See what Lawndale be like, if Daria was born as a boy. Read on and find how it might’ve been.
Daria (and associated characters and locations) is copyright © 1997-2000 MTV Networks.
This story is copyright © 2002 by Bacner (firstname.lastname@example.org) and has been written for personal enjoyment. No infringement of the above rights is intended.
The red car was making its own time down the street towards the Lawndale High school, as its’ occupants were busy arguing with each other.
The occupants’ number was three. Helen Morgendorffer, the oldest, and downright simply the mother of the other two, was driving. She was scowling to hide her own nervousness.
Truth to tell, this whole move had been pretty much her idea and initiative, ever since this lawyer firm had accepted her application, and hired her. And so… they had to move.
A loud blast of music shook Helen out of her reverie. "Quinn!" she scowled angrily, "I was talking."
"Sorry mom," Quinn Louise Morgendorffer, a pert red-head just as her mother was at the age of 15, spoke. "It’s just that my brother started humming the songs again."
"What?" spoke the third occupant of the car, who had been keeping quiet till this moment. "I could take only so much of Quinn’s pent-up bubbling, you know?"
"Darren John Morgendorffer," Helen sighed, looking at her son, as he leaned back in the back of the car, owlishly surveying his surroundings in the manner copied back of his grandfather. "Try to develop those personal skills of yours, please? I know that you have them, and so do you."
"Mom, I’ve used those personal skills already, remember?"
"Darren John, hanging around those two losers and using them as a pair of flunkeys and what not is not interacting with the rest of the society."
"Mom, being pronounced as "Darren John" before the same society did not help me any – right, Quinn?"
"Got to agree with my brother on this one," Quinn nodded. "I mean can you imagine what my popularity would be like if everybody knew me as Quinn Louise Morgendorffer?" She paused, thinking quickly. "It’d be almost as bad as – mom giving you a hug before the whole school, Darren."
"Thinking fast – I’m impressed, Quinn," Darren cheerfully said. "Mom, why are you groaning?"
"I knew it’d been a bad example letting you bond with Erin," Helen sighed.
"True, for as a lawyer you’ve been the very picture of generosity and doing things pro gratis," Darren nodded.
Helen looked pained in her reflection of the rear-view mirror. "Darren?" she finally said.
"I’m on it mom," Quinn cheerfully chirped. "Darren, mom tells you to shut up."
"Hey! I’m always pleased to get back to what I was doing."
Soon, Helen’s car arrived at LH’s parking lot. By now, Darren was humming in tune with some song in his head, Quinn was humming in tune with some song on the car radio, and Helen was humming in tune with some mantra that her shrink has been teaching her – in short, the ordinary car ride for the Morgendorffer family.
As soon as the car had arrived and stopped, Quinn took-off, with a couple of good-byes at parting. Darren turned to follow her suit. "Darren," Helen grasped her first-born on his arm.
"Try not to blow things up here?"
"Don’t worry mom, this is Lawndale, New England. Unlike back in Texas, I’m sure that they’ve got professionals to do this."
"What?" Helen involuntarily gasped and released her grip on Darren, who immediately used this opening to take-off as well.
…Helen Morgendorffer mutely stared after her kids and just groaned.
Darren cheerfully walked-up to the principal’s office and prepared to knock. "Hey, wait-up," Quinn hurriedly said, catching-up to him.
Darren arched an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
"Ow, come on. You’re not letting me face down the principal alone, are you?"
As soon as Darren took a good look at the principal in charge, he immediately decided that Lawndale High will be anything but boring. The woman had a look of a shifty politician, and for some reason, Darren had taken-on a lot of odd jobs from such people back in Highland, Texas. Still, this was New England.
"So Miss Morgendorffer, Mr. Morgendorffer," Angela Li was saying, carefully examining the two newcomers. "It’s so very nice to have you two here."
"Gee, thanks, Ms. Li!" Quinn piped-up.
"And I personally hope that you two will fit-in," the principal continued, eyeing Darren’s paramilitary attire.
Yeah, like a square peg in a round hole, Darren thought quietly but said nothing. A politician indeed!
"Uh, Ms. Li, what’s these notes we got about a shrink?" he asked instead.
"Oh, these are for your psychological evaluation."
"They are mandatory, Mr. Morgendorffer, so now get going. First to Ms. Manson’s office, then to your classes! Hop to it!"
The Morgendorffer siblings left. Ms. Li sighed and sat back down.
The phone rang.
