A Daria Episode Adaptation by Martin J. Pollard
Based on the screenplay by Neena Beber
Cast of Characters
Daria Morgendorffer, Quinn Morgendorffer, Helen Morgendorffer, Jake Morgendorffer, Jane Lane, Trent Lane, Brittany Taylor, Jodie Landon, Jesse Moreno, Stacy Rowe, Tiffany Blum-Deckler, Axl, Monique, Eric Schrecter, Jasmine, Ashley-Amber Taylor
RETURNING FROM LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
"... we can bake cupcakes and pretend you're really popular for a day," Daria suggested to Jane as they walked home from Lawndale High. She had been suggesting ideas for celebrating Jane's birthday ever since they had left school for the weekend. So far, they hadn't come up with a single good idea... or, rather, no ideas that Jane liked.
"Will there be pony rides?"
Daria sighed. Shot down again. "Do you have any ideas?" she asked, slightly frustrated.
"I just don't feel like celebrating my birthday," Jane explained. "It's a totally artificial holiday created to stimulate the economy." Truth be told, Jane just didn't like celebrating birthdays, period. People could call it vain or neurotic if they liked, but all birthdays did were remind Jane that she was just one year closer to the grave.
"Aren't birthdays the one holiday that the greeting card industry didn't make up?"
"That's what they want you to believe," Jane said with exaggerated paranoia.
Daria gave up. "Okay, okay," she said in resignation. "No party and no presents."
Jane raised her eyebrows. "Who said no presents?"
Daria trudged down the stairs to the kitchen, expecting the usual dinnertime lasagna feast. She was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to discover that her parents had ordered a pizza. Gee, maybe dinner will actually be enjoyable for a change, she though. Then again, Quinn's here...
"Great pizza, honey," Helen said to Jake as she sorted through the mail. To her right, Quinn was steadily picking the toppings off her slice, while Jake went after his slice with gusto. Daria sat down at her usual place on Helen's left, grabbed a slice for herself, and took a bite...
"Ow!" Daria exclaimed, dropping her pizza and holding her hand to the side of her mouth.
Jake was instantly on his feet. "Oh, my gosh, Daria! Helen, heimlich!"
"Relax, Dad," Daria said as she finished gulping a mouthful of soda. "It's just cheese burn."
Quinn rolled her eyes. "You're such a pain wimp, Daria." She turned to Jake. "You know, Dad, you really should get cheeseless pizza anyways," she said as she finished peeled the layer of cheese off her slice. "It's much healthier."
"Cheeseless pizza!" Jake exclaimed. "What a great idea!" When he saw Quinn skinning her pizza, he asked, "Hey, hey, can I have that?" Obligingly, Quinn placed the peeled layer of cheese on Jake's plate, and got a mild look of disgust when Jake popped it whole into his mouth.
Helen suddenly stopped perusing the mail and held up an envelope. "What's this?" she inquired as she removed the envelope's contents. "And who opened it?"
Quinn, who was breaking up her pizza crust into bite-sized chunks, didn't even look up. "Don't worry, it's not going to happen."
Helen read the bold type at the top of the page. "A mother/daughter fashion show at school to raise money?"
"And consciousness," quipped Daria, her voice drier than a martini.
"What a great idea!" Jake piped in around a mouthful of pizza.
"The Fashion Club has already scheduled an emergency meeting," Quinn informed them. "We'll put a stop to it."
"Don't want a bunch of smelly amateurs stinking up your catwalks?"
"Right, Daria!" Quinn said, her sister's sarcasm going right over her head as usual. "You can't just mix with fashion civilians when you have an image to uphold."
Helen was visibly relieved. "Well, that's a relief. I mean, who wants to parade around showing off some ridiculous outfit?"
"With your mother!" Quinn exclaimed, and was rewarded with a dirty look from Helen. "Oops..."
The phone rang before Quinn could top off her pizza with her other foot. Jake got up from the table and grabbed the cordless phone from its cradle. "Hello?" he said, his words making their way around another mouthful of pizza.
"Hello?" said the voice at the other end. "May I please speak to your daughter?"
"Just a sec." Jake swallowed and handed the phone to Quinn. "Quinn, honey, it's for you."
"Who is it, Daddy?"
"Didn't catch his name," he explained as he sat down, helping himself to another slice.
Quinn sighed. "I hope it's not Adam. I was going to cancel on him to go out with Simon, but then Todd called so I'm not sure, but if it's Bryce maybe I'll go out with him instead and cancel on Simon anyway since he hasn't even asked yet..."
"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia," Daria said sarcastically. Damned if Quinn didn't remind her of the Brady brats!
Quinn stopped to catch her breath, then answered, "Hello?"
Quinn rolled her eyes. "You called me, duh! Who's this?"
"I didn't call you!"
She became indignant. "Well, excuse me!" Quinn handed the phone to Helen. "I think he's selling something," she said as she returned to her pizza remnants. "Tell him off, Mom."
Helen brought the phone to her ear. "Hello?" she said, her tone brooking no nonsense. "Don't you think it's a little late to be soliciting people?"
The person on the other end was taken aback. "Uh, sorry. I didn't think seven o'clock was late, but, uh, is Daria in bed already?"
Daria? thought Helen. "Who are you?"
"Um, this is Trent, Jane's brother."
Helen covered the mouthpiece with her hand as she turned to her eldest daughter. "Daria, it's Trent, Jane's brother," she explained, and was quite unexpectedly rewarded with the sight of Daria actually blushing.
"Trent?" Daria stammered. "Jane's brother? For me?"
Helen handed the phone to Daria. "Yes, but he does sound a little confused."
