Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

The Dating Game

Natalie Standiford

  Copyright © 2004 by Parachute Publishing, L.L.C. All right reserved.

  First eBook Edition: February 2005

  Little, Brown and Company

  Time Warner Book Group

  Hachette Book Group

  237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

  Visit our Web site at

  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.

  Cover photos from top left, © Hannes Hepp/Photonica, © Henry Hanna/Iconica, © Tony Anderson/Iconica, © Emma Innocenti/Photonica, © Dimitri Vervits/Photonica, © Tony Anderson/Iconica, © Emma Innocenti/Photonica,© Hannes Hepp/Photonica, © LaCoppola&Meier/Photonica, © Hannes Hepp/Photonica.

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

  ISBN: 978-0-316-05003-6



  1: What Color Is Your Love Aura?

  2: Meet the Boobmeister

  3: Sex on the Brain

  4: Fill in the Blanks

  5: Death to the Normals

  6: Mr. Yuck

  7: Prove That You’re a Human

  8: The Social Goddesses

  9: Current Mood: About to Burst

  10: Nightmare at the Pinetop Lounge

  11: Hot for Teacher

  12: The Male Mind Is Impervious to Logic

  13: Outie in Disguise

  14: The Poetry Flows

  15: Paco Revealed

  16: The Dance Begins

  17: The Velvet Clown Painting

  18: Sex Tips for Girls

  19: What Color Is His Toothbrush?

  20: Ouch, That’s Gotta Hurt

  21: A Night to Forget

  22: So Long, Boobmeister

  Here’s a sneak peek at The Dating Game #2

  Take The Quiz

  For René, Biz, Darcey, and Hawes


  What Color Is Your Love Aura?

  To: mad4u

  From: Your daily horoscope

  HERE IS TODAY’S HOROSCOPE: VIRGO: You will embark on a life-changing project today. Try not to screw it up.

  I love Sean Benedetto.

  I, Madison Markowitz, love Sean Benedetto.

  Madison Emily Markowitz loves Sean [?] Benedetto.

  (What is Sean’s middle name? Must find out in order to prepare wedding announcement.)

  Why do I love Sean Benedetto? Let me count the top five reasons

  1. His hair rocks, especially the way it sticks up in the back.

  2. The bump on his nose is sexy.

  3. He’s graceful but in a totally boyish way.

  4. His voice…I can’t describe it but if you poured honey on a hot sandy beach and then went surfing, that’s sort of it.

  5. He hardly ever looks at me but when he does his brown eyes look like chocolate puddles and I want to dip myself in them.

  Madison’s teacher, Dan Shulman, cleared his throat, and she thought she’d better throw some attention his way. “I hope everybody had a good holiday,” Dan said. “You’re all looking a little bleary this afternoon.”

  Fifth period Friday, the end of the first week after Christmas vacation. Who wouldn’t look bleary? And Interpersonal Human Development, in spite of being a long, stupid name for sex ed, wasn’t exactly a shot of espresso.

  Pay attention, Mads! Or big bad Dan will yell at you!

  Holly Anderson, one of Mads’ two best friends, scrawled that in Mads’ notebook and flashed her a wicked grin. Holly wasn’t paying attention herself—she was secretly doing her Spanish homework. Lina Ozu, Mads’ other best friend, reached over and scribbled, He will not! Dan never yells.

  “Girls, are you with us?” Dan said.

  Mads straightened up. She and Holly and Lina nodded.


  Uh-oh—yelled at by Dan. (For him, that was yelling.) Mads stole a glance at Lina, whose face had gone code red. This must be killing her. She had a monster crush on Dan, almost as big as Mads’ for Sean.

  See, I told you you’d get in trouble, Holly scribbled. Mads batted her hand away.

  “If you remember, this semester we’re doing independent study projects,” Dan said. “In this class we’ve focused mostly on the, uh, special relationship between a man and a woman, or a guy and a girl, or sometimes two guys or two girls…”Dan seemed to stumble over the many possible combinations, embarrassed, but he recovered. “Now you’re going to discover how those human dynamics work in real life.”

