By Austin Covello
Based on the Characters created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn
It was a typical day in Lawndale. The sun was shining, and
there wasnt a cloud in the sky. In the hallowed halls of Lawndale High, students
chatted merrily with each other as they passed from class to class, serene in the late
morning of their lives that was adolescence. In short, everyone was happy, and Daria
Morgendorffer was in hell.
Ten feet off to her right, the Fashion ClubSandi,
Stacy, Tiffany, and her own sister, Quinnwere going on and on about some gadget or
trinket or whatnot. Daria broke into a cold sweat, torn between the desire to remain
stationary and the need to remove herself from earshot of them for the sake of her own
sanity. The Id won out, as Daria rationalized that if she wanted exercise, she would have
plenty of incentive to catch up on her frowning to keep away that double chin by staying
put. She gritted her teeth as the high-pitched nasal voice of her sister
penetratedno raped!her audio senses.
"Oh Sandi! That lavender is so good on you.
Which kind of animal is it?"
"I got a cat, just like my real one."
"That is just the cutest, Sandi!"
"No. Yours is the cutest, Quinn."
In spite of herself, Daria smiled her most sardonic and
regal Mona Lisa smile as the sense of 180 days of being fashion editor for the Highland
high school newspaper hit her full in the face. "Dont they know giga-pets went
out last year?" she murmured.
Beside her, her best friend Jane Lane held up a black
dinosaur giga-pet. "I could go over there and show them mine," she offered.
Darias mouth hung open. "You have one?"
"Oh yeah. I just love watching it die."
"Why not just take a hammer to it?" Daria
deadpanned. Of all the things Daria did, deadpanning was the most natural, the easiest.
And, of course, the thing she most enjoyed.
"Are you nuts? I paid twenty bucks for this."
"Theyre on clearance at Dairy Mart for fifty
cents," countered Daria.
"Youre on! Well rid the world of the
giga-scourge once and for all!" replied Jane with mock fervor.
"Easy, Tiger," soothed Daria. Then she glanced
down the hall. "Here comes the next president of the United States," she said
"And her boyfriend, too," one-upped Jane after a
look in the same direction.
Jodie Landon walked down the hall with Michael Jordan
MacKenziea.k.a. Mackat her side. It was not uncommon to see them walking hand
in hand talking about an exam or a subject or Tennis or just gazing into each others
eyes (as opposed to Kevin and Brittany, who spent every waking moment of their courtship
But today was different. Today, their hands were unclasped
and raised, as were their voices. They werent exactly shouting, but they were just a
bit louder than everyone else.
"I told you, I had to cancel because the Student
Council called an emergency meeting! Miss Li was going to institute electroshock-therapy
for the special education kids!"
Daria had to smile at her friends passionate pleas.
She hadnt been exactly sarcastic about Jodie becoming president of the country.
Jodie and Mack were two of only a small handful of African Americans attending Lawndale
High. As a result, Jodie felt pressurereal or imaginedto be the perfect
student, a role model for everyone in the high school.
Unfortunately, Mack didnt see things that way.
"You could have at least called! Jeez, Jodie, it seems like I see less and less of
you each week! You spend more time with your extracurricular activities than with
"Well, let me make it up to you. I know what! We can
go see that Whitney Huston movie tonight!"
"Well..." Mack wasnt exactly satisfied,
but he was willing to deal. "Okay." The tension between them was still thick as
they went their separate ways. Meanwhile, their silent audience began their analysis.
"What do you make of that?" asked Jane.
"That its none of our business, theres
nothing more to see, and we should move along." Daria replied, uncomfortable with the
notion of gossiping about her more popular friends.
"Cmon, youve got to have an
"Okay. The Clinton Administration sucks, but Gore
would be worse because his wife is a fascist."
"You asked my opinion. I gave it."
"Dont play dense with me. I know you have a
vicious remark about Mack wanting to spend time with Jodie. Dont be coy,
Daria gave up. "Mack has a point. Jodies way
too involved with her activities. She should spend more time with him."
"What about a quip about him wanting to get her alone
so they can make out?" whined Jane.
Daria frowned at her friend. "You can be as bad as
Upchuck sometimes." She walked off.
Jane stared at the retreating Daria. "What?" she
That night during dinner, Quinn recounted the events of
that morning to her parents.
"...and so they got into a big fight in front of
everybody! It looks like the captain of the football team is gonna become available!"
