Welcome to the Atomic Age

“Have your own Atomic Kitchen!” All the women at the home show crowded around the exhibition. “Cook a complete meal in minutes!”

“Look, honey,” Jane’s husband said. “Just what you need.”

“Oh, sure,” she said and thought, I can’t cook. It’s bad slow, why would it be any better fast?

She edged around the crowd and bumped into the exhibit sign. Larger than her head, there was a sphere with baby spheres orbiting it, tracing lines in their movement. Their orbits went through the nucleus of the atom and they bobbed merrily along.

“Oh, for Christ’s sake!” Jane exclaimed. Two women next to her with perfectly pressed dresses gave her mean looks. She stuck her tongue out and they turned their shocked faces away to watch the atomic kitchen.

“Just because you wanted to be a chemist..” her husband, George, said. The knot of his tie was off center and wisps of hair fell across his forehead.

“Wanted?” Jane said. When had that become past tense? Jane removed her pristine white gloves, the only pair still so, and straightened his tie and brushed his hair into place with her fingers.

“It’s the atomic age, and they can’t even get the Bohr model of the atom right,” she said to George.

“They’re right,” her thirteen-year-old son said. “This is a bored model. I want to see the flying cars.”

“Elroy,” George said, “Those will be at the car show next month. This is the home show.”

“And that’s why it’s a bored model,” Elroy said with a smile.

Jane put her gloves on. She must keep them white; therefore, she couldn’t strangle her son.

Her sixteen-year-old daughter, Judy, tugged on her purse. “Over here, Mom!”

Jane was dragged to a silver torpedo labeled, “Dream Wardrobe”. The woman at this exhibition was saying, “… when connected to your own personal nuclear generator. Simply insert a drawing on our special paper…” which she slid into a slot on the side of the machine, “add your measurements,” which she typed on a keyboard next to the slot, “and allow a few moments for fabrication.”

The woman opened the torpedo, and hanging inside, perfectly pressed and sized, was a glittering evening gown.

“Isn’t it dreamy,” Judy sighed.

Jane touched the silk dress. “Oh my, yes.” How could she covet something so utterly useless?

“We could share the chamber,” Judy said.

The sales woman chirped, “Of course! And you could dress your men in style.” She waved her hand at the dressed mannequins behind her.

“We could actually afford that,” George whispered behind her. “I’d like to see what else it could dress you in,” he said nuzzling her ear.

Jane walked away. She wasn’t ready to be a breeder-reactor again. If she had burned her bra in 1963, would it have changed this 1984?

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