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Monday, February 09, 2009

FAR Future, Episode 72: Adventures at the Chautauqua

Things are weird now. In a much weirder FAR Future, I wouldn’t expect that to be different.

Sunday, June 4, 2023
Adventures at the Chautauqua

Sunday, June 4, 2023

The chautauqua was in town last week. It’s a great idea, one they revived from the 19th century but without the Sunday school part (churches are somewhat out of favor these days, except in this region and a few scattered outposts). The local one is based in Gainesville, and they travel around northeast Georgia from late spring through late fall. So we got our screen tents together, loaded up the wagon, and made a week of it since the town was letting people camp in the park.

Rene got a little more than he bargained for, but I’ll let him tell the story…

Holá, y'all. Monday afternoon after the chautauqua troupe set up their portable stage, but before they started the performances, they asked all the former service people to come up on stage to be recognized. There were a bunch of people besides Serena, Kim, and me, and most all of us felt the same way about it — we'd had our fill of military life, but even after you're out you still have to do your duty, right? Their little band played the national anthem, everyone cheered, wave the flag, USA, USA. I guess I should be less cynical since they offered my family a lot in return for a couple years of my life (and I got out early anyway), but you could also say that the junta shouldn't have given us so much grief in the first place.

The good part, at least for me, was getting noticed by all the girls. They noticed Kim too, but he still only has eyes for Christina, and she can be a little territorial anyway. One of the girls hung onto me, it was kind of flattering and I'm not used to that. Half of my life, the only girl I knew who was my age was Serena, and she's been my best friend instead of anything romantic. I never had time to meet anyone in the army — boot camp, EDID training, deployment, then the war heated up just as I got a little leave… they say the truth is the first casualty of war, but my love life was the second, jejeje. So I palled around with Amber for the next couple of days. Farf-Mom didn’t look too happy about it; she said that Amber’s family has a long history of being troublemakers in the county. Papa just gave me The Look — the one that says, “This won't end well.” Of course, Christina might say that hormones speak louder than parents (and I would say she should know!).

Things were cool until Wednesday night. That's when the troupe's band started playing some mariachi music, and Mama and Papa got up to dance. I was about to point them out, but she was shaking her head. “Bad enough the damn wetbacks live here,” she said. “I don't see why they have to encourage them.”

I was stunned, and she was on a roll. “Stupidest thing the junta did was to let 'em stay —”

“Hey,” I said. “Those are my parents! And I'm one of those 'damn wetbacks' who took the army's bargain, if you hadn't figured it out. Does 'Cardenas' sound like a gringo name to you?”

“I'm sorry — I — but you —”

“Save it,” I told her. “I don't think I want to see you anymore,” and walked off.

Of course, she went crying to her family, and a couple “representatives” came by our tent shortly after supper. “Who's the beaner that's been messing with our sister?” Bubba One demanded.

I was still mad about the whole thing, especially not listening to Farf-Mom. I stood up and faced 'em — two big lugs, slow and not too bright looking. “That's Señor Beaner to you, Billy Bob,” I said. “And I never asked her to hang all over me, by the way.”

They swelled up at that, but next thing I knew Kim was on my right, Papa on my left, Farf-Dad had my back, and Serena walked up behind them. She’d volunteered to work security for the week, and just happened to be on duty. I know that she learned some tae kwan do when she was little, and got a refresher course with her MP training, so I don’t doubt she could have taken them both herself if it came to that.

“What seems to be the problem here?” she said. They turned and sized her up in her security blazer — she nodded at them like they were dropping by for a friendly chat, but at the same time you knew she wouldn't take any crap off them. The MPs in Dooby were like that — it didn't matter what your rank was, or how big you were; if they had to take you in, it was going to happen. Respectful and authoritative at the same time.

“Ain't no problem,” Bubba One said. “We just came to tell this —”

“Good,” she interrupted. “Because I'd hate to see you guys get hurt. This guy took on three Iranian tanks in Saudi Arabia; I don't think he'd have much trouble with two rednecks.”

I opened my mouth to say something like “Your move, bubba,” but Serena gave me one of those looks and I kept quiet. She does that authority thing pretty well, did I mention that?

“Stay away from Amber, y'hear?” said Bubba Two, already moving off.

No problemo, niños,” I said. Bubba One paused, but Bubba Two nudged him and they kept moving. Serena shook her head at me and went back to her rounds, and she had a few words for me when she finished up for the night. She took her volunteer job seriously.

After she finished lecturing me, she, Kim, and I set night watches for the rest of the week in case they wanted to try to surprise us, but we didn’t see any of them (especially Amber, gracias a Dios) for the rest of the week. I think they just cleared out. Farf-Dad took the motorcycle back to the manor to make sure they hadn’t tried anything at home, but either they don’t know where we live or they wised up.

Such is life on Planet Georgia. I hope Rene doesn’t have to re-up just to find a girlfriend.



  1. Hey Far! heh!heh! Gee, this one may be my favorite, so far! ha! First, I had to look up "Chautauqua" as I didn't know the meaning. Thought you were going to discuss the "road train". Oh well! Really liked this! ha!

    "So I palled around with Amber for the next couple of days. Farf-Mom didn’t look too happy about it; she said that Amber’s family has a long history of being troublemakers in the county. Papa just gave me The Look "

    Yup, I know what kind of look you had! A grin from ear to ear! ha! Gee! I'm missing out on all the fun!

    Perhaps, I'd better watch my mouth, about referring to "wetbacks" eh? 30 years ago, I thought nothing of it, using that term, in the South. Of course, the older gentlemen at the time thought nothing about using the word, "boys" either.....

    Guess the "good ol boys" still hang together like glue down there, eh? ha! ha!

    Excellent story!

    Yankee Doodle Dandy

  2. Hi Yooper!

    Papa is Rene's dad (Guillermo). I would have taken my cue from Mrs. Fetched; she's usually right about such matters (especially since she knows which family is which here).

    The RoadTrain is just there in the background of those who live where rail doesn't go. Have you ever seen those articulated buses? Add some more segments, replace the diesel powertrain with diesel-electric, or perhaps biofuel-electric, include some smarts to keep all the segments in the lane through a curve, and that's a RoadTrain. I think they could be built with current technology, frankly… kind of like the Auto-Sail freighters I chirped about back in Episode 26 (the latter might need a few more advances in materials science though).

    The racists here tend to use "Mexican" as a catch-all for the (many) Hispanic folks in the area… it's somewhat insulting to all but the actual Mexicans. (BTW, the Cardenas family *is* Mexican.)

  3. Far, nice post. I think you're right about the underlying subtext: hard times are going to make the overtly racist types come out of the woodwork rather than disappear into the woodwork.

    Nice story lines .. please keep up the good work! :)

  4. It's a bit like an updated version of the old stories about the farmer's daughter. But here it's got a couple of good old boys, like yooper says. This was an interesting installment, Far.

  5. Hey all!

    Glad you liked it, Nudge. BTW, Amber and her bubba brothers aren't much different than they would be here in 2009. She didn't look past the uniform, in several ways.

    Thanks, Boran. Part of the intent was to show a slice of life on Planet Georgia ca. 2023, partly to develop the post-army characters of the kids (Serena's story is next week), and partly because not everything in the FAR Future is about oil depletion. ;-)


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