Clothes Make The Manson
A Tale of the "Real" Daria Universe
by Michelle Klein-Häss

(Thank you, John Berry, for the title)

"I think we've got gun control. I'm coming down now for Goth control."
-- Mike Murphay, GOP Strategist

No-one really knew who got the news first about the Littleton shooting. But the news broke quickly, and eventually a huge crowd was pushing and shoving their way into the Lawndale High Media Center to watch the proceedings on CNN.

Daria and Jane passed the room.

"So why is everyone rushing the Media Center today?" Jane asked.

"I dunno...maybe it's another Star Wars trailer or something like that." replied Daria. "Anyway it's nothing I'd be interested in."

Suddenly, Ms. Li was heard on the PA.

"Stuuuudents! You are to proceed to the auditorium quietly and orderly. We will be having an all-hands emergency meeting about the terrible crisis..."

"Terrible crisis?" exclaimed Jane.

"Something must have turned up missing somewhere in the school, and Ms. Li's rounding up the usual suspects."

"So, should we attend?"

"We wouldn't be missed, but might as well. They already have plenty of DNA samples, so at least we'll be spared that indignity."

The auditorium's movie screen was down, and a projection TV was showing the feed from CNN as everyone walked in. As jaded as Daria was, she had to gasp when it finally registered what was going on. Somewhere outside of Denver, an unknown number of students were rampaging through their school with very big guns and more than a few bombs.

Mr. O'Neill was onstage.

"Uh, students, we've brought you here so that we can all watch this tragic story unfold and provide you with the means to share your feelings and comfort each other."

"Hey! Down in front!" shouted a male voice.

"Yeah, get off the stage, you're blocking our view." shouted another, sending the crowd into nervous giggling."

The scene on the big TV screen made Daria's blood run cold. It was somewhat like war footage, only the war was being fought on US soil and the Enemy was 100% American.

"Well, Daria, is this a little like fantasy fulfillment?" asked Jane.

Jane's words just lowered the temperature a few more degrees.

"I would never go through with it. I might make jokes, but I wouldn't do it. Really, Jane, you should know me better than that."

"Not even the Fashion Club?"

"Not even them."

In another corner of the auditorium, Andrea and her fellow Goth friends Susie and Bianca sat, watching the events unfold.

"So, another disgruntled kid goes Postal at their school. Big deal." said Andrea. "This looks like an excuse to cut school the rest of the day."

"What do you want to do?" asked Bianca, shaking out her dreadlocked black hair.

"Don't know. Anyone got any ideas?" asked Andrea.

"We could walk to Dega Street." offered Susie. "We could ride but my car's dead at the 'rents place."

"That's as good an idea as any." said Bianca. "We'll go to Planet Vegan and have lunch, then we'll just hang."

"I brownbagged it." said Andrea. "Just my luck."

"You can always get a smoothie there." offered Bianca. "I'll go in half with you, those smoothies are huge."

"Sounds good."

They began sneaking over to the door, when Ms. Li blew her whistle.

"Where the HELL are you going, ladies?" she screamed.

"Uh, we were going to go get some lunch, and then...go back to school!" said Andrea, making it up as she went along.

"Yeah!" concurred both Susie and Bianca.

"No, you'd better stay here. There are preliminary reports that the kids that went berserk in the school are Goths. I want to keep my eye on you three."

The three shuffled back to their corner of the auditorium, dejectedly.

More word got around about the details in the days immediately after the shooting. Two boys, both seniors, members of a clique called The Trenchcoat Mafia who wore black clothes, played video games, and listened to German techno rock like KMFDM and Rammstein. Consequentially, it seemed like Andrea, Susie and Bianca were coming under uncomfortable scrutiny. Even Mr. O'Neill, who usually was the most easy-going teacher at the school, was getting nosy.

"Andrea? Could you meet with me after class?" asked O'Neill as she walked in for her Language Arts class.

"Why?"

"Let's just say I'm...concerned about you, and your mental well-being."

"Let me make this brief. I am not a Nazi, I don't particularly like Rammstein, and I don't play video games."

"It's either that or I'm going to have to refer you to the Guidance Counselor."

"OK...sure. But if you make me late for 5th period, I'm gonna need a note from you...a GOOD one."

"Sure."

After class, O'Neill closed the door and sat Andrea down.

"I wanted to speak to you before Ms. Li does, because she's really on the warpath."

"Why? I'm quiet, I get good grades, I never get in trouble, I turn my assignments in on time, I'm against violence, I don't eat any animal products, I don't take drugs...all I do that might raise eyebrows is that I wear black most of the time, I listen to dark music and I read and draw comic books."

"Do you consider yourself...a Goth?"

"Yeah, so what? Those kids in Littleton weren't Goths, they were little punk-ass racist Nazis with guns. I have never met a violent Goth. Maybe I like London After Midnight. Maybe I like horror movies. Maybe I like comics. I'm not a racist, or a Satanist, and I don't own anything more threatening than a Swiss Army Knife. Guns frighten me, for crissake!"

"Ms. Li really doesn't understand this. I have been told to warn you to stop wearing black clothes to school and to let your hair grow out to its regular color. Otherwise she's concerned about your being a distraction to other students. She may have to send you to the County Opportunity School if you don't shape up. She doesn't care that you're a great student and a decent human being. All she cares about is the symbolism right now...the trappings."

"It's none of her business what I wear. I know my rights. The ACLU took Lawndale Unified to court in 1968 about their dress code and won. The court decision still stands as far as I know."

"Yes...I was one of the hippies who brought that suit, you know...but this time she's got the law and public opinion on her side. Tone it down a little, Andrea. Or it's going to be hard for you. Nobody can stop Ms. Angela Li when she has an idea in her head. Nobody. Not me, not Ms. Barch, not even Mr. DeMartino. Nobody."

All Andrea did was shake her head.

"Please...it's serious. She's going to start playing hardball."

Andrea looked at O'Neill's kewpie-like face. It was wizened up in a way that suddenly made him look more care-worn than usual. He certainly seemed like he meant what he said. And Ms. Li must have chewed him out a new asshole before letting him deal with the situation first.

"I know it's serious. But I know that I still have my rights. Have a nice day, Mr. O'Neill."

Andrea walked out the door.

"Wait, wait, don't you want that...excuse note?"

Mr. O'Neill watched Andrea run down the hall to try to make her next class, shrugged his shoulders and sighed. The showdown was going to happen. It was no longer a question of if, but when.

Jane Lane had a similar encounter with Mr. O'Neill, and told Daria about it on their walk home.

"O'Neill read me the riot act...in his inimitable marshmallow-like way...this afternoon."

Daria raised an eyebrow.

