Quinn the Brain
A Daria Episode Adaptation by Martin J. Pollard
Based on the screenplay by Rachel Lipman
Cast of Characters
Daria Morgendorffer, Quinn Morgendorffer, Helen Morgendorffer, Jake Morgendorffer, Jane Lane, Brittany Taylor, Kevin Thompson, Sandi Griffin, Stacy Rowe, Tiffany Blum-Deckler, Joey, Jeffy, Jamie White, Mr. Timothy O'Neill, Corey
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Mr. O'Neill's Classroom
The end of another week at Lawndale High. Students were more inattentive than usual, with the promise of weekend activities distracting them from what passed for the learning process. The scene in Mr. O'Neill's freshman English class was no different, as students chatted quietly amongst themselves -- when O'Neill wasn't looking -- while he handed back their latest essays.
"Now, as I'm handing back your essays," Mr. O'Neill said with his usual earnestness, "you may have strong feelings about the competitive and discouraging aspects of grading." He finished handing back the essays and sat on the edge of his desk, facing his students. "I care about what you have to say. Who would like to start?"
Jamie raised his hand. "Is an F+ the same as a D-?"
"I don't believe I've ever heard of an F+, Jordan," O'Neill replied, mangling Jamie's name as usual. "But we can talk about it!"
Seated in the back row, Quinn talked quietly with Stacy, her fellow Fashion Club member. "So she said, 'I got those eggshell leggings like you told me.' And I said, 'Eggshell? I told you eggplant!'"
"You're kidding!" Stacy replied. Both girls giggled, a little too loudly.
"Quinn?" Nearly startled out of their skin, they turned and saw O'Neill looking in their direction. "Was there something you wanted to say?"
"Um..." Quinn said, trying to regain her composure. "I didn't get my essay back."
"That's true, Quinn," he said as the dismissal bell rang. "I'm afraid I need to see you after class."
The students gathered up their books and started filing out the door. "I'll save you a place at the mirror," Stacy said to Quinn as she left. Quinn nodded, slung her pack over her shoulder and approached Mr. O'Neill.
"Quinn," he said, "I'm so sorry, but we need to talk about your performance."
"Okay, but I'm kind of in a rush today."
O'Neill reached over his desk and picked up Quinn's essay. "Let's go over our last assignment, 'How I Feel About Polyculturalism.'" He looked up from the paper. "You wrote, 'I definitely prefer all cotton.'"
"I didn't copy it if that's what you mean!" she said indignantly.
"No, no I believe you," he said reassuringly. "The thing is... now, I don't want to panic or upset you -- please, take this in a constructive spirit -- but I'm afraid you're not doing well in language arts."
Whatever, she thought to herself. "Okay, see you tomorrow!" she said as she started for the door. After all, they weren't going to hold her spot at the mirror forever!
"I don't think you understand!" O'Neill called out after her. "You're going to have to get an A on your next essay to maintain a passing grade!"
That stopped Quinn in her tracks. Turning, she said, "You mean, passing as in 'passing or failing'?"
"Yes!" he said, relieved that Quinn finally understood the seriousness of her situation. Seeking to reassure her, he said, "But don't worry. All it will take is some commitment, dedication, and hard work!"
"You can do it, Quinn!" he said encouragingly. He saw that Quinn was still distressed, however, and decided that perhaps a practical example would help. "You know," he began, "when I was in high school, I wanted more than anything to be on the high school gymnastics team, but I just couldn't master the high bar. So I practiced every day..."
"And the big tryout came and you made the team." Yadda, yadda, yadda...
"Well, no," he admitted, "but that winter I learned how to write while holding a pencil in my teeth."
Helen arrived home in a foul mood, another long work day ending yet another long work week. She rifled through the mail, tossing the ever-present bills on the coffee table, and spotted a letter from the girls' school. What she read when she opened it didn't improve her mood.
Seething, she stalked into the kitchen to demand an explanation. "Quinn, what is the meaning of this?" she began. "I put in another twelve hour day and the first thing I see when I get home..." Looking around, she saw that she was talking to thin air, as the girls weren't there. Jake, however, was present, asleep at the kitchen table where he had been building a model wooden sailing ship. "Jake!"
"Ah! I'm up!" he said, startled out of his slumber.
"Where are the girls?"
"They were here before... I think," he replied, still a little disoriented. He glanced at his wife and saw that she was upset, then noticed the letter in her hand. Uh, oh... he thought.
"I'm very upset about this," she said, waving the letter.
"Oh, yeah, I know! See, I was trying to call the number for movie phone," he started to explain, "and out of nowhere this woman comes on the line..."
"Jake, what are you talking about?"