I'll bet, Daria thought as she raised the phone to her ear. "Um..."
"This is Daria, right?" Trent asked, not wanting to risk talking to another member of Daria's loopy family.
"Hold on, I need to switch phones." Daria got up from the table. "I'll take it upstairs," she explained, and hurried out of the room as fast as dignity would allow. Quinn and Jake both stared at each other, then turned to look at Helen, who had an equally puzzled look on her face.
Once she was out of sight of the kitchen, Daria practically flew up the stairs and into her bedroom. Tucking the cordless phone under her arm, she picked up the receiver on her telephone. "You can hang up now!" she shouted. When she didn't hear a click, she yelled, "I got it! Hang up!"
Jake's voice filtered up the stairs. "You have the phone, kiddo!" Only then did it register with Daria that she still had the cordless phone.
Oh, damn... I don't feel too stupid... Feeling like a complete idiot, she retrieved the handset from under her arm and turned it off. "Okay, thanks," Daria yelled back. "I'll hang up myself, then." Setting the cordless phone on the bed, she put the receiver of her phone to her ear, hoping she didn't sound as stupid as she felt. "Sorry 'bout that... Trent?"
In the Lane kitchen, Trent held the receiver against his chest and didn't say a word as Jane entered the kitchen and got a drink of water. Over the line, he could just barely hear Daria calling his name. When Jane finally left, he lifted the receiver. "Hey, Daria."
"Uh, hi," Daria responded. "What's up?" The phone suddenly went silent again. "Trent? Are you awake?" she asked with a strange combination of nervousness and annoyance. She wouldn't have been surprised if the narcoleptic Trent had fallen asleep.
Trent was starting to become annoyed as well, as Jane had returned to the kitchen to stand at the counter next to him. Dammit, she was not making this easy for him! He flashed his most innocent "move along, nothing to see here" face to try to get rid of her, and after a moment, she left her glass on the counter and left the kitchen again. "I, uh, need to ask you something," he said into the phone once Jane was out the door.
Daria was surprised. "Me?"
"Yeah, you." He never got the chance to say anything further, as Jane had walked back into the kitchen for a third time. Trent frowned. Does she suspect?
"So..." Daria said into the tense silence.
"So..." Trent's expression didn't change, but he felt like a deer caught in a car's headlights, what with Jane deliberately standing there staring at him. She might not have known what he was up to, but she knew that something was going on.
"So... you wanted to ask me something?"
"Right..." Trent looked to his right, saw that Jane was still watching him, and, with a mental sigh, gave up. "Right, and uh, yeah, that sounds excellent. See you then. Bye." He quickly hung up the phone, leaving a very confused Daria staring at her phone on the other end of the disconnected line.
"Who was that?" inquired Jane.
"Who were you just speaking to?"
"What's it to you?" Trent shot back.
"You're acting really weird, that's all."
Trent raised an eyebrow. "I'm acting weirder than usual?"
"None of your trick questions, young man," Jane said with a frown. "You're behaving strangely."
Trent refused to be baited. "You're the strange one."
"You," Trent retorted as he turned to leave.
Jane, however, wasn't willing to let him off the hook that easily. "Where are you going?"
"Who are you? Mom?"
"No," she said. "Mom would never ask where you're going."
"Exactly," Trent replied triumphantly, and left the kitchen through the side door.
Jane listened as Trent started up his car and pulled away, and mulled over the odd exchange that had just taken place. She then eyed the telephone, and a rather evil smirk spread across her features. Be evasive with me, will you? We'll just see about that! she thought to herself as she picked up the receiver and hit the "redial" button.
The phone had barely rung once before someone answered it... and Jane stood rooted to the floor in shocked silence when she recognized the voice. "Hello?" Daria said in a frantic voice. "Trent? Hello? Anyone there? Trent, is that you?" Stunned, Jane quickly but quietly hung up the phone.
On the other end of the line, Daria frantically clicked the receiver buttons on the telephone. Dammit, not again! She then nearly leaped out of her skin when she heard someone shout her name. Turning, she saw Quinn standing next to the bed, hands on hips and a scowl on her face. "Daria, the downstairs members of the household would like the cordless phone back now, please." Quinn then grabbed the long-forgotten cordless phone off the bed and sauntered out of the bedroom.
Jane's smirk returned as she glanced in the direction of the just-departed Trent. You sneaky little...! She didn't know whether or not to be gratified that her yenta act was apparently paying off; she did know, however, that she was going to have a very interesting talk with her best friend the next time she saw her!
Daria sat in her room, hoping a little Sick, Sad World would take her mind off the strange half-conversation she just had with Trent. However, not even a story about "transplants and romance" could keep her thoughts from wandering, or prevent her rebellious mind from indulging in a little daydreaming...
She was travelling through a spiral tunnel filled with colored lights and strange shapes. At the end of the tunnel, holding his guitar, stood Trent. "Daria?"
"Yes, Trent?" Daria replied softly.
"Wanna hear a song I wrote for you?"
"You wrote me a song?"
Trent nodded. "You're my muse, you know."
"Really?" Daria gushed.
"It's called, 'Silly Little Self-Deluded Girl, Why Would a Cool Guy Like Me Ever Write a Song About You?'"
The look on her face was that of someone whose hopes and dreams had been completely and irrevocably crushed, as the lights and shapes swirled more and more madly about her...
The ringing phone jolted her out of her mental wanderings. Still slightly shook up, she picked up the receiver. "Hello?" Quinn's voice said through the earpiece. "Oh, hi, Sandi!" Dejected, Daria hung up the phone and turned her attention once again to the television, trying not to let a feeling of extreme loneliness settle over her.