"What about? I mean, aside from your math grades you're doing fine in school...it couldn't be..."

"Yes, it's the Columbine High thing. Apparently Ms. Li thinks I'm a Goth."

"YOU???"

"Yeah, me."

"So what were the demands?"

"She told me I've got to grow out my hair to get rid of the black hair dye. Never mind that I have had this color hair since I was a toddler, and so did Trent. I've also got to wear less black, and wear less earrings."

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

"I might dye my hair blue or something. Make her regret criticizing my normal hair color."

"And clothes?"

"I'm thinking of coming to school in a clown suit tomorrow. Want to go to the costume shop with me later?"

"Sure. I might rent a Darth Vader costume. Or maybe an Elvira outfit."

"Whoo...if you got the Elvira outfit Ms. Li would think you were....GOTH."

"And I'd be in a heap of trouble, wouldn't I?"

"You're kidding, right?"

"I'm not so sure that I am kidding."

The next day, Daria and Jane went to school looking like it was October 31st. Only it was the middle of April. Jane wore a polka-dot clown suit with a rainbow afro wig, and Daria strutted in with a rather sexy witch dress, a broom, and her usual Doc Martens.

When Ms. Li got wind of the protest, she rushed out of her office.

"Ms. Lane, Ms. Morgendorffer, YOU GET IN MY OFFICE PRONTO! How DARE you mock my genuine concerns!"

"Yep. We're in trouble, alright."

"Looks like my boy Luke's gonna have to spend a night in the Box."

"Funny, Jane."

Ms. Li paced up and down behind her desk as Daria and Jane sat quietly.

"Jane Lane, do you know what kind of trouble you are in? And why did you pull your friend, one of our finest stuuuuudents, down with you?"

"I just happen to have been born with black hair, Ms. Li. And you had your toady, Mr. O'Neill, tell me I should wear more cheery clothing. Well, is this cheery enough for you?"

"Yeah. Am I a Goth all the sudden for wearing this?" asked Daria.

"Ms. Morgendorffer, I expect you to be a little more serious about your education. The Lane children are known for raising a little Cain. You are an exemplary student citizen of...Laaawndale Hiiiigh. You are on your way to being the valedictorian of your class...don't take the route to becoming a school hoodlum instead."

Ms. Li leaned over the desk and placed herself right in Daria and Jane's faces.

"I'm going to send you two home to change. Jane, I know now that you were born with black hair, but certainly you could wear some brighter colors...not a clown suit, just not so much black! Perhaps maybe even Laaaawndale Blue And Gold. Hmmfh, this gives me an excellent idea!"

"What, another School Colors day?"

"No. We'll be having an assembly about it in the next few days. Anyway, lose the costumes, and come back ready to learn, not rebel."

The assembly was something that everyone dreaded. Rumors had been flying that Ms. Li would announce there would be metal detectors installed, more Narcs, even uniformed Lawndale PD officers roaming the corridors.

"LHS always felt like a prison." said Susie as she, Andrea and Bianca arrived at the auditorium. "Now it'll be run like one too."

"As if it wasn't already." grumbled Andrea.

"Stuuuudents! Stuuuudents! Quiet down so we can begin this assembly!" shouted Ms. Li through her bullhorn. "The quicker you simmer down, the quicker we can get through this and get you back to your normal learning activities."

The audience quieted down, and the presentation began.

"In light of the Columbine High tragedy, Laaaawndale High is taking steps to assure it doesn't happen here. We have a responsibility to keep this school safe, and are taking measures to insure the safety of the school and insure that the focus remains on learning, not on distractions like clothes and music and weapons. Mr. O'Neill, Ms. Barch, please take the stage."

The two teachers walked from the wings, both identically dressed in blue canvas sneakers, blue slacks and yellow polo shirts.

"Stuuuudents, I call this our 'Design For Learning' program. We are instituting a simple, easily adopted uniform for all students at LHS. No longer will clothes cause distractions from the learning process. No longer will school be a fashion show. No longer will you need to compete amongst yourselves as to who's more stylishly dressed, or who has the coolest and most expensive athletic shoes."

The Fashion Club watched the unveiling of the new uniforms with their jaws on their laps, and gasps of horror.

"Note the generic blue canvas sneakers...they can be Keds, they can be low-top Converse, they can even be the K-Mart blue light special, just as long as they are blue with a plain rubber sole. No more Air Jordans, no more Adidas, no more $200 basketball shoes. The blue slacks must be blue cotton or blue cotton blend, fly front or stretch pull-on, but must not be jeans or jeans-type. We will be selling compliant slacks at the student store, but we have also been assured that Target, K-Mart, and even Cashmans at Cranberry Commons will be stocking pants that fit our standards. We were thinking of the option of skirts for girls, but thought better of it considering the hormone levels of our boys, hmmmf. Slacks will be mandatory for both sexes. The polo shirts will have the school crest on the left side, and will become available in our student store within the week, and will be $20 per shirt."

"Oh my god it's SOOOOO UGLY!!!" screamed Stacy. Stacy began hyperventilating violently, and fainted.

"Umm, Ms. Li? Can people on the football team still wear their uniforms?" asked Kevin.

"Uh, yeah, and can the cheerleaders still wear their uniforms, too?" piped up Brittany.

"Yes, students involved in legitimate, authorized school sports teams will be exempt from the uniform requirements."

The rest of the "Design For Learning" program was unveiled. No more backpacks or purses that could not be seen through...clear plastic tote bags or even clear vinyl backpacks (the latter available in the Student Store, natch) were the only bags allowed any more on campus. Any student caught with personal stereo equipment would have it confiscated and donated to the Lawndale School For The Handicapped for use by sight-impaired students. Pagers and cell-phones would be banned, but every teacher would be equipped with their own cell-phone for "emergency use." No jewelry except for "tasteful stud earrings." First-time violators of the new school code would be sent home to change. Then repeat offenders could be suspended or even sent to Opportunity School for the remainder of their High School years. There would be armed and uniformed security guards at every entrance, and patrolling the halls and cafeteria. Unspoken but easily inferred: more undercover Narcs from Lawndale PD.

"All that's left to add to the mix are guard towers, German Shepherds and razor wire, and of course Ms. Li would add those too if she had the budget and the mandate." said Daria as she and Jane walked home. "I mean, I don't mind the uniforms...I wear my own personal uniform every day, and it would just mean a change of uniform. But it's the fact that they are choosing it for me that gets my back up."

"Stacy has the brain of a gerbil, but I've got to agree with her...the uniforms are ugly." replied Jane. "I'm not going to go along with it if I don't have to."

"I bet my sister is going to be in orbit...about half of the Fashion Club's rules were violated by the new uniforms."

