Welcome back dear reader, to another Empty Chair Interview.
Today I’m meeting with one of my most beloved childhood personalities; everyone’s favourite ainxty 90’s teen…
I’ve cunningly disguised myself as a therapist who specialises in adolescent psychology (how else would they have allowed me to interview a 17 year-old high school student?).
I’ve offered my ‘services’ to Lawndale High School and expressed interest in meeting with one student in particular who I’m deeply concerned about – Daria Morgendorffer.
If you’re familiar with the TV-show, you likely know how Daria typically responds to anyone who attempts to delve into her innermost thoughts with an utterly pointless question…
She glosses over it with a cynical joke and nobody finds out what she really believes in.
…It’s made all the worse by the fact that no one ever seems to get her.
I’m hoping to change that today. Having enjoyed and appreciated her unique perspective on life since my own misunderstood adolescence (or was it me who misunderstood everyone else? One of the two, whatever) I feel I can relate to her better than most. I want to get to know the real Daria beneath the sarcastic outer-demeanor.
Wish me luck…
I’ve been provided an empty art classroom in which to wait until my next interview subject arrives.
While I wait, I admire some of the art projects on display. One in particular catches my attention – it’s signatured by a ‘Jane Lane’. Impressive stuff, I think. That girl has some real talent.
A bell rings signaling the end of morning classes – here we go. I’m feeling pretty psyched about meeting a childhood idol of mine (again) but I tell myself that I need to stay in-character.
If she suspects that something is fishy and that I’m not really the therapist I say I am, she might freak out and alert the authorities. And I can’t go back to prison, man. I just can’t go through that again… not after what happened last time.
The door opens and I’m distracted from those painful memories.
Whatever she’s thinking about the prospect of meeting me (yet another therapist) she gives no hint. Her expression is one of complete apathy, as if just going through the motions. She takes a seat in front of the prepared table and our interview begins…
“Thank you for taking the time to see me today, Daria. I know how busy high school can be.”
“I’ve been busy procrastinating all day.”
“You’re rather well-known around the school for that vacant expression of yours… yes, that one. I want to ask, is there a reason you never smile?”
“I don’t like to smile unless I have a reason.”
Well, fair enough. At least she’s being honest with me.
“They say high school is supposed to be the happiest time of your life.”
“Only if your life is very short.”
Ha! As much as I get that, I have to stick to my assigned character…
“That’s a rather pessimistic thought.”
“Well you know what I always say – life sucks and then you die.”
Oh, how I can relate so well to that philosophy. It has been so tempting at times in life to live by it, but I’m not that guy anymore. Maybe I can help her find herself…
“Personally, I find it very helpful to talk to other people about my issues. Have you considered group therapy?”
“Sorry, all my support groups have a one-member limit.”
No surprises at that response, but perhaps I can give it another angle…
“I’m sensing quite a low level of self-esteem. Is everything okay?”
“I don’t have low self-esteem. I have low self-esteem for everyone else.”
Oh yeah, that’s her signature quote, damnit. I’m not doing great so far, but perhaps a shift in topic will do the trick…
“Daria, what about your goal?”
“Um… I don’t have any.”
What’s that, a high school student who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life? Impossible!
“You must have some goal!”
“My goal is to wake up at 40 with the revelation that I wasted my life in a job I hate… because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.”
Fuck! I swear my high school guidance counselor tried to pull the same shit on me. How could I be so stupid? On the other hand, maybe she’s just a tough nut to crack…
“So it’s your fears that are keeping you from achieving your dreams. Could you tell me about those, Daria?”
“My biggest fear right now is that I’ll wake up and this conversation won’t be a dream.”
I struggle to contain myself from laughing and blowing my cover – that was fucking funny!
As much as I would like to tell her how much her show meant to me as a kid, I just can’t take the risk. Instead, I tell her in the only way the premise will permit, by using another line of dialogue ripped directly from one of the episodes…
“You have a very old soul.”
“It just looks mature for its age.”
Ain’t it the truth.
“Daria, if you could give just one piece of advice to any of your classmates who might be struggling with the weight of the world, what would it be?”
“There is no aspect, no facet, no moment in life that cannot be improved with pizza.”
Can’t argue with that…