My Life: A Daria Fan Fiction By: Sam Lincoln

Disclaimer: I don't own the show Daria or any of the characters therein, used without expressed written consent of the MTV high priests. "My Life" published by Vix Lix Music (ASCAP), lyrics re-printed without permission

Rating: PG

Summary: So, just what do we know about Mack anyway? Also a little misunderstanding has serious repercussions for Quinn.

Soundtrack: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, 10/24/1998, Weis Center for the Performing Arts. A great sounding stage-lip recording of the Flecktones, highlighted by an unreal Shanti, and a great Spanish Point, as well as a version of this story's namesake.

"Cause it's my life and I can do what I wanna do."

My Life

<Baltimore, nine years ago>

Baltimore, Charm City, a new world city with old world decay. The sun hung low over the harbor as the boy ran for home. Dad told him to be home before it got dark out and dad backed up his directives with his belt. It wasn't fair, the boy thought, he'd been playing football with his friends, and none of them had to be home this early. The boy wasn't quite nine so things like gang wars didn't register as a concern.

The boy slowed as he got closer to his apartment building. There was a white car parked in front of the residence. The boy knew what that that meant. He looked around but didn't see any police cars with their lights on so it was safe to go inside. The boy started to walk up the steps to his building, at the same time two men exited. One was tall and white, the other was shorter and black; the black man was putting on a fedora.

"Hi detectives," the boy said.

"Well look who it is Tim. Mike, our favorite informant," the black detective said, a smile breaking across his normally passive face, white teeth flashed against dark skin.

"Why so it is Frank, how are you doing Mike?" The white detective asked, crouching down low so he and the boy could look each other in the eye. The boy first met the detectives a couple of weeks earlier when they were asking questions about the murdered girl who used to live nearby. He had answered all the detectives' questions and they had given him a toy police badge in return.

"I'm doing ok, detectives," the boy replied, "I'm just trying to get home before it's dark out so Dad doesn't ground me."

The black detective chuckled, "We can't get such a fine witness in trouble with the law can we? Come on Tim, let's go grill some suspects downtown."

"Yeah sure Frank," the white detective said. "Now Mike if you remember anything else about Adena, the girl we talked about earlier, don't hesitate to give me a call. Here's my card. Anything at all, no matter how small you might think it is" The detective handed him a small piece of paper.

"Sure thing, detective," Mike said brightly.

"Nice kid," Mike heard the white detective say as they walked away.

"Yeah, sure is," the black detective replied while lighting a cigarette. "It'll be a shame when we have to investigate his murder, or throw him in the box."

"Oh come on, Frank. How do you know that'll happen?"

"Because he lives in the ghetto, Tim! Statistically it's only a matter of time before he catches a bullet, or pops somebody." The detectives continued their argument as they got into their car and drove off, leaving the boy standing on the front steps of the apartment complex.

<Lawndale, Present day>

Michael Mackenzie let the weights clang back into place as he finished his last set of reps. His family had moved to Lawndale shortly after his encounter with the detectives. He didn't even know who had killed that girl the detectives had asked him about.

"I wonder why I thought about that now?" He asked himself as he walked to the next weight station. He used to always think about his former home, but as the years passed his memories of Baltimore faded; but he still remembered those detectives.

He started to lift the weights. This was his favorite time of the day. He always worked out before the rest of the team did so that it was just him and the weight room attendant, who left him alone unless he needed a spot. It was one of the few times that Mack was by himself and he guarded it zealously. He sighed as Kevin and the rest of the team walked into the weight room. He finished his set and walked towards the locker room.

"Hey Mack," Jamie said, "Where are you going?"

"Home," Mack lied. "I'm all done with my weights for today."

"Oh," the jock said dimly, "So, uh, like why don't you lift with the rest of the team?"

Mack did his best not to flinch as someone changed the radio station and the nasal shriek of Eminem replaced the classical music that had been playing. "I like the time alone to think, plus it helps me focus on my lifting," he answered.

"Oh cool. Maybe I should try that someday."

Mack bit off the impending "What, think?" and instead said, "Yeah, you should. See you around Jamie."

"Yeah, later Mack." Jamie turned away from Mack and faced the weight room, "Hey guys Mack says if you lift by yourself you, like, think!"

Mack sighed and walked into the locker room. He had a date with Jodie that night and hewanted to be ready for it.


"Ok, Quinn, let's try this again, 'is the one love of his sea life that was sardined with women.'"

"What seas did you see, Tom Cat, Tom Cat. In you sailoring days long ago? What sea beasts were in the wavery green when, when...' dammit all, what's the line?" Quinn shouted.

"When you were my master," Ann Raeder answered calmly.

"I knew that!" Quinn exclaimed, "Dammit I'll never learn all these damn lines!"

"Yes you will. Look at how many you've gotten down already, and there are still a couple weeks until the show."

"If you say so..." Quinn looked over at a nearly clock. "Oh crap, I'm going to be late for the Fashion Club meeting."

"I guess that's the end of today's session," Ann said sighing.

"Hey, I told you going into this that I wasn't going to shirk my duties as Vice President of the Fashion Club," Quinn said as she stuffed her script into her backpack.

"And I respect you for trying to balance the two, but I think you have to decide which is more important to you," Ann told Quinn as they walked out of the theater.

"But why?" Quinn asked. They stopped in front of a water fountain.

"Because at some point your thespian activities are going to conflict with the Fashion Club." Ann said before taking a drink.

Stacy was walking towards the intersection where Quinn and Ann were standing. She came to an immediate halt when she heard Quinn and Ann. "Did I hear what I think I heard?" Stacy asked herself, eyes wide with shock. She crept closer to the intersection to hear better.

"Yeah, I know, but I'd rather not think about that," she heard Quinn say.

"Quinn, have you even told them?" The voice Stacy did not recognize said.

"Ann, I haven't even told my family, well Daria knows, but my parents have no clue!"

"Oh god, oh god," Stacy said to herself, trying to stay quiet. "Ok, maybe it's not what you think Stacy. Maybe you're just overreacting, Quinn can't be..."

"Boy, won't they be shocked when they find out what you've been up to this semester."

Stacy finally placed the voice as Ann Raeder, some geek in her classes, "Why would Quinn talk to a geek like her?" Stacy wondered to herself.

"Oh I know, but I'm sure they'll be supportive.," Quinn said.

"Most parents are."

Stacy peered around the wall and saw Ann and Quinn standing next to the water fountain. It seemed to her that they were standing very close together.

"I really need to thank you, Ann. This hasn't been an easy time for me and you've been a big help."

"It's no problem Quinn, everyone has some trouble their first time out."

"Still, I don't know what I would've done without your help." Quinn fumbled with the straps on her backpack as she spoke.

"You'd have done fine, you're a natural at this. So, are you coming by my place tomorrow for some more practice?"

"You bet."

"Ok great, see you tomorrow Quinn." Ann touched Quinn's shoulder as a farewell gesture.

"Bye Ann," Quinn said to the departing teen before turning and walking in the opposite direction.

Stacy watched in shock as Ann and Quinn walked away from her. "Oh my God!" Stacy said aloud. "Quinn's a lesbian, I have to tell Sandi!" She turned and ran back down the hall.

<Lawndale, Nine years ago.>

Michael stood in front of his new class; he nervously shifted his feet as the teacher introduced him. He didn't like having to join the class half-way through the school year, but there was not much he could do about it. He dad was relocated and that was that.

"Attention class, we have a new student joining us today, isn't that exciting?" The class sat and stared at Michael. "Now Michael, why don't you tell us a little about yourself."

Michael cleared his throat, "Well, uh, my name is Michael Mackenzie." He stood there, staring at the class.

"Where did you move from Michael?" The teacher prompted.

"Baltimore," Michael said reluctantly, offering no other information.

"Thank you Michael, you can take your seat now." The teacher said, giving up on getting any more out of the boy.

"Where should I sit?" He asked the teacher.

"Wherever an empty desk is will be fine."

Michael looked around the classroom trying to find a seat. He'd never seen so many white kids in one place, except for TV. He could only see one available desk, next to a smiling boy holding a football.

"Hey there," the boy said, "I'm Kevin."

"Michael Mackenzie," Michael said politely.

"I already know a Mike so I'll call you Mack," the boy said, still smiling vacantly.

"Uh, Ms. Hoover?" Michael asked.

"It's ok Michael, Kevin only refers to people by four letter nicknames, it's the only way he can remember who they are. It doesn't bother you does it?"

Michael thought about it for a moment before shrugging, "No, that's fine." He didn't want to make a scene on his first day, especially given the way the other students were looking at him.

"Cool!" Kevin said, his grin broadening.

"Ok class, now if we get out our math books and turn to page fifty-two..." Ms. Hoover said turning the class's attention away from Michael.

"Hey Mack," Kevin said in a whisper.

"Yeah?" Michael replied.

"Do you play football?"

"Sure, a little."

"I play rec league flag football, I'm the QB. You should play. Coach says we could use another player.

"Sure, that sounds like fun."

"Great, just remember that I'm the QB so you can't be." Kevin patted his football protectively.

"Uh, sure, fine," Michael said, wondering what he'd just gotten into.

<Lawndale, Present day>

"Kevin I'm trying to get out of here, I've got a date with Jodie tonight and I need to get ready for it," Mack told Kevin. Mack had finished showering after his workout and was leaving the locker room when Kevin blocked his path to the door.

"This won't take long at all Mack, I just need to show you something," Kevin said, reaching into his bag.

Mack sighed, "Ok, what is it?"

"Well, the rest of the team and I wanted to give you something, you know for being such a good captain and stuff. So we all chipped in and got you this." Kevin handed Mack a jewelry box.

"Oh gee, thanks Kevin, this means..." Mack said as he opened the box, "...a lot to me." He grew silent as he looked at the present.

"So, what do you think?" Kevin asked, his face alight.

"It's uh, great, thanks a lot," Mack said, badly feigning enthusiasm.

"Aren't you going to try it on?"

"No!" Mack said sharply, "It, uh, wouldn't match what I'm wearing."

"Oh, ok."

"Could you tell the other guys thanks for me?"

"Sure, but why don't you tell them?"

"Because I have that date with Jodie, and if I don't leave now I'll be late."

"Whoa, dude you can't be late, I was late picking Brit up last week and she wouldn't put out at the movie! Go, get out of here." Kevin started to push Mack out the door.

"Thanks for being so, uh, understanding."

"Hey, no problem man," Kevin said happily.

Mack put the jewelry box into his backpack and walked out of the locker room.


Stacy ran into Sandi's house; she then picked herself up off the ground and opened the door. She raced up the stairs and burst into Sandi's room. "Guys, I have huge news!" she gasped.

"Stacy, did you, like, run into my house again?" Sandi asked.

"Yes," Stacy sniffled, "but I have a good excuse this time, I was distracted by what I just found out."

"Which is?"

"Well, you see, I was in the school getting ready to come over here and I was walking down the hall when I overheard it, so it might not be true but..."

"Stacy, out with it!" Sandi sternly ordered.

"Quinn's a lesbian!" Stacy exclaimed.

"A what?" Tiffany asked.

"Are you sure?" How did you find out?" Sandi demanded. This was music to her ears; the only thing that would be sweeter to her would be catching Quinn acting like a brain again.

"She was talking to Ann Raeder..."

"That geek? Why was Quinn talking to her?"

"Quinn was thanking her for helping with something. And Ann said that Quinn couldn't keep her secret forever."

" Quinn's got a secret? Maybe she's being tutored again," Tiffany said.

"She also said that Quinn's lesbian activities would interfere with the Fashion Club."

", Quinn's a lesbian," Tiffany mumbled.

"And she's obviously getting lesbian tips from Ann," Sandi mused.

"But wait, doesn't Ann have a boyfriend? That guy, Mark, or Mike, or whatever."

"Please Stacy, he's obviously gay. Have you ever seen him?"

"I guess...but what are we going to do about Quinn?"

"Nothing," Sandi said, a smile creeping across her face.

"Nothing, but she's a lesbian, and if people found out they'd think we're lesbians too, and I'm not a lesbian, not that there's anything wrong with that, but I don't want people to think I'm something I'm I'm not as popular as you or Quinn, I couldn't handle the stigma..."

"Stacy, settle down, it won't come to that. Remember, we know Quinn's little secret, and she doesn't know we know. We can make her do whatever we want."

"She'd probably be willing to do that without blackmail," Tiffany commented. Sandi and Stacy stared at her. "Well, if she's into girls wouldn't she be attracted to us? We are the cutest girls in school."

"Ohymygosh, Tiffany's right, what do we do if she tries to put the moves on us? I bet she joined the Fashion Club just to get close to us. She might try to slip me a mickey," Stacy exclaimed.

"Would you two relax, she'd never try anything with either of you, at least not while I'm around. After all, I am the cutest one here..."

"But..." Stacy hesitantly said.

"But what Stacy?"

"Well if she doesn't know we know how can we make her do what we want?"

"What is the most powerful weapon available to the Fashion Club?" Sandi said, with an air of great patience.

"Eyeliner?" Tiffany guessed.

"Our feminine wiles?" Stacy offered.

"No, rumor and innuendo," Sandi said, chiding the other members.

"Starting a rumor about another Fashion Club member?" Stacy gasped, "But, but isn't that against the charter?"

"Inuit?" Tiffany asked, still trying to decipher Sandi's comment.

"Please Stacy, I wish you'd settle down. It's not against the charter if the member in question is on secret probation, and I think we all agree that the charter allows the President of the Fashion Club to put member's on secret probation without letting the member in question know."

"Uh, no it doesn't," Stacy said, her entire body quivering as she spoke.


"If a Fashion Club member is placed on Secret Probation the rest of the Fashion Club has to be informed," Stacy quoted, "You wrote that yourself."

"Fine, then Quinn's been on double secret probation, ever since this summer. And since it's double secret the President doesn't have to inform the other members, especially the Secretary," Sandi's eyes narrowed, "Do I make myself clear?"

"Uh, yes, perfectly." Stacy stammered.

They were interrupted by a commotion from the living room that could only mean one thing. Quinn had arrived. "Ok, neither of you say anything about this, we don't want to tip our hand," Sandi ordered.

Quinn entered the room, "Hi guys, sorry I'm late, but I got tied up helping someone coordinate. "So, what are we talking about?" Quinn asked as she sat down next to Stacy, who tried to discretely scoot away from Quinn.

"Well, if you had arrived on time you'd know that we were talking about the dangers of secrets. How if you keep secrets from your friends you get a really bad complexion and start hanging out with uncool people."

"Is that a fact?"

"Yes, and it would be such a shame if a Fashion Club member was keeping a secret from the rest of the club. Because, as we all know, a bad complexion is grounds for instant dismissal from the Fashion Club," Sand said, not so subtly.

"I agree completely Sandi," Quinn said, just a little too smoothly. "What brought this up anyway?"

"There have been unconfirmed reports of an unidentified Fashion Club member talking to a geek in a friendly manner."

"Says who?" Quinn demanded.

"As I said, these are anonymous reports, I don't have any names, but if they are true and I find out who it is," Sandi's face broke into a wicked smile. "Well, it won't be pretty. Do I make myself clear?" Sandi stared at Quinn.

"Oh perfectly, Sandi, besides you know if I had a secret I'd come out and tell you. I hold honesty in high esteem." The rest of the Fashion Club stared at Quinn. "Uh, what is it guys, is something not matching?"

"What? Oh, we'd never think you'd have to come out and tell us anything," Stacy blurted out.

"What Stacy meant to say is that we know you are above reproach Quinn," Sandi said smoothly, trying to cover up Stacy's slip.

"Well of course I am." Quinn looked down at the pile of magazines on the floor, searching for something to change the topic. "Hey, check out this dress Anne Heche is wearing, isn't it cute?" She said, holding up the magazine. The rest of the Fashion Club shared a horrified expression.

<Lawndale, Eight years ago>

Mack was sitting in class, trying to pay attention to the teacher when the door opened and the principal walked in, escorting a young black girl. Mack instantly snapped to attention when he saw the girl. The principal and the teacher exchanged a few words before the principal turned and walked out of the classroom.

"Class," the teacher said, "I 'd like to announce that we have a new student joining us today. Jodie, why don't you tell us a little about yourself."

"Uh hi, my name is Jodie Landon, I just moved here from Detroit Michigan and I can't wait to get to know all of you," the girl said.

"Thank you Jodie, you can take a seat at any empty desk," the teacher told the girl.

Mack nudged Kevin in the ribs. "Hey, Kevin, move over."


"You heard me, go sit by Brittany or something."

"Brittany, ewww, she's got cooties and stuff."

"Oh, just go do it man, you're not in kindergarten anymore."

"Oh, alright, but you owe me for this one bro," Kevin said as he gathered up his bag.

"Fine, I owe you, just get lost." Mack told the departing quarterback.

"Hey Brit, looking good...ow! Mrs. Grohl Brittany hit me!"

Mack saw the new girl looking around for an empty seat. He waved to catch her attention. "There's a seat here," he said.

"Thanks," the girl replied as she slipped into the desk. "Hi there, I'm Jodie Landon."

"I'm Mack."

"Mack?" the girl asked.

"Actually my name's Michael Mackenzie, but everyone calls me Mack."

"Ok, hi Mack, nice to meet you. I like your hair," Jodie said, nodding at Mack's dreadlocks.

Mack self-consciously touched his hair, "Oh, thanks."

Jodie looked around. "So, are we the only two black kids in the class?"

Mack nodded, "There are a few, not many though. There aren't any in this class, that's for sure."

"That's what I was afraid of."

Jodie sighed, "Oh well, at least there's one other black kid in the school, that's better than I thought it would be."

"There weren't many black people at your old school?" Mack asked.

"Not all that many, how about you?"

"Michael, Jodie, can I have your attention please?" The teacher asked sternly.

"Sorry," Mack and Jodie said in unison.

Mack did his best to focus on the teacher and not Jodie. His concentration was broken by a piece of paper landing on his desk. He picked up the scrap and read it. "Want to eat lunch with me? -Jodie" Mack looked over at Jodie and nodded. She smiled in reply.

"Well," Mack thought, "Maybe things are starting to look up."

<Lawndale, Present>

Mack sat in front of the law firm Jodie was currently interning for, waiting for her to come out. He bounced his backpack on he knee and watched the people walk by. He could hear the jewelry box rattle against the other contents of the pack. Mack sighed and dropped the bag.

"What is taking her so long?" He muttered. Mack didn't understand why Jodie's parents pushed her so hard. He got their desire for her to get into a good school, but she was smart, and a minority. All Jodie had to do was not get thrown in jail and she was set. Mack stood up when he saw Jodie exit the building. "Hey Jodie, over here!" He shouted.

Jodie turned and saw Mack. She walked over to him. "Hi Mack, what are you doing here?"

"What, a guy can't meet his girlfriend at work?" Mack asked before kissing Jodie.

"I'm not complaining, I'm just surprised, I thought you'd still be at practice."

"I cut out a little early, we have that thing with your folks tonight, remember," Mack said as they started to walk away from the building.

"Oh god, I totally forgot about that. It is tonight, dammit, I wanted to spend tonight resting with you," Jodie frowned.

