A Daria Episode Adaptation by Martin J. Pollard
Based on the screenplay by Anne D. Bernstein
Cast of Characters|
Daria Morgendorffer, Quinn Morgendorffer, Helen Morgendorffer,
Jake Morgendorffer, Jane Lane, Trent Lane, Brittany Taylor, Kevin Thompson,
Jodie Landon, Michael Jordan "Mack" MacKenzie,
Charles "Upchuck" Ruttheimer III, Sandi Griffin, Stacy Rowe,
Tiffany Blum-Deckler, Joey, Jeffy, Jamie White, Ms. Claire Defoe
EN ROUTE TO LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL|
"Stop following me, Daria!"
The high-pitched whine of Daria's sister Quinn filtered back to where Daria was walking, a good five paces behind, a slight smirk on her face. Daria hadn't said a word, yet she knew that her mere presence was both an irritation and an embarrassment to her popular sister. Which is, of course, why she did it.
Quinn finally turned after a few more paces and faced her sister. "You're following me."
"We go to the same school," Daria pointed out. In fact, they'd only been attending Lawndale High for a few weeks, yet they had already firmly established themselves within the school's social order: Quinn with the good-looking, popular crowd, and Daria with everyone else. Of course, given the type of people Quinn attracted -- vain, shallow, and superficial, with an I.Q. generally no bigger than their shoe size -- Daria wouldn't have it any other way.
As if on cue, three of Quinn's admirers chose that moment to flock around her. Daria watched as Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie began falling all over themselves for her sister's attention. All three were on the football team, and while they were generally smarter than Daria's classmate, quarterback Kevin Thompson, they weren't exactly burning up the track to valedictorian of their class.
"Hey, Quinn," Joey greeted. "Can I carry your books?"
Jeffy piped in next. "Hey, Quinn, can I carry your pencil?"
"Hey, Quinn," Jamie added, "can I carry your... uh... got anything else?"
Quinn fished around in her jeans pocket for a moment before finally pulling out a colorful elastic band. "A hair scrunchie?"
Daria could finally take no more. "Careful," she commented as she walked away, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Don't hurt yourself with that scrunchie." If she had any doubts about not being a part of the pert-and-perky crowd, seeing those three boys pant after Quinn was enough to erase them. If not wanting to be worshipped is a sin, she thought to herself, then please, God, let me be guilty.
Jamie watched Daria leave, then turned to Quinn. "Is that your sister?" he asked.
Quinn turned sharply towards Jamie and said, "Don't pry, Joey." So far, Quinn had managed to keep the fact that Daria was her sister a tightly held secret. She knew full well that her standing in the popular crowd would be jeopardized if it were known that she was sisters with a "brain," and she was determined not to let that happen.
"I'm Jamie," he insisted.
Quinn shrugged. "Whatever." She then handed her belongings to her three would-be suitors, and together they proceeded to walk to school, with the boys hitting on Quinn and making a fuss over her all the way there.
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL|
Ms. Defoe's Class
Ms. Defoe's sophomore art class had the usual collection of students: mostly mediocre to good talent-wise, a handful of standouts -- Jane Lane being among them -- and quite a few that were, for want of a better word, lacking.
Daria was among the first group, while the perpetually upbeat Brittany was definitely listed among the last. Brittany was anything but upbeat today, however, as the current lesson was proving to be horribly elusive. "Perspective is hard," Brittany commented as she attempted to render a cube using one-point perspective. To say it was not going well would be an understatement.
Having examined the work of most of the rest of the class, Ms. Defoe stopped at Daria and Brittany's table. Looking at Daria's drawing, she commented, "Good work, Daria! Your cube is bursting out of the picture plane. You've really created the illusion of depth."
Daria put as much drollery into her voice as she could. "I'm thinking of going into politics." Sometimes, she thought to herself, the classic lines are still the best.
"Ms. Defoe?" Brittany said. "I need a new pencil. I used up the eraser."
Ms. Defoe examined Brittany's attempt at a cube, looked at her pencil with its non-existent eraser, sighed, and grabbed a piece of paper and a new pencil. "Here, Brittany. Take another pencil, and a fresh piece of paper, and try again." She walked away to check on the progress of other students... quickly, before her voice betrayed any more annoyance and frustration. Ms. Defoe was usually pleasant and patient with all of her students, but some of them... well...
Brittany became frantic. "If I don't figure this perspective thing out," she said to Daria, "I'll have to take remedial art." She lowered her voice a notch, as if sharing a deep, dark secret. "I heard they make all the lefties become righties."
Daria lifted an eyebrow. "But... you are a righty." Her inescapable logic was rewarded with the image of Brittany closely examining both of her hands; she would have been amused if the sight weren't so pathetic.
Finally, after several moments, Brittany turned to her table-mate. "Daria, you're smart. Could you show me how to do this?"
Normally, Daria would have blown off such a request with a typical dose of sarcasm, but this time, her conscience got the better of her. "Well... okay." Dammit, I know I'm going to regret this. "You know when things seem very far away?"
"Like the weekend?"
"Distant things, like mountains and buildings."
Brittany looked at Daria as if she had turnips sprouting from her ears. "But, Daria... we're in a building."
"Uh... right." Her patience straining, Daria decided to take a different tack. "Okay, let's try it this way." She turned her own paper over and began drawing. "Make believe you're at the mall." She drew a stick figure of Brittany, complete with twin ponytails, cheerleader skirt, and a generously endowed bust. "You're standing in front of J.J. Jeeters..."
Brittany made a face. "Oh, like, I would shop there."
"You don't have to go in," Daria said slowly, biting off every syllable. "You're looking at Cashman's department store..."
