The table was free because the wind was gusty and everyone else in the city was inside, elbowing each other in the neck for Black Friday waffle irons. The stiff breeze whipped Quinn’s hair around and bounced a smattering of sidewalk grit off the lenses of Daria’s glasses, but the air was spiced with dry leaves and Fair Trade coffee and the clove cigarettes of the pack of kids ambling by with signs tucked under their arms. It was only going on 1:30, so Trent wasn’t even late for the staff meeting yet. For Trent, anyway.
They were never going to make the January site launch date, Daria thought glumly.
The overcast sky had the high white glow of the hidden sun, suffusing the pearly veil of East Coast cloud cover. Everyone loves New York City the best in the fall. That’s what Quinn had told her when she’d invited herself to Daria's for Thanksgiving weekend so she could hunt for apartments.
And not that she planned to admit it, but autumn in New York was one of the reasons Daria had moved there herself.
“I can’t believe you’re wearing a skirt on a day like this.” Daria also couldn’t believe that she might have been experiencing some kicky-boot-related jealousy. Not that Daria ever wore heels. Or kicky boots, for that matter.
“Daria, it’s almost 60 degrees! Practically spring-like.” Still, Daria noted that Quinn had cupped her hands around her non-fat latte in an effort to fight the damp chill of the day.
“November in New York, folks. I say: what global warming?” Clapping her sketch book closed, Jane glanced at Daria with a smile in her eyes and knocked back some joe.
“At least it’s not too bad out for the Occupy crowd today.” Daria squinted at a sign trailed by a slouching girl in an olive drab parka: SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE. WE ARE TRYING TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
“Always worried about the little people. Come to the dark side, Daria. We have cheese fries.” Jane craned her neck, looking into the dim little restaurant for the waiter. “Or we will, as soon as that kid brings me my order.”
“Are you wearing pajama pants?” Quinn was looking at Jane with wide eyes, and Daria took a sober sip of Baker Street black arabica.
“While I cannot say whether they were purchased for that express purpose, I can confirm that I did in fact sleep in them last night. Why, is plaid So Last Wednesday or something?” Jane scratched at the knee of her green plaid pants for a moment before re-crossing her legs and resuming the post-caffeine bounce of one sneakered foot.
“No, it’s just that I can’t ever seem to find any that are actually flannel. They all seem to be this skimpy poly blend, and you can’t really lounge in polyester, am I right? Where did you get them?”
“I might have stolen them from Trent? Who finally made it to the meeting, apparently. At least, I think so...?”
Trent strolled into view in a crisp navy suit and flawless tie. He was also draped in a sleek camel-colored raincoat, with a handsome leather portfolio gripped in one fine black leather glove.
The three women stared openly.
“What's with the threads, stretch?” Jane queried warily.
“Who are you and what have you done with Trent Lane?” intoned Daria.
“Is that cashmere?” gasped Quinn, reaching out to grope Trent’s sleeve.
“There's a dress code for the crosswalk,” Trent said. “Only suits get past the federales blocking the Exchange. I borrowed this from Tom. So I have to bail. Revolution and all.”
“Does this mean that you didn’t get us that interview with Our Artificial Tryst? Because I need an autograph. The lead singer is so shimmery! And deep,” Quinn added.
“Uh huh.” Jane and Daria shared a look and Jane shrugged. Patting Trent’s arm, she said, “Just try not to get batoned, ok?”
“Yeah, I'd hate to see your face plastered across all my news feeds,” Daria seconded.
“You may have graduated at the top of your class, Daria, but I got straight A's in passive resistance.” He chuckled a little at his own wit, and broke into a brief, throat-clearing cough. His new coat, too, already had the heady whiff of ganja that Daria had always associated with Trent. She smiled at him against her better judgment and shook her head.
He stooped to kiss her cheek, and then Jane’s, before padding away, straightening the lapels of his duster.
Watching him make his way toward the crowds of protesters, Daria heard herself blurt, “Link got arrested in Oakland, did you know that?”
“Trent won’t get arrested,” Quinn promised airily. “Not in a cashmere coat like that one.”
“You know that it's a little creepy to keep in touch with a kid you met when he was 10,” Jane remarked. “Not that Sick Sad World wouldn't love to dramatically recreate you as the next Mary Kay Letourneau... Wait, you're not, are you?”
“Like everyone else, he’s on FaceBook,” Daria said suppressively.
“Ohhhh, speaking of FaceBook friends,” said Quinn, “I ran into Jodie at Marea yesterday. She asked about you. I was like: she’s finishing a second masters, her boyfriend Sanjay is surprisingly good looking, and she got some kind of award for something.”
“It was a fellowship,” Daria corrected.
“Because no degree in Journalism is complete without a Masters of Library Science,” crooned Jane.
