Fifteen Minutes of Frame

By Austin Covello
Based on the Characters Created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis

"I don’t believe this!" cried Daria Morgendorffer with uncharacteristic heat. She was at her best friend Jane Lane’s house, watching TV. Normally at this time of day she’d be watching Sick, Sad World on MTV, reveling in the misfits and freaks who were her (fortunately) as yet unmet peers. But today her usual trashy tabloid show had been pre-empted for a one hour pilot so sick that not even Daria could stomach it.

"It’s The Beavis and Butthead Show!" an off-camera announcer crooned as the theme began to play. It looked like a cheesy rip-off of that old cop show, Starsky & Hutch.

"How did those two idiots get a TV show!" Daria demanded to the television. The television ignored her, as usual.

Jane on the other hand was more than willing to put her two cents worth in. "Well, you know how MTV is. Tom Freston and his cronies probably got together and said, ‘hmm… we’re not meeting our violence and stupidity quota for the year. Why don’t we get two inbreeds from Texas with a mile long criminal record? That’ll bring in the ratings.’"

"At least I’m not part of it," said Daria.

"…and co-starring Tracy Grandstaff as Daria Morgendorffer!" said the announcer, as if on cue.

A flicker of disbelief crossed Daria’s normally expressionless face. "Do me a favor," she said to Jane. "Go into the kitchen and get me a knife. A nice, sharp knife."

"Sorry. No can do. You still owe me five bucks."

Daria turned off the TV, eager to get Highland’s Prodigal Sons out of her sight. As she watched Jane work on her latest masterpiece, something occurred to her.

"Jane, nearly every time I come over, you’re working on a painting. What happens to them when they’re finished?"

"I sell them."

"Okay. Now where do they really go?"

"No, really. I can get about thirty bucks from local diners for my paintings. Mom’s bought my neo-Goya for forty-five."

"You sell them to diners?" asked Daria incredulously.

"And the Leeville Museum of Modern and Post-Modern Art. They’ve got this section for juvenile artists. They want to catch us while we’re young," Jane noted cynically.

"And how much do they pay you?"

"They’re my best customers. I can squeeze about fifty out of them."

"I always wondered where you got your money for pizza. You don’t have anyone to blackmail like me."

Jane shrugged. "Well, I have to have some way of paying the mortgage when my parents go off on their spiritual quests," she said modestly.

Just then the phone rang. "I wonder who that could be," Jane said as she walked over to the phone. "Only one person ever calls me and she’s right here."

Jane picked up the phone. "Hello? …Well speak of the devil! …That sounds great! …Oh. …I see. …I see. …Look, is there some way you could forego that part of it? …No? …Okay, maybe it won’t be that painful after all. …Hey, at least I miss a school day, right? …Okay, bye." Jane replaced the receiver.

"Who was that?" asked Daria. Jane seldom went from depression to jubilation and back again in the span of a phone call.

"That was the museum’s junior curator. ‘Due to my outstanding achievements and contributions as an artist to the Museum of Modern and Post-Modern Art, the museum has graciously bestowed upon me my own exhibition room, as a token of their gratitude.’ The Jane Lane Room."

"That’s you, all right," said Daria sarcastically. "The most outstanding achiever I know. What’s the real reason?"

"My paintings were taking up too much space in the juvenile wing. Wait, it gets worse."

"How so?"

"They’re holding a dedication ceremony in my honor, and I have to make a little speech. Right in front of all those artsy types."

"And you want me to write the speech for you."

"Well, if you’re offering…"


"Come on," whined Jane.

"I don’t care. You’re not going to break me with your sonic torture devices either. I live with Quinn, remember?"

"Come on," Jane whined again. "It’s not the hardest speech in the world to write, you know."

"Then why don’t you write it?"

"Because you’re the best writer I know, and this is a special occasion."

"Flattery will get you everywhere."


"No, it was the whining."

"Tell you what, I’ll even forget about the five bucks."

"Then can I please have that knife now?"

"Nope. Blood leaves stains on the carpet. Hey, how bad can it be? No one ever watches Sick, Sad World at school. They probably don’t even know Beavis and Butthead exist."

That night at dinner, Daria recounted what she had seen on television to her family. Helen listened, leaning toward her daughter and fingers steepled with interest. "Well, now. Who would have thought those two would get a television show?"

"Then the worst part is that they have a likeness of me on the show. And the woman doesn’t look a thing like me! It’s enough to make you wish they’d outlawed inbreeding. Wait, they already did that."

"You really feel strongly about this, don’t you Daria?" said Helen.

"How could you tell?" asked Daria sardonically.

"Well… you’re talking to us."

Daria shrugged.

"I’m sure we can at least get them for Defamation of Character."

"Mom," interrupted Daria, "those two are so stupid, they’re probably not even getting paid. The producers are probably taking all of the money."

Across from Daria, Quinn was busy dialing the phone. "Quinn, honey, who are you calling?" asked Helen.

"Beavis and Butthead. With any luck, I can get a guest appearance on the show," replied Quinn.

"I had hoped that you would be more supportive of your sister in this matter," said Helen.

"Muh-om," whined Quinn, "I want to be on TV." Then she spoke into the receiver. "Hello, MTV? May I please speak to Beavis and Butthead? …Tell them it’s Daria’s, I mean Diarrhea’s sister."