Quinn paused to reflect on that fact. "I wonder what kind of car he has," she
Daria snorted. "First of all, it wasnt that
bad. Jodie promised Mack theyd go out tonight. Secondly, even if they do break up,
youd be the last one on Macks list."
"At least Id be on the list!"
"All right, you two," interrupted Helen.
"Im sure you both have the same chance of catching this boy on the
"What makes you think Id want a guy on the
rebound?" asked Daria defensively.
"Well...um...ah... Jake, you explain things to
"Huh?" Jake looked up from his newspaper.
"Oh. Well, its really simple, Daria. If you want a guy, go after him. Be as
aggressive as you can, no matter who the competition is," he lectured cluelessly.
Daria shot a vicious grin at her sister. "Thanks,
Dad," she purred.
"DADDY!" cried Quinn.
"Well, um... that is... unless its your
"Thats enough, Jake," Helen cut him off.
"Daria, it wouldnt hurt you to at least find out where you and he stand."
"On the ground?" Daria quipped.
"I mean, whats your relationship to him?"
"Hes my friends boyfriend, thats
all. Why not just leave it at that?"
"Alright Daria. Just dont come crying to me
when some other eligible lady grabs him."
"Yeah. I always do that, dont I?"
The next day, Daria recapped the conversation to Jane.
"So let me get this straight," said Jane, "Brenda Walsh is talking about
going after Mack after overhearing one little spat with his girlfriend?"
They were standing in the hallway of the English Wing. All
around them conversation melded into a huge, machine-like hum. "Dont buzzards
usually wait until the cows dead until they start to feed?" Daria agreed.
"I dont know. But I bet itd make a hell
of a TV program."
"Then the worst part is that my moms trying to
encourage me to get with him. Like dating Mack would be the fast track to boosting my
popularity, as if I actually cared."
"I dont know, Daria," Jane teased, "A
football player with a brain is actually something of a novelty. Sort of like a talking
"Speaking of which, did you bring your loose
"Yup. After school we begin the holocaust."
Just then, Daria and Jane heard an angry shout.
so tell me, then, where were you last
night?" It was Mack.
"I was getting the preparations underway for the
mermaids ball! It was really important
" Jodie started.
"Oh save it! You know Im so sick of you. You
put everything else in front of me! Tennis, Chorus, Student Council, and now some stupid dance!
When are you ever gonna have time for me?"
Jodies eyes narrowed. "Oh, grow up," she
"Grow up? Grow up? Fine, Ill grow up. And
Ill out-grow you."
"What are you talking about?"
"IM SAYING, WERE THROUGH! WERE
FINISHED! IVE HAD IT!"
Silence. All eyes were on them. Jodies mouth hung
open, her eyes were wide in astonishment as if she had just been slapped.
Mack wordlessly walked off. Jodie yelled after him,
"Fine! Be that way! Ill just find another boyfriend, one who can
understand that the world doesnt revolve around him!" She stalked down the hall
in the opposite direction and around the corner.
The silence pervaded for another couple of heartbeats
until Jane broke it. "The cows dead now, wouldnt you say?"
"Flatlined," Daria deadpanned.
Daria looked up from her novel, Pawn of Prophecy.
It was a good novel, although a little "bright and sunny" for Darias
tastes. Mack stood over her.
"Oh. Hey, Mack."
"What are you reading?" Mack asked.
"Its called a book," Daria replied
"Really? Ive heard of those, but my
coach says that they dont exist," Mack bantered.
Daria put down the book, resigned to talking to Mack for
the rest of the study hall. Boring book anyway, she rationalized. "Your coach
seems pretty closed minded."
"Oh yeah. He doesnt even like people with an
I.Q. over fifty."
"Oh. And here I thought brains were universally
"Only on the Sci-Fi Channel."
Daria chuckled. She knew what kind of brains Mack was
"So Daria," Mack started, "What are you
Uh-oh. "I was planning on inventorying my
ceiling tiles, or maybe watching an animal mauling video. Either way Im
contemplating the meaning of life, or an algebra problem. Why?"
"I was wondering if you wouldnt mind doing
something with me."
Daria sighed. "Look, Mack. You just broke up with my
friend this morning. I cant go out with you after that. Its not that I have
anything against you for it, its just that you two might not be completely over each
other, and if I went out with you without discussing it with Jodie first, Id feel
like I was stabbing her in the back. Sorry."
"I understand." He took out a piece of paper.
"Heres my phone number, in case you change your mind."
" She was tempted to give it back,
but what harm could it do to accept it? "Okay."
