Through a Lens Darkly
An episode adaptation by Wilson Perez
Based on the teleplay by Glenn Eichler


            The driving lesson hadn't gotten any worse.  But it was by no means getting better.

            Daria Morgendorffer tried to concentrate on the road, the speed, and the fact she was in a 3/4 ton SUV.  Secretly, Daria did look forward to getting her license, but the thought of driving filled her with more dread than she would have wanted.  Thankful she wasn't driving a standard, Daria tried to accelerate smoothly, but invariably lurched the SUV, like most new drivers are prone to do.
            Her "instructor," passenger and mother Helen could see that the drive was making her nervous.  So, she decided to call it a day for the driving lesson and made Daria turn into Glen Oaks to go home.

            "All right, Daria, don't start your turn until your front wheels are past the corner..." Helen said as Daria turned onto the road home.  Turning a little late, the SUV wandered into the next lane before finally straightening out.
            "That's it, now accelerate as you start to straighten... Good."
            Looking into the distance, Helen saw a stick on the road.  At that moment, a silly looking bulldog ambled toward the stick.  She was also aware that Daria did not slow down.
            "Watch out for the dog," she said, a little nervous, "Watch out, Daria!"
            But Daria still accelerated until the last minute, and then Helen saw a very shocked Daria jam hard on the brakes.  The SUV gave a lurch that flung both Helen and Daria as far forward as the seat belts would allow before snapping them back into their seats.
            A visibly frightened Daria looked where the dog just stood.
            "Oh my god, did I kill him?"  she asked in an unusually quaky voice, "I never even saw him. I'm a dog killer."
            Helen searched for some words that would ease Daria, but could not find any.  Just then she realized she wouldn't really need any.
            "Look, honey," she indicated toward the side walk.
            The bulldog, stick in mouth, regarded the two with a small gaze before giving a short bark.  He then ran off.
            Daria breathed a sigh of relief.
            "God, that was close."
            "No harm done." Helen said, trying to reassure her daughter.
            "I couldn't live with myself if I hit a dog." Daria said, with uncharacteristic emotion.
            Putting the SUV in drive, Daria then turned to her mother.
            "Would you mind telling Quinn I killed him?" she said, returning to her normal, deadpan demeanor.


            The rest of the drive to home held no problems.  Daria finally managed to keep the SUV from lurching.  Still, the event with the bulldog bothered Helen slightly.
            "Didn't you see him?" she asked just as their house came to view, "He came running right up on your side of the car."
            "I don't see way off to the side too well.  My glasses sort of block the view."
            That admission surprised Helen.  Despite her eldest daughter's need for a rather powerful prescription for her eyesight, Daria seemed to have no real weaknesses physically.
            "I didn't know that."
            After a few quiet moments, the implication came.
            "Isn't that a problem?"
            Pulling into the driveway, Daria gave the answer that Helen almost expected.
            "It is for dogs."


"When he turned up his nose at accordion lessons, they cut off his
inheritance malto allegro!  "The Severed Pianist," next on
Sick Sad World!


            A knock on Daria's door interrupted her concentration on the TV.  Turning off the set, she looked at the closed door.
            "Enter." she said, wondering which family member would be asking for her.
            It was her mother.
            "You know," Helen began tentatively, "I was thinking about you're peripheral vision."
            "That's really strange," Daria countered, already seeing where the conversation would go, "I was thinking about your high frequency hearing."
            Undaunted, Helen came to the point.
            "How would you feel about trying contact lenses?"
            "Because there's nothing wrong with wearing glasses."
            "But what about that dog today?"
            "Exactly." Daria said, trying to end the conversation.  "If he had his glasses on, he would've seen the damn car and we wouldn't be having this conversation."
            "Daria," Helen continued, trying to be reasonable, "I just think that your field of vision could really be enhanced."
            At that moment, Daria stood up from her bed.
            "Come on, Mom," she said, "it's not my field of vision you want to enhance."
            "What do you mean?” Helen replied, momentarily taken aback.
            "We've had this conversation before.  You think if I get contacts, I'll suddenly turn into the homecoming queen."
            Helen remembered the conversation Daria was talking about.  Once, during their stay at Highland, Helen suggested to Daria that she switch to contacts when she was enrolled in junior high.  Her reasoning was to help Daria out of her shell.  But the conversation didn't go well.  The subject was never mentioned again.
            However, the event with the bulldog made Helen think that maybe Daria should at least consider the practical value of contacts.
            "Daria, give me some credit."  Helen began, trying to be considerate, "You can still wear you glasses.  Nobody's going to take them away from you."
            "But contacts are better for some things, like driving or sports."
            "You mean I'll finally make the wrestling team?"
            Helen sighed.  She long ago realized that her daughter could end almost any conversation she didn't like with just the right amount of sarcasm.  Still, Helen felt obliged as a parent to at least try and carry on.
            "Daria, you can't possibly have some ethical issue with wearing contacts."
            "How about thinking people should accept me for who I am without my having to change?"
            That statement, while understandable, was the farthest thing Helen had in mind when she started this conversation.
            "Right!  They should accept you for who you are: a complex and interesting young lady worth knowing, instead of seeing your glasses and jumping to some moronic conclusion based on ridiculous stereotypes and their own ignorance."
            It was rare for Daria ever to be on the receiving end of sarcasm.  She responded the only way she could.
            "Mmm... good one."