"Now you're talking!" To most teens, J.J. Jeeters was to Cashman's like a Ford Escort was to a Mercedes Benz.
"... way down at the other end of the mall," Daria finished. On the paper, she drew a square partway up the page, with arrows pointing towards it. "Everything seems to be pointing at the entrance and saying, 'Come shop, come shop.'" She glanced at Brittany, who was still trying to understand it, and moved in for the coup de grace. "'One-day sale.'"
"I get it!" Brittany exclaimed, her face brightening. "That's really realistic, Daria," she said, admiration in her voice.
"That's one-point perspective," Daria finished as she added more arrows to the illustration. "All the lines are pointing to one spot on the horizon."
Brittany nodded. "I get it. Except..."
Daria braced herself. "Yes...?"
"Is Cashman's really having a one-day sale?"
Between classes, Kevin and his teammate Mack stood at their lockers and talked. Mack didn't much like Kevin, whose intellect barely rose above that of your standard bowl of cottage cheese, but as captain of the Lawndale Lions, he couldn't exactly avoid him, either. As such, he tolerated the ramblings of the addle-brained quarterback as best he could. It wasn't too difficult, usually, except when Kevin called him...
"Yo, Mack Daddy! You coming to Brittany's party?"
Mack gritted his teeth. "Don't call me that, okay?" he bit out as he continued rummaging through his locker. "What's this party for, anyway?" At the sight of Kevin desperately trying to think, Mack added, "Stop if it starts to hurt."
Kevin chuckled, the sarcasm sailing over his head as usual. "Really." He paused again to think. "Um, her birthday was last month... I helped her exchange her presents..."
Kevin nodded. "Yeah. Then she had a saleslady explain the difference between perfume and cologne. Interesting stuff, bro." He finished rummaging around his locker and slammed the door, and it suddenly hit him. "Now I remember! The party's to celebrate her parents being out of town." He then noticed three of his teammates approaching. "Hey, Joey, Jeffy, Jeremy."
"Whatever. You going to Brittany's party?"
Joey shrugged. "Yeah, if we're invited."
"You're on the team, dudes," Kevin explained as Quinn approached the group. "When a cheerleader has a party, all the football players are automatically invited."
"It's on page six of the play book," Mack added dryly, once again marveling at the silliness of the rituals of the high school social order. He also wasn't surprised when Kevin completely fell for it, and Mack made yet another mental note to stop using sarcasm around him.
Kevin turned to Quinn. "Hey, Quinn, what about you?"
At that point, Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie all started asking her at once to the party. When Quinn accepted all of their invitations, she explained, "You can't expect me to choose a boyfriend right away. That would be like eating the first pancake off the stove. You have to feed one to the dog."
The boys nodded their agreement, and with Kevin and Mack looking on, they proceeded to follow Quinn to her next class.
In the cafeteria, Brittany and Daria stood in line to get their daily dose of what Lawndale High School considered to be "nutrition." Considering that much of it was junk food such as pizza and hamburgers, nutrition actually didn't factor very high into it.
Brittany reached for a tray and made a face. "Ugh!" she exclaimed. "I hate it when the trays are wet."
"'That which does not kill us makes us stronger,'" Daria commented dryly. She didn't expect Brittany to get the Nietzsche reference.
She wasn't disappointed. "Is that from a song?" Brittany asked, then added, "Hey, thanks for helping me out in art."
"Maybe I could help you out in something."
I sincerely doubt it, Daria thought to herself. "Well," she said out loud, "you could show me how to twirl my hair around my finger and look vacant."
As if on cue, Brittany absently grabbed the end of one of her twin ponytails and twisted it around her index finger. "I don't know if that's something you can teach," she said as she stared off into the distance. Putting that thought aside, she moved down the line a bit and grabbed a bowl of chocolate pudding. "Uh! I hate it when the pudding has skin!" she exclaimed as she pulled on the plastic spoon stuck into the top of the pudding and watched as the skin moved up and down.
"I know what you mean," Daria agreed, "and that scares me."
"Hey..." Brittany said as she suddenly got an idea. "Even though I'm much more popular, we have some things in common."
Daria raised an eyebrow. "Breathing?" she said wryly.
"You're not popular," the cheerleader explained, "but you're not so unpopular that you couldn't come to my party Saturday night."
"Is that an invitation?"
"Yes!" Brittany exclaimed, clapping her hands together. "Just this once, though."
Why am I not surprised? "Gee, Brittany," Daria replied, sarcasm dripping from every syllable. "I'm overcome with emotion."
Brittany raised her eyebrows. "You need a napkin? Anyway," she explained as she turned back to her tray, "I promised the other cheerleaders that I wouldn't invite any more really attractive girls."
Daria smirked as the other shoe dropped. "Now I'm especially flattered."
Brittany dismissed it with a wave. "Don't mention it," she said as she moved further down the line, leaving a bemused Daria standing in front of the skin-covered pudding.
At the Lane residence, Jane was showing Daria some of her artwork. Daria was impressed; Jane was into painting, sculpture, sketching, and just about any other endeavor that would let her express her artistic talents. Of course, it ran in the family; Jane's mother Amanda was a master with pottery, her brother Trent was lead guitarist in Mystik Spiral, her sister Penny was currently making hand-crafted items in some Central American country, and Vincent, their father, was an avid photographer.
Daria was currently leafing through one of Jane's sketchbooks and getting more impressed by the minute. "These are really good," she finally said as she stopped at a series of sketches of people in various poses. "I didn't know you studied life drawing."
"Yeah, last summer," Jane explained.
Turning a few more pages in the book, Daria came across some drawings of a nude female... a rather over-endowed female at that. "You're really bursting out of the picture plane here," Daria remarked dryly, using Ms. Defoe's comment from earlier in the day.
