Tigresses of Lawndale – Chapter 5 – La bohème, c'est nous
By Dr T
Daria starts to recover from the attack, and has an interesting offer for Jane, Andrea, and Quinn.
"Hey, Amiga! That's a new look for your glasses." Daria, who was sitting up in the hospital bed, was wearing medium-sized hexagonal wire-frames.
"These are just temporary," Daria retorted. "It takes at least a few days for my regular prescription to be made, but I'll have glasses similar to what I had sometime next week. These are good enough to watch tv with, although I doubt I could read the chalk board in calculus. I also can't use my contacts until I regain some dexterity in my left hand."
"Well, they look nice, anyway. How are you?" Jane asked. She had rushed over after school, and was glad she had found Daria, although in her hospital bed, looking much better than she had the night before.
"Disappointed, and achy."
"Achy I understand, but why disappointed?" Jane asked, curious. Jane knew Daria well, and understood that Daria was somehow disappointed in herself. "You couldn't have done anything to stop this attack, and we don't know what wacko did it, so we don't know you could have done anything to prevent it."
"True," Daria said. "Even in Highland, an attack like this would have taken me unaware. However. . . ."
Daria sighed. "You know I'm not athletic. . . ."
"True, but you told me you had to endure years of dance class, and Quinn's told me you did some martial art in Highland, and that you even beat up some guy who was trying to feel her up," Jane replied.
"All past tense," Daria agreed, "and you should know Quinn often gets details very wrong. She thinks I was some feared psycho bitch in Highland, when the truth is I beat up that one guy. If I was feared, it was in part because Quinn was not the only person terrified of being near the dumb duo, and by the end of ninth grade I could get the two of them to do really stupid things to themselves – which impressed other people, who didn't seem to realize that the idiots tortured each other in every way far more than I ever tortured them mentally. Everyone else figured that if I could manipulate two idiots so stupid as to make Kevin look at least above average, maybe I could do it to them if they pissed me off."
"Oh. . . ."
"And yes, I took self-defense training, but it was no formal martial art. Some of it was with a group of feminists who made Barch look sweet and man-crazy, and the rest was at Billy Bob's School of Rasslin' and Self Defense."
Jane blinked. "Did you just actually say 'rasslin'?"
"Yep, sure 'nuff did," Daria replied with a drawl Jane had never heard before. Before Jane could comment, Daria was talking again with her usual accent. "Billy Bob was an ex-pro-wrestler, and his wife, Sweet Darlin', had played his manager. Billy Bob was also an ex-state high school wrestling champion. He taught amateur wrestling, and he and his wife taught both self-defense and coached pro-wrestling wannabes."
Jane frowned. "Isn't it all fake?"
"Think of it as choreographed exhibitions," Daria corrected. "They teach you how to pull a punch so it only stings like hell instead of really injuring you, but that also teaches you how to punch someone's lights out without breaking your fist. Every hold is real and most are potentially very painful – you have to learn both to be successful. We, on the other hand, were never taught how to hold back, just how to hurt people. So, no, it's not fake. As Billy Bob said, 'Ya cain't fake jumpin' off''n the top rope, missin' your man and landin' on a thin rubba mat'. What pisses me off is that I know how to fall. Hell, I taught you! The second thing I learned from Sweet Darlin' was how to fall forward and hit the floor without getting hurt, even when surprised."
"What was the first thing?" Jane asked.
"The back bump, falling backwards and spreading the impact over your full back and even your upper arms, without hitting your head," Daria groused. "I was damn good at both; scared Dad once doing a back bump off the third step of a ladder. Even tripped and pushed, I should not have hurt my arm and wrist as badly as I did, and I sure shouldn't have had a concussion, because I should have been able to stop my momentum before my head hit the wall right before it hit the ground. So no, I can't be upset about not foreseeing the attack; I can be for reacting so poorly to it."
"So, you aren't the super-scary ninja, secretly training your toned body every night, like Quinn believes?" Jane teased.
"No," Daria retorted, "not even when I was in decent shape was I ever physically scary except to gullible idiots."
"Would you care to explain your jacket of doom then? Or should that be jackets? Either way, that blood scared me, Daria," Jane complained.