            The next day, Daria decide to spend some time with her friend, Jane Lane.
            Time with Jane meant three things for Daria.  First, she could be herself without the interruption of family.  Second, she could spend time with a person she liked.  Third was the opportunity to vent without familial reprisal.
            An added bonus was the chance to see an artist at work.
            Jane's newest work was a sketch fueled by the consumption of cookie dough in a tube.  Most of Jane's inspiration came from what she saw during her jogs, dreams, the observations of the less astute members of Lawndale High, personal life and processed sugar hallucinations.
            During Daria's stays at La Casa Lane, Jane would have an opportunity to critique the latest bonehead moves Kevin Thompson or Brittany Taylor made with her amiga.
            This day, though, Daria remained silent, not once looking up from the book she read.
            "By the way, anything eating away at your soul?" Jane asked, slightly worried that Daria had uttered little more than "Hey" since she arrived.
            "I almost killed a dog yesterday." Daria replied, setting Hansen's The Chess Garden down.
            "Gonna work your way up to humans slowly?"
            "During my driving lesson." Daria elaborated, "Now my mother's bugging me about contacts again."
            "Boy, she just doesn't get it, does she?" Jane said, laying some charcoal down on her canvas.
            "Nope, she really doesn't."
            For a while, Daria said nothing.  Then, she realized that she didn't really know what she was agreeing with Jane for.
            "Get what?" she asked.
            "You!  The whole Daria Morgendorffer persona." Jane pointed out, "You don't care what people think about your looks"
            "Of course not," Daria replied, silently wondering why Jane would immediately assume that the problem with her and contacts centered on looks.
            "The glasses are you," Jane continued, "they're symbolic of the whole Daria thing."
            Turning from the canvas, Jane went into her mimic mode.  Putting her free hand to her eyes as if she wore glasses, she proceeded to imitate her best friend.
            "I wear glasses and I'm not going to apologize for it."
            "Yeah... exactly." Daria said.
            Daria went back to her book and began to read again.  Suddenly, a thought occurred to her.
            "Of course," she said to Jane, "you don't wear glasses, so from your point of view, it's all theoretical."
            "Muwhat?" Jane asked.
            "Pass the cookie dough."


            That night, Daria prepared for bed as she normally did.
            She proceeded to brush her teeth and wash her face.  As she took off her glasses, Daria momentarily caught her reflection in the mirror.
            Looking into the mirror, Daria tried to remember the last time she actually looked at herself.  For her, appearance wasn't a necessity, but an accessory            that only needed to keep from smelling.  As it was, she never felt the need to change her look.
            There were a few times when Daria decided to do something with her look.  The first was during her trip to Swedesville for Alternapalooza.  That counted as the first time she wore lipstick.  The second time happened during Quinn's flirtation with being intellectual.  And if Quinn's reaction to her look was any indicator...
            Daria stopped that line of thought.  She wasn't vain.  But as Daria looked into the mirror, she began to wonder if maybe she should show her eyes at least once in a while.
            She was rather cute without her glasses, even if she didn't think about it herself.
            Help was needed, and the source came from one she slightly dreaded.


            "Caramel... Plum... of course, Black is always good..."
            Daria stared at her sister.  When she thought Quinn couldn't be anymore vain, somehow even she could surprise her more.  This time, Quinn's obsession centered around scarves.
            Into the breach, Daria thought, knocking on the door of her sister's room.
            "Come in...," Quinn said absently.  She turned to face her visitor, then her jaw dropped.  "Daria!  What are you doing here?"
            "Nothing.  Just passing through.  Saw your light on."
            "What are you talking about?"
            "Uh, Quinn, could I ask..."
            "Yes?  A question?  A favor?" Quinn asked, slightly annoyed at the interruption.  She just finished her scrunchie inventory and need to sort her scarves before homework.
            "Could I ask your opinion on something?" Daria responded, coming to the point.
            "What?  Is this a trick?  What's the catch?  Why don't you ask your friend, Jane?"
            Daria never asked Quinn for anything.  So Daria could understand why her sister just asked three questions in one breath.
            "Jane can't help me.  I need to speak with someone more attuned to matters of... appearance."
            Quinn's eyes lit up.
            "You're asking my advice, aren't you?"
            "Quinn, please.  This is hard enough."
            "I always knew this day would come and wondered how it would be.  Yet now that it has, I feel strangely... serene."
            Quinn sat down on her bed and patted it.
            "Sit down, Daria, I can help you."
            "Who said I needed help?" Daria said sitting down.  She started to wonder if this was a mistake.
            "Daria, if we're to make any progress at all, you must be absolutely honest with me.  Now, when did you first begin to suspect that your outfit sucked?"
            "It's not my outfit."
            "Okay, when did your "friend" first begin to suspect that your outfit sucked?"
            "Quinn," she began, hoping that her sister could help, "suppose you were well known for not caring what other people think of you.  Suddenly, you did something that showed maybe you do care a little about what other people think of you.  Would that invalidate everything you'd done and said up till then and make you a hypocrite?"
            For her answer, Quinn gave Daria a very confused look.
            "Daria, you're giving me a headache!" Quinn cried, putting her hands to her head.
            Maybe I better try a different tactic.
            "What would you think if I got contacts?"
            Suddenly, Quinn's eyes lit up even brighter, which Daria recognized as the start of a speed rant.
            "Contacts?  Great!  But what color where you thinking?  Because clear ones don't call attention to themselves so much, which maybe you want.  But then, who could resist being able to change their eye color at will..."
            "Wait a minute, I..."  Daria tried to interrupt.  This wasn't the advice she needed.
            "Blue goes with just about any outfit, but green add that touch of exotica that many young women crave..."
            "Hang on, all I asked was..."
            "Then of course, you'll want to change your hair to frame your new face, a decision unto itself -- and obviously a new wardrobe..."
            There was more that Quinn said, but Daria couldn't, or wouldn't hear it.  Screaming out of panic, she ran out of Quinn's room.  She remembered the reason why she rarely asked Quinn for help.
            "Daria, wait!  I know you're scared.  We'll start slow with some scrunchies."


