very popular Web log on their school site called the Dating Game. Hi, girls. Welcome.

Mads, Holly, Lina:
Hi, Mary.

Holly:
Thank you for having us.

Mary Dando:
You started this site as a project for a sex education class, is that right?

Lina:
It’s actually called “Interpersonal Human Development.”

Mads:
But that’s just a euphemism for sex ed.

Holly:
Our school is heavily into educational jargon.

Mads:
We wanted to find out who was more sex-crazed, boys or girls. So we put quizzes and questionnaires on the site, but we didn’t
get enough answers from boys. That’s when we decided to lure them with sex.

Lina:
In the form of matchmaking.

Mary:
So the students fill out a questionnaire about their preferences and you match them with another student for a date?

Holly:
Exactly. They can also submit personal ads. But we’re really good at making matches.

Mads:
Especially Holly.

Mary:
And what was your conclusion? Who’s more sex-crazed?

Holly:
The results were inconclusive.

Mads:
But we know the truth. Girls are definitely more sex-crazed.

Mary:
Girls? Really?

Mads:
Sure. Girls talk about sex all the time. We read about it in magazines. We’re always trying to figure out what boys are thinking.

Lina:
And gossiping about who did it with who …

Mads:
…and who’s still a virgin and who’s not, and who’s lying about it.

Mary:
And you don’t think boys are doing the same thing?

Holly:
Not as obsessively. They don’t think—they just jump in.

Mads:
Yeah. Sex isn’t on their minds—it’s somewhere else on their bodies. [laughter]

Mary:
Tell me about the quizzes. What’s a typical subject?

Mads:
We just posted a new quiz called “What’s Your Dating Style?” It helps you figure out if you’re more of a hunter or a prey.
Some people think they’re a hunter, but when you look at their behavior, they’re total roadkill.

Holly:
And we just started a new feature called “X-Rating.”

Mads:
Lina came up with the idea when a friend of hers tried to fix her up with one of her exes.

Lina:
Only I wasn’t interested.

Mary:
How does it work?

Holly:
It’s part of the matchmaking system. Say you’re still friends with your ex-boyfriend and you think he’d be great for some
girl—

Lina:
Just not you—

Mads:
For whatever reason, like maybe you’re a vegetarian and he’s not, but you still think he’s a good person, for a carnivore.

Holly:
You can write a profile of him, vouching for him, saying what he’s like as a boyfriend, what his good points are and what
kind of girl you think would be good for him.

Mads:
That way, when a new girl goes out with him, it’s like he has a seal of approval—from his ex-girlfriend.

Holly:
At least you know he’s not a complete jerk.

Lina:
Unless he is. You can use “X-Rating” to warn people about someone, too.

Mads:
But we try to keep it positive, so it won’t turn into a venge-fest.

Mary:
It sounds like you’ve learned a lot about teens and sex from your blog. What’s the most shocking thing you’ve learned?

Lina:
Tough one.

Mads:
I was shocked at first by how many non-virgins there are in our school. And how young so many kids are the first time they
have sex.

Mary:
How young are they?

Lina:
Some kids said thirteen or fourteen. And they say they did all kinds of wild things.

Holly:
But I think a lot of them were exaggerating. Especially the boys.

Mads:
Then I got used to the idea, and it stopped shocking me. I’m unshockable now.

Holly:
Sure you are, Mads.

Lina:
I’m still surprised by how mean some people can be.

Mads:
Yeah, like how some boys just want to hook up but they don’t really care about you as a person.

Mary:
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
[the girls laugh]

Holly:
I don’t know if we should say it on the air.

Mads:
People think of us as good girls, but if only they knew!

Lina:
Mads! Our parents are listening!

Mads:
But it’s true! Like that time at Sean’s party—

Holly:
Mads, don’t say it! You’ll be sorry later.

Mary:
Come on, you can tell me.

Holly:
Let’s just say that that night got out of control.

Mads:
And Lina—I mean, she seems so sweet, but she’s done some of the craziest stuff—

Lina:
Mads, stop it!

Mads:
No one will know what I’m talking about. I won’t name names, but one time she liked this guy so much, she hid in his bedroom
closet [sound muffled because Lina has clapped her hand over Mads’ mouth]—

Mary:
What about you, Holly?

Mads:
She pretends to be sensible, but she’s done some wild things—

Holly:
Mads, you’re the craziest one of us all, so you’d better stop talking or we’ll tell all your secrets.

Lina:
Your parents will lock you in your room until you’re thirty.

Mads:
It’s true, I like to live on the edge.

Mary:
Thank you, girls. This has been fun. We’ll have to have you back again to give us more insights into the sex lives of America’s
teens.

Holly:
We’d love to come back anytime.

Mary:
This is Mary Dando for American Living. Join us tomorrow when we talk to the author of
Elderlove
about the sex lives of the nation’s nursing home residents.

• • •

“Was it bad? Did I say anything embarrassing?” Mads asked. She and Lina and Holly got into Holly’s car and drove out of San
Francisco. Their town, Carlton Bay, was about an hour north of the city. “I can’t remember anything that happened in there.
It’s all a blur.”

“Don’t worry,” Lina said. “Ramona said she’d tape it. She was hoping to catch us saying something super-dumb on live radio.”

“I think she’ll be disappointed,” Holly said. “I don’t think we said anything
super
-dumb.”

“No, maybe just normal-dumb,” Lina said.

“Normal-dumb,” Mads said. “I guess I can live with that.”

“You were great today, honey,” Mads’ father said when she returned home.

Russell Markowitz rubbed his messy Brillo pad of gray hair in a way that told Mads “great” wasn’t the whole story. She looked
at her mother, M.C., whose smile was wide but tight. M.C., a pet-psychiatrist/playwright, was eccentric and creative and earthy
but had the fierce maternal instincts of a she-wolf. Russell, a labor lawyer, was liberal and protective at the same time.
It caused some tension in the house. Mads’ parents wanted to allow and prohibit everything at once.

“Mmm-hmm,” M.C. said. “You all sounded very articulate, and, um, lively—”

“Like you were really having a good time in the studio,” Russell said.

“Thanks,” Mads said. “It was fun. But I was so nervous.”

“You sounded like sluts,” Audrey, Mads’ eleven-year-old sister, said.

“Audrey!” M.C. scolded.

“That’s what you said!” Audrey cried. M.C. turned red.

“I didn’t mean it,” M.C. said. “It’s just—I didn’t realize—”

“We’re proud of you,” Russell said. “We’re glad you have an outlet for your feelings. We think you should be free to express
yourself any way you like. It’s just—”

“If only it weren’t so—so—” M.C. fumbled for the right word. “So public.”

“She means embarrassing,” Audrey said.

Mads couldn’t believe this. “Embarrassing! Mom, you’re the one who wrote a whole play about how you got ESP!
That
was embarrassing.”

“The
Crier
didn’t think so,” Audrey said. “They said it was ‘thought-provoking.’ And they loved my acting in it. They said I was—”

“‘A twinkling little star in the making,’” Mads finished. She’d heard that quote from the local paper’s review of M.C.’s play,
Touched
, about a hundred times too many already. It was taped to Audrey’s bedroom door.

“Honey, don’t take this the wrong way.” M.C. put her arm around Mads. “We’re proud of you. We just didn’t realize your Web
site was so … sexy.”

“Well, what do you think we learn about in IHD?” Mads said. “Microwave Cookery?”

BOOK: Ex-Rating
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