Journey to the End of the Fashion Club

Scissors Mac Gillicutty

Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are copyright MTV.

A Case Study of the Psychological Sequelæ of Inadequate Treatment of Atypical Pustular Psoriasis in an Adolescent Girl with Accompanying Intrafamilial Psychodynamic Dysfunction

Ferdinand Bardamu, MD. Attending Physician, Cedars of Lawndale

 . . . they say there are no emergencies in dermatology . . . the idiocies of specialization! . . . perhaps there are no dermatologic conditions that are in themselves life threatening, but let me assure you, the sequelæ of skin diseases—catastrophic! And don't let any well-fed, overpaid specialist tell you different . . . back in the day when I learned general practice the old physicians who'd seen terrible disfigurements from war injuries made sure we learned about the psychological consequences of scarring injuries and chronic, disfiguring skin disease . . . but it had gone on too long for this kid . . . she was a looker once, too . . . even if the photos from before the onset of the illness showed she was a little wench who thought her shit didn't stink . . . the mother had that a bit of that too . . . but the years of caring for her daughter had obviously taken their toll . . . too bad . . . she was still worth looking at . . . even if she had the feral features of a middle-aged woman who'd gone in for drastic dieting and exercise to keep her figure . . . I'd take a tumble with her . . . 

—Is there nothing that you can do for her, Doctor Bardamu?

—Ms. Griffin, there . . . 

—Please Doctor, call me Linda.

—Linda, yes. Well, there are many different aspects to your daughter's condition . . . 

—God, don't I know it!

 . . . she sank down next to the bed and gently passed her hand over the girl's hair . . . she practiced that move, I'm sure of it . . . the chart said that in the acute phase the psoriasis was on the scalp—not unusual, but incredibly painful—and face—that was unusual, and horrific . . .  she must have hated her daughter when she was beautiful . . . take the way she ran her hand over her daughter's hair . . . it was light enough to seem compassionate to observers but there was enough weight and drag in the motion to have caused excruciating pain for the girl in the acute phase . . . who knows what she did when no one was around . . . an old story . . . the well torture the sick . . . .

—I don't know what's worse—that the drugs . . . well, she may not have those terrible sores anymore, but she's puffy and put on so much weight!

—Prednisone will do that, especially at the doses she has to take . . . but I think we need to discuss . . . 

—But why won't she talk, Doctor? She hasn't said a word to me or anyone since . . . I can't remember when . . . 

I consulted the chart. —She screamed at a nurse for wearing bad shoes eighteen months ago. Nothing for at least six months before that, and definitely nothing since. But she has tried . . . 

—Are you sure there hasn't been some . . . brain damage that could explain it?

 . . . I had to sit down . . . she sounded almost hopeful, so I had to sit down and try to forget that the healthy often hate the sick, that parents often hate their children, and that there are people who daily pray that their rich relations develop a fatal disease and neglect to update their wills . . . years of seeing the worst in people hasn't made it any better . . . 

—Her brain function is normal, Ms. Griffin.

—Linda, please.

 . . . she gave me a smile that must have been her standard prelude to seduction . . . I realized she wanted the kid put away for the rest of her life, that's for sure . . . she was an embarrassment . . . 

—As I was about to say, Linda (here I gave her a sympathetic glance) while Sandi here hasn't spoken to another person since that incident, she has tried to communicate recently . . . she wrote something . . . a story . . . 

 . . . she went pale for an instant and quickly recovered an appropriately hopeful mien . . . I hate people . . . I'm no better than anyone else . . . it's the lying that bothers me . . . if she had just said straight up she wanted her daughter done with and passed me some cash, I'd have done it . . . clean too . . . not that the Lawndale coroner looks very hard for causes of death . . . a few years back the moron star quarterback—not Sherman, the other one after him—dropped dead at school, and this after having been in the hospital when he was hit by a car . . . the coroner's report said heart failure . . . let me tell you, you could have sold that boy's blood on the street as a testosterone-methamphetamine cocktail unlike any other, don't doubt it . . . good luck trying to say that in public . . . football is this rotten town's religion . . . 

 . . . I took the pages from the chart and gave them to her mother . . . she read the first one and then got all choked up . . . a first class job, I must admit . . . but she had to spoil it . . . she began to read her kid's drivel to me . . . at least when I first read the story I had the luxury of cringing at the self-congratulation in it . . . now I was a captive audience . . . that husky alto of hers didn't make listening to her daughter's rot any easier . . . 

Popular Girl

A true story by me, Sandi Griffin
President, Lawndale High School Fashion Club

—Oh, Dr. Bardamu! True and modest even at the start!

—There, there, Linda . . . you needn't read it to me . . . I've already . . . 

—Please, Dr. Bardamu, indulge me?  . . . and now her smile held more insinuations and promises for being so desperate . . . so I just nodded and she went on . . . 

When I woke up the day before I was to go to school, I knew that it would be a radiant and wonderful day. Being popular and cute means major work, though, and I knew I had responsibilities to other students to maintain my cuteness and popularness.

I turned on the makeup mirror and began applying my before-school makeup . . . before-class makeup would come later! Every popular girl knows the basics of hair spray, eyeliner, lashes, and foundation. As President of the Lawndale High School Fashion Club, it is up to me to set the best example.

—True and beautiful and generous! What a loss, Doctor, what a loss!

—Um . . . 

Someone knocked on my door. “Who is it?” I called out sweetly.

“It's Sam, your brother!”

“Oh Sam” I said “I am afraid I am using the bathroom. Would you care to wait, dear brother?”

“Of course, big sister!” Sam said. “I know that you have to look your best for school!”

My brothers are so understanding!

—How well she got along with her brothers! They miss her so!

 . . . I nodded and checked the chart . . . her brothers had never come to visit her . . . so much for family feeling . . . —Linda, perhaps revisiting how Sandi was back in high school might not be best for . . . 

—Oh, Doctor—just let me read a bit more to you, she said, shuffling the pages . . . she was savoring it . . . and she wanted to make sure I knew what she saw in the story . . . she saw that her journey through the darkness with a disfigured, catatonic daughter might finally be at an end . . . 

It was a very sunny day and all of the birds were singing. It was a very long walk, but I enjoy long walks in the sunshine because it helps my complexion.

After a long and enjoyable walk to school, I waved to all of the people who liked me, even the people who weren't so popular because I'm so popular. My three best friends in the world were there. Tiffany Blum-Deckler, a tall girl with a nice complexion, the ever helpful Stacy Rowe, and Quinn Morgendorffer, a girl who I made it a special priority to befriend as her red hair and freckles were so unsightly and I didn't want her to get picked on.

“Hello, Sandi!” said Tiffany. “Hugs!”

“Hello, Sandi!” said Stacy. “Hugs!”

“But where is Quinn, my other good friend?” I said, inquiring about her health.

“She's over there with Bret Strand!” cried Stacy. “You have to do something!”

And there Quinn was with Bret Strand! She was wearing a top that was way too short, and I swear that you could see the outlines of her b-r-a! She had her hands all over him!

“So, Bret, will you like, go out with me? Huh? Huh?” Quinn was making kissy noises with her lips.

“I don't know, Quinn . . . you just seem . . . so forward!” Poor Bret was looking very uncomfortable. It was a good thing I was there.

“Quinn Morgendorffer! Come here this instant!” I said. Sadly, Quinn walked over. I walked over to Bret. “You must forgive Quinn. She comes from a poor family. I want you to be extra super nice to her and not take advantage of her! You are better than that!”

“I understand, Sandi. It's just that Quinn . . . well, Quinn threw herself at me!”

“I will talk to Quinn.”

—Yes, yes! Oh, this is exactly how things were for her in high school!  . . . she handed me back the pages, extending her arm with an erotic undulation . . .  —She was so popular and good and generous! But that was more than eight years ago . . . when did you . . . 

—A resident found it earlier this week . . . I couldn't evaluate the content, but that she was writing about her past as if it were the present day...frankly, Ms. Griffin . . . 

—Linda, please Doctor.

—Linda, sorry. As I said, that this story was set back prior to the onset of her disease . . . .

—You can say it, Doctor.

—Call me Ferdinand, Linda.

—Yes, Ferdinand. Thank you. I suppose this means some sort of severe . . . mental disorder?

 . . . there it was . . . the glimmer of hope finally visible . . . I wasn't about to deny her . . . besides, it was indicated anyway . . . how rare and rich for the appropriate treatment to coincide with your fondest wishes . . . 

—I can't make that determination myself Linda, but that would be the avenue of investigation to take.

 . . . now what a show she put on! . . . falling back into the chair, clutching the papers to her chest, unbuttoning the top button on her blouse, letting a single tear fall from her eye . . . the thing that had been the cause of her shame was finally going to get put somewhere out of sight, where it wouldn't be an embarrassment for her anymore . . . I've been attacked by women who wanted to trade their charms for medical favors before, but this Griffin woman was in a class of her own . . . now she wanted to seal the deal . . . she got up from the chair and took me by the arms . . . her face was practically against mine . . . I could see she definitely had collagen injections in her lips . . . not that I would turn them down for that . . . 

—Only the best for Sandi, Ferdinand, only the best! Is there someplace where she could have the best care?

 . . . but I didn't fall into a clinch with her . . . so I'm a sap . . . she was going to get her wish anyway . . . her daughter would be put away . . . I didn't want some harpy sinking her claws into me . . . first I'd be giving her collagen and botox for free just so I could get another hump . . . next thing you know, it would be prescriptions for codeine, oxycodone . . . you name it, she'd want it . . . I've been there before . . . I admit it, I was scared . . . maybe it was that she was so good . . . I didn't want to be at the end of her string . . . and there was something about the story that didn't sit well with me . . . so I didn't take her up, and that's that! Go ahead—call me a fool, a coward . . . I've been called worse . . . and I'm sure if I'd gone down that road with her, she be dishing out abuse like that and worse, don't doubt it! . . . 

—There, there, Linda, I said, patting her on the back. —I can't make that determination. But speak to the attending psychiatrist, Dr. Benway. He'll be by to see Sandi on Thursday. He's a good man.

She gave me a perfunctory, chaste hug and pulled away.

—I will, I will! Thank you, Dr. Bardamu, thank you!

 . . . we were back on formal terms now—of course! . . . old Benway would be the one she'd attack with those collagen pillows of hers . . . who knows what other enhancements he'd get to see? . . . I don't begrudge him that . . . after a day of sedating the violently mad, he could use a roll in the hay . . . 

She went on:

—You don't know what a relief it is to know that Sandi . . . 

 . . . she caught herself . . . it was beautiful to watch, the slight change in facial expression as her mind redacted her honest wishes and instead assembled a socially appropriate lie . . . 

—that Sandi will be getting the right kind of care, at last!

 . . . and with that she dashed out of the room . . . I looked at the kid, peered into her dead eyes, regarded her puffy complexion, her bloated form . . . she had been president of the Lawndale High School Fashion Club, and now here she was, a thick, catatonic monstrosity . . . all because a case of atypical pustular psoriasis hadn't been treated aggressively enough when it was first diagnosed . . . 

 . . . I brought the chart to the nurse's station . . . the resident who had discovered the story was reviewing another patient's chart . . . maybe what was bothering me about the story was all a coincidence . . . maybe this was just another example of everyone's rottenness . . . I'm not the only physician who hates the sick, the way they're coddled these days . . . but most of the younger ones delude themselves . . . I figured I ask her about the Griffin girl . . . 

—Dr. Sloane, may I have a minute?

—Dr. Bardamu! Of course!

 . . . she was a bubbly thing, perfect for dermatology . . . marvelous red hair, and you'd swear she had her scrubs tailored to her figure . . . and it was a good one, too . . . 

—I just met with the Griffin girl's mother . . . 

—I know! It's such a sad case! I just feel for that poor girl! I mean, I look at her and I think, there, but for the grace of God, like that could have been me, Quinn Sloane. I can't believe that her family doctor didn't take such a severe case of psoriasis seriously—and to get it on the face! So unusual! You know, they told us that there were no emergencies in dermatology, but I think that's a very narrow view of what constitutes an emergency—you have to consider the patient as a person, not a collection of symptoms, duh!

—I'm inclined to agree, Doctor . . . tell me again, how did you find this story the patient wrote?

She shrugged. —The sheets were just scattered over her bed and she had the pencil gripped in her hand. I gathered it alltogether, and . . . . She shrugged again, and let out a brief sigh. —It's just so, so sad!

—Indeed, I replied nodding. —Say, didn't you tell me you're from Lawndale yourself? You're about the same age . . . did you go to the same high school as the Griffin girl?