He then got a close look at what she was holding. "That's not the phone bill," he said, stating the obvious. Shifting gears quickly, hoping that Helen would forget about what he was about to say, he asked, "What is that?"
"It's a letter from Quinn's English teacher. She's going to fail English because she's not putting in any effort." She turned to go upstairs. "I'm going to go talk to her."
"Wait a minute!" he protested. "Why can't I ever be the one to talk to the girls?"
She turned around and faced Jake again. "Honey," she said patiently, "it's not that you can't. It's just... a strong parenting team is like a singing group. The lead singer carries the tune, and the back-up singers support her. That's you!"
"But what do the back-up singers do?"
"You chime in on just the right moment and then you fade into the background. Doesn't that make sense?"
Jake considered that, putting a hand to his chin. "Do I get a tambourine or something?" Helen was about to break the concept down even further when Quinn walked into the kitchen, followed closely by Daria.
"Mom, can I borrow..." She then saw Helen glaring at her, holding the letter from school out where she could see it. "Um..." Quinn said, trying to figure out the best way to retreat, "I'm just going to go run down to the animal shelter and see about volunteering. I heard they got in a new bunch of sick birds."
"Quinn, this note came from school," said Helen.
"Don't worry," Quinn said, trying to placate her. "All I have to do is get, like, an A on my next essay and I'm fine."
Daria, who had been rummaging through the refrigerator for a soda, closed the door and commented, "I'll take the Vegas odds on that one."
"Daria," Helen scolded, "we need to be encouraging. Sit down, Quinn." All three joined Jake at the kitchen table, with Daria wearing a small self-satisfied smile. "Honey, this isn't just about one essay," Helen explained. "It's about setting goals in life and going after them. You know, when I was in high school, I wanted more than anything to join the swim..."
"No!" Quinn exclaimed, holding her ears. "No, please, not again!"
"Huh?" said Helen, confused at Quinn's reaction.
"Mom," chided Daria, "if you're going to reminisce, I'm afraid I'll be forced to call Social Services."
"All right, Quinn," Helen said, giving in. "Let me try to put it another way. No matter what you do in life, a solid education..."
Quinn interrupted. "You gave this talk when I got caught cutting math... er, when I forgot where my math class was."
"Helen, let me," Jake said, eager to show that he wasn't just a back-up singer. "Honey, did you ever here the tale of the ant and the grasshopper?"
Helen sighed. "Try imagining it this way, Quinn..."
"... you could be left back and be the oldest freshman at Lawndale High," Daria finished, her timing perfect.
That was enough for Quinn, who got up from the table with a terrified look on her face. "You know what? I gotta get to work. Bye!" She scampered out of the kitchen without so much as a second glance behind her, heading for her bedroom.
Helen turned to Jake, waved a hand at Daria, and said, "You see how it's done?"
After dinner, Quinn knocked softly on Daria's bedroom door. "Daria? Are you in there?"
"No," came a voice from inside. "I'm taking it easy in Tahiti for a few days."
Gathering her courage, Quinn opened the door and walked in. Daria was sitting on her bed reading a book, her back against the headboard. "Hang on," said Daria, not looking up from her book. "I'm just ordering another tray of coconut daiquiris."
"Um..." said Quinn. "I was wondering if..."
"I don't think so," Daria interrupted. She was pretty sure she knew what Quinn wanted, but even if it wasn't, Daria wasn't about to do her sister any favors. Not for free, anyway.
"I just need a little help with my essay... like, could you write it for me?"
Daria finally glanced up from her book; she'd called it, all right. "And what's my motivation again...?"
"Come on, Daria, we're sisters!" Quinn pleaded. "We gotta stick together!"
"Unless we're in public, you mean... right, 'cousin'?" she said, referring to Quinn's habit of telling people that Daria was anyone but her sister.
Quinn wasn't letting up. "But you're so smart, and this essay's so important. Believe me, I would do it myself but I have a date."
"Oh, that's different," she said sarcastically. "When does the subject of compensation come up?"
Quinn sighed with relief. "Thanks, Daria." She should have left it at that, but instead said, "This is going to work out for both of us. I mean, I get my essay written and for once you'll have something to do on a Friday night instead of sitting around like a loser, you know?"
Daria looked up from her book and scowled. You little...! "That's it, Shakespeare," she said angrily. "Do your own damn homework."
The shocked look on Quinn's face said it all. Realizing that she had jammed her foot in her mouth, Quinn didn't even try to convince Daria further, as she knew it would be an exercise in futility. Without another word, she got up and left the room, trying to figure a way out of the mess she was now in.
A few hours later, Daria was in the living room watching television when the doorbell rang. Muting the sound, she got up and answered the door. The guy standing on the front step holding flowers was one she recognized: Corey, the kid who was trashing her during her self-esteem speech back when she first started at Lawndale High.