"I always wondered why she was so anal," quipped Daria.

"…Yes, they’ll know what I mean. …Thank you." Quinn waited patiently for a few minutes. "Hi Beavis! …You remember me, don’t you? …It’s Quinn, Diarrhea’s sister. …Uh-huh …So how are things in Texas? …You set Anderson’s house on fire?" Quinn laughed nervously. "Huh-huh, that’s cool," she imitated Butthead. "…So listen, I was wondering, since I’m Diarrhea’s sister, can I come down and do a show with you guys? …What? EEEEWWWWWW!" She hung up the phone.

"What did he say?" asked Helen.

"He said he’d fly me down to do the show if he could score with me," replied Quinn.

"So when are you going?" asked Daria sarcastically.

Across from Helen, Jake slammed down the newspaper and stood up like a rocket being shot into space. "What? No daughter of mine is going to sell her body just so she can be on some trashy television program!"

"Jake, sit down," said Helen. "She isn’t going to do the show."

"Oh…" began Jake sarcastically. Then Helen’s statement finally registered on Jake’s brain. "Oh," he said with understanding, taking his seat at the dinner table.

"Right, Dad," said Quinn. "No television show is worth that."

"So much for Quinn’s acting career," laughed Jane after Daria had retold the events of last night at school. The two were walking to art class, and Jane was looking forward to incorporating today’s lesson into another painting. Daria also enjoyed art: the teacher, Ms. Defoe, was actually normal; and Daria’s drawings were often great inspirations for stories and essays in English class.

"That’s good enough for me," said Daria. "I don’t want any more connection with those two idiots than I already have."

"You know, Daria, anyone else would kill to be in a TV show."

"Not me. I wasn’t meant to be on television."

"Yeah," agreed Jane, "you’re one of those girls you base a series of teen novellas on, right?"

Daria shrugged. "Assuming I wasn’t too boring to write about, yeah."

Just then a familiar chant came from down the hall. "DIARRHEA-CHA-CHA-CHA! DIARRHEA-CHA-CHA-CHA!"

Daria looked down the hallway and then sighed, simultaneously relieved and annoyed to find Kevin Thompson at the source of the chants. He was still chanting with fervor as Daria and Jane approached him and his girlfriend, Brittany Taylor.

"No one at school would be watching, huh?" Daria growled at Jane.

"Well what do you want?" replied Jane. "It’s hard to think down to their level."

"Hey, Daria," greeted Kevin. "I mean ‘Diarrhea’."

"Wow, Daria," squeaked Brittany. "You’re famous. That woman who plays you sounds exactly like you!"

"Yeah. DIARRHEA-CHA-CHA…" Kevin broke off as Brittany elbowed him in the stomach. She lowered her voice to a whisper.

"I wish he’d stop that. He sounds so stupid."

"You noticed?" remarked Jane.

"Look, Kevin," Daria began, "I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t call me that. It gets on my nerves."

"Sure thing Dia… Daria."

"And let’s just keep this our little secret, okay?"

"What are you talking about?" asked Kevin. "It’s all over school."

Daria sighed and rested her head on a nearby locker. Then she began to bang her head against it repeatedly.

By the time they had gotten to art class, things had gotten better. Kevin’s chanting had dribbled off into Freudian slips, and Jane was telling Daria about her problems, which always seemed to take her mind off of her own. "…so I had to go to the office to get Ms. Li to excuse me from school for the dedication ceremony."

"And if you’re not back in forty-eight hours, she calls out the bloodhounds."

"No, she seemed content enough. And that is what worries me."

"Sounds like we’re going to have to keep an ear out for morning announcements."

Morning announcements came just before art class, and told about school sports results and school sponsored events. The one daily ritual was that Ms. Li would get on the PA at the end of the morning announcements and give them some "important information", which usually had something to do with security. No one ever listened to them.

The morning announcements progressed as Jodie Landon read them off from the intercom room. "…and in sports news, Old Saybrooke beat Lawndale 20-14, when a certain Quarterback whose name I won’t mention, Kevin, attempted to run the touchdown in at the last down Tommy Sherman style, despite Team Captain Michael Jordan MacKenzie’s orders to throw the stupid ball. He got jumped by about five guys from the other team who were expecting it. That game would have got us into the Class-LL State Tournament semi-finals. But I’m not bitter, oh no…" she abruptly broke off. "Here is Ms. Li with some final announcements."

Ms. Li’s voice came over the PA. "Attention students, I have some exciting news! Lawndale High’s very own Jane Lane will be getting her own exhibition room at the Leeville Museum of Modern and Post-Modern Art one week from this Wednesday. Congratulations to Miss Lane!"

Jane groaned, hanging her head and pinching the bridge of her nose.

"At least I’ll never have to worry about something like that," said Daria smugly.

"And another kudos to Daria Morgendorffer, who has become a semi-regular character on the critically acclaimed Beavis and Butthead Show! Good job to you both for bringing fame and honor to Lawwwn-dale High!"

"‘Critically acclaimed’?" repeated Daria dubiously.

"I’m so proud of you, Jane!" said Ms. Defoe. "Isn’t it the dream of all artists to get their own exhibition room in a museum?"

"Aren’t they supposed to wait until I’m dead, first?" asked Jane, fairly certain where this was leading.

"Safely dead?" amended Daria.

"Is something the matter?" asked Ms. Defoe.