Jane raised an eyebrow. "Oh, yeah," she replied. "That model was quite bursty. I think she had her bursts done."
Daria set the book down; Jane's comment had provided a perfect opening. "Speaking of which," she said, "Brittany invited me to her party."
Both of Jane's eyebrows would have disappeared into her bangs, if she'd had them. "No kidding?" she remarked. Unpopular people such as herself and Daria would normally not be let anywhere near a cheerleader's neighborhood, much less one of their parties. "Are you going?"
"Sure," Daria replied, "and after that, I think I'll swallow glass." She turned to Jane. "Why? Do you want to go?"
Jane stood up a little straighter and crossed her arms. "Oh, no, I'd much rather stay home and listen to Trent practice the opening to 'Come As You Are.'" She suddenly got a thought. "I bet I could get some great sketches there..."
"Well, I'm sure there'll be plenty of people posing," Daria quipped. "If you want to go, just make believe you're me. When you're popular, all unpopular people look alike anyway."
With that, Jane gently removed Daria's glasses, then slipped them onto her own face. "'Hi,'" she said, making her voice as deadpan as she could while Daria looked on with mild amusement. "'I'm Daria. Go to hell.'" She slipped the glasses off her face, then turned to her friend. "It won't work. My face is too expressive."
Daria took her glasses back, then rolled her eyes and returned to Jane's sketches.
Quinn rushed right home from school after receiving the invitation to Brittany's party, and proceeded to virtually empty both of her closets. As she stood in front of the mirror, she held up various articles of clothing, trying to decide what would make her look the best. After all, this was the first big party she would be attending since moving to Lawndale, and she just had to make a good first impression.
"Sheer, semi-sheer, or opaque?" she mused, holding one piece of clothing after another as she talked. Finally, Quinn decided on the perfect choice: "Textured!"
"Isn't one of you enough?" Daria commented. She was standing at the bedroom door, watching Quinn strut in front of her three mirrors. The courting female in full plumage, she remarked to herself, on this week's episode of "Wild Kingdom."
Quinn frowned at the reflection of her sister. "Go away! I'm concentrating."
"Far be it for me to interrupt such a rare occurrence," Daria said dryly, "but Mom wanted me to tell you that dinner's been ready for the past ten minutes."
"I can't think about that now," Quinn explained. "I'm invited to a party Saturday night and I have to choose the perfect outfit."
"Countdown: only 72 more hours to go," Daria said as she entered Quinn's room. Now that she knew the reason behind Quinn's more-frantic-than-usual wardrobe calisthenics, she couldn't resist the opportunity to inform her of who else would be at the party. "Might this party be at Brittany's house?"
"Yes," came Quinn's exasperated reply, "and might you go away now?" The meaning of Daria's words suddenly hit her. "Hey... how do you know about it?"
Daria smirked. "I'm invited, too," she informed her, enjoying every minute of it. "But, I haven't decided if I'll go..."
"You can't go!" Quinn exclaimed as she turned to face Daria. "You'll ruin everything!"
Daria moved in for the kill. "You know, I really should broaden my social horizons..."
She never got to finish her thought, but she did get the satisfaction of seeing Quinn contorting her face in anger, then tossing the skirt she was examining onto the floor and stalking out of her room. "Mom, Dad!" Quinn shouted. "Daria's ruining my life! Again!"
Smirking, Daria followed Quinn down the stairs and into the kitchen. There, Quinn flung herself into her chair and fumed as her parents sat at their usual places. "Tell Daria she can't go to Brittany's party," she demanded as Daria seated herself at the table. "My popularity is at stake!"
"Now, Quinn," Helen chided, "don't begrudge your sister a chance to expand her circle of friends."
"Maybe now she'll have two," Quinn pouted as she picked at the now-barely-warm lasagna on her plate.
Daria raised an eyebrow. "Touché, Quinn." It wasn't often that she was on the receiving end of a zinger, and having it come from Quinn made it all the more impressive.
Unfortunately, the rare compliment sailed right over Quinn's head. "And don't think you're confusing me with that French," she shot back. To Helen and Jake, she said, "You should ground her, because... her room is a mess!"
Daria frowned slightly. "If I go down for that one," she informed Quinn, "I'm taking you with me."
The look on Daria's face was enough to make Quinn back off. "Wait... here's something worse," she said quickly, trying a new tack. "I asked her to do my homework for me, and she made me pay." When Helen and Jake stopped eating and glared at Quinn, she realized that she was now zero for two. "Never mind..." she said weakly.
"I think it's great that you two are going to be spending time together," Helen beamed, glad that her two squabbling daughters were spending any time together. "Dad and I would be happy to drive you to the party and pick you up..."
"No!" shouted both Quinn and Daria before Helen could even finish speaking. Bad enough that they had to attend the same party; to be chauffeured by their parents would be the ultimate humiliation.
"Thanks," Quinn said icily as she got up from her chair, "but I'll find some other way to get there." She stalked away from the kitchen table, storm clouds still hovering around her head, and trotted up the stairs to her bedroom to start making phone calls.
Helen stared after her youngest daughter for a few moments, then sighed. Turning to her eldest, she said, "Daria, I'd like it if you'd keep an eye on Quinn at this party."
Daria frowned slightly. "I don't know what I did, but it couldn't have been that bad."
"I mean it," Helen insisted in her no-nonsense tone. "And she doesn't have to know about it." Across from her, Jake had resumed his dinner, with an occasional glance to monitor the conversation.
Arching her eyebrow, Daria ventured, "Is this your way of acknowledging how much more mature and trustworthy I am?"
