Caveat Emptor
A Daria story from the Highland days
by Michelle Klein-Häss

Note: This story is not necessarily part of the Lawndale, CT Continuum.
Beavis and Butt-Head are not real.
They are stupid cartoon people completely made up by this Texas guy whom we hardly even know.
Beavis and Butt-Head are dumb, crude, thoughtless, ugly, sexist, self-destructive fools.
But for some reason, the little Weinerheads make us laugh.

It was a hot, muggy September, the first few weeks of the school year at Highland High. It was the same old same old, with the same teachers and the same faces. Faces that were usually unfriendly.

One marginally less grim point in the school day was the Journalism workshop. The Highland High Howdy was the school paper, a 4-page number printed by a local Kinko's. It was a humiliating name for a school paper.

They had attempted to force Daria into the role of fashion reporter, she being the only woman on staff. But after the half-naked pictures of Beavis and Butt-Head made it in, she was able to convince Mr. VanDriessen, the teacher advisor, that perhaps a different assignment would be appropriate.

"Hmmm...well, we like your photography, and you already said you didn't want to be a society reporter...well, let's see...food?"

"Restaurant critic?" asked Daria, hopefully. An alternative to cafeteria chow would be nice...

"No, I was thinking along the lines of putting you in charge of researching recipes...uh...hmm...how's this? It would be great for you! How about becoming our consumer reporter?"

"Consumer reporter. Oh well, I suppose hard news and exposes of teacher incompetence and sexism would be out of the question. Alrighty then. That sounds like something I could do something with."

"That's great!"

"Will I get a budget for stuff other than film? I have an idea for my first story. I want to buy some of the things they advertise in infomercials and show how disappointing they are."

"Hmmm...well...I don't know if the extra-curricular budget will allow that, but...I think this is significant enough to support. Tell you what...you watch a few infomercials, write down the information about the products, and then I'll go buy them for you. Then when they arrive I'll bring them to Journalism Workshop and you can write about and take pictures of them. Please, nothing expensive."

"Sounds good."

"It's so nice that you are into the idea of empowering young consumers."

"Nope. It was just the least objectionable assignment."

Daria took her camera bag, slung her backpack over her back, and left the room on her way home.

The hot weather was making her feel physically ill by the time she got in the house. She walked to her room and changed out of her school clothes and into a pair of shorts and a white t-shirt. She cranked up the central air, got a Snapple raspberry lemonade out of the fridge, and turned on the TV.

The program was "Buck The System!" a syndicated show featuring Buck Powell, KFAA's consumer reporter. His over-earnest tone was grating, but there were reasons why she watched his show religiously, reasons beyond that it was the show just before Sick Sad World. Usually somewhere in the show they did a consumer challenge where more often than not something would get broken, and broken spectacularly.

A few blocks down, at the Butt-Head residence, Beavis and Butt-Head were watching for the very same reason.

"Huh huh huh, this Buck guy knows how to break stuff. He's even better than that Letter-dude."

"Yeah! Yeah! Dude, BREAK SOMETHING! BREAK SOMETHING!"

"Huh huh -- don't hose your shorts Beavis. He'll do it."

This time, they were testing a supposedly unbreakable plate. They dropped a wrecking ball on it. They ran over it first with a Humm-Vee, then a Bulldozer, then finally a huge crane. They had an elephant from the Dallas Zoo balance all of its weight on it.

This was too much for Beavis.

"NNNNNNNOOOOOOO! Why won't it break, dammit!!! Heh heh m heh heh!!!! BREAK IT!!! BREAK IT!!!!

"Settle down, Beavis..."

They finally got someone from the demolitions company started by Red Adair. He packed the plate into a box with several pounds of explosives, then everyone got to safe distance.

The explosion was pretty impressive even in daylight.

"Yeah! Yeah! Explosions are cool!!! Yeah mm heh heh!"

But amazingly, when the rubble cleared, the plate was sent flying several feet but landed unharmed.

"Well folks, looks like this here plate is as unbreakable as advertised. Titanware, you just passed the Buck The System Commercial Challenge!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I WANNA BREAK SOMETHING!!!! THE DAMN PLATE DIDN'T BREAK!!! HEH HEH!!! THIS SUCKS!!!"

Beavis ran outside, to Mr. Anderson's tool shed. He emerged with an empty gas can.

"DAMMIT!!! DAMMIT!!!! I gotta break this!!! "

Daria just happened to go outside for a stretch, and saw Beavis leaping into the air and stomping down on something metallic, screaming at the top of his lungs.

"BREAK!!! BREAK!!!! SOMETHING'S GOTTA BREAK!!!!"

