Everything Happens For a Reason
By Mahna Mahna
The Pizza King was as crowded as ever that day, filled with teenage friends and young couples enjoying a late lunch. One of these couples sat in a booth near the back corner, unaware that today would bring about a change for them.
“You know what I just realized?” Tom said, putting down his pizza.
“The phrase ‘chicken fingers’ is misleading?” Daria quipped.
Tom smiled. “Besides that. We forgot to check out the pizza in New Town.”
“Oh,” Daria said, looking away uncomfortably and picking up her pizza again. “Well, I guess you’ll just have to send mine package-air to Boston.”
Tom cocked his eyebrow. “Won’t that be a little messy?” Suddenly, his eyes grew wide with realization. “Oh, Daria…no.”
“Yep, it’s official,” said Daria, trying not to sound as disappointed as she felt. “I didn’t get into Bromwell.”
“I’m really sorry,” Tom said genuinely. “And after my parents wrote such a glowing recommendation, too.”
“Shocking, isn’t it? I’m such a loser, even a nod from the Sloanes couldn’t help me.”
He frowned. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Good, because I’m not a loser. And even if I didn’t go to the right prep school or pull the right strings or donate a wing---”
“That was my uncle!” Tom insisted.
Daria looked away in thought. She suddenly felt something like a snap or a shock. It was hard to describe, but at that moment she knew what she had to do. “Listen,” she started calmly, “you’re a smart guy and a good student. I’m sure you deserve to get into Bromwell and I wish you every success there.”
“Well, that’ s a nice thing to say, even if that ‘Daria-voice’ of yours makes it sound like a kiss-off.” Tom shrugged.
For a moment, there was just silence. Then, Tom realized where this was headed. Oh no. “Wait…”
“I think we should break up.”
From several tables away, a man echoed his sentiment.
“What?! What in the good name of Blarney just happened there!?”
Some of people sitting near the man looked at him in surprise, then continued to stare because of his and his partner’s strange attire. The man who made the outburst wore green clothes from head to toe, including a green fedora, and his partner wore nothing but a white toga. But then again, that was normal clothing for the residents of Holiday Island.
“Whoa…Pat…. chill out, man,” Cupid said, picking up his pizza and taking a bite.
“I will not ‘chill out‘! What did you just do!?” St. Patrick’s Day demanded.
“Dude, what did it look like I did?”
“You…” he pointed at a strange looking metallic device on their table. “…you used that thing to make Daria and that lad--”
“Tom,” Cupid corrected.
“Right, you used that to make them break up.”
“Exactly. The Breakup BB Gun. So what’s the problem?”
“You’re an idiot, that’s the problem. Look…. let me get this straight…. so a year ago, you went through your wee computer matchmaking thing---”
“The Passion-Pilot, yeah.”
“…and found what you said was Daria’s match, correct?”
“And then you have him go out with her best friend--- which I still don’t understand, by the way--- and then you have them break-up and get back together. Then you have them break up again?!” St. Patrick’s Day said incredulously. “What is wrong with you?”
Cupid lazily put down his pizza. “It’s all part of the plan, dude. I want to pay the chick back for what she did for us. I’m just trying to make her happy.”
“Riiigght…. the lassie sure looks ecstatic.” He gestured over at Daria and Tom. “I’ve never seen such long faces.”
Cupid sighed. “I know they’re upset now, but I’ve got this all planned out. It’ s all part of a process. Everything happens for a reason.”
“I sure hope so, laddie.”
“You don‘t need to worry.” His voice suddenly took on the smooth, low characteristics of Barry White. “I’ve got it together, baby… I‘ve got it together….”
“Would you knock it off with the John Wayne impressions?”
Cupid grinned and shook his head. “Sorry, Pat.” He suddenly spotted Daria getting up from her and Tom’s table. As she trudged out the door with her eyes to the ground, Cupid smiled sadly. “Everything happens for a reason. You’ve just got to trust me.”
St. Patrick’s Day had been having a good time. To celebrate the last day of school in Holiday Island High, he and a bunch of friends, including Cupid, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day, had been hanging out at his place playing poker. Halfway through the game, Cupid had gotten up and proclaimed that he had ‘business to take care of’ and left.
Pat, being curious, had followed him all the way to Lawndale and to a street called Glen Oaks Lane. He found Cupid standing nearby two conversing teenagers, who stood by a rusty old clunker in the road. St. Patrick’s Day, realizing that Cupid had gone into invisible-to-mortals mode, used a bit of his magic to turn invisible as well. He briskly came over to Cupid.
“You’re checking up on them again?!” St. Patrick’s Day exclaimed. He pointed at Daria and Tom, the teenagers who Cupid had been watching.
Cupid turned to Pat. “Don’t worry; this will be the last time for a while. I needed to make sure the chick doesn’t get into the car, but it looks like I’ve got nothing to worry about. She already said to the dude ‘I’m not getting in.’”
“So what’re you doing now?“
“I’m checking to make sure that they leave each other with positive vibes.”
“Oh, come on.”
Cupid frowned in annoyance. “Pat, you ever heard the saying ‘Love works in mysterious ways’?”
“Well if I tell you, then it won’t be a mystery anymore.”
“Would ya at least explain to me why you won’t let her get in the car?” St. Patrick’s Day inquired.
Cupid sighed. “Fine. The car is a…special place for Daria and Tom. They’ve had a lot of cool memories there. Being in that car makes Daria a little less defensive, and she knows it too. That’s why she doesn’t want to get in the car and I don’t think she should get in yet either. The last time she and Tom got into the car broken up, they ended up getting back together.”
“Oh, and we wouldn’t want that to happen, now would we?” said St. Patrick’s Day.
“Dude, who is the love expert here and who is the booze expert?”
“Aw shut up ya--”
“Shhh!” Cupid interrupted. “I need to start listening to their conversation again.” Both of them moved closer to Daria and Tom to listen in.”
“You look up to me?” Daria was saying incredulously. “Huh.”
“Do you think next year I could call you from school, and we can compare notes on our lives in a completely non-romantic fashion? You know, like friends?” Tom requested, with a hopeful look in his eye.
“Um, yeah. Yeah! That’s a good idea. Call me. That’ll be nice.” Daria grinned a little, already feeling as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
“Ok. I’m starting to feel a little better. How ’bout you?” Tom asked.
