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Crash Test Love
Crash Test Love
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Crash Test Love

Written by Ted MichaelAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Ted Michael


· Delacorte Books for Young Readers
· Trade Paperback · June 8, 2010 · $8.99 · 978-0-385-73580-3 (0-385-73580-4)
Also available as an eBook.

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1

HENRY

I am not the girlfriend type of guy.

I want to get it out there and be completely honest.

I am not the girlfriend type of guy.

I won’t: hold your hand, buy you flowers, have dinner with your parents.

I will: kiss you until your legs collapse and you beg me to lift you up and start all over again.

I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, ladies, but you should know exactly what you’re getting into.

It’s only fair.

INT.—BACKSEAT OF MY CAR, SATURDAY NIGHT, LABOR DAY WEEKEND

I am bored.

HER

And I was like, really, you like my hair like this? On top of my head?

ME

(blank stare)

HER

Because I think it looks better in braids. I know that sounds so third grade, but it’s true!

ME

(blank stare)

HER

Don’t you agree, Reinaldo?

ME

(even blanker stare)

HER

Reinaldo? Hel-lo?

I forget she is talking to me because my name is not Reinaldo. It’s what I told her my name is, though, so it makes sense she’s calling me that. I try to remember her name—Marissa? Marisol? Something with an M?—but I can’t. I suddenly wish I hadn’t suggested we leave the party to be alone in my car. It’s much easier to tune someone out in a large group. But here we are, in the back of my Jeep. I think about how many girls I’ve been with in this very same position. Our legs are touching, and even though it’s the time I would normally make my move, I have a gnawing feeling this is not going to happen. Whoever this girl is sitting next to me, she seems incredibly . . . young. But it’s still worth a shot.

HER

Did you hear a single thing I just said?

ME

Maybe you should take your dress off—it’s really hot in here.

HER

(giving me a look I don’t even have to describe)

You are a pig, Reinaldo! A pig!

She slams my car door behind her as she leaves. I am slightly upset. Not because I liked her (she was boring) or because she thinks I’m a pig (I am) or even because it’s pretty clear I’m not getting any tonight; I am upset because I can usually pick them pretty well. Girls, that is. I can see a girl and know within seconds what her deal is. What she likes and what she hates and whether she moans when she’s being kissed. It’s a talent I have. Some people are good with numbers. I am good with women.

Just not this one. The Hello Kitty hair clip should’ve tipped me off.

I get out of my car. It’s dark, but not too dark. Even though I’m standing in the parking lot I can hear the noise coming from inside the hotel. Music. Dance music. You should know that I love to dance. Love to dance. Not professionally or anything, but in a club where it’s loud and crazy. That’s one of the reasons I dig parties. I like to have a good time. And there’s nothing wrong with that—despite what anybody says.

This particular party is a Sweet Sixteen for a girl who goes to my high school. Usually when I crash Sweet Sixteens, I like to go where no one knows me and I can pretend to be someone else entirely. I get a rush from sneaking into a party I wasn’t invited to and dancing. Well, not just dancing. Finding a cute girl to hook up with and hopefully making a little mischief in the process. Escaping the monotony of life for a few hours. Duke and Nigel (my co-crashers) have never understood this about me, and they probably never will. They just think crashing parties is fun. They don’t know firsthand the need to escape. To flee. To invent fake names and fake pasts and know that someone, some girl, actually believes it all. This makes me feel powerful. It also makes me kind of an asshole, but I don’t really care.

This is probably why I love movies so much. The idea of transforming into an entirely different person on-screen than who you are in real life. You would think that’d make me a wannabe actor, but I’m not. I do want to study film in college, though, and write screenplays. Like Charlie Kaufman or Alan Ball or Joel and Ethan Coen. I want to make movies, to create something from nothing. Every day I imagine my interactions as part of one big script; I see things as if my whole existence is on film. I’ve been this way for a while now, and I can’t imagine changing anytime soon. I want to be a writer so I can hide behind a computer or even a pen and paper and make decisions by myself. Without anyone interfering. Without anyone saying no.

Excerpted from Crash Test Love by Ted Michael Copyright © 2010 by Ted Michael. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.