READY OR NOT: All American Girl 2 excerpt
So I'm on my way to New York for the Literati with Lyme symposium and my booksigning and stuff, but I didn't want to leave those of you I won't be seeing at these events with nothing to read while I'm gone, so here's this:
READY OR NOT
All American Girl 2
Everyone thinks Samantha Madison—who saved the President's life last year—is ready:
*Her parents think she's ready to learn the value of a dollar by working part-time at Potomac Video—as if she doesn't have enough to do, staying afloat in the academic hell also known as John Adams Prep.
*Her art teacher, Susan Boone, thinks she's ready to move from still lifes to life drawing. Who knew life drawing meant drawing NAKED PEOPLE?
*The President thinks she's ready to introduce his new Return to Family bill to the American public at a town hall meeting on MTV. Hope he still feels the same way after seeing what she's just done to her hair.
*And David, the President's son and Samantha's steady boyfriend, seems to think they're both ready to move to the next level in their relationship….
The only person who's not sure Samantha Madison is ready for any of the above is Samantha herself.
But ready or not, Samantha Madison is about to find herself dealing with issues and problems—from coaching her older sister with her crush on a nerd to possibly “losing it” with the First Son at Camp David—that no national heroine in American history has ever dealt with–in quite the same way–before.
In stores everywhere July 26, 2005.
READY OR NOT: All American Girl 2
Top Ten things that have really and truly shocked me during my lifetime:
10. Gwen Stefani coming out with a solo album. I mean, I think it's great, don't get me wrong. But what about the rest of the band? I worry about them, is all. Except Tony, of course, since he's the one who broke her heart.
9. J-Lo and Ben's wedding getting called off. Seriously. I thought those two were made for each other. And what's with the Marc Anthony thing? I mean, he's shorter than she is, right? Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it's like she picked the one guy who P Diddy could beat up. And that's just wrong.
8. Lindsay Lohan starring in that Herbie the Lovebug movie. Seriously. Why would they remake those movies? How could that ever have sounded like a good idea?
7. That I would pass German I-II.
6. Theresa's son Tito enrolling in technical college. And passing his first semester with flying colors.
5. The sight of my sister Lucy doing her own laundry.
4. Britney Spears marrying that back-up dancer of hers. Did she learn NOTHING from J-Lo's first marriage?
3. Kristen Parks to invite me to her sixteenth birthday party at Six Flags Great Adventure (not that I went).
2. My boyfriend being so fixated with my chest he wouldn't even notice my new hairstyle-slash-color.
And the number one thing that really, truly shocked me:
1. That the first naked guy I ever saw would be a total stranger.
“Wait, so, what did it look like?” Catherine wanted to know.
I couldn't believe she was so curious. I mean, I could. But I also couldn't. Because I really didn't want to talk about it.
“It looked like a penis,” I said. “What do you think? I mean, you've seen them before. You used to go skinny dipping at the shore with your brothers when you were little, you said.”
“Yeah, sure,” Catherine said. “But that was before they got, you know. Hair down there.”
“Okay,” I said. “Gross.”
“Well, it's true. Seriously. How big was it?”
I was starting to be sorry I'd brought it up. I'd only done so because she'd asked how my life drawing class had gone. I'd thought to share with her the true meaning behind the words Life Drawing.
Now I wished I hadn't.
“It was average, I guess,” I said. “I mean, it's not like I have a lot of experience in that department.”
“I'm just glad I don't have one,” Catherine said, with a delicate shudder. “I mean, can you imagine, having it dangling there, all the time? How do they even ride bikes?”
“Sam?” Trust Kris Parks to choose that moment, of all the moments in the world, to wheedle up to us where we stood in the lunchline and go, “Got a minute?”
Kris is not exactly my favorite person. And up until I became a semi-celebrity, on account of the saving-the-President thing, the feeling was mutual.
But then I was on the six o'clock news a couple of times, and Kris decided I was her new best friend. I guess the fact that I'm dating the President's son outweighs the fact that I don't own a stitch of Lilly Pulitzer. Which, in Kris's book, makes you one of those Untouchables Rebecca and I learned about on National Geographic Explorer.
“Listen, I was wondering if we could count on you to help us set up the gym next week,” Kris said with a simper (SAT word meaning to smile in a silly, affected, or conceited manner). “You know, for the town hall meeting….”
“Yeah, sure,” I said, to make her go away.
“Swell,” Kris said. Trust Kris to say something like 'swell.' It was almost as bad as me saying something like 'I'm peachy' upon seeing my first you-know-what. “We can really use the help. So far the only people who've volunteered are, you know, the student council members. And Right Way, of course. It's really embarrassing. I mean, that the President is going to be announcing this important new program from right here in our own school, and most of the kids in this school are so apathetic about it. I really hope he doesn't think we're ALL like that. The President, I mean. I really want to make us look good in front of him. And Random Alvarez. I mean, he's just so hot–” Then she got a good look at my head. “What happened to your–” She broke off and bit her lip. “Never mind.”