Helen, Jake, and Quinn were gathered in the living room. Jake's concentration was rooted as usual to the newspaper, while Helen sat on the love seat and reviewed some legal briefs in an attempt to get a jump on next week's work. Quinn sat on the couch between her parents, leafing unenthusiastically through the latest issue of Waif magazine.
Helen looked up from her paperwork and noticed the expression on Quinn's face, a look of total depression. The dejected sigh that Quinn let out was also a strong clue. "What is it, Quinn?" she inquired.
"Nothing," Quinn replied in a tone that was totally unconvincing.
Jake leaned towards her youngest daughter. "You can tell us, sweetie. What's got you blue?"
Quinn hesitated before she spoke. "It's just that... I'd look so good on a runway!" The ringing of the phone interrupted any chance to speak further, and Quinn picked it up almost before the first ring died away. "Hello? Oh, hi, Sandi! Really? That sounds cute. I guess that's cute. Yes, definitely cute. Yeah, that would be cute, but... I'll think about it. Bye!"
Hanging up the phone, Quinn turned to Helen. "Poor Sandi. Her mom insists on her being in the fashion show."
Helen got a disgusted look on her face. "She would," Helen snorted. She and Linda Griffin were not exactly the best of friends. "She's awfully full of herself, don't you think?"
"We're cuter than them!" Quinn exclaimed. She recognized that this could be her ticket to getting into the fashion show, and she wasn't about to let the opportunity slip away, no matter what she had to do. Even if it meant actually appearing with her mother.
"Cuter than they," Helen corrected.
"Damn right!" Quinn said, missing the point entirely.
Helen sighed. "Linda is very attractive..."
"You're definitely cuter than Sandi's mom, Mom."
Helen made a pish-tosh motion with her arm. "This is silly."
Quinn, however, wasn't about to give up. "If Sandi can be in it, then everyone should be allowed to be in it. I'm vice-president of the Fashion Club. We have to win!"
Helen raised her eyebrows. "But it's not a competitive event."
Quinn got an evil smirk on her face. Oh, it will be... she said to herself as the doorbell rang.
Jake put down the newspaper and got up to answer the door. When he opened the door, he was greeted by the sight of Trent Lane standing on the front stoop, wearing his most earnest "I'm harmless so please don't hurt me" look. Before Trent could say anything in the way of a greeting, however, Jake turned and shouted, "Quinn! Your date is here!"
Daria's sister? Are you kidding me? "Actually, I'm..." Trent began, but was cut off by Quinn before he could explain why he was here.
"God, Dad!" she exclaimed after taking one look at Trent. "Are you kidding?" Quinn turned on her heel and headed back to the living room and her mission to recruit Helen for the fashion show, all the while thinking that there was something familiar-looking about that guy at the door...
Jake turned to Trent. "Gee, I'm sorry young man," he said apologetically, "but you know how girls can be. Just give her some time son... give her some time." He started to close the door, but was stopped by Trent's outstretched arm.
"Is Daria home?"
Jake's eyebrows lifted in surprise, then narrowed suspiciously. "Daria? Who are you?"
"I'm Trent, Jane's brother."
"Oh," Jake said, still somewhat suspicious. Nevertheless, he ushered Trent into the living room, gesturing for him to sit on one of the couches. Jake sat on the other couch next to Helen, who had sent Quinn into the kitchen so she and Jake could speak with Trent. "So," Jake said, "you're here to see Daria."
Helen chimed in. "Daria's a very special girl, isn't she?" she said, trying to get a reading on this unknown young man. Daria had mentioned him a few times and he seemed likeable enough, though perhaps a bit distant.
"Uh... sure," Trent replied, a bit confused. He had a pretty good idea why Daria's parents were acting so strangely, though given Daria's many comments about them, it could actually be any number of things.
"How old are you, Trent?" Jake suddenly asked, a deadly seriousness in his voice.
"Are you in school? Do you have a job? Life isn't just one free handout after another, you know." Jake eyed him with even more suspicion. "How many earrings in that ear?"
"Daria's mentioned that you have some sort of band," Helen said, trying to deflect Jake's typical paranoia. The poor young man was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, and Helen wanted to put him at ease.
"Mystik Spiral," Trent confirmed. "But we're thinking of changing our name."
Daria, having come downstairs for a soda, was greeted by a horrifying sight: Trent being given the proverbial third degree by her parents. Thinking fast, she approached her parents and said, "Um, Mom? Dad? Quinn's on the phone in the kitchen, ordering a convertible."
"Oh, my God!" Jake exclaimed, and hopped up from the couch to intercept his daughter. Helen got up and followed him... not because she believed that Quinn was trying to buy a car, but because she knew she needed to keep Jake from flying off the handle.
Daria waited until they rounded the corner, then turned to Trent. "C'mon. The hounds are distracted by the raw meat. This is our chance to make a run for it."
Trent chuckled. "I'm right behind you."
They walked over to Trent's car. "Sorry about that," Daria said as they sat on the curb. "My parents can be a little... intense."
"Don't worry about it," Trent said. "Anyway, I didn't mean to hang up on you before. Janey walked in and I couldn't think of what to say."
Daria nodded. So that explains it. "Oh. That's okay."
Trent looked at Daria. "Daria, I..."
"I want you to help me pick out a birthday present for Jane."
Daria's shoulders sagged. "Oh."
"Every year I end up getting her art supplies," he explained. "Can you help me out?"
Daria shrugged. "Anything for Jane."
"Thanks, Daria," Trent said as he stood up. "I'll pick you up tomorrow morning. Not too early. Sometime before lunch. Or after."