“Awesome,” said Cupid. “They’re leaving each other with positive vibes. Makes my job easier.” He reached into a hidden pocket and grabbed a notebook and pen.
“What are ya doin’ now?” Patrick inquired as Cupid scratched something down on the pages.
“Changing my schedule. Looks like I’ve got a year to wrap things up with these two. That’s when they said they’d be talking again.”
“Whatever you say, boyo,” said Pat. “Are you done now?”
Cupid turned back to where Daria and Tom had been talking. At the moment, Daria was heading towards her front door. “For now, it looks like. They’re done talking, anyway.”
“Brilliant, let’s get back to the game. We don’t want to keep the others waiting.”
“Yeah, yeah; I’m coming.” Cupid looked back at Daria’s house. “See you in a few months, Dudette.”
Daria slammed her Creative Writing book shut in frustration. She couldn’t concentrate on studying with all the noise her roommate, Taryn, was making. Taryn was at her desk, her red hair put up into a messy pony tail, watching a DVD on her laptop. Granted, she had headphones plugged in so she wouldn’t disturb Daria, but Taryn’s raucous laughter broke through the would-be silence of their dorm room.
Daria sighed, grabbed a chair, and headed over to where Taryn sat. She sat in the chair and said, “I give up. Let’s watch the movie.”
“Now you’re talkin’!” said Taryn, as she unplugged her headphones from the computer.
The sounds of the movie filled the room. On screen, a handsome young actor held a teenage starlet in his arms. They both sat in a faded, rusty, old car and gazed up at the stars.
“Oh, Kristenique,” sighed the actor. “I love you.”
“And I love you, Matthew,” answered ‘Kristenique’. “I’ve loved you from the moment I first saw you.”
“I thought you were watching a comedy,” said Daria confusedly.
“It might as well be,” laughed Taryn. “This is so corny.”
“My love for you is deeper than the deep blue sea,” continued Kristenique.
“ ‘My love for you is deeper than most of my thoughts‘ ,” added Taryn with a laugh.
“I must tell you, Kristenique….” Matthew began. “When I saw you attacked at the rock quarry, I thought I would never see you again.”
“I didn’t think I’d see you again either,” cooed Kristenique.
“Kristenique, I could never bear to see you die… never bear to see us part….”
Suddenly, like a flash, Daria remembered……
Daria opened the passenger door to Tom’s car and slid in next to him. “Hey,” she softly greeted.
“Hey,” Tom answered, frowning a bit as he started up the car again. “You’re OK, right? I mean, Mom said that you were alright after… the accident, but are you OK?”
“I’m fine,” she assured. “Except for that whole ‘six months to live’ thing, but other, than that, I’m just peachy.”
Tom let out a brief chuckle. “Good to know. Anyway, sorry I wasn’t home when you called. And I’m real sorry you never made it up there, although I think that last checkers game between me and my uncle is still going on.”
“Hey, you had no way of knowing I was gonna want to drive up.”
“I mean, if I'd had any idea that you'd end up in a horrific multi-car crackup, whispering my name over and over in a desperate bid not to slip into a coma…”
“Horrific crackup? I spun out on the shoulder,” corrected Daria.
“You tell it your way, I'll tell it mine,” joked Tom. They smiled at each other for a moment, then Tom turned somber. “Listen… I… uh… I’m glad you’re not dead.”
“Well that’s good to know.” She turned to look at him, then frowned slightly. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s just… for a brief second… when your mom was calling my mom to say you weren’t coming after all… I heard her talking about how you got in an accident, and I---- “
“You got scared.”
She smiled for a moment, then leaned over and gave him a kiss on the check. “I’m OK, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.”
They rode in silence until they reached Lawndale High. After saying their goodbyes, Daria got out of the car, closed the door, and watched as Tom drove away.
Daria was brought back into reality with a jolt. “Daria? Daria! You awake? What did you think of what just happened there?”
Daria shook her head to clear it. “Oh, um, I… uh… wasn’t paying attention.”
“Is something wrong?”
“No,” Daria answered a little too quickly.
“Yeah right, come on. Tell me.” She grabbed a smiley face pillow off of her bed. “Or else I attack with Mr. Kevo here.”
Daria sighed, giving in. “Fine. That movie just…. it made me think of my ex-boyfriend.”
“Oh.” Taryn backed down. “Well, we’ll just fast forward through this scene, then.”
Neither of them saw a winged, blonde holiday sneak out of their window and down the fire escape.
“Now, why is it you need me here again?” Tom asked his new friend and roommate, Carter. He had been dragged by Carter to the New Town pharmacy in search of a ‘Get Well’ card for his sister. “I don’t see why you can’t do this on your own. It’s your sister after all.” He wrinkled his nose. The room was stuffy and smelled like a mixture of paper and cough syrup.
“Heh, knowing me, I’d just end up getting Beth something stupid. You’d be better at this than I am. C’mon, help me look.” He picked a card off the top shelf. “Ok, what about his one? It has a dog on the front and inside it says ‘My love for you is greater than the sun and the moon, so I hope that you will get well soon‘.”
“Um, probably not.”
“Yeah, you’re right; it’s dumb.” Carter put the card back and grabbed another. “What about this one? It says ‘Dios te bendiga y te alivie pronto…’”
“Your sister speaks Spanish?”
Tom shook his head. “You weren’t kidding about not being good at this.” He turned around to a display of candy behind him and grabbed a rather large box. “Look, just get her some candy. She’d enjoy that more than a card anyway.” He looked at the box of cheap chocolates. Seeing them made him remember…
‘This is the life,’ thought Tom. He and Daria sat on her family’s couch, eating Quinn’s chocolates with their feet lazily propped up on the Morgendorffers‘ coffee table. “Happy Non-Anniversary,” he said to Daria with a grin.
“Happy Non-Anniversary to you,” said Daria.
“Are you sure Quinn won’t mind?” asked Tom.
“Nah. Celebrating anniversaries was her idea.”
“Yeah, remind me to ‘thank’ her for that later,” said Tom with a wicked smirk.
“I’ll help too. You want me to provide the tar and feathers?” asked Daria.
“How about Chinese water torture instead? Less mess.”
“Or better yet, let’s teach the guys in my school your technique of dating. We’ll convince them that Quinn reeeeally likes to go to drugstores with guys to read greeting card poems.”