"It's a safe bet. So what do we do about it?"

"I think a trip to Pizza King might be required to fuel my brain to think of appropriate action."

Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of the Fashion Club was called to order at Stacy's house.

"This super-emergency meeting of the Fashion Club will now come to order. Our stupid school principal has mandated uniforms for the entire school. We need to figure out, like, what we can do about it." said Sandi.

"I'm not wearing those...things..." said Tiffany. "Uh, Quinn, isn't your aunt, like, a lawyer or something?"

"Yeah. She is."

"Hmmmm..." mused Sandi. "That's your assignment, Quinn...get your weird aunt the lawyer to, like, file a lawsuit against the school or something."

"OK, that's no problem." replied Quinn.

"What do we do in the mean time?" asked Stacy. "I'm NOT going to wear that. I'd rather drop out."

"Calm yourself, Stacy. We're not going to wear their uniforms, no matter what. At least, we'll not wear them the way they want us to wear them." said Sandi. "Tiffany, you're the best accessorizer among us...could you figure out what to do to turn those fashion don'ts into a fashion do?"

"I might be a good accessorizer, but I'm not a magician." grumbled Tiffany. Tiffany grabbed her notebook and a pencil and began drawing.

While Tiffany tried to draw some modifications to the uniform, Sandi began to think about alternate plans. Well, if Tiffany can't come up with acceptible modifications, and Quinn's cousin's mom couldn't sue to stop them, direct action was required. Sandi knew that there would have to be a delivery of the shirts to the school. She decided to find out when it would come, and somehow interfere with the shipment. It would have to be something that the rest of the Fashion Club didn't know about...she knew that Stacy was too panicky to help, Tiffany was too stupid, and she knew Quinn would botch things up in some other way she couldn't quite place. No, this would have to be a solo mission.

Andrea, Susie and Bianca were walking to Dega Street after classes, when a truck rolled by them. In a split second, they were splattered with water balloons.

"Psycho Goths! See you in Hell." screamed a voice which sounded like...no, it couldn't be! one of those sophomores that followed that popular chick Quinn around. What were their names...Joey, Jeffy and Jackie? Something like that?

"That really sucked." grumbled Susie as she shook out her hair.

"I guess we should be glad it was just water balloons." replied Bianca.

"I have a feeling the next time around it might not be water, but something more deadly." said Andrea. "Let's go back to my house. I've got clothes we can all wear and I'll throw our stuff in the dryer."

Andrea lived in a split-level just outside of the Dega Street District, a house with motorcycles on the front lawn. Andrea's parents were bikers, and her father ran the only Harley repair shop in Lawndale, catering to the yupscale crowd. Andrea was their only daughter.

The three of them went first into the bathroom to get towels, then down into the basement to put their sopping clothes into the dryer. Then they went upstairs to Andrea's room.

Both Susie and Bianca seemed to swim in Andrea's decidedly plus-size clothes.

"I can't believe it, I've been a Vegan for two years and I've not lost any weight." said Andrea as she pulled on a Peter Murphy t-shirt.

"Don't worry about it, Andrea." said Bianca. "This isn't the Fashion Club."

"You know, in a weird kinda way I can actually sympathise with Harris and Klebold." said Susie. "I mean, killing is wrong, but when those dumb-ass jocks pelted us with water balloons, if I had a gun or a bomb on me you know I would have opened up with both barrels."

"We all would have." said Andrea. "But it doesn't make it right. My Dad always told me that you can't take what you can't replace. And you can't replace a human being no matter how repugnant they are."

"Yeah. True." said Susie. "But don't say the idea didn't cross your mind."

"I can't say that it didn't." said Andrea. "I've got the new Malignancy CD, wanna hear it?"

"Whoa, cool, Malignancy!" said Bianca. The sound of synthesisers and beatboxes filled the air as the first song kicked in.

"So what do we do about what the three Js did?" asked Susie.

"We contact Ms. Li about it tomorrow." said Andrea. "Hopefully the climate right about now will mean that those little twerps will get what they deserve."

"I don't know about that." said Bianca with a sigh. "I don't think we have a great deal of credibility with the staff at Lawndale High. Remember, we're Goths and we're guilty until proven innocent."

"You're probably right." replied Andrea. "You're probably right."

Quinn hit up Helen for her legal expertise the moment she walked through the door.

"Mom, the worst has happened at school."

"There wasn't a shooting, was there? Or a bomb threat?"

"No, Mom. Worse. They're going to be instituting uniforms. And not just any uniforms, but really, really gross uniforms. I mean, you never should mix primary colors, especially during the day, and..."

"Uniforms are a great idea, Quinn! No more competing between students about who's the best dressed..."

"But Muh-OM! That's the whole point of going to school!"

"I disagree. Anyway, I think it's a fine idea."

"Anyway, we're contacting the ACLU or something about this...it's just not fair. I'm not going to wear those uniforms. I might just quit school if this is allowed to stand."

"You are NOT going to ruin your life by being a high school dropout."

Helen realized that Quinn was really serious about this.

"Quinn, you really feel strongly about this, don't you?"

"I am not going to look like a geek just to get an education I'm never going to use anyway."

"Well then, I'll look into what can be done. I like this idea of uniforms, and I'm sure your father would love it, considering how much we spend on your clothes. But if you feel that strongly about uniforms, I'll help you get rid of them."

"Thanks, Mom."

After the usual family dinner -- was there anything else in the freezer other than Lite Dee-lite Lasagna? -- Daria retreated to her room, and began searching the Internet for Trenchcoat Mafia-related websites. She got a few hits...most looked like slapped-together fakes, but there were a few which had the ring of being the genuine article. There was a knock on her door. She opened up a second Netscape window and loaded the Harvard website before she answered.

"If it's you, Mom, I'm looking up college sites. If it's you, Dad, I really don't feel like family bonding tonight. If it's you, Quinn, I'm on a luxury cruise on the River Styx, and am unavailable for a few more days."

"Daria, I really gotta talk to you about this." asked Quinn. "Please open up, OK?"

"It's not OK, but I guess I have to."

Daria reluctantly opened the door, and Quinn walked in. Daria moved the Netscape windows around so that the Trenchcoat Mafia site was visible again.

"What do you want?" grunted Daria.

"You don't like the uniforms any more than I do, right?"

"Well, I don't like being dictated to. If it was just something that you and the rest of your Fashion Club buddies had to do, that would be OK in my book. But as a school-wide thing, I guess you could call me a conscientious objector."

"I would think you'd love it, seeing that you're always wearing a uniform of your own."

"Like I said, I don't like being dictated to."

"Anyway, I'm organizing a protest. I'm thinking of ribbons or black armbands or something like that."

