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Ex-Rating, Page 2

Natalie Standiford

  Why did you break up?We could just tell it wasn’t right. We got along really well, but the zing wasn’t there. No chemistry. I don’t want to get into it too much, but kissing him just didn’t feel right.

  Are you friends now?yes

  What do you think of your ex as a friend?He’s great—almost like a girlfriend. We hang together, go to movies when there’s nothing else to do, and I can talk to him about my crushes and stuff. He gives great boy advice.

  What do you think of your ex as a boyfriend/girlfriend? (What was good and bad about him or her? Vices? Habits? Hang-ups? Family problems?)He’s really nice and cute. He’s really into music—if you don’t like the bands he likes, he plays them over and over until you give up and say you like them. But overall, he’s a great guy.

  What would a new person have to have (that you didn’t have) to make a relationship with your ex work?She should love indie rock and hip-hop, and she should be nice and fairly together. Other than that, just chemistry, I guess.

  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, rate your ex:10

  “Now that’s a good guy,” Lina said.

  “Wait—I saw a good match for this guy,” Holly said.

  She pawed through a pile of printouts—matchmaking questionnaires—until she found the one she remembered. “Here—Alison Hicks. She’s in ninth grade, she likes music, and she seems sweet.”

  “It could work,” Lina said.

  “Let’s see if she’s interested.” Holly forwarded Derek’s X-Rating to Alison.

  “Look” Mads said, scanning down to the next form. “Someone X-Rated Sean!” Mads had a giant, long-standing crush on Sean Benedetto, the handsome blond It boy of the senior class. Completely unreciprocated, of course.

  Your name:Ashanti Burke

  Your grade:11th

  Your ex’s name:Sean Benedetto

  Your ex’s grade:12th

  How do you know him/her?school

  How long were you together?two weeks

  Who dumped who?I guess he dumped me, but he never said anything to me. He just stopped calling, and the next thing I knew he was seeing some blond named Jane.

  Why did you break up?Guess he lost interest

  Are you friends now?Kind of. We joke around a lot, and he’s nice to me. Once I got over getting dumped, I didn’t hate him anymore.

  What do you think of your ex as a friend?He’s okay.

  What do you think of your ex as a boyfriend/girlfriend? (What was good and bad about him or her? Vices? Habits? Hang-ups? Family problems?)He’s so friggin’ sexy, it’s hard to say no to him. But so many girls like him. His eyes are always straying. He has a huge ego. But on the other hand—so cute!

  What would a new person have to have (that you didn’t have) to make a relationship with your ex work?She’d have to be like a hypnotist who can put him under a spell to control him. Or she’d have to have something no other girl has—what, I don’t know. She’d have to be some kind of movie star or something.

  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, rate your ex:2 (I was just writing in to complain about him.)

  “I didn’t know Sean went out with Ashanti Burke,” Mads said.

  “Or Danica Ball, or Shelby Smith, or Ariel Gruber?” Lina said.

  Mads scanned through the forms. “Oh my god, there are at least six X-Ratings of Sean here.”

  “And they’re all bad,” Holly said. “Listen to this: ‘Sean went to the bathroom in the middle of our date and never came back.’”

  Lina laughed and read another one out loud. “’Sean asked another girl out in front of me while we were at the Halloween Dance.’”

  “Wait—here’s a good one,” Holly said. “‘Sean came to pick me up for a date and hit on my mother!’”

  Lina and Holly keeled over laughing. Mads laughed, too, but it hurt a little. She loved Sean’s outrageousness. Maybe Holly and Lina thought it was obnoxious, but Mads wouldn’t change anything about Sean. Okay, one thing: She’d make him notice her—truly, deeply notice her. If only! Though she’d settle for being superficially noticed, too.

  “He’s still with Jane,” Mads reminded them. Jane Cotham was a tall, beautiful, hip, blond college student who seemed to have Sean in her power. Mads got to know her a little bit that spring when they both acted in a play Mads’ mother had written. “He’s been with her for a couple of months now. Maybe those other girls just weren’t the one. If you know someone’s not the one, why keep up the charade?”

