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Home or Club?

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright July 2017

To: Version One ... Version Two

Seeing Jenny

"Oh man! Oh man! I want to see more of her!"

Jimmy is staring at Jenny. He has just come in the room, sat down, and started looking around at the other members of the speaking club. First meeting for him. Most look generic -- a mix of old and young, male and female -- but Jenny! She is the best in the room, and best of the week, by far!

He keeps looking at her while the chairman calls the meeting to order. She doesn't return his looks, she pays attention to the meeting.

"Who is she?" he says silently to Amber-642, his cyber muse, using his internal communicator.

"She is Jenny." Amber replies through the communicator.

"Any videos of her... naked videos?" he says, hopefully.

"Silly boy! But, I'll check." after a pause, "No naked ones, but some vacation videos. She is bicycling around the Bahamas."

"Let's see!"

"After the meeting." she says in a motherly way.

Jimmy sighs and starts paying attention to the meeting.

This is a meeting of a local public speaking club, the members come to learn and then practice their public speaking skills. Jimmy is thinking of maybe saving the world, some day, in some way. Amber has advised him that learning to speak well to large groups will be a handy tool.

This is the year 2050 and Jimmy has finally graduated from Obama High. He was in no rush, his computer games were keeping him happy, but his parents and Amber kept pushing him to finish his school program.

Now he is real happy he did. He wouldn't be in this speaking club if he hadn't, and if he hadn't come to the club he wouldn't have seen Jenny.

She is tall and slim. She is in her mid-twenties, well, maybe late twenties, but she has the legs of a slim teenager and the rest of her figure matches. Her dark hair reaches to her shoulders, and her eyes are set deeply into a face with fine smooth skin.

"She's a ten... maybe an eleven!" in Jimmy's eyes. And now he's feeling like he really wants to pay attention to what this club is about. If Jenny is interested, he's interested.

Research Time

When the meeting ends he and the others walk outside to go home. There he watches Jenny ride away on her bicycle. She does so with full competence, she clearly uses it a lot.

After watching her ride off he hoofs it to his home. He lives five blocks away in a high rise. The elevator knows his floor so he just walks in when the door opens and takes it to the seventh floor. Likewise, his apartment door knows him so it opens when he turns the door knob. Inside is his parent's family-size apartment, he still lives with them. The apartment is "smart" -- loaded with electronics of all sorts -- and so is his room. There most of the electronics keep him entertained -- he loves his games. He plops in his chair, and fires up his computer screen.

"Continue your game?" asks Amber. She is on the computer display and she looks like a beautiful fantasy woman. Jimmy has been designing and redesigning her for years, and he is proud of how she looks. Some day he may get a real-world her -- a robot or an android -- but that takes more luxury money than he now has.

"Not yet, first show me what you can about Jenny." he says.

Now Amber shows him the Bahamas video and Jenny's public bio.

She is twenty six. She has graduated from an on-line university with a Bachelor degree in General Nursing. She works! She works at a clinic that is about twenty blocks away.

That discovered, Jimmy goes back to his gaming for a while, then calls it a day.

Jimmy dreams about Jenny. All the next day he thinks hard about how to impress her. And he comes up with a hot idea!

It is so hot tells it to his parents at dinner.

It's Time

"It's time." he announces to his parents at dinner.

"Time for what?" his father says as he keeps eating.

"Having a baby and raising it." both Mom and Dad stop eating and look at him.

"Think of it as a job. I've researched, and the government will give me a steady paycheck to do this."

After a pause Mom says, "It's a lot of work, you know."

"It's not that bad. The government will provide a diaper changer."

"Who is doing the breastfeeding?" chuckles Dad. Jimmy and Mom both stare wide-eyed at him a moment, then grin and join in the chuckling.

"Where are you going to raise it?"

"I'm researching baby clubs right now."

Mom and Dad look at each other, then Mom says, "You can raise it here, if you want to. We'd love to have some tender young footsteps around the house again.

Just so you know: if you were to leave, we'd seriously consider moving to a smaller place." she looks around, "This becomes a pretty big empty nest."

This offer surprises Jimmy, "I'll keep that in mind." And the conversation moves on to other topics.