Daria smiled a gioconda smile. Hmmm. Buck Powell might have Humm-Vees and Elephants, but he didn't have a couple of mental cases who have a savant-like talent for destroying things.

"This could be fun." she thought as she went back into the refrigerated coolness of her house.

When the sun went down, Daria walked the few blocks to house that Butt-Head lived in. Theoretically his mom got the house in a divorce settlement, but she was never, ever home. So Butt-Head basically lived on his own, although Beavis spent most of his time there as well.

True to form, the Dynamic Duo were watching MTV.

"Huh huh...it's Diarrhea!"

"Diarrhea, cha-cha-cha! Diarrhea, cha-cha-cha!
When you're running out to first
and feel your ass about to burst,
Diarrhea, cha-cha-cha! Diarrhea, cha-cha-cha!"

"That's quite enough of that, guys."

"Heh heh, so why are you here anyway?"

"Well, I'm now the consumer reporter for the Highland High Howdy, and I'm going to need a couple of commercial challengers. You know, just like Buck Powell..."

"Huh huh...Buck Powell...that would be cool...you know him?"

"Heh heh heh m heh...Buck Powell is my HERO!!!!"

"I figured as much, Beavis. Anyway, I'm going to be getting some stuff from a few of those infomercials and I'm going to need some people to help me test them. Find out how durable they are. Find out where their breaking point is."

"Huh huh huh...that's cool! Huh huh, like, even though you aren't, like, a real chick, you're like, uh, pretty cool."

Daria looked at Butt-Head and sighed. "I suppose that's a compliment...in your own idiotic sort of way."

It took a few days after Daria turned the list of infomercial products in for the first items to arrive.

"Hi Daria...here's your first item to challenge!" said Mr. Van Driessen, cheerfully. "Let's see if these tumblers really *are* unbreakable!"

Daria smirked, anticipating the spectacle of her pet idiots running wild trying to break the plastic drinking glasses.

"And hey, Daria...thanks for including Beavis and Butt-Head in this project. They're usually so...uninvolved. In their own little world. This way you're helping them be connected..."

"I don't know about that, Mr. Van Driessen. I couldn't get the Dallas Zoo to loan me one of their elephants to test this out, and I don't know anyone with a Humm-Vee. So I figured Beavis and Butt-Head would be the next most destructive thing to unleash on these products."

"I...see. Thanks anyway, though."

"Sure."

Daria walked to Butt-Head's house. They hadn't been in school that day, but she knew that they were around. Their orbit was pretty tight: Burger World, MaxiMart, school and the house. Occasionally they'd venture a few blocks down Valdez to the Highland Village Mall or to the vacant lot on Hibbert near the water tower. This was their universe. Luckily it didn't mesh much with hers, except for the rare moments where she wanted it to.

She knocked on the door.

"Huh huh...that's probably Stewart."

"M heh heh...what if it's Todd?"

"You answer the door, buttmunch."

"No way, I answered it last time, dill-hole."

"Don't make me smack you..."

Daria sighed, then shouted from outside. "Come on, guys...it's me, Daria. I've got stuff for you to break."

"Heh heh m heh heh...it's Diarrhea!"

"Huh huh...with stuff to break!"

"Breaking stuff is cool!"

They both rushed the door.

"Hey Dia...uhh...Daria!"

Daria walked in. "Look. I have these plastic tumblers that the manufacturer says are unbreakable. Tell me what you'll need to test them and we'll get started."

"Heh heh...I got M-80s back home, my BB gun, and everything else we can scam off Mr. Anderson."

Daria frowned. "Look. Let me know what's needed."

Butt-Head went blank for a few seconds, then it seemed like a dim bulb lit up, then broke above his head.

"Uh huh huh...kerosene would work, and a nice big axe, and a crowbar, and a tool chest, and..."

"OK, ok. Go and raid Mr. Anderson's house but I was nowhere near you when you did it."

Daria sat down on the ugly and smelly couch, grabbed the remote, and switched it from MTV to KFAA, just in time for another episode of Sick Sad World.

"Today on Sick Sad World, another chapter in the Snakeboy saga unfolds as government agents track the venomous toddler to a rattlesnake den in Wyoming..."

Cool. More Snakeboy stuff. Daria knew that Snakeboy was an invention, just like most of the stories on the tabloid show, but hell, the story which was unfolding was fun. A little kid with snake eyes and fangs and which left boy-sized sheddings as it outgrew its skin.

Finally Beavis and Butt-Head returned from their respective raids. Beavis' pockets were stuffed with firecrackers and cherry bombs, and he had an air rifle slung over his shoulder. Butt-Head was carrying a crowbar, a tool chest and a small hatchet. Daria loaded up her camera and got ready to take pictures.