"I'm sorry," Daria replied contritely. "I know; I went overboard. I had just invented Melody Powers that summer and liked the idea of James Bond gadgets. I'll take the knife out of the other jacket, although I'll leave the fiber knuckle-duster I have in that one."
"So, when will you be ready to start really training then?" Jane teased. "Next week?"
"Part of me actually wishes I could," Daria admitted. She held up her left arm. "No typing for four weeks; and this thing stays on except in the shower for at least three, maybe even eight or ten weeks. I'll have it x-rayed or whatever it was they did when I was out of it yesterday at least twice more. Mom called, and said she couldn't really get me out of gym class, so I'll be the runners' bane instead."
"I have to power walk each gym period, and you can bet Morris will make sure there's more power than walking involved."
"Probably. Who are all the flowers from?" Jane asked to change the subject. "And who sent you the stem?"
"It was a chocolate rose from Andrea, and I ate it. Look at the romantic who sent me the paper roses I just got."
Jane looked. "Tom. How . . . unsurprising."
"Speaking of the flowers, could you do me a favor?"
"Probably," Jane teased. "After all, I've already agreed to pull your pants down for you at school."
Daria rolled her eyes, but merely went on. "I'm going to try to get out of going to school tomorrow. If I do, could you pass out these thank you cards?"
Jane blinked. "Sure, Amiga." 'Figures Daria would send formal thank you cards.'
Daria sighed. "More than that, Jane, I'm going to need lots of help over the next few weeks."
Jane knew Daria hated asking for any kind of help. "What can I do?"
"Well, for a start, Dad should be here in about half an hour to spring me. Could you help me get dressed?"
By 8:00 that night, Jane had agreed to move into the spare bedroom for the next two weeks to help Daria. Helen and Daria had then had a confrontation, which Daria won on all three major counts, although she did have to agree to some minor compromises. She would not be going to school the next day, but for psychological reasons rather than physical; she would be allowed to go to McGrundy's the next night, but Thor and Jane were to bring her straight home at the first sight of fatigue (plus Helen wanted to finally meet Thor and John; the two boys would have supper at the Morgendorffers after practice the next night); and Helen would drive Quinn, Jane, Daria, and Andrea to Oakwood Saturday morning for the exams.
Daria spent a rather restless night, but was up with the rest of the household. She refused to get dressed (or rather, she refused to let Jane or Quinn dress her). She would wait and shower just before Jane came back that afternoon, and only then start to dress for her date that night. She promised her mother she wouldn't just lie around the house so easily that Helen was almost shocked.
Daria had no problem keeping her word. She spent the morning striding through the house, especially up and down the stairs, listening to all the radios in the house. She was tempted to do a back bump from the stairs to the floor just to prove to herself she could do it right, but decided not to out of consideration for the severity of her injuries, especially if she made a mistake and landed wrong.
Lunch was a bit frustrating, as her left hand was still too weak to even hold a soup can for the can opener, never mind trying to hold one with a pop-top firmly enough open it. Even a can of soda was too difficult to open without risking it fizzing all over, as was opening an already opened jar of salsa in the fridge. Finally, she looked through the freezer and found a Lean Cuisine, even if she had to use scissors to mangle to box enough to access it and a knife to cut through the plastic film, since she couldn't pull that off yet either.
That afternoon, Daria looked at the security tapes her mother had left for her to review. She wondered if her attacker had gotten away with it out of sheer dumb luck, or if he (Daria thought of her attacker as a he, although for no reason) really knew the layout and capabilities of the security cameras that well. She knew their layout, but had never been able to identify their make, although she had correctly guessed they would be top-of-the-line.
On the later viewings, Daria spent more time looking at the crowd reaction. If the attacker had stayed to watch, he was an excellent actor. She was not really surprised at the looks of concern of her friends' faces, but she was a little shocked at just how angry and frightened Thor had also looked. As she was taken away, he and especially Jane looked positively anguished. The look of concern of DeMartino's face was also a bit surprising.
Finally, Daria carefully took off her arm brace and showered. She waited in her room, wearing her robe, until Jane arrived to help her dress for dinner and the trip to McGrundy's.
While this would be the first time the dining room was used outside of holiday meals, dinner was just a large amount of take-out Chinese, with plenty of shrimp fried rice for Thor. Helen noticed with bemusement that Daria, usually a determined devourer of red meat whenever given a chance, followed her date's preferred Friday menu choices, apparently without noticing it (although Jane had).