"It's my way of saying if you won't do it, I'm sending you both with a babysitter."
So much for mature and trustworthy. "I'll take that as a ringing declaration of parental approval," she said dryly.
"Just the way it was intended, sweetheart."
Brittany had spent much of the afternoon bustling about the house, setting things up for the party. It was a lot of work, but it was always worth it. As she set up chips and other items on the snack table, she commented to Kevin, "I love being the hostess. It's so easy to get home at the end of the night."
Kevin, who was busy munching on the potato chips, replied, "You're a great hostess, cupcake." He then realized the joke he'd made, and started chuckling.
"Did I tell you that I did this really nice thing and invited Daria Morgendorffer, even though she never, ever wears nail polish?"
"Her sister Quinn's coming, too," Kevin informed her around another mouthful of chips.
"Oh, no!" Brittany exclaimed. "She's too cute! My friends will kill me!" She then noticed that Kevin was doing, and smacked his hand. "Kevin, you're mixing up the flat ones and the ridgy ones!"
As Brittany proceeded to set things right, Kevin assured her, "Everything looks great, munchkin. Why are you so nervous?"
Brittany sighed. "I'm just afraid people will judge me by my house. And we don't have the Jacuzzi in yet..."
Kevin put his arm around his sweetheart. "Hey, stuff like that doesn't matter. The most popular people with the best-looking hair; that's what makes a great party."
Brittany smiled, reassured, and put her head on his shoulder. "Oh, Kevvy, you're so smart."
"Awww, thanks, babe!" The doorbell then rang, signaling the arrival of the first guests. The two lovebirds disengaged, with Kevin heading off to answer the door and Brittany scrambling to finish setting up, her nerves taking over once again.
EN ROUTE TO BRITTANY'S PARTY|
A beat-up blue Plymouth rumbled its way through the streets of Lawndale, heading for the Crewe Neck gated community. In the front seat, Daria and Jane sat side by side next to Trent. "Thanks for the ride, Trent," Jane said.
"No problem," he replied in his soft purr. "I needed a break anyway. I've been practicing for ten hours straight."
Jane turned to her friend. "Daria, would you say sleeping with a guitar in your hands counts as practicing?" She waited for what she was sure would be a comment dryer than the Mojave, and was disappointed when none was forthcoming. Disappointed... and intrigued.
Trent, fortunately, picked up the slack without even realizing it. "As long as you don't drop it," he half-joked.
Jane looked to her left, then to her right. She was no math whiz, as her straight "C" average would attest, but she could put two and two together and come up with an answer very close to four. Well, I'll be, she said in amazement, and wore a smirk all the way to Crewe Neck.
Trent pulled up to the gatehouse to drop them off. "I'll let you off here," he informed them. "I have a problem dealing with authority."
"Sure you don't want to crash?" Jane asked as she and Daria unfolded themselves from the front seat.
"A high school party? Please," he said with what came the closest to disdain for him. "Don't you think I'm a little mature for that?" Missing the pointed look Jane shot at him, he teased, "Don't do anything I wouldn't."
"Bye," Daria muttered as Trent drove off.
As they proceeded to the gatehouse, Jane teased, "Nice conversational skills."
"I hate you," Daria shot back. They reached the gatehouse, and as the guard approached them, Daria informed him, "We're here for Brittany Taylor's party."
"Names?" he said in a bored tone, holding up a clipboard.
The guard scanned the list, and finally found Daria's name added to the bottom. "Okay," he said as he checked off the name. "And you? What's your name?"
"Tiffany," Jane said. To Daria, she whispered, "There's gotta be one."
The guard raised an eyebrow. Sensing that something was up, he scanned the list and read off the names of all the Tiffanys present. "Tiffany Hodge, Tiffany Duke, Tiffany Fairchild, or Tiffany Blum-Deckler?"
Uh, oh. "Uh... Tiffany Duke?"
"Strike! You're out," the guard exclaimed as he jerked his thumb in the air. "I made that one up."
Daria sighed to herself, and jumped in to salvage the situation. "Oh, she's not on the guest list. She's been hired to draw our portraits. She's very talented."
"And your name is Tiffany Duke, eh?"
"What a coincidence?" Jane offered weakly.
Daria grabbed Jane's sketchbook and handed it to the guard. "These are some of her sketches from art class," she informed him. "They're very lifelike." She glanced at Jane, who suddenly realized where Daria was going with this... and knew exactly which series of sketches would capture the guard's attention.
The guard flipped through the book, and finally reached the "bursty" sketches. "Hmmm... these are pretty hot..." He was so engrossed in Jane's work that he didn't notice the two girls slip past him until it was too late. "Stop! Halt there!" he shouted weakly. The lure of the sketchbook was too much for him, however. "Oh, never mind... hello, gorgeous!"
Daria and Jane exchanged smirks as they proceeded to Brittany's house.
The party at Brittany's house was in full swing, with loud music playing and kids gathered into groups to socialize. Brittany floated about the house in full hostess mode, chatting with people and making sure they were having a good time.
She drifted over to Mack and Jodie, who were standing off to one side, talking quietly. "Hi, Mack, Jodie! Are you having a good time?"
"The party's great," Jodie replied. Truthfully, she was rather bored, but she didn't want to hurt Brittany's feelings.
"How do you like my house?"
Jodie glanced around the room, which was done up in a somewhat bizarre jungle motif with various animal heads and sculptures. "Uh... it's quite coordinated," she said tactfully.
"And the ceramic tigers? They're gr-r-r-r-reat!" Mack added, and Jodie rolled her eyes in amusement at his lame Tony the Tiger impersonation.