"Um..." he said. "Is this Quinn's house?"
"Someone by that name does live here," she confirmed.
"She's upstairs doing school work."
His face fell. "I gotta pay more attention when I get these addresses!" he said dejectedly, and turned to leave.
"Corey?" Both he and Daria turned to see Quinn standing there, her hair made up and wearing one of her good outfits. "I just came down to say I can't see you tonight. I have to write an essay."
Corey laughed. "Good one! Come on, I'm got a special evening planned. Let's go, before there's a line at the drive-thru."
"No, really, Corey," she said. "I have work to do and you have to leave. Sorry!"
"Quinn!" he exclaimed. "What have they done to you...!" All further protest was rendered moot when the door closed in his face.
Daria turned to her sister. "Did you just spend two hours dressing up to go the door for one minute and dump your date?"
"Daria," she said, going into lecture mode, "if you look your best when you blow a guy off, it makes him feel like you care."
Amazed once again by Quinn's shallowness, Daria put every ounce of sarcasm she could muster into her voice. "Well, that advice should prove very helpful. Sometimes your shallowness is so thorough, it's almost like depth."
"Thanks," replied Quinn, the sarcasm going over her head as usual. She paused for a moment, then -- figuring she had nothing to lose -- tried to bargain with her one last time. "All right, twenty."
"Fine!" she yelled. "I hope you realize you're making me do my own homework!"
Daria watched her stomp up the stairs in a huff and slam the door to her bedroom. Quinn doing her own homework, she said to herself. That is a scary thought.
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Mr. O'Neill's Classroom
A week later, the scene in Mr. O'Neill's classroom was almost a repeat of the week before. Appearances, however, were all they had in common.
"I have a special surprise, everyone," O'Neill said as he handed back the essays from the week before. "One of our students have so improved since last week's essay, I'm going to share her work with the class."
In the back row, Quinn and Stacy were chatting as usual. "I really like those leggings," Quinn commented.
"Yeah," said Stacy, "but now I have a shoe thing." She stretched out her leg to show Quinn one of her shoes. "Strappies?"
"Platform jellies!" Quinn replied.
"Quinn, you're so smart!"
"Only about important stuff," said Quinn modestly.
"Quinn?" said O'Neill, startling both girls.
Quinn, flustered, stammered to appear like she had been paying attention. "Um... I didn't get my paper back."
"That's right, Quinn," he said, a note of excitement in his voice, "because I'm going to read it aloud!"
O'Neill sat at the edge of his desk and began to read. "'Academic Imprisonment' by Quinn Morgendorffer..." This elicited a round of laughter from the rest of the class, even Stacy... not for the title of the essay, but for the fact that someone was being singled out for public humiliation. They settled back to enjoy the spectacle.
Quinn, for her part, did her best to make herself as inconspicuous as possible while O'Neill proceeded to embarrass the hell out of her. This is so humiliating! she thought. I won't be able to face anyone ever again for the rest of my life!
"... 'So go ahead,'" he said, nearing the end of the essay, "'lock me up with your homework and your tests! Rob my freedom with your reading and your thinking! As far as I'm concerned, the only difference between school and prison is the wardrobe. Or do you want to take away my outfits, too? The End.'"
He sat back. "Wow. Would anyone like to share their reaction?"
The only person to raise a hand was Quinn. "May I please change schools?"
Later That Evening
Quinn's mortification was lessened considerably once she realized that her essay could be the perfect ticket to a substantial reward from her parents. As such, she proudly showed it to Helen that evening, who immediately attached it to the refrigerator door. "There!" she said as she put the magnet in place. "Now it's on full display!"
"Quite the door of achievement," noted Daria as she looked at the essay's only companions: Jake's speeding ticket from the Department of Motor Vehicles, and a drawing that Quinn made when she was five years old.
"Come on, kiddo," Jake chided. "You want to encourage your sister, don't you?"
"To get her own place, yeah."
Quinn arrived in the kitchen. "Hey!" said Jake. "It's my daughter the genius!"
"Our own academic achiever!" Helen agreed.
"We're all so proud of you. Aren't we, Daria?"
"Sure," said Daria, "if you mean, proud as in 'stunned.'"
Quinn sat down in her usual spot at the table. "Mom... Dad... making you happy is the greatest reward I can ask for --"
"-- of course, when other kids get a good grade, they sometimes get a little present..."
Helen saw the scam coming a mile away. "Now, Quinn, I really think..."
"I'll handle this," interrupted Jake. Turning to Quinn, he said, "You're absolutely right sweetheart. You get an A, you should be rewarded." Reaching into his wallet, he pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to Quinn. "Here you go!"