            The next day proved less stressful than the previous.
            Daria decided not to dwell on the contact issue for now.  After the incident with Quinn, Daria wanted nothing more to do with changing her image.  All she wanted to do was finish The Chess Garden without interruption.
            So she sat in the kitchen with her father, Jake.  Although he was prone to rants about everything, especially his father, Jake had the paper with him.  As it was, he would be unresponsive until all of the paper was finished.  Luckily for Daria, Jake read slowly.
            She managed to enjoy some silence when her mother came in with the mail.
            "Oh that sister of mine," Helen began, waving around a letter, "she's as twisted as a corkscrew."
            Jake "mmmed," signifying he heard her, but lacked the effort to say an actual word.
            "Damn siblings." Daria responded, deciding to throw Helen a conciliatory bone.
            "Honestly, I think the only reason she ever gets in touch at all is so that she can get under my skin.
            "Damn subdermal irritants."
            "I mean, listen to this note she sent when she was in Hawaii:  'Dear Sis, you'd love island life.  Beautiful sun, wonderful people, umbrella drinks up the kahanalea.  Only thing is, you'd have to take a vacation.  Oh well, sorry I brought it up. My love to all, Amy.'
            "God," Helen continued, "isn't that annoying?"
            "Damn subtle barbs."
            "Look at this picture of her smiling by the pool."
            Helen produced a picture of the middle child of the Barksdale clan.  Looking at the photo hard, she gave a derisive snort before tossing it onto the table.
            "Like she can even see the camera without her glasses." she retorted bitterly before stomping off.
            At that moment, Daria perked up.  She tuned out her mother because she though it was her Aunt Rita that sent the photo. Slowly, the contact issue came back to her head.  If anyone could give an objective opinion about contacts, it would be Amy Barksdale.  The one relative she actually had something in common with.
            "Aunt Amy..." Daria thought aloud.
            A phone call was in order.


            "Aunt Amy?"
            "Hey, my favorite niece."
            "Oh!" Daria exclaimed, blushing slightly, glad she was talking over the phone.
            "Who is this?"
            "Um, it's..."
            "I'm joking, Daria.  How are you?  Your mother hasn't had a stroke, has she?"
            "Well, I haven't checked her in the last half hour.  How was Hawaii?"
            "Wish I was still there.  What can I do for you?"
            "Um, I wanted to ask your advice about something.  I'm thinking about getting contact lenses."
            "Uh huh.  Sounds good."
            "It does?"
            "Why not?"
            "Well, isn't it kind of... vain?"
            "Do you have mirrors in your house, Daria?"
            "Do you look in them before you go out?"
            "Well, then, you're already going to hell, so you might as well get the lenses.  You'll see the brimstone better."
            "What do you mean?"
            "I mean, having contacts is no more vain than primping in the mirror.  It just gives you different options about the way you look.  It wouldn't change your personality.  It won't change your values, and it would set your parents back a couple hundred bucks.  So I don't see any downside at all."
            "Thanks, Aunt Amy."
            "I'd love to see how it turns out.  Send me a picture, Okay?"
            "You want a picture of me with my contacts?"
            "Either that or a shot of Ralph Fiennes.  Whichever."


            Several hours passed after Daria made the call to her aunt.  She spent the rest of the time in the living room thinking.
            As she considered the contact issue, Daria found herself thinking about what Amy said, and her mother's words.  Even if the contacts didn't work, she could always go back to the glasses.  After all, it wasn't that much of a change.
            Daria turned to find her mother standing next to the couch.  She spoke softly.
            "I just want you to know that I was thinking about our conversation the other day, and I don't want you to believe for a second that I think you need contact lenses.  You're beautiful inside and out, no matter what, and I understand and respect your objection to contacts, and there'll be no more discussion about it.  Okay."
            For a moment, Daria was touched by this gesture, but she had already come to her decision.
            "All right," she replied after giving a theatrical sigh, "you talked me into it."
            "I did?"  Helen had no idea what just happened.
            "Mom, that reverse psychology of yours is killer."