"Thanks." He began to talk rapidly, as if to
cover his embarrassment. "You know, your sister asked me out. No offense, but I
almost laughed in her face. Have you ever thought of getting her some
"We tried taking her to a priorities specialist, but
it didnt seem to work. She just began using the men more efficiently."
Mack looked stunned.
"Oh, you didnt know?" Now, for the coup
de grace. "After shes finished, she eats her meat."
"Ill be sure to stay away from her,
Daria smiled. The well was successfully poisoned.
It was after school, and the underclassmen were all
hurrying in a mad stampede to catch their buses while the calmer, cooler seniors strutted
to the student parking lot. Jodie was on her way to the gym to help with the dance
decorations when she spied Sandi Griffin talking with Mack. Sandi passed him a slip of
"The vultures are starting to circle, eh?"
Janes voice came from right next to her.
Jodie tore her eyes away from the disgusting display that
the President of the Fashion Club was exhibiting. "Look at them all. Theyve
been practically waiting for him there like
"A bunch of popularity fiends wanting to date the
captain of the football team?" Jane guessed.
Jodie frowned. "Exactly." She went back to
looking at her boyfriendex-boyfriend, she amendedas Brooke handed her phone
number to him. He wasnt ready to date. Couldnt they see that?
"Hi, guys." Daria walked over to them.
"Hey, Daria." Jodie smiled. If there was one
girl in the whole school that didnt have an agenda involving boys, it was Daria.
"Hey, Jodie, can I talk to you?"
"Ooookay." Daria struggled, wondering how to
broach the subject. This wasnt the sort of thing that she was good at.
" she stammered.
"Youve suddenly come down with a case of the
stutters! This is so suspenseful," quipped Jane to lessen the tension.
"Mackgavemehisphonenumber," Daria said quickly.
Yes, that was good. That was a good place to start.
Jane leaned against the locker, arms akimbo. "Oh,
yeah. The vultures are starting to circle."
Jodies permission had been somewhat grudging
("At least you had the decency to come to me about it, first"), but she
had been okay. Now Daria wondered if it was still a good idea. A wolf without teeth was
still a wolf, and a football player with some semblance of a brain was still a football
player. There was one final test to decide whether or not to go out with him or not. She
waited patiently for her mother to call her to dinner as she meticulously examined the
When dinner came, she silently endured how Quinns
day went. "
and so they finally broke up. At least thats what I
heard from Tiffany who heard it from Melissa who heard it from Joey who heard it from
Brooke who heard it from Tori."
on her deathbed," continued Daria,
"Anyway," continued Quinn, giving Daria a
dirty look, "I gave him my phone number and now Im just waiting for him to
"Thats nice, Quinn," said Helen in a bored
tone. For once, Daria couldnt blame her. She almost went face first into her lasagna
herself after hearing Quinns lecture on strappys. "What about you, Daria?"
"Well, I had a little visit from Mack myself."
She took out Macks phone number. "He gave me this."
Quinn, who was in the midst of taking a gulp of soda, spat
it out and went into a choking spasm. "What?" she shrilled after Jake had
patted her back a few times.
"Let me see that, Daria," Helen said. Daria
handed her the slip of paper. "Oh my. This looks like his phone number."
"Muh-om," Quinn whined in her superior
way, "puh-lease. That numbers obviously fake."
"Yeah," said Daria. "I made up a phony
phone number to call attention to myself by saying that Im going out with a guy that
dont even like. And the aliens are involved somehow, but Im not
"Mack cant be interested in you.
Hes a popular football player and youre
youre a brain."
"No. I have a brain. Maybe when they have a
sale at Cashmans, you can go pick one up for yourself."
"Alright, you two." Helen tried to intervene,
but Quinn would not be deterred.
"Macks the only man for me. Ill just die
if he doesnt ask me out. I wont settle for anyone else!" she cried
melodramatically. Just then, the phone rang. "Thats for me!" said Quinn.
"Hello?" Her face lit up. "Matthew?"
There was no question in Darias mind what she was
going to do with Macks phone number now. Reach out and touch someone.
"Hi, Mack. Its Daria."
"Hi Daria! I was just thinking about you!"
"Boy, you football types think less than I
"How is it possible for one woman to be so
funny?" Mack asked sardonically. "So what is the purpose of this call?"
"I talked to Jodie."
"And did she convince you that Im really
"No, just a demon out to destroy all of mankind. She
said I could take you if I really had to."
"Oh. So does that square everything away with your
"Okay. So do you want to go to the movies
"Nah. Too realistic. Star Trek?"