  A “whoo” erupted in class, followed by nervous laughter. “I’m going to check out Rebecca’s human dynamics,” Karl Levine called out. Rebecca Hulse laughed along with everyone else. Nothing seemed to ruffle her.

  To Mads, Rebecca was like a mosquito bite on the sole of her foot—irritating yet impossible to ignore. How could she exist in real life? She was smart and skinny and rich and golden-pretty and good at sports and people liked her. Rebecca seemed to belong to a secret race of supergirls. Mads couldn’t figure out where they came from but she wanted to be one so badly.

  “That’s not what I mean,” Dan said. “Social dynamics, for instance, are one aspect of being human. Can anyone think of a good example?”

  Nobody moved.

  “Remember, we talked about this before Christmas,” Dan said. “Do men and women tend to behave differently in social situations? Such as…?” His voice rose, inviting the class to respond. “Anyone?”

  Ramona Fernandez raised her ring-covered, black-taloned hand. “On the road. You could analyze the driving records of men and women and see who gets more speeding tickets.”

  “Thank you, Ramona,” Dan said. “That would be a good idea for a project. Another example might be lunchtime behavior. What food choices do guys and girls make? Where do they sit in the lunchroom?…”

  Blah-blah, blah-blah, blah…

  Mads wouldn’t have thought a goth chick like Ramona, who dyed her hair black, painted her face ghost-white, and wore nothing but filmy Morticia Addams gowns, would go for being teacher’s pet. Just goes to show. Ramona was almost as postal over Dan as Lina was.

  There was something very Rosewood about a goth-rebel-teacher’s pet. Rosewood School for Alternative Gifted Education, or RSAGE, was a magnet school for gifted students. Its approach to education was “experimental,” which meant, as far as Mads could tell, lots of independent study and calling your teachers by their first names. You had to pass a test to get in, but in Carlton Bay, California, the test didn’t weed out many kids. Carlton Bay was one of those towns where every kid’s a genius— at least as far as their parents were concerned. And if you weren’t born brilliant, you learned to fake it.

  “You can work in teams or alone,” Dan said. “I’ll need to see a project proposal by next Friday and a progress report every week after that. After eight weeks you’ll do a final paper describing the results of your research. That means your paper is due right before spring break. Got it?”

  Mads nodded at Lina and Holly. It was understood they were a team. The question was, what would they do for their project?

  We’ll figure it out at my house tonight, Holly scribbled in the margin of Mads’ notebook.

  X-l-ent, Mads scribbled back. Friday night at Holly’s. It was becoming a tradition. But only because none of them ever had anything better to do.

  “Where are Curt and Jen tonight?” Mads asked Holly. “Dinner party?”

  The three girls settled in front of the fire in Holly’s great room, which was big yet cozy, like the lodge at an expensive ski resort. They were eating pizza and drinking a bottle of red wine Holly had swiped from her parents’ cellar. Not that the Andersons cared. Th
ey believed that teenagers should be allowed to drink at home, in moderation, like Europeans. That’s what Mads loved about the Andersons—they were so different from her own parents, who veered wildly from overprotective to overindulgent, depending on the child-rearing trend of the moment.

  “Curt’s out of town. Jen’s at the opera,” Holly said. “And Piper went to meet some college friends in the city. We’ve got the place to ourselves until at least one or two in the morning.” Piper, Holly’s older sister, was a freshman at Stanford and still home for winter break.

  Mads had met Lina and Holly a year and a half earlier, as freshmen at RSAGE. Lina and Holly had been friends since first grade, but Mads went to a different elementary school. She was nervous about starting at RSAGE—her best friend from middle school went to a private school instead. She saw Holly and Lina together and had a feeling about them, kind of like love at first sight. She marched up to them—she wasn’t shy—and said, “You two are missing something. What you need is a third wheel.” They laughed, and that was that. Friends.

  “We should be out,” Mads complained. “I can’t believe we’ve got nothing to do on a Friday night again. Why isn’t anyone having a party?”