"What?" Ms. Li barked into the phone receiver. "Oh, hello, superintendent. What am I doing? Why is it so important? Oh, you don’t say! Oh, you didn’t say that? Oh, I see. Is it that bad? Well, I see what I will be able to do. Yes, I know. Bye!" Ms. Li put down the receiver and spoke rather coldly and flatly into the PA system. "Mr. O’Neall to my office, now."
"So Quinn," Dr. Manson was speaking to the younger Morgendorffer sibling. "Tell me what you see."
"Oh, it’s a picture of two people talking!"
"Yes, and what are they talking about?"
"Oh, they’re dating, and are just about to approach the most important part of their relationship – just where they stand. See, he’s probably saying: ‘But baby, I really like you,’ and she says ‘I know, but I don’t want to rush into things,’ and he is saying-"
"That’s enough Quinn, thank you," Dr. Manson hurriedly said, "now you, Darren."
"What? Quinn had said it all already. It’s two people talking!"
"Yeah, but what are they’re talking about. And please don’t try to imitate your sister, it won’t count."
"Mmm? Okay. They’re talking about… a herd of wild ponies."
"Yeah, I can see it now," Darren smiled a rather creepy smile. "The girl says: ‘Hey, it a herd of ponies running across – what are they running across, dear?’ And the guy says: ‘I dunno babe, but now it is just so much roadkill!’ And then the girl says-"
"That’s enough, Darren," Dr. Manson said with a shake of her head. "You two may now heed for class."
The English teacher, Mr. O’Neall, was not having a good day, as Ms. Li was chewing him out quite thoroughly. "O’Neall," she was saying, "tell me: did you apply for the grant from the school board for your self-esteem class? I thought we agreed that the finances were the department of myself and Diane Bennett!"
"Aw, but Angela, you see," O’Neill was trying to protest, but not very successfully – after all, the best he had managed to think up so far was "the devil made me do it!" and "it was for a good cause!" He also had: "I meant it for the best!" saved-up, but was unwilling to use it, since the last time he tried to use it, Ms. Li told him that she wanted to hear that excuse for the last time, otherwise O’Neall would have a long period of cafeteria duty to look-up to, and that was not the future Timothy O’Neall wanted to see for himself.
At that moment Dr. Manson came into the principal’s office. "Ah, Margaret," Ms. Li’s glare instantly shifted to her. "Nice to see you. Tell me, was it your idea to suggest to Timothy here to apply to the School Board for a grant for his self-esteem class?"
"Leave me out of your school politics, Angela," Margaret Manson shook her head wearily.
"Ah! But I can’t!" Angela Li spoke in a light tone that hid the acidic bitterness behind it. "This self-esteem class was your brainchild, Margaret, so – you’re in, Ms. ‘It’s just a step up on my way to fame’!"
"Angela, shut-up. I brought you the psychological evaluations of the Morgendorffers, as you asked me to."
"To use the modern slang, the boy is both intelligent and nasty, and the girl is a shoo-in for that Fashion Club that had sprouted in the school a couple of years earlier. Not the stellar material we needed, honestly."
"Well, we’ll get to that later. Now we’ve got Timothy’s mess to sort-out."
"Well, what’s the problem?"
"The problem is that the school board is sending a member of theirs to check-up on the self-esteem class’s performance!" Angela Li snapped.
"And I was telling Angela, Miss Lane is more than ready to present to them how students graduate my class with honours!" Timothy O’Neall said.
Dr. Manson groaned. "O’Neall. This girl has been in your class for half a dozen times already, if not more, and she still hasn’t been able to get over her problems! She’s a chronic case, but since she’s a quiet chronic case, Angela here doesn’t do anything at all!"
"Get to the point, Margaret," Ms. Li spoke in a threatening tone.
"My point is that if you put her on stage, she’ll probably run-off crying into some dark corner, that’s what!" She paused and added. "And I don’t think that she’s ready to do public speaking anyways."
"Well, we can always supplement her with one of O’Neall’s other students, right?"
"Angela. During the same amount of time in which Miss Lane had graduated these half-a-dozen-or-more times, none of the others had graduated at all! They’re-"
"Ah, Margaret? Angela got that look on her face again," the English teacher nervously interrupted the psychiatrist.
"Manson, O’Neall. Please sit in the anteroom for about half an hour. I need to think."
Suddenly looking nervous, O’Neall and Manson hurried to comply with their superior’s orders.
When Darren arrived at the history class, it was already beginning. "Ah, Mr. Morgendorffer, isn’t it?" the history teacher – DeMartino according to the class schedule – chuckled. "So nice of you to finally join us."
"Sorry sir," Darren said flatly. "Dr. Manson had sort-of detained me."
"I figured that much out. Have a seat, and tell us, if you do know, what is Manifest Destiny?"