Trent stopped and considered. "Or better yet, why don't we leave it loose."
Daria nodded, and watched Trent get into his car and head down the street before letting out a large sigh, one laced with disappointment. Snap out of it, Morgendorffer! she chided herself. Did you really expect him to profess his undying love for you or some such nonsense? She headed back into the house before her traitorous mind could answer, with only one final glance in Trent's direction.
The Next Morning
"Don't do it!!!" Quinn shouted, shattering the morning calm as she ran to the kitchen table.
Helen nearly spilled the cup of coffee she was about to drink... coffee that Quinn immediately grabbed out of her hand. "Quinn, what is the matter with you?" she exclaimed.
"Coffee, caffeine: dark circles. Capisce?" Quinn poured the nearly full cup into the sink. "Fashion show, Mom. Don't handicap yourself!"
"Quinn," Helen growled, her tone leaving no room for argument. "I need my coffee."
Quinn assumed the pose of someone reading a newspaper headline. "'Woman loses fashion show due to pathetic addiction. Daughter shamed for life.'" She walked over to the table. "Come on, the spa's about to open anyway."
With a sigh of resignation, Helen got up from the table. "Daria?" she said as her eldest daughter entered the kitchen, holding her writing pad. "Last chance to join your sister and me for a mother-daughter day of beauty. It's very relaxing."
Daria raised an eyebrow. "Once you pass out from the pain."
The conversation was interrupted by the blaring of a car horn. "Who's that?" Quinn said as her head turned towards the sound. "I don't have a date now."
"Actually," Daria informed them, "I think it's for me," This earned her two very puzzled looks as she left the kitchen and headed towards the front door.
Daria opened the front door, and sure enough, Trent's aging blue Plymouth was idling in front of the house. "Hi," she said as she got into the car. "I wasn't expecting you for a couple hours."
"I came straight from rehearsal," Trent explained as he put the car into gear and headed towards downtown, in the direction of Lawndale's shopping district. "We ran late. Or early. Whatever." He glanced at her. "So, where should be go?"
Daria pulled out her list. "Um, I was thinking..."
"No art supplies," he interrupted. "We decided already. Don't want to get her a CD, and I can't set foot in a bookstore." The glance he gave her this time was no-nonsense. "Don't ask me why, Daria. I just don't want to talk about it." He paused. "What are your ideas?"
Daria looked up from her now-useless list. "A fuzzy little bunny?" she said lamely.
"We're not that desperate," Trent replied. "Let's just go to Dega Street. I'm sure we'll find something there."
LILIA DAVINICA SPA & BEAUTY TREATMENT CENTER
At the Lilia Davinica Spa & Beauty Treatment Center, Helen and Quinn were immersed in an all-over beauty makeover. Their hair had been taken through every conceivable treatment, and was currently in rollers as they received manicures and pedicures.
"I was thinking that we could both wear cigarette trousers," Quinn explained. "I can wear the halter top and you can wear the more nehru jacket thing. And remember, Mom: cute is not a look, it's not an attitude, it's a way of being."
One of the attendants turned to Helen. "She's a little Miss Chatterbox, isn't she?" Unfortunately, Helen barely heard her, as the lack of her morning coffee was beginning to take its toll.
"We're in training," Quinn said. "She's going to be my mother and I'm going to be her daughter in a fashion show. Actually, she is my mother and I'm her daughter in real life too." She turned to look at her mother, and noticed that Helen was fast asleep. "Mom?"
Helen woke with a start. "What?" Quinn didn't say anything else, just rolled her eyes as the attendants continued to work on their nails.
DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE, DEGA STREET
Reaching Dega Street, Trent found a parking spot and parallel parked into it. He and Daria got out and started wandering past various shops, searching for gift ideas.
Trent stopped at the display window for the local guitar shop. There, he spotted a beautiful black electric guitar. Pointing to the guitar, he said, "What do you think?"
"Wouldn't that be more for you than for Jane?" Daria said pointedly.
Trent raised an eyebrow. "That's a really good point." Making a mental note to return at a later date, Trent continued down the street, Daria in tow. They eventually stopped in front of the Funky Doodle, a store that specialized in retro fashions.
Looking at the collection of wild outfits in the display window, Daria said, "I just don't see Jane in tie-dye."
Trent pointed to one particular outfit: a sleeveless checkerboard top with a short red skirt, a combination straight out of the "mod" Sixties. "You'd look good in that," he told her.
Daria flushed at the unexpected compliment. "Um, well... thanks."
Turning to survey some of the shops across the street, Trent suddenly spotted a familiar store. "Hey!" he said, pointing.
Following his outstretched arm, Daria saw that he was pointing to Axl's Piercing Parlor. "Body piercing?" she said skeptically. "Jane?" She knew that Jane had three earrings in each ear, but didn't think -- based on her handful of post-P.E. locker room glimpses -- she had any other pierced body parts.
Trent turned to Daria, an eyebrow raised. "Haven't you always wanted to get pierced?" he asked.
Daria shook her head. "No," she replied, her thoughts drifting to the beauty torture she was sure that Helen and Quinn were going through. "It just seems too much like getting tortured for the sake of some subculture's notion of beauty."
"C'mon, Daria," he urged, the wheels of thought turning fast and furious in his head. "Let's check it out anyway. Maybe it'll give us some ideas."
Daria hesitated, then grudgingly conceded. "Well... okay," she said as she followed Trent across the street to Axl's, blushing all the way.
LILIA DAVINICA SPA & BEAUTY TREATMENT CENTER
"Now, then," the spa attendant told Helen and Quinn, "the dryers will blast heat on your head for twenty minutes or until you can't take it anymore." She then proceeded to lower the hair dryers over their heads.