Visiting a baby club

Jimmy does his on-line research with Amber helping out. Wow! There are lots of choices all over the city, and six are nearby. He looks at the features and benefits they describe in their web sites and VR presentations. Lots of interesting choices, lots of variety in the residents, the facilities, and the assistance programs offered. Now it's time for a real-world visit. He picks LaLaLand Nursery. It has a mix of male and female mothers... er, care givers, offers good protection for the kids, and good courses on raising them to club members. It is ten blocks away, he bikes there.

At LaLaLand he meets Abigail Gartner, a woman of medium build in her 50's. Her fashion -- dress, makeup and tattoos -- are all conventional and conservative.

"I am the director." she says, looks him over a moment and continues, "You're interested in becoming a young father?"

"Yeah." says Jimmy. He has also dressed conservatively... for a teenage boy -- his "conservative" looks nothing like Abigail's "conservative".

"You've seen our VR presentation?"

"Yeah."

"Any questions?"

"No. I just want to see this place."

After a pause, Abigail says, "OK." and takes him on a tour.

The club is a five story apartment complex built around a courtyard. The courtyard is half-filled with playground equipment for the kids and half-filled with park equipment and a swimming pool for the adults. It is about five o'clock and there are kids, adults, and cyber muses scattered all through the courtyard. Jimmy and Abigail stand at the office door for a minute while Jimmy takes in the scene.

"Would you like to meet some members?" asks Abigail.

"Yeah."

Abigail leads Jimmy to the nearest adult, a woman in her 50's, like Abigail, "Sherry, I'd like you to meet Jimmy. He's thinking of joining us."

Sherry looks him over, smiles, and says, "Welcome to LaLaLand."

Jimmy is direct. He says, "Is this working out for you, here?"

"It is, quite nicely. We have some nice programs here for people like me, and Annie, my daughter is loving it here. Would you like to meet Annie?"

Sherry motions for Annie to come over. She does, and looks at Jimmy.

Sherry says, "Jimmy wants to be a father, Annie, and he's wondering if his child will have good time here."

Annie looks at him and says, "You're young."

Sherry says quickly, "Now, now, dear, just tell Jimmy if you're having a good time here."

Annie nods that she is. Sherry says, "OK, dear, that's all we need. Run along and play now."

Jimmy watches as she goes back to the sandbox and joins in with another child there.

Abigail asks, "Would you like to meet some more?"

"No that's good for now." says Jimmy, "I'm done."

And he heads back home.

Making a choice

Jimmy spends some time in his room, then comes down to dinner. Mom and Dad are there and have started already.

Jimmy starts in, "Well, I've done my research, and my thinking, and I've made my choice." he pauses, "I'll raise my kid here, if you really want me to."

Mom and Dad both smile at this, "We do." says Mom, "Tell us, how did you decide on here?"

"Well... those clubs are all filled with old people. I don't think I'd get along well in them." he looks at Mom and Dad, "You're old, but I know I can get along with you. And I know you can offer some really good help. After all... I came out well, didn't I?"

Mom and Dad get up and give Jimmy a big hug.

Telling the world, especially Jenny

It is time for Jimmy's first speech at the club. He is nervous -- as well as he knows these people it still feels scary as hell. His turn. He walks up to the lectern, looks around, shuffles his note page a bit, then begins.

"I'm here to tell you that I've come to a big moment in my life. I've decided... I'm going to have a baby." he looks around for looks of surprises on people's faces, he looks particularly at Jenny. He continues.

"The world needs saving. It needs saving from declining fer... fer... [checks his note page] fertility. I'm going to do my part." He looks Jenny right in the eye, "And I'm hoping that Jenny will help me in this." At this there is a lot of jaw-dropping in the audience. "Will you help me, Jenny?"

She does not respond, either in voice or expression. She just sits there. It seems like forever but in just a few seconds the end-of-speech timer dings.

"Thank you, all." Jimmy walks back to his seat.

As the evaluations begin, Jenny walks out. Jimmy rushes out after her, leaving the club meeting in confusion.

Outside he catches up with her as she is getting on her bike.

"What's the matter?" then adds, quite impulsively, "Don't you know... I love you?"

Jenny smiles at that, "Still growing up, eh, Jimmy. You don't know what love is."

"But I'd like to find out." then even more impulsively, "Will you provide the egg for my child?"

Jenny stares at him, "You don't even have a mother picked out yet? Where are you going to do the raising? Have you at least picked that out?"

"At home, my parents want to help out."