"Well you can spend the evening napping with me at a really expensive fundraiser," Mack said before supportively wrapping an arm around her.

"It's just not the same," she groused.

"The food's better and we can always sneak off to a broom closet or something if things get really dull."

"Of course you'd think with your stomach." She playfully slapped Mack's stomach.

"You know me, I'm just a simple boy from the 'hood. I never turn down a free meal."

"Traitor, selling me out for a hundred dollar a plate meal."

"I've never eaten off of a plate that cost a hundred dollars," Mack observed. "Are your folks charged another hundred dollars if I want seconds?"

"There aren't seconds. You spend a hundred dollars for five bucks worth of food, and you then get the privilege of listening to a bunch of gasbags drone on about something they don't really understand."

"But is it good food?" Mack asked.

"It costs a hundred dollars, what do you think?"

"I'm thinking the organizers want to maximize their profits and skimping on the food is one way to do that," he commented.

"It won't be burgers and fries Mack. We are dealing with people who are willing to spend over hundred dollars on dinner and not bat an eyelash."

"Damn, and I was so looking forward to having a burger."

"Yeah, I'm sure." The two teens started to walk away from the office building. "Oh, what did the team get you?" Jodie suddenly asked.

Mack's face tightened, "How do you know about that?"

Jodie shrugged, "Brittany told me the team was buying you a present, but she didn't tell me what it was."

"Oh, well, it's not anything special."

"This is Kevin we're talking about, it has to be worth a look."

"It's not, ok?" Mack snapped. He sighed, "Look, can we just not talk about this right now?"

Jodie looked at him a little taken aback. "Sure, whatever you want Mack."

"Sorry, it's just...well...I don't want to talk about it right now. There's nothing wrong, I've just got other stuff on my mind that's all," Mack lamely offered, trying to placate Jodie.

"Ok, if you don't want to talk about it that's fine, I was just curious. Come on, I have to go home to get ready for this dinner, and you have to do the same."

Mack nodded, "Right."

"We'll pick you up a little before six."

"Sounds good. See you then." Mack kissed Jodie goodbye.

"Clean up good, ok?" Jodie asked before returning the kiss. The teens walked off in separate directions.


Quinn walked into the living room, holding her copy of "Under Milk Wood." Daria was sitting on the couch watching television. Quinn sat down next to her sister.

"What do you want Quinn?" Daria asked without looking up from the television.

"What makes you think I want anything from you?" Quinn countered.

"You entered the five foot exclusionary zone; you want something from me."

"I think the Fashion Club knows about the play," Quinn blurted out.

"And this is a surprise because? They were going to find out sooner or later," Daria said, finally turning her attention to Quinn

"But this is too soon. I haven't figured out what to tell them," Quinn whined.

"The truth comes to mind."

"Very funny."

Daria shrugged, "Friends don't keep secrets from one another...wait, forget I said that. Anyway, how do you know that they know?"

"Well, they were acting really weird at the meeting tonight."

"I'll take your word that this differs from their usual behavior." Daria thought for a moment, "So they never came right out and accused you of anything?"

"No, but that's not Sandi's style," Quinn added, cutting off Daria's comment. "She likes to let you know that she knows without actually says that she does. That way she makes you think that you owe her something because she's not talking about your dirty little secrets."

"Wow, Machiavelli with a schrunchy," Daria turned her attention back to the television.

"Daria, this is serious. Sandi could do irreparable harm to my image just by not telling people what I'm doing," Quinn groaned and started to massage her temples

"Doesn't that mean you're damned no matter what?"

"Not if I could control how people found out."

"Uh-huh, and how were you planning on accomplishing that trick?"

"Well that was the part I hadn't figured out."

"Ok, well, far be it for me to tell you how to handle your affairs, but it seems to me that the longer you waited to tell them the greater the likelihood of this blowing up in your face increased; until you reached the point you're at now."

Quinn sighed, "Yeah, I know."

"And cheer up, if they do know then you can stop sneaking around and rehearsing on the side."

"I guess that would be a benefit. It has been getting pretty hard to come up with a new excuse every time I have a rehearsal.

"Frankly I'm amazed you managed to fool them for this long."

"We are talking about the Fashion Club Daria."

"Right, and you're a member as well, or did you forget that?"

"You know what I mean."

"Do I understand that the Fashion Club is populated with mental midgets? Yes, I that I do get."

"Present company excluded, right?" Daria did not respond. "Dammit Daria, I'm not a midget!" Quinn shouted.

"Compared to Schroedinger you are."

"Please, even you don't measure up when it comes to one of the founders of quantum mechanics."

"Touche," Daria said, a faint hint of admiration crept into her voice.

"You didn't think I'd know who Schroedinger was did you?" Quinn asked, a sly grin crept onto her face.

"No, I didn't, that time you spent this summer with your boy toy certainly paid off."

"David was not a boy toy, he didn't even like me, and thank you so much for bringing up that painful period of my life," Quinn said before storming out of the living room.

Daria leaned back on the couch, "I thought she'd never hell, damn conscience. Hey Quinn, wait up!" Daria called out as she got up to follow her sister.

<Lawndale, Nine years ago>

Mack walked down the hall of the elementary school. He'd been there for a couple months and was starting to no longer feel like an oddity. The boy he'd met on his first day, Kevin, turned out to be a little on the slow side, but friendly enough, and Mack enjoyed playing football with him. He did not have much to do with the rest of his classmates, which was fine by him. There were some third-graders who hung out with Kevin that he spent time with, but that was the extent of his interaction with the other students at the school.

"Hey Mack, wait up!" Kevin shouted. Mack stopped and turned to face Kevin. When he saw the other boy Mack had to rub his eyes to make sure he wasn't seeing things. Kevin was wearing his clothes backwards.

"What the heck happened to your clothes?" Mack asked.

"Check it out dude, I'm like, totally crossed out," Kevin said. He turned around to show that he was in fact wearing his clothing reversed.

"You're what?"

"You know, Kris Kross, 'Jump!' 'Daddy Mack will make you jump-jump. The Mack daddy make you jump!' They show the video all the time on MTV." Kevin hopped up and down as he sang.

"I, uh, don't watch much MTV. How did you get your pants on backwards anyway?" Mack asked in disbelief.

"Uh, I don't want to talk about it," Kevin said, obviously hesitant to go into details.

"Ok, sure, but what possessed you to do it in the first place?"

"Because it's cool man, inside out is wiggidy-wack!" Kevin paused as he thought for a moment. "Wait a second, your name's Mack, hey, Mack-daddy makes you jump! Pretty cool huh?"

Mack winced, "Please don't call me that."

"Why not, I mean you are the Mack-daddy of Lawndale Elementary."

"Says who?"

"Who else could it be?" Kevin asked innocently

"You, you're the one who's crossed out or whatever," Mack said, anger creeping into his voice.

"No way man, you're the guy," Kevin insisted, oblivious to Mack's growing ire.

Mack sighed, "Whatever, just don't call me that."

"Aw come on, lighten up Mack-daddy."

"Kevin...I've got one question for you."

"What is it Mack-daddy?"

Mack flinched, as if restraining himself, "Just how do you go the bathroom dressed up like that?" he asked nonchalantly.

Kevin frowned, "What do you mean?"

"Well I know I'd hate it if I had to go to the bathroom and I couldn't reach my zipper. The pressure building and building and you can't do anything about it. If I were you I wouldn't think about Niagara Falls, all those millions of gallons of water pouring down every day. By the way, how much did you have to drink at breakfast?"

A panicked expression crossed Kevin's face. "I, uh, got to go." He ran off and crashed into the bathroom door.

"Uh, what's wrong with Kevin?" a passing student asked.

Mack shrugged, "I dunno, I think he had to go to the bathroom." An anguished cry emanated from the bathroom, filling the halls.

<Lawndale, Present Day>

Mack walked up to the his locker and started to work the combination. He opened the door and gathered the books he needed for the morning. When he unzipped his backpack he saw the jewelry box Kevin gave him the previous day. He picked up the box and stared at it.

Jodie walked up behind Mack, "Is that for me?" she asked.

"Huh?" Mack asked, startled. "Uh, no, this isn't anything." He tossed the box in his locker.

"Mack, I know a jewelry box when I see it, are you planning on giving that to another girl or something?"

"What? No, nothing like that," Mack sighed. "It's the gift the team got me, I put it in my pack after practice and forgot it was there."

"Oh, can I see it?" Jodie asked as she reached for the box.

"No!" Mack snapped, shoving the box into the locker.

"Come on Mack, I'm not easily offended," Jodie pleaded, trying to persuade Mack.

"Ok, fine, see for yourself." Mack handed Jodie the box and walked off.

Jodie opened the box and looked inside, "Oh, hell," she murmured. The box contained a gaudy necklace with a diamond encrusted "Mack" dangling from a gold chain. "Kevin, you are an idiot."


Quinn was walking to class when Joey, Jeffy and Jamie stepped in her way.

"Uh, hi Quinn," Jamie said with more trepidation than normal.

"Hi guys, do uh, you know what's going on? Everybody's looking at me funny today," Quinn asked the trio.

"We know what you're up to," Joey blurted out.


"We know about you and Anne Raeder," Jeffy said.

"Who told you?" Quinn demanded.

"We have our sources," Jamie replied, though not as cryptically as he would have liked.

"So, is it true?" Jeffy asked.

Quinn hung her head, "Yes, it is, I'm in..."

"Whoa, that's pretty cool," Jamie said, cutting off Quinn's admission.

"Yeah, and it explains a lot," Joey added. "Like why you haven't gone out with me for the past month."

"So you guys don't think I'm a freak?" Quinn asked, astonishment and hope crept into her voice.