Helen was also delighted to learn for certain that his given name was not Thor, although she was the only one who called him Theo during the meal. Daria continued to address him as Thor any time her parents were in earshot, but only then.
Other than her menu choice, it was difficult for Helen to determine how taken Daria might be with Theo. He seemed at least a tad besotted, certainly more than John and Jane seemed of each other. All-in-all, she decided she approved of the big blond.
John had borrowed his mother's Mercedes W-140, since neither his car nor Thor's truck would work for Daria. The group promised that Daria would be returned as soon as Mystic Spiral completed its first set, which should end around 9:00-9:15, earlier if she didn't feel up to staying.
It took John a bit longer to park than usual, as he had to be extra careful with his mother's car. Still, the quartet found Andrea just coming towards the door when they got there at 7:50.
Trent wandered over to greet Daria and his sister, and to meet Thor. The boys then went for sodas and a triple 'shovelful' of onion rings for the table.
"No Leon?" Jane asked.
Andrea scowled. "No, the asshole decided McGundy's wasn't 'authentic' enough for him."
"Looks like an authentic brew pub slash club to me," Daria commented.
"Well, I figured this would happen sooner or later," Andrea said with a shrug. "His brother's the same."
"An asshole?" Jane asked.
"Well, that too," Andrea said with a small laugh. "They both used to be in the Society for Creative Anachronism, but Nathan left the Canton about two years ago, claiming it wasn't 'authentic' enough, just before he started at Lawndale State. Leon left about the same time. Leon went Goth, while Nathan has gotten involved with a group that worships the swing era."
"You're kidding, right?" Daria asked.
"Nope. I think he even has a zoot suit," Andrea replied.
"Sounds like a weirdo," Jane said.
"Maybe." Andrea shrugged. "He and Leon both have a lot of charm."
With that, John and Thor came back with the onion rings, glasses, and two pitchers of house-brewed birch beer, and the first set began. Andrea rolled her eyes as the other four put in ear plugs.
"We'll still hear everything," Jane insisted. "It just won't hurt so much."
Jane and Daria could tell the band had been playing a lot – they never really practiced hard, so the constant gigs had helped them. Daria's new lyrics for their old tunes, combined with an increase in skill, didn't bring the house down, but they did earn the band more applause than they had gotten in Lawndale before.
As the four prepared to leave after the set, they saw Trent speaking with the manager. Trent came over and whispered to Jane, who gave him a hug and said, "You bums better play every day, and get some new material!"
Trent turned to Daria. "We have some new tunes. I'll give Janey a tape if you want to try and come up with some lyrics."
"Of course I will."
"Feel better," Trent said before wandering off.
"What was that about?" Daria asked as they walked to the car.
"They'll be playing McGrundy's Mondays and Fridays for twelve hundred a week, and the Zon Tuesdays and alternate Saturdays, for the same amount but every two weeks. They hope to get some other Saturday gigs." That would be at least twice what they had usually made over any given week.
"The seniors are in charge of the homecoming dance," John pointed out. "If it fits in their schedule, ask Jodie to book them for it. The juniors do the Snow Ball and the Prom, but if they like what they hear at Homecoming, they might go for Spiral."
"Wouldn't they have to play some covers?" Daria asked.
"I suppose, but they could probably get away with just adding two or three covers of slow dances in each set."
"I'll look into it."
After arriving at the Morgendorffers and wishing the pair the best of luck on the exams, the two couples kissed and the boys drove off.
Morning came too early for Jane the next day. Still, she was up, dressed, and had Daria dressed by 6:10. The three teens and Helen grabbed 'breakfast in a can' and brushed their teeth. Then each took another can and they were off, picking up an Andrea who looked like Jane felt. She had a triple espresso for herself, and had one ready for Jane as well. Perhaps because it was so early, she hadn't put on any make-up, although her outfit was a plain black skirt and t-shirt, boots, and a grey hoodie. She joined Daria and Jane in the back seat, while Quinn sat up front.
Once Helen got going, Daria spoke up. "Something interesting happened yesterday morning that you three might be interested in."
"And what was that?" Jane asked, willing to play along, not to mention curious.