Quinn perked up visibly. "Thanks, Dad!"
"Wait a minute," Daria said, annoyed. "Isn't that a double standard?"
"You just gave her a twenty for getting one A," she explained. "What about all the A's I get for free?"
"Yeah, but this is a special occasion, so Quinn gets a special reward," he explained. "It's a motivational thing."
"But won't that de-motivate your other daughter, whose work is consistently good?"
"Yes, Jake," Helen said, arching her eyebrow. "Where are you going with this?"
"I wasn't finished," he said. "Daria should have a consistent reward for her consistently good work." He then handed Daria a twenty dollar bill.
He turned to Quinn and handed her another twenty. Without skipping a beat, he said, "And Quinn should have a special one time reward for her one time effort!"
"But what about a higher reward for maintaining a standard of excellence over time?" countered Daria, who was immensely enjoying watching her father squirm on his own hook. "Perhaps with compound interest?"
Jake looked from Daria to Quinn, then threw his wallet on the table. "Here, just take it!" To Helen he said, "Helen, I told you I was no good at this parenting crap!" Fuming, he got up from the table to fix himself a badly needed martini, leaving his dinner practically untouched.
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Quinn was retrieving some books from her locker when Joey, Jeffy and Jamie approached. "Hey, Quinn!" Joey said. "You're famous!"
"Oh, you guys," she said, blushing slightly. "I'm just really popular."
"He's talking about your essay," explained Jeffy, "in the Lawndale Lowdown."
"The school paper?!" she said in a panic.
"It's in the 'Smart Thoughts' column."
Quinn slammed the door of her locker closed, and lamented, "I'm ruined!" The three boys just looked at her uncomprehendingly.
Down the hall, Daria and Jane were reading the same column. Normally, neither one of them would bother to waste their time on the school paper, but who could pass up basking in Quinn's humiliation?
Daria looked at Jane and did something extremely rare for her: she grinned from ear to ear. "It's great, isn't it?"
"'No light shines through these four brick walls,'" Jane read aloud, "'for the school is my prison, and its teachers my imprisoners.'"
"And I'll bet you didn't even know that the word 'imprisoners' existed."
"Yeah," she said, "but now I can't wait to use it." She turned to Daria. "Why exactly is this great?"
Still grinning, she said, "Because the shoe is on the other foot, to borrow a tired old cliche. Quinn's now going to see firsthand what is feels like to be a brain."
They continued their conversation over lunch. "Listen to this," Jane said. "'Like a hamster on one of those wheel things, school runs us around and around until we yearn for the food pellet. But only more homework awaits.' You know, it's like she read my mind."
"Right after you suffered a severe blow to the head." She turned as someone sat down at their table. It was Quinn, wearing sunglasses and a cap, under which was piled her long reddish-gold hair.
"Could you put that away?" she said, indicating the paper. "They're everywhere."
"What are you doing here?" asked Daria. "Bomb scare at your table?"
Quinn make shushing motions with her hands. "Keep it down, okay? I'm trying to keep a low profile since the paper came out."
"Lucky for you the Pulitzer Committee has already finished eating." Daria knew a prime torture opportunity when she saw it, and was determined to milk this for all it was worth.
"They had the meatloaf," said Jane, picking up on Daria's lead.
"You must be very excited about what people are calling you," said Daria.
Quinn suddenly got panicky. "What?"
"'Brains' Morgendorffer," said Jane.
"Oh, come on!" Quinn said. "All because of one little essay?"
"It's a slippery slope," Daria explained. "Behold the future." She indicated a table at the other end of the cafeteria, around which sat a group of nerdy-looking students. Suddenly, one of them made milk shoot out of his nose, which caused the others to laugh uproariously.
"Last week they were trying out for football," explained Jane, "then they won one debate tournament."
"What am I gonna do?" Quinn was in a full-blown panic. "I can't be a brain! My friends will hate me!"
"Yes," said Daria, enjoying this immensely, "but just think of all the new friends you'll make in Chess Club!"
"Maybe I can steal all the newspapers before anyone else reads them!" said Quinn as she glanced furtively around the cafeteria. Maybe if she was really quick...
Daria suddenly realized something. "Hey, wait a minute, 'Brains.' You don't even have lunch this period, do you?"
"Of course not!" Quinn replied. "I cut Science so I can talk to you. You think I'd sit with you while my grade is at lunch?"
So much for "Brains" Morgendorffer, Daria thought to herself. "About that 'being mistaken for a brain' thing? I wouldn't worry too much about it."
"Why do you have to study during study hall, anyway?"
Daria and Jane stood at Daria's locker and watched the scene unfold between Brittany and her football player boyfriend, Kevin. At the moment, the normally bubbly cheerleader was furious with him... which, admittedly, was not exactly a unique experience.