"Not a club?" Jenny stares some more, "Well, at least your parents must think highly of you."

A short pause then, "This is all so crazy." and she rides off.

"Wait... wait..." Jimmy says it so quietly only he can hear. He watches; he sighs; he walks home -- no spring in his step this time.

What comes next?

Jimmy is at home after his speech-and-Jenny incident. He is thinking hard. He says to himself and Amber, "Maybe this is just a crazy idea. Maybe I should grow up a bit, first."

Amber replies in a warm, supportive way, "You will gets lots of help. You can do this, if you want to. And lots of people, and muses, will admire you for what you are undertaking. You're saving the world, the world needs more children."

Jimmy thinks some more, then says, "If Jenny isn't going to help, where do I get an egg?"

"I presume you want to use your sperm."

"Of course."

"Let me do some more research. And let me talk a bit with Jenny's muse. Maybe she will come around."

A week later

Jimmy is back to doing his serious gaming. It is late in the evening and the end of a session. It has gone well for him, he leveled up. He comes out of VR, yawns, and is feeling ready for bed.

Amber takes this moment to report on Jenny progress. "I've talked with Jenny's cyber muse, and she still isn't interested."

Jimmy yawns, takes the news in stride, and says, "Well, I've been giving this some more thought. I guess I'm not interested in taking this on right now, either. My baseball, my games, and this speaking stuff are keeping me busy, and... I guess... if Jenny is not interested... I can put this off for a while... like a few years." He yawns again, "I'll be telling Mom and Dad tomorrow."

"OK. I'll let the various child rearing agencies we researched know too."

And with that this adventure ends for now. Jimmy is getting level-headed on this issue, the impulsiveness has worn off.

 

 

--The End--

 

Introduction

This is taking place in America in the 2050's. Lots will change over the next three decades and this is a story about the ramifications of a couple of those changes.

Some premises:

o The population is peaked and ready to decline. This is because the world is 80% urbanized, and urban birth rates aren't high enough to sustain the population. (Note: this low urban fertility rate is nothing new, it has been true ever since cities were invented.)

o Artificial Intelligence (AI) is pervasive, and one common form of it is the "cyber muse". This is AI designed specifically to work with humans and inspire them. Think of it as, "Behind every great person, there is a good cyber muse." The cyber muse can be virtual (the cheaper ones) or physical (expensive to really expensive).

o AI is also doing most of the heavy lifting in manufacturing, service and transportation industries -- these are all fully automated. The result is the Total Entitlement State (TES) in which all people are getting "necessity money" -- the 2050's version of SNAP/food stamps -- which buys the basic necessities of life. Ambitious people are also working to earn "luxury money" so they can buy the better things in life.

o The practice of single parents raising children has evolved. In this timeframe most single parents get together into baby clubs to do their raising. These are very common -- so common that most children are raised in baby clubs, not in married parent homes.

These are the premises of this story.

In this environment one of the big choices an aspiring teenage parent will face is whether to raise their first child at home -- "home" being their parents' home -- or in a baby club. This is a tale about facing that choice.

A day in the life of

It is July. Two months ago Jimmy Kimball graduated from Obama High. He is now a graduate with blond hair, blue eyes, and a tall, slim athletic-looking body. But while he looks athletic, and gets out a bit, he enjoys spending a lot of time gaming. He does that, and, at his parent's insistence, he now also spends time looking for a job. Amber-642, his cyber muse that his parents have just upgraded for him as a graduation present, is helping with that project as well as his gaming. Jimmy's parents are happy, this upgraded Amber seems happy, but Jimmy is not.

"A job." he grumbles, "What do I need a job for? I'm quite happy down here in the basement playing my computer games, and I get out for baseball twice a week. That's not expensive, either. And now that I'm eighteen I get enough necessity money to keep subscribed to my games, what more do I need?" He says this as he is mastering Call of Duty 25: Assignment Antarctica, the latest in VR gaming experiences, which he acquired a month ago.

Amber replies through his VR connection as he is selling off his latest booty at the PX (it's pause time in the game action) "Well, you do like to get out and dance, and your band gigs aren't cheap. Those and the concerts take money.

"And you've told me you want to help the world. That takes money, too, unless you're making money doing it."

"I can make money doing it?"

"Sure, collect money from other people for a worthy cause and keep part of it as your commission."

