The Stepford City Council

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Ithink I’m going to write a trashy, soap opera-type novel, because there aren’t enough of them in the world already. It’s going to be called “The Stepford City Council,” based on the book “The Stepford Wives,” where all the wives in the town got replaced by perfect, Donna Reed-esque robots. Here’s a preview from the first chapter:

* * *

It was a typical day at Disneyland, except that there was a psychotic guy working there. He was Newton Fig, a 34-year-old man with an English accent so thick you could cut it with a knife, and he had been called into the office of Mickey Mass, Chairman in Charge of Audio-animatronics and Big Cheese at Disneyland…

“You wanted to see me, sir?” said the quiet, bespectacled man as he removed his hat and wiped his nose on it.

“Yes, Newton Fig. Have a seat,” said Mr. Mass benevolently, as though without that minor act of kindness, Newton Fig would have had to stand up for the rest of his life. “Newton Fig, you are a robot constructor for The Park, are you not?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you are quite adept at creating life-like androids of people, correct?”

“Well, yes,” he said, blushing, “I suppose so.”

In that soft yet ominous voice that we writers love so much because it doesn’t exist in real life, Mr. Mass said, “I’ll get right to the point. Newton Fig, we’ve been receiving complaints to the effect that robots are going around and picking people’s pockets. And yesterday, Beast, from ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ mauled a little boy to death.” He leaned forward. “Do you know anything about that?” He glared at Newton Fig.

“Yes, sir. It was rather amusing. The boy thought Beast was just hugging him, and next thing you know, SQUISH!” He chuckled softly to himself.

“Stop chuckling softly to yourself!” demanded Mr. Mass. “I mean, do you know why the robots are doing these things?” Mr. Mass was growing impatient. He was also, to the surprise of modern science, growing a third arm, but that would seem to be irrelevant here.

Newton Fig was not one to beat around the bush. Or the reagan, for that matter. “Yes, sir, I’ve been programming those robots,” he said.

Mr. Mass stood up and started to say something pertaining to the word “blithering,” which was ironic, considering Newton Fig had given up blithering months earlier, but Newton Fig stopped him. “Wait a minute, sir! How come I’m never referred to by just my first name?”

“I don’t know, Newton Fig,” Mr. Mass replied. “I imagine the writer is trying to beat some lame joke into the readers’ heads.”

“Oh. Anyway, I HAD to do it, sir! I needed the money, and this job only pays minimum wage, so I HAD to do it!!!”

“Don’t tell me — you have a wife and three kids at home…?”

“No, actually, I have this heroin addiction, and, what with inflation and all, I –”

He didn’t fully understand what was happening until his rear end impacted with the cement outside.

“Well then,” he said darkly. “I’ll show them. They’ll be sorry!!” He laughed evilly, then rubbed his hands maliciously, then belched sinisterly, as dark, evil, malicious, sinister clouds in the shape of armadillos, or perhaps elephants, gathered in the sky over his head…

* * *

Isn’t that great? I know I’D buy it.

OK, I think I can explain here. About a year earlier, I had written a serialized story like this one for the school paper, only it was "The Stepford Teachers." There was lots of Elsinore High School-specific satire, and some decent commentary, as well as the clever twists of words that get hinted at here.

Knowing a decent thing when I saw it, I wanted to re-use it in my Lake Elsinore News column, and this was the result. Obviously, this is only the exposition, and the true mayhem would come later.

An interesting thing about this column is that I don't know if it was published. I have it labeled in my computer files as being column #72, printed on 3/11/92 -- but I don't have an actual newspaper clipping of the column in my scrapbook, and I DO have every other column I ever wrote. So if it WAS published, I somehow missed cutting it out, which, as I said, never happened. But if it WASN'T published, then how come the next column after it, in my scrapbook, is labelled #73? When a column was written but not published, I didn't include it in my counting, so the next one should have been #72, and this one, for history's sake, should be #71.5. So it's a mystery, along with why I ever wrote it in the first place.

I finally saw "The Stepford Wives" in summer 1997. It was OK, but I already knew the "secret" in it, so it wasn't very suspenseful for me. The women's 1977 "fashionable" attire was amusing, though.


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