"No, too upbeat. What about The Pie II?"
"That sounds good."
"Okay. Pick you up at seven, okay?"
"Its a date. Bye."
The next day at school Mack found himself accosted by an
annoyance of a different sort than yesterdays bevy of high school socialites.
"Hey Mack Daddy, wait up!" Kevin Thompson called
after him. Mack gnashed his teeth, resisting an urge to slug him.
"Dont call me that, okay!" said Mack as
Kevin and Brittany Taylor caught up to him. Mack had a lot of fantasies about Kevins
girlfriend. Most of them involved tricking her into jumping out of a window from a
building with double digit stories.
"So bro, whats it like to be a stud?"
asked Kevin slyly.
"What are you talking about?" asked Mack with a
combination of annoyance and morbid curiosity.
"Youre the man of the hour, Mack,"
squeaked Brittany. "Every girl in the school wants to go out with you." Then she
glanced at Kevin. "Well
Kevin blushed. "Aw, shucks."
"Yeah," deadpanned Mack, "Im just so
lucky that I dont even realize it."
"Now you can have a girlfriend for every day of the
month! Which one are you gonna start with? Sandi? Stacy? Hey, what about that cute blonde
" a dirty look from Brittany cut Kevin off. "Uh
"Actually," said Mack, "Im going out
with Daria tonight."
"Daria?" Kevin scratched his head.
"Youre kidding, right? You cant go out with Daria. Shes,
like, a total brain."
"So, football players dont go out with brains.
It just doesnt happen."
"Oh well. I guess Ill just have to quit the
football team, then."
"What? You cant quit! Youre the
team captain! We need you! Not as much as we need me, but we need you!"
"Well thats too bad. If I want to date Daria,
then Im gonna date Daria, and who cares what anyone thinks!" Mack stalked off.
Kevin stood as still as a statue and contemplated this.
Then he drew his own conclusions. "Whoa. I guess hes gonna date Daria. Far out.
Come on, Babe, lets go to the mall."
yes, thats cute
I guess thatd
cute in theory, but not really cute on
" Quinn sat at the kitchen table talking to Tiffany about the latest line
of skorts detailed in Waif. Sitting next to her, Helen fumed. She was waiting for
an important conference call and could easily miss it thanks to all of this nonsense.
Helen wondered how much Daria would charge her to let Helen use the phone in her room.
Jake sat in the living room snoring. Maybe if she woke him up, the two could overpower
their youngest daughter and recapture the phone.
Daria came into the kitchen and stopped. Quinn gasped and
dropped the phone. Helen snatched it just a split second before it hit the linoleum. She
smirked smugly and said into the receiver, "Im sorry, but Quinn will have to
call you back." Then she saw Daria and gasped.
Daria was wearing black jeans and a T-shirt! A
body-hugging T-shirt, Helen noticed with some disapproval. Beside her, Quinn was making
strangling noises. "You look
normal!" she cried.
"Thanks. I wish I could say the same about you,"
Helen was slightly bemused. "Daria, honey, is that
makeup your wearing?" she asked, looking at Darias painted face.
"Yup. I want to look my best for my date
"What date?" cried Quinn.
"My date with the captain of the football team."
Quinn bolted from the room, sobbing.
"I havent gone out yet, and already its a
great night," remarked Daria.
Just then, the doorbell rang. Helen answered it and found
Mack dressed in his best polo shirt and dockers with a bouquet in hand. "Is Daria
ready?" he asked.
"So how was your date with Mack?" asked Jane on
Monday. She, Daria and Jodie were in their usual spot on the locker wall. Ten feet to her
right, Stacy and Tiffany stood consoling Quinn. Sandi on the other hand smirked.
"It was surprisingly good. Mack has good taste in
"Yeah. When I was dating him, we always went for the
art films," said Jodie.
"And just how far did you go?" asked Jane.
"Jeez, are you ever subtle," said Jodie.
"He gave me a kiss goodnight and that was all,"
replied Daria, slightly uncomfortable with all of this "kiss and tell."
"Was it small, medium, large, or sloppy?"
"Jane!" said Jodie as her eyes widened.
"What? Just because youre scared to ask
doesnt mean I have to be."
Just then Mack came over. "Hey, Daria. Hey,
guys." He put his arm around Daria and kissed her cheek.
"Small," Jane decided.
"So are you doing anything tomorrow?" Mack asked
"Well, I did have that bake-off planned,"
"What are you doing tonight?" asked
"Ive got a game. Its the big one against
Oakwood, our rival. I dont suppose you want to come? Kevins the one who
usually gets all of the cheers."
