Blue Aunties

There were troubles enough in Kitty Wang’s life without her nephew Walter mooning around with a broken heart. Kitty had been making the best of things since her unexpected arrival on this backwards planet. She suffered from Chronos Syndrome, or “Billy Pilgrim’s Decease” as it is known. Kitty just becomes unstuck in time and can find herself any where, and any when. Time travel planned or otherwise wasn’t the adventure science fiction stories makes it out to be. Kitty did not have a know-it-all magic cat or some other unlikely omnipotent companion. All she had was a knack for language and a little luck. Luck for example in arriving on Planet Betty that had recently been colonized by refugees from Old Earth. “Old Earth”, that made Kitty laugh. As if there was another one and how “Old” could it be? She was there six months ago living a perfectly enjoyable life in Renaissance Venice. She was a merchant then, and traded in the books and scrolls that still trickled from the great libraries of Alexandria. Certainly a more comfortable life than farming (and there was little else to do) on this small isolated planet. At least she had Walter. They had agreed early on they must be related. Exactly how was not clear since Kitty was from both Walter’s future (twice) and his past many times over. Walter wasn’t even Asian, but never mind. According to Walter the farm was coming along slowly till his brother Alice-Jane (?) went off to be a sailor, or marry one. Walter was terrible with details.

The farm needed work of course, what farm doesn’t? Since Kitty’s arrival they had at least developed a workable plan. Out back there was half a barn full of old Agro-Droids. The UN chalky blue kind that had been around longer than forever and always turned up broken down and forlorn on doomed backward farms. Kitty didn’t take any crap from droids. She hot wired one of them and told it to repair the rest or else. The poor thing worked nonstop for a week and now they had two dozen droids keeping up with the farm work. Kitty wished Walter was a droid so she could tell him to go fix himself. Some girl with a home-made bonnet and duck tattoos smiled at him on the crawler transport out from town and he fell in love. Then her boyfriend showed up at the station. Walter was devastated beyond words. They hadn’t even spoken! Three or four shy unreturned glances and Walter was completely love sick. Maybe what Kitty really wished was that there were a few old Chinese “Aunties” around to compare horoscopes for Walter and match him up, introduce him to a girl and her family. An Auntie to act as a seemingly disinterested third party and make some thoughtful introductions. That’s what Walter needed. She didn’t know a soul here (except of course useless Walter) so she had to improvise.

Out in the barn there were still a few broken half disassembled droids. Kitty would make her own “Auntie” and see what happened. She was not a technician by any means, but these old machines were designed to be repaired and easily reprogramed with minimum knowledge and a few simple tools (a coin, a pointy stick, and a rock were usually enough). Kitty set about her task with fierce determination! She worked non-stop and as her spare parts supply had dwindled and as she became more exhausted compromises and improvisations were made. Kitty has duct-taped over the droids missing top cover, and then feeling silly hot-epoxied on a blonde curly wig to cover the tape, then added a string of plastic pearls. She decided against a tiara, but did add a “Hello, My Name Is” sticker to finish the look. Kitty wrote “Auntie Blue” on the name tag and it looked just right. After hit or miss amateur software tweaking from Kitty Auntie Blue was sent out to find Walter a girlfriend. “This better work,” thought Kitty (not daring to think too far ahead). “What if it screws up? What if it brings home another boy?” Kitty shrugged and smiled to herself at the thought, then realized it would put poor Walter right over the edge.

For the next week or so Kitty tried hard not to think about Auntie Blue, or get too curious about the little blue droid’s comings and goings. After ten days first of the young women stopped by. She had a little printed slip with directions and Walter’s name printed on it. Politely she asked if “Mr. Walter” was at home. Kitty was so happy she couldn’t even talk, just pointed to the back vegetable garden her nephew was pretending to weed. The first girl left after only a very short visit. Walter lay in the hammock till dark.

The next day brought another visitor and the day after two. Walter had no idea why these women were coming to visit and was not about to complain or ask questions. Kitty was pleased, but impatient for results! All the girls were of a type. Tall like Walter, polite and quiet like him too. “What he needs is somebody to shake things up, make him step outside himself for once. Not his clone in a dress.” grumbled Kitty to dusty and bedraggled Auntie Blue.

