I ran into a couple of old friends the other day, Rex and Roxanne. They're long-time and pretty conservative Republicans and evangelicals and they know I'm not and over the years we've pretty much made peace with each other over our differences.
But I had heard that Roxy had appeared before the city council recently arguing for some sort of tax on women. It wasn't the first time that either she or Rex had taken on odd position on something so I felt I had to bring it up if only to get my head out of the rumor mill and find out what she meant.
"You're after some sort of tax on women, Roxy?" I said. "Is that true, and how would it work?"
"Virginity, honey," Roxy said. "We apply a simple tax on a woman if she loses her virginity before marriage."
A bit baffled, I decided to go further down this rabbit hole. "Um – generally you folks aren't in favor of taxes at all."
"True enough, G.K., but marriage – goodness, that's the bedrock of all that we are. Virginity, you see, is the book cover of that special book you've been wanting to read for a long time. Without the cover, however, you have no idea what's inside. It could be sex, violence, recipes, or golf."
"Okay?" I said, the noonday sky seeming to darken over my head.
"We tax books, don't we?" she said. "I don't see this as a problem, and if we make the tax steep enough it will be an incentive for women to preserve their book covers until marriage."
I'm never quite sure where my Republican friends want to go with their views. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don't, but that day I just felt like pushing it and so I asked the big question:
"Roxy tell me, truly, honestly, from the bottom of your heart – what is your real dream for America?"
"Golly, G.K., that's a big one," she said. "I do think it would be nice if we could all find ourselves in church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. We need to pray and then have dinner with our families. Close down the movie theaters and definitely get rid of that interweb thing."
"Good luck with that," I said.
"I know, I know," she said, "but we're on a long road to perdition and the tolls are pretty high."
"Perdition?" I said.
"Random evil," she said, "the kind that creeps up on you. Speaking of creeping, we need to lengthen the skirts. That would be a start. We need to bring back linoleum, too, and black-and-white TV and cars with Continental kits and black cows at the drive-ins and TV dinners and shag carpeting and I really don't mind if we have to go through polio again or replacing tubes in radios, and getting rid of mosquitoes with DDT was always a good idea.
"We white women, too, need to take the hats away from the black women and start wearing them again, along with nylons and garter belts. Pantyhose is a punishment no woman has ever deserved.
"And for heaven's sakes let's take the tampons away from the little girls and give them their Kotex back and stop spending so much money on STD's and just teach people about rubbers for the prevention of disease.
"Golly, I truly miss Franco-American spaghetti and Broadcast Corn Beef Hash and Playboy bunnies and Mickey Mantle and Doris Day and Cary Grant and wrapping angora around a boy's class ring, and seeing girls drop out of high school because they were pregnant, and smoking in the bathroom at school, and putting Kleenex in your bra, and Friday night fish fries and spending a whole evening driving around town on fifty cents worth of gas, and washing clothes with Dreft after giving myself a Toni and sneaking a couple of Old Golds from my mom and paying cash for the things you bought and having a Princess phone and wearing bathing caps for swimming and having pubic hair between your legs.
"Whew! I suppose I could go on and on because there's so much to miss when you get rid of all the emptiness that surrounds us now."
"That's all," I began, "… so much of it, it's all just stuff from long ago."
"Indeed it is," she said. "Your point, sir?"
"It seems like you just want to …" I began.
"Conserve?" she said. "Conserve the past, darling?
"I guess," I said.
"Well what in the hell do you think conservative means?" she said.
Looks like Roxy for the win, I thought.
Photoillustration by the author