Sunday, April 29, 2012


Since the dissolution of our local writing group I have been searching for a source of prompts and deadlines to inspire me to write. I stumbled upon this site, which seems to be exactly what I am looking for. The first prompt I responded to was this visual prompt with the following flash fiction piece.

Jenny was excited as she climbed into her sleeping compartment. Tomorrow was Chreaster. Gramps had told her that years ago, when he was her age, Easter and Christmas were separate holidays. That was before Happleburton, who owned the space station that she lived on, had decided (in fairness) to allow only one holiday for each religion. She was glad her family was not Scientologists. She disliked Dienetics Day. She could never quite understand what she was supposed to do. It seemed people just sat around and thought. Boring.

But tomorrow was Jenny's favorite day of the year, even better than Hallowiccan. She would participate in the mandatory Cheaster egg hunt and present issue, but the most beloved thing about Chreaster was that gramps would be released for the day. She loved to hear his stories of when he was a child and there were real eggs, and they were hid outside, and people could actually eat them after the hunt was over. She could not imagine what outside was like. She was 9 years old and had never been anywhere but her family's cubicle on this drilling platform. She should feel fortunate, her mom repeatedly told her, that their family had won one of the Powerball jackpots and was allowed to leave earth just in time..........before the Great Cleansing of 2110.

Jenny was born a year later, on this station. Jenny hated only seeing gramps once a year, but he, as all people too old to work and refusing programming, was isolated from the general population. She would not even see him on Chreaster, except her dad had died during a drilling accident when she was 6, and each child was allowed an entire family unit on their holiday. Their keeper wrongly assumed that Jenny was far enough along in her indoctrination that she would discount the ramblings of a crazy old man.

She listened intently to gramps' stories of the wonders of a planet she would never set foot on. Jenny was sure that gramps was prone to exaggerated and people of earth had not actually owned houses, farms, and businesses. There was no mention of such things in the history books she read at school on level 5. She once asked her teacher, Mrs. Kardashian, about the history prior to 2110. The teacher turned pale, started to reply, looked up at the monitors, and abruptly changed the subject. The next day she had a different teacher, so she never broached the subject again.

She did believe that though somewhat embellished, gramps' memories were real. Jenny awoke very early from a fitful sleep filled with dreams of blue skies, fresh air, and football. Gramps had told her that the three favorite things from his youth were motorcycles, football, and bacon. All had been banned many years ago, as they were deemed too dangerous. He would regale her of the exploits of his favorite football player, Tim Tebow III, and his description of bacon could nearly conjure up an aroma Jenny had never experienced.

As Jenny stepped out of the decontamination shower and dried off, she could not contain her joy. She skipped into the family eating chamber and it was exactly as she expected. There was her mom, gramps, and their always present, silent, handler. On the small dining room table, on colorful cellophane grass sat the egg that her mom would later hide on the community deck for her to find.

Each child was allowed one synthetic egg. It was the same damned egg as last year and the year before. She knew that because the binary code on the egg was the same one tattooed on her forearm. Corporate had determined that allowing a child to find as many eggs as their abilities allowed would leave some children with no eggs. That disappointment was deemed unnecessary and counterproductive to indoctrination. So, the one child, one egg, system was implemented. If a child picked up an egg that contained another child's binary code, that child would receive a powerful electric shock, causing them to immediately drop the egg. As a result, the egg hunt was a very deliberate affair.

Once each child had found their egg, they could redeem it from Santa Claus for a present. All presents were age appropriate and androgynous. It was decided by corporate that gender nonspecific items avoided conflict aided in the indoctrination process. Corporate psychological studies revealed that selection of gender was best delayed until late adolescence thereby causing less confusion and emotional turmoil among the children during the programming. Jenny was always disappointed with the gift, but did not voice any discontent in front of the keeper. Gramps had taught her well. No matter how crappy the present was it was infinitely better than the dreidel the Jewish kids received every year for Rosh Hashanukkah. And all Jenny really cared about was seeing gramps and learning about life before the Great Cleansing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lee Elder - You Are Welcome, Tiger Woods - 4/9/2012

Today I participated as a volunteer in a charity golf event. As a course marshal I had the opportunity to meet a lot of celebrities, quasi-celebrities, wannabe-celebrities and golf professionals. By and large the experience was enjoyable and a very rewarding experience. There was one moment that stood out to me and left an impression.

I met a golf professional named Lee Elder. Unless you are a fan of professional golf you have probably not heard of this man. He only won 4 PGA events in his career. Today he did not play nearly as well as most of his fellow professionals. His team did not win today's event.

Lee Elder is a 77 year old black man. Though you would never know it by looking at him. Not the black part. That is readily evident. You would never guess he is 77 years old. He is fit, strong, and still swings pretty fluidly.

Without Lee Elder, there would have been no Tiger Woods. Lee was the first black man to play in the Masters. He entered in 1975 amid death threats, heckling, and hate. Golf is a tough enough game to play at that level without being distracted by overt hostility. Today's pros are distracted by the click of a camera. This man endured things being thrown at him in his backswing.

In 1979, he became the first black man to represent the United States in the Ryder Cup. Again, those not familiar with golf will not appreciate the significance of this honor. Suffice to say, Lee was one of the top 12 golfers in America that year. And he proudly represented a country in which he was not awarded all the privileges of full citizenship.

I do not have a very elaborate belief system but I think we should celebrate the accomplishments of a man, not his color or lack of it. And every man should have the opportunity to go as far in life as his talents allow, regardless of pigmentation. Sports are microcosms of society in general. At the same time Lee Elder was struggling to make a career as a golf pro, others were denied access to the pursuit of their dreams because of bigotry and racism.

As a Caucasian, I do not profess even a rudimentary understanding of the barriers that Mr. Elder overcame, I can only voice my respect and admiration and what a thrill it was to meet him.