"Where's the Jacuzzi?" Jodie asked, and was fascinated to see Brittany's face fall and a small "Eep!" escape from her lips.
On one side of the living room, Quinn was holding court with Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie. "So I said, 'Just because people are cliquey and snotty is no reason not to like them.'" The three boys expressed their agreement, then clamored to get some snacks and refreshments, at Quinn's request. Quinn watched her would-be entourage with a small, somewhat nervous smile; she always did enjoy having attention lavished on her, but these three were starting to get on her nerves ever so slightly.
In the center of the room stood Sandi and Tiffany -- Stacy was elsewhere, enjoying the party and mingling among the "fashion challenged" -- who were listening to a blonde girl named Tori give her critique of the party's popularity quotient. Tori was a Fashion Club hopeful, and this was one of the methods current members used to judge potential candidates.
"Now she's really popular, but not as popular as she is," Tori was saying, pointing around the room to various guests. "He's medium popular, and he just bought a great car so soon he'll be getting more popular. That guy was just popular enough to be invited, but now he needs to hook up with a girl who's more popular than he is."
Joey was the first to return to where Quinn was standing. Holding a cup out in front of him, he stammered, "Here, I got you a drink."
Quinn looked inside the cup. "This ice isn't crushed."
"I'll go crush some!" he volunteered immediately, then leaned towards Quinn and added softly, "You know, Jeffy still sleeps with a teddy bear." If he was hoping to score points, however, he failed miserably, as Quinn's only response was to turn her head. Dejected, Joey trudged off to crush some ice.
Jeffy approached Quinn next, holding a bowl of pretzels. "These aren't twisty," Quinn informed him.
"I'll go twist some." Leaning conspiratorially towards Quinn, Jeffy whispered, "You know, Jamie's really a sloppy kisser." At Quinn's look of shocked disgust, he added quickly, "I heard it from a girl!" He then slunk off, knowing that he'd blown yet another chance.
As if on cue, Jamie came up to Quinn at almost the instant Jeffy departed. Eyeing the cracker he was holding, Quinn said, "I like square crackers."
Jamie considered for a moment, then proceeded to nibble around the edges of the cracker until its shape closely approximated a square. He then handed it out to Quinn. "Here. You know, Joey was with a..."
"Eww!" Quinn squealed. "Gross!"
Daria's apprehension grew as they approached Brittany's house. Hearing the pounding music and seeing the cars parked haphazardly on the front lawn, she began to wonder if coming to the party was such a good idea after all. "You really want to do this?" she asked Jane.
"Why not?" Jane countered. "You know, just because people are cliquey and snotty is no reason not to like them."
"Or hate them." Jane apparently was willing to try anything once. It was just her luck to be dragged along for the ride, rather than sitting alone in her room and reading a good book.
"Where's your sense of adventure?" she said good-naturedly. "C'mon... chin up, nose up, let's go."
Daria sighed. "Right behind you."
Inside, Brittany excused herself to answer the door. Opening it, she saw Daria and a tall, black-haired girl, presumably a friend. "Daria, you're here," Brittany said. "I'm so glad. Now we're even!"
Not by a long shot, Daria said to herself. "This is Jane," she said, indicating the girl standing next to her. "She wasn't invited, but... she's good in art."
"But I have you for that," Brittany replied. She thought for a moment. "Hmmm... what do you know about geometry?"
"Lots of circles, squares, and triangles," Jane said. She didn't bother to mention the straight "C" average she was maintaining, but considering who she was talking to, she didn't think it would really matter.
And she was right. "Wow!" exclaimed the cheerleader. "Come on in!" She ushered Jane and Daria inside, pointed out some of the amenities, and proceeded to mingle with her other guests.
Unseen by any of the three girls, Quinn watched the proceedings from her vantage point behind one of the large ceramic tigers, first with amazement, then slowly mounting anger. She actually went through with it, thought Quinn. Dammit, Daria! She quietly slunk away, being careful to keep out of sight of her sister.
Daria and Jane wandered around the living room for a bit, examining the garish décor -- no doubt the work of Brittany's father -- before finally stopping at the snack table. Glancing at its contents, Daria remarked with mock amazement, "Look. Two kinds of chips."
Jane raised an eyebrow. "Flat or ridgy," she observed. "You make the call." Daria was about to reply when a thin, freckle-faced, red-haired boy approached them, wearing a look that came very close to a leer. She recognized him from several of her classes, including Ms. Barch's science class: Charles Ruttheimer III, better known as "Upchuck."
"Chuck Ruttheimer, here," he said by way of introduction. "And you are?"
If Upchuck was affected by their attempt to blow him off, he didn't let it show. Instead, he said, "A pleasure to meet you lovely ladies. I'll be your social director for the evening." He gestured to the surroundings. "Would you like a tour of the house? It's free."
Daria frowned slightly. "Do you accept tips?"
"Of course," he replied.
"Ditch the bangs."
Upchuck's features contorted into a lecherous grin as he growled and exclaimed, "Feisty!" After draping his arms over Daria's and Jane's shoulders -- and having them shrugged off just as quickly -- he proceeded to lead them on a tour of Brittany's cavernous house. "This five-bedroom house is designed in a combination of southern pseudo-plantation and late mock-Tudor styles..." he intoned, going into full "tour guide" mode.
Walking through the various rooms and hallways, Upchuck gestured as this or that feature while going into sometimes painful detail. "...to your right, the quasi-Victorian breakfast nook. Straight ahead, the family den, which was inspired by the novels of Isak Dinesen..." Daria and Jane glanced around as they walked, more out of something to do in lieu of talking to the party-goers than any actual interest.