  “Someone probably is,” Lina said. “We just weren’t invited.” Lina’s long black hair gleamed in the firelight. She was slender, medium-tall, Japanese-American, with a sweet oval face. At first Mads thought she seemed cool and reserved, but it wasn’t long before she knew the real Lina—a smart girl struggling to keep her passions under control. Mads was emotional, too, but it never occurred to her to try to control it.

  “Why wouldn’t we be invited? That sucks.” Mads took a sip of wine and her cheeks immediately flushed red. Wine did that to her, she was learning. Mads and Lina were both fifteen, but Mads looked younger, short and cute with fine black hair to her shoulders, a freckled snub of a nose, and small, sleepy blue eyes.

  “We’re supposed to be figuring out what to do for our IHD project, anyway,” Holly said. She stoked the fire. She was good at practical stuff like that—building fires, cooking, giving sensible advice. She didn’t look practical, with her long, wavy blond hair and curves like the hairpin turns on the Pacific Coast Highway. She was as busty as Mads was flat. Mads sometimes called her “the Boobmeister” just to tease her.

  “How about interviewing our parents?” Lina suggested. “We could compare and contrast the way they dated with dating now.”

  “Believe me, you don’t want to get my mom started on that,” Mads said. “She gets all goopy and talks about Dad as if he were some kind of sex god. Which I’d rather not think about.”

  “You come up with something then, Mads.”

  Mads nibbled on a pizza crust. “I don’t know, we could make an art project out of tampons or something.”

  “Gross,” Lina said.

  Mads drained her glass. “This wine is making me warm. But I like it.” She waved her glass at Holly. “Dump a little more in here please, Boobmeister.”

  Holly poured more wine into each girl’s glass. “Come on, you guys, think!”

  Three minutes of silence followed. Mads strained her brain, trying to come up with a good idea.

  “Anything?” she asked the others. They shook their heads.

  “Maybe we’re trying too hard,” Mads said. “My mother always says, ‘The truth appears when you stop searching for it,’ or something like that.” Mads knew she hadn’t gotten it quite right. “Or maybe, ‘When you stop looking for answers, the answers find you.’”

  “Your mom’s such a zen-head,” Holly said. “Do you think an idea is just going to drop out of the sky?”

  “That happens sometimes,” Lina said.

  “All right, we’ll let the answer find us,” Holly said. “But it better find us before next Friday. I’m going to check my e-mail.”

  Mads and Lina followed Holly to her room. Holly checked her e-mail—nothing but spam. She was about to log off when Mads said, “Let’s check our horoscopes. They have good ones on girlworld.”

  All three girls subscribed to a web site called Your Daily Horoscope, which e-mailed them their personalized forecasts every day, but it didn’t hurt to get a second opinion.

  Holly found the girlworld Web site. Before she had a chance to click on “Horoscopes” a colorful pop-up caught Mads’ eye.

  New Quiz! What Color Is Your Love Aura?

  “Let’s take that quiz,” Mads said. “I have no idea what color my love aura is.”

  “When are they going to stop making up new auras?” Holly said. “There’s your love aura, your friendship aura, your shopping aura, your homework aura, your shoe aura …”

  “Let’s just take the quiz,” Lina said. Holly clicked and up came the first question.


  1. To you, a good kiss is:

  • A peck on the cheek

  • Lip to lip with a tight pucker

  • Lip to lip with a little tongue play

  • Nice and wet with lots of tongue

  “Pick ’d,’” Mads said.

  “Ew,” Holly said. “I hate super-wet kisses.”

  “You don’t like them either, Mads,” Lina said.

  “I know,” Mads said. “But what happens if you pick the grossest answers? What color is the love aura of someone who likes super-wet kisses? I have to know.” The wine had made her a little tipsy, and this suddenly seemed like an important issue.

  Holly clicked “d.” “Okay,” she said. “An experiment. What color is the grossest love aura?”