No visitors came the next day, or for the rest of the week. Kitty was worried. Were her instructions to Auntie Blue too vague? Were they too specific? Sunday early someone rang the front bell. Grumpily Kitty open the door. It was a girl, eighteen or maybe twenty years old with a friendly grin and two bicycles. “Hiya, my name’s Jessie Canard. Could you ask Walter if he wants to ride bikes over to the lake and go for a swim? Can he swim? Oh, never mind I’ll teach him if he can’t. Wait, almost forgot”, Jessie said as she pulled something covered with a checkered towel from her bike basket. “This is for you” As she held out a delicious smelling home made rhubarb pie Kitty noticed the ducks tattooed on her wrists. By then Walter had bounced down the stairs. He waved his arms and beaming his biggest smile all the while chattering like a monkey. Off they went, Walter pretending very hard he knew how to ride a bike.

Later with coffee and pie in the kitchen Kitty was sorting the whole thing out. She had learned quite a bit about this whole Blue Auntie business. Maybe just maybe she could forget about the damned farm and make all the droids “Aunties”. An “Uncle” or two couldn’t hurt either. She’d build one of those especially for herself (as a test only of course). She’d give him a debonair look. A statesman’s suave demeanor, and a name to match . Kitty closed her eyes and pictured him, Boutros-Boutros Boutonniere!

by-Doug Mathewson

The American Dream with Desert 2008

How we communicate our thoughts and our opinions to each other daily maters.
Lately, as I make my rounds here and there throughout our small city I have become annoyed with a new phrase in contemporary American conversation. A phrase previously unknown in our nation’s dialogue. Now it seems when a person, a white person, wishes to express displeasure, anger, sympathy, envy or anything else regarding a person of color, that person is referred to as “Obama’s cousin.”
Conversations start with “did you see the Lakers signed Obama’s cousin, ready for this?, first year – seven million dollars!”  Or overheard, “I went to pay for my gas and buy my lottery ticket, and there was Obama’s cousin in front of me counting out quarters and dimes to see if he had enough for the extra giant size Grape Slurppie.” Even “I work with this guy, totally Obama’s cousin, cool guy. You’d really like him. He’s been collecting cars for years! You wouldn’t believe some of the cars he has”
Racism is nothing new, neither is political humor, but it is the phrase. The phrase is new.  People seem to disregard the fact that Mr. Obama is of mixed racial heritage. By extension of the logic that make people of color Mr. Obama’s relatives, all white people are his potential relatives as well. I am just as likely to be related to the President as any of his new “cousins.” That would be just fine with me. I would like to be Barack cousin.
I wouldn’t care about VIP tours of the white house, limo rides, a photo-op with their new dog, or any of that. What I would like is to see Barack’s girls with my grandkids, to listen to their voices blend as they played. I would smile to myself to hear Michelle Obama and my wife having a good laugh together at their husband’s expense. It is easy to picture my new cousins fitting in at family picnics. We all talk constantly in our family. Conversation only slows when we have our mouths full. Even then we’re still not quiet, just talking less.
Pushing back from the big picnic table we’ve always had out back I would say to The President, “Barack, I’m going back for another hot-dog and some of that potato salad. While I’m up, can I get you anything?” Barack  would smile at me and  with a small shake of his head (wipe a smidgen of mustard from the corner of his mouth and say, “No thanks, I’m saving room for some of that strawberry shortcake your wife made.”  Smart to plan ahead. I like that in a person. I like that in a leader as well. The Obamas would fit into my family just fine. They might just turn out to be my favorite cousins of all.

by-Doug Mathewson

uppauassunclesam (working title)

Social Security office, poor kid behind the desk
explains that for full benefits I should work till age 92.
Work till I’m dead and not collect a dime?
I don’t think so, can’t see the point.
Count on me till my double Jesus year,
and not so much as minute longer.
Up yours, Uncle Sam.