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A Small Medium at Large

Dora: Dateline, holiday interviews 2038- Part III  

Well, it’s a fine winter’s morning in Dora where I’m interviewing patrons at Roy’s Store, a venerable establishment that’s jam-packed for their “First Hundred Years” legacy bash.  Live music’s playing and it’s got a good earfeel to it.  Just now the cheerleading squad’s come blasting through the front door with the Falcon B-ball team trailing close behind, binge-watching. 

I’m Old Generation, a “living fossil” as the youngsters say.   Also, a crack reporter whose job’s to deliver the news “faster and more accurately” before it happens, so that Herald subscribers can “stay ahead in today’s world by knowing what’s gonna happen in tomorrow’s.”  Just now, management’s come in and says to “move this crowd to the dining room.”  In spite of this cheesy interruption, I remain in firm command of the “journalistic tone” by shouting “This way!”  Then, everybody totally ignores me and says and does exactly what they please. 

“So where’re you from?”  I’m asking Amelia, a teenage organic aspirin peddler from the Upper Big Piney watershed.  She’s clothed in a matching llama wool sweater and stole (very expensive) and confides that she’s descended from one of “Old Missouri’s” last lawmaker$ to be reelected from his jail cell.  Her mother Nan, and traveling companions Carol and Kat, look on approvingly.

“I was born” Amelia says, “after the glitch in the Matrix.  Entire cities were reduced to ash.   Also, they tell me, the nation’s capitol and all our politicians vanished in a battlefield hell-scape – a small price to pay for lasting peace.”

And cut.  Decorum demands that we pause for a moment of silence lest the bye-gone victims of political correctness be forgotten.  But you just know somewhere, there’s now someone objecting:  “But . . . Agenda 21 was so massively inefficient!  Just like every taxpayer-funded, bureaucrat-conceived extinction program!”  So, I’m, like asking:   Is human survival really news?  Nah.  Time to try another angle:  

“You never got to take a selfie?”  

“I’m offended, yes.  I’ve been dropped into the real world and had to be, like, adjusted to a different frame of reference.”   Boy, howdy!  When I was her age, viewing ads on ‘websites’ created some 40% of my generation’s contribution to the economy.  Her mother shoots me a non-supportive vibe.  I start over:

“Look at Dora’s honest-to-God coffee!  It’s got an Ice House and horse culture!  The best!   Some say they’ll someday use wires to communicate from house to house.  Any indications, Amelia, that you’ll replicate this success in the Pines?”

“So, like a lot of people, we live off-grid.  Mom and dad totally saw it coming.  I-me-minePhones were, like, exempt from homeschool reality.  And absolutely nobody wants electron abusers coming back into our basin!  The Pines totally rock because we’re divorced from everything that’s random and, like, fails.”

“There’re no horses to speak of” she adds passionately, “because Urban Freakers totally ate them.  It’s so historically definitive. Besides, a Caboolian coffee roaster called Steaming Hotties will be opening this spring and no matter what, the chocolate always gets through.  So, all-in-all, we’re good.  Just sayin’.”   

Her table fist-pumps the air in unison:  It’s good to have your people behind you.

Crowd reporting is problematic, see.  Older readers want things tied up in bows, want their beliefs about reality reinforced.  But Amelia insists that I, as a reporter, “must overcome the feeling that I occupy a time and space unique to myself, that I have thoughts and secrets known only to me.“  That was surely the core illusion, back in the day.  Yet, because today’s kids have a greater capacity to trust, they can experience a state of unity that completely shatters this illusion.  The demand for ending the perennial root of our suffering is compelling, and I tell her so.   

Newsmen, of course, need no apocalyptic theories to explain humanity’s separation from the rhythms of life.  Firsthand observation shows that most difficulties come straight from the nitty-gritty selfishness of our own ongoing activities. The answer to why we perceive that we are separate beings, and thus we compete and consume, cuts to the heart of what we mean by “community.”

“The llama-look has a vintage grunge feel to it and is extremely neo-feminine,” I remark politely.  “Trés-chic.  Foam green with poke weed purple?”