She rolled her eyes. —Pul-LEEZE, Doctor! she said, laughing. —I went to Lawndale High, but I would have nothing to do with the popular crowd. I had my sister, who's very gifted, and she was all the company I needed.

—Your sister?

—I never told you my sister is Daria Morgendorffer?

 . . . she was beaming as she said this. . . . she wanted me to be impressed . . . and I was, but not for the reasons she thought . . . but they were only suspicions anyway . . . and why disappoint such a beautiful young thing? —The novelist and columnist?

—The same. I can't tell you how fortunate I was to grow up in a household with so much intellectual stimulation—I mean, like a doctor can only help her patients, but someone like Daria has influence beyond the people she sees. She paused and looked up and away from me in that attitude people strike when they're about to flatter themselves with a statement of their essential goodness. —I only hope that as a physician that I can like give back to society even a tiny fraction of the good my sister has, she sighed.

—Impressive, Doctor. I read her column daily. Tell her I'm a great fan.

 . . . I had other patients to attend to, so I said my goodbyes . . . lucky indeed! . . . I checked the handwriting on the story against Dr. Sloane's handwriting . . . they were different, but both were the sort of decorative curvy penmanship cultivated in high school by attractive girls . . . I could conclude nothing . . . but I didn't believe for a second that Sloane hadn't been one of the popular crowd back in her day . . . and whether or not the story was a forgery, it made sense that the Griffin girl hated her and the feeling was mutual . . . then there was the business about Sloane's sister being Daria Morgendorffer . . . I wondered if either of them ever had the time to speak to the other . . . and I found Daria Morgendorffer's column grating . . . it was cheap cynicism of someone who'd never been personally touched by human depravity . . . but that was her good fortune . . . some people can't have enough good fortune . . . Quinn Sloane, not only married to a rich man, but the sister of a famous writer . . . I used to think that Lawndale was a lousy suburb with nothing to distinguish it . . . but then again, how special is a place if the best thing you can say about it is that someone famous left there?

April 2005
Brooklyn, USA


Notes and Acknowledgements

This orginated as a response to the story “Popular Girl” by Sandi Griffin posted at the Sh33p's Fluff Message Board. The author wishes to acknowledge Sandi Griffin for her kind permission to reproduce parts of that story herein. In return, Ms. Griffin requested I include the following public service announcement, which I am more than happy to do.

Hello! This is Sandi Griffin of the Lawndale High School Fashion Club! I wrote the original story attributed to my sickly self in Scissors' story, but I want to remind everyone that this is a work of FICTION!!! Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental, because we all have parents who care about us very much, especially those of us whose parents are lawyers and who I just found out are very willing to sue. (I made up with the person I'm talking about, by the way, so you can JUST SHUT UP, BROOKE, NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU!)

You, as an unfashionable person, might wonder why I allowed myself to be portrayed as suffering an icky skin disease. I did this as a public service. Even popular people have to deal with skin care issues. SKIN CARE IS IMPORTANT! If you have oily skin, you must make sure that your products are not too strong or they will activate your glands. I would also avoid laser surgery, because some of us out there (named in the above paragraph) are always looking for a quick fix, you know who you are. Anyway, you can learn about proper skin care in our Fashion Club Seminars in Mrs. Bennett's room from 4 pm to 5 pm the third Friday of each month unless the football game starts early.

Fashionably yours,

Sandi Griffin
President, Lawndale High School Fashion Club

Both the narrator and style of this story—so far as I'm able to imitate the latter—are taken from the works of the French novelist, Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Its title is a play on the title of Céline's first novel, Journey to the End of the Night.

Dr. Benway is an allusion to the character of the same name from the novels of William S. Burroughs.

The passage “a few years back the moron star quarterback—not Sherman, the other one after him—dropped dead at school, and this after having been in the hospital when he was hit by a car” refers to a work of Halloween fan art by The Great Saiyaman also orginally posted at the Sh33p's Fluff, but currently (and unfortunately) unavailable due to hosting issues.

The author would like to thank Sh33p Fluff posters Angelinhel and The Angst Guy for their words of encouragement.

Thanks are due to CINCGREEN, Mr. Orange, and The Angst Guy for beta-reading this story. Special thanks to CINCGREEN for noting a dead spot that was subsequently excised, and for suggesting a replacement that may appear in a future version of this tale.

The author welcomes comments. He can be reached through, the leading part of his email address being his name without capital letters or spaces.