"Um… I’m guessing that you’re not talking about the latest release of Dungeons and Dragons game plans, now do you?" Darren asked the irate teacher, "’cause-"
DeMartino hit the desk with his head. "Dungeons and Dragons! Oh God! First Kevin Thompson and now this!"
"That’s right! I’m the QB! I’m the first!" piped-up a boy in a football uniform, complete with cleats.
"Shut up Kevin," DeMartino growled. "And Mr. Morgendorffer, unless you want me to write you off as the rest of the morons in this class, you better come up with an answer quick – and a proper one this time?"
"It was the slogan of the American expansionists in the 1800s, as they moved west and pushed-out Mexico from North America?" Darren shrugged.
"Now that’s more like it! Hallelujah!" DeMartino looked outside into the window. "Now then, since the question has finally be answered, let’s move on."
The class collectively groaned.
Once again, Darren was in the corridor, walking towards the principal’s office. What was happening now? The history teacher seemed to be a few screws loose in that mental frame of his, and the rest of the classmates weren’t that impressive, either. In general, while this day hadn’t sucked, it certainly demonstrated enough potential to do so. And now this. The school’s principal is wanting to see him. Again. And he hadn’t done anything wrong yet.
Once Darren stepped inside the principal’s office, the principal was already waiting for him. "Sit down, Mr. Morgendorffer, we need to talk," she said.
"I didn’t do anything wrong."
"It’s about your Texan days, mister."
"Oh? What about them?"
"It seems that you were involved in several unscrupulous activities."
"Excuse me," Darren said, his face immediately closing-up. "I need to call my mom and her bosses. Can you say lawsuit?"
"How about I say employment instead?"
Darren arched one of his eyebrows. "Excuse me?"
"Mr. Morgendorffer, it’s like this. We need to pull-off a public speaking presentation, and our choice speaker… couldn’t come. So we were wondering, if you couldn’t do so instead."
"Excuse me. You want me to public speak? Why?"
"Because you have potential. And because Dr. Manson" – Angela Li crossed her fingers – "has said that you have the intelligence and what-not in sufficient quantity to pull this off."
"Oh? And what’s my motivation? If you say employment, I say – wages?"
In return Ms. Li pushed towards him a small amount of cash, the written speech, and something that suspiciously looked like a contract.
"Hmmm," was all that Darren Morgendorffer said.
"So, you’re Darren?"
Darren turned around and looked at the girl was interest. "And I’m supposing that you’re Jane?"
"Right on the money!" the girl cheerfully said. "Hey, why are you looking at me so?"
"Sorry, it’s just that, well, you’ve been described rather interestingly by the local shrink."
"Oh, yeah, Doc Manson. Well, I’ll tell you what. I’m perfectly fine, it’s just that having low-self esteem makes me feel special!"
"Mmm, and I suppose making a fool of this O’Neill gets you your jollies?"
"Yup, so don’t expect to mess around with me, buddy! Old Jane Lane always gets her way!"
"Jane, Jane, Jane," Darren shook his head. "There’s going to be a problem. See, Ms. Li has sort-of hired me to pull the school’s ass out of a potentially painful situation, and just like my grandfather taught me, once somebody buys you, you got to stay bought. In other words, I think we’re on a collision course."
"Then get of the rails, buddy!" Jane snapped. "Lousy capitalist pig-dog!"
"Excuse me? Say what?"
Jane blushed. "Eh, something that my parents and older siblings used to say. Don’t ask me what this means. The point is that you don’t know who you are dealing with!"
"Well, neither do you."
"Well, yeah. But since I’ve confronted you, this means I’ve got the initiative and the better plan!"
"Oh really? Want to bet that I’ll prevent you from doing your little number – if I get to go first?"
"You will go first, if I know anything about Ms. Li. She always sweeps all embarrassments under the rug and saves them for later!"
"Splendid!" Darren grinned. "Then, Jane Lane, prepare to be foiled!"
"We’ll see about that."
Sandi Griffin was having a rather bad day. First a new girl had arrived, and proven to be so cute-looking that she had to be taken into the Fashion Club on the spot, and now a sudden assembly.
"…I hate them," she was busy telling Quinn Morgendorffer. "Whenever our principal pulls an assembly out of nowhere, this means the school is in some trouble again."
"Hmm? What do you mean?"
"I don’t know. It’s just that usually when a sudden assembly occurs, our parents get hit for money, or there’s a new election, or Mrs. Landon has to be pacified-"
"Excuse me?" Quinn blinked. "Who’s that?"
"Sandi!" squeaked Stacy Rowe, another Fashion Clubber. "Jodie isn’t that bad!"
