Hi, my name is Cade Rossdale...and that's usually about as far as I go with an introduction. Because as soon as those two little words are out of my mouth, half the new people I meet seem to think I'm automatically related to that guy from Bush (not the president, the rock band!), simply because of my last name. Yeah right. Do I look like I could possibly be related in any way to some British rock star who's married to that Gwen Stefani chick that my little sister Chloey idolizes so much? The other half immediately start shooting their mouths about what an old fashioned name Cade is, and want to know if it's short for anything (what can it be short for, anyway? Caderick? Cadenstein?!), or whether I'm aware that it sounds kind of like Cate, or if my ridiculously long last name cuts it off on the teachers' attendance sheets and it comes out reading as though my first name is actually Cad, which by the way means a moron and a jerk, and did I actually know that before they told me?

It's better with other guys, actually, because I suppose us guys are just too macho to stand around gossiping about our names, lest our peers start calling us fruits and other, even less flattering names, names that ought never to be repeated...that is, unless we actually want gay and lesbian rights organizations, women's rights groups, and the French government to descend upon our asses and start picketing the halls of Robert F. Kennedy High. Which might not be such a bad idea, actually--at least it would bring some publicity to our school, and God knows RFK needs some scheme, any crazy scheme, to combat all the budget cuts our beloved governor's bestowed upon us.

But with girls! Man! Sometimes I wonder why God created them in the first place...and then I remember that it's to prevent us guys from turning gay--well, at least some of us, I guess--and start calling each other the aforementioned anti-homosexual, anti-feminism, anti-foreign government names. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not some sort of sadistic chauvinist pig who thinks women are just a bunch of nags who sit around eating chocolate all day, watching TRL and getting fat. Not at all. I like girls, plain and simple--not my little sister, obviously, but would anyone like a ditzy little brat? Didn't think so, huh? However, I do tremendously admire my mother, as corny as that sounds--she's simply amazing: she's incredibly smart, she's got class, she commands the respect of her co-workers, and she can get our entire household to listen to and obey her wishes without ever once raising her voice. And my best friend, as weird as it might sound after my diatribe against girls, happens to be a girl herself. Carinne Ling, and I guess I should feel lucky that while people simply pop annoying questions about my name, they're always and hopelessly butchering hers. Poor girl. I've heard several variations, anything from KAH-rhyne, to Ca-REEN, to every once in a while, gaspgasp, the correct pronunciation, Kh-RIN. It doesn't bother her, though. Me, I can never resist sneaking in a sarcastic remark, or at the very least a little smirk whenever people give me a hard time about my name. Carinne, on the other hand--and no, you can't shorten her name to Cari, or anything, for that matter--simply smiles, corrects the person if she has the time, or merely lets it slide and continues to let others abuse her name so badly, it would probably run home crying if it could.

All right, so now we've established that I'm not some kind of woman-hater, right? Right?! But my mom and Carinne aside, and a bunch of other girls I really don't feel like naming, most chicks waste no time in effortlessly driving me crazy. And it's not just the name thing, either. Remember, guys aren't supposed to dwell on these sorts of petty matters, unless they're gay--hey, don't hate me, that's society's idea and view of us guys, not mine! Take my ex-girlfriend, Layla. Why ex-girlfriend? Well, gee, I don't know...hmm, let's see, maybe because she was the cattiest and most jealous psycho bitch to have ever walked this planet! She was nice-looking, I'll give her that--great tan, long brown hair, kind of short but nevertheless pretty in your typical teen flick vixen kind of way. That is, before she started calling me at all sorts of hours. Wanted to know where I was all the time, checked up on me every other minute when we weren't together, began to worry that every girl who so much as established eye contact with me was some shameless slut who was trying to steal me from her, got incredibly jealous and suspicious of Carinne simply because we hung out more often than guys were supposed to hang out with girls they weren't going out with, according to her...Hell, once she even accused me of going gay on her with my one of my baseball buddies! And all this happened within a period of three months, which was how long it took for me to snap back into my senses and dump her faster than you can say, uh, "Psycho therapy!" I don't know, I ain't the one who's taking Creative Writing as an elective, that's Carinne.