Helen was, to say the least, apprehensive. "Can't you just wrap a warm towel over my head?" she asked pleadingly.
The attendant chuckled. "Don't worry, I'll lower the temperature if I smell anything singeing."
"How about if we start on medium?" Helen suggested.
"Not for me," Quinn said. "Full blast, please."
Quinn reassured Helen, "Don't worry, Mom. I have really high pain tolerance for hair care treatments."
Helen sighed, and as the dryers kicked on, she wondered if perhaps she had gotten in over her head...
DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE, AXL'S PIERCING PARLOR
When Trent and Daria entered the piercing parlor, they were greeted by the proprietor himself, who was standing behind the counter and flipping through a magazine. "Hey, Trent," Axl said in greeting, his voice revealing more than a hint of a British accent. Trent was obviously a frequent customer. "Just so you know, we're having a two for one special." He pointed to a sign on the counter: two piercings, one for you and one for a friend, for twenty-two dollars.
"Hey, that's cool, Axl," Trent said. "Eleven bucks each. What do you think, Daria?"
Axl handed the apprehensive Daria a price list. "Take a look at our piercing menu," he said helpfully, and returned to his magazine while his customers decided.
Scanning the list, Daria stopped at one particular entry. "I don't think that's how you spell 'uvula.'"
"That's not 'uvula.'"
Daria was confused for a moment, then raised her eyebrows when she finally got it. Trying not to let her embarrassment show, she scanned the rest of the list, then glanced at Trent, her skepticism plain. "I don't know, Trent..."
Trent pointed to his right eyebrow. "I've been wanting to put a hole right here."
"You can never have too many holes in your head," Daria quipped.
"Come on, Daria," Trent urged. "Let's get the special."
Daria was more apprehensive than ever. "I guess I could pierce my ears..." she said grudgingly.
"Ah, no can do," Axl said with a shake of his head. "Special's one hole, ears are two holes. Full retail price applies."
"That's too boring anyway, Daria," Trent said. "You gotta do something fun." In fact, Trent believed that Daria needed to do something fun. Daria was so serious most of the time; she needed to loosen up a little, and Trent had long ago decided that he would do his best to see that it happened.
"You'd look nice with a lip ring," Axl suggested.
Daria turned to Trent. "Are you going to let him talk to me that way?" she said in a mock-serious tone.
Trent suddenly hit upon an idea. "I know what would look cool." He pointed to her navel. "Little silver hoop," he said. He punctuated each word with a small poke in her stomach, causing Daria to blush furiously.
Axl put his hand to his chin. "Yeah, okay," he concluded. "A navel ring works. It's a start, at least."
Daria shook her head, her face flushing even more. "I am not going to pierce my belly button," she said emphatically. "It never did anything to me."
Trent looked Daria in the eye. "Daria, it would look really hot." She looked in his eyes, saw that he was giving her The Look, and instantly turned to jelly. Wordlessly, she nodded her head and followed Trent and Axl to the back room where Axl performed his work.
"Hey, you are eighteen, aren't you?" asked Axl as Daria climbed onto the couch. "I should've asked."
"Is it a problem if I'm not?" she asked as she unzipped her jacket and lifted the hem of her blouse, exposing her navel.
"Yeah, you'll need parental permission," he explained. "This establishment is licensed to serve adults only and operates strictly according to the letter of the law."
Daria's hopes momentarily brightened, but any chance of escaping on a technicality were squashed as Trent reassured Axl that Daria was indeed eighteen years old. Yeah, in about two years, she said with a mental sigh.
"Right," Axl said. He picked up a rather large clamp from the tray next to the couch and used it to lift the section of skin over Daria's navel. Before he could proceed any further, however, the bell over the front door rang as someone entered the shop. "My apprentice is out today," he explained as he set the clamp down. "I better go see who that is."
"No problem," Daria said, her voice betraying her tension. She forced herself to relax as Axl got up and walked towards the front of the store. He was almost to the archway when a tall woman in her early twenties walked in, her brunette hair colored with streaks of red.
"Hey, Axl," Monique said, "it's just me! I need some more of that antiseptic stuff for my nose ring." Glancing around the room, she noticed her old friend Trent. "Oh, Trent!" she said, running up to him and giving him a hug as Axl went to the storeroom to retrieve a bottle of antiseptic solution.
"Hey, Monique," he greeted, returning the embrace. "How's it going?"
"Pretty good!" Monique said as she broke the clinch. "How've you been?"
"I'm doing okay. How are the Harpies?"
Monique got a disgusted look. "I'm thinking of leaving, for real this time. Start my own band."
Trent nodded. "You could do it, Monique. You've got stage presence. No kidding."
"I learned from the best, man."
Trent became slightly embarrassed. "Aw, stop it." He suddenly remembered who he was here with. Turning to Daria, he explained, "Monique used to be in a band with me. Oh, hey, Monique, this is Daria, my kid sister's friend."
"Hey, Daria!" Monique said with a small wave.
Daria barely even glanced in her direction. "Hey," she muttered. Was that actually jealously in her voice? Real smooth, Daria, she said to herself.
"Daria's, like, the coolest high schooler I know," Trent told Monique. Unseen by either Trent or Monique, Daria let out a small smile.
CRANBERRY COMMONS, CASHMAN'S DEPARTMENT STORE
At Cashman's department store, Quinn walked down an aisle lined with clothes, critiquing each item, picking out the ones she liked... a considerable number. "That'll be good on me," she said as she tossed items into the outstretched arms of the saleslady. "That's cute for me." Quinn picked up the pace. "Me, me, me, me, me, possible Mom, me, me..."