"Quinn's tutoring me in English so I can stay on the football team," Kevin explained. "Mr. O'Neill set it up."
"Kevvy!" she whined. "I could tutor you! I speak English too, you know."
"Babe, I've got a plan!"
"I'll bet you do, you... you high school casablanca!"
Kevin held his arms up as if to ward off a blow. "No, babe, I'm doing this for us!" he said. "I'm going to, like, observe the way a brain acts, and then we could act that way and be cool too."
Brittany instantly brightened and hooked her arm in his. "Oh, Kevvy, you're so smart!" she said. "You're already a brain in my eyes."
Daria watched them walk down the hall, and commented, "Only Quinn could turn being smart into a fad."
"Don't worry," said Jane. "You know how fads are. Today's it's brains, tomorrow it's pierced tongues, then the next day, pierced brains."
Daria considered that. "True enough. After all, it's not like it's going to get her anywhere." At that point, Quinn and the rest of the Fashion Club walked past their lockers.
"So then Mr. O'Neill said I could skip the rest of his class and leave early because he said I was catching on so fast," Quinn was saying. "Isn't that great?"
Daria turned to Jane. "If I tried hard enough," she said, "I could probably cram both feet into my mouth..."
Daria walked into Mr. O'Neill's classroom holding her latest story. She had received a good grade, but it had been returned with "please see me" written on it in red ink.
"You asked to see me?" she said as she approached his desk.
"Yes, Daria," O'Neill said, looking up from the papers he was grading. "Now, you know I'm a big, big fan of your writing. But lately it seems kind of... I don't know... flat. I was hoping for something a little more 'jazzy'."
"You want me to put in a drum solo?" she said sarcastically.
"I was wondering how you'd feel about some one-on-one tutoring," he said. "Sort of a mini writing workshop. There's somebody I want you to meet. She should be here any minute..."
"Hi!" said Quinn as she walked into the classroom. "You wanted me to..." She then caught sight of Daria. "... help somebody?"
O'Neill looked at Daria and Quinn, who were staring at each other, mouths agape. "Do you two know each other?"
After lunch, Daria and Jane sat in their usual shaded spot on campus, with Daria relating to Jane the incident in Mr. O'Neill's classroom. "I should have said I don't need tutoring to write like her," she concluded. "Just some big crayons."
"Tough day," Jane said in sympathy.
"I'm not letting it get to me," she insisted, though the hateful glance she threw towards Quinn -- who was sitting nearby, surrounded by Joey, Jeffy and Jamie -- said otherwise.
"Yeah, I can see that."
"Look everyone!" they overheard Quinn say. "I wrote another poem while I was eating my fries."
All three boys started to fight over who would read it, with Jeffy eventually winning out. "It's my turn!" He cleared his throat. "'The greasy fry, it cannot lie. Its truth is written, on your thighs.'"
"Wow," said Joey. "That's amazing!"
Quinn sat and basked in the glory. "I know!"
Daria couldn't stand to watch anymore. "Hold it," she told Jane. "I think I feel a poem coming on." She then, to Jane's surprise, let out a loud belch. "Sorry," she said. "False alarm."
The final indignity came later that day, with Daria and Jane once again overhearing Quinn and the Fashion Club chattering in the hallway. "Yeah, I might do writing for a career," said Quinn. "It's not like real work or anything."
"Really," said Sandi. "I mean, how hard it is to type stuff?"
"And there are lots of opportunities," Quinn agreed. "Like, did you know they pay money for those poems in greeting cards?"
Stacy suddenly became panic-stricken. "Oh no!" she exclaimed. "I've been giving away my poems for free!"
This assault on Daria's literary aspirations was too much. She stuck her head in her locker and, with a loud bang, let it fall on a stack of books that was sitting there. "Do me a favor, will you?" she asked Jane.
"Close my locker."
Daria passed by Quinn's bedroom later that evening, and saw a sight that rooted her to the floor: Quinn standing in front of her three mirrors, dressed in black from head to toe. "Did a mime crawl in here and die?" she commented.
"I'm putting together an outfit," said Quinn, not even looking in Daria's direction. "For your information, this is how deep people dress."
"Yeah," she said wryly, "deeply affected people."
"Thank you," Quinn replied, the sarcasm once again going right over her head. "By the way, do you know what existential means? Because today someone told me my writing was existential so I thought I should coordinate, you know, with wardrobe."
Oh, brother. "Yeah, that's what Camus would have done," she said, her voice laced with sarcasm. "For your purposes, existential means 'pseudo-intellectual poseur with accessories from the street fair'."