Verbena came after Layla, and all I can say about her is that I honestly should have known better than to go out with the daughter of some ex-hippies named after a little-known flower! I'd shudder whenever I think about that...but then again, that's not a non-fruity, macho guy type of thing to do, so whatever. Anyway, Verbena would have been okay, I suppose. She wasn't as hot as Layla was, but she was by no means hideous, either. But holy shit, what a total drama queen! Everything was either a complete catastrophe or an unbelievable miracle to her! She over-exaggerates anything her weird little mind can store, so that her father becomes some sort of mystical shaman who survives on a diet of LSD and peyote extracted from Arizona desert cacti, while her mother actually married both Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison at the same time during the late sixties when they eloped to Utah and briefly became Mormons, who are supposed to allow bigamy. Whatever. Add to that the fact that she consults the alignment of the stars daily for what she is or isn't allowed to do--and that can include anything from eating red meat to killing people--and you can see why Verbena was history before first semester was over.

Ronnie was adorable, except that dating her was like dating your baby sister. In other words, she was incredibly hyper, insanely cheerful, and was shorter than most ten-year-olds. Plus, she talked in this ear-grating, high-pitched nasal voice, and since she has a tendency to burst into merry little peals of giggles every other minute, I decided I had to break up with her before she busted my eardrums before my Walkman had a chance to. That, and she was always calling me Cadey, which sounds like Catey, which makes me sound like a girl, and you all know we can't have that. Again, one of society's rules about being a guy--he can wear his pants yanked down to his knees so that most of his boxers are showing (in fact, nowadays, he practically has to if he wants to be cool), but he can't have a nickname that effeminates him, unless he's gay. Notice a pattern about how all these rules to being a guy always manage to swing back to the not looking gay thing? Oh, yeah, and Carinne's already made fun of me for that more times than I care to remember.

Which brings me to Madison, a.k.a. the biggest feminist bitch who's ever graced the halls of Kennedy High with her presence. Now what is it about guys being attracted to girls who are feminists? No idea, except that I must have been out of my mind when I went out with Madison during the summer between freshman and sophomore year. First of all, she was ├╝ber-smart, which I kind of have to admit isn't really the type of girl that I usually date. Not that I'll just hook up with any random trashy bimbos, of course. Just that I can't seem to ever hold an interesting conversation with really smart girls--with the exception of Carinne. Smart girls are always concerned about their grades, or whether they'll make valedictorian come senior year, or how come their grade is slipping in Advanced Placement Pre-Calculus and they're getting an A-minus, or why Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is more complicated than his King Lear. Back to Madison, she dressed like our school Liberian, wore her hair in a bun, had these black-rimmed glasses that made her look far more severe than any woman, fifteen or fifty, ought to ever look, and nagged the hell out of me till I seriously ran out of her house while we were supposed to be working on a project together. Anyway, that relationship with Madison didn't work out, as you've probably guessed by now--and as for that project, I kind of caused us to get a B-plus on it, which means she now hates my guts because it almost lowered her Biology grade from a 98.7% to a 94.6%. Oh, wow, sound the alarms--we've got a code red there.

Other girls in my life have come and gone, much like the aforementioned four have. It's not really my fault that I've had more break-ups and less make-ups than anybody else here at RFK. I'm not some sort of mindless pretty boy, I honestly am not. And just because I play for varsity baseball and football doesn't mean I'm some sort of dumb jock who only dates equally airheaded cheerleaders, either. I'm smart, I maintain a solid B average, which I realize is probably not something to cheer about but hey, at least I'm not flunking out of my classes, either. And no, I'm not a chauvinistic woman-hater, either. Carinne, remember? In fact, now that I think about it, she's probably the only girl I'm truly best friends with, and the ironic thing is, she's not even a part of my regular crowd, like with Fawn and Erica and guys from football and baseball. Girls from my regular crowd, I date...and then dump. But with Carinne, I've never actually thought of going out with, and it's certainly not because I don't think she's pretty, or that she has a weird personality like Verbena, or that she's a nag like Madison, or that she has a tendency to swat me on the butt like Fawn and Alycia do (another guy rule, actually: girls can smack you wherever and whenever they want, but you're never allowed to strike back, no matter how lightly, or else you'll be forever branded a future wife-beater and out of control psycho).

Which is probably a good thing now, actually. Because, quite frankly, I'm just about sick of girls. Hell, I'm sixteen years old. I'm passing all my classes at school. I'm in terrific shape, and football's going great--we're definitely winning the Homecoming game this year. Life's good. Way too good for me to waste on girlfriends, jealous and possessive, annoyingly melodramatic and always socking me in the stomach or asking me stupid questions about why "guys have to wear their pants hanging down to their butts." Hey, don't get me wrong. They're fun to hang around with, and Carinne's always been one of my closest friends. But I think for junior year, I'll just kick back and ease out of the dating scene and away from the Laylas and the Fawns of Kennedy High. Hell, maybe while I'm at it, I'll see if I can get my name changed to something that won't inspire so many damn questions in others!