"I'll wear your ribbon. But it's got to be an unfashionable color."

"I was thinking Eggplant."

"I suppose that will do."

"And Mom's going to help us legally."

"That's surprising."

"She said this was the first time I have stood up for anything."

"Well, you've stood up a lot of dates."

"An occupational hazard of being popular. Anyway, thanks for your support."

"Savor it...it's not likely I'll do anything like this again."

At the office, Helen spent a little time looking at Lexis-Nexis for case law she could use against school uniforms. Most of the precedents didn't look good for Quinn. Once she entered Lawndale into the search, however, the court order enjoining Lawndale Unified from imposing any sort of dress code immediately popped up. It was handed down in 1968 by the Superior Court of Lawndale County. She scanned the list of plaintiffs...Timothy O'Neill? Was that the same person...no, marshmallow...who taught Language Arts at LHS?

The gist of the court order was this: Lawndale Unified School District could not issue any regulation that infringed on the First Amendment rights of students. Since clothes were a form of expression, a dress code would infringe on the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. There were caveats: students could be disciplined for causing a disruption in class because of their clothes, and the Indecent Exposure provisions of the Lawndale City Municipal Code would still be applicable. For instance, if someone decided to streak a Lawndale Lions football game, they could be subject to both arrest by Lawndale PD and discipline by the school. The very thing happened in the mid 1970s, Helen remembered, and there was an arrest and a suspension as a result.

OK, so this is easy enough. The decision is on the books, so her task as counsel would be simply to convince whatever judge they face to uphold the 1968 decision. The task awaiting Lawndale Unified would be harder: convincing a judge to overturn the previous decision of a judge of the Lawndale County Superior Court.

"Marianne, take a letter please." commanded Helen. "This is to notify the Lawndale Unified School District that they are in violation of a court order by mandating the "Design For Learning" uniform program...."

Across town, at Lawndale High, Andrea, Susie and Bianca waited uneasily in the anteroom to Ms. Li's office. They were dressed uncharacteristically...blue jeans, earth-tone plain t-shirts, their makeup toned down. They looked very different, a little less harsh.

"Come in." said Ms. Li.

"Well now, you girls look a whole lot better today...a little less gloom certainly works for you! Bravo."

"We're still the same girls you were gunning for. Maybe we're not wearing black today. But inside we aren't changed." said Susie, annoyance in her voice.

"Anyway we're here because we need you to talk to Joey, Jamie and Jeff. On our way home from school they threw water balloons at us and called us vile names." explained Andrea. "We're afraid that next time it won't be water balloons, but something much worse."

"Ah, well, boys will be boys. They are certainly not our best students, I know that. They are on our football team, however, and they bring honor unto our school on the field..."

"Don't you hear yourself, Ms. Li?" asked Bianca. "We're the horrible ones, potential Kleibolds and Harrises, because we dress in black. Yet we get good grades and have never been discipline problems. You never see us. We're the invisible students. But those guys are football heroes. They might be violent and commit violent acts but since they are on the freakin' team they can do no wrong."

"Is it any wonder that we see these incidents time and time again? I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere down the line someone, and I'm not talking us, but some person brings guns to school because they were pushed over the edge by guys like those." commented Susie.

Ms. Li went tomato-red.

"IS THIS A THREAT? ARE YOU THREATENING US?" screamed Ms. Li in the girls' faces. "THAT'S IT...YOU ARE GOING TO PAY FOR MAKING TERRORIST THREATS!!! FROM HERE ON OUT, YOU ARE SUSPENDED, AND I'M SENDING YOUR TRANSCRIPTS TO COUNTY OPPORTUNITY SCHOOL!!!"

"Uh, Ms. Li, I was not threatening you, I was merely pointing out what might happen down the line if you continue to use a double standard to judge people's behavior...one standard for unpopular kids, the other for football heroes and homecoming queens." replied Susie, quietly.

"SHUT UP!!! I WILL NOT TOLERATE ANY MORE IMPERTINENCE FROM YOU THREE...TROUBLEMAKERS!!!"

Ms. Li called their parents, and sent the three of them to wait in the anteroom to be taken home.

"Were you really expecting Ms. Li to help us?" asked Andrea.

"No, but I was expecting a fair hearing." replied Susie.

"It's really going to suck back at home now." chimed in Bianca.

"Tell me about it." Andrea slumped back in her chair and grumbled to herself.

Sandi Griffin rarely, if ever, darkened the doors of the Media/Computer center. She had a very expensive IBM laptop she did all her work on, and she printed things out on a laser printer that used to live at the TV station her mom worked at. But this was a different situation. She needed some help, and needed it fast.

"Uh...Neil? Neil, the guy Quinn knows from homeroom? You there?"

Neil Phillips poked his head out from behind a blue and white G3 Mac tower. "Uh, hi, I'm real busy, make it quick."

"Uh, Quinn said that you were, like, a computer wizard and all that."

"I don't know if wizard is the word for it, but yeah, I know a lot about computers."

"Look. I'll go out on a date with you if you help me."

Neil suddenly stood up. Sandi Griffin? One of the popular girls? A date?

"OK, what do you need, Sandi?"

"Well, you know those horrible uniforms? I want to, like, make sure the shipment doesn't get here. I know the company...they're called Scholastic Screen Printing and they're in Ohio or something. Could you, like, break into their computer and re-route the shipment somewhere far away...like Guam or Bosnia or Tibet or something?"

"It's not like Wargames anymore...computers aren't sitting on phone lines, ripe for breaking into. There are things like firewalls and virtual private networks and crypto all over the place now. But I'll try...maybe a t-shirt silkscreening company will be less well protected than a bank or a stock brokerage. I can't do it from the school computers...too easy to trace things. I'll take my laptop to a payphone and wire my modem right into the payphone. I know how to do this. Then it's a question of getting into the order fulfillment system and changing a few things in the Lawndale High account. I think maybe I'll send the shirts to Lawndale High...the one in California, not this one. Easy for it to be palmed off as a clerical error."

"Hmm...you're really smart, Neil. Show me how smart you are and tell me where you are going to take me on my date."

Neil hemmed and hawed a little, but remembered that place Quinn always mentioned.

"Uh...Chez Pierre?"

"Sounds great! Now, get this all done, and reserve a table for, like Saturday, at 8 or so?"

"Sure. Saturday at 8. Chez Pierre."

Sandi walked away, smug and self-satisfied. Would she meet Neil at Chez Pierre? Doubtful. She was definitely out of his league, and knew it. That weird cousin of Quinn's would be out of that boy's league. Then again, a nice free meal would be a topper to accomplishing preventing the delivery of the polo shirts. Then again...would she want to be seen in public with that pock-marked, overweight, pale boy with the flood pants? Eeeeewww, she thought.