Tom stopped in mid-bite of his chocolate caramel. “You don’t like that?”
“Sure I do,” Daria quickly amended. “But Quinn wouldn‘t. Why?”
“Just checking… ‘cause if you wanted to, you know, I could plan normal dates, like going to that French restaurant, Chez Pierre,” he said the restaurant name with distaste.
“You want me to eat dead snails and frog legs? What kind of boyfriend are you?” deadpanned Daria.
Tom smiled suddenly and stared at Daria. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “What?” she asked.
“Nothing, it’s just… I think that’s that first time you’ve ever actually called me your boyfriend.”
Daria’s eyes got wide for a second when she realized what she had indeed done. “Well,” she finally said. “There’s a first time for everything.”
Tom smiled. “Yeah, I guess there is.”
“Tom, what about this one? It ‘s got a bunny on it and says ‘Wishing you a rabbit recovery’,” Carter suddenly said.
“Go for it,” Tom said half-heartedly, never taking his eyes off of the box of chocolates.
This is just too easy, thought Cupid. He tucked The Slingshot of Thought into his weathered bag and left through the store’s front door.
Jane had been expecting to have fun that night. Since she didn’t start college at BFAC until the spring semester, she hadn’t seen a lot of Daria lately. The only contact they had with each other this month had been over the phone. Tonight, though, she made the trip up to Boston to see Daria, to catch up on things, and maybe to go out for a pizza and make fun of the world’s stupidity, as usual. She wasn’t expecting to see Daria acting the way she was as she let herself into Daria’s dorm room.
“Oh no,” said Jane, closing the door behind her. “You’re in your patented ‘something’s eating away at my soul’ position again.”
And indeed Daria was. She lay flopped out on her dorm room bed--the bottom bunk-- with her head hanging off the edge. “Nothing is eating away at my soul, thank you very much.”
“I know what it is,” Taryn called from the top bunk. “She’s thinking about that Tom again.”
“Again!? Daria, you’ve got to stop this.”
She turned over onto her stomach and rested her head on her crossed arms. “I can’t help it. I go to a department store, and it smells like the cologne he used to wear…I turn on the radio, and they’re playing the love ballad we used to make fun of together...I eat pizza, and I’m reminded of the good times we had at the Pizza King…”
“Oh geez, he’s even ruined pizza,” sighed Jane.
“You know what you need to do?” said Taryn, eager to dispense advice. “You need to get back in the saddle again! Find a great guy and you’ll forget all about You-Know-Who.”
“That’s ridiculous. Why would she want to date Voldemort?” said Jane.
“Ha ha.” Taryn rolled her eyes. “Look, I can set you up with some guys. It’ll be fun!”
“Yeah,” said Jane, getting into the idea, “and I can probably find a few guys for you too.”
“Hm, let me think--no!” Daria said, turning away from them.
“Come on,” said Jane. “It’s been five months. Let us help you get over it.”
Daria sighed, feeling too weak with depression to put up a fight. “You do realize that if you make me wear make-up, I will make you pay.”
“Of course,” said Jane.
“My love life is in the hands of my best friend and my roommate. Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
A week later, Tom was forced into a very similar decision.
“Alright! Alright! I’ll go on a date!” Tom shouted. He shook his head. “Geez… you nag more than my mom.”
“You know I have your best interests at heart, honey,” said Carter in a squeaky falsetto. He grinned at Tom. “Alright! Now all we need to do is find a girl!” He grabbed an address book and flipped through it. “Now let’s see…. Elizabeth’s nice… so’s Krysten…”
“Oh no. No, no, no. No blind dates.” Tom grabbed the address book away from Carter.
“Dude, are you really up to finding a girl on your own right now?” he pointed out.
Tom thought a moment, then sighed and handed the book back to him. “I guess not.”
Carter went back to flipping through the address book. “Hm, this will take more work than I thought.”
You’re telling me, dude! thought Cupid. He stood in the back corner of Tom and Carter’s dorm room, shaking his head. It was fine that Daria and Tom were going to date again, but he wished that their friends weren’t so involved. Cupid had been planning on setting them up with their worst possible matches, and that would be harder to do with outside influences trying to make the dates a success. It would take a lot of extra planning and maneuvering to get the friends to set Tom and Daria up with the wrong people.
But then again, I’ve got killer technology, so I can handle it! Cupid patted his bag of gadgets. Now to find the anti-perfect dates for Daria and Tom.’He grabbed a handheld computer from his bag. Ok, Passion-Pilot, he thought as he grinned. Do your worst!
On a foggy autumn night, Tom sat uncomfortably in an Italian restaurant’s booth, wondering how Carter had ever managed to talk him into going on this blind date. Sighing, he decided it was time to try conversation with the pretty brunette who sat across from him.
“So…. Scarlett,” began Tom. “Uh, how do you know Carter?”
“Oh, he’s been one of my best customers at my family’s muffin shop,” Scarlett answered cheerfully.
“Ah, so you work there?”
“Yep, and I love it! Muffin Mania is the most successful muffin shop in town!” Scarlett proclaimed. “It’s the best, really it is. We have seventy-nine flavors!”
“We have blueberry muffins and chocolate muffins and poppy seed muffins and apple muffins and….”
Twelve minutes later, their date wasn’t going any better.
“…and banana muffins and nut muffins and banana-nut muffins and… that’s seventy-eight… what’s the last one?” said Scarlett.
Tom held his head in his hands. “Oh, boy.”
“That’s it!” said Scarlett excitedly. “Boysenberry! Thanks!”
“Yeah, no problem,” said Tom, wishing he could be anywhere but there.
“What have I been thinking? This whole time I’ve been talking about my business and I haven’t asked you a thing about you!”
“Thanks, well I--”
“What’s your favorite kind of muffin?”
“…….. check please.”
Surprisingly, Daria’s date had started out rather pleasantly. It was an unusually warm day for November, and she and her curly-haired date, Hans, walked along a shaded street after stopping by a local coffee shop.
“So you’re from Gemany? Huh. That’s kinda cool,” said Daria as she sipped her mocha latte.
“Yes, I came here on the student exchange program,” Hans said. “I met your friend Jane in my Advanced Sculpture class. She’s nice. So are you.”
“Oh! Um, thanks.” Daria grinned. “You’re OK too.”
