"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Designer Babies–Marilyn Monroe And Perfection On Demand

Marigold Potter couldn’t make up her mind.  Some choices were simple enough – blonde was certainly a better choice than brunette.  Blondes had always had at twenty percent advantage over girls with dark hair.  Here it was the middle of the 21st Century and men were still drooling over Marilyn Monroe.

Image result for images marilyn monroe

What was it about blonde, blue-eyed women in general? Why was Marilyn Monroe so seductively irresistible?  Ava Gardner, Hedy Lamarr, and Vivien Leigh were classic beauties, descendants of Greek, Roman, and Pompeian women  whose symmetrical features, sedate, but exotically feminine looks had been the ideal for centuries; and yet men of the modern era – as much as they might admire these Hollywood icons, would like, more than anything else in their lives, to bed Marilyn.

This classically beautiful blonde ideal was idolized in Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain where the black, passed-for-white Coleman Silk in his youth falls for a Minnesotan blonde beauty.  It is no coincidence that the virile, sensitive, intelligent, and desirable Coleman chooses her over all others to be his bride.  She is the final vindication of his deception, his long secretive life as a black man wanting to be white.  Marrying her – the quintessential white woman – would mean that not only had he finally arrived; but that all the hurt he caused his black family was worth it.

Woody Allen parodied this idolization of the blonde, blue-eyed white woman.  An imagined dinner in Minnesota with Annie Hall's family, though caricature and comedic, was no less telling than the story of Coleman Silk.   

Italian Americans are no different.  For swarthy, short, dark men only a few generations removed from Naples, Bari, and Palermo, there can be no greater glory than a Minnesotan goddess.

In ‘A Newark Tale’ Joey Pandolfini wrote:

The boat trip would have been routine – Stash Kryzewski and Larry Lugno fishing for blues off of Barnegat Light while Harry, Andy, and Petey Brogna did Yellow Jackets and goofed on the seagulls – if Stash had not invited Delia Bourne along for the ride. Delia was a friend of Stash’s daughter who had invited her down to the Shore for a week.
Delia was a blue-eyed blonde from the Midwest, and like a million Sicilians before him, Larry was a sucker for white pussy. She was a religious wacko, and kept talking to him about his inner self. “I can tell you’re a seeker”, she said.

“I can feel your divine spirit trying to come out”; but Larry lapped it all up. Jesus this, Jesus that. Moses, Mohammed, Gandhi, angels, archangels – the whole religious pantheon was emptied and Larry couldn’t believe his good luck. Fuck the religious part. This was pure, golden, blue-eyed pussy. Every goomba’s dream. 

As the ship rolled with the swells and Delia leaned into him, and he could smell her hair and the fresh soapy scent of her body, all he could think of was her naked body, soft and smooth. Enough guinea poontang with wiry nipple hairs. Delia would have milky-white tits and a fluffy blonde bush like baby hair.

So Marigold clicked on ‘Marilyn Monroe’ from the DNA catalogue.  She was shocked at the price, but of course understood that Monroe’s DNA would be out of her range.  Prices had come down as genetic science had found ways to duplicate Marilyn’s DNA by a factor of a hundred without damaging or altering it, but it still as more than Marigold and her husband could afford - unless they decided to put all their eggs in one basket, choose the remarkable combination of beauty, allure, and sexiness that was MM, and use their own genetic codes for the rest. 

But on second thought, why value brains over beauty? Wouldn’t an Einstein or Oppenheimer be a better choice in this competitive world?

Marigold felt discouraged and overmatched as she looked over the bewildering online choices for new babies.  There were so many choices among other possibilities for her child – skin color, height, musculature, temperament, eyes, disposition, and a thousand other physical, mental, and psychological attributes – that she was tired just scrolling through them.  There were so many consequences and dubious advantages.

Take intelligence, for example.  If everybody was an Einstein, then there would be no competitive advantage for the future Robbie Potter; and the world would be a very artistically crowded place if there were a Picasso, Mozart, or Baryshnikov on every street corner. Of course digging up old artists’ bones for bits of DNA to scrape was a difficult and legally complicated process, incredibly expensive, but doable.


Marigold sighed, and went back to her computer screen, and scrolled down the list of choices under Intelligence. She would return to Athletic Ability, Artistic Talent, Personality, and the other twenty major categories listed in the online catalogue.  It was hard enough sorting through the promotional material just to find an agency which was reputable, safe, and exhaustive; but now deciding on the nature of her unborn child was daunting.

The designer baby industry had become one of America’s most successful. Once the techniques for mining DNA from the smallest inadvertent samples left by celebrities, geniuses, and artists had proved unequal to the demand, a series of legal challenges and complex arrangements with trust fund managers and estate guardians opened the way for recovering genetic bits from the dead, even the long dead.  

No exhumation was required, for a non-invasive means of boring through earth and casket to recover DNA was quickly developed.  Trustees, who stood to make tens of millions out of such DNA recovery, sale, and use readily agreed.  There were of course long debates about legacy – there was only one Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, or Michael Jordan, and the idea of a nation of their clones was initially distasteful.  Yet the naysayers were convinced not only by the wealth of Croesus offered them, but by the idea that the legacy of those held in trust would in fact be enhanced.  It was one thing to watch Marilyn’s movies, another to see her live and as sexually succulent as she ever was.

More legal wrangling.  If Marilyn’s DNA were sold to a customer, and he chose to pair it with the athleticism of Wayne Gretsky, mightn’t the result be a deformation of both? 