They all assembled in the vacant lot on Hibbert, back behind Beavis' mom's trailer.

"OK guys...just try to break these." said Daria as she set the boxful of tumblers down.

Beavis set one of the tumblers up on a mound in the middle of the field, backed off a few paces, then took aim.

"Fire! Fire! Fire!" he screamed as he began shooting. Most of the shots scattered hither and yon, but finally Beavis hit his target. The tumbler went flying.

"Good shot, Tailgunner Beavis."

"M heh heh SHUT UP BUTT-HEAD!"

They ran over to pick up the tumbler. Daria took a few pictures as they retrieved it. There was a pock mark where the pellet hit, but the hole did not go clear through. There wasn't even any cracking.

"Dammit! It didn't break!" shouted Beavis, "And I got a good shot at it, too!"

"Huh huh huh...how about trying some M-80s."

"Yeah, that would be cool! Heh heh heh..."

They filled a tumbler full of firecrackers, upended the tumbler, then Butt-Head lit the fuse.

The firecrackers launched the tumbler into the air, and then it landed about a hundred feet away from the launch site. The tumbler was not harmed any further.

Butt-Head laughed and went into his William Shatner impersonation. "It can't be reasoned with! It does not feel pain!"

Beavis grabbed the crowbar, then started repeatedly hitting the tumbler.

All the while, Daria kept on taking pictures.

Finally after hitting it a few times with the hatchet, the tumbler shattered.

"Well, I would say that despite the fact the tumbler eventually broke, that it passed the challenge. It survived being shot, being launched into the air with firecrackers and a thorough beating with a crowbar betore the hatchet blows did the trick."

"Huh huh huh...for a brain, you're pretty cool."

"Put away your stuff, then let's go to the Maxi-Mart for slushies and videogames. I think I have my story."

"Heh heh m heh heh...who's buying?"

"Huh huh...yeah, I don't have any money either."

"OK...yeah, I'll buy."

Daria went into the darkroom the next day and developed her pictures. There were quite a few good shots, so she made a few 5 x 7" enlargements. When they were finished and the article written, she triumphantly submitted the article to Mr. VanDriessen.

VanDriessen studied the article and the pictures carefully, then frowned.

"This commercial challenge could conceivably be imitated. I can see others imitating Beavis and Butt-Head's actions, and there being a significant amount of injury and bloodshed...it could even end in tragedy if we aren't careful. So I'm going to have to turn down your article, Daria. Don't be discouraged."

Daria sighed. "Mr. VanDriessen...you knew that I was bringing Beavis and Butt-Head on as testers. You knew what I was going to do...that this was going to be like the commercial challenges on Buck The System. This is absurd!"

"Still...the teacher advisors do have veto power over what goes into the Highland Howdy."

Daria groaned, grabbed her story back, and ripped it in two.

She ran into Beavis and Butt-Head in one of the corridors of the school.

"Hi Beavis, Hi Butt-Head...the Howdy isn't going to run the article. Here's your pictures, and I guess that we can't do these challenges anymore for the paper."

"That really sucks." said Butt-Head as he took the pictures from Daria.

"Yeah."

"For once, I agree with you two." said Daria with a sigh. "Later on."

"Huh huh huh, see you Diarrhea."

When Daria left school, she walked back home and grabbed one of the tumblers out of the package. She rinsed it out, then went to the fridge and poured herself another Snapple lemonade, then settled in front of the screen for another edition of Buck The System.

"Daria," "Beavis and Butt-Head" and all related titles, logos, and characters are trademarks of MTV Networks, Inc., a division of Viacom International, Inc. All rights reserved by trademark-holders under US National and International Law and Convention.

However, most "Beavis and Butt-Head" characters and milieu were created by Mike Judge, and Daria Morgendorffer was created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn. These artists deserve our respect, and frankly, they deserve creators' rights. "Work For Hire" in animation and comics SUCKS.

"Caveat Emptor" and all other fanfics written by Michelle Klein-Häss are works of parody and satire, and "substantially transformative," and as such are covered under the Campbell v. Acuff Rose Music Supreme Court decision and other related decisions regarding the First Amendment right to such forms of free speech. Michelle Klein-Häss will not profit from these fanfics, and will not tolerate these fanfics distributed in any manner which requires money to change hands for distribution.

"Caveat Emptor" is Copyright 1998, revised 2000, by Michelle Klein-Häss. While she does not claim copyright or moral rights to the characters from the "Daria" milieu, she does claim copyright on the storyline and story arc within this work of fiction.

"Caveat Emptor" and all extant and future fanfics written by Michelle Klein-Häss are works of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of Ms. Klein-Häss' fertile imagination or are used fictitiously.