Nope, she'd just leave him dangling. She had done it many times before to many other boys.

Andrea's father Morris picked her up on his motorcycle, and the two rode to the family Harley shop.

"I want you to tell me straight...did you and/or your friends threaten Ms. Li?"

"No, we didn't. Susie, Bianca and I were pelted with water balloons by a bunch of jocks. We went to Ms. Li's office to tell her of the incident, and she shrugged it off as if it was nothing. She even used that tired old cliche 'boys will be boys' to dismiss their actions. Susie pointed out that they might try something more dangerous than water balloons next time, and suggested that she stop using a double-standard for judging the behavior of popular and unpopular students, or that one day some kid might follow in Kleibold and Harris' footsteps. Ms. Li took that as a threat, and here we are."

Morris sighed, thinking back to his past and how he and his hippie friends were harassed by Ms. Li's mentor, Principal Foster, in 1967 and 1968 at Lawndale High. Back then, the hippies were repeatedly beaten up by the jocks, actions that were not only condoned but encouraged by Mr. Foster.

"My only question was why did you go to Ms. Li in the first place? You know that she would not side with you, right?

"I didn't know who else to go to."

"I could have had a talk with the culprits' parents."

"I'm sure that wouldn't do much good."

"If I had a talk with them with the aid of a bike chain, it would do some good."

"Please, Dad...you have those priors on your record."

"OK. Man, this sucks. Tomorrow I will go to Lawndale High and give Ms. Li a piece of my mind."

"Please don't bring the bike chain...except for the one around the gears of your bike, ok?"

"Sure honey."

Even though he was gruff and a lot of people were intimidated by him, Andrea knew her Dad was 100% behind her. She smiled a rare smile and gave him a big hug.

On a dark street somewhere off the Highway between Lawndale and Oakwood, Neil parked his car near the abandoned gas station. He checked the pay phone...yes, it was working! He pulled out a phone card number he got from one of his buddies and began to dial around on the phone numbers he found out to be part of the range given to Scholastic Screen Printing, looking for the sound of a modem.

He heard one on 555-4554. Cool! They still had a dialup number, and hadn't gotten a T1 in or something like that. That probably meant there would be little, if any, security to get around.

He opened up the handset of the pay phone, and attached the alligator clips and leads that would connect his laptop to the payphone. After a lot of juggling and waiting for the laptop to boot, he was able to connect to the computer at Scholastic. A few tries to log in and his specially modified terminal program made the connection, then it was child's play to go into the order program and change the address of the order that was on the way to LHS to the Lawndale High in California. Very easy to do.

He closed the connection and put the pay phone back the way he found it. This was too easy. And there would be a reward waiting for him on Saturday. Of course Sandi puts out...she seemed like that type. Spend a bit of green, and by the end of the night he'd get his horns trimmed.

A few days after, The Fashion Club stood outside Lawndale High, a box full of Eggplant-colored ribbons sitting on top of an aluminum TV table. A sign, reading "Protest the Uniforms", was attached to the table.

"If you hate the idea of uniforms, take a ribbon! Wear it in class! Tell the school administration that they can take your fashion sense when they pry it from your cold, dead fingers!" cried Quinn, handing out ribbons to eager hands. Within a few minutes, all the ribbons were gone.

Two people wearing ribbons proudly were Daria and Jane. Daria had gotten her ribbon from Quinn at home, and Jane got one of the last ribbons from the Fashion Club before they ran out.

"You know, this is the first time I've agreed with the Fashion Club in my entire career here at Lawndale High? It sure feels weird to have common ground with them." said Jane.

"Who'd have thunk it." quipped Daria.

"Ms. Li is not going to get away with this." said Jane. "She's gone one step too far."

"Well, Mom said she found a decision from 1968...a court order barring Lawndale Unified from continuing to require compliance with a dress code. The court order had never been rescinded in 31 years, so technically it's still in effect."

"So, Ms. Li is breaking the law with this?"

"No, violating a court order. There is a little bit of a difference. A court order can be thrown out with a stroke of a pen."

"True. But your mom is pretty savvy with things like this."

"It's going to take more than my Mom's legal expertise. We're going to have to get a judge who doesn't follow the conventional wisdom that uniforms and getting tough with kids is a Good Thing To Do."

"Well, is the judge who made the initial ruling still on the bench?"

"Hmm...I guess this is something we have to check out."

"The library?"

"No, the Media Center. The court ruling should be up on the Internet somewhere."

Daria sat at one of the many Mac 5200s in the Media Center, running through several different sites. Finally she came across the full text of the decision. It was a Judge Michael Paulsen who made the original decision. Good. The Hon. Michael Paulsen, Judge of the Lawndale County Superior Court. Was he still on the Bench? Easily found out...Lawndale County Superior Court has its own website. She consulted their site and bingo! There he was.

She noted this information down on a memo pad, and then went looking for her sister.

"Quinn, I've got to use your cell-phone...it's important." she asked her.

Quinn shushed her. "Number one, I've got to be really low-key about still having my PCS with me...technically I could get busted for it. And number two, don't act like my sister around me."

"Do you want to wear yellow polos and geeky blue slacks for the rest of your time at Lawndale High?"

"No."

"Then I need your cell-phone. Mom needs some important information to fight the new uniform policy. I have the information she needs. It's either this or I have to go off-campus, and that would attract suspicion to say the least."

"OK...let's go to the Girls' Room."

Daria got into a stall and pulled up the antenna. She got Marianne.

"Office of Helen Morgendorffer, Esq."

"Yes, hi, this is Daria, Helen's daughter. I have some information she needs on the Lawndale Unified case."

"Just a minute..."

"Well, hi, Daria! What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Mom...you know about Lawndale Unified v. Lawndale ACLU, et al, right? Well the judge who made the decision is still on the bench. Michael Paulsen. Uh-huh, Judge Paulsen. He's probably real old by now but I suspect he will want to see a decision he made stand."

"Of course he would...well, usually, unless he's changed his mind..."

"If you can, you should see if you can get him to hear the case."

"Yes, I know. Thank you, Daria, this is a big help."

"No problem."

Daria got out of the stall and quickly passed the phone back to her sister, who hurriedly stuffed it back in her purse.

Ms. Li was beginning to get worried. The students had started to wear Eggplant ribbons to class, an open symbol of defiance against her "Design For Learning" plan. She knew that she couldn't forbid the wearing of the ribbons...that might provoke more threatening and possibly violent acts against the plan. But she knew that the ringleaders of the protest, the Fashion Club, could not escape punishment. The Student Clubs advisor was Ms. Barch, a woman with whom Ms. Li usually had a meeting of the minds with. She decided to take her to dinner that night, to Allegro, a fern bar/trendy Italian cafe in the Olde Towne shopping district of Lawndale. Ms. Li caught her between periods in her classroom.