“I love you. I’ve loved you since I first saw you. Let’s go to Vegas. We can be married by sunset.”
Daria stared at him, wide-eyed and speechless. “I…. I…. I…..”
Suddenly she realized why this was happening. “You want your Green Card, don’t you?”
“Auf Wiedersehen, Hans.”
“Wait! Come back! I’d make a good husband! And I really do love you! Wait!”
After that, needless to say, it took an awful lot of convincing from both Jane and Taryn to get Daria to go on another date.
“Cheer up, man. This next date’s bound to go well.” Carter grinned at Tom, who was trying to get ready for his date.
“I certainly hope so,” Tom said as he combed his hair. “What’s this next one, another pastry-obsessed girl?
“Hey, I thought you’d find Scarlett’s devotion to her work attractive.” Carter rolled his eyes. “And this next girl’s not pastry-obsessed. I used to date her sister. You know, she’s really very attractive!” He waggled his eyebrows.
“Oh right, because attractiveness is the only important thing in a girl.” Tom said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “I wouldn’t want to actually talk to the girl.”
“Hm. Well, anyway, if the talking wanes tonight, at least you’ve got a pretty face to gawk at.” He handed Tom a slip of paper. “Here’s her address. You should be able to find it; it’s in your old hometown.”
At that, Tom said his goodbyes to Carter and headed for his car. He drove for forty minutes until he reached Lawndale and his date’s home: 4242 Mehterlanda Lane. He nervously rang the doorbell. A rather pretty girl answered the door with a smile. She looked familiar, but he couldn’t remember right away where he had seen her before.
“Hi. I’m Tom,” he greeted.
“Hiiii….. I’m Tiffannnyyyy…..”
Tom hated French food with a passion, yet here he was in Chez Pierre with one of the most boring, vapid girls he had ever met. He had initially wanted to take her to Texas Roundup, a local steakhouse widely known for their excellent service and T-Bone steaks. Tiffany had flat-out refused. (“Ewwwww…. fatteninnnnng!”) She strongly suggested that he take her to Chez Pierre, and Tom, not knowing what else to do, reluctantly agreed.
Smiling at Tom from across the table, Tiffany turned to the one topic she knew more about than anything: fashion. “Sooooo…. what do you think about capriiiissss……?”
You‘ve got to be kidding me. "Um… I guess I'm OK with capris, but I think that people should--- what are you doing?"
"This forrrrrrk is reeeeeealllllly shiiinnnyyy....." She ran her fingers through her hair while looking at her reflection in the salad fork.
Tom stared at her in bewilderment, but before he could come up with a response, the waitress came to their table.
“Bonjour, Mademoiselle et Monsieur! Je suis your waitress, Claire-Annette! May I take your order?” she asked.
“An order of bouillabaisse and glass of water, please,” said Tom, handing his menu to her.
“Oui! And pour vous, miss?”
Tiffany squinted at her menu in thought. “Does es - care - gott have any calories?”
“Most likely.” Tom shrugged. “You do know that it’s snails, right?”
“Whaaaaatt? Ewwwww…… I‘ll take a salad…..” She handed the menu to the waitress, who smiled cheerfully at them once more before leaving.
“Why are you so worried about calories anyway?” questioned Tom.
“I’m watching my figurrrrre……”
Tom rolled his eyes. It was so annoying when girls called themselves overweight, especially when they were thin as a rail. “Right… cause you’re ’fat’, correct?”
“Whaaaattt??!!” Tiffany narrowed her eyes.
She ignored all of Tom’s attempts to explain that he was being sarcastic and stormed out the front door before the waitress had even brought the drinks.
An hour later, Tom was back at his room watching TV reruns and wondering what nut job Carter would set him up with next.
Daria stood at her front door and stared at her newest blind date in shock.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” he said.
“Uh… yeah. Come in,” she waved him in and shut the door behind him. “Just hold on. I need to talk to my friend before we go.” She backed away from him and headed for Jane, who was sitting across the room.
Jane was in deep concentration with her newest sketch, so Daria had to tap her on the shoulder before she finally paid attention. “Jane, you know how I said months ago that if you had me wear makeup, I’d make you pay?”
“Yeah,” Jane replied, never looking up from her charcoal drawing.
“Well, I forgot to mention that I’d prefer my date to not wear makeup also.”
Jane frowned in confusion as she looked to the door. There, she saw a young, burly man who was currently smoothing down his red skirt. He grinned and waved at her, and she waved bewilderedly back at him. She turned back to Daria. “Woah. Looks like Taryn doesn’t know Phil as well as she thought she did.”
“You think?” She sighed. “This is awful.”
“Well, it’s definitely going to make for one interesting date.”
“Jane, there is no way I am going out with him.”
“C’mon, Daria. Don’t be so judgmental.”
“I am not judgmental.”
“What do you think you’re doing now?” she said. Daria looked away guiltily. “That’s what I thought. Come on! It‘ll be an adventure! A fun story to tell your grandchildren later.”
“You mean a funny story for you to tell everyone in your dorm hall.”
“Well…yeah. But you still should give it a shot.”
“Oh, fine.” Daria sighed and picked up her jacket. “Ok, Phil,” she called to her date. “Let’s go.”
Daria sipped her Dr. Pepper and surveyed her surroundings. Phil had brought her to his favorite hangout, a bright, blaring karaoke bar. The tables, chairs, and walls were all colored in neon colors of blue, pink, purple, green, and red. The only thing left untouched by the violent hues was the wooden stage, where amateur performers could sing their hearts out into a mike. Sighing, Daria turned her attention back to her date.
“I know you must’ve been shocked when I first showed up,” Phil said. “Everyone always is. But I feel it’s best to get the idea that I’m a cross dresser out in the open right away. No pretense….no lies… just me, being who I am!” He grinned at her from across the table.
“Um, I guess that’s a good philosophy to have.” Daria looked away. “So… then Taryn knew you were a cross dresser when she set you up with me?”
“I thought she did, but she probably would’ve told you if she knew. Maybe she doesn’t know.” His brow furrowed as he thought. “Maybe it’s because I only wore pants suits around her. I don’t know.” He shrugged.
“Well, I th---”
“Hey, look,” interrupted Phil, pointing to the stage. “The karaoke machine’s open! C’mon! Let’s go sing!”
“Oh no. No, no, no. I don’t do karaoke,” said Daria.
“You‘ll do fine. C‘mon!” He grabbed her by the hand and dragged her to the stage. Daria, feeling too bewildered by the whole situation, let herself be lead. They climbed the stairs, and Phil, never letting go of her hand, picked the song. He grabbed the mike as the opening chords rang. “Here’s how it’ll work. I’ll sing something, and then I’ll point the microphone at you for you to sing the next part. You just need to sing what’s on the screen over there. Any questions?”
“Yes, why did it have to be this song?”
Phil grinned. “It’s one of my favorites! Oo! It’s starting!” He began to sing in a rich tenor voice. “Humidity is rising!”
“Mm. Rising,” she said, nearly dying of embarrassment.
“Barometer is getting low!”
“How low…. girl?”
“According to our sources--”
“What sources now?”
“--the street is the place to go!”
“We better hurry up.”
“'Cause tonight for the first time---”
“--just about half past ten---”
“Half past ten.”
“--for the first time in history, it's gonna start raining men!”
“Start raining men.”
“It's raining men!”
“It's raining men!”
“Ame--- oh I can’t do this!” She finally wrenched herself free from Phil’s grip and stomped off the stage. “I‘ve got to go, Phil!”
Phil started to head after her. “But Dari---” He then stopped, noticing the audience watching him.
“Keep going!” cried a laughing voice from the back.
Phil grinned. “Well… okay. God bless Mother Nature! She’s a single woman too!” he continued.
Daria stormed out of the karaoke bar and never saw him again.
“Ooo it’s raining men; yeah!”
Carter had told Tom to meet his next blind date in front of the local movie theater. “She’ll be wearing green, so you’ll know her,” he had said. Sure enough, there she stood in front of the Megamulticinaplex wearing a bright green sweater.
“I’m Chelly Ann!!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms wide open in a grand ‘Ta-Da’ gesture.
“Uh, hi. I’m--”
“Tom! I know!” she said. “I sit two rows behind you in Marketing Management 101 and I must say, you are even hotter closer up!” She gave him a wink.
Tom didn’t quite know what to say to that, opting instead to keep quiet as Chelly Ann babbled on.
“This will be ever so much fun!” she continued, practically bouncing as spoke. “What do you want to see?”
“Love’s First Momentum? Me too! Sounds great!” she exclaimed.
After Tom had paid for the tickets, they made their way inside the theater with Chelly Ann hanging onto his arm all the way there.
“Ooo! Can we get popcorn! I love popcorn! Get me popcorn, Tom!”
“P-l-e-a-s-e?” she begged. “Please please please?!!”
“Fine!” He lifted Chelly’s arm off of his and made his way to the snack counter.
“I want light butter! Remember that!” she called after him.
After waiting in an outrageously long line, he bought the popcorn. He assured the man working at the counter that no, she wasn‘t really a friend of his, and no, he didn’t know how to make her shut up. He brought the popcorn back to Chelly, who was waiting by the entrance to the movie they would see.
“Finally!” she grabbed the bag from Tom and shoveled a handful of popcorn into her mouth. Suddenly, she wrinkled her nose. “This is not light butter.”
“What? Yes it is!” Tom grabbed a few kernels and popped them into his mouth. “There’s hardly any butter on here!”
“Take it back. It’s not what I asked for.”
Tom frowned. This girl was really trying his patience. Reminding himself again that she was Carter‘s friend, and therefore, it would be in bad form to ditch her, he tried to reason with her instead. “If I do, we’d miss half the movie. Look at that line!”
Chelly Ann sighed. “You’re right. Let’s go!” She roughly grabbed his hand and dragged him into the theater.
The theater was as crowded as Tom had ever seen it. Except for a few gaps near the front, every row was packed. Chelly was beginning to head down the steps to the front.
“Wow! We’re lucky! Look at all those seats in the front row! Awesome!” she said.
Tom held her back. “Wait, I can’t sit in the front. It gives me headaches.”
Chelly Ann rolled her eyes. “Ok, Mr. Selfish. Wait! There aren’t any two seats together up here!” She bit her lower lip in thought. “Hmm…. I have an idea!”
As Tom watched the movie from the back row, he supposed he was lucky that he was sitting so far away from her. She’d probably talk during the movie, anyway, he thought. From the front row, Chelly turned around and waved at him, then went back to watching the movie.
The rest of the night was pleasant until the movie ended and Tom was forced to be in contact with Chelly Ann again.
“Hiya, cutie!“ Chelly beamed at him.
“Yeah, hi,” said Tom, feeling quite thankful that the night was over.
She began to dig through her purse. “Wanna Tic-Tac?” she offered loudly, making several other movie-goers turn at the sound of her voice.
“Suit yourself,” she said in the same sonic boom of a voice, “but I always like to have fresh breath before I make out.”
A nearby mother gasped, covered her child’s ears, and led her little girl away, glaring at Chelly and Tom as she went.
“I…um.. can’t,” began Tom, backing away slowly. “I have to be somewhere early tomorrow morning… actually, I have somewhere I need to be now, so…bye.”
“How did it go?” asked Carter.
The sound of a slammed door was his only answer.
“Um…not well, then?”
“Carter, what were you thinking?” he exclaimed as he threw his coat on his bed.
Cupid grinned as he stood invisibly next to him. The question is: What was I thinking!
“She was horrible!” Tom continued, flopping into a nearby chair.
Carter frowned. “Hey, I know she seems kind of…eccentric at first, but she’s nice once you get to know her. Give her another chance!”
“No. She’s not getting another chance. No one is getting a chance. I quit. I’m done. I give up. No more blind dates. Maybe no dates at all, now. All those girls--that muffin obsessed girl, the appearance fanatic, that girl with all the piercings---”
“Hey, that‘s what makes Theresa Theresa.”
“---they’ve practically ruined it for me!”
“Oh come on…”
“I mean it, Carter!”
Oh no, thought Cupid. This is not cool; this is definitely not cool. He hadn’t been planning on making Tom dislike dating, but it seemed that it was happening. I’ve got to do something. I’ve got…..He smiled. …a plan! It would take a lot of hard work and maneuvering to pull it off, but it was Cupid’s last hope.
Daria sat in her date’s Ford Focus in front of her dorm building and idly toyed with a loose thread on her coat. When will it end!? she thought desperately.
“I had a really nice time tonight, Daria,” said her date.
“Um… yeah, me too, Roger,” she lied.
“Great!” Roger grinned. “What about you, Mr. Smiley?” he asked the ventriloquist dummy on his lap. “Did you have a nice time?
‘When you said we were going to have a date, I thought you meant date as in the fruit kind of date! Nyuk nyuk nyuk!’ came the voice of Roger through the wooden dummy.
“Shush, Mr. Smiley.” He turned back to Daria. “I’d really like to do this again with you. How ‘bout it?”
“Uh, Roger, you’re a nice guy…. but I’m not really comfortable going on a date with a dummy.
‘Or his puppet‘, she silently said to herself.
“Oh,” he said disappointedly. He then brought the dummy’s mouth close to his left ear, nodding, as if the doll were speaking to him. “Well, Mr. Smiley says you’ve hurt his feelings, and he’s not comfortable going out with you either. Where he goes, I go, so I guess this is goodbye.”
“Oh, g--- um…too bad,” said Daria. “Bye, then.” She bolted out of the car as fast as possible and headed inside the building.
It had been an extremely long night for Daria. She wearily trudged to her dorm room, unlocked the door, and opened it, sighing as she did so. She stood in surprise for a moment when she saw that Jane was there waiting for her.
“Hey, amiga,” greeted Jane.
“What are you doing here?” Daria said as she closed the door behind her.
Jane rolled her eyes. “Such a warm welcome for your best friend. I’m here because I wanna hear how your date went!”
Daria frowned. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Oh come on, he can’t be worse than Eric.”
“There is nothing wrong with Eric, thank you very much,” said Taryn from her top bunk. “He’s nice and smart and funny….”
“He has a fan club. He said if I joined, I’d get a free ‘I love Eric’ bumper sticker.”
“I still think you should have joined,” Taryn said grumpily, going back to the Bio book she was studying.
“Anyway,” Daria began, “I am not going on another blind date. No matter how much you threaten me. It’s too horrible.”
“Fair enough. It‘s your decision…. you‘re entitled to it. We won‘t force you to do anymore…..” said Jane, “…..except I kinda sorta need to force you into just one more.”
“Well, you see, I met this really cool, cute guy, and we sorta hit it off, and I asked him if he wanted to go out sometime, but he said he’d go only if I brought a date for his friend too. Please go with me! Please!” begged Jane.
“I don’t know….”
“I’d do it for you!”
Daria looked at Jane and reluctantly sighed. “Fine. Where are we going and what time do we have to be there?”
It was a lovely spring night when a taxi cab pulled up in front of Angellin’s Italian Café. Daria got out of the cab, frowning as she smoothed down her pale green dress.
Jane really owes me for this, she thought as she headed for the door. I wonder what nightmare is waiting for me inside this time. Another German student wanting a Green Card? Another cross dresser? Another ventriloquist? A German cross-dressing ventriloquist? Ugh. If it is, Jane is going to---
She turned around to face the source of the voice. “Tom?”
He had been standing behind her with a look of surprise on his face. “Hey. I wasn’t expecting to run into you tonight.”
“Well, how’s your life been going?”
“It’s okay, I guess. Yours?”
“Fine…. fine.” There was an awkward pause. “So…. Daria….. what brings you here?”
Looking down at the ground, she said, “Actually…..I’m sort of here on a date.”
Tom’s face fell. “Oh.”
“A blind date. Jane made me.”
“Oh. You got forced into one too? Huh. That’s weird. So did I.”
“You’re kidding. That’s---” Daria suddenly paused for a moment. “Wait…. you’re not by any chance going on a double date as well, are you?”
“Actually, I am.” Suddenly, his eyes widened as he realized exactly what Daria was getting at. “You don’t think…” They turned their attention back to the restaurant. Sure enough, they could see Jane and Carter through the window, looking over their menus and chatting.
“You know what they’re trying to do, don’t you? They’re trying to play matchmaker,” Daria grumbled.
“It certainly seems that way,” said Tom. Suddenly, he turned towards Daria and grinned mischievously. “Too bad we won’t get to see the looks on their faces when they see they’ve been stood up.”
“I’m just saying I think we should leave. They’re going to think they’re so clever getting us together like this. If we leave, they don’t get that satisfaction.”
Daria thought about that for a moment. “Sounds like a plan to me. Well, I guess I’ve got to call another taxi to get back. Nice seeing you,” she started to leave.
“Wait!“ Tom said. Daria stopped and turned back. “Why don’t I drive you back to your place?”
“Um, right. Yeah, I guess that would be the best thing to do.”
“Great, my car’s right over there.”
They walked across the parking lot to Tom’s car, the same one he’d had since high school. Before Daria could get there, Tom walked over to the passenger side and opened the door for her. However, instead of getting in, Daria just stood there staring for a moment.
“Daria, are you gonna get in the car, or should I strap you to the hood?” Tom smiled, jokingly.
“…..No, I’m coming.” She slid in, and Tom shut the door.
“I’m sorry, Carter,” Jane said, looking at her watch again. “She should be here any second. My friend is never like this, I swear.” Looking back up at Carter, her face regained the dreamy look she had had all evening. She had never felt quite this way before. She was consumed with a light, warm, almost magical feeling.
Carter shrugged, grinning goofily. “That’s alright, my friend seems to be running behind too.”
“At this rate, I bet they’re not gonna show up. It’s probably just as well.” Jane sighed. “She was getting sick of blind dates anyway. She would have been grouchy all night.”
“Plus, now we get more time alone!” Carter waggled eyebrows, and Jane let out a giggle. “Actually, I’m kinda glad Tom didn’t show up!”
Jane did a double-take. Wait, doesn’t Carter go to Bromwell? “Tom? Tom who?”
“Tom Sloane.” Carter frowned. “Do you know him or something?”
“You could say that,” she said weakly. “I dated him in high school for about seven months.”
“Really? Wow, that’s pretty ironic.”
“Oh, Carter,” she said, shaking her head. “You don’t know the half of it….”
Unbeknownst to Jane, Carter, and the other inhabitants of the restaurant, Cupid was standing in corner nearby. Zapping Jane and Carter with the Love Tazer once more, he headed toward the restaurant’s exit in pursuit of his current subjects. Suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks.