"That could be interesting." he says this as his VR character shoulders its rifle and goes outside, ready to start the next mission.

"I find you a good contact." Amber says and then backs out while he adventures.

Seeing Jenny

Amber recommends he go to a public speaking club. "If you're going to inspire people you need to learn how to talk to crowds." she advises, "The group meets Wednesday evenings at the nearby library."

It's something new for Jimmy so he is learning, but what keeps him walking to the meetings with a spring in his step is seeing Jenny. Jenny is a tall woman in her mid-twenties with dark, short hair and a slim athletic build. Jimmy has noticed that she rides a bike to the meeting and he guesses she gets lots of other places on it too. She also has a deep, clear voice -- deep for a woman, that is.

She is there to learn too. She started two weeks before he did so they are both learning the ropes. What is different in Jimmy's eyes is how wonderful she looks, both sitting watching others and while she is participating in class exercises. She is far and away the most interesting person in the room, and he finds he is thinking about her in other times and places too.

At his third meeting she gives her first speech and he praises her mightily, which makes him different from the others, they are mostly giving advice about how she could do it better.

In spite of the praise she stays cool to him. He longs to invite her to some coffee afterwards, but he is shy. And then he hears some other older guy in the club offer. She declines, "I'm here to learn to speak." she says, "And it's just the start of my busy evening." she tells that other guy.

Wishing and dreaming... wishing and dreaming... "But," he decides, "it is also time for action!" He has come up with a bold new plan! It's a plan that will help save the world, and she will admire him for that... and maybe then do some coffee... and a bit more.

It's Time

"It's time." he announces to his parents at dinner.

"Time for what?" his father says as he keeps eating.

"Having a baby and raising it." both Mom and Dad stop eating and look at him.

"Think of it as a job. I've researched, and the government will give me a steady paycheck to do this."

After a pause Mom says, "It's a lot of work, you know."

"It's not that bad. The government will provide a diaper changer."

"Who is doing the breastfeeding?" chuckles Dad. Jimmy and Mom both stare wide-eyed at him a moment, then grin and join in the chuckling.

"Where are you going to raise it?"

"I'm researching baby clubs right now."

Mom and Dad look at each other, then Mom says, "You can raise it here, if you want to. We'd love to have some tender young footsteps around the house again.

Just so you know: if you were to leave, we'd seriously consider moving to a smaller place." she looks around, "This becomes a pretty big empty nest."

This offer surprises Jimmy, "I'll keep that in mind." And the conversation moves on to other topics.

Visiting a baby club

Jimmy has done his on-line research with Amber helping out. Wow! There are lots of choices all over the city, and six are nearby. He looks at the features and benefits they describe in their web sites and VR presentations. Lots of interesting choices, lots of variety in the residents, the facilities, and the assistance programs offered. Now it's time for a real-world visit. He picks LaLaLand Nursery. It has a mix of male and female mothers... er, care givers, offers good protection for the kids, and good courses on raising them to club members. It is ten blocks away, he bikes there.

At LaLaLand he meets Abigail Gartner, a woman of medium build in her 50's. Her fashion -- dress, makeup and tattoos -- are all conventional and conservative.

"I am the director." she says, looks him over a moment and continues, "You're interested in becoming a young father?"

"Yeah." says Jimmy. He has also dressed conservatively... for a teenage boy -- his "conservative" looks nothing like Abigail's "conservative".

"You've seen our VR presentation?"

"Yeah."

"Any questions?"

"No. I just want to see this place."

After a pause, Abigail says, "OK." and takes him on a tour.

The club is a five story apartment complex built around a courtyard. The courtyard is half-filled with playground equipment for the kids and half-filled with park equipment and a swimming pool for the adults. It is about five o'clock and there are kids, adults, and cyber muses scattered through the courtyard. Jimmy and Abigail stand at the office door for a minute while Jimmy takes in the scene.

"Would you like to meet some members?" asks Abigail.

"Yeah."

Abigail leads Jimmy to the nearest adult, a woman in her 50's, like Abigail, "Sherry, I'd like you to meet Jimmy. He's thinking of joining us."

Sherry looks him over, smiles, and says, "Welcome to LaLaLand."

Jimmy is direct. He says, "Is this working out for you, here?"

"It is, quite nicely. We have some nice programs here for people like me, and Annie, my daughter is loving it here. Would you like to meet Annie?"