Finally, they came to a door at a secluded end of the house, located under the main stairway. "And this..." he said with a flourish, "is the make-out room! Am I blushing?" He leaned towards Daria and Jane in a conspiratorial manner and explained, "Confidentially, it's really the laundry room." He knocked on the door. "Hey? Don't lean on the buttons!"
"Can it, Upchuck, or I'll break your face!" came a voice from inside, followed moments later by a high-pitched giggle. Most likely, a football player and one of the cheerleaders; Daria and Jane would've suspected Kevin and Brittany if they hadn't already seen them during Upchuck's "grand tour."
Chuckling, Upchuck turned his attention to his two charges. "As we've reached the end of our tour, I'd like to thank you for your undivided attention. Any questions?"
"Just one," Daria replied. "How did you get invited?"
Upchuck's shoulders slumped slightly. "I dissected her frog," he finally admitted.
Elsewhere, Tori continued her popularity dissertation to Sandi and Tiffany. "Now, she used to be very popular, but then there was that unfortunate nose job. That one behind the tiger?" she said as she pointed to Quinn. "She was new and cute so she became, like, popular overnight."
At that moment, Daria, Jane, and Upchuck returned from the tour, and caught Tori's eye. "Those three aren't popular at all. I don't know what they're doing here. Maybe some kind of exchange program."
"But what's with that girl with the glasses?" Tiffany asked. "Her face looks really weird. All the same color."
"She's not wearing any makeup."
Sandi arched an eyebrow. "Is that a new look or something?"
Tori shivered. "Scary."
Standing near the snack table, Daria continued to observe the proceedings with an ever-increasing sense of boredom. Tell me again why I agreed to go to this party? she mused. She glanced at Jane, who didn't seem to mind all that much, and sighed to herself. This is gonna be a loooong night.
"Hmm," Jane said softly. "Those guys are looking at us." She nudged Daria gently, who turned to look in the direction Jane was talking about. Sure enough, two guys were standing nearby and checking them out, with one of them making what he probably thought were suave come-on faces at them.
Daria turned back to face her friend as the two guys started to approach them. "Don't they know we're from two different worlds: regular and popular?"
"Don't speak so soon," Jane admonished. "The one in the green shirt is cute... in a head-too-big-for-his-body kind of way," she amended as she saw the look Daria was giving her. Jane didn't last long under that relentless glare; after a few moments, she muttered, "I hate you."
"Hey," the first guy said. "Partying hard or hardly partying?"
Daria's nose almost wrinkled in disgust; she might not have been the dating type, but she knew a bad come-on when she heard it. "Hardly interested," she answered.
The guy in the green shirt tried next. "So... where you girls been all our lives?"
"Waiting here for you," she replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "We were born in this room, we grew up in this room, and we thought we would die here... alone. But now you've arrived, and our lives can truly begin."
The guy in the green shirt nudged his friend. "She likes you!"
Jane watched the exchange with amusement, and not a little admiration; Daria handled these guys like a pro. Then, something caught her eye. "Hey... isn't that Quinn?"
"Where?" Daria asked.
"Over there," Jane said, nodding towards the other end of the living room. "Hiding behind the ceramic tiger."
Daria looked, and sure enough, there was Quinn, obviously trying to avoid being associated with her "brain" of a sister. Okay, now I remember why I came here, she thought. She waved in Quinn's direction and said loudly, "Yoo-hoo! Sis!" It had the desired effect: Quinn shrank back even further into hiding.
With a smirk, Daria turned to comment to Jane, but her friend was nowhere to be found. She then noticed that the guy in the green shirt was also missing. Math wasn't her strongest subject, but she could certainly put two and two together. Sighing mightily, she went off in search of other opportunities to torture her sister.
At the Crewe Neck gatehouse, the security guard continued to pore over Jane's nude sketches. Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer. "I-I gotta take this class," he stammered. "I've got to find Tiffany." He then turned over the sketchbook and saw the name written there. "I mean... Jane."
As the guard walked down the street towards the Taylor residence, several older kids drove up to the gate. Shouting "Woo-hoo!" and "Party!," the kids drove around the lowered wooden gate, onto the lawn, and back onto the street. Brittany's party was about to be crashed but good.
After much searching, Quinn's personal Three Musketeers finally caught up with her. "I'm glad we found you," Joey said.
"We've been looking all over," Jeffy exclaimed.
"I looked the hardest," Jamie chimed in.
As the three boys continued to fawn over her, Quinn looked past them, and was horrified: Daria was walking right towards them. "Uh," she quickly said, "I gotta go to the bathroom."
"You need some help?" Joey offered as they followed her through the living room.
"I'll go with you," Jeffy added.
"It's the bathroom!" Quinn said in exasperation, and quickened her pace to leave the three boys behind.
Daria caught up with Quinn at about the same time as she reached the bathroom door. "Hi, sis!" she exclaimed.
Quinn turned and glared. "Aren't you a little out of place here... and everywhere else on Earth?" With that, Quinn slammed the bathroom door closed and engaged the lock.
Daria smirked as she turned away from the door. Seeing Quinn's fan club milling around in the living room, she raised an eyebrow and headed towards them as a line began to form at the bathroom door. The moment Quinn's would-be suitors noticed Daria, she introduced herself with obvious relish. "Hi, I'm Quinn's brainy sister," she began, thoroughly trashing Quinn's attempt at being an only child. "People say we look alike..."
As the line outside the bathroom door grew longer, Sandi rattled the doorknob in frustration. Standing behind her, Jodie commented, "What's she doing in there?"
"Maybe she's taking a Jacuzzi," Sandi said archly just as Brittany walked past. Brittany's lower lip began to tremble as her worst fear started coming true, and she hurried off to the safety of her bedroom in order to compose herself.