Oh, wait a minute! I almost forgot! He grabbed his bow and two red arrows from his bag. With perfect form he pulled back the string and let the two arrows take flight.
In a booth across the room, Krissy laughed as she spoke with her boyfriend. “Anyway, so then I told her, if you think that’s bad, you should have seen what happened last year with me and Megan in New Hampshire, and she said----Ow!” She felt as if something had hit her chest.
“Hon, what happ---woah, hey!” Her boyfriend, Brandon, was suddenly subject to the same sharp, short pain Krissy had. It felt as if waves of electricity were running through his body.
When the sensation stopped, both sighed in relief, checking themselves over to see if they were hurt. “Krissy, did you feel….” He suddenly looked up into Krissy’s eyes.
And suddenly both of them found themselves unable to speak. It was at that moment that the both of them knew that they were with the person they would spend the rest of their lives with.
Another success! Cupid thought. He looked down at his watch. Oh son of Zeus, I’m late again. Off he rushed to catch up with Daria and Tom.
Tom turned right on the corner of Brown Road and Cherry Street, glancing a bit at Daria as he did. “So… you’ve been alright?”
Daria thought a bit. “Yeah… yeah I am. I’m actually really enjoying college. It’s surprisingly less totalitarian than high school was. You?”
“Same here. I’ve been making new friends…. meeting new people….”
“Oh. Me too,” Daria looked out the window.
“Are you… seeing somebody?”
“Not at the moment, although I was unfortunately subjected to blind date torture several times by my friends.”
“Oh, you can’t even imagine. By the way, you need to turn left here to get to my place.” She pointed off to the side.
“Alright,” he said as he turned in the requested direction. “Anyway, trust me, whatever bad blind dates you had, mine were worse.”
“Is that so?“ Daria skeptically raised a eyebrow.
“Let me put it this way,“ said Tom. “Do you know every single kind of muffin there is?”
He grimaced. “I was told them all. All seventy-nine of them”
“Well, I was on a date with a madman and his puppet.”
“I went out with a member of the Fashion Club.”
“Ouch, that would be hard to top,” said Daria.
“Do I win then?”
“Not unless you went out with a drag queen, like I did.”
“I really, really, wish I was.”
“All hail the Queen of Bad Dates. Your crown and scepter will arrive in six to eight business weeks.”
“Yeah.” He grinned a little, but it soon faltered. “Listen….I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately.”
Daria looked away again. “Turn right at the stoplight. My place is in that blue building right over there.”
“Tom, we’ve been through this---”
“So you haven’t missed me? Ever?” He frowned as he turned to pull into her building’s parking lot. There was no answer. “Even a little?”
Daria bit her lip, not wanting to admit how she felt. She was the one who initiated the breakup, and she felt obligated to hold fast to her decision. “Look, whether I miss you or not is not the point.”
“So you do, then.” He turned the car engine off and turned to face her.
“We still have the same problems we had before. You’re still from higher economic class than me and you go to school over a hundred miles away.”
“I know, I know. I just don’t see why we can’t work those things out. I really have been missing you--”
“Tom, next to a Fashion Club member, anyone would look good.”
“Okay, I won’t disagree that my blind dates made you look really great in comparison. Even if they hadn’t been so horrible, though, I’d still miss you. I didn’t realize how much I liked you until we broke up,” he said.
Daria sighed. “Me too,” she whispered, not realizing she had said it aloud.
“Then why can’t we get back together?”
Realizing her secret was out, Daria blushed furiously. “I… you…. I…. We just can’t!”
“But I---Ouch!” Tom let out a yelp as Daria looked on concernedly.
“Are you OK?” she asked. She wondered what had caused Tom’s brief moment of pain and why he was suddenly giving her a strange, intense look. “You look----Ah!” Suddenly she felt a sharp jab in the chest. Instantly, the pain was forgotten as she looked at Tom.
He’s wonderful… and handsome… and smart and funny….. she thought as gazed at him dreamily, unable to speak. Why did I care so much about the distance and money? I mean when you love someone, that shouldn’t matter. Wait…. I love him? I love him! Wow…..
After a few minutes, Daria finally broke the silence. “Maybe I was a little too hasty. I just want to say I… I mean, I never thought that… oh, forget it.” She leaned in and met his lips in a kiss, not really needing to explain anything to him. He already understood.
“Fine. You… did a good job.”
St. Patrick’s Day and Cupid stood invisibly off the side of the crowd on that balmy summer’s day. They opted to wear jeans and T-shirts in case they needed to come in contact with any mortals.
“I thought for sure you’d make a bags of doing it.“ Pat shook his head and took a sip of his drink. “You put them through dating hell, and now everything is even better than before?!”
“Well, if the commitment ceremony is any indication, yeah,” he waved his hand around to indicate the large gathering of well wishers among them. A moderately sized group of Daria and Tom’s friends and family had come to their commitment ceremony to wish them luck on their later marriage.
“So I guess you’re done with this case?”
“Yep. Everything is taken care of. It’s time for me to move on to another couple for my main project.”
“Who is it this time?”
“Oh, I dunno…..Memorial Day has been giving you the eye lately….” he teased.
“Woah, laddie. I can take care of my own love life, thanks.”
“Surrre you can,” said Cupid, trying to dig through his bag. “Now let’s see…what do I use on you next time you aren’t looking? The Dazed Dart Gun? The Love Lasso? The---”
“How many stupid gadgets with stupid names do you have in there?” Pat asked irritably.
“Woah, that’s not cool!” Cupid frowned. “If you’re going to act like that, I’ll just shoot you with the Sling of Spinster-ness!”
“I couldn’t. Made it up,” he grinned.
“Ha ha, laddie. Very funny.” St. Patrick’s Day rolled his eyes. “Almost as funny as those cereal jokes I get every day…”
Cupid grinned. “Oh yeah, that reminds me, Pat…how’s your drink? Is it ‘magically delicious’?”
“Don’t make me hurt you.”
“Ok, ok, just chill, dude,” Cupid pacified Pat, grinning. “Listen, could you hold my drink? I want to go make a request to the band.”
Pat accepted Cupid’s drink with a raised eyebrow. “I dunno if they’ll be able to play your favorite song, laddie.“
“You heard them before….they want to ‘expand their horizons by agreeing to experiment with previous music and blah, blah, blah.’”
