When his family moves from southern to northern California. Charlie, 16, decides to project a new image. Nice, dependable, a good friend, Charlie is tired of being every girl's idea of the reliable--and dull--boy next door. Dad used to play bit parts in the movies, so Charlie knows what costume and vocabulary changes can do. He experiments with four personas: Chet, a tough guy with a chip on his shoulder, who unfortunately provokes a vendetta with the roughest hood in town; Chad, a poet who meets fellow-poet Paula--she promptly recognizes the lines from Tennyson with which he'd hoped to impress her Chuck, a cowboy; and Chip, a cool dude from L.A. Meanwhile, he's befriended by Byron, a humorous, Beethoven-playing neighbor who recognizes Charlie for the kindred spirit he is. He helps Charlie hoodwink the hood, and introduces him to the chess club where he really belongs. This is lightweight stuff, but adroitly done. The flat, hot August town sizzles realistically; there's plenty of action and conversation, much of it humorous, all supporting the satirical but sympathetic sketch of a teen-ager in search of himself. Sure to amuse its intended audience.