Quinn stopped as Helen emerged from the dressing room, wearing a short black skirt and a blue midriff shirt similar to Quinn's pink one. "Quinn, this just isn't working," she said with a sigh.
Helen turned at the familiar voice. "Eric!" It was Eric Schrecter, one of the partners at the law firm where she worked. He was accompanied by a dark-haired girl who couldn't have been more than ten or twelve years old.
"This is Jasmine, my niece," he said. "I'm buying her a birthday present."
"Hi!" Jasmine greeted them with a wave.
"Hello, Jasmine," Helen beamed. Turning to Quinn, she said, "Quinn, this is Eric from work" -- she turned back to Eric -- "and Eric, Jasmine, this is Quinn. She's going to be my daughter and I'm going to be her mother in a fashion show. Actually, she is my daughter, and I was just trying to be a good parent..." Helen stopped when she realized that she was rambling. Feeling ridiculous, she put her hand to her forehead. "Oh, my God, what have I done?"
Jasmine looked at her uncle. "I like that skirt, Uncle Eric. I mean, I'd like it on me."
"Hmmm..." he said, eyeing the skirt Helen was wearing. Helen simply stood there, embarrassed as hell, knowing that she would never hear the end of this at work.
DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE, AXL'S PIERCING PARLOR
At Axl's, Daria suddenly understood why the Inquisition was such a terrible thing, as Axl once again lifted the skin above her belly button and picked up a long, slender needle. "Have I mentioned that I hate pain?" she stammered.
"Ah, this won't hurt," Axl assured her. "It's no worse than popping a pimple." He brought the needle to her skin, then pulled back when Daria let out a yelp. Sighing, Axl said, "I haven't done anything yet."
"I was thinking about how much it hurts to pop a pimple."
Axl brought the needle to her skin again, but stopped when she saw how badly Daria was shaking. "I can't concentrate if you keep shaking," Axl admonished. "I know you must be a little scared..." He glanced in Trent's direction, giving him a "help me out here" look.
She's not scared, Trent thought with some surprise. She's terrified! Picking up on Axl's cue, and wondering briefly if he had perhaps made a mistake talking Daria into this, he said, "I'll help you through this, Daria." He extended his hand. "Here."
"What's that?" she said, still shaking.
"That's my hand. Give me yours." When she hesitated, Trent reassured her with a little joke and a wry smile. "It's pretty clean, Daria."
"No, I... um..." Daria stammered, and finally took his hand. "Sorry," she said apologetically.
Trent patted her hand. "The best thing to do is not think about it. Then it won't hurt."
Daria looked at their clasped hands, then shifted her gaze to Trent's eyes, feeling more relaxed than she ever had in her life. "It doesn't hurt."
Trent looked down at where Axl was working. "Daria?" he said, nodding his head towards her navel. Daria glanced down, and was floored: Axl was already threading a small ring through the freshly-pierced hole. And she hadn't felt a thing!
"Try not to take out the ring for at least six months or it will close up and we'll have to pierce it again," Axl explained as he dabbed the area with some antiseptic solution. "Don't get scared when the mucous starts pouring out. Put some of this antiseptic stuff on" -- he held up the bottle -- "and take 50 milligrams a day of some metal or another... zinc, aluminum, I forget."
Daria released Trent's hand, and leaned forward to take a closer look. "You did it?" She turned to look at Trent, a small, delighted smile on her face. "I'm pierced?"
Trent also wore a smile, this one of satisfaction. "Yup!" he replied. Mission accomplished!
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
The Next Day
The next day, Jane strolled into the girls' bathroom at Lawndale High to freshen up. As she approached the mirror above the sinks, she heard a "pssst!" sound emanate from one of the stalls. "Oh, no," she said mockingly. "The toilet is talking to me again."
Jane began applying some lipstick, and after a moment, heard the sound repeated again, followed by "Lane!"
"Talking toilet," Jane said as she approached the stalls, "you may call me 'Jane.'" She raised an eyebrow when Daria emerged from one of the stalls. "Oh, it's you." Jane prepared to give Daria the third degree about Trent's mysterious phone call, but all such thoughts flew right out the window when Daria quickly lifted the hem of her blouse to expose her navel ring. Eyes wide, Jane asked, "Did I just see what I think I saw...?"
"You didn't see a weeping virgin or anything, did you?" Daria said as she let her blouse and jacket settle into place again.
"Do that again," Jane said as she bent down for a closer look. When Daria flashed the ring again, Jane became incredulous. "I can't believe you had the nerve!"
"Neither can I," admitted Daria as she approached the mirror. "It was Trent's idea."
"So you did go out with Trent!"
Daria nodded. "Shopping for your birthday present... oops," she said, covering her mouth. "He wanted to surprise you."
Jane lifted an eyebrow straight into her bangs. "And he got me a hole in your navel. That is a surprise."
"I don't know how it happened," Daria said, unable to explain it herself. "But there we were, and there he was, and there was this two for one special..." The full impact of what she had done suddenly hit her. "Oh, my God, what have I done?"
"Oh, dear!" Jane exclaimed theatrically, placing both hands over her heart. "Our little girl's becoming a woman."
"Don't you get it, Daria?" Jane said emphatically. "You did something stupid for a guy." Her voice took on a wry tone. "Gee, you may join the human race after all."
"I didn't do it for a guy," Daria insisted. "I did it so Trent could get the special."
Jane didn't buy a word of it. "Oh... that's different," she said, her tone telling Daria that Jane wasn't fooled one bit. "Hey, what did you end up getting me?"