"What, no, it's actually kind of hot..." Jeffy paused, "Could, uh, we watch sometime?"

"Well of course, everyone's going to get a chance in a couple weeks," Quinn said, her relief at her non-ostracism overshadowed the odd request.

"Cool, thanks Quinn," Jamie said in an awestruck voice.

"Yeah, who'd have thought lesbians would be so awesome," Joey muttered to the other two teens as they walked away from Quinn.

"Wow, I'd have never imagined they'd be so nice about the play," Quinn thought, not hearing what Joey said.

<Lawndale, Nine years ago>

Mack walked into his house after another day of school. He immediately sought out his mother. He found her in the kitchen. "Hi mom, what are you making?"

"It's a surprise."

"Well it smells good." He sat down at the kitchen table. "When will dad be home?"

"Not until later, he called and said he'd be working late again. Could you hand me the pepper dear?"

"He's been doing that a lot lately," Mack commented as he handed his mother the pepper shaker.

"It takes a lot of work to get a new factory working properly. How was school today Michael?"

Mack shrugged, "Ok." He looked thoughtful for a moment, "Hey Mom?"

"Yes dear?"

"Why do all the kids at school think I'm going to act a certain way and like certain things?"

Mack's mother stiffened slightly, "Has anyone called you anything Michael?" she demanded.

"Just Mack," he said.

"I'm not fond of that nickname, your name's Michael."

Mack shrugged, "I don't mind it, and there isn't anyone else going by that name, but there are a bunch of Mike's."

His mom sighed, "And I suppose there are worse names you could be called. Like 'Black' Mike."

"That's what I thought too, but why do they think I know all the words to Can't Touch This?"

"It's because they don't know any better dear. The only things they know about black people they get from TV." She told Mack as she sampled the contents of the pot.

"But that's so stupid."

"Yes, it is."

"So what am I supposed to do about it?"

"Just be yourself and the other kids will come around."

"And if they don't?"

"Then you still have to be yourself, don't let anyone else dictate who you are Michael Mackenzie." She hugged her son. "Now then, let's see if we can't find you something to eat while we wait for dad to come home, how does that sound?"

"Sounds great, I'd like to have a sandwich please?"

"And just what kind of sandwich do you want to have?"

"Grilled cheese?" Mack asked hopefully.

"Well ok, but only if you help me make it."

"Alright," Mack hopped up from his seat and ran over to the refrigerator.

"I need cheese, butter, and the bread," His mother told him. Mack gathered the ingredients and mother and son set about making a grilled cheese sandwich.

<Lawndale, Present>

Mack sat by himself at lunch, picking at his food.

"It's a violation of our human rights," a familiar monotonic voice said from behind him.

Mack turned around and saw Daria, "Huh?"

"The food, it's in opposition of the Geneva Conventions."

Mack smiled, Daria had a pretty bleak outlook, but her sense of humor was good for a chuckle or two. "I know, I thought it was impossible to ruin a grilled cheese sandwich, but damn." Mack poked at the sandwich on his plate."

"So that's what that is," Daria said, perfectly nonchalant. "I'm more concerned about what the green blobby stuff is."

"I think the white chunks are marshmallows." Mack prodded the green desert on his tray with his spork.

"Do you want to taste it to find out?"

"No, some things are best left unknown." Mack stuck his utensil into the goo and watched as the spork wiggled.

"Mind if I sit down?" Daria asked.

"Uh sure, go ahead. Why aren't you sitting with Jane?"

"She's having lunch with the theater crew, they're having a brain storming session and I really do not want to get entangled with that." Daria took a hand off her tray and waved it in the direction of a corner of the cafeteria. Mack looked and saw Jane and a group of student engaged in a heated discussion.

"And there aren't any other free tables," Mack finished.

"Exactly, what about you, where's Jodie?" Daria asked as she sat down.

"Oh, the Student Council is holding a lunch meeting," Mack answered, the disdain evident in his voice.

"And you don't want to get involved in that," Daria said.

"You got it, student politics just leave me cold. If it wasn't for Jodie I wouldn't have anything to do with them. I've got enough to do with the football team."

"I didn't realize being captain of the football team carried a lot of responsibility."

"I have to keep Kevin out of trouble," Mack replied.

"Oh, I take back what I said, my condolences."

"Thanks, were you aware that I've known Kevin since elementary school?"

"No, I didn't, and curiosity forces me to ask. How long has he called you Mack-Daddy?"

"For almost the entire time."

"You are a man of great fortitude, why haven't you killed him?"

"Because my mom says the best way to change a person's opinion of you is just by being yourself, and beating up Kevin wouldn't accomplish anything positive."

"Still, don't you wish you'd punched him the first time he said it?"

Mack looked thoughtful, "I don't know, sounds tempting, but I don't know if it would've been worth it. Kevin's an idiot, and everyone knows it. I think I impress people because I don't pound him."

"I'm impressed I didn't know you were so clever, of course there is a lot I don't know about you."

"Just like there's a lot I don't know about you," Mack pointed out.

"Care to hear my life story?" Daria asked.

"Not really, how about you?"

"I know my life so I'll pass on hearing yours; keeping my own problems straight is enough work for me. Besides why spoil a perfectly good mystery man?"

"Uh, thanks, I think."

"Well, why don't you want to hear about my life?" Daria asked.

Mack shrugged, "Because, I, er..."

"Don't care that much to find out?" Daria said, supplying Mack the answer.

"I wouldn't put it quite that way, but yeah, I suppose so."

"Same for me, sure you're a nice enough person, but I don't have a burning desire to get to know you any better. And it's not a crime to admit that. We move in a different circles and beyond school don't have much in common."

"So where does that leave us?" Mack asked.

"Cordial acquaintances."

"You don't hear too many people describe their relationships as cordial these days," Mack quipped.

Daria shrugged, "What can I say, I'm a throwback."

"I wouldn't say that, you're too independent to be representative of an earlier time."

"And too apathetic to be an activist back then," Daria agreed, "So I guess I'm just a girl who was bored enough to read Roget's cover to cover one summer."

"It shows," Mack said, he enjoyed the chance to verbally fence with Daria.

"Thank you."

"Just out of curiosity you wouldn't be interested in helping Kevin have a little accident?"

"Contrary to popular belief I'm not an assassin," Daria said, "But out of curiosity why do you ask?"

"Oh nothing, forget I said anything," he hastily replied.

"Against my better judgement I'm compelled to ask; what did Kevin do this time?"

"It's not anything important, he and the rest of the team bought me a little thank-you gift."

"And just how hideous a gift can it be if you're in the market for a hitter?"

"Just a necklace with a 'Mack' pendant."

"That's not so bad..."

"Did I mention it was gold and encrusted with cubic zirconia, and that 'Mack' is spelled out in two inch high letters."

"Oh...I've never seen you wear anything like that."

"I don't," Mack grumbled. "In fact I hate all that 'bling-bling' crap. Besides, 'bling' is supposed to be platinum, Kevin can't even get his gear right!"

"So just give it back."

"I can't, I don't want to hurt the other guys' feelings. I know they mean well, but they just don't know any better."

"The only way they'll learn is if you tell them."

"Daria, I've been telling Kevin not to call me 'Mack Daddy' for almost ten years." He angrily jabbed at his sandwich with his knife.

"So what are you going to do about this latest outrage?"

Mack shrugged, "I...don't know."

"Well, I know I'm not the most qualified person to talk to you about this sort of thing..."

"Because you're white," Mack said, finishing Daria's statement for her.

Daria shifted in her seat, "Uh, yeah, plus there's the whole 'I don't know you thing.' Wouldn't Jodie be a better person to confide in?"

"Because she's black?" Mack asked, the ire evident in his voice.

"And she's been your girlfriend for as long as I've known both of you." Daria paused, "Come to think of it, why is everything about race with you?"

"Because it is, I'm black, just about everyone else in this town isn't."

"You haven't had anyone antagonize you because of that have you?" Daria asked.

Mack shook his head, "No, just the opposite in fact. People go out of their way not to offend me...and usually end up annoying me anyway. They expect I'm going to act a certain way and like certain things that I don't do or like. Do you know how many times people have offered me fried chicken?"

"You don't like fried chicken?"

"I don't hate fried chicken, but that's not the point. People assume I like it because I'm black and we all know how much black folk love their fried chicken."

Daria shrugged, "And people assume I'm a borderline psychopathic misanthrope when they see me, big deal. People are stupid."

"Yeah, but would you like to be voted Prom Queen just because people thought you'd go Carrie on them if they didn't. Sometimes I think people are nice to me because they think I'm going to shoot them with my Glock if they aren't."

"Hmm, good point," Daria conceded. She thought for a while, "But still, why aren't you talking to Jodie about this?"

"Because she doesn't get it either, not totally."

"Ok, now you've lost me."

"Last night I went with Jodie and her parents to a hundred dollar a plate fundraiser dinner. In my entire life I've never spent more than maybe twenty bucks on dinner for just myself. Jodie's never lived in the hood like I have. She doesn't understand the realities of inner-city living anymore than you do."

"Oh I don't huh?" Jodie said from behind them.

Mack turned around and saw a very angry Jodie glaring at him. "Jodie, hi, I, er didn't see you there," he stammered.

"So what, I'm not black enough for you? Just because I've never lived in a ghetto I can't know your pain?"

"Quite frankly no, you can't." Mack snapped, "Did you ever get to know the homicide detectives who came around on a first name basis? Or how about always checking to make sure there wasn't a police cruiser parked along the street so you'd know that it was safe to walk down the block? Or memorize which corners not to walk past at certain times of the day to make sure you don't catch a bullet?"

"No, but then again my parents didn't harbor crazy notions about staying where their roots were even though those roots were in the middle of a war zone."

"Well maybe if more people thought like my parents did and stayed put, instead of running to the suburbs the inner-cities might not be a war zone!" Mack shot back.

"Okay, you two obviously have a lot to work out, so I'll just let you be," Daria said as she slipped away, taking her food with her.

"Actually we don't, if Mack doesn't think I measure up to his definition of a 'good' black person then I don't want anything to do with him." Jodie turned on her heel and stormed away.

Mack looked down at his lunch and sighed, "Great, just when I thought this day couldn't get any worse." He pounded his fist on the table, causing his can of soda to tip over, spilling its contents on the table.


Daria walked out of the cafeteria in search of a quiet place to spend the rest of her lunch period when Sandi, Tiffany, and Stacy crossed her path.

"Hmph, look, it's Quinn's cousin, or whatever. You know, I always thought she'd be the one," Sandi said to Tiffany and Stacy.

"Yeah, I know," Tiffany agreed.

"Hold it," Daria demanded, "I normally don't give a rat's ass what your living mannequins think about me, mostly because you don't. But right now I'm just not in the mood to be amused. So out with it, what did you think I was going to be?"

"Well, I head Quinn talking to Ann Raeder yesterday," Stacy hesitantly said.

"Oh, so you did find out about that," Daria said, cutting the girl off before she could finish. "I don't really see why you'd think I'd do that, but I suppose that would require you to think."

"You knew?" Sandi asked, dumbfounded.

"Of course I knew, I live with her, it's hard to keep that kind of secret from someone you live with," Daria snapped, her irritation with the Fashion Club kept her from paying closer attention to their behavior.

"But didn't that, like, freak you out?" Stacy asked.

Daria frowned, "Uh, why would it?" She sensed that maybe they were not talking about the same thing.

"Hello, Quinn's a lesbian, how could you not be freaked out by that?" Sandi said.

Daria did her best to keep her voice even, "Well, you know, why would I be freaked out about that? There's nothing wrong with being gay. You three don't have a problem with homosexuals do you?" Daria asked, barely containing her smirk.

"Of course we don't," Sandi said disdainfully, "the Fashion Club is a bastion of tolerance in a cruel world. You know, you really should try a different look from time to time; it would make you look less like the loser you are."

"I'll take that under advisement," Daria said before walking away from the Fashion Club. "Must find Jane," she muttered to herself. Daria was walking down the hall when she suddenly got yanked into a classroom. "Gah!" she exclaimed before a hand clamped over her mouth.

"Shhh," Quinn whispered, "I don't want to attract any attention."

"And shanghaiing people is sure a great way to keep a low profile," Daria groused when Quinn removed her hand.

"I need your help, everyone knows about me," Quinn frantically said.

"Oh they know something alright, it's just not what you think," Daria quipped.

"What should I do?" Quinn asked, not paying attention to her sister.

"What fun would it be if I told you everything?" Daria said, smirking to herself.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Talk to Stacy," Daria said cryptically.


"Stacy is the key, talk to her," Daria said before ducking out of the classroom. She turned and walked into Jane, who was heading down the hall in the opposite direction.

"We have to talk," they said in unison.

"To the roof?" Jane asked, Daria nodded. "You won't believe the story I have for you," Jane said.

"I think I can do you one better," Daria replied.

"I wouldn't bet on that."

"I would," Daria said, smirking. "The Fashion Club thinks Quinn's a lesbian, and Quinn doesn't know. She thinks they know about her being in the play."

Jane's mouth moved wordlessly as she processed this revelation. "Damn, that trumps what I've got."

"What were you going to say?" Daria asked.

Jane blinked rapidly, "You know, I've plumb forgot."

<Baltimore, Nine years ago>

Michael was sitting in the living room of the Mackenzie apartment watching TV. "Hey mom!" He called out.

"Yes dear?" his mother asked from the kitchen.

"What's up with this guy's hair?" He pointed at the television.

"What?" Mrs. Mackenzie asked as she walked into the living room. "Oh, that's Bob Marley."

"Who's he?"

"Bob Marley was a musician from Jamaica, you know, like the people who live down the hall from us?" Mack nodded, he didn't really know them since they didn't emerge from their apartment very often. "Well Bob Marley played a kind of music called Reggae that was created by the black people of Jamaica, and became popular all over the world."

"Kind of like rap?"

"Yes, like rap, and like rap, reggae music encapsulated the life of the people of Jamaica, their hopes, realities, dreams and frustrations."

"What happened to him?"

"He died many years ago."


"He had a tumor in his toe, but he didn't let the doctors operate because he didn't want them to cut off his toe."

"That seems silly."

"To you maybe, but to him it was a matter of being true to himself and his faith. And that's an important lesson Michael, no matter what any one says or does always be true to yourself. Don't let anyone sway you from that. In the end it's your life and you're the person who has to live with the consequences of your actions, not the person who talked you into it."

Michael nodded as he digested what his mother said. He stared at the TV for a long moment. "Mom?" He finally asked.

"Could I wear my hair like that?"

"It takes a long time to grow your hair that long."

"That's ok, I don't want it super-long. I just want them braided like that to remind myself of what you said about being myself."

Michaels's mother leaned over and hugged her son. "What did I do to deserve such a wise boy?"

Michael shrugged, "Does this mean we won't have broccoli at dinner tonight?"

His mother laughed, "No, it's the broccoli that makes you so smart. It's like Popeye, spinach makes you strong, and broccoli makes you smart."

Michael made a face, "That doesn't make me like the stuff."

"Just be glad I'm not making you eat zucchini young man. Now then, turn that TV off and go set the table, your father's going to be home soon."

Michael sighed, "Yes, Ma'am."

<Lawndale, Present day>

Mack sat in the empty stands overlooking the football field. He was missing science, but that didn't really bother him. Whenever he got the chance he avoided Barch's class Mack sighed, he had a lot to think about.

"Dammit Kevin, why do you have to be so damn dense?" He wondered. "All you had to do was buy a damn thank-you card. Instead he gets that gaudy piece of junk. And now I'm facing down my last year in this white-bread hell hole with Jodie pissed at me."

Mack stood up and walked down the track. He needed to clear his head and the best way he knew to do that was by working out. He took off his shirt, shivering a little in the increasingly cold autumn air and started to run.


Quinn found Stacy sitting under a tree outside of school. "Hey Stacy," she called out.

Stacy visibly flinched when she heard Quinn's voice. "Uhh, hi Quinn."

"Mind if I sit down here?" Quinn asked.

"Err, sure, go ahead."

Quinn sat down next to Stacy, who shifted a little to increase the distance between her and Quinn. "So Stacy," Quinn said deliberately, "Do you have any idea what's going on today?"

"Uhm, what do you mean Quinn?"

"Everyone's been acting so weird today. First Jeffy, Joey, and Justin and just now Ms. Barch congratulated me for 'freeing myself from the shackles of male tyranny.' It's all very strange."

"Well maybe they found out that someone was keeping a secret, a dark, terrible secret," Stacy mumbled.

"So what, everyone has secrets. Keeping secrets is no big deal."

"But this secret is. It's a very big deal," Stacy said. "It brings everything I thought about...this person into doubt. Everything Quinn!"

Quinn realized she was the person Stacy was talking about, and she tried to calm her fellow Fashion Club member. "Maybe you're just making a mountain out of a molehill, you know how rumors are."

Stacy sniffled, "But this isn't a rumor, I know the truth firsthand."

Quinn cleared her throat, "You, uh do?"

"Yes I do," Stacy stared at Quinn, "I saw you talking to Ann Raeder yesterday, and I heard everything. So, is it true?"

Quinn sighed, "Yes, it is."

"Oh my god, so that means you're a..."

"Yes, I am," Quinn hung her head.

"Oh." An awkward silence fell over the pair as they digested their individual interpretations of their conversation.

Quinn, interpreting the silence as resentment on Stacy's part, tried to explain herself. "Come on Stacy, it's not like I'm a totally different person, we can still go out and do stuff together."

Stacy didn't respond to Quinn. Instead she sat there, lost in thought. She took a deep breath, "So, uh, Quinn...what's it like?"

"It's a lot of work, and nowhere near as glamorous as it's made out to be."

"Is it better?"

"I wouldn't necessarily say better, it's different sure, but not better. There is a lot of memorization though."

"Memorization?" Stacy asked, confused.

"Yeah, who'd have thought Mr. O'Neill would be such a stickler for detail."

"Mr. O'Neill?" Stacy exclaimed, horror creeping into her voice.

"Well he is the director after all," Quinn said by way of explanation, she didn't understand Stacy's shock.

"Director?" Stacy yelled. Several people standing nearby turned and looked at the pair

"Stacy, are you alright?" Quinn asked, trying to calm the teen down.

Stacy leapt up, "Am I alright? Am I alright? No, I'm not alright, I only just started to even get used to the fact that you're a lesbian, and now I find out you're making porn with Mr. O'Neill as your director!"

Quinn's eyes grew wide in shock. "Stacy, what the hell are you talking about? I'm not a lesbian, and I'm not making pornos!" She paused, "Stacy, Ewwwww."

"But I hear Ann Raeder say you were yesterday. She said your lesbian activities were going to interfere with the Fashion Club." Stacy slowly sat back down.

"Oh...oh," Quinn said, realization dawning on her. "Ann didn't say that. She said thespian Stacy, not lesbian, thespian."

"So you're not a lesbian?"

"No, of course not."

"Oh....then what's a thespian?"

"It's nothing really..." Quinn stopped, then started to speak again, "It's a fancy word for actor."

"Oh," Stacy said, not really grasping what Quinn said. "Oh," she said much more meaningfully when the realization struck. "You're not, like in the school play are you?" Quinn hung her head. "You're in the school play? But that's, like something only loser do. Why Quinn, why?" She pleaded.