“The ones with the information are the ones with the power. Besides, my research helped Tom break that story on how Bromwell used the term ‘Student-Athlete’ to avoid paying workers compensation.”
“You mark my words, Daria. That young Tom Sloane of ours is going to be the next Anderson Cooper.”
“Well, he's not quite the same eye candy, but his family's practically as rich, so I see what you mean.” Quinn leaned her chin on one hand and looked dreamily into the middle distance, until Daria’s expression frosted over and Quinn kicked her lightly with the tip of her pointy boot. “I'm kidding, Daria. What? I watch The Daily Show too, you know.”
“Did you ask her about submitting something to the site?” Daria prodded.
“Of course!” Quinn rolled her eyes elaborately. “She said she’d send us something by mid-January, and something bi-monthly after that. Anyway, Jodie and Mac are moving to Seattle after the wedding. God, marrying your high school sweetheart. That’s so romantic!”
“Breaking up for four years and then meeting again in law school. That’s romantic and practical,” said Daria.
“You know she’s going to run for president someday,” predicted Jane.
“Not with a black mark like working for the ACLU on her resume,” countered Daria.
“Hey, it’s not like she made 1.6 Million aiding and abetting a financial meltdown,” Jane pointed out.
“Hmm. 1.6 million is chump change compared to all the money we lose to corporate tax loopholes.”
“Oooooooh, let’s all file as corporations! Then we could be taking advantage of those corporate loopholes.” A gaunt kid with outstanding acne skulked out of the restaurant and presented Jane with some limp, lukewarm cheese fries.
“I think he’s taking my evening class,” Daria said, stealing a fry. “If I recall correctly, he has a degree in Art History.”
“If you’re hoping I’ll tip him more, out of some kind of starving artist solidarity, I’ve got your number, Morgandorffer. If only those nice people would stop giving you all those darned fellowships, you could be underemployed like the rest of us.”
“As if you couldn't buy and sell me and my student loans ten times over.”
Jane’s installations had been showing up in cities across the nation; her sister Penny was her agent, and she had recently been commissioned to create “something magnificent” by an anonymous donor. She hadn’t shared any ideas with Daria about it, but Daria was used to careless, offhand magnificence from Jane, and was looking forward to whatever whim coalesced.
“Are you really rich now? Like, summer house and yacht rich? Daria says you’re the next Banksy.”
“Who is this Banksy fellow I keep hearing soooo much about,” Jane said coyly.
“In fact, could I interest you in a few toxic assets?” Daria continued. “How about some human trafficking? I’m little, but I’m wiry.”
“Why Miss Bootstraps, you are the 53%, aren't you? I thought I recognized your signature wit.” With a gaping yawn and a comfortable resettling of her limbs, Jane directed her attention to the other Morgandorffer. “So, Miss Quinn, if you’ve already lined up submissions from Jodie, what will you be contributing to our little online experiment?”
“2011: The year in film fashion. I’m meeting Stacy in an hour. We’re going to see Breaking Dawn. Tiffany swears there were two wedding gowns!”
“I see. The Fashion Club would naturally reconvene whenever a new film about how stalkers make such good boyfriends hits theaters.”
“I won’t try to defend them as literature, but I will say that it was probably the only time that Tiffany read something that wasn’t Waif Magazine,” said Daria.
“We all read them. They were fun! This just in, Daria: I like things that are sparkly. And I think the novels are surprisingly insightful on a number of issues feminists still have trouble addressing. If, as feminists, we believe in girls’ and womens’ autonomy, how do we understand the autonomy-shattering power of desire? Do we determine that some desires -- to be dominated? to be beautiful? to get married?-- are bad and others good?”
“I can’t believe it, but that’s really surprisingly insightful of you.” Daria resettled her glasses, squinting to make sure that Quinn was still Quinn.
“And that’s why the two of you had a hand in this reboot of Sassy magazine. I’m still surprised you didn’t go with my original suggestion: Sassy II: Electric Boogaloo.”
“Well, we did get you to do the art design.”
“You can’t afford me,” Jane reminded her. “But the impressionable youth of the world need me!”
“We need you, anyway,” Quinn said. “She would have called it Madame Curie if you hadn’t shown up.”
“Daphne and Velma is much better,” Jane agreed. “But we could have printed a hardcopy zine with covers that glowed in the dark!”
“I think that that no matter how lofty our goals, society would frown upon giving an entire generation of teenage girls aplastic anemia.”
“Is that like anorexia?” Quinn met Daria and Jane’s raised eyebrows with an impish grin. “Kidding. Again. You two are so easy.”
“It’s still really strange to me that I went to college and you…”
“Got a sense of humor?”
“I was going to say ‘became a person’,” amended Daria.