"Well, you see, I have to recite this speech for the dedication ceremony, and I’m not too comfortable with the idea of public speaking," Jane explained. "Especially considering how important everyone there will be pretending to be."

Ms. Defoe laughed. "Well perhaps some familiar faces will help. I know what! We’ll make the ceremony into a field trip. That way you can have your friends to support you! How does that sound?"

"It sounds…" began Jane.

"Excellent! I knew you’d appreciate the offer!"

"She’s going stir-crazy, isn’t she?" quipped Daria.

"Great! Just great!" cried Jane after art. "Now not only do I get to make a fool of myself in front of the art community, I get to make a fool of myself in front of half the school!"

"It’s not that bad," said Daria. "Most of them will be too busy shooting spitballs to pay attention to what you’re saying anyway."

"I just hope Quinn doesn’t decide to come."

"Since when does she care about painting anything other than her face?" Daria raised her eyebrows. "Just out of curiosity, why should it matter if she does come?"

"I… ah… may have had her a subject of a painting or two. Or three. Or four."

"I didn’t know you studied existentialism," said Daria in mock surprise. "They’re all in a negative light, I assume."

"That depends on how popular you are."

"You didn’t paint her nude, did you?"

"Of course not."

"Damn. And I was hoping to reveal to the school how much she stuffs her bra."

From behind them, Quinn fought the urge to leap with joy. She had been eavesdropping from a discreet distance from the time she had heard her name mentioned. A painting! So what if she had been painted in black light, or whatever. At least it wasn’t pastels. Besides, how many people in the school were the subject of a painting? Why, she was a real life Moaning Lisa, or whatever it was called. I can’t wait to see what I look like, she thought as she ran off to get a permission slip.

"So they’re turning this ceremony into a field trip?" asked Helen as she helped herself to another square of lasagna.

"Yup," replied Daria. "Now the whole art department can be offended by Jane’s work, instead of just the principal."

"God, Daria," cried Quinn. "I’m sure her paintings are nice. Can’t you at least be supportive of your friend for once?"

"You mean the way you’re so supportive of Sandi?" retorted Daria. "You never cared about art before…" Daria frowned as a thought entered her head. "You eavesdropped on our conversation, didn’t you?"

Quinn shrugged. "Well, it’s a small hallway. I couldn’t help but overhear. Come on Daria. How often do you get to be in a painting? In fact, if she wants, I can come over and pose for her."

"The way you’re doing now?" asked Daria snidely. "Well, she has said that she needs a model for her life drawing."

Jake stood up like a shot. "What? No daughter of mine is going to pose nude just for the sake of some stuck up art community!"

"She’s not posing nude for anybody, Jakey," said Helen mock sweetly. "Sit down!" she commanded.

Jake sat in his seat and whimpered. "There’s a good husband," said Helen. "I think it’s a wonderful experience to go see your friends artwork on display."

"Almost like being a member of the firing squad for her execution," interrupted Daria.

"Tell me, girls, do they need chaperones?"

"No!" cried Daria and Quinn at once.

The week passed by as students awaited the field trip with emotions varying from anticipation to tepidness to downright dread. Daria had managed to pass the time by writing the speech that Jane would have to give and fending off not-so-occult chanting of "diarrhea" worshipers. Her speech wasn’t monumental or earth-shattering, but it was passable. Jane had approved at least.

Then the day of the field trip arrived, and Daria went to Howard Drive to pick up Jane, as was usual. Unlike most field trips, the departure time was at nine, as opposed to some ungodly hour in the morning where you had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn. Jane was bad enough at normal school hours; getting her up at four would be like pulling Trent out of one of his comas.

Daria walked up to the cream colored house and rang the doorbell. Jane would be sleeping, no doubt. If Trent didn’t answer the door, Jane would come out in her boxers and night shirt, bleary-eyed and half asleep.

There was a weary trudge-trudge sound coming closer to the door that identified the person behind it as Jane. It was a gift Daria had; she could identify people by their footsteps. The footsteps faltered, and then continued toward the door. Daria’s jaw dropped as the door opened.

Jane was dressed in a red sleeveless rhinestone dress with a collar that hung around her neck like a noose, leaving her barebacked. Daria craned her neck upward to see Jane’s face. Her makeup wasn’t the usual cheap kind that jumped loudly off of her face, but rather a softer toned type designed to blend in with someone’s skin. Daria’s eyes slowly trailed down Jane’s body to discover the reason why she had had to tilt her head to look at her. She was wearing matching high-heels.

Jane’s legs began to wobble as she tried to take a step. Daria reached out to steady her. "Don’t say a word, Daria," she said with quiet menace. "Just don’t say a word."

"I didn’t say anything," replied Daria mildly with a Mona Lisa smile on her face.

"Good. Keep in that frame of mind." The two started to walk to school. "Damn, it’s freezing out here!" She put her hands underneath her armpits. "Daria, give me your jacket."

"Like hell."

"But I’m cold," whined Jane.

"Then why did you get all dressed up?"

"It’s my ceremony. I have to look the occasion."


"Because…" she paused to think up a good reason. "Okay, fine! I had a fit of vanity! Are you satisfied?" She tripped again. Daria snatched her arm before she could fall flat on her face. "Damn high heels!" Jane cursed.

"You know, Upchuck is going to have a field day with you."

"Shut up, Daria."