            At The Lawndale Medical Arts Partners Building, Daria sat in the optometrist's chair while the doctor did some last minute measuring of her eyes.  Through his examination, he gave a rundown of things to do, expect, and look out for.
            "So let's see, there's really nothing to worry about other than a slight case of epithelial edema, possible concern over bulbar hyperemia, the outside chance of keratoconus and  polymegathism and the usual tiresome worries of giant papillary conjunctivitis."
            "Um, is there any chance my eyes won't fall out?" she asked after the doctor gave her the worst case scenarios.
            "There's no reason to expect any complications whatsoever if you wear your lenses according to instructions and take care of them properly."
            "So if anything does go wrong, it's my fault?"
            The doctor removed the lens sizer from her face.
            "That'll be our position." he replied good naturedly.  Just then, he wheeled a table towards Daria.  On it stood a bottle of cleaning solution and a case that held her new contacts.
            "Now show me once again how you put the lens in." the doctor said.
            Daria opened up the lens case and then squirted the cleaning solution in to it.  After swishing the lens a bit, she put her finger on the lens and proceeded to put it to her eye.  Using one hand to hold her eyelid open, she became aware that her hand holding the lens was shaking.  At this point she realized that she was going to touch her eyeball.
            "That's it, right up against the eyeball."
            As her finger loomed closer, Daria wondered if her finger would stop shaking enough so she could put in the lens without discomfort.
            It didn't.


            Jane had been awake for ten minutes when she heard the knock on the door.
            Turning from her hot chocolate, she trudged to the door.  She hadn't gotten ready for school, but Jane was aware that her sleeping clothes were no different from the clothes that she wore everyday.  So, whoever was knocking wouldn't see anything that wasn't meant to be seen.
            She opened the door to find a rather pretty looking girl in a green jacket looking at her.
            "Ready?" the girl asked.  She looked very familiar.
            "Mmm," was all that Jane could sound out.  She was trying to see if she could remember the things she studied for the math quiz today and why the girl looked so familiar.  Being cordial was taking more effort than she wanted.
            "Okay then," the girl replied, "time to go."
            "You're not really much of a morning person, are you?"
            At that point, Jane suddenly recognized the person speaking, but grogginess and amazement about change led to one simple question.
            "Where are your glasses?" Jane asked at length.
            "I'm not wearing them." Daria replied, sounding a little proud.
            "I got contacts."
            Just then Daria had a slightly concerned look on her face.
            "I hope this isn't going to change your opinion of me.  I hope you don't think I've changed or compromised or become a shallow person who only cares about their looks.  Because it would really bother me if you thought that."
            "No," Jane replied, trying to reassure her friend, "I don't think anything like that."
            Jane then nodded off slightly.  She caught herself before falling over, then squinted at Daria.
            "Where are your glasses?" Jane asked at length.
            Daria looked up to the sky, thinking that she should ask Jane when she was fully aware.


            "Okay, so now that you're more or less awake, are you ready to tell me I've sold out?"
            Daria asked this while she and Jane walked towards Mr. O'Neill's English Class.  Now that Jane was cognizant, she wanted an honest opinion.
            "You look pretty cool." was the reply she got.
            "Oh, yeah?  Then what did I look like before?"  Daria didn't remember the last time, or any time, she was called "cool" in reference to her looks.
            "Hey, glasses, no glasses, either way works for me."
            "And you call yourself a friend." Daria ribbed.
            Jane gave her a sly grin as they stepped into the classroom.


            The subject of the day was Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.  Mr. Timothy O'Neill was trying to get the majority of the class to become involved in the discussion.  Unfortunately, this proved problematic with the types of students he had.
            "Now when he shed his regal vestments and began dressing as if he had no money," Mr. O'Neill said to the class, "a very funny thing happened to the prince.  What was that?"
            He looked to the front of the class and decided to give Kevin Thompson a chance.
            Lawndale High's star quarterback looked up in thought.  After a beat, he answered hesitantly.
            "He became the poor guy formerly known as the prince?"
            Mr. O'Neill's jaw dropped.  Once, Kevin's lack of academic thought and willing displays of stupidity would have made him weep.  Now, he just tried to get Kevin to at least be a little less dense without getting too emotionally involved.
            "Kevin, I must say I'm mystified by your continuing inability to absorb anything from this class."
            "Um, is that bad?"
            "I'm sorry to speak so harshly, Kevin, but I wouldn't do so if I didn't think you had the inner strength to hear and to heed."
            Daria and Jane looked at each other, wondering how Kevin made it this far in the school system.
            "Brittany," Mr. O'Neill said, picking another student, "how does the prince change in this story?"
            Cheerleader captain Brittany Taylor twirled one of her ponytails in her finger and looked up in thought.
            "He, um, he doesn't turn into a frog, does he?" she replied.  Brittany didn't read the assignment.
            Mr. O'Neill sighed.  He turned to the class to see if the one student he could count on could answer.  Not finding her, he looked down at his feet.
            "Oh, I wish Daria were here." he said with a trace of defeat.
            "I'm here." a voice piped up.
            Mr. O'Neill looked up to find the source of the familiar monotone.  When he saw the person in Daria's normal seat, his jaw dropped again.
            "Daria, is that you?  What happened to your glasses?"
            "Um, I'm wearing contact lenses."
            "Good for you, Daria!  What a positive gesture!  You're taking command of your appearance and empowering yourself to carve your own identity."
            Didn't I already do that with my glasses and boots? Daria thought to herself.  Although she knew he was complementing her, sometimes Mr. O'Neill really knew how to say the most incorrect thing.
            "Actually, I'm not sure that I want an identity based on appearance." she replied, not wanting to draw attention to herself anymore.  Several of her classmates were staring at her.
            "Of course not," Mr. O'Neill backtracked, "the inner you, that's what's important.  I just meant that a revised outer is an even more confident manifestation of the unchanged inner you... the real you... the you-ness inside."
            "I got them for driving," Daria said at last, hoping that her teacher wouldn't go into another self-help styled lecture.
            Just then, a thought occurred to Mr. O'Neill.
            "So, why are you wearing them now?" he asked, a little perplexed.
            Before she could respond, Principal Li entered, wringing her hands.
            "Class," she began, "I have some extremely disturbing news.  Someone has apparently pilfered the school's finger-printing kit..."
            Ms. Li trailed off and did a double take, taking off her glasses, she looked at Daria.
            "Ms. Morgendorffer?"
            "It wasn't me, I much prefer fiber spectroanalysis."
            "Did you get contact lenses?"
            "Um, yes."
            "Well done!"
            "Excuse me?"
            "You're inviting your fellow students to get to know you a little better.  You're dropping that standoffish persona.  Kudos!"
            You could take your own advice, Daria thought to herself.
            "I got them for driving."
            Just then, a thought occurred to Ms. Li.
            "So, why are you wearing them now?" she asked, a little perplexed.
            Daria looked up and found herself, for one of the first times in her life, at a loss for words.