  2. Your idea of a hot date is:

  • Dinner with your parents

  • A stroll and a stop for a cup of coffee

  • A movie with an easy-to-follow plot for plenty of makeout action

  • Getting a motel room

  “‘D’ again,” Mads urged. “I see where this is going.” She’d taken a few magazine quizzes in her time. “All the sexiest answers are going to be ‘d.’”

  “Your wish is my command.” Holly clicked “d.”

  “Can we take this quiz again later and pick our real answers?” Lina asked.

  “What would your real answer be?” Holly asked.

  Lina reread the answers to number two. “Well, none of those is my idea of a hot date,” she said. “I’d like to go out to dinner. Or maybe a good movie, not a bad one.”

  “Next question,” Mads said.

  3. Your favorite pickup line is:

  • What’re you looking at?

  • Hi. What’s your name?

  • You’re cute. What are you doing for the rest of my life?

  • Shut up and kiss me.

  “See, I’d never say any of those lines to a boy,” Mads said. “We might as well pick ‘d’ again for fun.”

  4. You’re eating with a guy and he spills ketchup on his shirt. You:

  • Say nothing

  • Wipe it off with your napkin

  • Lick it off

  • Tell him his shirt has ketchup on it, then rip it off

  “That’s just ridiculous,” Holly said as she clicked on “d.”

  5. You’ll dump a guy if:

  • He doesn’t say “Please” and “Thank you”

  • He swears too much

  • He’s got butt zits

  • He won’t do “everything”

  “Guys get zits on their butts?” Mads asked. “And what do they mean, ‘everything’?”

  “You know what everything means, Mads,” Holly said. “You just don’t know you know it.”

  They finished the quiz, answering “d” on every question.

  “Now we just fill in a screen name and submit to get our answers,” Mads said, taking over for Holly at the keyboard. Under “name” she typed in “Boobmeister Holly” as a joke.

  “Yuk yuk yuk.” Holly did her sarcastic spaz laugh.

  Mads pressed SUBMIT and they waited a few seconds for their quiz to be analyzed.


bsp; If you picked mostly A’s, your sexual aura is WHITE. Face it, you’re a prude. Join a convent now!

  If you picked mostly B’s, your aura is YELLOW. You’re cautious, maybe too much so. Time to take a few chances.

  If you picked mostly C’s, your aura is BLUE. You’re sensuous and sexy but don’t carry it too far—most of the time. Be careful.

  If you picked mostly D’s, your aura is RED. You’re a total slut! You might want to slow down a bit. But hey, maybe it works for you.

  Boobmeister Holly: YOU PICKED ALL D’S.

  Your aura = red. Red = slut.

  “Happy now, Mads?” Holly asked.

  “Yes,” Mads said. “Now I know that the grossest love aura is red and that we’re all sluts.”

  “Speak for yourself!” Lina bonked her with a pillow.

  Mads noticed an icon at the bottom of the quiz: E-MAIL THIS TO A FRIEND. “Let’s send this to somebody,” she said. She thought of Rebecca Hulse. Would she think this was funny? If she did, they could laugh about it together at school on Monday. Mads might get to know her a little better, and that would get her closer to finding out the secrets of the supergirls.

  “Does Rebecca like quizzes?” she asked Lina. Of the three of them, Lina knew Rebecca best. They played field hockey together.

  “Yeah, I guess so,” Lina said.

  “So let’s send it to her,” Mads said.

  “Why?” Holly asked.

  “For fun,” Mads said. She forwarded the quiz, funny answers, “Boobmeister Holly” and all.

  Lina glanced at the clock. “It’s almost midnight already. Weren’t we supposed to do some kind of homework-type thing tonight?”

  “Our IHD project,” Holly said. “Any ideas drop out of the sky yet?”

  “No,” Lina said.

  “It might take a few days,” Mads said.

  “I’ll keep an eye out for UFOs,” Holly said.

  But the answer, when it came, didn’t drop out of the sky. It came from cyberspace, where anything could happen—and did.


  Meet the Boobmeister

  To: hollygolitely

  From: Your daily horoscope

  HERE IS TODAY’S HOROSCOPE: CAPRICORN: Don’t bother getting up today. Really. I’m so totally serious.