Patrick still looked dubious, but said, “I guess, but be quick about it. You know as well as I do we aren’t really supposed to be seen.”
“It’ll be fine. I doubt anyone will notice me as long as I’m in this getup,” said Cupid, gesturing at his T-shirt.
“Yeah, much better than your usual diaper.”
“It’s a toga!” Cupid’s ears glowed a bright red.
“If you say so, lad. Now, go request your little song!” Pat waved him off, and Cupid left for the bandstand, glaring over his shoulder as he went.
“Jane, what was that?” asked Daria, toying at the bottom of her short, plain white dress.
“What was what?”
Daria frowned. “I saw thought I saw something near the band for a minute. It looked like….white wings?”
“Wow. A bird. In the outdoors. Amazing.” Jane smirked.
“I don’t think it--”
“Unless the birds start going all ’Alfred Hitchcock’ on you, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. This commitment ceremony thing seems to be going pretty well.”
Deciding to let the subject of the wings slide, Daria answered, “Yeah, it’s kind of surprising. No yelling or bloodshed or anything.”
She was rather relieved. She had been a bit worried before that her wedding would become a family fight fest as her cousin Erin’s was, but things seemed downright pleasant. Daria and Tom’s families seemed to be getting along swimmingly and her mother had wisely opted to stay as far from Rita as possible.
“Yeah, it’s going well.” Jane cleared her throat. “Anyway…so….”
“So?” Daria said.
“Do you feel….I dunno….married?” said Jane.
Daria couldn’t suppress a slight smile. “Hey, we’re not getting married until after college. This is just like a practice run and a replacement for a wedding shower.”
“Yes, yes, but all future marriage dates and odd party substitutes aside…. do you? You did have a sort of ceremony after all,” Jane pressed her.
“The truth?” Daria asked. Jane nodded. “….maybe a little,” said Daria quietly.
“Ha!” she gloated. “I knew it.” She took a sip of her drink. “Where is that no-good husband-to-be of yours, anyway?”
“Two of his aunts cornered him around the punch bowl a minute ago.”
“An aunt ambush. Poor kid. Never stood a chance. Why don’t you go be a good little bride and try to rescue him?”
“Why don’t you go rescue Carter from Taryn’s jaws-of-life grip?” She gestured across the party at Taryn with an arm clasped around Carter’s waist.
Jane snorted. “I only went out with the man once. She can have him.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what came over me when I met him. Darn aliens and their behavior-controlling devices.”
“Yes, Jane. Some supernatural force just happened to make you go ga-ga over Tom’s best friend for a day.”
“Hey, it could happen.” She glanced over Daria’s shoulder, spotting a stately blonde 20-something man. “Um…speaking of ga-ga….I’ll be right back.”
She waved a brief goodbye, promising to come back to chat soon. ‘Some things will never change…’ thought Daria.
Suddenly a squeak from a speaker made Daria turn her attention to the band.
“Hey….we’re Mystik Spiral,” Trent rasped in the microphone.
“We’re the band!” said Jesse.
“Um….yeah…anyway, we’ve got a request here. We don’t really do this kind of music, but….well, we can try.“ Trent shrugged. “This one’s for Eros!”
With that, Trent let out a guitar riff and the band began to play the song‘s introduction. He wasn’t kidding when he said it wasn’t regular Mystik Spiral. It was quick, upbeat, and… were those major chords? Daria wasn’t sure, standing in shock as she realized what song they were playing.
“The first, the last, my everything….and the answer to all my dreams. You’re my sun, my moon, my guiding star…..my kind of wonderful… that’s what you are.”
A Barry White song.
The vision of white wings she saw earlier came back to Daria in a flash. Cupid…no. I’m being stupid. Just because some guy with the nickname ‘Eros’ requested a Barry White song doesn’t mean that he’s here. He was just an illusion…a stupid high school dream brought on by week-old Chinese food.’ She looked at the engagement ring on her finger, gleaming white in the sun. But, if he is real, did he…
She shook her head and turned her attention back to the band, until Tom, having just pried himself from his aunts, came over and slid his arm around her waist.
“Trent is playing Barry White?” he said incredulously.
“Must be a sign of the apocalypse,” smirked Daria, collecting herself again.
“Darn, I was hoping that would wait until at least after the honeymoon,” said Tom cheekily.
Daria smirked and rolled her eyes.
Tom smiled, then looked back to the band. “Hm…A garage band version of My First, My Last, My Everything…I wonder who requested that one.”
Daria frowned and cocked her head. “You know… I’m really not sure.”
Not knowing exactly what she meant by that, Tom raised an eyebrow, but decided to let the subject drop. They quietly enjoyed each other’s company with Tom’s arm draped around her until he finally broke the silence.
“So I guess this is the part when we live happily ever after?”
“’Happily ever after‘? How about something a little less sappy and a little more original?”
“Ok.” He thought for a second. “’We live tolerably in each other’s presence until one of us is dead. The end.’”
Daria favored him with a smile. “No, Tom. It’s ‘The Beginning’.”
“Now who’s being sappy?”
“Oh, shut up and kiss me.”
Tom, needless to say, was all too happy to oblige.
“I know there's only, only one like you. There's no way they could have made two. Girl you're my reality….. but I'm lost in a dream….. You're the first, you're the last, my everything……”
1. All Daria characters are the property of MTV/Viacom.
2. All others are mine, but the names of Taryn, ‘Kristenique’, Beth, Elizabeth, and Krysten, Scarlett, Chelly Ann, Roger, Brandon, and the restaurant Angellin’s Italian Café are based on the names of some PPMB members who so graciously allowed me to give them cameos. Any or all characteristics I gave to the characters, however, do not necessarily represent the real life personalities of those people.
3. I bow to my betas, Tananda, Lawndale Stalker, Robert Nowall, and Angelinhel!
4. Any Barry White songs mentioned don’t belong to me.
5. Parts of this, as if you haven’t realized, are novelizations of events in the actual show, such as the break-up scenes from ‘IICY‘, the car scene from ‘Boxing Daria’, and the chocolate-eating scene from ’Sappy Anniversary’.
6. Special thanks to Outpost Daria for use of ‘Boxing Daria’ and ‘Sappy Aniversary’ transcripts.
Wallace: "The question is, what is a Mahna Mahna?"
Statler: "The question is, who cares?
-The Muppet Show (The Mahna Mahna Song)