Brittany wasn't the only one facing Armageddon: Quinn emerged from the bathroom to the sight of Daria talking to Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie. Ignoring the nasty looks she was getting from the rather sizeable line of people waiting to use the bathroom, Quinn hurried over just in time to hear her worst fear come to life.
"... and the traffic was so tied up that my mom finally hands Quinn the empty soda cup and says, 'Here, you gotta go? Then go.'" Sensing movement behind her, Daria turned to see her sister standing behind her, her lower jaw almost touching the ground in shock. Smirking even more, she turned her attention back to Quinn's fan club. "I have this great picture at home of Quinn in her chubby stage..."
That was enough for Quinn, who dragged Daria away by the elbow as Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie looked on in confusion. She pulled Daria aside and said, without preamble, "I've got five dollars."
Daria took on a hurt expression. "Boy, you try to look out for your little sister..."
Fuming, Quinn fished around in her pockets and pulled out another five dollar bill. "Make it ten."
"Well..." Daria said, pretending to think about it. She then snatched the bills before Quinn changed her mind. "I have been saving up for a pair of snappy orthopedic shoes." She pocketed the bills and walked away. "Have fun... sis." She didn't turn around, but then, she didn't need to; she could feel Quinn's acid-filled glare follow her as she headed off to find Jane.
Brittany's next door neighbor was doing some fuming of his own. He'd put up with the party at that Taylor brat's house for as long as he could, but when that last bunch of rowdies showed up, he finally had enough. At the moment, he was pounding on the door of the gatehouse, demanding that the security guard take care of the problem.
"Hello?" he shouted. "Anybody there? There's a wild party going on up at the Taylor house at Deer View Court. What do you plan to do about it?" No response. "You can't ignore me. I pay your salary!" He pounded again. "Are you sleeping in there? You're not a real cop, you know."
When he still didn't get any response, he peered through the window of the gatehouse, and saw that it was empty. Figures! he said to himself. He's probably off boozing it up somewhere instead of doing his job. "Fine!" he said out loud. "I'll get the real cops out here, then." With that, he tied the sash of his robe tighter, and headed back to his house to phone the Lawndale police department.
"Quinn, I don't care if your sister is a brain," Jamie said. "I would never hold it against you." He, Jeffy, and Joey had managed to take a visibly shaken and upset Quinn aside, away from the hustle and bustle of the party, so that she could calm down. "So... you want to go in the laundry room?"
Joey pushed him aside. "Hands off, Jamie. Show a little compassion, would you?" He spoke gently to Quinn. "Quinn, you may come from a nerdy family, but that makes your popularity, like, even more amazing. Now, why don't we ditch these two losers and go someplace nice and quiet?"
"Take a hike, Joey," Jeffy said as he shoved Joey away. "Quinn, if you were my girlfriend, we could ignore your sister together. Now will you go steady with me?" he pleaded. "At least for a couple of hours?"
Having three guys compete for her attention was doing wonders for Quinn's temperament. Unfortunately, it was to be short-lived, as she looked down and noticed that all four of them were standing in a puddle of soap-sudsy water, with more leaking out of the laundry room every second. "Oh, no!" she exclaimed. "These shoes are suede!"
With that, she stalked off to clean off her shoes, more upset than ever. Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie followed her, not noticing the laundry room door open. Jane peeked her head out, saw that the coast was clear, and headed back to rejoin the party.
In the living room, Daria leaned against the wall as the other party-goers danced. "It's the Soul Train," she said flatly as the music pulsed around her. "Beep-beep. Get on board." She spotted Jane approaching from the direction of the "make-out room," and almost laughed: a stray sock was clinging to her shoulder. "What happened to 'Bobby Big-Head'?" she inquired, though she already had a pretty good idea.
"I wasn't really interested," Jane replied nonchalantly.
"Mmm... too bad," Daria said, then reached out and plucked the sock from Jane's shoulder without even looking. "Is this yours?"
Jane rolled her eyes, knowing the jig was up. "Okay, fine," she said with exasperation. Daria could be such a prude sometimes. "He thought my head was a lollipop. Ready to go?"
Daria nodded, and lead the way to the front door. "I was ready to go before we got here."
Outside, Jane inquired, "So... have fun?"
"Well, let's see," Daria answered. "I didn't talk to a whole bunch of new people, I made Quinn want to throw herself down a well, and--" She held up the sock. "--I'm going home with a bonus sock. All in all, a great night."
"See?" Jane exclaimed, mock-enthusiastically. "I told you you'd have fun."
They continued down the street towards the gatehouse, stopping only briefly to watch two Lawndale Police Department squad cars head in the direction of the Taylor house at high speed. Both Daria and Jane looked at each other, and shared the same sentiment: they had gotten out of there just in time.
Back at the party, Quinn had finally reached the breaking point with her three would-be suitors. She sat down on the stairway and faced them. "Joey, Jeffy... Jamie?"
"You got it!" Jamie exclaimed.
"Whatever," Quinn replied. "Uh... I don't think this is working out." At their not unexpected protests, she explained, "I mean, you're really special guys, and you deserve a really great girlfriend." She stopped and considered. "Three, actually. But I feel that you're pressuring me to do things I'm not ready for."
They protested at that, and Quinn attempted to calm them down. "That doesn't mean you have to stop paying attention to me and buying me stuff and driving me places, but it does mean that... I think... what I'm trying to say is..."
Joey finally got it. "Let's be friends?"
Quinn's relief was very evident. "Yeah," she said apologetically. "Sorry."
Jeffy turned to Joey. "You came on too strong!" he accused.
"Oh, yeah?" Jamie spit out. "You didn't give her enough space!"