Daria put her fist up in the air. "Go. Go. Kick
butt," she intoned monotonously.
"Now thats exactly the kind of school
spirit we need to get us fired up," said Mack with a chuckle. Then he turned to
Jodie. "I guess youve already made plans." His voice was deliberately
"Actually, Im free today," replied Jodie.
"Its a blue moon," Jane told Mack dryly.
Mack smiled. "Well, in that case, would you both
please come? We could really use the support."
"Sure," said Jodie, "if my father catches
me home before five, he panics. So I may as well do something. What about you,
Jane sighed. "I know Im gonna regret
this. Sure, what the hell? If Daria can do it, I can."
"Thanks," said Mack. "Come on, Daria,
Ill walk you to class." With that, the couple departed. As they walked off,
Quinns jaw dropped and her eyes went wide as she stared after them. Then she
collapsed into a fresh bout of sobbing. Jane thought she saw Daria smile. Jane imitated
Beside her, Jodie was lost in thought. "What went on
during that date?"
"So, what are we going to do tonight?" Daria
asked Mack as she got into his car. Mack had referred to his plans as "a
surprise." Daria was still adjusting to the idea having a boyfriend. She had never
really cared for the notion before. For her, a boyfriend had been a concept to be put off
until college at the very least, probably never. She was also willing to admit to herself
that while her feelings for Mack were real, they were at least half prompted by the fact
that their relationship drove Quinn nuts. She suddenly wondered if this wasnt all a
ruse for Mack to get back at Jodie. Oh well, if thats the case, then theres
something for everybody.
Wordlessly, Mack handed Daria a ticket. Daria studied
them. "An opera? Youre taking me to an opera?"
"Yeah. Its Italian. I figured that you might
like it. Its actually pretty gory, too."
"Yeah. See, what happens is this guy kills his
brother, and then he marries his wife. But then theres this secret admirer
whos stalking both of them, and he causes trouble for both of them."
"And how does it end?"
"I dont want to spoil it for you."
"Mack," she said in a tone she usually reserved
for Brittany when she was being extra stupid, "you said it was Italian. I wont
be able to make out what theyre saying. I take French." A sudden thought
occurred to her. Was he taking her there to make out? He was in for a nasty surprise if he
"Dont worry. Im sure theres a
translation in the playbill. And afterward, we can maybe see the sights. Its in
Middletown, you know." Middletown was a thriving Metropolis just outside of Lawndale.
It wasnt as big as New York or Los Angeles, but to most Lawndale suburbanites, it
"Oh yeah," Daria said acidly, "well
meet lots of interesting muggers."
"No, I used to live in Middletown. They just have
drug dealers. No muggers."
The opera was like any other: boring, loud, and
unintelligible. If there was ever a public make-out spot for teenagers, then this would be
it. However, Mack was a total gentleman, and the only thing that happened was Mack holding
her hand from midway through the second act onward. Daria found this not unpleasant, and
attributed it to the fact that she managed to stay awake through the whole thing.
"I think you were right," said Mack after the
"Yeah. From now on lets stick to pizza and
"Thats all?" exclaimed Mack with
pretended astonishment. "And here I was going to take you out to vandalize private
"Oh, well in that case, Ill make an
Mack laughed. Then, without warning, he kissed her soundly
on the lips. "I love you, Daria."
Daria blushed. She hadnt been ready for that
statement. It was only their second date! "Me, too," she mumbled halfheartedly.
It was a typical day in Lawndale. The sun was shining, and
there wasnt a cloud in the sky. In the hallowed halls of Lawndale High, students
chatted merrily with each other as they passed from class to class, serene in the late
morning of their lives that was adolescence. In short, everyone was happy, and Jodie
Landon was in hell.
Ten feet off to her right, she saw her boyfriend, Michael
Jordan MacKenzie, and Daria Morgendorffer walking down the hall in each others arms,
gazing into each others eyes the way that they used to. Beside her, her best
friend, Jane Lane, was ready to make some snide comment. Time seemed to freeze. Jodie
heard her heartbeats, slow, low, muffled by her blouse.
Jodie looked down and suddenly realized that she was
wearing Darias clothes. Then she looked back at Daria. Daria was wearing
Jodies best mini-skirt and blouse.
"No!" screamed Jodie. "This isnt right!"
Jodie woke up, screaming.