Sherry motions for Annie to come over. She does, and looks at Jimmy.

Sherry says, "Jimmy wants to be a father, Annie, and he's wondering if his child will have good time here."

Annie looks at him and says, "You're young."

Sherry says quickly, "Now, now, dear, just tell Jimmy if you're having a good time here."

Annie nods that she is. Sherry says, "OK, dear, that's all we need. Run along and play now."

Jimmy watches as she goes back to the sandbox and joins in with another child there.

Abigail asks, "Would you like to meet some more?"

"No that's good for now." says Jimmy, "I'm done."

And he heads back home.

Making a choice

Jimmy spends some time in his room, then comes down to dinner. Mom and Dad are there and have started already.

Jimmy starts in, "Well, I've done my research, and my thinking, and I've made my choice." he pauses, "I'll raise my kid here, if you really want me to."

Mom and Dad both smile at this, "We do." says Mom, "Tell us, how did you decide on here?"

"Well... those clubs are all filled with old people. I don't think I'd get along well in them." he looks at Mom and Dad, "You're old, but I know I can get along with you. And I know you can offer some really good help. After all... I came out well, didn't?"

Mom and Dad get up and give Jimmy a big hug.

Telling the world, especially Jenny

It is time for Jimmy's first speech at the club. He is nervous -- as well as he knows these people it still feels scary as hell. His turn. He walks up to the lectern, looks around, shuffles his note page a bit, then begins.

"I'm here to tell you that I've come to a big moment in my life. I've decided... I'm going to have a baby." he looks around for looks of surprises on people's faces, he looks particularly at Jenny. He continues.

"The world needs saving. It needs saving from declining fer... fer... [checks his note page] fertility. I'm going to do my part." He looks Jenny right in the eye, "And I'm hoping that Jenny will help me in this." At this there is a lot of jaw-dropping in the audience. "Will you help me, Jenny?"

She does not respond, either in voice or expression. She just sits there. It seems like forever but in just a few seconds the end-of-speech timer dings.

"Thank you, all." Jimmy walks back to his seat.

As the evaluations begin, Jenny walks out. Jimmy rushes out after her, leaving the club meeting in confusion.

Outside he catches up with her as she is getting on her bike.

"What's the matter?" then adds, quite impulsively, "Don't you know... I love you?"

Jenny smiles at that, "Still growing up, eh, Jimmy. You don't know what love is."

"But I'd like to find out." then even more impulsively, "Will you provide the egg for my child?"

Jenny stares at him, "You don't even have a mother picked out yet? Where are you going to do the raising? Have you at least picked that out?"

"At home, my parents want to help out."

"Not a club?" Jenny stares some more, "Well, at least your parents must think highly of you."

A short pause then, "This is all so crazy." and she rides off.

"Wait... wait..." Jimmy says it so quietly only he can hear. He watches; he sighs; he walks home -- no spring in his step this time.

What comes next?

Jimmy is at home after his speech-and-Jenny incident. He is thinking hard. He says to himself and Amber, "Maybe this is just a crazy idea. Maybe I should grow up a bit, first."

Amber replies in a warm, supportive way, "You will gets lots of help. You can do this, if you want to. And lots of people, and muses, will admire you for what you are undertaking. You're saving the world, the world needs more children."

Jimmy thinks some more, then says, "If Jenny isn't going to help, where do I get an egg?"

"I presume you want to use your sperm."

"Of course."

"Let me do some more research. And let me talk a bit with Jenny's muse. Maybe she will come around."

A week later

Jimmy is back to doing his serious gaming. It is late in the evening and the end of a session. It has gone well for him, he leveled up. He comes out of VR, yawns, and is feeling ready for bed.

Amber takes this moment to report on Jenny progress. "I've talked with Jenny's cyber muse, and she still isn't interested."

Jimmy yawns, takes the news in stride, and says, "Well, I've been giving this some more thought. I guess I'm not interested in taking this on right now, either. My baseball, my games, and this speaking stuff are keeping me busy, and... I guess... if Jenny is not interested... I can put this off for a while... like a few years." He yawns again, "I'll be telling Mom and Dad tomorrow."

"OK. I'll let the various child rearing agencies we researched know too."

And with that this adventure ends for now. Jimmy is getting level-headed on this issue, the impulsiveness has worn off.

 

 

--The End--

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