Daria suddenly remembered: they never actually got around to getting Jane anything! Mortified, she quickly said, "I can't say."
"I hope it's art tools. I need some new supplies."
Daria turned to look at her friend. "I did do it for a guy, didn't I?"
Jane nodded. "Oh, yeah."
"It itches like hell," Daria admitted as she began scratching furiously at her navel. "It wasn't bad yesterday, but today it's been driving me crazy. And furthermore, I'm not showing anybody else."
They heard the bathroom door open as Jane said, "Just keep your shirt tucked in. No one will know." Jane turned to get a glimpse of the new arrival, and saw Jodie approaching the row of sinks. "Hey, Jodie!" she exclaimed. "Check out Daria's navel ring."
What is it with your family? Daria thought with some annoyance. First Trent, now you. Do you guys have some morbid fascination with other peoples' body parts or something?
Jodie lifted an eyebrow. "Really?" Sighing, Daria turned and flashed the ring at Jodie, who proclaimed, "That's kind of cool."
Daria was somewhat surprised. "It is?"
"Yeah!" Jodie said as she approached the mirror to touch up her hair. "As long as you didn't just do it for some guy."
Daria's face fell. "Right," she said as Jane looked on, a smirk on her face. "That would be bad."
That evening, Daria stood at the bathroom counter, applying the antiseptic solution to her pierced navel, when Quinn walked in and noticed the ring. "You didn't really do that!" she exclaimed.
Daria was all innocence. "Do what?"
"That!" Quinn said, pointing to her sister's navel.
"Oh, this old thing? I only wear it when I don't care how my navel looks."
Quinn suddenly got a look of understanding. "Oh, I get it. You're trying to brighten your ho-hum life with a little illusion." She shook her head. "I've seen those fake rings, Daria."
"So have I. They don't do this." Daria grabbed the ring with two fingers, allowing Quinn to see how the ring pulled the skin as she pulled on the ring. "They don't itch like this, either," she explained as she started scratching.
Quinn got a look of sheer delight. "Mom and Dad are gonna freak!" She remembered how ballistic Jake went when she wanted to get her nose pierced for that trip to Alternapalooza. Daria's navel piercing topped that one easily!
Daria turned to leave. "Do you think you should be upsetting Mom or Dad on the eve of your competition?" she said as she began walking towards the bathroom door.
Quinn's delighted expression faded rapidly as she realized how upsetting her mother would affect the fashion show. "Uh..."
"It'll just be our little secret..." -- she leaned towards her sister to make one final twist of the knife -- "... sis."
"Ugh!" Quinn crossed her arms, her face a mask of total disgust.
Daria's expression didn't change, but she was smiling inwardly as she closed the door to her bedroom behind her. She changed into her bedclothes and, while seated on the bed, resumed her scratching of her navel. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, she lifted the hem of her shirt, undid the screw on the ring, and slid the ring out of the hole.
"You may be fashion forward," she commented as she set the ring on the dresser next to her bed, "but you itch like hell." The itching began subsiding almost immediately, and with a sigh of relief, Daria set the alarm on her alarm clock and climbed into bed.
The Next Morning
A half-awake Jane stumbled down the stairs the next morning, intending to ram the fist of whoever was pounding on the front door down that person's throat. She opened the door and, to her surprise, saw Daria standing on the front stoop, panic and misery on her normally expressionless face. "What are you doing here?" Jane said groggily. "School's not for an hour."
"It's gone!" Daria said as she walked through the door.
"I'm not pierced anymore," Daria explained. "It closed up."
Jane woke up instantly. "You didn't take the ring out, did you?" she asked.
"Just for the night," Daria said somewhat defensively. "I couldn't stand the itching. I went to put the ring back in this morning, and that's when I found that the hole had closed up."
Jane raised an eyebrow. "I've heard of fast healers, Daria, but this is ridiculous."
Daria became indignant. Scowling, she said sarcastically, "Gee, maybe E.T. came into my room and touched my navel while I slept."
"Boy, Daria, you have the weirdest sex dreams," Jane quipped. Outside, unseen by either girl, Trent poked his head around the doorway. Seeing that Daria and Jane were talking, he ducked back out of sight.
"Don't tell Trent."
"About my belly button!"
Jane shrugged. "What does he care?"
"Just don't say anything when he wakes up, okay?" Bad enough that she had to admit her colossal blunder to her best friend, but to have Trent know would be too much.
"That won't happen for hours," Jane assured her. "Maybe days." The lie was immediately put to her words when Trent walked through the front door, guitar case in hand. "Trent?" Jane said, surprised.
"Late rehearsal?" Daria said wryly, trying to cover her embarrassment. How much did he overhear?
Trent shrugged. "Or early. Whatever. So, your piercing closed up?"
Daria sighed inwardly. Question answered. "It was an accident," she said, her expression and voice pleading for understanding.
Trent nodded. "Yeah, that happens a lot."
"And it doesn't make you a geek," added Jane.
Trent smiled reassuringly. "Of course not." He wasn't really disappointed, either. After all, he had gotten Daria to loosen up, even for a little while, and, ultimately, that was the most important thing. Putting his hand on her shoulder, Trent said, "Tell you what: when you're ready, we'll go down and get you a tattoo. They last forever."
Daria's eyes flew wide open at that, her thoughts racing madly at the prospect of going through what was possibly the Ultimate Torture. Beside her, Trent raised an eyebrow in reaction to her expression, while Jane simply stood and smirked, and said to herself, A yenta's work is never done...