            Kevin and Brittany walked down the hall to the cafeteria.  English had just let out, and Kevin was in good spirits.
            "I'm really psyched, babe," he told his main squeeze, "all that bench-pressing is paying off."
            "Huh?" Brittany asked.
            "Tone, babe.  You heard what Mr. O said about seeing my inner strength."
            Brittany looked at Kevin.  She knew that while she wasn't that book smart, she at least managed to pass her classes.  Kevin, on the other hand, had most of his grades fixed.  Sometimes she worried about him.
            "Um, babe," she said gently, "he was trying to say you're not getting any smarter."
            "Oh," Kevin frowned, his spirits fading, "well, am I supposed to?"
            "Yeah, that's what school's for."
            Just then, Kevin turned and gave Brittany the blankest stare she ever saw.
            "From a teacher's point of view." she amended.


            Daria and Jane walked from their lockers to the cafeteria.
            "Do you think contacts reveal the you-ness inside?" Daria asked her friend.
            "I don't know.  Who's Eunice and why doesn't she get her own body?"
            "Whoever she is, she must be very sad." Daria said as she rubbed her eyelids, "I can't stop tearing up" she said, frustratedly.
            "Daria, I like your new look." a perky, squeaky voice announced.
            Daria opened her eyes and found herself staring at Brittany and Kevin.
            "Um, thanks."
            "Yeah," Kevin interjected, "you're, like, practically normal."
            "Kevin, how come you always know just what to say?" Daria asked, sarcastically.
            "It's a gift." he replied, completely unaware of the intent of Daria's remark.
            "But why did you get contact lenses?" he asked at length.
            "I wanted to fit in better.  I was afraid my glasses were making me too smart."
            Daria gave Jane a wry smile and indicated that she wanted to head on.  Jane nodded and both girls moved away, stopping at the girl’s rest room.  As they left, Kevin looked at them with slight interest.   A thought popped in his head and he turned to Brittany, who was already heading to the cafeteria.


            Daria looked into the mirror and was shocked by her appearance.  Her eyes had turned red.  Closing them, she rubbed her lids, then proceeded top take her lens case out.  Just then, Jane came up next to her and started to wash her hands.
            "Yo, what's going on?" she asked, after seeing Daria's eyes.
            "These contacts are itching the hell out of me.  I've got to take them out, but I don't have my glasses."
            "Well, there's only two periods left, Can you hold out?"
            Removing her lenses, Daria sighed.
            "Guess I have to."


            Jane had hoped Daria could walk to home by herself.  Unfortunately, without her glasses, Daria stumbled around and bumped into almost everything.  In the end, Jane decided to forego her afternoon run and help Daria home.
            "Big crack in the sidewalk coming up.  You'll want to watch that.  Look out for that branch.  There's some kids coming.  Never mind, they turned the corner."
            Daria felt a little embarrassed by the whole thing.  She also didn't realize how much she needed her glasses.  She was grateful that Jane was willing to help her out.
            Suddenly a horn honked.  Daria looked out into the street and saw a bluish blur.
            "Who's that?" she asked.
            "It's Trent."
            Daria froze.  She always felt self conscious around Jane's older brother.  Without her glasses...
            "Hey, Daria, looks good." she heard him say, followed by the sound of a car pulling away.
            Jane looked at the now petrified figure of her best friend.
            "Now watch out for that girl with the red face who's forgotten how to walk. Oh, never mind.  That's you."
            Thanks a heap, Jane.


            That night, Daria slept fitfully through the night.  Her sleep was plagued by some rather disturbing dreams.

            You walk through the doors of the funhouse, aware that the giant, scary clown head over the door looks at you.

            As you walk through the hall of mirrors, you find all the distorted reflections staring at you.  Your impression is that the reflections do not like you.

            When you reach another distorted image, you touch the surface of the glass, and find yourself frowning at the image you see.  You idly wonder if it is the image frowning at you.  This thought disturbs you.