“My hair?” I reached up to finger it. “I dyed it. Why? Don'cha like it?”
I knew Kris didn't like my hair. Preps like Kris aren't into Midnight Ebony. I was just torturing her for the fun of it.
“Oh, no, it's really nice.” Kris seemed to recover herself. “It's permanent?”
“Semi,” I said. “Why?”
“No reason,” Kris said, with a bright smile. “Looks great!”
I knew Kris was lying, and not just because her lips were moving. I had given myself a fully objective examination in the bathroom mirror just that morning, and I knew for a fact that Lucy was right: my new black hair looked stupid. Maybe if I had dyed my eyebrows to match, it might not have looked so bad.
But I hadn't done it as a fashion statement so much as a statement statement…that statement being, “Say so long to red-haired, goody-two-shoes, President-saving Samantha Madison, and say hello to life drawing, possibly-soon-not-to-be-a-virgin Sam.”
Of course, the fact that I'd dyed my hair BEFORE my first life drawing lesson, and then deciding to rid myself of my virginity (possibly), was just symbolic of how far I'd come from the pre-dye, red-headed me.
“This Return to Family incentive of the President's,” Kris went on, studiously ignoring my hair. “I hope you'll tell him how excited we all are about it here at Adams Prep, and that we're behind him one hundred
and ten percent. I mean, family is the most important thing.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Well, who isn't pro-family?” That's what I said. But inside my head, I was going, Why won't you die, Kris Parks? Why?
“Maybe you'd be interested in coming to a Right Way meeting sometime?” Kris glanced at Catherine, as if aware for the first time that I wasn't standing there alone. “You and your, uh, friend.”
Kris knows perfectly well what Catherine's name is. She was just being what she is, a preppy uber-snob.
Which she illustrated a second later by going, as a girl in an Adams Prep dance team uniform walked by, in her flippy purple skirt, “Oh my God, did you hear about Debra Mullins? She supposedly hooked up with Jeff Rothberg under the bleachers after the Trinity game last week. She's such a slut.” Then she added, cheerfully, to me, “Well, see you in the gym Monday!”
“Oh, we'll be there,” I said, just to get Kris to leave.
It worked. She left us to order our double cheeseburgers in peace.
“God, I hate her,” Catherine said.
“Tell me about it.”
“No, I mean, I really hate her.”
“Welcome to my world.”
“Yeah, but at least she sucks up to you. On account of David. She'd never call you a slut. I mean, if you and David ever, you know. Hooked up. And she found out.” Then, Catherine added, with a laugh, “Like that's ever going to happen.”
I didn't know which Catherine found more unlikely—the prospect of David and I ever having sex, or Kris finding out about it. I wasn't about to let her know that the former was more imminent (SAT word meaning threatening to occur immediately; near at hand; impending) than she might expect. Not because I didn't trust her to keep it a secret. I'd trust Catherine with my life.
It was just that I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. About Thanksgiving, I mean. I hadn't had a chance to tell David yet that my mom and dad had actually said yes to my spending the weekend with him at Camp David.
Which I was still sort of sore about. Their saying yes, I mean. It was so obvious that they'd only said yes because they'd been distracted by Lucy and her SAT score situation. I mean, God forbid Mom and Dad should pay attention to ME for a change. As usual, the middle child was getting the short end of the stick, attention-wise, in the Madison household.
Although I guess I couldn't TOTALLY blame Lucy for their saying yes. The fact is, my parents have this perception that I'm the Good Kid. You know, the one who, yeah, might try to sell celebrity drawings from her locker and dye her hair black, but who ultimately is going to throw herself on an assassin to save the President. Nobody worries too much about a kid like that. A kid like THAT would never do something as reprehensible as sleep with her boyfriend over Thanksgiving weekend.
It would so serve my parents right if I became an unwed teen mother.
Still, I wasn't about to mention any of this to Catherine. She has enough to deal with, what with her mom not letting her wear pants to school—seriously, she has to wear below the knee skirts, even in P.E.—and the mockery this brings with it. I'm not going to add to Catherine's troubles the fact that her best friend is considering losing the big V.
Besides, it isn't anybody's business, really. Anybody's but my own.
You can read the rest July 26. Register here to win a free advanced reader copy. More free advanced copies will be given away next month, as well, but you have to re-register every month.
Oh, and read Melissa de la Cruz's FRESH OFF THE BOAT! It's the May Meg Cabot Book Club Pick of the Month, and it's in stores now–and it's really, really cute and funny.