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....



(Episode 7)

The Rantbabies PAC is meeting in Mabel Small's kitchen. They have torn through their cakes and the octuplets at the same time, deciding that the treats were scrumpdillyicious and the mother and her fertility doctor criminal. After all, everyone knows that multiple births carry more risks that the babies--if they survive--will have lifelong handicaps or medical issues, and what ethical person would bring new life into the world with those risks?

They clear off the table and turn their attention to more serious matters.

"I simply don't know what to do about my fingernails, ever since Myrna closed the Hands & Feet Spa."

"I feel for you. This economy is hard on everyone. We have to just smile and bear it."

"Well, we can look forward to worse to come. It's clear President Omaba has absolutely no idea what he's doing. He's only been in office three weeks, and already he's been forced to admit to how many mistakes? Eight years, and President Shrub never had to admit to a single error in judgment."

Rachelle says, "That'll make it a lot easier to beat him in 2012. It won't be long before even his own supporters get the wool pulled off their eyes, and realize Omaba couldn't run a coffee stand, much less a country. All we need now is a good candidate to draw the party together. It's too bad we have such a dearth of leadership right now."

"What's a dearth, anyway? Is that like a liquid measure or solid?"

"I think it's either one-half of a decipol, or else two-thirds of a maxwell. But don't quote me on that."

Nancy is naive about political matters. "Isn't it a little early to worry about 2012?

Rachelle, who holds public office, is the experienced one, the one they all look to for reliable information. She is on her second term as PTA president, which probably wouldn't be the case if she had been properly vetted. She does not plan to stay with the PTA forever, of course; it's only a stepping stone to higher office. She has laid her plans carefully. If the truth about her past comes out, she will eschew politics and write a book, maybe go on the talk show circuit. For now, she speaks with the authority of all her political experience: "Never too early to start looking for the next president."

"I wonder how you would find one?

"I have an idea. What about E-way? You can find anything on there."

"What a great idea! Once I needed a feather from the extinct Rainbow-colored West Aphrica Crested Bobobird to complete an ensemble. I couldn't find it in any of the local shops, so I went on E-way and no problem! They had sixteen for sale at one time!"

Everyone agrees it is worth a try, so Mabel fetches the laptop.

Mabel expertly pulls up the E-way screen. She scrolls through the categories until they find the one they are looking for.

to be continued...



Continued from Chapter 26 (which was continued from Chapter 25):

The girls have gathered around Mabel and the laptop computer. They are searching E-way for someone who can lead their party to victory in 2012.

"Click on that one."

"Hallelujah! This one sounds perfect. The answer to our prayers."

"We'd better jump right on it."

And so it was that Rantbabies found their leader and went on to form the Cindersara Political Action Committee. Along the way they exchanged tips on hairdressers and shoe stores. Everyone might have lived happily ever after, were it not for....

"Jeff! Wake up!"

"Huh? Whudithit? Fire?"

"I just had the most awful dream...a horrible nightmare."

"Is that all? Forget it and go back to sleep."

"I can't. It's vivid in my mind."

"Oh, all right. {sigh} What about?" Jeff is the kindest of plastic men and will tolerate even interrupted sleep to bring comfort to his wife, no matter how neurotic her concerns.

"I dreamed that I was back in school, and the teacher was lecturing...

As usual I was thinking about the weekend parties, doodling in my notebook, when she said something that struck a cord."

"The chances of a mother aged 44 having a child with a chromosomal abnormality is 1 in 24. At present, it will cost approximately $825,000.00 to educate such a child in the Laska public school system over thirteen years. The additional costs of providing for that child throughout his or her lifetime may be in the millions."

"That doesn't seem like anything to get worried about. It happens."

But you don't understand! The girls and I were just raking that poor woman who had eight babies over the coals. And the chances that her six implanted embryos would result in octuplets was way way less than 1 in 24! But the woman we chose to lead us into the promised land was willing to take the 1-in-24 roll of the dice. So how can we attack the one and make a role model of the other? "

"It sounds like you just learned something about life. That's all."

"That's all ????!!!!! My entire life, my existence, is based upon the idea that the world is divided into Us and Them. Us are good, the Chosen People. Right? Right??? Them are the Unchosen, the bad. I've even studied the Us-ness Rule Book. I can quote Rule #1 by heart: 'If any of Us do what we condemn in any of Them we overlook it, and if that's not possible, we circle the wagons and perform the forgiveness rite, absolving our own of any lingering taint of Themness.' "

"But now...now...a tiny doubt has penetrated the armor of my Self-Righteousness. Is it possible the Moral Majority isn't all that moral? Is it possible that the Us are not the chosen people?"

Poor Mabel! She feels, most certainly, like the little Dutch Boy with his finger guarding the hole in the dike. Such a tiny hole and yet tons of impatient water seeking to rush through it, all at once, sweeping her and the dike away together. Those people-- in all the worlds, big and small--who have ever been in her position can surely sympathize with her moral agony.

But Jeff has already thought through these issues and is prepared to provide some guidance.

"Everybody is chosen, Mabel. "

"How can that be?"

"Everyone has some purpose."

"Even the Rockies? The very worst of the Thems? They tried to hurt you."

"We invaded their country."

"But only to bring Them democracy. They should be grateful to us."

"And some of them are. But nobody likes somebody else coming into their house, no matter how dysfunctional it is, and telling them how to live."

"So what purpose do the Rockies have?"

"In the big scheme of things? Not for me to say. But I do know they've served to highlight many of our internal policy weaknesses--and forced us to think (once again) about our nation's position in the world: are we a role model for democracy and morality, or simply another heavy who spreads his opinions and influence with a closed fist?

"As for me personally, the Rockies and the War have reminded me of what is most important: my home, my family, my country--my life. I appreciate these things as I never did before."

"That's so sweet."

"Go to sleep now. We'll talk more in the morning."

But of course Mabel cannot sleep, for when your world shakes, it takes a long time for the rocking to stop. New questions run relentlessly through her mind:"What if...what if manipulation isn't a virtue?"

"What if...what if...admitting you made a mistake and saying you're sorry isn't a sign of weakness -- but of greatness?"

"What if the oval office isn't sacred, and the president isn't a god? What if he's just made of plastic, like everyone else? What if we don't exist to serve him, but he is there to serve us?

"What would the world possibly be like then?"