            You turn to escape the gaze of the images and find yourself confronting three reflections that, like the other funhouse mirrors, are twisted.  Your hope is that if you stare at them without the things you feel protect you, they will go away.  The thought makes you hesitate, but you try it anyway.

            As you remove your glasses, the reflections return to how you really look.  Not necessarily a beauty queen, but attractive in a unique way.  Feeling relief that the images are no more than tricks of light, you chide yourself for being so foolish.

            And then, you notice contours go slack and fluid.  What was a normal distortion expands to grotesqueness that you’ve only seen in Ed “Big Daddy” Roth art books your best friend owns.

            And just before the reflections reach out to grab your shock frozen body…


            Daria woke up with a start.  It toke her a few minutes before she calmed down.

            Stumbling to the bathroom, she realized she had to go to school.  It would take a while, but she would be ready soon.  After reaching the bathroom, she remembered the dream.  It was scary, but just a dream.  Reaching for her lens case, Daria tried to insert her lenses, and winced.  Her eyes still hadn’t recovered.

            “No contacts today,” she muttered to herself.  Reaching for her glasses, she caught herself in the mirror.

            Why did she always deemphasize her appearance?  She wondered to herself.


            Jane had managed to get a good night's sleep, so she was up earlier than normal.  She felt confident that her "C" average was maintained with yesterday's math test.  That being the case, she woke up refreshed.  She even managed to sneak in a run before getting ready for school.  Jane even just finished her hot chocolate when she heard the knock on the door.
            Leaving the kitchen, Jane went to the front door to greet her regular early morning visitor.  Opening it, she saw Daria, who looked back at Jane sans spectacles.
            "Hey, the contacts are back," she exclaimed, "your eyes must be feeling better."
            "Um, yeah, better." Daria replied, "But, I'm still a little blurry."
            As Daria said that, Jane, for a moment, thought she saw Daria squint saying those words.


            The first sign came with the Goth girl, Andrea.
            On the way to the cafeteria, Daria shouldered Andrea so hard, the girl nearly fell over.
            "Hey!" Andrea yelled angrily.
            Daria turned around to face her.
            "Sorry," she said, looking very embarrassed.
            Andrea regarded both Daria and Jane with kohl lined eyes before leaving to the library.  The two girls turned back towards the cafeteria.  Right then, Daria rammed into "Upchuck" Ruttheimer, knocking him down completely.
            "Sorry, Upchuck."
            Daria's stronger than I thought, Jane thought, wondering why Daria was bumping into people.
            "Sweet Daria," Upchuck said, brushing himself off, "you don't have to resort to a ruse to get into my personal space. All you need do is ask."
            Daria and Jane gave Upchuck the blankest of stares.  Even injured, Upchuck was irritating.  Daria decided to end it this time.
            "Your personal space is the final frontier, Upchuck." She said, leaving to the cafeteria.  "One where I intend never to boldly go."
            "You'll be back." Upchuck yelled in a maniacal voice that would have made Wayne Knight jealous.  "They all come back."
            "Name two." Jane said before following her friend.
            "I could!"


            "Food-laden student at three o'clock."
            With Jane's warning, Daria barely avoided causing a messy accident.
            "Boy, you weren't kidding about still being blurry." Jane remarked as they looked for a table.  "You're walking into more people than you're walking by."  Finding a table, both sat down opposite each other.
            "I'm sure my vision will clear up soon." Daria replied.
            "Well if it doesn't work out, you can go out for football."
            "Hey, now's your chance to sign up." Jane said, looking up past Daria's shoulder.  Daria turned to see who caught Jane's eye.  There, in a blur of yellow and blue, stood Kevin.
            "Hey, Daria, Jane.  Notice anything different?" he asked cheerfully.
            Daria squinted at Kevin's face and tried to see what Kevin was trying to hint at.  After a few moments, she turned to Jane.
            "He's wearing glasses, right?"
            "Why, yes he's wearing glasses." Jane replied, giving Daria a questioning look, "Although, ironically, he doesn't need them."
            Turning to her newly bespectacled classmate, Jane asked the obvious question.
            "What's going on?"
            "Well, I got to thinking about what you said about glasses making you smart, Daria.  And hey, you may not believe this, but I could stand to be a little smarter.  So, I got some"

