Chapter 25


Time in Plasticopia has spurted forward. An old president has gone and a fresh new one has taken his place. Many things have happened in the lives of our little people, but we'll get to that.At the moment, Mabel is entertaining the inner core of the Laskan RANTBABIES (Real Anglo-Saxon Mericans Needing to Take Back All of Merica Before It's Entirely Screwed-Up) Political Action Committe in her country kitchen.

The RANTBABIES are very troubled by the defeat of their favorite candidates in recent elections and the certain result: the destruction of the moral fiber of the nation, the socialism-izing of Merica, and the loss of cheap petroleum-based byproducts. Their greatest fear is that the new administration might be successful in ending the war in a Rock, stabilizing the economy and restoring Merica's credibility in the world, thus lulling citizens into a false sense of trust in the reigning political party.

The RANTBABIES are a social group, as well as a political club. It is a requirement for admittance that one be a card-carrying member of the Moral Majority, a vast and sometwhat loosely-organized segment of the population, known for their church-going ways and their televangalists and their quality hairdressers.

Andrea is a charter member, whose favorite expression is "Smile! It can't be that bad." She spreads her brand of cheer around to friends and strangers alike, enjoining them all to turn up the corners of their lips. She once got smacked in a grocery store--totally out of the blue and without justifiable provocation--by a frowning woman who had just learned her husband of thirty years had terminal cancer and that the couple owed $152,000 and some change in back taxes. Andrea sued the woman and now they're embroiled in an epic legal battle, referred to in the local newspapers as the Happy Face Case.

Rachelle has a checkered past. (Her choice of jacket is totally subconscious.) She spent three years in her youth as a pole dancer, weaving her way among a series of well-heeled suitors with spare tires and bad breath who were particularly drawn in by her winsome and disreputable ways. In time she realized that she needed a retirement plan, so she traded in the thrilling life of a dancer for the more sedate one of a doctor's wife. Naturally versatile, she handles the check book, car pools and her PTA presidency with equal competence. None of the girls know about her past. Neither does her husband, as she has seen no reason to bother anyone in her present life with minor details from her last.

Nancy is the sweet one. She is so mild-mannered, thoughtful and charming that no one could possibly suspect she has a terrible temper, which she only displays to her intimates -- that is to say, her husband and her small children. Her husband defers to her every whim and her children are extremely well mannered. She keeps a little bottle in her scarf drawer for when she needs to take the edge off, which helps, although sometimes it makes her forget to prepare dinner or to brake for stop signs.

Beth prides herself on her insight into complex matters of the human psyche. She has an opinion about everything and everybody, and once she voices it, that opinion solidifies to the durability of granite. One might as well attempt to change the course of the sun as alter her opinion on any matter. Beth is good with numbers and manages the books for her husband's business, finding creative ways to hide income from the snooping gaze of Big Brother, (sometimes known as Eye'RUs).
And of course we already know Mabel, whose purpose in life is to see that her hairdresser does not go broke, that everyone within her reach has enough carbs in their diets and that dust bunnies are relegated to the endangered species list. She has not confessed to the gang that her husband voted for the enemy, for fear they will eject her from the circle. She herself stayed away from the polls to avoid conflict with either camp.

The RANTBABIES always start every meeting with a little discussion of current events.

Beth, as usual, has no trouble finding a topic. "So what do you ladies think about this woman down south having eight babies at once? Is that outrageous or what?"

"And I heard she already has six kids at home under the age of seven. Well, look on the bright side, she'll probably be too busy to have any more."

"I'm sure all of those children are just as sweet as can be. It's not their fault they have a flake for a mother. Of course, I do wonder, just because someone has to--who's going to pay to raise all those kids?"

"J.Q. Public, that's who. You and me. That's what happens in a socialist society. Irresponsible people like this cost us all."

"My husband says the whole thing is criminal. Both her and her fertility doctors were totally reckless and immoral."

"There oughta be a law."

"Well, I for one am tired of having to pay for other people's mistakes. I work hard to spend my husband's hard-earned cash. I heard the hospital bills alone may amount to $800,000, and you know a single mother without a job isn't going to be the one to pay it!"

Margaret, passing through the kitchen, has heard the whole conversation.

"I can't believe you people. We've been fighting a senseless war started by a dishonest president for the last five years, costing J.Q.Public 700 billion dollars, not to mention 95,236 Rocky lives and 4,200 Merican lives; we're pouring up to a trillion dollars into businesses that paid their employees $18 billion dollars in bonuses while they were holding their hands out for taxpayer money to spare them the effects of their own greed; the cost of unemployment has skyrocketed, the taxpayer is subsidizing thousands of mortgages taken out by citizens who bought above their means -- and you're worried about the cost of raising eight babies????"

All the RANTBABIES turn their attention to Margaret. "Well, yes, dear," Mabel says.

"I don't get it. What am I missing here?"

"It's simple. Our little brains can't comprehend a billion dollars, much less a trillion. It might as well be a quadrillion bazillion."

"But we do understand the cost of raising children, and so we can be sanctimonious and indulge in harsh criticism about the parenting choices of others."

"Yes, and we want to make sure every other unmarried woman doesn't get the idea she can go around having eight babies at a time and living high on the hog forever after, collecting free diapers and binkies and college funds and who knows what all."

"Oh, well, in that case. Carry on. I've got to get to class."

to be continued....

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