When something like this happened, she usually did one
thing. She grabbed her phone receiver. She dialed Macks number. She was doing it
now, the instinct had been ingrained into her until it was second nature.
One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Cmon, Mack,
answer the phone! Click. "Hello?" Macks groggy voice came over the
receiver. Jodie glanced at her alarm clock. Three in the morning. On a school night. There
had been worse times.
"Thank God! Mack, I just had the worst dream! I
dreamt that you had dumped me and you were going out with Daria instead!"
"Jodie? What are you talking about? That wasnt
Reality hit Jodie in the fullness of her brain as she woke
"Oh, yeah," she mumbled. Her eyes blurred with
tears. "Sorry to have disturbed you."
"Thats okay. Since youre already up, and
Im already up, and the sun is almost up, you may as well tell me about your
"No thats okay. I think Im safely over it
"Oh. So, how is the Mermaids Ball coming along?"
Jodies face lit up. "Great!" she said
enthusiastically. On the other end of the phone, Mack smiled. If there was one thing Jodie
enjoyed, it was talking about her extracurricular activities.
"We decided on Kiss the Girl as our
theme, and we just hired Stan Cartman as our DJ!"
"Doesnt he do that mega-dance show
"Yeah! We were really lucky to get him. He usually
doesnt do school functions, but he said hed make an exception in this
"I guess he still has some community service time
left on his sentence from that drug bust," Mack said dryly.
Jodie laughed. That was exactly what she had been
thinking at the time.
"So, who are you taking?" asked Mack.
"I dont think Ill be going."
"Why not? You practically did this thing from
"Well, I dont have anyone to go with. The only
person whos asked me out so far is Upchuck."
"Tell me that that isnt true."
"Afraid so. Its like, Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie
are so infatuated with Quinn that they dont even notice me, and every other guy is
going out with someone else or making overtures to the Fashion Club."
"Maybe if they sacrificed a couple of lambs."
"Or some lowfat cottage cheese," Jodie said
sourly. "So, I guess youre taking Daria, right?"
"Whats it like to date her? Sometimes she seems
so course to me."
"Well, I dont know. I mean, sometimes she seems
like she isnt really into it."
"The whole dating thing. Its like shes
doing it just for fun, or to pass the time. I mean, I love her, and I know she likes me,
but I wish shed show it more."
"Darias just a little reserved, thats
all. Couple that with her inexperience, and she may seem cold and distant at first."
"Maybe thats it. Or maybe its just
The two talked until the sun came up.
It came as no surprise to anyone when Mack asked Daria to
the Mermaids Ball. Daria and Mack had become inseparable in the passed two weeks that they
had been dating. Darias reply had been as quizzical as usual ("Dammit. Now I
have to go to that annoying tailor again.") but she had accepted. Jodie, meanwhile,
had had no offerings other than Upchuck, and was seriously considering selling out the
last shreds of her dignity by asking to join the Fashion Club, when she received an offer
of a different sort from Jane.
"Why dont you come over to my place?
Theres a Sick, Sad, World-athon on the night of the dance, and since
Darias busy Ive got no one to watch it with. What do you say?"
Well, it was better than nothing. "Sure," said
Jodie. Then she glanced at her watch. "Wed better hurry up," she
commented. The two were on their way to Cranberry Commons to help Daria pick out a dress
for the Mermaids Ball. Jane had brought along plenty of barf bags remembering their trip
to the Mall of the Millennium.
They met Daria just outside of the mall. "This place
makes me nauseous just looking at it," complained Daria.
Jane wordlessly handed Daria a bag. Daria frowned and
said, "Not that nauseous."
"Oh," said Jane. "Pukings only
reserved for special occasions, like field trips, right?"
Jodie surpressed a chuckle as they entered Cashmans.
Daria eyed their best dresses. "Boy, they all look so
good," she said with vast insincerity. "But how to decide?
"Nah," said Jane. "How about
"Works for me."
Darias random selection got her a dark green
rhinestone dress with short sleeves and a medium-length skirt.
"Not bad," said Jodie.
"Thanks. Ive never gone wrong with nursery
rhymes." She walked toward the fitting room. "Im just going to try it on
to see if it fits."
Jane and Jodie waited patiently as Daria tried on the
dress. Two minutes later, she came out in her usual outfit. "It fits."
"And how does it look?" asked Jodie.
Daria looked at the dress. "The same as two minutes
ago. Lets get out of here. This place gives me the creeps."
"Too late," said Jane. The Fashion Club had just
made their entrance. Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany made their way toward them. Behind them,
Quinn trudged with her head hung in despair.