  “Oh, Mads,” Holly said. “He’s terrible. He’s like the Demon Ex. Leaves a trail of bad feelings wherever he goes.”


  After a breakup, can you stay friends? Or are you a human tsunami, leaving a trail of destruction in your wake? Take this quiz and face the facts about yourself.

  1. After getting dumped, your first move is to:

  a cry, then get on with it.

  b vow revenge.

  c join a convent (or monastery, as the case may be).

  2. Your ex has a new love. You:

  a say, “Good for you.”

  b spread nasty rumors about the new love.

  c hire a hit man.

  3. You want your ex back. What do you do?

  a Beg, plead, and cry

  b Bribe the new love to transfer to another school (this only works if you’re really, REALLY rich)

  c Kidnap your ex and have him/her brainwashed

  4. Your ex doesn’t want you back. You:

  a accept it and vow to be his/her best friend.

  b try, try again.

  c tell him/her you’ll narc about that stash in his/her under-wear drawer.

  5. Your ex describes you as:

  a a nice person.

  b a little clingy.

  c a good candidate for shock therapy.

  6. You’d never tell your ex’s secrets, even after the breakup—except:

  a how his/her mother calls him/her “Pooky.”

  b his/her parents’ divorce really did a number on him/her.

  c that nose everyone thinks is so cute? Let’s just say he/she wasn’t born with it.


  1. a: 1, b: 3, c: 2

  2. a: 1, b: 2, c: 3

  3. a: 1, b: 2, c: 3

  4. a: 1, b: 2, c: 3

  5. a: 1, b: 2, c: 3

  6. a: 1, b: 3, c: 3

  Add up your total points.

  If you scored 6 to 8 points, you’re an ANGEL EX, good-natured, no problems. If you could keep a boyfriend, you’d be in great shape.

  If you scored 9 to 12 points, you’re HUMAN. Breaking up is hard on everyone, and we’re not always on our best behavior. It’s understandable. But you have the restraint to keep from turning your breakup into World War III.

  If you scored 13 to 18 points, you are a DEMON EX. Devil with a capital D. It would almost be worth staying with you just to avoid the mess you make after the breakup, except that the relationship was even worse! Learn to let go.

  “All right, maybe Sean is a Demon Ex,” Mads admitted. “He’s not my ex, so what do I care?”

  “He might be your ex someday,” Holly said.

  “You can dream,” Lina said.

  “Anyway, what about the boyfriend you have?” Holly said.

  Mads was dating a guy named Stephen Costello. His mother, a sculptor, was exhibiting her work in a big show in Amsterdam and she’d taken him with her. Missing a few weeks of school wasn’t a big deal for them. Stephen’s family was arty and easygoing that way.

  Mads liked Stephen very much, but things were progressing slowly. Maybe a little too slowly. She and Stephen hadn’t done that much yet, just made out a little. Anyway, Sean had a way of crowding other boys out of Mads’ mind.

  “One thing I can say about Stephen, I’ll bet he’ll be a fantastic ex,” Mads said.

  A message box popped up on Holly’s screen. “Hey, an IM! From Sebastiano.”

  Lina and Mads leaned in to read the message. Seb
astiano Altman-Peck was Holly’s nosy locker neighbor in school.

  bastiboy: superstar! xlnt interview. rsage now coolest school on planet. my new motto: rsage—live the fantasy.

  “Yay” Mads said. “I’m glad somebody liked it.” Holly wrote him back.

  hollygolitely: thanx. we weren’t too goofy?

  bastiboy: no! sexy. school seems sexy now. think i can get thru a whole day w/out my meds tmw, thanx to u.

  hollygolitely: glad we could help.

  bastiboy: c u at sex academy tmw. u’ll be the 3 sex queens of rosewood.

  He signed off. “The sex queens of Rosewood,” Mads said. “Do you think he’s right?”

  “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow,” Holly said.

  “You’re famous!” Rebecca Hulse squealed.