This was were the allied industry of genetic counselling.  Potential irregularities would be sorted out by electronic sifting.  No Shaq O’Neill, the seven-foot, four hundred pound NBA star would ever be paired with the delicate beauty of Vivien Leigh.  

Counselling firms were in close legal contact with DNA trust donors and satisfactory agreements concluded.  While at first the process was a bit cumbersome and time consuming, it all got sorted out  through cybernetic wizardry; and in fact genetic stock rose, thanks to the new products on the market.  Some of the most remarkable babies were created, wonderful, unique combinations of brains, beauty, and talent.

Marigold opted for such a DNA consultant to help her and her husband sort through the process of creating their child.  She would be pregnant very soon – they were having sex twice a day and three times during her most fertile period of the month – so it was high time to get on the stick and make the most important decisions of their lives.  

Of course they could opt for genetic rehabilitation; but the splicing and manipulation of genetic material after birth was still a very iffy affair.  Neither she nor her husband could forget the case of Casey Roberts, the boy whose Yitzhak Perelman genes were supposed to guarantee his musical prodigy; but some jerk in the labs had mislabeled the test tubes and Casey got the genes of some other Perelman who not only couldn’t scrape a note on a one-string violin but had a nervous disorder that was linked to Gay-Sachs syndrome.  The boy was uniquely untalented.

“We don’t want her to be too unlike us”, Marigold said to her husband.  She had been born on the cusp of human genetic engineering, had had a few genes replaced in utero but nothing like the wholesale reconfiguration that went on today. As much as they wanted a genius for a child, they were rightfully concerned that he or she would so easily outthink them, that they would quickly become supernumerary. “Let’s be sure the face and skin color match at least.”

The scientists at the HRD labs smirked when they heard these concerns. Only the ignorant would spend time on skin tones and nose aquilinity when intellectual brilliance, literary genius, and artistic godhood were possible.

“Remember those online paint-and-match programs”, Marigold said to her husband. “The ones where you could experiment with wall color for one room to see if it matched the colors of your rugs and furniture?  I hear there’s a similar program for skin color.  I mean I’m not thinking of black or anything; but the skin color of some of those Bollywood film stars is so beautiful.”

Image result for images beautiful bollywood film stars

“Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods?”, Marigold asked her husband after she had flipped from Intelligence to Athletic Ability.

Don’t be silly”, he said. “Too expensive. Try a minor college athlete. That will be good enough.”

The trusts of athletes like Michael Jordan were asking millions for their DNA.  The demand was through the roof, so they had every right to price his genetic material accordingly.  Tiger Woods’ genes were expensive, but not as much as Jordan’s since most people knew little about golf and thought that his DNA might not ‘transfer’ to other sports. Tiger’s athletic genes dictated the same torque, muscle energy, coordination, and physical intelligence that are needed in other sports.  So his DNA might be a good bargain.

For a moment – but only for a brief one – Marigold wondered what life must have been like before HRD (Human Recombinant DNA), and couples simply took what they got.  Probably very unpleasant when they discovered that their child had grown up to have the hook-nose of Great Uncle Harry, the temper of Artemis Lincoln, a distant ancestor on the maternal side, and worst of all, the drinking problem of Grandfather Pippen.  It must have taken a great deal of understanding in those days to love a child that did not inherit its father’s elegant features, its mother’s intelligence or any of the fine qualities of family forbears.

On the other hand religion was still an important part of life back then, and people put a lot of stock in patience, acceptance, and the promise of heavenly rewards.  Few of Marigold’s friends could even remember the stories of their grandparents about ‘the good old days’; and all were all happily trundling along in the impersonal cyberspace of the age.

Still, Marigold, thought, in many ways it must have been a far simpler and less anxious time.

“Phooey”, said her husband. “The past is always remembered as the best of times.  It wasn’t and isn’t.” James was the most unromantic man a woman could imagine. Not a sentimental bone in his body, always logical and disciplined.  He never allowed himself a moment’ reverie. She on the other hand did think of the way things were; and although she was quite happy living in her own times, perhaps the world did move on a bit too fast.

And so it went for the Potters and for millions of other Americans who were planning to have a child.  The process was simple.  One only had to provide the HRD lab with a completed, notarized form which indicated the exact genetic makeup of the child; a counseling session had to be held by law; and the couple would then review a computer simulation of their soon-to-be child at age 2, 5, 14, 18, and 25.  All couples of course had done simulations at home, but this was the last run-through, the final, legal and binding agreement before any genetic work was done.

Once Marigold became pregnant the sophisticated genetic work began.  It is a delicate and complex process, but suffice it to say that scientists simply removed ‘offensive’ genetic material (e.g. Uncle Harry’s beak nose) and replaced it with all the preferred choices indicated by the Potters.  In nine months, their little girl (after much discussion they had decided to go female for no particular reason other than, as James said to Marigold, “I love women”) would be born according to specifications.

All in all they had spent quite a bit of money on HRD; but they were convinced it was worth it.  Many of their friends who eschewed the whole idea of children (“Waste of time and effort”) and a few still hung on to traditional religious ways.  Pope after Pope had railed against what they called this unconscionable and mortally sinful tampering with God’s prerogative; but few had paid attention to his out-of-touch chants.  The Church was being threatened by secularism more than it ever had. HRD was watershed moment.  If they lost this battle, the war was over.

Image result for images pope benedict

I am happy to say that little Robbie Potter turned out to be the spectacular girl designed by her parents, true to form in every category.  No mistakes in the lab.  On the contrary, she was more gifted, intelligent, confident, and full of charm than the Potters had ever expected.  She was always faithful to her parents (ironically thanks only to a very specialized and artificially-created gene for genetic ‘affiliation’).

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