"You should have brushed your teeth!" Joey threw back at Jamie.
And that did it. With a shout, all three boys began to pummel each other, each thinking that a victory would score major points with Quinn. She, however, had other ideas, as she watched them fight over her, obviously enjoying every moment. "Stop it," she said, but there was very little actual protest in her voice. "Stop fighting. Oh, this is horrible." As the other party-goers gathered to witness the melee, Quinn turned to address them with a delighted, satisfied grin on her face. "They're fighting over me," she explained.
Suddenly, the front door burst open, and Brittany's next-door neighbor burst in, with four police officers right behind him. "That's it!" he shouted. "Everybody out! Vamoose!" He then noticed the security guard standing behind the ceramic tiger. "You too, Kojak. The real cops are here now."
"Oh! Cops!" Brittany exclaimed as she descended the stairs. "Does this mean we're on TV?"
As the police herded the party-goers out of the house, Brittany stood by to see everyone off. Mack, polite as ever, said, "Thanks for the party, Brittany."
"Sorry about all this," Brittany said apologetically. "And about the Jacuzzi."
Jodie could see how upset Brittany was, so she decided to go easy on her. "That's okay," she replied. "The wall-to-wall carpeting in the bathrooms makes up for it." This lifted the cheerleader's spirits immensely, as Jodie rolled her eyes at Mack as they headed to his car.
Inside, Quinn stood amidst the carnage that remained in the aftermath of the fight. As for the three combatants themselves, they were sprawled out on the floor, barely conscious. "Joey?" she called out. "Jeffy? Jamie?" Pondering the predicament she was in, she said out loud, "How am I going to get home?" to no one in particular.
The only reply she got was a few groans from her fan club... the ones that were still aware of their surroundings, that is.
Daria and Jane stood watch at the Crewe Neck gatehouse, and watched as the scene unfolded. After seeing the police cars speed towards the party, they decided that this was something they should stick around and watch, so they grabbed the security guard's discarded cap and clipboard and played rent-a-cop to the incoming residents. First victim: a matronly, gray-haired lady whose snobbery fit her like a glove.
At her inquiry, Daria explained, "New security precautions, ma'am. May I see some I.D., please?"
"You seem awfully young to be doing this kind of work," the lady said, clearly skeptical.
"It's a disguise, ma'am," Daria replied. "We're actually much older."
"Not as old as you, of course, ma'am," Jane added.
Daria shifted the clipboard in her hands. "Now, we have to ask you a few questions. Ms. Lane?"
"Certainly," Jane replied, playing her role to the hilt. "Is that your natural hair color?" she asked the lady.
"Well, I never in my life...!" the lady exclaimed, aghast at the audacity of these two girls.
Daria, however, was unfazed. "Never colors it," she said aloud as she jotted it down on the clipboard.
And so it went. Daria and Jane watched as the cars left the area, first a few, then a stream as the cops cleared out the house. All the while, they stopped each incoming car and asked the person behind the wheel various questions ranging from Greek mythology to a variation of the old "Name That Tune" game show.
Finally, the flow of cars slowed to a trickle, then stopped altogether. When they saw the police cars leave, Daria and Jane figured that the show was over. As Daria put the clipboard back into the gatehouse and Jane removed the guard's discarded cap, they first heard, then saw Quinn trudge towards the exit, her ruined suede shoes making soft squishing sounds in the night air. "What happened to your fan club?" enquired Daria.
"They beat each other up," Quinn replied, still a little giddy from the attention. "It was kind of... what's that thing, when stuff turns out funny?" She thought for a moment. "Moronic," she finally said.
"Ironic," Jane corrected.
Daria shook her head. "She was right the first time."
Quinn sighed. She didn't want to bring this up, but she figured they had no choice. "You want to call Mom and Dad?"
Daria raised her eyebrow. "And shift the balance of power? We walk."
"But my shoes are all squishy," she whined. Before Daria could retort, however, a car rumbled up to the open gate and stopped. Peering in through the windows, they saw Upchuck behind the wheel.
He rolled down the passenger side window. "You ladies in need of a knight in shining armor?" he asked, his trademark leer never leaving his face.
"Can we just take the armor and ditch the knight?"
"Hey, it's a package deal, toots."
Daria looked at Jane, who glanced at Quinn, who shrugged her shoulders and opened the door. A ride was a ride. With Daria and Jane in the back seat and Quinn up front, Upchuck put the car into gear and headed down the street, playing tour guide all the way. "To your left, the home of the town director of public works, built on unstable landfill," he began. "To your right, a flattened squirrel. Straight ahead, the future!"
"Stuff a sock in it, Upchuck," Daria said menacingly. It was gonna be a long ride home.
Upchuck, true to form, was unfazed. He purred and exclaimed, "Feisty!" as they sped off into the night.
Jane's Family: The information on the talents of the various Lane family members comes from the third season episode "Lane Miserables" (#308).
The Blonde Girl: The blonde girl at Brittany's party (the one talking to Sandi and Tiffany) was never given a name, so I went with Tori, the name given to her by Austin Covello in his fan fiction stories.
"Daria" and all related titles, logos, and characters are trademarks of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, Inc. All rights reserved by trademark-holders under United States National and International Law and Convention.
"The Invitation" is copyright © 1997 by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, Inc.
This adaptation of "The Invitation" is copyright © 1999 by Martin J. Pollard. While he does not claim copyright or moral rights to the characters, titles, or stories from "Daria," he does claim copyright on this particular adaptation of the indicated story from the "Daria" milieu. Martin J. Pollard will not profit from these adaptations, and will not tolerate their being distributed in any manner which requires money to change hands for distribution.