“Winston, come into the dining room, it’s time to eat,” Julia yelled to her husband. “In a minute, honey, it’s a tie score,” he answered. Actually Winston wasn’t very interested in the traditional holiday football game between Detroit and Washington .
Ever since the government passed the Civility in Sports Statute of 2017, outlawing tackle football for its “unseemly violence” and the “bad example it sets for the rest of the world,” Winston was far less of a football fan than he used to be. Two-hand touch wasn’t nearly as exciting.
Yet it wasn’t the game that Winston was uninterested in. It was more the thought of eating another Tofu Turkey . Even though it was the best type of VeggieMeat available after the government revised the American Anti-Obesity Act of 2018, adding fowl to the list of federally forbidden foods, (which already included potatoes, cranberry sauce and mince-meat pie), it wasn’t anything like real turkey. And ever since the government officially changed the name of “Thanksgiving Day” to “A National Day of Atonement” in 2020 to officially acknowledge the Pilgrims’ historically brutal treatment of Native Americans, the holiday had lost a lot of its luster.
Eating in the dining room was also a bit daunting. The unearthly gleam of government-mandated fluorescent light bulbs made the Tofu Turkey look even weirder than it actually was, and the room was always cold. Ever since Congress passed the Power Conservation Act of 2016, mandating all thermostats – which were monitored and controlled by the electric company – be kept at 68 degrees, every room on the north side of the house was barely tolerable throughout the entire winter.
Still, it was good getting together with family. Or at least most of the family. Winston missed his mother, who passed on in October, when she had used up her legal allotment of life-saving medical treatment. He had many heated conversations with the Regional Health Consortium (RHC), spawned when the private insurance market finally went bankrupt, and everyone was forced into the government health care program. And though he demanded she be kept on her treatment, it was a futile effort. “The RHC’s resources are limited,” explained the government bureaucrat Winston spoke with on the phone. “Your mother received all the benefits to which she was entitled. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Yet the family had a lot for which to be thankful, Winston thought, before remembering it was a Day of Atonement. At least he had his memories. He felt a twinge of sadness when he realized his children would never know what life was like in the Good Old Days, long before government promises to make life “fair for everyone” realized their full potential. Winston, like so many of his fellow Americans, never realized how much things could change when they didn’t happen all at once, but little by little, so people could get used to them.
He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood up while there was still time, maybe back around 2011, when all the real nonsense began. “Maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today if we’d just said ‘enough is enough’ when we had the chance,” he thought.
Maybe so, Winston…maybe so.