"I just tried out for the extra credit. I didn't meant to actually get a part."

"Why didn't you just quit?"

"Because I'd lose the extra credit. I got trapped Stacy. I don't want to be in the stupid play, but I don't have any other option!"

"Why did you want the extra credit in the first place?" Stacy asked.

"Well remember this summer, and the tutor?" Quinn started to say his name, but stopped.

"Yeah, he was mean."

"No he wasn't," Quinn said, frowning. "Well, not too mean anyway, but that's not important. The thing is, I decided I want to do better in my classes."

"Why would you want that?"

"I don't want people to think I'm just cute."

"What's wrong with that?" Stacy asked, confused. "I thought that was the whole point of the Fashion Club."

"Think about Brittany, do you really want people to say the things they say about her about you?"

"But Brittany's a....oh, I see your point."

"If I get good grades then people can't say I'm just a bimbo; I'll be more popular than ever. If all goes according to my plan, next year I'm going to own this school," Quinn said, the confidence dripping from her voice.

"So you're going to get even more popular by being a geek?" Stacy asked, still trying to follow Quinn's logic.

"Stacy, ew! I'm never going to be a geek. I'm still going to be in the Fashion Club, and stuff. I' just going to be getting better grades, that's all."

"Ok, so why the theater again?"

"Because I wasn't doing well enough in English," Quinn admitted. "I'm still getting all the bugs worked out of the system."

"And just how are you going to explain this to Sandi?"

"I was hoping I wouldn't have to."

"But she thinks you're a lesbian, you have to tell her something!" Stacy exclaimed.

"She does huh? Hmm, you know I could use that..." Quinn paused, lost in thought. "Stacy you can't tell Sandi that I know she thinks I'm a lesbian."

"Oh no, not more secrets," Stacy paused, "What are you going to do Quinn?"

Quinn smiled, "If Sandi wants a lesbian I'm going to give her one."

"Uh, are you sure that's a good idea?" Stacy stammered.

"Here, let me explain it to you," Quinn whispered into Stacy's ear. As Quinn spoke Stacy's eyes grew wide.

<Lawndale, Eight years ago>

Mack and Jodie were sitting in the Landon's living room, watching TV.

"Wow Jodie," Mack said appreciatively, "You sure do have a nice house."

"Yeah, it's a bit much, but Dad insisted on getting it," Jodie replied, a little embarrassed by their surroundings.

"I think it's cool."

"My room's nicer than the one at the old house, and that is a good thing."

"I know all about that. My room at home is like twice as large as my room I the old apartment."

"What was that like?"


"Living in an apartment."

"Oh, well, cramped mostly, but other than that not much different than living in a house." Mack paused, "But it is nice to not have to listen to the neighbors fight in the apartment above you."

"I'll bet, tell me, what was the worst fight you ever heard?"

Before Mack could answer, Jodie's parents entered the room. "Jodie!" her mother exclaimed. "Who is this, and why aren't you studying?"

"Mom, Dad, this is Michael, he goes to my school. Michael, these are my parents."

Mack stood up, "Hello Mr. And Mrs. Landon."

"Hi there Michael, or do you go by Mike?" Andrew Landon asked as he held out his hand to Mack.

"Actually, everyone at school calls me Mack sir," Mack replied before shaking Mr. Landon's hand.

"What's your last name Michael?" Mrs. Landon asked.

"Mackenzie," Mack answered.

"That explains the nickname," Mr. Landon said, chuckling. "So Mack, what does your father do?"

"He's a manager at the Ketter plant," Mack said proudly.

"Oh," Mr. Landon said, "Well, I suppose we can't all be Executive Vice Presidents, right dear?" Mack felt like he could see the condescension dripping from Mr. Landon's voice.

Mrs. Landon ignored her husband, "Where's your family from Michael?"

"Baltimore," Mack replied, he pronounced it "Bawlmore."

"Uh, Baltimore's a lovely city."

Mack shrugged, "It was alright, but the police were a little annoying when the showed up at our apartment building."

The elder Landons shared a worried look, "So your family was living in an apartment building?" Mrs. Landon asked.

"Yep," Mack said, "In the same neighborhood my dad grew up in. My mom said it was important for me to know where my roots are."

"Well that's certainly admirable isn't it Andrew?" Mrs. Landon said. Mack could tell that Jodie's parents were measuring him up. "I'm glad to see you're making friends so quickly Jodie, that will help when you get involved in student government."

"Now don't forget Jodie, we've got the NAACP benefit tonight. Are your parents involved in the NAACP Mack?" Mr. Landon asked.

"My dad says the NAACP is an anachronism that caters to black people who've bought into the system and are interested in keeping the status quo, but my mom's on the local board of directors." Mack smiled to himself, it felt good to get back at the Landons for their condescending attitude.

"Wonderful, then we might get a chance to meet your mother and tell her what a special boy she's raised," Mrs. Landon said, a touch of menace in her voice.

Mack shrugged, "Ok." His mom always told him to speak his mind.

"It was nice to meet you Michael, I hope you come over again," Mrs. Landon said.

"Yes, it's good to see young black males getting out of the ghettos. Pay attention to this boy Jodie, he's an example of hard work paying off." Jodie's parents walked out of the living room.

"Sorry about my parents," Jodie said, "They can be a little, well, you know."

"Yeah, it's no problem," Mack picked up his backpack. "Well, it was nice being here, but I'd better get home."

"I hope my parent's didn't..."

"No, nothing like that. I don't want to be late for dinner, that's all. My dad's a little picky about me being there on time.

Jodie smiled, "Alright, I had fun this afternoon, we should do this again."

Mack nodded, "Yeah, we should. Anyway I need to, uh, go." He turned to leave.

"Hey Mack, wait a second," Jodie said before reaching over and kissing him on the cheek. "See you tomorrow."

"Yeah, sure, bye Jodie." Mack said, a little startled by the kiss.

Mack walked out of the Landon's house and headed for home. While it was true that his father demanded Mack be home for dinner it was also true that his dinner wasn't for another hour. He sighed, he didn't like lying to Jodie, but her parents looked like they expected him to pull a gun on them. He had grown use to the people of Lawndale acting like that, but he hadn't expected black people to react the same way. It made him uncomfortable and he needed to think by himself. He picked up the pace and broke into a job. His dad always told him that the best thing to do when you wanted to think was to exercise. Mack headed for the park, he figured he could get a few good laps in before dinner.

<Lawndale, Present Day>

Jodie walked up to the track, she hadn't seen Mack since lunch and she knew there was only one place he could be. She saw Mack jogging around the track. It looked like he'd been running for a long time.

"Wow, I haven't seen him like this for quite a while," she thought. "That necklace must have really bugged him." She watched Mack cross the finish line and begin another lap. "Hey Mack!" She called out.

Mack turned, saw her and slowed to a walk. "What do you want?" he asked as Jodie caught up with him.

"You weren't in science class and I wondered where you were."

"What made you think I'd be here?"

"Where else do you go when you want to be by yourself? I've known you've long enough to figure that out Michael Mackenzie."

"So what brings you out here?"

"You mean beyond a desire to admire the view?" Jodie asked as she started at Mack's well-toned frame.

Mack glanced down and remembered he'd taken off his shirt. "Sorry, I didn't want to get my shirt all sweaty."

"No need to apologize, but the real reason I'm here is to see how you're doing."

"Me? Oh I'm fine," Mack said.

"You're not fine; you just spent the last hour running laps," Jodie pointed out.

"I needed to work on my endurance."

"During science class?"

"Wouldn't you want to if Barch had a mad-on for you?" Mack said with a chuckle.

"Come on Mack, out with it, something's bothering you," Jodie paused. "After all, why else would you blow up at me like you did."

Mack sighed, "Yeah, look, I'm sorry about that, I was out of line, and I didn't mean any of those things."

"Well what you said wasn't all false. It's true, I've never lived in the hood, but that doesn't mean my life's been all perfect, you of all people should know that."

"Yeah, true," Mack admitted.

"And so what if I'm not from a project. These morons don't know that. Do you know how many times Brittany's told me, 'you go girl?' Mack, you're not alone in the passive discrimination department."

Mack sighed, "I know, it's just...I expected more from Kevin. I've known him since the first day I was here. That's nearly ten years, and that self-absorbed, dim-witted ass still doesn't know me."

"When have you carted about what Kevin thinks about you?"

"It's not just Kevin, it's the whole team. I've known those guys for years, we've been through so much together and they still all chipped in and bought me that piece of crap."

"So what are you going to do about it?"


"You got a bad gift, what are you going to do about it? It's not that hard a question."

"Kevin left the receipt in the box. I think I'll just return the damn thing and get something I want."

"What are you going to tell Kevin?" Jodie asked.

"That the necklace didn't fit, what else?"

"It sounds to me like you've got this all worked out, so why the mopey bastard routine?"

Mack shrugged, "I needed the time to think it through. I did that, now life can return to normal."

"Good, I'm glad to hear it. You're not fun to be around when you're being a mopey bastard."

Mack chuckled, "Gee, thanks."

"You're welcome," Jodie replied.

"What, no kiss?" Mack innocently asked.

"Come again?"

"Aren't we supposed to kiss now? We've made up, now we get to make out right?"

"No way, you've been running. This is as close as I'm going to get to you until you take a shower." Jodie wrinkled her nose in disgust.

"Guess I'd better go have that shower then, huh? Hey, this day's shot, want to just ditch and go somewhere more fun?" Mack suggested


Mack shrugged, "I don't know, the mall, the park, catch a movie?"

"Sure, why damn, I've got a Young Democrats meeting after school."