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Backstage at the fashion show, Quinn and Stacy were waiting their turns as they watching the other mother/daughter pairs walk down the runway. "I love Tiffany," Quinn commented. "I really do."
Stacy agreed. "She's so smushy!"
"But isn't there something a little strange about her 'mother'?" Quinn asked, nodding her head towards Tiffany and the woman parading down the runway next to her. The woman bore a striking resemblance to Naomi Campbell, the supermodel... which was all fine and good, except that Tiffany was Oriental, not black.
"She told the agency that she wanted the prettiest model they had," Stacy explained.
Quinn sighed. "I guess it's okay. I mean, look at Brittany." Both girls' attention turned to the cheerleader, who was taking her turn down the runway with her stepmother. Despite the fact that they were not blood relatives, Brittany and Ashley-Amber were amazingly similar: blonde hair, youthful features, and rather generously endowed by Mother Nature. The fact that Ashley-Amber was barely ten years older than Brittany helped considerably.
Stacy made a face. "There should've been a rule about stepmothers!"
At that moment, Helen walked backstage and approached her daughter. "Quinn? We're next." Quinn nodded and joined her mother behind the curtain to the runway, both women doing their best to avoid the glares they were getting from Sandi and her mother, Linda.
"Remember Mom: think cute." Both women took a deep breath, then strode through the curtain onto the runway. Jake, who was sitting in the front row, was on his feet in an instant, video camera in hand. "Confident..." Quinn said softly to Helen as they strolled slowly down the runway. "Up... totally..."
Suddenly, Quinn's shoe caught the back of her long blue dress. "Aaah!" she yelled, flailing about in an effort to keep her balance. She bumped into Helen, who proceeded to get tangled in her own dress, sending both of them tumbling to the stage.
"Totally humiliating!" Quinn exclaimed, embarrassment on her face and misery in her voice. She couldn't see Sandi and Linda, but she imagined that they must be laughing their asses off right about now. As for Helen, she regained her composure and noticed Jake still taping the scene... and smacked the camcorder right out of his hand.
Daria and Jane stood in the crowd at the Zön, watching Mystik Spiral set up for that evening's gig. Jane turned to her friend. "You still haven't told me what present Trent came up with."
"Be patient," Daria said. "All will be revealed."
Trent approached the microphone, his guitar in his hand. "Hello. We're Mystik Spiral. And I wanna say happy birthday to my sister, Jane."
"This is for you, Jane," Jesse added. Daria glanced over at Jane, who was now wearing a small, delighted smile.
The band kicked into their song, with Trent singing the main lyrics:
Little sister, little sister, you came into my life like a twister.
What can I get you that haven't taken?
What can I get you that hasn't been killed by corruption and greed?
What can I get you that isn't tie-dyed, or like what you already have?
Or plastic, or not alive, or so sad?
Jesse then joined Trent:
Does anybody know, does anybody know why we're here!
Does anybody know, does anybody know why we're here!
Does anybody know, does anybody know why we're here!
The band finished the song with a flourish of guitars and drums. Applauding with the rest of the crowd, Jane smiled in gratitude to her brother, who in turn gave her a wink. Turning to Daria, she said, "By the way, thanks for the cool art supplies."
"Somebody had to do it," Daria said wryly as she continued to applaud along with the crowd.
Arriving home from the fashion show, Quinn had barely said a word about the debacle. As Helen sat next to her at the kitchen table, Quinn finally said, "All that work... all that preparation... why? Why me?" and dropped her head back onto her arms, which were folded on the table.
Helen put her hand on her daughter's shoulder. "Honey, it was just a little school fund raiser. You'll have other moments in the sun."
"But none with you, Mom," came Quinn's muffled response.
Helen put her hand to her heart. Missing the point entirely, she exclaimed, "Oh, that's so sweet!"
Quinn raised her head. "Nope. None with you. No freaking way."
Helen let her hand drop from Quinn's shoulder. "Quinn," she sighed, "isn't there anything that will make you feel better?"
Quinn continued to slouch in her chair for several moments, then suddenly straightened. "Yes!" she exclaimed. "Yes, there is!"
A short time later, Daria returned from the Zön to an ominous sight: Helen and Jake sitting in the living room, scowling, while Quinn sat nearby with a smug, self-satisfied look on her face.
Helen and Jake leaped up from the couch. "We want to see your belly button, young lady," Jake said sternly, "and we want to see it now."
Daria raised her eyebrows. "What are you talking about?" she said innocently.
"Out with it!" insisted Helen.
Nonchalantly, Daria raised the hem of her blouse to expose her now-unblemished navel. Looking up, she said, "Do you have a problem with innies?" She glanced over at Quinn, whose expression had changed from delight to incredulity as she suddenly found the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath her feet.
Helen peered at her eldest daughter's belly button. Relieved at what she saw -- or, rather, what she didn't see -- Helen turned to address Quinn. "Quinn, what's the matter with you?"
"Your sister's not pierced!" Jake exclaimed. "Why would you scare us like that?"
"But..." Quinn sputtered, unable to explain what they were now seeing. "It was there yesterday!"
Daria raised an eyebrow. "Trying to brighten your ho-hum life with a little illusion?" She then let out an exaggerated yawn. "Boy, I'm tired. Good night, everybody."
Daria wore a smug little smile of her own as she proceeded up the stairs to her bedroom, all the while listening to her sister's attempts at explaining herself to an increasingly irate Jake and Helen. "She was pierced!" Quinn insisted. "Pierced, I tell you!" Her shoulders suddenly slumped in defeat. "Oh, the humanity..."
"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.
"Pierce Me" is copyright © 1998 by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, Inc.
This adaptation of "Pierce Me" 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.