"Janet, have you ever been to Allegro? I was thinking that after you get finished with after-school paperwork and after I get finished with my administrative duties, we could go there for an early supper, what say?"

"The last time I was there, I was still married...to HIM."

"Bad memories, then? No problem, pick a place."

"Allegro's fine. Angela, what do you want to talk to me about? You never ask teachers to dinner without an ulterior motive."

"Oh, I just wanted to acknowledge the suuuuperior job you have been doing teaching the science classes. Can't your boss take you out to dinner to celebrate your 15 years of meritorious service to Laaaawndale High?"

"Well, Angela...this is a first. Sure then. Let's have dinner. 5?"

"Yes, that's about right. 5."

Ms. Li walked out with a smile on her face. The Fashion Club will pay for openly challenging her authority, she thought. "God, I LOVE my job." she said to herself. "I REALLY love my job."

When she made her way back to her office, she was confronted by a very large man in jeans, a t-shirt and a leather fringed jacket.

"I assume you're Ms. Li. My name is Morris Hecuba. My daughter, Andrea Hecuba, is a Junior here at Lawndale High. She was suspended yesterday for what I believe was insufficient and unjust cause."

Ms. Li was horrified....this GORILLA of a man, dressed like a Hell's Angel...

"Uh, Mr. Hecuba, your daughter and her Goth friends made terrorist threats against me and the school. We have ZERO TOLERANCE for this kind of behavior in Lawndale High. We will have a hearing where we will decide either to put your daughter in special classes here, or whether she must go to County Opportunity School after she serves her suspension."

"That's not what I hear. You hear me out now, Ma'am, or you will be hearing from our lawyer. Two days ago, my daughter and her friends were assaulted by three guys on the football team."

"They had a few water balloons thrown at them. No big deal."

"If I threw water balloons at YOU, Ms. Li, I would be hauled off for assault. And that's a big deal."

"The boys were just having some fun."

"When you hear someone yelling 'see you in Hell' you get a different context for the behavior. Like the next time they might not just attack with water balloons, but something more deadly. I had my time back in my younger days when I raised Hell, but now I'm a family man, and a respected business owner."

"Anyway, your daughter's friend Susie said that if I didn't do anything that one day they all would come back with guns."

"No, that's not the way I heard it. From the way I heard it, Susie said that if you continued to excuse bad behavior by football players and other Big People On Campus, that one day in the future, some person might get fed up and come back here and there would be tragedy.

"She didn't say that she or any of the other two girls, including my daughter, would do it. I know my daughter, she's a pacifist, and she convinced my wife and I to trade in our guns for season passes at the Cranberry Commons Cineplex back when the Lawndale PD ran that deal. We don't even own guns anymore because of our daughter. Susie was merely pointing out the possibility for danger."

"Well, I see your point, Mr. Hecuba. Yes, that was pretty close to what she said, and I'm sorry if I misunderstood. Still, your daughter and her friends are disrupting the learning environment by their dress, and I have to crack down. In a few days, we will be starting the 'Design For Learning' program, where we will be completely circumventing the issue of schoolwear by imposing uniforms."

"Which is against the decision of 1968. You gotta realize, I was in the Class of '68 here at Lawndale High...back before they tore down the old campus and built this one in the '70s. I remember you...you were a teaching aide in Language Arts, weren't you?"

"Well, Mr. Hecuba, I certainly was, but I don't see your point..."

"Let me tell you a story, Ms. Li."

It was the hot, sticky days of a September Indian Summer. Class had barely begun for the year, and students still had Summer restlessness in them. Tim O'Neill, Morris Hecuba and several other students had grown their hair, moustaches and beards out during the Summer, and arrived in school wearing their freak flags proudly.

They were met one day by Principal Foster.

"Well, hello girls, why aren't you wearing skirts and blouses like the dress code specifies?"

"We aren't girls." said Tim O'Neill.

"Well, if you aren't, then why confuse the issue with your long, non regulation length hair? I will give you a pass to go to a barber and get your hair trimmed to spec. I want to see it above the collar."

"And if we don't?" asked Morris, angrily.

"Well then, you get kicked out. Bodily. Our fine young men on the Lawndale Lions will see to it that you never forget defying me."

Suddenly, the hippies were ringed around with large young men in full football uniforms. A few cracked their knuckles, threateningly.

"Take your choice, women. Get your hair cut, and come back wearing clothes more suitable to a young scholar, and you will be fine. If you won't, then I'll leave you to our fine, upstanding young men here."

The circle of jocks closed in, and Principal Foster watched, a smile on his face, as the football team administered their own brand of corporeal punishment on the hippies.

"So the thing is, I experienced this first hand. You do have a different standard of behavior for jocks and soshes than you do for other students. It was that way when I was here at Lawndale High, and it continues to be that way now. All my daughter and her friends were doing was pointing the fact out.

"I'll let you resolve this matter the easy way or the hard way. Easy way: you reinstate my daughter and the suspension goes off her permanent record, effective immediately. Hard way: I sue your ass for everything you're worth."

Ms. Li squirmed in her seat. She didn't want to admit it, but that biker moose had her beat.

"OK then. Sure, your daughter is allowed back, but she has to attend Special Ed classes where I can keep an eye on her. Same goes for her friends. The suspension is suspended, and will get taken off her permanent record. But the first time she shows up in class violating any element of 'Design For Learning' everything goes back into effect, and she will be transferred to Opportunity School as soon as we can manage it. Trust me, Mr. Hecuba, you don't want her to wind up in Opportunity School."

"I know. Fair enough. I don't like her in Special Ed but I suppose I'm going to have to concede that one point. OK, you got yourself a deal."

Morris shook Ms. Li's hand vigorously, and left. Only after he left did she finally relax.

"Please make sure that nobody else disturbs me for a while, OK?"

"Certainly, Ms. Li." said her assistant.

The phone rang almost immediately afterwards. The assistant picked it up.

"Office of Principal Li, how can I help you?"

"This is Principal Walsh at Lawndale High School in California. We received a shipment of polo shirts which look like they were intended for you, seeing as our colors are crimson and gold and our sports teams are called The Cardinals..."

"OK...I'll go get Ms. Li."

"I told you not to disturb me!" she shouted at her assistant as she was informed of the call.

"This sounds serious...it's the Principal at Lawndale High in Lawndale, CA. They got our polos."

"Well then, I'd better take the call."

Ms. Li sighed wearily, and picked up the headset. This would set 'Design For Learning' back at least a week.