"You've suddenly become ill and can't attend. Come on Jodie, everyone gets at least one pass do something irresponsible."

"I suppose we could spend the time getting rid of that albatross in your lock."

"Now that sounds like a good plan. I'll meet you outside the locker room?"

"I'll be waiting," Jodie said before walking off the track and heading back to the school. Mack finished his cool down, retrieved his shirt and walked to the locker room.


Quinn and Stacy were walking down the hall to where Sandi and Tiffany were standing.

"What do you want me to do Quinn?" Stacy muttered.

"Just don't let Sandi know I'm up to something."

"How am I supposed to do that?"

"I don't know, walk casual or something, now be quiet or you'll blow the whole thing."

They were passed in the hall by Joey, Jeffy and Jamie. "Hey cool, Stacy's a lesbian too," Joey said, noticing that Quinn and Stacy were walking very close together and speaking in hushed tones.

"What?" Stacy exclaimed.

"Stacy, how did you let Quinn convert you so quickly?" Tiffany asked.

"But..." Stacy protested.

"So what if she is?" Quinn asked. "Why does it matter? Or do you have a problem with lesbians?"

"Of course I don't," Sandi said indignantly, "but a lesbian couldn't be in the Fashion Club, they don't date boys."

"Now wait a minute, I'm..." Stacy tried to say.

"Cool, chick fight," Jamie said to his two associates.

"That's just silly, we just date boys to get stuff out of them. It's not like we actually like any of them," Quinn said.

"Huh?" Jeffy asked.

"It's about the illusion Quinn, if they don't think they can have you why date you?"

"I'm not a lesbian!" Stacy shouted.

"You're not?" Tiffany asked. "But Quinn..."

"No, and neither is Quinn."

"But you said she was," Sandi pointed out.

" She's not a lesbian, I'm not a lesbian, nobody's a lesbian! I misheard her, she's in the school play," Stacy paused, "Oh crap, sorry Quinn." An awkward silence descended on the hall.

"You're in the school play?" Joey asked Quinn, she simply nodded, "Wow, you were cooler when you were a lesbian."

"Quinn, you've got a lot to answer for," Sandi said, a delighted grin on her face.

"It's not like I have a choice in the matter, Mr. O'Neill is forcing me to because I'm just such a gifted actress," Quinn told Sandi. "And guys, since I'm not a lesbian I can still date you all. So, who wants to take me to Chez Pierre tomorrow night?" The three boys still looked apprehensive. "Plus I'd really appreciate it if you went to see the play as many times as possible."

"You can count on me Quinn," Jamie said.

I don't know, the play seems kind of dorky," Joey said dubiously.

"Did you know that Jennifer Aniston was in school plays when she was in high school?" Quinn said.

"Whoa, she's hot," Joey said.

"So will you be there?" Quinn asked, smiling directly at the dark-haired teen.

"You bet," Joey said, dumbstruck.

"But what about that stuff you said earlier?" Jeffy asked, still not convinced.

"But who says I was talking about you three?" Quinn asked as she smiled sweetly.

"I'm going to buy ten tickets!" Jeffy exclaimed.

"Then I'll buy fifteen," Joey countered.

"No way dude, you can't get more than me."

"Just watch me," the two teens started to trade blows.

Quinn serenely walked past Sandi, "See you at the meeting after school." She said without pausing.

"Hmph, you're still in the school play," Sandi sniffed.

"And I'll look good doing it," Quinn said over her shoulder.

Stacy hurried to catch up with Quinn. "Oh Quinn, I'm so sorry about that, you didn't get to use your great plan, I'm so stupid."

Quinn shrugged, "M'eh."

"But it was such a good plan. I mean you were going to..."

"Stacy, I said m'eh. Just let it drop," Quinn snapped. "This work out well enough."

" the other people know that?"

"The what? Oh, crap," Quinn ran back down the hall followed by Stacy. They found Ann walking towards Sandi. "Ann," Quinn said, "Forget it, she already knows."

Ann looked over at Quinn and sighed, "Well thank goodness for that. I don't know how you talked me into doing this in the first place, pretending I'm a lesbian to embarrass Sandi, sheesh..." Ann walked off, muttering to herself. Sandi frowned at Quinn, but did not say anything.

"Yeah, you're right, the other way did go much better," Stacy observed.

"Oh shut up Stacy," Quinn grumbled.

<Lawndale, Nine years ago>

Mack walked up to the door of the elementary school and stopped. He was apprehensive about going inside because today was the first day he was wearing his mini-dreadlocks. "It sure seemed like a good idea at the time,: he muttered to himself, "But why on earth do I want to make myself stand-out more?"

Mack sighed and opened the door, "Because you do stand out so why cares? Plus Mom would kick the crap out of me if I skipped school." He walked down to his locker, resolutely took off his wool cap, and nothing happened.

Then Kevin walked past, "Hey Mack daddy, whoa, that's a pretty fly hair do. You look like those guys in Milli Vanilli."

Mack winced, "That's not the point..."

"See you in class Mack daddy," Kevin continued on his way.

Mack hung his head and sighed. He started to walk towards the bathroom. "Of course, Milli Vanilli, what was I thinking? Oh well, it was nice while it lasted."

"Hey, love the hair," a voice said.

Mack turned and saw a dark haired girl leaning against a locker. "Excuse me?" He asked.

"Your hair, it's pretty cool."

"Why, because it's like Milli Vanilli?"

"No, they're stupid. I like the statement dreads in the 'burbs, nice touch. Telling all us conformist dorks where to shove it. I like it."

"Thanks, I'm going to go take them out though."

"No, you can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Because they suite you. The outside by default, opposed to the outsider by choice like yours truly. You know your different and you embrace that. It's a good statement."

"So you're saying I should keep them?"

"You'd be a fool if you didn't" The girl could see that Mack was hesitating. "Hey, I think they look good on your too."

"So what, you're the girl that eats paste."

"I do not eat paste...I taste it to make sure it's the right consistency."


"If the paste is too dry then it won't adhere as well."

"I never realized paste was so complex."

"If you're an artist like myself it is," the girl said, "Bad paste can ruin a project."

"I'll keep that in mind," Mack quipped.

"Have I sufficiently freaked you out?"

"Not really," Mack said, shrugging, "Hi, I'm Mack Mackenzie, and you are?"

"Jane Lane, resident artiste and misfit."

Mack chuckled, "Nice to meet you Jane," the first bell rang. "Well I have to go to class, thanks for the advice."

"You're going to take it right?"

"I'll see how it goes today, then take it from there."

"Good enough."

"See you around Jane," Mack said before walking to class.

"No you won't," Jane muttered to herself as she watched Mack walk off. Different or not Jane knew he was already one of the most popular kids in school "Whereas I, Jane Lane, remain the cat who walks by herself." She sighed, then followed Mack into the classroom.

<Lawndale, Present day>

Mack found Jodie waiting outside the locker room when he came out after his shower. She reached over and hugged him. "Ahh, much better," she said after dramatically sniffing the air.

"Very funny, now can we get the hell out of here?"

"Lead the way, I've never skipped out of school before."

"It's real simple, just act like you're not doing anything wrong, and don't attract any attention."

The pair walked down the hall, but were stopped short of the door by Joey, Jeffy, Jamie, and the rest of the football team, with the exception of Kevin. "Hey Mack, hi Jodie," Jeffy said.

"Uh, hi guys, what do you need?"

"We were looking for you dude. We know Kevin gave you our thank-you gift..."

"Uh, yeah, it's er..." Mack stammered, trying to find a diplomatic way out.

"...and we know that Kevin probably screw it up," Joey said.

"Yeah, who knows why we put Kevin in charge of the gift," Jaime added.

"So we passed the hat again and got you something from the whole team," Jeffy said as the rest of the team moved aside to reveal a large box.

"This is actually what the team wanted to get you, but Kevin insisted he knew what you really wanted. We went ahead and got this anyway."

"Gee guys, I don't know what to say," Mack said as he opened the box. Inside was a slightly battered Lawndale High Football helmet mounted on a wooden base. There was a brass plaque on the base that read, "To Michael "Mack" Mackenzie, the best team captain in the history of Lawndale High. We wouldn't have been half the team we were if it wasn't for you. Thanks - The Lawndale Lions." Mack looked up at the team. "Seriously, this is great. Thanks guys, it means a lot to me." He paused, "Uh, how much did you guys chip in for the thing Kevin got me? I'm going to return it and I'd like to give back your money."

"Don't worry about it, Kevin paid for the whole thing."

"He said the QB should buy the present for the captain," Jeffy said.

"Sometimes I think Kevin's hit his head too many times," Joey said, the rest of the team nodded in agreement.

"Probably not too far off," Mack agreed. "Hey guys, thanks a lot for this." He held the helmet up for everyone to see.

"You earned it Mack," one of the linemen said. "We know that keeping Kevin in check like you do isn't easy."

"Still, this..." Mack looked at the helmet, "really does mean a lot to me, it's going on my trophy case."

"Be sure to keep it next to your Heisman and Superbowl ring."

Mack and the rest of the team laughed, "Sure thing. Ok guys see you tomorrow."

"What about practice?" Joey asked.

"Make up an excuse for me with coach ok? Jodie and I have to go spend some quality time together."

"Oh, sure thing Mack," Jaime said.

"Bye guys," Mack said.

"Bye Mack," the team replied.

Mack held the door open for Jodie and the two left the school. "So, do you feel better?" Jodie asked.

"Yeah, I do," Mack answered.

"That's a really ugly thing," Jodie commented, pointing at the helmet Mack held under his arm.

"Yup," Mack said, his voice brimming with pride.

"But you're going to keep it anyway."


Jodie leaned over and kissed Mack. "I knew I liked you for a reason."

"What's that?"