"I was listening to the NPR station, and won four tickets to the Regional Opera next Friday."
"Opera?" Jane, Andrea, and Quinn all chorused.
"Yes, opera," Daria retorted.
"What did you have to do to win the tickets?" Helen asked.
"Well, the opera is La bohème," Daria replied. "I was the first caller to answer three questions about the material it was based on."
"I didn't know you liked opera," Helen observed.
"On the one hand, other than Wagner, I'm not a big fan of most opera," Daria replied. "I do like Puccini's Turandot and to a lesser degree La bohème. I prefer the original stories to the play the opera was based on, which is why I knew the answers to the questions the opera buffs didn't. On the other hand, I doubt any of you, even Jane, know all the kinds of music I listen to."
"I'll have to look over your music," Jane teased.
"You're welcome to do so," Daria replied.
"I take it you want us to go?" Andrea asked, getting back on topic and still trying to absorb the concept.
"Yes," Daria said, explaining, "Quinn, if it's a decent staging, you'll like the production values and the romantic plot lines. I think you two would at least enjoy the second act and parts of the first and fourth."
"The non-mushy parts, I take it," Jane pointed out.
"Exactly, although who knows, you might like those parts as well," Daria answered with a shrug.
"Is it in English?" Andrea asked.
"No, Italian, but they actually use what are called sur-titles above the stage," Daria explained.
"Why not ask Jodie?" Andrea asked. "Wouldn't this be more in her line?" Helen was curious about that as well, as she had never even heard of Andrea before this.
"I don't know if Jodie would like it or not," Daria admitted. "I do know that her parents probably wouldn't let her take a night off from the attempt to program her into the perfect Stepford-student. She's allowed one afternoon after school and Saturday nights to herself, and quite often they come up for things for her to do then anyway."
Daria then smirked at Andrea. "Come on, I bet you have some interesting widow's weeds you've been wanting to show off. Where better than at a night at the opera?"
Andrea smirked back. "As a matter of fact, I do."
"Quinn, you have those two gowns from the sophomore hop and the prom last spring. Why let them go to waste? And Jane, you said you had a whole attic full of clothes."
"And what about you?" Helen asked. "What would you wear?"
That flummoxed Daria for a moment. "Err . . . I was concentrating on getting these guys to come along," Daria admitted.
"I'm in, if only to see you dolled up," Jane teased.
"What the he, err, heck, I'll go along," Andrea agreed, thinking, 'Anything is better than listening to Mom and Dad fight.'
"Will you wear makeup as well as dress up for once?" Quinn asked.
"Sure, why not?" Daria said, wanting to go.
"Then I agree with Jane," Quinn teased.
Helen was pleased that neither Jane nor Quinn had called, saying that Daria was too tired and had to leave early. When she really wanted to be, Daria could be quite dogged.
However, it was clear when Helen picked up the quartet a little before 12:30 that Daria was running on nervous energy, and was running low at that. She wasn't even interested in lunch, and in fact took a two hour nap once she got back home. Despite that, she promised herself she would go for a long walk that evening, and two the next day.
Daria was determined to make a fast comeback from her injuries.
When Daria woke up after her nap, she saw Jane was sitting in her computer chair, sketching part of her room. "Nothing better to draw?" she asked.
"I happened to realize I have never sketched your room," Jane replied. "I was surprised your mother hadn't torn the padding down and redecorated last summer."
"I know she will next summer," Daria agreed. "Quinn told me she had three different firms give her prices in July. Their prices surprised her – the walls will have to be replastered. I think that's why she just redid the furniture and took out that broken tv and its mounting. I think she also knows once I leave for college, I won't be back a lot – that was certainly true for her and Aunt Amy, and they weren't going as far away as I likely will, even if I get along with Mom a lot better than they did with Grandmother."
"Good points. I also realized that even though you've explored my room, I've never really explored yours. I drew an outline of the views before I came in, and I got all the major features right, but while I knew you now have the three bookcases, and that one mostly holds cds, I never looked at the shelves."
"Go ahead," Daria said, sitting up on the bed. "It was good to get at least get all my cds out of the boxes in the attic."
"How's the arm? Need another naproxen?"
"Want to try those simple flex exercises?" Daria could not really exercise her left arm, but she was supposed to start some simple movements.