            "You, a little smarter?" asked Daria, "Not possible."
            "No, no, no.  That's what I thought too.  But believe me, it is.  You know, I don't want to be a brain or anything.  I like having friends.  So I got a pair without any lenses."
            Kevin then twirled the frames on his index finger to demonstrate.
            "See?  Now I'll be smart, but not to smart." he added, almost dropping the frames.
            Daria gave Kevin a very blank stare.
            "I'm not really sure if it'll work without any lenses." she eventually said.
            "Yeah, why don't you try one lens and see how it goes?"
            "Great idea!  Thanks."  Kevin then turned around and saw Brittany waving at him.
            "Oh, Mr. Einsteen!" she said, mispronouncing the great physicist's name.
            "Brit really loves them." he explained to the two girls while heading to his girlfriend, "Gotta go."
            Daria turned back to Jane, who she noticed had looked rather closely at her eyes rather than join in the conversation.  Right then, Jane waved her hand in          Daria's face.
            "I can see that, funny gal." Daria said, a little annoyed at Jane's presumption.
            Jane didn't respond.  She held up two slightly blurry fingers.
            "How many fingers?"
            "I've got one for you."  Daria wanted the conversation to end.  But Jane was too curious to let it go.
            "You're not wearing your contacts at all." she stated.
            "Not if you want to get technical about it."
            "Okay, I get that they were irritating you so you thought that you'd give them a rest."
            "But why no glasses?"
            "Sheer vanity?"
            "Yes, yes, very witty.  Now really."
            Daria suddenly looked very glum.  In her whole life, she made it a point not to be too concerned about her appearance.  Jane knew her position on that subject and supported all the way.  However, she found herself liking the complements that people gave her about her new look.  So her answer to Jane felt like she just compromised herself to one of the few people she knew whose opinion mattered to her.
            Jane looked at Daria's face and then had her own realization.  Maybe Daria was a little more girl than she made herself out to be.
            "Daria!" she exclaimed happily.  It was Jane's intent to have Daria laugh about the whole incident.
            "You hate me," she replied, burying her face in her hands.
            "This is great!  You want to borrow my lipstick?"

            Just then, Daria leapt from her seat and went to the exit.
            "Hey, come on, Daria, wait!"  Jane cried, getting up from her seat.  Of all things, she didn't want her best friend to overreact about her standards.  As soon as she stood up, Jane saw Daria run right into Kevin, knocking him over completely.


            Jane decided to check the rest room for her friend.  She knew from her past that Daria would hide in the nearest rest room if she got too embarrassed.

            "Daria?" she called out, "Daria?"
            "Talking toilet?" she then exclaimed, trying to use the humor tactic.  She remembered the first time Daria had a problem and went into the rest room.  That time also involved Daria's appearance.  Albeit that one centered around a rash.  Walking down along the stalls, she checked under the doors until she found the shape of a familiar pair of Doc Martens.
            "Daria's boots, can you tell me where Daria is?"

            Daria then stood up on the toilet seat, completely hiding from Jane.

            "Come on, Daria, what's the matter?"
            "I'm a hypocrite and a phony.  That's what's the matter."
            "What are you talking about?"
            "You don't have to pretend," Daria replied, stepping off the toilet seat, "you said it yourself.  The glasses are me.  Uncompromising and unconceited.  Well, not anymore."  Her tone had a hint of bitter resignation.
            "For God's sake, Daria, who told you had to be a martyr to principle?  You're a teenage girl, not Nelson Mandela."
            "He wears glasses."
            "What's going on?" a voice asked.
            Jane looked up and saw Jodie Landon right next to her.  She didn't even hear her come in.  Although Jane didn't want to cause Daria too much embarrassment, she knew Daria and Jodie got along well enough.  Maybe Jodie could provide some help.
            "Oh, it's Daria.  She couldn't get her contacts in today and she didn't want to wear her glasses.  So she's stumbling around and bumping into stuff."
            "Are you okay, Daria?" Jodie asked, genuinely concerned.
            "What'd she hurt?" Jodie asked Jane.
            "Her pride."
            "Thanks for respecting my confidence, Jane."
            "Hey, Jodie knows what it's like."

            "What what's like?" Jodie wondered aloud, giving Jane a questioning stare.
            "To have standards too high to live up to."
            "Don't tell me she's mad at herself for caring how she looks." Jodie said, finally understanding the meaning of Jane's comment.
            "See, Daria?" Jane asked, hoping that Jodie's perspective would be helpful.
            "No, actually, I can't see."
            "Daria, what's wrong with admitting to a little vanity?" Jodie asked through the stall door, “You’re not Mother Teresa you know."
            "She wore glasses."
            "No," Jane interjected, "she gave them to an orphan."
            "Hey, what's going on?" a squeaky, fourth voice piped up.
            Jane and Jodie turned around and saw Brittany with a curious look on her face.  Both girls knew that Daria would rather not want to deal with her right now.
            "Nothing," Jane answered quickly.
            "Everything's fine," Jodie said, rather quickly.
            "So why are you talking to the stall?"
            Brittany crouched down to see who the girls where talking to.  The boots gave her the answer.
            "Oh, hi Daria."
            "Hi, Brittany," a resigned voice replied.
            "Is she locked in or something?" Brittany asked.
            "She's feeling a little alienated today," Jane answered, wondering who else would come in now.
            "Alienated?" Brittany tried to fathom the concept and the problem, "Why, Daria?  It's not like you're E.T. or somebody."
            "Did he wear glasses?" Jane wondered.

            Just then, Brittany stood up.
            "By the way, Daria, I just want you to know I think it's really brave of you to get those contact lenses and admit that you care about the way you look, even just a little.  Because knowing that a brain can be worried about her looks makes me feel, um, I don't know, not so shallow or something.  Like we're not that different, just human or whatever."
            Jane and Jodie turned to Brittany and stared in amazement.  Although both never had much opinion for Brittany's intelligence, times passed when she did think of things that nobody did.  Still, those times were very few, hence the staring.  An awkward silence passed when, just then, the stall door opened, and a very relieved looking Daria stepped out.
            "Well, thank you Brittany," she said, with a tone of relief, "you're right.  We are just human or whatever."  Daria then turned to go back to the cafeteria.  Unfortunately, she missed clearing the stall door.  Physically reiterating Brittany's point about being human with a pained yell, she made her way to the bathroom exit.
            For awhile, Jane, Jodie and Brittany gazed at the door where Daria left.  Then, Jodie turned to Brittany.
            "That was really nice, Brittany." she said.
            "It was?"