  Holly, Mads, and Lina hadn’t made it to the front door of the school when Rebecca Hulse and Autumn Nelson accosted them. Holly stiffened, bracing herself for a veiled insult. Pretty blond Rebecca and bratty brunette Autumn were sort of friendly with Holly, and yet … she didn’t trust them. Autumn had a self-obsessed blog called Nuclear Autumn, where she ranted and raved about anything that bothered her, and more than once she had publicly blasted Mads, Lina, Holly, and the Dating Game.

  “We heard you on the radio,” Autumn said. “You were so good. And now we all look like the most sophisticated high school kids in America.”

  “You think?” Mads said. Holly knew she was nervous. But it looked as if everything was turning out okay.

  “Definitely,” Rebecca said. “I already got three evites to parties this weekend from guys from other schools. They said to bring lots of those hot Rosewood girls. It won’t be a party unless we’re all there.”

  “With me and Rebecca, of course,” Autumn added. “I mean, you three by yourselves … I don’t think you could keep up the illusion of cool. You need backup.”

  Sebastiano walked in and smiled at the commotion. “I told you,” he said.

  “Let’s go inside,” Lina said. “I need to study for a French quiz. …”

  “You don’t need French,” Sebastiano said. “You already speak the language of love.”

  They walked into the red-and-white stucco Spanish-style school building. The halls were just getting crowded. People whispered all around them—Holly couldn’t quite catch the words, but the buzz followed them through the hall.

  The girls continued toward their lockers. Up ahead, the crowd parted. Holly saw a tall guy with shaggy blond hair and a swimmer’s muscled shoulders striding toward them. She glanced at Mads, who immediately lit up. Sean.

  “Kid,” he said to Mads. He nodded at Holly and Lina. “Friends of Kid. I heard you on the radio. You rocked. I was glad to finally hear somebody tell the truth that everybody knows: Sex totally rules the world. Nice job. All right.”

  Sex definitely seemed to rule Sean’s world, at least. All he had to do was look at a girl and she was his. Practically.

  “Thanks, Sean,” Mads said.

  “You’re welcome,” Sean said. “Carry on, little sex chicks. Later.”

  The intercom speakers crackled to life. The voice of the principal, John Alvarado, broke through the static. Lina called him Rod because he was so stiff, he seemed as if he had a pole up his butt. She’d overheard Dan Shulman, their IHD teacher, call him that, and she passed it on to Holly and Mads. It was spreading fast through the school. A nickname like that couldn’t help but stick—especially when it fit the person so well.

  “Holly Anderson, Madison Markowitz, and Lina Ozu,” Rod said over the intercom. “Please come to my office immediately.”

  “What could that be about?” Lina asked.

  “Maybe he wants to congratulate us on all the good publicity we’re bringing to the school,” Mads suggested.

  “You think so?” Holly said. “That doesn’t sound like something Rod would do.” In fact, it didn’t sound like Rod at all.

  “Brace yourselves,” Holly said. “I think we’re in for some trouble.”


  The Rod Squad

  To: mad4u

  From: your daily horoscope

  HERE IS TODAY’S HOROSCOPE: VIRGO: There’s only one way to say this: You’re in big trouble.

  Giris, I heard you on the radio Saturday,” Rod said. “So did everyone else in town, apparently. Which makes sense, since we announced it here at school and in the local papers. Foolishly, it turns out.”

  Mads, Lina, and Holly were sitting lined up across from his desk. Mads was nervously tearing a Kleenex into tiny scraps. Next to her, Lina’s leg jogged up and down, up and down.

  “So—you didn’t like the interview?” Mads asked.

  “Frankly, if I hadn’t known the three of you, I would have found it fascinating, if a little scandalous,” he said. “And I probably wouldn’t have believed half of what you said. But I couldn’t listen as a civilian. I had to listen as an educator. And I found it troubling. But what was even more troubling were all the communications from parents I received as soon as I arrived at school this morning.”

  Mads sank down in her chair. Uh-oh.

  “Many parents were very upset to hear what is happening on a school-sponsored Web site. They seem to think we’re running some kind of child prostitution ring.”

  “But you know that’s not true,” Mads said. “Those parents are overreacting. My parents do it all the time.”