Daria thought about it. "If you want to explore the books or cds, go ahead. Then I'll take a pill and do the flexes."
Jane nodded and went over to the bookshelf with the cds. Daria now had three sets of bookshelves instead of two. One sat to the left of her computer station, and held her notebooks, reference works in four languages, and books she was either reading or was planning on reading. Another had books she enjoyed rereading – Daria had told Jane long before that she had many boxes of other books and cds in the attic. The remaining bookcase originally had four shelves, but Daria had added thin slats dividing the top three shelves in half, each just large enough for a cd case. She did not keep her cd/radio player there, that was on the top of a set of drawers to the right of her computer station, along with a some thirty cds, mostly grunge rock she used to drown out Quinn's boy band music, and some more relaxing 'ambient' music she listened to in bed with headphones.
The top of the bookcase had always been what had drawn Jane's attention – in eighth and ninth grade, Daria had considered careers in both medicine and physical anthropology. This is where she now kept replicas of a Neanderthal and the Taung Baby she had brought with her to Lawndale, since joined by a replica of a hydrocephalic skull. They certain drew attention away from the cds and books below, which was in fact what Daria had planned when she set up the room a few weeks before.
The first split shelf had a nearly full bottom half, while the upper was about half full. The bottom had a wide range of the music Jane had expected: everything from '60s acid rock through various types of hard rock and grunge. The upper half was a bit more unexpected: serious R&B and rappers like Tupak and Biggie Smalls. Jane did note that most all the cds in Daria's collection had been bought used, which helped explained how she had accumulated so many.
The two sections of the next shelf were both nearly as full as the bottom half of the first. The top had softer rock and pop performers, from Bill Haley and all the Beatle albums through the most recent Dixie Chicks album, along with the sound tracks to over twenty musicals. The bottom was filled with jazz, from rag and Dixieland through the big bands and on to current freeform, although Jane didn't recognize artists like Kidd Jordan or other avant-garde players.
"I never thought of you as one for Broadway tunes," Jane commented.
"I want to be a writer; writers tell stories. A song can be a poem or even a short story. A musical is just a play set to music," Daria replied with a shrug. "I don't need to love the genre to appreciate the story."
"And the jazz?"
"Except for some of the big band music, most of it is about a mood or emotion. That's how I react to it anyway. Some of the real avant-garde can sound like plain noise, but some really connects to emotion, at least for me." Her mouth quirked. "The ones that are just noise to me I trade back in. I get enough plain noise masquerading as music from Mystic Spiral."
"Too true." Jane turned to the last shelf devoted to music. The top half was mostly international music, from any culture, although Jane noted there were only three Celtic cds. There were also some cds by composers like John Cage and Philip Glass as well as some 'space,' New Age, and Ambient music from artists like Kitaro and John Serrie. The bottom was the 'classical' section, although the music ranged from Medieval to contemporary. Jane didn't know enough about it to recognize that – other than cds of Beethoven's 3rd/5th symphonies and his 9th, Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique, and most of Wagner's operas – the actual 'classical' and 19th century composers were limited to string quartets and a few Liszt piano works. There were more Baroque and 20th century music than from the classical period and 19th century.
The bottom shelf was three-quarters full of reference books on art, music, photography, and film, although Jane noticed that nearly all of the photography books were of nudes (more males than females), despite their innocuous titles. She gave Daria a look as she showed one of them on the 'male nude' to Daria.
Daria merely asked, "Want to borrow it?"
"No, no. You have good taste, though." Jane saw the rest of the shelf had cds of spoken poetry, from two of The Canterbury Tales (one of the original Middle English, one of a 19th century adaptation) to HOWL.
"Pretty eclectic, Amiga," Jane admitted.
"Thank you," was all Daria said in acknowledgement.
Daria was not looking forward to the next week of school but could think of no way to get out of attending. Jake drove her and Jane to school each day, but they would have to walk back, as neither he nor Helen could take the time off to get them, and of course Thor, John, and Mack had football practice after school.
It was a bit embarrassing to need Jane to help her in and out of the toilet stalls and to help with her books and notebooks. At least she was able to take her own notes. She hoped the swelling of her hand and wrist went down soon, so she could at least handle her own clothing needs. To her surprise, others helped Jane help her with the books and also with her lunch tray. Even Jeremy helped once.
