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Proof through the Esteem

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"Girls, I just want you to know that your mother and I both realize it's not easy moving to a new town," started Jake Morgendorffer from behind the wheel of his car. Jake Morgendorffer decided to glance in his rearview mirror to where he could see his eldest daughter, Daria sitting in the back seat who was listening to music on her mp3 player. Jake briefly thought Daria obviously got her looks from Helen's side of the famly: being blonde and blue-eyed, while his other daughter in the front seat was a redhead, like Jake's sister. "Especially for you, Daria."

"Dad, she's on her headphones again," chimed in Quinn who was sitting in the front seat. Quinn was busy still removing highland contacts from her phone's, grumbling about the flipphone's tiny keyboard to herself.

"We moved?," replied Daria in a deadpan tone of voice. Jake laughed, which made Daria roll her eyes a bit. Daria was glad to move out of Highland, but was not looking forwards to trying to fit in somewhere else. Daria was never the type to make many friends regardless of location, after all.

"I'm sure the move is easier for you and mom. After all, we've got a break from being on Aunt Rita's mailing list about whatever she's Concerned about this month for at least a few weeks." snarked Daria.


Jake suppressed a wince. Helen's sister Rita meant well, but the newsletters in the mail or calls trying to remind them to write letters to congressmen about the cause of the month got old. Rita had been known for being highly involved in Causes since her teenage years, so Jake was somewhat used to dealing with it. This reminded Jake that he should probably remind Helen about her dentist appointment in two days. He didn't remember what it was about, something about grinding her teeth, he believed.

Before Jake could explain that Rita meant well in his and Helen's usual spiel on the subject whenever Daria got snarky about it, one he hadn't actually believed at all for at least 3 years he was interrupted. The interruption was a cheap clunker of a van, a Japanese model suddenly passing him.

"Of course a bad driver would drive a Japanese" car muttered Jake. "Anyways," continued Jake: some young punk driving a cheap van wasn't going to deter him from offering fatherly advice. "Look, all I'm saying is you don't make friends as easily as some people," said Jake with a brief glance at his other daughter sitting in the front seat. This was the kind of subject that was highly delicate given how poorly his daughters got along generally.

Being someone who was honest with herself, Daria didn't deny what he said: the closest thing to any kind of actual friend was one girl she'd met at summer camp who she exchanged emails wth a few times a month and even that was awkwards. not having anything better to do, Daria ran with it "Like Quinn, for instance?".

Not wanting to deal with one of her dad's pep talks again, Quinn turned the radio on.

Jake turned off the radio before continuing. "Anyways, that's not what I meant necessarily. The first day of going to a new school is almost always difficult, and an adjustment. Much like boot camp was for me..."

In order to prevent another one of her father's anecdotes/rants, Daria reached to the front, turned the radio louder than it was before: hearing Quinn's favorite pop music beat hearing another of her dad's anecdotes about either boot camp or his time as a conscript. Nevermind that he did his 3 years as a de facto clerk in Santiago, Chile  without firing a shot the whole time, Boot camp was another traumatic experience in Jake Morgendorffer's life: the sequel to buxton ridge.

By this time, they had pulled in front of Lawndale high, Jake noticed the cheap blue van pulling out. Jake turned off the radio, continuing his pep talk: "Don't get upset if it takes a little while for the other kids to warm up to you".

While Jake continued talking, Quinn stepped out of the right passenger door. Naturally, Quinn got the attention of the milling crowd just by existing. This included three fashionable girls introducing themselves to her, along with three extremely desperate boys with different hair colors begging her for a date. This was all in the space of ten seconds.

While Quinn was topping her previous record for how fast she got a school's population wrapped around her finger, Daria chimed in. "Don't worry, Dad. I'll do my best to help Quinn adjust," before stepping out of the car and waving bye.

By the time the contradiction between Daria's statement and the reality of Quinn's situation sunk in, Daria was out of the car. Jake said to himself "Wait a minute," before driving off.


Daria and Quinn stood within a group of other new students as the principal, Angela Li was giving a tour. Angela continued "...And there's the office of Lawndale's dean of discipline. I trust you all will stay out of there, of course," gesturing to an open office door where a burly man was asleep in his chair.

Daria turned to the girl next to her, a taller black-haired girl wearing a tomato-red men's jacket, black shirt, grey shorts, black tights and combat boots remarking "Does she know he's asleep?"

The dark-haired girl replied with "Asleep? Dead? Does it matter? Either way he's not having to hear her "tour". I was warned about this from my brother but I didn't think it'd be this bad," shaking her head.


"...So the history teacher's angry, english teacher a flake and the science teacher's marriage is in slow collapse? Fantastic," said a now disbelieving Daria after hearing the intel that the girl she had been talking with had gotten from her brother. Daria had until now harbored a small amount of hope that moving from Texas to Delaware would mean normal or at least safely boring teachers. At least Mr. Ewing for math fit in this category.

The dark-haired girl, having previously introduced herself as Jane Lane picked up on Daria's reaction and was now smirking. "It's lawndale, Daria. You weren't clued in by Li?"

"Fair enough," replied Daria.

Daria's sister Quinn, despite trying to keep her distance from her sister during the tour had picked up on the fact that Daria and the black-haired girl had actually managed to talk for over 20 minutes.

"As you can see, our Lawndale High students take great pride in our school, Now be sure to go to the classrooms listed on your passes" finished Angela Li.


Daria's first actual class was history. The teacher, DeMartino acted exactly as Jane predicted he would: like a refugee from a home for the criminally insane. His shouting every third to fifth word, complete with added bulging eyeballs was the perfect capstone to the day.