"Yes, Principal Walsh. It would seem as if there was an error at the screen printing company. Yes, certainly I will send money and our shipping account number to get them here where they belong as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Have a good day."

Now to call up the silkscreening plant.

"Good afternoon, this is Ms. Angela Li at Lawndale High. You sent our shipment of polo shirts to the wrong Lawndale High. What? You've been hacked? Unauthorized change to the order? I'll get right to the bottom of this. Yes, I will make the culprit pay for the reshipment. Well, I suggest you tighten your network security in light of this incident, hmmf! Thanks."

So it wasn't an error, but a deliberate act of a hacker? Well then, this means war. And the suspect list suggested itself: the three Goths and the Fashion Club headed the list. And she doubted the Fashion Club were smart enough to pull something like that off.

Walking home from school, Daria told Jane the news about the discovery that the judge who wrote the original court order was still on the Bench.

"The guy must be older than Methuselah at this point." cracked Jane.

"Yes, and pardon my stereotypes, but he's probably old and set in his ways and doesn't take kindly to change." said Daria.

"Which means he'll probably let the order stand. It's a good sign. Hopefully your mom won't blow it."

"Helen Morgendorffer HATES to lose. Fact of life. Don't worry about it, Jane."

The two of them walked towards Pizza King and the traditional afterschool meal.

A little later, Ms. Li met Ms. Barch for dinner.

"Angela!"

"Janet!"

The two friends hugged.

"There's awful news...somebody hacked the computer at Scholastic Screen Printing, and as a result all our uniform shirts are in Lawndale, CA, instead of here."

"Hmmm...hacked, eh?"

"Yes, hacked. I suspect the Goths, because the Fashion Clubbers are too dumb to do something like that."

"You really don't like those girls, do you?"

"Frankly, Janet, they give me the creeps."

"Well, let me tell you something about them. I have never had to remind them about work that's due. They make consistent good marks in classes I have them in. We might not like their looks or their taste in entertainment, but they are good students. Perhaps you'd do well to lay off."

"If not them, then whom?"

"I would say that just about any of the other students would be suspect. Have you noticed just how many LHS students are wearing purple ribbons? You've never been extremely popular with the students and now it's only gotten worse. "

"Why aren't you backing me up on this, Janet?"

"Angela, do you remember when we were teachers' aides back in the '60s? Do you remember how hated Principal Foster was?"

"Yes, but Principal Foster certainly knew how to keep students in line."

"Do you really think so? Think back a little."

Ms. Li thought about it. She attended high school at LHS in the early 1960s along with Ms. Barch, and the two returned there to work as teachers' aides while they were attending State University at Lawndale nearby. By the time they returned, it was 1967 and the school was in Vietnam-inspired tumult.

Ms. Li sighed. "Yes, you're right. I remember how it was. But everyone was upset about the war and the draft. There's no draft now. The war in Yugoslavia is being fought by an international force, not just American kids. Our students are getting everything they want out of their parents...I think I can be so bold as to call them spoiled. They're indisciplined, underparented, spoiled brats. What they really need are a few swats, but the damn ACLU took that away from us decades ago. So this modest undertaking is the only thing we can do to hold on to the reins and prevent the inmates from running the asylum."

"Is that what you think of the students...that they are inmates in an asylum? Good lord, Angela, you've been poisoned more than I thought!"

"Poisoned? You're one to talk, Janet...you and your hatred of men have caused me to have to change grades on more than one occasion...what the hell do you have against Michael MacKenzie, for example? If it wasn't for my alteration of his grades in your class, he wouldn't be on the honors track!"

"He's a jock and a smart-ass."

"He's also on his way to possibly becoming a Rhodes Scholar...a designation that will undoubtedly bring honor unto Lawndale High. Or don't you care about that?"

"Not as much as you...your interest in bringing honor to the school is more an interest in bringing honor to yourself, Angela. I think I've lost my appetite, so I think I'll go."

Ms. Barch got up, grabbed her purse, and began to walk away.

"And I'm not going to go along with your pet project. The more I think about what you want to turn our school into, the more I don't want to be a part of it."

"Fine! Be a part of the problem and not part of the solution!"

Ms. Barch audibly groaned and hustled herself out the door.

Ms. Li flagged down a waiter. "Could you put in an order at the bar for a Whiskey Sour...come to think of it, could you make it a double?"

Saturday finally arrived, and Neil was very excited. This was the first date he had been invited on in a couple of years, so he dusted off his only suit for the occasion. He was to meet Sandi at Chez Pierre, then they would both go out for a movie at the Cineplex at Cranberry Commons. And maybe afterward they'd get a chance to fool around. His mini-van, the one he inherited from his mom once she got the SUV she had been hinting around about, was far better suited for post-date nookie than his old white econo-box that was his original vehicle.

He arrived at Chez Pierre on time, and began to wait...and wait...and wait. He could feel the cold stares of the snobby waiters like daggers in his back.

"Would Monsieur like a smaller table? It appears the rest of your party is...detained."

"No, Monsieur would not like a smaller table!" he growled back.

"Then perhaps Monsieur would like to go somewhere else to eat...may I suggest Cluster Burger?"

"Screw you!" he shouted, storming out.

He got back in the van and burnt rubber out of the Chez Pierre parking lot. That fucking snobby bitch Sandi Griffin. He had never been so insulted in his life. Upchuck had made the remark that she was out of his league...he hated proving that smug bastard right. But he'd get even. He had kept a terminal log from the session with Scholastic Screen Printing, and also had a microcassette tape of his conversation with Sandi where she asked him to hack the computer, and promised a date in return. When you're a geek and you're dealing with pretty women, you know that there is a pretty big chance that they'll pull something like this. On Monday, he knew what he had to do. It might mean biting a pretty big bullet, but he knew whatever punishment he was facing, it would be far worse for Sandi because she solicited him to hack the computer.

He decided to go to the Cineplex anyway. He wanted to see "The Matrix" again. It would be his fourth time, and the movie just kept getting better every time he saw it.

There was an assembly that Monday morning. Ms. Li was wearing a Lawndale High polo shirt, blue slacks, and yellow high heels. A bad sign.

"Stuuudents! Despite the polo shirts being re-routed by way of California, we were successfully able to retrieve them, and through the wonder that is express delivery services, get them to you today! Before you leave school this afternoon, you are requested to return to your homeroom and pick up the shirts you ordered. We will accept money orders and cash, and we have a terminal in the student store to accept ATM and credit cards. Because of the computer hacking incident, we are forced to raise the price to $25 per shirt...unless the culprit takes responsibility and confesses, privately, in my office."