Even more surprising to Daria and Jane was Coach Morris' reaction. She just handed Daria hall passes for the two gym classes that week. "We're going to be out running track," she told Daria the first day. "Stay in the air conditioning but walk the hallways," she told Daria. "Since the halls are deserted, the cameras will keep an eye on you. When your sprain heals enough for you to dress yourself, we'll progress you to at least power walking."
Daria was thankful for that, and told Morris so.
Meanwhile, Daria's attacker was a bit frightened. The attack had been totally improvised, and the fact that the school had lots of security cameras had come as a complete surprise. It had been pure luck that the attacker's identity had not been discovered.
Had the attacker not overheard a few remarks from different students which had planted the idea that Daria needed to be 'taken down' least she overtake Quinn's popularity, there was an excellent chance that no attack would have been made, on Daria or anyone else. Now, the attacker stood on a precipice – knowing that any further attacks on anyone would have to be carefully planned and frightened of the consequences of getting caught. The attacker was resisting the idea of planning an attack. If another attack was made, then the attacker would almost certainly escalate the attacks until being caught, although of course that thought would not occur to the student for a while.
Brittany looked at Daria as she and Jane entered the school that Friday. Daria was dressed in jeans, a canary yellow top, and a new denim jacket, the first time she had come to school since the attack wearing something over than her remaining green jacket. "Wow, Daria, you look nice in school colors."
Daria grimaced, "Actually, I don't think I do, but thank you." She preferred more muted colors.
"It's the first time you've worn them on colors day," Brittany pointed out. "It's because of Thor, isn't it?"
"It is," Daria admitted, somewhat uncomfortable with that thought.
"I know for some reason you don't like doing it, but it's nice you'd do it for him," Brittany stated approvingly.
"I have to admit I really don't understand the appeal of team sports," Daria explained with a shrug. "And I certainly think we make too much of it in school. Still, it is important to Theo, and I certainly want to support him."
Brittany looked at Daria, her head tilted to one side in thought, one finger twirling her hair. Finally, she observed, "You're really in a hurry to grow up, aren't you?"
"None of this school stuff really interests you because you want to be doing adult things, writing and living on your own and stuff like that," Brittany replied.
"I suppose you're right," Daria conceded.
"Well, we all will have to do that sometime," Brittany had to agree. "But I see, and I'm sure you do too 'cause you're so smart, how hard it will be. I'm not in any hurry. I like having fun and stuff, and I know someday I won't have time for it and so I want to have as much fun as I can now and that includes stuff like pep rally day!"
Daria winced slightly, as Brittany's voice had hit a squeak at the end of her statement that was even higher-pitched than usual. "Since you have a good grasp of the situation," she managed to reply, "I can't argue with your choice."
Brittany blinked, and then realized that, somehow, she had been given a real compliment. "Are you coming to the game tonight, or is it too far away?" Brittany merely asked.
"Too far, although maybe when I'm feeling better I might make some of the other away games," Daria said. "Give Theo and John some extra cheers for me and Jane."
"I will!" Brittany said perkily.
As Daria took her seat in homeroom, her mind was on the implications of her conversation with Brittany and on the trip to the opera that night. As such, she missed the implications of Ms Li's remark that there would be a 'school review meeting' that evening when the announcements were made.
Since Quinn did not drive yet and Daria still couldn't drive because of her sprained wrist and thumb, Jake was persuaded to allow Jane to drive his Lexis. Quinn was wearing the dress she had worn to the Prom four months before, despite protests that it was really a formal spring evening dress, not autumn. Jane had rooted through the Lane attic and had come up with a formal-looking number that she thought Summer had worn to her Prom. Daria had wanted to just have her bridesmaid dress refitted, but that had been voted down by Quinn, Jane, and Helen. She ended up with a formal green long dress so dark it looked black at first glance, a black bridge jacket with dark green trim, and a new pair of formal low heel boots. When the group had picked up Andrea, she was wearing a Victorian mourning ensemble, black glitter eye makeup, and both lace gloves.