"Like, hello. Macks girlfriend or
whatever?" said Sandi.
"Wow," said Jane. "And to think just two
weeks ago you were Quinns cousin or whatever. Youre really moving
up in the world, Daria."
Daria shot Jane and Jodie a look which said,
"Somebody, please help me!" written all over it.
Tiffany gazed at Darias dress. "Wow! That dress
looks so good. You have really great taste."
"Boy, Ill say," said Stacy. She took a
halter top from the rack. "What do you think of this?" she asked Daria.
"God. Youre complexion is so fair,"
Sandi said to Daria. "What kind of zit creme do you use?"
"Yeah," aped Tiffany. "You should be on a
poster or something."
That was too much. Daria abruptly ran straight for the
womens room with her hand over her mouth.
"Whats with her?" asked Tiffany.
"Youll have to excuse her," said Jane
coldly. "Shes just not used to having her ass kissed by a bunch of phony
From the ladies room, there came the sound of someone
being violently sick.
"What happens when youre little Internet chat
mate is a dog
literally! Animals that surf the web, on the next Sick, Sad
It was the night of the dance, and Jodie was drowning her
sorrows in popcorn and misfits over at Janes. It could be worse. She could be tied
to a rack, or possibly being burned at the stake for witchcraft.
"Jane, it occurred to me that neither of us have a
boyfriend. It looks like we wont be getting one in the near future. Wanna start a
lonely hearts club?"
Beside her, Jane snorted. "Right. We sit around and
discuss boys that we drool over? No thanks. Ive got better things to do with my
time. Like watching TV. Besides, what makes you think I dont have a boyfriend?"
"Well, I never see you with anybody, and I never hear
you talking about anybody, so I figured that
" Janes arms were
akimbo, and her eyebrows were raised. "This foot tastes awful. Can I have some
"Sorry. Were all out. Try some relish instead.
Relish and Nikes make a good combination."
Jodie smiled. "So who is he. Is he in college?"
"No. Hes in a band."
"Why dont you ever mention him to anyone? It
"Because its not that big of a deal. Were
not that serious. Im not mature enough for a real relationship yet. Im
only in high school. Besides, he has this bad habit of spacing out, and his monosyllabic
vocab is a real turn-off."
"A regular Kevin, huh?"
"I wouldnt go that far." She
decided to change the subject. "So what was it like with you and Mack?"
"It was great. I really took him for granted.
He was more than just a boyfriend. He was my best friend. I could tell him
everything. I guess that was why I was so shocked when he dumped me."
"You want him back, dont you?"
"How did you know?"
"Simple. You can get over a boyfriend, but losing
your best friend is hard. Daria and I have had our bad moments. Like when I joined the
track team, I could have sworn she and I were never going to speak to each other
"Yeah. But its too late for that. Mack is so
infatuated with Daria that he barely notices me anymore."
"Then theyve got to be stopped," said Jane
in her best Mission Impossible voice.
"Oh, I know how," replied Jane. "I just
didnt want to do it. Until now." Wordlessly she got up and left the room. Jodie
waited for a few heartbeats until she heard Janes muffled shout from the other side
of the wall. "Yo Trent, wake up!"
"Hello Lawndale! Welcome to the Mermaids
Ball!" the voice of DJ Stan Cartman filled the gymnasium. If anyone looked over
there, they would have seen an old, balding guy with a beer stained T-shirt. He put on
"Kiss the Girl" and waited for it to end.
Over in a corner of the gym, Tori Jericho stood in a
corner chatting with Stacy and Tiffany. "Now that couple over there is really
cute, and that couple has been going out ever since Middle School. That couple is
just about ready to break up, but that guy is going to propose to his girlfriend
right after he graduates. Its one of those forever things," she
explained. Then she spied Daria. "That girl used to be completely single. But now
shes dating the captain of the football team. What does he see in her? And
whats with those glasses?"
Mack handed Daria some punch. Daria smiled a thanks and
drank some. "So Daria," said Mack, "would you like to dance?"
Daria inwardly groaned as the moment she had dreaded was
finally upon her. She wasnt exactly graceful on the dance floor. At her
cousins wedding, she nearly put her escort in a wheelchair when they had made a
feeble attempt at waltzing. Not that Lurman had seemed to care
"Actually, Mack, why dont we wait for an easier
tune to follow. Ive never been very good with Disney music." Or any other
kind, as well, she admitted to herself.
