Changes Are Coming in 2085, the Senator Says
It was the first time that senators had been asked to go home and address parent-teacher meetings at all the middle schools in their states. Each had been given a sheet of talking points to make the task easier. But Senator Stumpf found the task difficult inasmuch as he would have to speak at half the middle schools in his state while the other senator from his state addressed the other half. Both had to do their best to explain an executive order signed by the president on Labor Day, 2085. It would result in major changes in how people live.
Senator Stumpf chose to arrange his first middle school meeting in a small town in the rural part of his state. He thought that might be a good place to explain how wonderful this new program was. More than 300 parents were sitting in the gymnasium when he took the podium. Most of them were farmers, and they had worked hard that day.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Senator Stumpf began. “I am here to brief you on a new program that will take effect in all middle schools beginning this term. It’s the happy result of an executive order just signed by our president. Additional details will be passed out later by your school principal.”
So far so good, the senator thought. He took a sip of water, looked over the crowd and continued.
“Now that the 2014 Common Core educational program has kicked in and students everywhere are doing better in school, we are going to begin this year a new approach to preventing unwanted pregnancies in all middle schools. The benefits of this program will continue on into high school, college and even after that. In fact, once in place, this program will make certain there is never again an unwanted pregnancy in our great nation.”
Some of the parents in the audience shuffled in their seats. This was a small town in the middle of a farm belt and unwanted pregnancies were not a topic of conversation. They happened, of course, but when they did, no problem. They could be taken care of free, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
The senator noticed more shuffling in the audience but after taking another sip of water, he continued.
“This new approach will be far more effective than our current programs in sex education because we are still faced from time to time by unwanted pregnancies despite the national distribution of free condoms and other contraceptives as well as coast-to-coast access to no-cost abortion. What a great country we live in!
“Here’s how the new program will work, according to the new executive order:
“At puberty all adolescents will receive mandatory free vasectomies and tubal ligations, after which conception will occur only in petri dishes. This will be made possible by using the many banks of ova and semen donated by the best and the brightest adults from past generations. Previous presidents, senators and representatives are among the donors. We have these banks all over the nation now. Although we can’t see them, they are as common as silos in this part of our state. Your generation, we hope, will be the last one to have to reproduce the old-fashioned way.”
There was mumbling now among the people in the seats. Many of them had enjoyed and saw no fault with reproducing the old-fashioned way.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am also happy to report that all donors to the Ova and Semen Bank Program will receive tax breaks for the rest of their natural lives as well as an extra week’s vacation each year. Of course, as farmers you don’t get any vacation, except maybe a few lighter days during the winter.
“And as an additional incentive to participate, should any of you in your senior years grow weary of life with the many illnesses that come with old age, you will not be charged anything should you choose to participate in our National Euthanasia Program. Just walk into your local People’s Exit Zone–or have someone roll your gurney in–and you will be promptly taken care of. Your designated power-of-attorney will be able to pick up your ashes the next day. No charge. And you will be comfortable in a very nice urn. I showed one to my aunt and she was pleased to see where she was going. She didn’t want to be a burden to us in her rust-belt years.”
Senator Stumpf had a big selling job ahead of him. Since 2035, the National Euthanasia Program had been available in every state, but not one person in this community had ever applied for its benefits. Sick people still lived at home with family members or in one of two nursing homes on the outskirts of town. Most folks were still buried in the town cemetery although some of the ecologically concerned sometimes chose cremation.
The mumbling in the audience had begun to grow louder now and Senator Stumpf could not help but notice it. He nevertheless went on to explain the program as best he could. So far it had proven to be one of the toughest speeches he had ever given.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the president has promised that once this program is in effect, several advantages will be noticed immediately, especially by future generations of our young ladies. They will never again suffer from morning sickness or waddle around with protruding stomachs or have to wear unattractive maternity wear.
“What’s more, they will no longer have to spend nine months pregnant. Every conception will occur in an approved petri dish and gestation will take place in one of the millions of new brooders designed for human fetuses. They are being manufactured now in a small town in Belarus. We’re not talking here about one of the brooders used for poultry on your farms. These are top of the line appliances that will fit right next to your microwave at home.
“And marriage from now on will become optional. Since women will no longer be able to get pregnant, there will be one less reason to get married. A man and woman will be able to spend as much time together as they want but they won’t have to spend years together rearing children. Adults will be free to do what they want when they want. What could be better than that?”
The mumbling in the audience had now grown to outright grumbling. One man in the back row stood up and hollered, “Go back to Washington, you doofus. What do you take us for? Hicks? Whoever heard of such a thing?”
There was no more water in Senator Stumpf’s glass so he decided he’d hurry up and give the last few talking points and leave. He was glad now that he had parked his BMW in the back. This could turn out to be a rough crowd.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, one final note in closing: The terms ‘father’ and ‘mother’ will be eliminated from the vocabulary in our country once the new program is in place. Technically, there will be no more fathers and mothers–just donors, petri dishes and brooders. It will make life simpler not having to wonder who’s your daddy as they used to say back in 2014.
“Parents will no longer be necessary. Children will be reared in community nurseries and later in adolescent homes staffed by specially trained people recruited from the long-term unemployed. New jobs by the millions will be created. And as a nation, we will finally have complete control over population growth. Don’t believe that bunk that there’s still lots of room in Wyoming. Maybe if you’re a bison you’d want to live in Wyoming.
“In closing, I’d like to remind you, as our president reminded all of us senators when giving us this assignment, in our great nation all things are possible when in Democracy we trust.”
The Senator had finished now and was headed toward the back door when two huge men in bib overalls and John Deere caps grabbed him by the back of his suit coat and led him into the Men’s Room for a consultation with his constituents. The senator’s hair got tousled in the process.
When the noise coming from the Men’s Room reached a crescendo, the others in the audience quietly rose from their folding chairs and proceeded to walk out to the lobby, single file, and then silently into the night. There seemed to be an Amish solemnity to their deportment. Some of them couldn’t remember voting for this senator. But they knew he was in good hands now. Butch and Bubba would be able to explain the facts of life to him.
Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum and The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Since 2007 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 160 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn.