Over The Friggin Rainbow Again…
Over the Friggin Rainbow By Christopher Moore
Tin Man episode 1 spoiler warning…
So, I was watching Tin Man last night on the Sci-Fi channel, which is a sort of reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum’s OZ books. (It kind of cracks me up that the characters refer to OZ as the Oh-Zee, but they deliver it straight-faced, so it’s not as fun as it might be.) Anyway, in this version, the Dorothy Character finds out early on that her parents — the ones she has known and who have nurtured her all of her life — are actually robots, who were programmed to nurture her and prepare her for the day when she freaked out at finding out that her parents were robots. And as I was watching it, I was saying, "That happened to me. I was totally convinced that my parents were robots, too."
I guess I was about five when I realized the temporary nature of life and was visited by a deep anxiety at my own mortality. What was the point, really? Here we were, cast upon with ball of dirt for our three-score and ten, only to suffer, die, return to dust, nothing to show for our having been here. It all seemed so meaningless, at least when you weren’t eating candy. And the world was so hostile, so dangerous, there were so many things that could hurt and kill you, or both. Didn’t my parents tell me that every day? Didn’t they shoot someone every single day on Bonanza, or Combat, or Gunsmoke?
And then it occurred to me that my parents were going out into that world, every day! There was no friggin way they were surviving the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune on a day to day basis. Heck, I’d seen my dad almost kill himself twice trying to mow the lawn, and mom endured similar run-ins with the Reaper while making a pie. (Okay, it was my fault that I hit a golf ball through the kitchen window – or at least my Dad’s fault. "You finally got under one!" he’d shouted. Then, as I cried, he laughed so hard he fell down. Glass in the rhubarb – I should have used that for a book title.) But my point is, we are but soft and squishy bags of morality rolling in a bin of sharp, pointy circumstance, leaking life like a colander full of wet spaghetti.
So clearly, my parents had been killed many times. And because I was so damn special, the government (I had a very ominous view of the government at five, it seemed pervasive, and secret, and hostile – like the Old Testament God, only way more sneaky – come to think of it, I still have that same view) anyway, I was so damn special that the government had replaced my parents with robots. Why? Well, so as not to upset me and keep me from doing very extraordinary things, like, you know, flying and being a genius. I was pretty sure my folks were robots. Why else would they whisper and have conversations after I went to bed? (I could hear them! Talking!) They were plotting. I imagined conversations like this: "Oh Jack, you must be more careful. You almost crushed that coffee cup with your scary robotic hand. Chris would have known right away and our cover would have been blown."
"I know, Faye, that is why I sent him to bed, so he will fall asleep and we can wipe the memory from his little brain so in the morning he won’t remember but he will have to pee really bad."So, I developed insomnia at a very early age. Which is why my Dad had to shoot Santa off the roof one Christmas to get me to go to sleep, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.
Over the years my parents were replaced again and again, each model having a subtle change so I would not notice. Sometime in the 70s, however, something went terribly wrong. I think the programming in the Mom-bot was tuned to have an obsessive affinity for the colors avocado green and harvest gold. Anyway, because of it, I never developed the ability to fly. And to this day, with those colors coming back in the trendy "retro" designs, I sort of break out into cold sweats when I see them, and to my chagrin, I still can’t fly.
The thing is, eventually you have to give in. Eventually you have to say to yourself, "What does it matter if they are robots, they still won’t let have a mini-bike?" You realize that your robot parents are programmed the way they are, they will never relent, and you can never escape, because everyone else is in on the conspiracy. Then, in the early 80s, after I’d left my parents and escaped to California, I became aware of a larger part of the conspiracy. The President was a robot. There was no other explanation for Ronald Regan – and all the robot parental units in the country who were supporting him. I was about to reveal the conspiracy, when they killed my Father-bot.
Sure, they said it was a heart attack, but I knew, it was probably his old nemesis, the lawn mower, or a golfing accident. I clammed up, minded my own business, and went about the business of life, making a call back to the Mother-bot in Ohio every month.
Then, in the late nineties, as the it appeared that the country was going to come out of the robotic closet by electing one of two robots: the really smart, but stiff and completely unconvincingly human robot, or the convincingly human robot that was as dumb as a box of rocks, I decided to come forward. That’s when they killed the Mom-bot. This time I wanted to see it coming, so I flew to Ohio to observe the process. They’d done a convincing job of making the Mom-bot appear to be wasting away from a debilitating disease, but after she was deactivated, I confirmed my life-long suspicion when I found her internal battery module. It was right there in her night-side table, next to her hand gun and her bible.
So, all I’m saying is, I totally know what Dorothy was going through in Tin Man. I’ve been there, done that. Wait until she finds out she can’t fly and she’s not a genius…