“Six of one, half a dozen of the other,” Jane proclaimed with a hand wave. “What really boggles me is that you two bonded thanks to the written word.
“It was Mom’s idea.” Quinn stole one of Jane’s long-cold fries and licked her fingertip. “I think that makes Daria squirm even more than the fact that we’re writing a fashion magazine together.”
“It’s not a fashion magazine,” Daria maintained grimly. “It’s a website dedicated to the concerns and interests of young women, with a focus on political awareness, healthy sexuality, feminism and…”
“Say it, Daria. Fashion. Faaaaaaaashion,” Quinn enunciated encouragingly.
“Personal style,” Daria finished.
“I remember when I found that copy of Sassy under Daria’s mattress. Like porn,” Quinn smirked. “Why, I remember it like it was yesterday! Let me see, what could have drawn you to the feminist dialectic: was it Four exotic ways to change your looks, the Eight big reasons guys reject you, or the purely intellectual studliness of Robert Downey, Jr. on the cover?”
“I wanted to see who the fiction contest winners were,” Daria mumbled.
“See, Quinn? She was only reading it for the articles!”
“Look, much like cultural luminary Whitney Houston, I believe that children are our future. And I can’t, in good conscience, leave the future in the hands of Waif Magazine. But really, it wasn’t even my idea. It took an essay by a fourteen year old girl to help me decide it needed to exist again, to try to help people come to terms with the purportedly contradictory dictates of feminism and the ubiquitous, damning, and yet obnoxiously persistent desire to look cute when you feel ready to kiss a boy. Or a girl, for that matter.”
“Daria, it’s almost as if you’ve finally realized that teenage girls are people, too!” Jane wiped away an imaginary tear of pride.
“Of course they’re people. And I’d like to give them something to steer by in a world where, as our good friend @trojankitten once said, ‘Free speech is violence. Money is free speech. Corporations are people. And pizza is a vegetable.’”
“And you’ll do that, Daria,” Quinn promised with surprising sincerity.
“We’ll do that,” Daria said, hiding her rather giddily optimistic smile behind her last sip of coffee.
Jane’s next installation was up with the sun. An inflatable post-modern Prometheus eclipsed the Paul Manship sculpture by the ice rink in Rockefeller Square: a female figure, 20 feet high, in a long, belling black skirt with a nearly bouffant updo, basically a Thanksgiving Day Parade float sans the helium, out of respect to rapidly dwindling world stores of this noble gas. She held a glowing blue sign that read SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE. WE ARE TRYING TO CHANGE THE WORLD. At seemingly random intervals, the figure was lit from within, revealing the stern little face of Madame Marie Curie painted on the polyurethane. Every time her face appeared, the sign would blink out, leaving only the solemn, unflickering exhortation: CHANGE THE WORLD.
Jane declared it a great success, and certainly something magnificent. Daria, who had commissioned it for two slices of pizza, did not disagree.
Your prompt this year might well be my favorite in all my years of Yuletide. Thank you for posting that Daria fan art, and thank you for requesting Daria in the first place.
I played a little with the timeline, here, as Daria was 16 in 1997 and 18 in 2002, so… 2002 Daria would have likely missed the Sassy window (Sassy Magazine 1988 – 1996 --unless her Aunt Amy sent them to her for Christmas one year…), but I added it to her shameful past anyway.
Um, and I don’t have a car or anything, but Santa, if you’re reading this (and why wouldn’t you be reading Daria fanfic?) you should know that in late 2010, following the DVD release, Daria was licensed as a voice for Garmin and TomTom GPS systems.
In writing this story, I cribbed some of the dialogue from the assorted articles below, and threw in some additional links.
The New York Times reported from the scene Thursday morning:
At one point, protesters surrounded and halted police vehicles on Exchange Place and at several points called out to block access points into that part of the financial district. On Broad Street, police officers moved metal barricades to allow a police vehicle through. Some protesters shouted “come on” and began moving quickly toward the opening. Officers shouted “nobody can come in here,” then closed the barricades again, keeping the crowd from marching toward the stock exchange.
After two men wearing suits were allowed to pass through a police barricade at the corner of Pine and William Streets, one protester said, “There’s a dress code for this intersection?”
“…the novels are surprisingly insightful on a number of issues feminists still have trouble addressing. If, as feminists, we believe in girls’ and womens’ autonomy, how do we understand the autonomy-shattering power of desire? Do we determine that some desires -- to be dominated? to be beautiful? to get married?-- are bad and others good?”
The cover they’re talking about is here.
You can follow @trojankitten on twitter.
Maria Skłodowska-Curie shared her 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband Pierre Curie and with the physicist Henri Becquerel. Her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and son-in-law, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, would similarly share a Nobel Prize. She was the sole winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Skłodowska-Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to date to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences.