Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

Beat the Biological Clock
I have seen the future and it is a televised reproductive hootenanny

by Dorothy Nixon

I had a dream the other night that I was a contestant on "Beat the Biological Clock." It was the year 2525. Man was still alive -- but just barely. Most people on Earth had been rendered sterile by exposure to environmental pollutants, UV rays or super bugs. Many had succumbed to acute sexual ennui. I was on a flimsy set with Dan Blonsky, one of the big winners from "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Blonsky looked like Blonsky but he had the aura of a certain egotistical boyfriend I had back in college.

Blonsky had to answer all kinds of celebrity-related questions to win. At this point in time, gossip had completely replaced knowledge in our intellectual hierarchy. I was his lifeline for the final question: "Before their divorce, what was the reported sleeping arrangement of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore?"

"I don't know why I know this," I replied, "but the answer is the family bed."

Paydirt! Blonsky's prize: a chance to make babies with me. But he spits in Regis Philbin's face and hollers, "No! Not her! I said Elle MacPherson. I want a BABE, a beautiful hot-bodied babe, not that pre-menopausal ... thing." I woke up mid hot flash -- really pissed, too. (Elle MacPherson. Ha! What a joke! One measly million. After taxes, you'd be lucky to convince Elle to go for brunch.)

Just another one of those weird reproduction/game show dreams, I realized. I've been having them for weeks. "Dialing for DNA," "Name that Womb," "The $25,000 Ovary." And who could blame me? Reproduction technology is the stuff of our daily lives. A Midwestern mom produces offspring by the litterload; a 57-year-old immigrant grandmother lends her too tired uterus to her barren granddaughter. And then Melissa and Julie and David put their fluids and receptacles together to hatch a baby celebrity, Warren and Annette pop a fourth and Rosie adopts a third.

Add the game show Zeitgeist to this mix and something gels. These greed-fed outings run by elderly men in sweater vests are clearly Darwinian in nature. It's all a contest, isn't it? Sperm against sperm for the egg, man against man for the woman, a mad dash for immortality by way of sperm donation. You could say that game shows are concrete manifestations of what we humans care about most.

Think about it: Game show hosts are always men; and the winning contestants in the trivia contests, almost always men -- young, single men. The viewers, God bless them, are women. Coincidence or evolution plain and simple? It could be that "The Dating Game" wasn't just an embarrassing low point in game show history but a show decades ahead of its time.

Last night I dreamed that most of us were sterile as hypodermic needles fresh from the package, compelled to spend evenings speed dialing 1-800 numbers in hopes of getting on a game show and winning a designer baby. There I was on "Conception 2060," a show that looked like "Hollywood Squares," except instead of X's and O's there were X chromosomes and Y chromosomes on the celebrity desks. Melissa Etheridge and partner Julie Cypher were cozied up in the corner square. David Crosby (or was it Yoda?) was in the center square. I was desperately seeking George Clooney to win, but found only one square left to choose, and it was Phyllis Diller's. The charming host (he looked a little bit like my grandfather minutes before he died) had a question written just for the legendary comedian. 

"Phyllis," he asked, "what's a crone?"


"No, Phyllis, not a clone, a crone."

"Why are you asking me?" she joked, throwing her head back and cackling. She waved her cigarette holder at me. "Why don't you ask HER?"

I laughed, like a good sport, and won triplets. With Tom Petty.
Dorothy Nixon used to pen thoughtful essays for pleasure and occasionally for major bucks, but now her creative energy is used being a hi-tech, white collar slave; plugging herself into her 5x4 cubicle each morning like a member of the Borg Collective, but without the collective benefits. Dorothy also used to write profound articles on parenting issues, doling out sage advice from more experienced parents and experts, until she lost all inspiration for such work -- her two tender boys having grown into odiferous, cantankerous, expletive-spewing teenagers who spend their days watching Fox or checking out their ranking in the latest online Survivor poll, marks be damned. She longs to retire to the country to raise Boston Terriers.