 "Class," he said to the assembled students, "we have two new students joining us today. Please welcome Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane," putting a slightly evil chuckle into Jane's name.

"If you would raise your hand please, Jane". Jane did so. With an evil smirk, DeMartino pounced on the opportunity. "It's so good  to see you taking the initiative," with a mocking tone. As you know, we're starting the year off with a focus on the American Revolution. Perhaps you feel it's unfair to be asked a question on your first day?", he said with an evil smirk on his face.

Jane just shrugged.

"Jane, can you name the most important reason for the 13 colonies to declare independence?"

Jane thought for a moment, digging into her head for the relevant memories. "Tax evasion, of course".

"Interesting way of putting it, Miss Lane. I would go more specific but that is a good start." DeMartino now turned to Daria before asking "Daria, can you name the other important reason the 13 colonies declared independence?"

"Representation. Well representation for landowning white males. Not so much for slaves or women, though."

DeMartino nodded. "Very good, Daria. Almost... suspiciously good." Having two more students who could get the answer right, even if they inserted extra quips was something new. He turned to the rest of the class. "All right, class. Who can tell me who was the general who took Quebec from the british during the war? Kevin!" All eyes turned to Kevin Thompson, a tall, dark-haired boy in a football uniform and pads. "How about you?"

Kevin thought for a moment, obviously straining for the answer. "Chef Boyardee?"

"For starters, Kevin that's the name of a pasta brand. Then there's the issue that you named something from the wrong century!"

"Uh... Yankee doodle um something?"

DeMartino strove to contain his rage. "Son... promise me you'll come back and see me one day when you have the Heisman trophy and a chain of auto dealerships, and I'm saving up for a second pair of pants! Will you promise me that, Kevin?"


DeMartino rubbed his hands with glee, grinning evilly. "Anybody else in the class wants to try? It's either one of you gets it right, or all of you get double homework and a quiz tomorrow!"

Sighing, a black girl dressed nice but very conventionally raised her hand. This made Daria relieved, as it meant she didn't have to take the fall.

"Ah, Miss Landon. Do you have an answer for us?"

"Yes. The general was Benedict Arnold. He also helped win the battle of Halifax in 1781."

"Good," replied a now somewhat mollified DeMartino.

Kevin wiped sweat off his forehead and was relieved: doing even just regular homework was taxing enough on his brain, but double would have been unendurable for him.


At home, Daria and her family sat around the kitchen table, with plates of microwaved enchiladas in front of them. Helen and Jake had just finished describing their own first days -- Helen as an associate at a prestigious lawfirm and Jake with his consulting business. Qunn was describing how her day went. Daria was eating in silence, trying to ignore it all.

"... so then they asked me to join the pep squad. They said I didn't have to try out or anything, but I said, 'Look, I'm new here; give me a chance to get used to the place first.' So for now, I'm the vice president of the Fashion Club, and that's it."

"As long as you can join pep squad later, if you want to," Helen replied. "It's your choice. You never know how much you can handle until you try, though!"

Jake turned to his eldest daughter, . "How about you, Daria? How was your first day?"

"Well," she replied, "There are some interesting idiots in my class. That and, this is a shock I may have found someone on my wavelength, or at least worth talking to."

"That's great!", he replied.

Surprised, Helen blurted out "Wait, you found someone to talk to? It won't be Highland all over again."

"No chance of that," replied Daria. "There's no uranium in the drinking water here."

"I was talking about the fact you've possibly made a friend," Helen replied patiently. "This is why I've been telling you to give people the benefit of the doubt and not be so critical."

"It all boils down to trust."

"Exactly!" Helen said. "It all boils down to trust. Show a little trust."

Daria glanced at her mother, then her father before deciding to test their principles. "Mom... Dad... you're right. Can I borrow either car?" She wasn't surprised when both her parents responded with an emphatic "no."

"I was just trying to explain that you shouldn't judge people until you get to know them," clarified Helen.

"It's okay to judge them after I get to know them, right?"

"Daria," said Helen in an echo of Jake earlier. Sensing that Daria's warming up to tweak her parents and sister some more, Helen decided to do a tactical retreat for once. "Just give this person a chance, is all I'm asking," finished Helen.

Not wanting to give in but wanting to end it, Daria ended it with a simple "I'll see what I can do."

The next day in the cafeteria

Daria and Jane were eating lunch at a table near the courtyard. Daria and Jane had already covered a wide range of topics in their conversation: Daria's family background(the fact that Grandma Barksdale was a war bride from the occupation of the Cape plus Daria's being saddled with grandma's first name), modern art, the unreliability of Jane's extended family, Sick Sad World, Jodie's poor choice in relationship, Jane's boyfriend("Too bad he doesn't go here. He'd get so much mileage from DeMartino), DeMartino's throbbing eye to name a few. Jane was finishing up an explanation for why she was  a new student to Lawndale despite being originally from the area.

"...So yeah, Trent did his 3 years, taking me along since our parents are out of town half the time. Surprisingly, the rest of his old garage band also came back here and they're back together," concluded Jane.

"Are they any good?"

"They're probably going to be a cover band as long they're together, Daria. What do you think?" At least they're better than they were thanks to Trent ending up spending his 3 years in the army's band and having to actually practice. To Jane's surprise the habit of practicing at least partially stuck even after Trent returned to civilian life. "They're doing a practice on friday if you want to come over and hear them. My boyfriend's got other commitments that night so I've got nothing better to do." With a slight smirk, Jane said "I'll order pizza and we can watch Sick, Sad World too."

"You had me at Pizza," replied Daria who looked around at the lunchtime crowd in the cafeteria. "That's a better offer for spending my friday night than I'd get from anyone else in this room."