"You’re in high spirits."

"Call me neurotic, but something tells me that I’m going to have a bad day."

"No worse than usual."

"Daria," said Jane, "you’re such an optimist."

Daria shrugged. "So everyone tells me," she replied.

When Daria and Jane finally got to school, Ms. Defoe herded them along with the rest of the students onto one of the buses. They were greeted by a beady eyed, middle aged woman bus driver who scowled at them.

Daria sighed. "It’s finally happened. The dreaded South Park cameo."

"Sit down and shut up!" yelled Miss Crabtree.

At the back of the bus, The Fashion Club conversed. "Wow, Sandi, those leggings look so good," said Tiffany.

"I said ‘be quiet’!" hollered Crabtree.

"Actually," said Daria, "you said, ‘shut up.’ But I guess it means the same thing."

"I’d say she rates about a nine on the DeMartino scale," quipped Jane.

The bus swerved as Crabtree reached for a vanilla colored box in the glove compartment. She opened the box and took out a rabbit and a handgun. "If you kids don’t shut up I’m gonna kill this little bunny!" she screamed.

"Oh no!" cried Quinn.

"Not that!" sobbed Stacy.

Daria, on the other hand, quirked a smile. "You know, Jane, I have been in the mood for some rabbit stew."

"Gahdammit!" screeched Crabtree. She pulled over to the side of the road and threw the handgun and bunny down. The Fashion Club collectively breathed a sigh of relief.

"I knew she was bluffing," said Jane.

Crabtree walked down the aisle toward Daria and Jane’s seat on the bus. She stopped two inches from Daria. "All right Miss Smarty-pants!" Crabtree screamed, spraying Daria’s face with flecks of spittle. "You think you’re so cool just because you’re on some TV show? You spoiled little brat!"

Somewhere deep in Daria’s brain, a fire ignited. Red lights flashed behind her eyes. It was one thing to have to endure being called "diarrhea" or portrayed as a little snot, but it was something else to say that she enjoyed it. "Let me tell you something you loudmouthed psycho!" she cried. The whole bus went silent. "You think I like having someone portray me on television? You think I like things about my past dredged up and rehashed for the entertainment of vegetables? Do you think I like being associated with a couple of destructive idiots? I hate it!"

Miss Crabtree began to back away, but Daria continued, following her back to the drivers seat. "No, I don’t think I’m cool, I just think you’re a moron! If you get so perturbed by people talking quietly that you have to use rodent hostage techniques, then you ought to find another job! Just how many little elementary school kids have you traumatized over your career?"

"Uh… okay, sorry," said Crabtree. She started the bus up. Daria returned to her seat, her mouth dry and her hands shaking. Meanwhile, the kids on the bus applauded.

The Leeville Museum of Modern and Post-Modern Art was a large, H-shaped building with a nice pastoral setting. As Daria looked at it, she wondered how such an urban-like building could have been built in such a rural setting. The students were herded off of the bus. Daria had to make a near save once again as Jane nearly tripped, courtesy of her heels. "Tell me today isn’t going to get any worse," said Jane.

"Today isn’t going to get any worse," said Daria.


Daria turned and saw another school bus pull up next to theirs, spraying Brittany with mud. "My best cheerleading outfit!" she lamented. "That driver did that on purpose!"

Kevin put a comforting arm around his girlfriend. "It’s all right babe."

"But I wanted to look my best for the ceremony!"

Kevin shrugged. "Don’t worry. It’s not like she’s popular or anything."

Brittany rested her head on Kevin’s shoulder. "Oh Kevvie! You think of the positive side of everything."

Kevin blushed. "Aww, babe."

"When he thinks at all," quipped Daria. Then she turned to the other school bus and sighed as she saw two girls and a boy about their age step down from it. "Don’t look now, but the intelligence shamans are here to vanquish the Demons of Stupidity," she said to Jane.

"You read too much Dilbert," said Jane. "Why? Who are they?"

"Lara, Graham, and Cassidy. Those three little snots from Grove Hills I told you about."

"You mean the ones who were shallow and superficial despite being intelligent?"

"The same. And they probably did splash Brittany on purpose."

"Don’t worry. It’s not like she’s a brain or anything," Jane imitated Kevin. "We can sick Upchuck on the girls, but how do we handle Graham?"

Just then, Daria spied Quinn striding confidently toward Graham. "Hi," she said. "I’m Quinn Morgendorffer. You look like you’re really smart. You know, I once got an ‘A’ on this essay about how public schools act as a prison for gifted students. Maybe we can compare ideas."

"Well I agree that public schools can be oppressive on the intelligent. Maybe we can discuss it," replied Graham pretentiously. He put his arm around Quinn’s shoulders and walked off. Quinn threw a look over her shoulders at Daria and Jane and winked slyly at them.

"Now what do you suppose she’s up to?" asked Jane suspiciously.

"Who cares? The important thing is that she’s out of our hair for awhile," replied Daria.

Miss Defoe went up to the Grove Hills chaperone, a man in a business suit with slicked back hair and a pencil thin moustache. "Hello, I’m Claire Defoe, head of the Art Department at Lawndale High School," she introduced herself.

"I represent ze Grove Hillz Shchool vor givted shildrin," replied the chaperone in a thick German accent. "Ve are here vor a dedicashune zeremony vor a juvenile artiste. Ve undershtand zat she is getting her own exhibishune room. Ve zink zat she vould make an excellent candidate vor our shchool."