Quinn either didn't pay attention to Daria's remark, or chose not to reply. "Listen," she said as she put on a pair of black slip-on shoes, "I'm still available if you want some help with your writing." She eyed her ensemble in the mirror: black slacks, black shoes, black midriff sweater, and a black cap, with a medallion hanging on a chain around her neck. "Does this black match?"
"Matches my mood," Daria muttered as she headed downstairs. She could actually feel her brain cells atrophying every moment she stood there watching her sister flaunt an intellect she simply didn't have.
Daria plopped down on the living room sofa and clicked on the television. Maybe some Sick, Sad World would drive away the blues. However, the peace and tranquility she sought eluded her as the same thought kept running through her mind: Quinn, the intellectual equivalent of Jell-O pudding, was muscling in on her territory. Groaning in despair, she placed a throw pillow over her head and attempted to block out the world.
Jake walked into the room after a while, and noticed that Daria was sitting on the sofa with a pillow over her head. He muted the television and sat down next to her. "Is something bothering you, Daria?"
"No," she said morosely.
"You know, it's all right to have a heart to heart with Dad," he said. "I've been known to do a little parenting in my time."
"What's on your mind?" he persisted. "I'm up on the issues! Drugs, peer pressure... or is it a problem with a gang?"
She sighed and pulled the pillow off her head. "It's more of a personal issue," she said, knowing that she wasn't going to get rid of her father until she talked to him. And who knows? Maybe it would help to talk to someone. Yeah, thought Daria sourly, and maybe Ms. Barch will become a Playboy centerfold.
"Um..." Jake said, a little nervous. "It's not... hygiene or anything...?"
"No, Dad," she reassured him. "It's kinda like this. Let's say you have an identity that you didn't even like..."
"Oh sure!" he said. "Like, one day you wake up middle aged and resenting the hell out of it."
"... but even though you don't like this identity," she continued, ignoring his remark, "somebody comes along and steals it from you."
"And you're upset," he said emphatically. "You earned that resentment, it's your right."
"Well..." she said. "It's more like, you didn't want this identity, but if they take it away, you've got nothing. What do you do?"
Jake suddenly got that hooded look in his eyes, the one he got whenever he embarked on a trip down memory lane... and the trip was never a pleasant one. Uh, oh, Daria thought, and braced herself.
"They took your identity Daria?" Jake said. "Then you walk away. You change your name, move to another state, get some ID. It's not too late to start over Daria, it's not too late!" He put his hands on her shoulders. "You're still a young man! You don't have to live with your mistakes! Get out while you can!"
"Um... you're not going to shake me, are you?" said Daria nervously.
Suddenly realizing what he was doing, Jake let go of her shoulders and sat back on the couch. "What I meant was," he said, trying to cover his little outburst, "you hang in there and everything's going to be all right." He smiled as if to assure his daughter that, yes, everything was going to be just fine.
Daria suddenly stood, wanting nothing more than to escape as fast as dignity would allow. "You know, Dad, talking to you has actually made me feel better about myself." It really had... because she was glad that she wasn't nearly as bad off as he was.
"That's what I'm here for, kiddo!" he called after her as she left the room. "Back-up singer, ha!" he muttered with satisfaction, then sat back to enjoy a reward of a little television. He never saw Daria turn, look in his direction, and roll her eyes in disgust.
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
"Yeah, I just found out that poems don't even have to rhyme," Quinn said as she sat in the cafeteria. "How easy is that?" Joey, Jeffy and Jamie, who were clustered around her as usual, started falling over themselves in their efforts to top each others' praise of Quinn.
"There's a problem, Quinn. We need to talk."
Quinn turned, and saw Sandi, Stacy and Tiffany standing behind her. Sandi and Tiffany were both glaring at her, and Stacy looked both upset and nervous. Clearly, something was bothering them.
"What problem?" asked Quinn innocently.
"It seems that other girls are following your weirdo example and abandoning their fashion statements to wear all black." She swept the cafeteria with her arm, drawing attention to the fact that at least a dozen other girls were dressed similarly to Quinn.
Quinn, for her part, didn't see what the problem was. "Dressing in all black is a fashion statement," she insisted. "It's deep, it's meaningful, and it's slenderizing."
"Not according to this," countered Sandi, who was holding the latest copy of Waif magazine. "Everyone knows that eggplant is the current neutral."
But Quinn refused to give up. "Well, I can't help it if I have influence around here. People admire me for my brains."
Unfortunately, that only made Sandi more indignant. "That's not how the Fashion Club works." She pointed at Quinn as if she were being excommunicated. "You're officially ordered to take a fashion sabbatical until you get your priorities straight." The three girls stalked out of the cafeteria, with Sandi and Tiffany giving Quinn one final glare. Quinn rested her chin on her hands and sighed. This was not going as well as she had hoped it would.