"Yeah. Why dont we finish our punch?" Mack
was obviously uncomfortable with the way things were going. Daria guessed he had expected
her to have a better time.
"All right, everyone. Its time to slow things
down for the ladies in the house!" said the DJ. "Could I have gotten a cornier
gig?" he muttered under his breath as he put on one of Celine Dions many slow
"Could he come out with cornier one-liners?"
asked Daria. Then she glanced at the entrance to the gym and gasped. Jane and Jodie had
decided to come to the dance. Jodie was wearing a very revealing, low-cut, shimmering
black dress. Jane was wearing her usual clothes. Leave it to Jane to cut all of the
pretenses of a semi-formal event with her comfy oversized wares. Suddenly Daria felt
ashamed of the dress she was wearing.
And then he was there. Trent was dressed to kill in
a black tuxedo, with his hair combed and gelled, his usually scraggly moustache trimmed
for the occasion. What was he doing here?
Trent began walking toward Daria. Darias heartbeat
grew faster with every step. Her ears rang with the sound of blood rushing to her brain as
he stopped in front of her. "Want to dance?" he asked softly.
Daria felt a warmth spreading across her cheeks as her
inhibitions of dancing dropped away. "Okay," she murmured.
As she and Trent walked out onto the dance floor and began
to dance, Daria realized that time had seemed to stop. Nothing mattered as she looked deep
into Trents eyes. This was a perfect moment, perhaps the perfect moment. The
one that she had been born for, the greatest moment of her life.
Then Trent stepped on her foot.
Daria yelped in pain. "Sorry," said Trent.
"Im not really very good at this sort of thing.
"Thats okay," Daria purred. "So, why
are you at a high school event. Arent you a little mature for this sort of
thing?" She accidentally stepped on Trents foot.
Trent grunted in pain. "Janey asked me to come and
dance with her so she wouldnt feel out of place. But when she saw you standing by
the punch bowl, she asked me to go dance with you." He grunted again as Daria almost
tripped over his feet. "Want to go get a burger?" he asked.
"Yeah. Quick, before we have to walk out on
crutches." Then she remembered Mack. "I just need to let my um
" Somehow she couldnt admit it in front of Trent. It seemed like a
betrayal of some sort to him.
"Boyfriend?" guessed Trent.
"Yeah. I need to let my boyfriend go
know where I am."
Daria turned and saw Jodie and Mack dancing together. They
were talking to each other softly, but the look in their eyes spoke volumes.
For some reason, however, Daria didnt seem to mind.
She turned to Trent. "I think its already been taken care of. Come on,
lets go get some junk food."
On their way to Trents car, Daria and Trent spied
Jesse getting out of the Tank.
"Yo, Trent!" he called.
"Hey Jesse. What are you doing here?"
"Your sister called. She said to come crash this High
School thing. At least, thats what I think she said. And something about a
Daria smiled. Jane had been up to her old yenta tricks
again. But for some reason, she didnt think that she and Trent had been the intended
recipients. This was just a bonus. Oh well. Who cares?
"Sounds pretty heavy," said Trent with an
absolutely straight face.
"Yeah. Ill probably figure it out by the time I
get in there, though. Later."
The next day at school, Daria felt oddly wistful. Not even
the Fashion Club could get on her nerves. Even when Quinn triumphantly began spreading
rumors that Mack had used her to make Jodie jealous didnt bother her. She had been
talked about before and she knew that it would only last a week, maybe two at most. Then
everything would be completely back to normal. Or whatever passed for normal in Lawndale.
Beside her, Jane Lane walked with her to class. "So
where were you at the dance? I didnt see you."
"I slipped out. All in all the whole dance was a
"And you ditched Mack?"
"I dont think he minded very much."
"Well I did. You stole my dance partner,
"Oh, dont give me that! What was Jesse doing
there last night?"
cheating on me?" Jane said vapidly.
"Whatever you say."
"So what went on with you and Trent last
"Very little. We got a burger and then he drove me
"What no kiss goodnight? No romantic
"And you and your boyfriend broke up for that?"
"Yup," said Daria with a smile.
Jane sighed. "I was right. I simply do not
understand love. Heads up."
Jodie and Mack walked passed them wordlessly, hand in
hand, gazing into each others eyes.
"Oh well, at least we still have each other,"
Jane said to Daria.
"Dont push it, Jane."
"And out-of-date fashion accessories?" Jane
added dubiously as she held up her giga-pet.
Daria held up one of her own. "Now youre
talking," she said. The partners in crime walked down the hall and into their