"Oh, you must mean Jane!" said Ms. Defoe excitedly. "That’s wonderful! She’s a student of mine."

"You must be mishtaken," said the chaperone.

Ms. Defoe frowned. Jane knew that she was going to say something which sounded polite on the surface, but was actually scathing. However, she never got the chance, because Brittany decided to enter the conversation.

"Oh, are you the curator?" she asked the chaperone, twirling her hair around her finger.

"Vy no, Miz," answered the chaperone, uncertain how to deal with Brittany’s vapid gaze.

Ms. Defoe began to divide her students into groups, trying hard not to laugh under her breath. In all of her years of teaching, she never would have thought she would appreciate Brittany’s stupidity.

Once inside the museum, the two schools were led down a wide, painting-filled hall toward the juvenile wing by an elderly curator. Daria noticed that Quinn was keeping very close to Graham. Though she couldn’t hear what they were saying, minute signals in Quinn’s body language, little things that only a member of her family would recognize, gave away that she was bored out of her skull.

"Psst, Daria." Daria glanced over her shoulder and saw Danny Moreno, younger brother of Jesse Moreno. "See that guy over with that other school?" He pointed out the Grove Hills chaperone.

"Yeah. What about him?" Daria asked.

"Isn’t he the curator? He looks like one."

"I don’t think so, Danny."

"Oh." Danny fell silent for a moment. "So what are you doing tonight?"

"Well, let’s see. I’ve got the bake sale planned, the photo shoot for the school newspaper, my autobiography to write, and my Montana Cabin Account to set up. So the answer is still no."

The group of students turned a corner and entered the juvenile wing of the museum. The room seemed strangely empty. "Wow," said Jane, her voice echoing. "I had no idea how much space my stuff actually took up." They came to the end of the corridor and into a cavernous room with walls lined with paintings and pedestals rising from the floors with sculptures made of substances ranging from clay to old saxophone parts. Toward the center of the room, custodians busied themselves setting up folding chairs to face a podium. In the background, hanging above everything else, gold metallic letters spelled out The Jane Lane Room.

Daria saw Jane gazing in awe at the fantastic site. "Try not to drool all over the linoleum," she teased.

"Killjoy," retorted Jane as the other students spread out to look at her works of art.

Jane smiled and began to walk stridently toward some of the museum representatives. She got about two steps before she stumbled as Daria steadied her again.

Daria and Jane followed Lara, Graham, Cassidy, and Quinn over to a painting of a shield crest with a castle turret in the center flanked by a brain on either side being pierced by swords. Shark fins and human hands swam in the turret’s moat. A drawbridge led away from the turret and had a words "Ne Plus Ultra" written across a red banner.

"‘Daria’s crest,’" Cassidy read the plaque skeptically.

"How repulsive," said Lara. "A castle in the middle of all that violence. This girl must be disturbed."

"It’s like she just went for pure gore," scoffed Graham. "No meaning whatsoever. I could get more symbolism from a slasher movie."

Quinn struggled to say something. "I know. It’s so… disgusting."  A high-walled castle with sharks and pierced brains? That’s Daria, alright.

Lara and Cassidy grunted and walked away from her. "What?" said Quinn. "Was it something I said?"

"Never mind them," said Graham. "They just can’t recognize your… attributes."

"Even when they’re staring you in the face," muttered Daria under her breath. She knew what attributes Graham was referring to.

Jane’s arms were clenched into fists at her sides. "‘No meaning’? ‘No meaning’? I oughta teach him a thing or two about art. Like how suffering builds character!"

"Wait," said Daria. "I know these type of people. After they find out who did these paintings, they’ll want to do a little constructive ass kissing. You know what I mean?"

"You’re saying that after the speech, they’re mine?"


"Okay. Let’s go circulate around the museum staff. At least they appreciate me."

Daria and Jane walked toward the back of the room to find the curators and a tragic looking long-haired boy about their age.

"Ooh la-la! Cute guy at high noon," said Jane, ever on the lookout for another man.

Daria adjusted her glasses. "Wait a minute. I know that guy."

"Another Grove Hills brat?" asked Jane warily.

"No. He was my escort from my cousin’s wedding. I think his name was Luhrman."

"What’s he like?"

"He’s sort of like Marvin the Paranoid Android meets Eeyore."

Jane smiled wickedly. "Just my type. Introduce us."

Daria and Jane walked up to the misanthropic youth. Luhrman gave them a look of long-standing suffering. "Yes? You’ve come, no doubt, to laugh at my rotting corpse as it progressively decomposes before your eyes."

Jane smiled again. "We’re going to get along just fine," she said.

Daria’s deadpan sounded perky and cheerful after listening to Luhrman. "Hi, Luhrman. You remember me, right? Daria, from the Chambers-Danielson wedding?"

"Oh, yes. I haven’t been completely able to repress those memories, but I am seeing a therapist." He looked at Daria. "By the way, your Aunt sends her regards."

"Aunt Amy?"

"Yes. She owns this museum, you know. She usually lets me come in on the days when the stupidity of my high school peers gets to be unbearable."

"I can relate to that," said Daria. "This is my friend, Jane Lane."

"Pleased to meet you," said Jane, extending her hand.