“The two colors work together well and, they say, heal zombie bites.” She sucks in her cheeks thoughtfully, and then adds “It’s all about processing the fibers really carefully, wearing your clothes confidently, and then completely forgetting about them in public. I have to dress for the weather, sure- but at the same time go just a bit over the top.  Plus, I make a quality living selling the poop.”

Aha!  That explains the top pocket affluence.  Amelia, as an entrepoopreneur, gets a veritable symphony of potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous from one quart of poop mixed with about 20 gallons of water.  It’s non-burn garden gold.  In today’s eclectic Ozark Free State, it pays handsomely to abbot a reputable llamissary.  Downside: selling folks on the virtues of organic llama manure, often called ‘llama beans’ often comes across like a religion.

“But,” she wants to make clear, “restoring earthworms and botanicals to fields poisoned by chemical wormers takes years and years.  It’s my passion and I’m certified organic legit.  Nothing’s failed, not like the giant radioactive beetles.”  

This is incredibly moving and dazzling stuff, but here’s the reality:  I’ve braved the overnight stage all the way from Ava to get me some legacy news.  

“Good intra-watershed relations can fizzle over time,” I venture, “especially when complex deals flounder, or there’s crazy trade boundaries, weights and measures, and tariffs- that sort of thing.  The Lower Gasconade’s still glowing, and I understand that seriously complicates the equestrian picture in your valley.”  

Amelia frowns:  “I didn’t get a pony ‘till I was ten.  I saw my first horses in a convoy of bone wagons working the Springfield Trace.  Dad’s a lifetime volunteer on the memorial detail.  For me, though, it’s just ‘bye Felicia’ all the way.   But,” she adds, “this entire topic just harshes my mellow.”

Translation:  She means that nothing should ever disturb one’s inner peace.  Our peace should not be lost though heaven and earth pass away, or even if we sustain a statistically random collection of small civilization-ending events.  

Parent-over-shoulder (POS) Nan says:  “Women’s culture of food-sharing remains the bedrock foundation for our local lifestyle.  A gender-differentiated monetary system’s proved itself to be the best basis for all those who find women’s perspectives on life both sane and redemptive.  And this means half-ownership of the total food supply system – guts, feathers and all!” 

Wanting to be supportive, I add:  “Altruism’s the rightful basis for the female-designed money system everyone’s talking about.  Economic halfsies rules!  Men are just sayin’ ‘go slow,’ that leveraging the economic instruments of biological equality is fine in theory, but commerce must remain subsidiary to the greater aims of restoring net biological balance to the Ozarks, especially in ironing out trans-basin differences.”

Carol responds:  “OK, fine.  I get it.  But why should women build on dominating nature through so-called science and technology?  Who wants to ‘catch up’ to men in exploitative pursuits and relationships?’  You’re asking about wires?  We just put care-taking on equal financial footing with everything else!  Have you?   Waking up from the illusion of separateness, still the habitual human condition in too many places, defines the ongoing crisis in world consciousness.”

The she adds by way of parting:  “History-studying’s such a messed up and corrupt topic, is just so gendered and outdated.  I don’t see the point of causing panic attacks by abusing young people with conflicting economic viewpoints.” 

Men are not evil by nature, I’m thinking, just narrowly focused.  No one is born with an innate intention to harm others, or the environment.  We simply wrought havoc without having the slightest idea of what’s going on. The exploitation of nature for profit, and of spirituality itself, needed to end and it did. Men can’t be happy if already busy as the degenerative agents of planet-wide extinction. But in today’s world, we’ve faced up to our pervasive un-intentionality, and dealt with it. 

The cheerleaders giggle in my general direction. They probably suspect that I’ve got a closet full of participation trophies. More tragically, I also bought into deceptively simple core simulator games, all the better to master the survival skills I’d need to surf the apocalypse. A quick glance indicates there’s a lot of underdeveloped dialogue in my interview notes but, in these linguistically transitional times, and deadlines, a writer must often give way for approximation. 

I put down my pen, out of questions.  Reflections of hand-made coffee cups move up and down in nearby windows. There’s something beautiful here that doesn’t fit easily into words. I throw a crisp $20 Rainbow onto the table, my assignment in Dora’s now complete.  From outside comes a faint whiff of fresh baked bread.