Sandi Griffin was slightly worried, but knew that chances were that Neil would take the fall for it. Still, there were the shirts. Boxes and boxes of the bright yellow, incredibly geeky and unfashionable garments. The plan had failed. And Quinn's Aunt, or whatever, hadn't come through. Things looked pretty black for the Fashion Club.

However, Helen Morgendorffer was at that very moment, seated in Judge Paulsen's chambers discussing the new policies at Lawndale High. Counsel for the Lawndale Unified School District, Betty Foy, was also present.

"Now Ms. Morgendorffer, I know that I made the decision back in 1968 to enjoin the Lawndale Unified School District from enforcing any sort of dress code. The Lawndale Unified v. Lawndale ACLU, et al case was a big step forward for student rights in a time where the worst thing a kid would bring to school was a joint of Mexican dirt weed or a Jimi Hendrix 8-track. However, these are darker days, counsellor. I don't know if I want to stick by this decision or not."

"Your Honor," said Ms. Foy, "These are indeed darker days. We have zero tolerance for drugs and any contraband, and nowadays your joint of, as you put it, 'Mexican dirt weed' is far more potent than anything available in 1968. The events at Columbine High School are a wake-up call. The contraband that some have brought to other campuses are far deadlier than anything even the worst hoodlums in the '60s would bring on campus."

"Your Honor...the rights of citizens of the United States do not change because of changing circumstances. The State Constitution honors all aspects of the Federal Constitution. Would you want someone to look at the Bill Of Rights and decide that circumstances were such that provisions of the 1st and 4th amendments were modifiable?"

"We did repeal Prohibition, right?"

"Yes, but that was a case of bad law infecting the Constitution, not a flaw in the original."

"Quite true. How about the 2nd amendment, though?"

"It's a mandate that the States set up militias as a second line of defense. Not a blanket fiat that means that people can be one-man private armies. If you read the amendment carefully, it ties the right to bear arms to well-regulated militias. Like the State National Guard, for example."

"Very true. Anyway, you really think that uniforms and regulations about purses and bags are that much of a curb on student expression?"

"Well, you thought that dress codes were back then."

"You're right."

"Should we bolster security at the schools? Certainly. Do we check lockers for contraband and throw students out for bringing weapons to school? Of course. But clothes are an important way young people express themselves. That's always been the case. It was certainly the case in 1968, and it is now. Nothing has changed."

"Ms. Morgendorffer, you are definitely right. And do I have to stand for election again? Nope. Do I have to kiss people's asses? Not me. Yep, I think I will let my ruling stand, and issue an injunction against Ms. Angela Li's program."

"Thank you."

"Don't mention it. I haven't had an argument this good in years. Thank you."

"We will challenge your ruling up to and including the State Supreme Court if necessary." said Ms. Foy.

"Go ahead...it is your right."

The injunction was directly carried to Lawndale High by a State Trooper, mere moments before the Juniors went to lunch. Ms. Li was horrified. That old goat Paulsen...still alive and even more incredibly still on the bench? Dammit!

It was time to go on the intercom and say what probably the entire student body and perhaps a few of the teachers was waiting to hear.

"Uh...Stuuuuudents! This is Principal Li speaking. I have just been served paperwork by the Lawndale County Superior Court, preventing me from instituting the uniform and baggage provisions of 'Design For Learning.' This should be only temporary, being that I will be contacting the School Districts pool of lawyers to challenge Judge Paulsen's ruling in the State Court of Appeals. Pending the almost certain successful appeal of this ruling, uniforms are now voluntary. And because of this decision, we will be selling official Lawndale High polo shirts for $15...what a bargain! And what a bath the school treasury will take if people don't buy them...mmf! Anyway, resuuuuuume learning!"

Cheering went up from seemingly every room, every nook and cranny of the school, reverberating down the corridors and out into the sunlit fields of the campus.

"Wow, great, your Mom really did come through!" said Jane, beaming.

"Yeah, I guess she did." mused Daria. "You know this isn't going to last though. Parents love empty gestures like this to show them that the schools are getting tough on their precious children. Gotta whip them kids into shape so they can be fine, upstanding individuals."

"Yeah, most parents anyway. My Mom and Dad...well, they were different, shall we say. I remember the one time that Trent covered his body in iodine. Every drop of skin that would show behind jeans and a T-shirt. That was the year that Mom experimented with homeschooling Trent, after the principal at Monroe Middle School suspended him for making a scene with his orange skin."

"Considering your parents' hands off approach to parenting, that didn't last very long, did it?'

"Nope. Anyway, time for lunch. Wanna do the cafeteria or go off to Pizza King for the millionth time?"

"I'm supposed to meet a few people for lunch in the cafeteria. I'm doing research...I think I'm going to do a story about this uniform debacle."

"Can I come along?"

"Why not? Maybe you'd think of questions to ask them that I wouldn't."

Daria and Jane walked into the cafeteria, and were immediately joined in line by Andrea, Susie and Bianca.

"Hey, guys." said Andrea.

"Hey." replied Daria and Jane.

"Check out the Falafelburgers...they're one of the few things in this cafeteria that don't suck."

Daria smiled slightly...perhaps these girls weren't too bad, and maybe something resembling friendship could be possible. Certainly she could extort some killer bribes out of Mom and Dad once they saw her circle of friends expanding. Either that, or they would scare them so much they'd bribe her to stay away from them.

Daria's day was made complete when she saw two security guards pick up Sandi and bodily remove her from her seat at the Fashion Club's table and drag her off to the Principal's office. Daria didn't have any idea why she was busted, but logic told her that she might have put the hacker up to it in an effort to forestall the arrival of the uniforms.

"Let's take the grub outside to the parking lot. They might take our boom boxes but they sure as hell can't confiscate our car stereos." said Susie with a smile. "My car is finally running again...I'm so stoked."

"Sounds good." replied Daria.

A few days later, there was another scene in front of the Media Center. A kid in a suburb of Atlanta, GA shot up his school...exactly a month after Littleton. As Daria watched the pushing and shoving for a good look at the TV monitors, she sighed and thought to herself, "Here we go again."

****

My thanks to the denizens of #Daria+ and #DariaFan IRC channels on DALnet for helping me with ideas on plot twists and criticism of this work while in progress. This will not be the last fic I write in the "Real" Daria Universe.

This fic is dedicated to Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis, the creators of Daria, who are also the show's biggest fans. They're also nice people too.

"Daria" 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, the "Daria" characters and milieu were created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis. They deserve our respect, and frankly, they deserve creators' rights. "Work For Hire" in animation and comics SUCKS. This fanfic was written in the milieu that they created.

"Clothes Make The Manson" 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.

"Clothes Make The Manson" is Copyright 1999 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 within this work of fiction.

"Clothes Make The Manson" 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.