"I wish I could say the same," replied Luhrman, not bothering to take it. "So, you did these paintings?"

"Yeah," said Jane, not knowing what else to say.

"They’re sort of pretty."

Jane cocked an eyebrow. "Oh really?"

"In a deep, ‘life is cruel’ sort of way."

"Thanks," said Jane with a smile.

"Uh… I think I’ll leave you two alone," said Daria and walked off to find out what everyone else was doing.

She found Tori Jericho along with Stacy and Tiffany by the sculptures. "Now that sculpture is post-modern," declared Tori, "but not as post-modern as that sculpture. That sculpture is modern, but not post-modern. That sculpture was just post-modern enough to get displayed." She turned to Stacy with a joking grin. "You see? I can do this. I can be an art critic." She went back to the sculptures. She pointed to a Quinn sculpture. "That sculpture was new and cute, so it became post-modern overnight."

Lara and Cassidy walked up to the sculpture. Lara snorted. "Oh, please!" said Lara to Tiffany, gesturing to the sculpture of Quinn. "These sculptures are so… banal!"

"Uhh," said Tiffany.

"Pure existentialism don’t you agree?" Lara asked Tiffany.

"Uhh," said Tiffany.

"Excuse me," said Tori coldly, walking away. Stacy meekly followed after.

"Uhh," said Tiffany.

"Completely self-indulgent. How could a museum display something like that?" Lara walked off in disgust. Cassidy looked down her nose at Tiffany, and then followed Lara.

Thirty seconds later, Tiffany’s face lit up. "Yeah!" she agreed brightly. Then she looked around. "Where did everybody go?"

Elsewhere, Graham and Quinn stopped in front of a painting of Quinn. The painting featured Quinn frowning with a cog embedded in her forehead. Her normally pink smiley-face baby-T was painted black with a frowny-face, instead. Quinn stifled a laugh at the plaque below: "Inner Beauty". So far, the paintings with her in it weren’t as bad as she had thought they would be. Granted, they weren’t the most positive of messages about her to send to others, but she doubted that any of her friends would understand the meaning of them. In fact, if it wasn’t for Graham acting like the stuck up little brain that he was, she might have actually enjoyed herself. Even Daria wasn’t this bad.

"Now here is a moronic painting!" said Graham. "What’s she trying to say? That conformity is beautiful? Is she trying to say that most girls are generic? What is that cog a symbol of? Even with my one sixty-five I.Q., I can’t figure this out!"

Quinn sighed. She was sure that he had mentioned his I.Q. at least once for every point. Wow! That’s still ten points lower than my sister, was what Quinn wanted to say. "Well, I think she’s saying that there’s a lot of pressure put on young girls to be attractive and popular, and that inside, they feel like they’re being forced into something that they don’t want to do, almost like a machine."

"But at least she could have used an attractive girl as her subject," complained Graham.

Quinn’s jaw dropped.

Not far from Quinn and Graham, Tiffany rejoined Tori and Stacy at a painting of a beautiful blonde gazing into a mirror.

"‘Student Life at the Dawn of the New Millennium’," Tiffany read the plaque. "‘Poem by Daria Morgendorffer’."

"Oh, goody! A poem!" cried Stacy.

Tori read the poem.

She looks like a winner
She couldn’t be thinner
And now she goes to the bathroom
To vomit up dinner.
"Ew," said Tori.

Stacy’s lip began to quiver. Her eyes started to tear up. Her whole body shook. Then she let out a loud wail, which reverberated throughout the hall. She ran out of the room, crying.

"Now what do you suppose got into her?" mused Tori.

Lara and Cassidy came up to the painting. "Look out, Tiff!" cried Tori. "Idiot savant alert!"

Lara decided to once again try to speak to Tiffany. "You seem fairly intelligent. What’s your nationality?"

"I don’t know," said Tiffany, deciding that the best way to handle a brain was to admit her stupidity and tell them to go away.

Lara, however, would not be shooed away so easily. "That’s no problem. I specialize in name origins. Tell me your last name."

"Fairchild," said Tiffany, "but…"

"Oh! Well, that means you’re at least half English," said Lara.

"But," continued Tiffany, "I’m adopted."

Just then Sandi Griffin, president of The Fashion Club, came stalking toward them, with her hands clenched at her sides. Stacy trailed behind, her makeup smeared and her eyes red. "Listen up, you brain! You see these nails?" she held up her hand to reveal her feminine, Freddy Krueger-like claws. "If you don’t leave us alone, I’ll scratch your eyes out!"

Lara sniggered as she and Cassidy walked off. "Do you think she knew I was bluffing?" asked Sandi. Tori and Tiffany gave her a long, steady look. "Well, I can’t break a nail! That would be so geeky." Then she turned to Stacy. "I should kick you out of the Fashion Club right here! Grow up, Stacy!"

"Yeah," said Tiffany. "Bulimia is so ninety-six."

"Now, now," admonished Sandi. "I’ve agreed to overlook it this once, provided she quits right now."

"Sure thing, Sandi," agreed Stacy.

"And you’re seeing a doctor." She turned to Tiffany and Tori. "The ceremony’s about to start, and Ms. Defoe wants us to find some seats. Come with me. I’m not letting you out of my sight."

"Yes mother," said Tori.

"What was that?" asked Sandi angrily.

"Nothing," said Tori.

When she had finished looking at what her classmates were doing, Daria decided to find a front row seat for the ceremony. Shortly after she had chosen where she was going to sit, Luhrman joined her.

"Naturally, I assume you don’t want me here, but don’t worry. I won’t talk to you," he said.

"That’s a relief," deadpanned Daria with her usual sarcasm. "What did you think of Jane?"

"She interesting enough. A nice change from the brain-dead idiot blonde girls that I have to put up with at school. It’s too bad she doesn’t like me."

"Oh," said Daria. She examined Luhrman’s shirt. "And I supposed that lipstick on your collar is from where she tried to claw and bite at you."

"Well Duh!" Luhrman smiled. "I thought artists were supposed to be intellectuals and thinkers."

An emcee tapped the microphone, causing it to emit feedback noise. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, distinguished colleagues, I present one of the greatest juvenile artists in our state, Miss Jane Lane!" Polite applause echoed through the room as Jane stepped up to the podium.

Jane cleared her throat and took out Daria’s speech. After a long pause, she spoke. "It is with utmost humility and gratitude that I accept this exhibition room at the Leeville Museum of Modern and Post-Modern art. I’ve known that I was an artist since my first coloring book." Scattered chuckles. Jane smiled as the joke went over.

"It takes a lot of discipline to be an artist. It’s a lot easier to just flop down and watch TV than to go to the easel or pottery room, take up your fan brush, and paint something that you hope will be interpreted as meaningful…" sniggers from the Grove Hills students. "…and enjoyed in a prestigious venue such as this one. It’s been a life long dream of mine to receive an honor such as this.

"I’d like to thank my teacher and mentor, Claire Defoe, for honing my skills as an artist. Most of the lessons that I learned in her classroom were applied to the paintings and sculptures that you see here.

"I’d also like to thank my best friend, Daria Morgendorffer, for all of her support and ideas for paintings. Daria is my partner in crime, and she’s an inspiration in all of my artwork.

"Most especially, I’d like to thank this museum for allowing me to showcase my artwork. I look forward to donating future works to this museum."

Jane put down the piece of paper and sighed. "And last but not least, I’d like to thank my unwitting collaborator on many of these paintings and sculptures: Miss Quinn Morgendorffer. Quinn is one of the most photogenic girls at Lawndale High today." Quinn stood up so that others could get a closer look at her, as if on cue. "You may have noticed Quinn’s likeness in most of my artwork. You can sit down, Quinn. Everyone’s done admiring you, now." The crowd laughed and then applauded.

Jane stepped down from the podium. As her feet touched the ground, she tripped and fell on her face. "No good deed ever goes unpunished," she grumbled. "That’s it! I’m sick of these heals!" She kicked off her fancy shoes. "Luhrman, would you get me my book-bag?" Luhrman went to the back of the room and got a black knapsack. Jane grabbed it out of his hands and unzipped it. She fished around and drew out a pair of gray combat boots with a sinister smirk.

Ten minutes later, Daria and Luhrman joined Jane by the podium. "Welcome back to the land of the eye-level," she quipped.

"I can’t believe you gave me such a sappy speech," retorted Jane.

Daria shrugged. "Write it yourself next time. And why did you make such a big deal out of thanking Quinn?"

"This brand of makeup tends to effect your brain," replied Jane smoothly.

Lara, Graham, and Cassidy came over. Jane grinned. The wolf was about to trap her prey.

"Hello, we’re from Grove Hills school for the Gifted," began Cassidy. "We just wanted to say… you’re a genius!"

"Yes, your paintings are so meaningful. It’s the best surrealism I’ve ever seen!" said Graham.

"We were wondering, would you ever consider coming to our school? I’m sure you’d make an excellent student," offered Lara.

"Oh, yeah," said Jane snidely. "I could study phoniness and backstabbing."

Lara, Graham, and Cassidy exchanged looks of shock and outrage.

"Why are you all surprised? After all, isn’t that the remark you’d expect from someone who just goes for pure gore in his or her paintings?" asked Jane with feigned innocence. "I’d really love to join your school, but my guess is that meaningless existentialists like me are a dime a dozen in Grove Hills. You don’t need me there."

Luhrman looked at Graham. "I’m sorry, what kind of school did you say you went to? I thought I heard ‘gifted’, but that can’t be right."

As Daria, Jane, and Luhrman walked away, Quinn came up to Graham. "Graham, would you get me a soda?" she asked.

Graham went off to the bar. "So what did you think of Jane?" asked Quinn, for want of something better to do.

"She a complete… she’s a total… she’s a…" Cassidy fought to find a word.

"Bitch?" guessed Quinn.

"Exactly!" cried Cassidy.

Graham came back with Quinn’s soda. Quinn looked around to make sure no one important was watching. When she only spied Stacy looking in her direction, she threw the soda in Graham’s face. She wasn’t even going to pretend to be polite with this one.

"Get this straight you poindexter pervert. I don’t go out with guys who make fun of my friends, or their art!" With that, she turned on her heel and marched off to find Daria and Jane.

She found them along with Luhrman being accosted by Sandi. "…so, I just wanted to tell you that if it weren’t for your painting, I wouldn’t have noticed my friend’s problem."

"Maybe if you spent less time worrying about what you wore and more time looking out for each other, you’d have caught it sooner," said Jane accusingly.

"Hey Sandi!" said Quinn. "I thought I saw Stacy over at the buffet with this huge plate of food. She’s going to end up bloated! Guh-ross!"

"What?" cried Sandi. She stalked off toward the buffet line.

"What happened to your pet egghead?" asked Daria.

"God Daria!" cried Quinn. "You ought to know me better than to even suggest that I would fall for a brain. I was just playing with his head."

Jane coughed delicately. Daria sighed. "Luhrman’s giving us a ride home. Do you want to come?"

Quinn smiled. "Sure," she said. "By the way, thanks for mentioning me in your speech. If you ever need me for that stuff…"

Jane snorted. "Are you kidding? You’re narcissistic enough as it is!"

"Thanks," said Quinn, taking it as a compliment. She spied the Grove Hills chaperone. "Isn’t that the curator?" she asked Jane.

From the passenger seat Luhrman’s car, Jane continued the conversation. "Well, so much for my fifteen minutes. Aside from falling flat on my face, getting made fun of by a bunch of investor larvae, and being put on display like a slab of meat, it wasn’t so bad."

"Oh sure," said Luhrman, "Just forget me. I don’t mind."

"At least yours is over," grumbled Daria moodily.

"Hey, don’t worry about it!" said Jane. "How long can a show like Beavis and Butthead last? Maybe five seasons?"

"You’re not funny, Jane."

"Sure I am. Hey, if it makes you feel better, in the billions of people living in this world, only about ten know you. The rest of them don’t even know you really exist. They just think you’re some sitcom character."

"Oh," exclaimed Luhrman in surprise. "You mean that girl is supposed to be you? I don’t see the similarity."

"Luhrman," asked Daria with a regal smile, "how is it that you know exactly what to say to cheer me up?"

"Just luck, I guess," answered Luhrman sardonically.

The car reached Jane’s house and pulled up to the driveway. "I’ll call you," said Jane as she gave Luhrman a peck on the cheek.

"Thanks for noticing me," said Luhrman.

"So, how was your trip to the museum?" asked Helen that night at dinner.

"It wasn’t that bad," said Quinn. "I mean, granted it was just a bunch of icky, gory paintings, granted that the person who was being honored wasn’t attractive and popular, and granted I wound up hooking up with a boring jerk who would not shut up, but other than that, it was okay."

"I’m sure Jane will just love to hear that you had a good time," said Daria caustically.

"I know," said Quinn genuinely.

The phone rang. "Hell-ooo," mooed Helen into the receiver. "…yes, she’s right here." She handed the phone to Daria. "Daria, it’s for you."

Daria warily put the phone to her ear and then yanked it back as a loud "DIARRHEA-CHA-CHA-CHA," came through the receiver. It was them.

"Shut up, dill-hole!" said Butthead in the background. He got on the line. "Hey, Daria."

"Uh… hi, Butthead," greeted Daria cautiously. What could these two possibly want?

In the background, Daria could hear Beavis. "C’mon Butthead, lemme talk to her!"

"Use the phone in the kitchen, you butt-monkey!" replied Butthead. "Hey Daria, we just called to say, like, we’re sorry and stuff."

"Yeah," said Beavis, now on the other line. "Sorry, sorry, really sorry!"

"Settle down, Beavis. Yeah, we didn’t even want you on the show. But, like, those guys in the suits, they wanted a brain on our show, and that’s when Beavis told them about you."

"I did not! You told them," shouted Beavis. "Anyway, we knew you’d be pissed, so we called to apologize or something. Anyway, those guys are like, going to send you a check or something. Maybe some nachos."

Daria almost laughed. Here were the two most destructive people in Texas, if not the whole country, and they were calling her up to apologize for offending her sensibilities. "Thanks, Beavis."

"So Daria, wanna score?"

At Pizza King, Daria bit into a hot slice of pepperoni. "…so the network execs are giving me license pay to use my likeness for everytime it comes on the show. But if it turns out to be moldy Highland nachos, I’m suing."

"So it turns out things worked out after all," said Jane. "No one’s called you ‘Diarrhea’ in over a week, and you’ll have enough money saved up for college without even having to go out and get a job."

Daria sighed. "Yeah."

"Something wrong?"

"I was just thinking. Why can’t MTV put on something that all of us can relate to? I mean, just once I’d like to turn on the television, and watch something funny, sensitive, intelligent, and not have the characters all look like Leonardo DiCaprio and Pamela Anderson."

"There’s a show like that on."

"And not have it be science-fiction."

"Oh. Well there goes Babylon 5. Don’t worry," said Jane optimistically. "I’m sure they’ll come around."

Just then, Sick, Sad World came on the pizzeria’s TV set. "Coming up next, on Sick, Sad World. An indepth look at the new TV sensation that’s taking the nation by storm! Behind the scenes with The Beavis and Butthead Show after this commercial break."

Daria sighed, picked up her soda cup, and poured it over her pizza.

Painting Index

Daria's Crest--The Daria Database
Student Life at the Dawn of a New Millennium--201 "Art's N Crass"
Inner Beauty--208 "Gifted"

Guest Star Index

"Tori Jericho"--102 "The Invitation"
Danny Moreno-- The Daria Database
Luhrman--204 "I Don't"
Lara, Graham, Cassidy, Grove Hills Chaperone--208 "Gifted"
Miss Crabtree--South Park
Beavis and Butthead--Beavis and Butthead