As Daria had predicted, Jane and Andrea enjoyed the interplay of the quartet of young Bohemians through most of the first act. Jane gave her rather snickering side glances as they burned Rodolfo's play for warmth. Quinn, of course, preferred the duet between Rodolfo and Mimi. All four enjoyed the street scene which made up the second act, although Daria wondered if her sister could understand that the only difference between how Quinn and Musetta used men was that at least Musetta sometimes bestowed sexual favors in return. The third act made all three wrinkle their noses, and Daria had to explain Mimi's illness and the basic ideas behind the plot, which the turn-of-the-last-century audience would have been more familiar with.
The end of the opera, unsurprisingly, left Quinn in tears, but Daria noticed that Andrea's eye makeup was also smudging and Jane's eyes were glistening as the curtain came down. While she was glad this was a decent production, Daria was grateful it was not as powerfully presented as a few she had seen on PBS or video, which had drawn a tear or two even from her.
On the way back to Lawndale, Daria treated Andrea and Jane to milkshakes (Quinn of course had a small frozen yoghurt). As Jane fastened Daria's seatbelt for her, Daria asked, "I take it none of you hated it as much as you thought you would."
"Are there more operas like that one?" Quinn asked.
"'Like that' in what way?" Daria asked. "There are plenty of tragic or romantic Italian operas, not to mention both tragic and romantic, most without plots that good. The local public radio station broadcasts Live from the Met during most of the Metropolitan Opera season, starting in a few weeks, but the problem there is you can only hear it. The larger Lackluster Video has a few with subtitles, and so does Art Videos just off Degas Street. I think Viv's Videoes downtown might have a few, too."
"Maybe we could watch a few together?" Quinn suggested.
"Sure," Daria said. "How about you two?"
"I could see us living a bit like that in college," Jane replied, "although hopefully with less poverty and death."
"In reality, the characters were the ages of college students and grad students," Daria agreed. "Colleges didn't offer degrees in the arts yet, and the ability to live off of writing or painting instead of patronage was still somewhat new. There were probably comparatively more opportunities, at least for men, in the arts then than today, although there was also more competition."
"I wouldn't want to listen to that music too much," Andrea said, "but I have to admit, it was interesting."
All four teens dreamed themselves into the opera that night. Quinn was surprised when she remembered, for she was not one of the artists or even Mimi, but Musetta. 'I don't really act that way, do I?' she thought. The realization that, indeed, she did act that way disturbed her greatly. Andrea, on the other hand, woke up a bit wistfully when she realized that she had dreamt of being Musetta. She did not want to be a tease, but she thought it would be nice to be that attractive to boys.
That morning, as Quinn sulked in her room trying to justify her habits to herself, Jane helped Daria dress and commented, "I dreamed about the opera."
"That's not surprising. It is pretty powerful. Were you Marcello?" Daria asked.
"I was," Jane agreed. "It was only you and me in the attic, though. When Tom showed up in furs, I laughed and kicked his butt out."
"When I used to dream of living with a Marcello, you weren't exactly what I had in mind," Daria commented drily.
"We weren't like that!"
Daria smiled faintly. "I wouldn't think you would." She looked Jane in the eye. "I dreamed something similar, although I wasn't Rodolfo, Andrea was. I was Colline, and there wasn't a fourth person. I don't know about Andrea, but I can think of worse fates that spending my college years with you as a roommate, but as you said last night, hopefully with at least less poverty and certainly less death."
Jane helped Daria on with her boots. "It was pretty obvious why I'd dream of being the female counter-part of Marcello. Were we male in your dream? And why do you think you were Colline instead of Rodolfo?"
"No, we were all us," Daria replied. Then she thought a bit. "Even though I'm more emotionally open these days than I was, I think Rodolfo was way too open emotionally. He and Marcello talk about being a bit cynical in love, but they aren't, especially Rodolfo. I always rather like Colline – although I do wish he had a bigger role in the opera. He was supportive of his friends and seemed to enjoy what he was doing at least as much as they did."
Jane smiled. "Oh, I thought it was just because he was as attached to his coat as you are to your jackets." Daria merely rolled her eyes.
As Jane bent back down to tie one of Daria's boots, she was shocked to feel Daria's hand on her shoulder. She looked up, right into Daria's eyes. "I don't know if Marcello would help a friend like you have," Daria said in an affectionate tone Jane had rarely heard from her friend before. "Thank you for helping me."
Jane smiled. "Any time, freakin' friend."