  “Be that as it may,” Rod said. “I don’t need the aggravation. Belinda Crocker, the head of the parents’ board, insists I take action. So I’m going to ask you girls to remove the Dating Game from the school site.”

  “What?” Mads cried. “What do you mean?”

  “I mean I’m terminating your blog,” Rod said. “Your IHD assignment is over. You don’t need it anymore. It’s time to shut it down.”

  “No!” Mads cried. “We do need it! It’s just getting good!”

  “You can’t shut us down just like that,” Holly said. “Tell us what bothers you, specifically. Maybe we can fix it. There’s got to be a way to make everyone happy.”

  “All right.” Rod cleared his throat. “This letter to someone called ‘The Love Ninja’ drew particular fire.”

  Rod read from a printout of the blog. “‘Dear Love Ninja, I’m dying to have sex with my boyfriend, and he wants to, too. But about once a week my mother asks me if I’m still a virgin. When I say yes, she’s happy and leaves me alone for the rest of the week. Here’s my problem: If I have sex, obviously I won’t be a virgin anymore. What should I say when Mom asks? Should I lie and keep peace in the house? Or should I tell the truth and cause all sorts of unnecessary trouble?—horndog.’”

  Rod paused after saying the word “horndog” and looked up at the girls. Mads had to stifle a giggle. It just sounded so funny coming out of his mouth.

  “The Love Ninja replies,” Rod went on. “‘Dear horn-dog, Whether or not to have sex is your decision, not your mother’s. But telling the truth is best. Your mom’s got to update her image of you someday. Might as well be now.’”

  “What’s wrong with that?” Holly, who usually wrote the Love Ninja column, demanded. “We didn’t tell her to lie.”

  “It’s the attitude that parents don’t like,” Rod said. “They feel you’re encouraging kids to have sex whether their parents like it or not. They complain that the blog in general encourages sexual activity and could give students ideas they wouldn’t have had on their own.”

  “But that’s the whole point,” Lina said. “It’s give-and-take. Free exchange of ideas. Et cetera.”

  “These parents need to get a life,” Holly said.

  “That’s not for you to say,” Rod said. “You don’t know parents like I know parents,” Rod said. “It is very hard to make them happy.” He lifted a pink message slip to his glasses and read aloud. “‘Get that smut off the school site or I’m suing the school, the town, the county, and the state of California! And you personally!’ I’d say that reaction was typical.”
/>   “Whoever said that is obviously some kind of nut,” Mads said.

  Rod frowned. Lina kicked Mads.

  “It isn’t smut, and you know it,” Mads said.

  “The kids need it. We help their social lives. We help the less fortunate find love. We give them information they need about embarrassing stuff. Like how to deal with zits. And how to keep cool if somebody hurts you. And—”

  “And besides that, it’s educational,” Holly said. “After all, it started as a school project.”

  “Nevertheless, we can’t afford lawsuits,” Rod said, “or the bad publicity.”

  “I thought all publicity was good publicity,” Lina said.

  “I don’t subscribe to that theory,” Rod said.

  “This isn’t fair,” Mads said. She had never realized how much the Dating Game meant to her, but now that it was threatened, she was ready to fight for it. They’d worked so hard on it—and it was a success! It had brought them lots of attention, a national radio interview, new friends, dates, boyfriends … and it brought the three of them—Holly, Lina, and Mads—closer than ever.

  “You can’t just cave in to pressure like this,” Mads said. “Give us a chance. If there’s something offensive on the blog, we’ll take it off. But it serves a real purpose. Don’t shut it down!”

  Rod sighed. He fiddled with a paper clip on his desk, then he looked at the girls as if trying to read their minds. “All right,” he said at last. “I’ll give you one more chance. But you’ll have to change the content of the blog drastically. Nothing risque. Nothing controversial. Nothing even remotely anti-curricular. Do you promise?”

  The girls nodded. “We promise.”

  “Because if anything provocative winds up on that site … if I get one more complaint from an irate parent … the Dating Game is history. Do you understand?”

  Mads swallowed. How did he define “controversial”? Or “provocative”? Or “anti-curricular”? She was afraid to ask. But she understood the gist. The Dating Game was in big trouble.


  An Awakening