"The Landons are one of our more prominent families," Sandi started to explain to a confused Quinn. "One of the richest too – even more rich than, say, mine. And their daughter Jodie is one of the most prominent school figures, as she’s the vice-president of the school council, and a president of a whole lot of school clubs. And this makes them a force to be reckoned with."
"So? What’s the problem – they can’t be perfect otherwise they wouldn’t be human?"
"Gee, Quinn, you sound like such a brain," Sandi snorted, but continued all the same. "The problem is that Mrs. Landon is very conscious. See, the Landons are… different. Afro-American to be exact. And Mrs. Landon… is kind-of upset by that fact."
"Then should do as that creepy guy Michael Jackson does that my dad watches sometimes," Quinn suggested.
Sandi cringed "Don’t mention Michael Jackson around the Landons ever! They know what he did and Mrs. Landon doesn’t like it! See, Mr. Landon isn’t really that bad, just business-oriented. My mom even interviewed him a couple of times, and co-worked a couple of times more – did I mention that she leads Lawndale Businesswomen Association as well as she is an anchor of Lawndale’s own news broadcast – and he is okay. For a businessman. But Mrs. Landon… she’s a firecracker. One wrong remark – and ka-boom! Accusations, threats, and everything else by galore. Nobody wants to mess with her, believe me."
"And Jodie is a career-obsessed freak," Sandi snorted. "No boy ever wants to date her, except for Mack – that’s the captain of the football team – and he only goes out because he can’t date the head cheerleader – Brittany Taylor – because she’s going-out with the quarterback – Kevin Thompson – and – Quinn, why are you looking so worried?"
"Oh, no reason," Quinn shook her head. "It just hit me how big a waste of time this assembly is going to be."
"Well, usually there’ll be no argument about this," Sandi nodded, "but not this time. Jodie and her parents got tired of using her brain to pull the school’s and Li’s ass out of the fire, so they had a disagreement – a very loud one – so it’s anybody’s guess what sort of a loser will be up on this stage. Especially since it’s the self-esteem class, O’Neill’s brainchild."
"Isn’t he the English teacher?"
"Yes, but you see-"
A loud whistle interrupted Sandi’s rant as the assembly began.
Darren Morgendorffer sat on one of the chairs on the stage and curiously looked around the gathering of the people. This is going to be tricky, he thought to himself. And Jane here isn’t helping any. In fact she looks like she might bolt at any second – and I don’t really blame it.
"Ah, Mr. Morgendorffer, Miss Lane," Angela Li sidled over to the two students. "Are you ready?"
"Ms. Li?" Darren smiled a thin, humorless smile. "What’s this newscrew doing here – and I think this guy’s a priest."
"Oh, it’s a funny thing. You see, the head of the local episcopacy happens to be Mr. O’Neill’s uncle, and-"
"He’s a bishop," Darren said flatly. "And I’m Jewish. What I am doing is so wrong!"
"Mr. Morgendorffer," Angela Li said flatly. "Now’s the wrong time to barter. We need to pull this off – so that the school gets so much-needed funds… and I can show a good one to these insufferable Landons."
"I heard that," Darren quietly said. "And I want a five percent cut."
"What? This is ridiculous?"
"Jane?" Darren turned to his forced partner-in-action. "Can you please share some of your wisdom with me? I feel my self-confidence slipping away-"
"Fine, you win, but remember – don’t mess-up!" Ms. Li huffed and walked away to the podium.
Darren and Jane quietly followed. "If only that was only an act," Darren sadly sighed.
Jodie Landon sat rather nervously next to her boyfriend, Michael Jordan Mackenzie, also known as Mack or Mack Daddy. "Why are you so nervous, Jodie?" he asked her worriedly. "I mean, you wanted to do this – let some other poor sap sweat under all the attention."
"I know, but this feels so wrong for some reason. I mean, my conscious is worried that what I’m doing is selfish and stupid and…"
"Hey, they are about to begin," Mack said, as a girl from some of their joint classes – Jane Lane, was it? – and an unfamiliar boy were led by Ms. Li onstage.
"Greetings, students and guests!" Ms. Li’s voice sounded through the auditorium. "We’ve gathered here to congratulate Miss Lane on her graduating from Mr. O’Neill’s self-esteem class, and also to hear Mr. Morgendorffer’s speech about it-"
Well, this is it, Darren thought. Only one shot to do it right, and I hope I know what I’m doing. He firmly grasped Jane Lane as he closed his eyes and concentrated.
"-so here they are!"
"Greetings!" Darren Morgendorffer cheerfully said. "Greetings to both the students and the adults how decided to join us on this fine day today to hear how Jane feels after passing Mr. O’Neill’s self-esteem class. So how are you feeling, Jane?"