            "I gotta admit," Jane said, with praise, "that was the right thing to say."
            Jane and Jodie left the bathroom to check on Daria, leaving Brittany behind.  As she watched the two girls leave Brittany mulled over their words.  Then, turning to the mirror, Brittany looked at her reflection.  Pulling out a pair of purple framed glasses, Brittany admired herself.
            These things really do work, Brittany thought to herself.


            “So now what, eagle eye?”

            Jane asked Daria that question at their usual booth at the Pizza King.  After a day of near misses with students and door jambs, it was Jane’s treat.

            “Well, I can’t wear my contacts until I see the doctor again,” Daria replied, “that’s for sure.  And if I bang into anyone else at school, I’ll be arrested for assault.”  She paused to drink her coke.

            “So I guess it’s back to the glasses tomorrow.”  She finished.

            “Or we go downtown and apply for a seeing-eye dog.” Jane quipped.

            “I’ll tell you the truth,” Daria said after a few moments, “this thing’s got me very confused.  I want my glasses back.”

            “Are you still hung up on that vanity thing?”

            “That’s not it.  Everyone already knows I’m vain.”

            “Oh yeah, you’re one huge narcissist.  So if not that, then what?”

            Daria looked down in thought, and for a second, Jane caught a glimpse of what Quinn feared her sister could be on that fateful week of the “Academic Imprisonment” essay.

            “This is kind of hard to explain.  It’s like, I know my glasses set me apart.  When I look in the mirror without them, I can’t see a thing.  But when I put them on and look in the mirror again, I think…”

            “Yeah?” Jane asked, intrigued.

            “I think to myself, ‘Never mind glasses.  You can see things that other people can’t.  You can see better than other people.  So to hell with them and what they think of you and your glasses.’”

            “You’re not talking about eyesight anymore, are you?”


            “And you like that Daria better than the Daria who cares about her looks.”  Jane said, stating, not asking.

            Daria paused.  She knew that she a least wanted to smell nice and look neat.  Realizing that was all she really required of her looks now, she gave the obvious answer.


            “I don’t blame you.  Why settle for vanity when you can have pure egotism?”  Jane gave Daria a sly grin.

            “You’re a twisted little cruller, ain’t you?” she added affectionately.

            “Yeah,” Daria answered, giving a small, but cheerful smile.

            “That’s why I’m proud to be your friend.”

            The two girls clinked their cokes together, happy that another trial was behind them.  One thing did remain, however.


            In the end, they walked home, with Jane guiding Daria through the cracks, branches and big-wheel riding toddlers that came along the sidewalk.
            For Daria, the image was ironic, and fitting.  Throughout her life, she never felt the need to have anyone help her along for anything.  Only in those instances where she did feel truly alone did Daria was reminded that sometimes, she did need a helping hand. Sometimes the help came from a person she would least suspect.  Other times from family.  But for her, the best help came from the one who understood her the most.  And she knew that whenever Jane ever needed help, she would help her along as she did today.
            However, there still remained on last problem.  One that Jane couldn't help with.
            "So no more contacts."  Jane said, mentioning Daria's new problem, "Your mother's gonna be disappointed."
            "Well, I have all afternoon to figure out how to break it to her."
            At that moment a horn beeped.  Daria and Jane turned to find the source.  There in front of them was Helen in her SUV.
            "Hi girls!" she beamed cheerfully.
            "Hi, Mrs. Morgendorffer."
            "Hi, Mom."
            "Daria, my deposition was postponed till tomorrow.  So I thought, why not try out those new contacts out with an unscheduled driving lesson?"  Helen asked from her vehicle.
            At that moment, Daria froze.  She then remembered a few incidents from her past.  One was the fund raising and eventual recital for the now defunct coffeehouse.  Another involved two trips to the Mall of the Millennium.  Those and other events reminded Daria that no matter how hard you tried to avoid certain problems, the Law of Inevitability held sway.  One would have to answer to any conflict within their lives.  Any attempt to avoid it would only make the problem magnify to proportions that one could only imagine.
            As if to underscore that law, Daria heard something to her left.  There, she heard, and rather blurrily saw, an image of an elderly gentleman walking at least four dogs.
            This had to happen, Morgendorffer, she thought to herself, might as well get it over with.
            Daria turned back to her mother and said the only thing she could.

"Mom, I have something
to tell you."





Some events in this adaptation are references from  the episodes “Ill” and “Quinn the Brain.”


Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was a hot rod designer and graphic artist from the 1960's.  He's most famous for designing the "Rat Fink" icon and the Munstermobile.


Wayne Knight has acted in several movies and television shows.  His most well known roles are Officer Don from 3rd Rock From the Sun and Newman from Seinfeld.


The Legal Stuff:

"Daria" is owned by MTV, copyright 1997.

This is a nonprofit writing.  If you make money off of this, I will be very cross with you.

A previous work I’ve done is a fanficlet called “Sentence Passed.”  If you want to know how to write a quality fanfic, look at this one so you know what NOT to do.