In the hallway, Sandi conferred with her Fashion Club cohorts. "I'm concerned about Quinn," she said. "We need someone close to her to make her see the error of her ways."
"But who?" asked Tiffany.
"I have a plan," Sandi said. "We'll talk to that girl she knows. You know, her cousin or whatever."
"You're so smart, Sandi!" said Stacy.
Sandi nodded. "And you'll notice, I don't make, like, a big thing about it."
"But that girl is so weird," Tiffany complained. "She freaks me out."
"That's why I'm president of the Fashion Club. I'll handle her," said Sandi, all confidence. They turned the corner and approached Daria and Jane, who were standing in front of their lockers. Sandi opened her mouth to speak... and froze up.
Daria watched with morbid fascination as Sandi stood there and tried to speak. After making several unintelligible noises, she and the rest of the trio beat a hasty retreat. "What do you think that was about?" she commented to Jane after the girls rounded the corner.
Jane was totally mystified. "I supposed we'll never know."
"Jane, look closely. Have I grown another head?"
"Hmm..." Jane made a show of examining Daria's shoulders. "No, just the two."
Daria tried to muster up a biting retort, but she just couldn't find it in her. Not now. Instead, she simply said, "See ya," and walked down the hall just as Quinn arrived.
"What's wrong with her?" she asked. "Anything a little brainpower can fix?"
Jane snorted. "I think she's had about her fill of that." She started down the hallway, hoping to lose the Fourth Musketeer and catch up with her friend, but Quinn continued to dog her heels.
"Can I ask you something?" asked Quinn after a moment.
Jane stopped and turned to face Quinn. "I guess so," she finally said. "What?"
"You don't think I'm a brain, do you?"
She raised her eyebrow and put on her best "what a stupid question" look. "The thought never crossed my mind."
"Mine, either," she said, sounding relieved knowing that someone besides her sister wasn't making a big fuss over the situation. "I mean, I really like the way this getting to Daria," she admitted, "but I'm starting to feel like a phony."
"You're starting to feel like a phony?"
Quinn threw up her hands. "So I wrote a stupid essay!" she said. "What's everyone making such a big deal about?"
"Well," said Jane, "if you condition people to expect nothing, the least little something will get them all excited. Ask Pavlov."
Jane winced, and put a hand to the side of her head. Her brain was actually starting to hurt! "Never mind. Return to your world, and I'll return to mine." With that, she ran to catch up to Daria, leaving Quinn standing there with her own confused thoughts.
Later That Afternoon
The usual after school get-together at the Lane household was not, by any means, one of their more upbeat gatherings. Although Jane was contentedly doing the art thing, creating a painting with just her hands, Daria was lying on the bed, more depressed than usual, her head hanging over the edge. She had barely spoken two words since they arrived.
Jane glanced over at her silent friend, wondering if she had already passed out from the rush of blood to her head. "Hmm..." she finally commented. "By the way, anything eating away at your soul?"
"Her writing is bad!" Daria finally said. "Don't people know the difference between good and bad?"
"She's cute," Jane pointed out. "There are different standards for cute people."
"You mean no standards," corrected Daria.
"Isn't there ever a time when how you look doesn't affect how you're judged?"
Jane thought about that one for a second. "When you donate an organ," she concluded, "unless it's your eyes." She stopped and wiped the paint off her hand with the rag hanging over her shoulder. "Listen, it's no big deal."
Daria sighed. "It shouldn't be, but it is. The thing is, if she's a brain, what do I get to be?"
"You're still a brain."
"Yeah," she replied, "but she's a brain with bouncy hair. I can't compete."
Jane thought a moment. "Okay," she finally said, "then you get to be a super-brain. An even bigger outcast than before."
Daria snorted. "I don't think I can survive being a super-brain."
"Then she's got to be stopped," said Jane, a touch of conspiracy in her voice. "But how?"
As she sat up, Daria said, "Oh, I know how. I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it..." She sighed, as if coming to a fateful conclusion. "Until now."
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
The Next Day
Daria's encounter with Joey, Jeffy and Jamie at school the next day played like a weird rerun of her encounter with the Fashion Club. The three boys approached her in the hallway, started muttering, hemming, and hawing, then turned to walk away.
"No, it's a mistake," Jeffy stammered. "We thought..."
"... if you squinted hard enough maybe I'd look like a different Morgendorffer?" Daria offered. Before any of them could say a word, Daria said, "Look, do you really want Quinn back?" Mentally, Daria crossed her fingers. The only way her plan would work would be if Quinn's fan club was desperate to have her back the way she was.
"A thousand times yes!"
"Bring her back! You gotta bring her back!"