"Great! Simply great! Marvelous!" Jane began to jabber and would’ve possibly dashed-off, if Darren hadn’t increased slightly the pressure on her wrist, effectively cutting her off all the same.
"Well, there you have it folks! And can you believe it that the same girl felt very low because she was so along just a few weeks before? When it comes to self-esteem, why, Mr. O'Neill works wonders, seeing as he can take a student and power up them with a brand new self-confidence in a space of six weeks! And that’s not all, he also finds time to do English classes too – what a guy! Let’s give a round of applause for him as well and ask him if he’s got anything to add!"
Darren shifted his head slightly and half-opened one of his eyes in the direction of the staff. Mr. O’Neill was currently looking as pale as Jane was and was most definitely not going to public-speak any time soon.
"Oh, sorry folks," Darren continued not missing a beat. "Looks like Mr. O’Neill, in a great show of humility and humbleness had declined to join us, unwilling to steal Jane’s thunder. But I swear, he should be proud! In the space of a few weeks Jane had become a fine student of Lawndale High, ready to bring it honor and participate in various activities that it offers – you know, bake sales, car washes, and so on. Isn’t it right Jane?"
"Yeah! Sure! Absolutely!" squeaked Jane, aware only of the many eyes that were looking at her and Darren, and of the rather numbing grip that Darren was applying to her arm and wrist behind the podium.
"And that’s not all folks," Darren continued, squeezing Jane’s arm to make her stop again. "Our Jane Lane here isn’t the only student of Mr. O’Neill’s self-esteem class, there are many more, each of them getting to be as self-controlled as Miss Lane here – right, Mr. O’Neill?"
Mr. O’Neill did several frantic nods, looking about as self-confident as Jane next to Darren was.
"See? Mr. O’Neill wholeheartedly agrees! And now – onto few more pressing matters. You see, although Mr. O’Neill does wonders in his own private-humble manner, and the students and his co-workers are helpful and sympathetic, the self-esteem class is currently suffering through some financial troubles – isn’t this right, Ms. Li?" Darren asked, half-turning and opening one of his eyes to look at the principal. He wasn’t disappointed. Unlike Jane and Mr. O’Neill, Ms. Li had been listening quite attentively to Darren’s speech, and didn’t miss her cue.
"You’re right, Darren," she spoke in a smart and glib tone. "As the dearest guests and students should know the self-esteem class is suffering through some financial difficulties-" and she went on, quite effectively taking-over the attention span of the audience.
Largely ignored now, Darren smiled. It looked like that had made through it yet.
Well, it wasn’t over yet. It seemed that Ms. Li was even more long-winded than Darren was, and when Darren needed to be, he could be quite loquacious indeed. But everything bad has an end, and so was this speech. Soon, Darren and Jane were off the stage, both looking as if they’d been plowing about 20 miles. "Don’t ever do that to me again," Jane hissed.
"Shut up Jane, I think somebody is coming over to us," Darren hissed back. "Oh, hello Ms. Li, and who’s your companion."
"That’s the guest of honour I told you about earlier," Ms. Li said, sounding worried for the first time.
"I see… Honoured to meet you, your eminence."
"Thank you, young man. I wanted to congratulate you on your speech – simply smashing, it was. Ever thought of joining the church?"
"Sir, I’m honoured, but I’m Jewish."
"You can always be baptized. My grandfather did, and thus our family became what we are today."
"Mmm… I see. Still, I don’t think my parents and other relatives would appreciate such career move of mine, you know?"
"Still, here’s some information. Give it some thought. Call us someday," the bishop nodded and turned to Ms. Li. "Now then, Ms. Li, let’s go to your office and talk business."
"This was unexpected," Darren turned to Jane. "Well, Jane, I think I owe you enough to buy you pizza or something. You game?"
"Darren!" Quinn Morgendorffer hurried over. "You were great!"
"Have we met?" Jane flatly asked.
"Jane, this is my younger sister Quinn; Quinn, this is my latest sidekick, Jane Lane. Now Quinn, I’m taking Jane out for pizza, so do you mind?"
"Speaking of pizza, mom and dad are taking us out!"
"Well, mom getting a new job, and you becoming somebody important, and the whole starting-a-new-thing-in-a-new-town – well it all amounted to pizza."
"So can Jane come? I owe her a pizza dinner still."
"Why not?" Quinn shrugged. "Now come on, mom and dad are waiting."
"Come on, I’ll brave anything—for pizza!" Jane said, sounding almost gleeful.
And the trio went to the exit from the school, towards new adventures… and pizza!