"Huh?" Jodie asked.

"What's the reason?"

"You respond to genuine emotion, and you don't let the phonies dazzle you."

"Is that the rich black girl way of saying I'm keeping it real?"

Jodie laughed, "Word straight up, know what I'm sayin?"

Mack chuckled, "You would last five minutes in Bawlmore."

"I would if I had a big, rugged guy keeping an eye on me."

"Know any of those?"

"I sure do, he's really good-looking too."

"Oh?" Mack asked, feigning ignorance.

"Yeah, the total package, he's even big enough to apologize when he screws up."

"Gee, I'd like to meet this guy sometime, he sounds pretty cool."

"Just get in the car Mack," Jodie ordered.

"Yes ma'am," Mack replied. "So, uh, where are we going?" He asked as he buckled his seat belt.

"Does it really matter?"

"No, I guess not," Mack said finally. "Although I'd rather not go to a fabric store, or someplace like that," he added.

"Like I was anxious to go buy a bolt of cloth," Jodie deadpanned.

"Just making sure," Mack said, "You know how much I hate fabric stores."

"Oh shut up, we're going to the mall and that's final."

Mack shrugged, "Ok, whatever, I don't care...but I thought we were going someplace a little more private..."

Jodie looked over at Mack, "The park then?"

"Sounds good to me," Mack leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes. "But how about we stop for some food first?" He held up his hands defensively to block Jodie's attempted slap.


Quinn sat in the living room eating carrot sticks and watching television. An open text book beside her revealed her original intentions for the evening. Quinn looked down at the book and sighed. She turned down the volume on the television and picked up the book.

"I should be out on a date right now," Quinn muttered to herself. "But I guess that's why this whole mess happened...still wish I was out."

The front door opened and Daria and Tom walked into the house. "Crud, Quinn's home, come on, let's find somewhere else," Daria said.

"Hello, I'm sitting right here," Quinn said.

"Why so you are, now goodbye," Daria turned to leave.

Tom caught Daria by the arm. "And just where are we going? We just left my house, and you're still not welcome at the library."

"What?" Quinn asked. That sounded like something she wanted to hear, and she knew Tom would love to tell the story.

"It's a long story," Daria said, cutting off Tom's explanation. "Let's go up to my room; we should at least get some privacy there."

"What are you two doing?" Quinn asked her sister.

"We're trying to find a quiet place to get some studying done," Daria replied.

"My little sister got to be too annoying so Daria suggested we come here because you're never home," Tom added.

"I obviously miscalculated," Daria grumbled.

"Yeah well, something came up so here I am," Quinn said, feigning cheerfulness.

"Ok, well, just stay out of our way tonight," Daria said.

"Sure, fine, whatever," Quinn replied.

Daria sighed, "I'll meet you upstairs, ok?" She told Tom.

"Uh, is anything wrong?" Tom asked.

Daria shook her head, "No, everything's fine, I just need to talk to Quinn for a moment, alone."

Tom picked up on the hint, "Ok, well I'll be in your room then." Tom walked up the stairs and out of sight.

Daria looked at her sister, "So, you talked to Stacy?"

Quinn nodded, "Yeah, and I told her the truth."


"And she told Sandi."

"That's bad, right?"

Quinn shrugged, "It could have been, but you know, I learned something today."

"The truth shall set you free?"

"What? No, if you're cute you can get away with just about anything."

Daria stood there for a moment, as if she was trying to form a reply, "I've got nothing."


"I'm not even going to try and argue with you about this, despite the fact that you've taken the worst possible moral from your misadventure."

"Plus Tom's upstairs waiting for you."

Daria frowned, "That has very little to do with it."

"Yeah right, I believe you."

"Are you really, ok?" Daria asked, ignoring Quinn's jab.

"Oh I'll be fine. And Daria, you really must be slipping if you're asking about my social standing," Quinn said, trying to cover up any attempts at bonding.

Daria's face turned a shade of red, "And here I was worried about how you were doing, silly me."

"Hey Daria,"


"Thanks for the tip today, it really helped."

"I was just making sure you weren't going to get any special treatment you hadn't earned," Daria said stiffly.

"I know that, still, thanks."

Daria shrugged, "Don't mention it, though if I'd known I was going to end up feeding your ego I might have reconsidered."

"Daria, why exactly are you standing here when Tom's upstairs?"

"Because you wanted to say something to me you vacuous twit."

"Well first of all that's not true, and second of all, when have you ever listened to what I say?"

Daria smirked, "I think I liked you better before you realized your head was good for something other than makeup."

"No you don't."

Daria started to walk up the stairs, "You're right, I don't, see you later Quinn."

Quinn watched her sister walk up the stairs before picking up her book. She read for a little while before putting it down, "This is not the Quinn Morgendorffer way," she said to herself as she reached for the phone. "Hello Dave, it's Quinn. Yeah, nice to talk to you too. No, that is so not true. Right, well duh of course I'm not. Oh very funny. Look, the reason I'm calling...where? Oh, the new Italian place, of course I want to go there. Now would you mind if I brought my math book along, I've got a few questions. Great, I'll see you in a half-hour." Quinn hung up the phone and smiled to herself.

<Baltimore, Nine years ago>

Michael watched as the movers finished loading the van. The weeks following his dad's announcement they were moving had flown by and the day of the big move had arrived.

Michael's mother walked up behind him, "Hey Michael, we're almost set to go, are you ready?"

Michael turned, "Where we're moving, Lawndale, it's going to be better than here, right?"

"Well, there's going to be less violence, and you'll have more space to yourself, plus your school will be better. But there will be less to do and we won't see your grandparents as often"

"And I'll miss my friends here."

"Of course you will, but you'll make new friends."

"You sure?" Michael asked, his voice full of hope.

His mom hugged him, "I promise sweetie."

Michael's father joined them on the front step, "Ok folks, time go. All set Michael?"

Michael looked between his parents, "Yeah I am."

The family got into their car and drove off. Michael watched the apartment building disappear behind the corner. AS they drove away Michael saw his old haunts flash past. When they were stopped at an intersection Michael saw two familiar detectives standing next to a white Cavalier.

"Bye detectives!" He called out the window. "We're moving out of Baltimore so I guess I can't help you with your case anymore."

"Hey that's great, bye Mikey!" the white detective shouted as the Mackenzies drove away. "Well Frank," he said to his partner as they watched the moving truck rumble away from the center of the old city, "it looks like we won't be investigating Michael's death."

The black detective took a long drag on his cigarette. "Nope, but it only proves my point. The boy's going to survive because he's leaving the inner-city."

"Oh come on Frank, that wasn't what I meant."

"I know, now shut up and get in the car. I've got a feeling we are going to turn some of those names on the board black today." The two detectives got into their car and drove off, heading back towards the decaying heart of the city.


My Life Gonna buy me a pickle And eat it all by myself Get me a jar of mayonnaise But leave it up on the shelf Gonna catch me a bullfrog And kiss em right on the mouth Take a trip to the North Pole But I'll get there going south 'cause it's my life and I can do what I want do I got mine you got yours Do you hear what I say? It's my life and I can do what I wanna do I can do this, I can do that Everybody say it with me one time. It's My Life! Gonna make me a record And fill it all up with bas I can add a little keyboard if I want to... But I don't Make a million dollars And keep it all do myself Give some to the needy if I will But I won't 'cause it's my life and I can do what I want do I got mine you got yours Do you hear what I say? It's my life and I can do what I wanna do I can do this, I can do that Everybody say it with me one time. It's My Life! Gonna get me a mirror And drop it from the 13th floor Gonna join the Army But I ain't gonna go to war Gonna buy me some kit string And knit myself a dress Take a wooden nickel And sent it to the IRS 'cause it's my life and I can do what I want do I got mine you got yours Do you hear what I say? It's my life and I can do what I wanna do I can do this, I can do that Everybody say it with me one time. It's My Life! And I know that I'm responsible For everything I do But I know that I don't have to be responsible for you 'cause it's my life and I can do what I want do I got mine you got yours Do you hear what I say? It's my life and I can do what I wanna do I can do this, I can do that Everybody say it with me one time. It's My Life! I can do this. I can do that I can be white. I can be Black. I can be thin. I can be fat. I can be pitter. I can be pat Everybody say it with me one time IT'S MY LIFE!

Author's Notes: I don't have a lot to say here, just a couple quick comments. I don't intend this to be THE Mack-fic. This is a fic with Mack in a central role. I don't want the pressure of having to write THE Mack-fic, and so I left out certain aspects. I found I didn't have much to say on the dynamic between Mack and his father so I didn't try to force anything and instead focused on Mack and his unseen mother. Mack certainly is an interesting character and I hope I did him some justice. Now, having said that there are sections of this story that I just love to pieces, the introduction, Kevin krossed out. This was a fun story to write, and a bear to revise. But I finally hit that f-it point and here it is.

Let it Bleed: I'll be quite honest, I bled to finish this story, literally, there's dried blood on one of the pages on my rough draft. But the pages themselves bled metaphorically, while proof-reading I made sure that I made at least one correction or modification to every page. I know I certainly didn't squash all the little bugs, but hopefully I got the most outrageous ones.

Farces are fun: I know, thespian/lesbian is a tired gag. But then again, I don't think it's much of a stretch to see the Fashion Club making that mistake.

"Double Secret Probation": I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself, the concept just seemed so entirely Sandi.

Big thanks: I'd just like to give a shout-out/props/thanks to all the kind folks who beta read this story. The story is that much better for your input.

Flecktones!: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones are an amazing band I highly recommend checking them out, either as a group or at one of their respective solo dates, Bela is currently touring in support of his classical(!) album.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for whatever comes next whenever that is.

-sam 2/11/2002