Daria didn't know whether or not to be relieved that everything was going as she had hoped. But, she was committed to her current course of action, and reminded herself that this was, literally, the only way to get her life back.
She addressed the three J's. "Do exactly what I say, and I'll deliver the goods." She paused. "And get up off your knees, Joey. You look ridiculous."
Later That Evening
I still can't believe I'm actually going through with this, Daria said to herself as she closed the door to her bedroom. She tacked a picture of Quinn onto the padded wall next to her closet, then took a deep breath as she set out to do the unthinkable.
First step: the jeans. She removed her pleated black skirt and tossed it onto the bed, then slipped on a pair of hip-hugging jeans purchased for the occasion.
Next: the shirt. Reaching into the closet, she pulled out a pink T-shirt, also purchased for the occasion. She held it up against her chest and measured a couple of inches above her waist. A few snips with a pair of scissors, and presto: instant midriff shirt. She took off her green jacket and burnt orange blouse, tossed them onto the bed next to her skirt, and pulled on the T-shirt.
Makeup next. She rarely if ever used it, so she had borrowed what she needed -- eyelash enhancer and lipstick -- from her mother's dresser. Standing in front of the mirror on her closet door, she took off her glasses and applied both, but only enough to get the job done.
Finally, the shoes. She sat on the edge of her bed and put on her boots. No need for new shoes when her usual footwear would do the job just fine; besides, the legs of her jeans would conceal the tops of the boots anyway.
Leaving her glasses off, Daria stood up and went into the bathroom to check her handiwork, as she did not have a full-length mirror in her room. The person staring back at her was unrecognizable... no, actually, the person in the mirror looked all too familiar. The illusion was complete, even down to her figure (which her normal outfit purposely kept hidden); if it weren't for the hair, Daria would have sworn she was looking right at Quinn.
Time to practice her act. She leaned close to the mirror, put on her best Quinn expression, pitched her voice higher than normal, and, while batting her eyes, said, "Hi! Could you get me a soda?" Perfect!
She then reflected on the magnitude of exactly what she was doing. Putting her hand to her forehead, she said to herself, I'd hate myself in the morning for doing this, if I didn't hate myself already!
As she stood there, the doorbell rang. She heard her father answer the door and greet the visitors in his "cool" voice. "Quinn!" he shouted. "Your dates are here!" She didn't need to see who was downstairs, as she knew that Joey, Jeffy and Jamie had arrived, executing their part of the plan. Squaring her shoulders, she walked out of the bathroom and headed for the stairs, all the while putting a Quinn-like bounce in her step and listening to the exchange at the front door.
"Actually," Joey was saying, "we're here to ask Daria out." Daria couldn't see Quinn, but she smiled inwardly at what she imagined Quinn's expression must be at the moment!
"You know," explained Jeffy, "your other daughter."
"By the way, how's Quinn?" Jamie said.
"Shut up, Jamie!"
Daria stopped in front of Quinn's room and knelt to adjust a shoelace, making sure that Quinn got a good, long look at her. Glancing through the door, she saw Quinn peering at her, and was slightly disappointed; Quinn's expression was unreadable. Daria stood up, adjusted her hair, and said, "Hi, Quinn."
"Well," she said, "I'm off for my dates." She started back down the hallway, making sure Quinn saw the bounce in her step as she moved out of sight of the doorway. A few steps down the hall, she stopped, leaned against the wall, and counted off the seconds. "One... two..."
She turned to see her sister run out of her room and approach her at full speed. Conceding defeat, Quinn glared at Daria and said, "You win, all right?" She then dashed off towards the stairs to intercept her fan club.
Daria leaned back against the wall and let out a rare smile. Checkmate!
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
The Next Day
"Yeah, I didn't even write the essay," Quinn told the Fashion Club the next day. "I found it in the garbage and handed it in. The whole thing was like a runaway train." At the same time, she was thinking, Please, God, let them buy this story!
"Well, that still doesn't explain black clothes," said Sandi, "but I guess I can let it slide."
Inwardly, Quinn breathed a sigh of relief. "Don't worry," she said as they passed Daria and Jane in the hallway. "I'm through being an intellectual. I'm too well-adjusted."
"Messing with the mind can be so dangerous," said Tiffany.
"Tell me about it."
Daria and Jane watched them strut down the hallway. "I guess things are back to normal," Jane observed.
"Yep," replied Daria, who was back in her usual outfit. "Fashion: good. Thinking: bad."
"Yeah," Jane said dryly as they started down the hall. "We win."
Daria sighed. "I'm on top of the world."
"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.
"Quinn the Brain" is copyright © 1998 by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, Inc.
This adaptation of "Quinn the Brain" is copyright © 1998 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.