*Dr. Ironsides gets several interesting gifts on this his 58th birthday.
The Elder Statesman
~A Tom Ironsides Micro Story by Perrin Lovett~
Ironsides Residence, Blowing Rock, NC, January 2, 2023, early morning…
Strengthening sunlight channeled through the whiffs of steam as they rose continuously from a coffee mug. The vessel, a plate of lately reheated bacon, and a banana sat atop a shorter stack of papers on an otherwise tidy desk. On a large monitor, as if on cue, the feed scroll from gazeta.ru reverted from English to Russian. A thumping sound from the bookcases and an “Aha!” indicated Tom had found whatever he was looking for. Book in hand, he returned to his escritoire about the same time that Carmyn bopped in the office door.
‘You’ve received another gift, birthday boy,’ she said as Tom took his seat. ‘Just arrived in the mail.’
‘The mail ran today? I thought this was an extended holiday – in my honor, of course,’ he said as he reached for the steaming coffee.
‘We forgot to check it Saturday or Friday, darling,’ she said. ‘I just walked out and this is all there was. Nice, big envelope to you from the government.’
‘Well!’ he said, his nose amidst the vapors. ‘Maybe the Commandant has an answer for my blue steam about all the new faggotry in the Corps. I’ve been waiting on that before I decide my next move!’
‘Ah, no,’ she said. ‘You’d better talk to Birch or Freddy again before you think about that kind of move. And this happens to be from the Census Bureau.’
‘I knew it,’ he said slowly as he set the cup down. ‘They’re on us. All these relatives come to visit, and now they think we’re running a flop house! Lemme see that.’
She handed him the brown envelope and he dissected it with his knife. He poked around the contents before fishing out a little piece of pink paper, which he cautiously read aloud:
Recipient Preferred Pronouns Unknown
All references to the recipient herein are generic and nominal so as to avoid mis- or dys-gendering said Person and/or Xerson.
Should MXR/MX/YNM Recipient wish to correct any future risk of possible aggression, an updated pronoun addendum is available at www-census—
‘Yep. It’s from the government,’ he said before tossing the notice in the trash. It was joined by a little booklet and a smaller return envelope. Soon he only held two pieces of paper, evidently the guts of the missive. He quickly scanned the first page and then asked Carmyn, ‘any idea who Rhonda Witzotsky of Davenport, Iowa is? Or was?’
‘No,’ she answered. ‘What’s it say about her? And you?’
He then began reading aloud again:
THOMAS HUBERT IRONSIDES, 2ND (pronouns unknown):
Based on our records, THOMAS HUBERT IRONSIDES, 2ND was born between 05:01 and 05:21 ES/DST on Saturday, January 2, 1965. We timely congratulate THOMAS HUBERT IRONSIDES, 2ND on THOMAS HUBERT IRONSIDES, 2ND’s 1,558th birthday. [‘genuine government issue, this,’ he huffed].
We are saddened to inform THOMAS HUBEpro unkwn IR2nDOnSIDES, 558 [‘dear God…’] of the recent death of RHONDA M. WITZOTSKY (pronouns unknown : t9639rr) of Davenport, Iowa, 1965 Diffusion Zone 6734, on or about November 1, 2022. We understand that THOMAS hubert IRONSIDES, DN2 may be upset by these passings, as is we. Council grief or refer to Canadian physician. Our condolences extend to all family units of RHONDA M. WITZOTSKY, W, F, 58, Boost-to-date.
Pursuant to the departure of RHONDA M. WITZOTSKY, and pursuant to our records, and by operation of CFR 15.100, et seq., we hereby inform THOMAS HUBERT IRONSIDES, 2ND that THOMAS HUBERT IRONSIDES, 2ND is now the oldest living member of the United States Baby-Buster Generation “X.” Please find herewith a certificate to honor the achievement of THOMAS HU—
He paused a moment before throwing both pieces of paper away. Then he looked at the snickering Carmyn, and said, ‘young lady, you are never to approach that mailbox again. In a few minutes, I’m going to go burn it.’
She quickly reached into the trash can and retrieved the letter and certificate. ‘Oh, no, baby,’ she said mischievously. ‘No, you’re the one getting burned. This is the best birthday present ever. This is gold! Can you imagine the fun?!’
‘I really can’t, madame.’
‘This is like, it’s like, I don’t know what it’s like,’ she said, beginning to laugh and cry at the same time. ‘You’re the new Boomer! The kids are gonna have a field day. Okay, Xer! No, no, no. Okay, Buster! Baby buster! Tell us more about your cool music, and your cars, and your g-g-generation! How many guitars DO you have?! You’re the elder statesman of the new Boomer generation. I’m telling all the kids, showing them this impressive certificate. Tell us about grit, old man! Show us your bootstraps! This is too great!
‘And what are your pronouns? Are you a MXR? A Mixer? Mixer Xer Buster the 2nd? I’ll tell you dumb youngins’! Back in my time, we didn’t need any pronouns. We worked our way through nouns. Verbs too! Oh! And, how do you identify? We don’t want to aggress you or anything. Trans-vegan pineapple-American? Forget the blue steam and threats to renounce the oath. You could re-up and get promoted! General(!) Mixer Boomer Buster Ironsides, number two!’
‘You’re part of the same generation, Adrestia, dear,’ he said even as he began to see a little humor in the situation. ‘Just a few years behind General Boomer here.’
‘Sweetie, no’ she said through her tears and gasps. ‘This is all about you. Your birthday and all. And I’m younger X. On the Pinewood visit, last summer, GG, her agent, and that director all told me I could easily pass for thirty. But you know that, don’t you? You Boom, er, Boomers(!), you Busters know it all, right?’
For longer than he liked, Tom endured joke upon joke, deployed from a deft wit by a savage tongue. His view of the humor rose and fell again. Finally, he did what he usually had to do in such circumstances: he simply picked the cackling, glowing faux Millennial up, pressed her against the wall, and drowned her gleeful taunts in a torrent of passionate kisses and a lusty embrace.
As they began to relax, she released his lower lip from her teeth and stared at him breathlessly. As one fit quelled within her, another arose. Easing out of his arms, she took his hand. ‘Come on! I got ya another present in the bedroom.’ She was already pulling him towards the door.
‘I think I’m gonna like this one!’ he exclaimed, beaming boyishly.
‘Oh, you’re so gonna like it,’ she said, already halfway down the hall. ‘Xer, it’s time to go. I got you a new pillow!’