That Thing With Feathers

Out in LA-LA Land I have learned something called Fertility Institutes has decided to allow folks who come to them for help in growing a child the opportunity to pick the kind of kid they want.  They’ll use PGD, that’s shorthand business/medical speak for Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis.  Don’t want Grampa’s nose, or Uncle Ed’s pimples?  Throw that one away.  “Oh, Viscera, this one will have blue eyes, straight teeth and Artur Rubenstein fingers.  All the money we save on orthodontics we can use to get the grand piano you have always wanted.”

Some sour pusses say that’s the ultimate commodification of children, or human beings.  I say, “Well no.  Not quite yet.  We can do better”

Read on:


That’s what the sign outside the flat building in an industrial park in South LA said.  The couple parked in the visitor’s space near the front entrance and walked through the doors into the lobby.  It was cool.  It was efficient.  A few photographs of other DK sites around the country lined the walls. Behind the reception desk was the DK tag line, “GIVE US YOUR SPECS AND NINE MONTHS.”

The receptionist looked up,”Docillo and Lobelia Mustard?” she asked.  They nodded yes.  “Please wait, Dave from Project Development is with another client.  I’ll take you in momentarily.  Would you like a chai?”  The Mustards had a chai and waited for Dave in PD.

Inside the big office with an interior wall of glass looking out on a surgically clean space filled with every kind of scientific gadget imaginable, and cluttered with the odd attendant bending over something or other, carrying a this or a that, writing and jotting notes on pads, watching screens  and in general doing very efficient stuff very efficiently and impressively Dave invited the Mustards to take a seat and smiled.

“Well,” he said. “You’ve had a chance to read everything we sent you.  You know about our success here at DK, and you spent a weekend with Marnie and Marnie Shovel, our demonstrator couple.  Is there anything that you’re unsure of, anything that you want to nail down before we go ahead and schedule you for a start-up?”

Docillo coughed once and then spoke up.  “We’re ready to go, but I have a couple of minor details, small print stuff, Dave,” he began.  Dave moved his chair forward, leaned his elbows on the desk and looked very serious.  “Fine Doke,” he nodded.  “Shoot.  This is the time to get all of that stuff taken care of.”

“Lobelia and me are decided on the thing with feathers we talked about.  Those two years we spent with the Peace Corps in New Guinea really grabbed us, you know.  All of those beautiful birds, those unbelievable feathers.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful we thought to have a kid that looked like that!,” he said, his hands moving like a bird in flight as he spoke.  Lobelia beamed and nodded.  Dave sat back and listened.  “Hmmn,” he hummed.

“But, you know about measles, mumps and all that stuff kids get.  Are we in for other things, too?  I mean stuff like parrot fever and bird diseases?”  Dave put his fingers together and knotted his brow in the just right attitude of care and concern he’d practiced at the Client Confidence Building Seminar he’d attended in Vegas last month.  “Those are legitimate concerns Doke.  I’m positive you and Lobelia want the best kid around, and a problem free life for yourselves with it.  Of course we guarantee that for our clients; a disease free first five years.  Look out there.  No self-respecting microbe would be caught dead in the place,”

He smiled at his joke and continued  “Now for another few thousand we can set you up with a long term care plan that will guard against any future problems for as long as both of you are around.  Our tech/meds are the best in the business.  Anything goes wrong, bring is him, right?”  he checked his files.  They nodded.  “Bring him down to us, we’ll send him back out, usually the same day, good as new.  is that what’s worrying you?”

The Mustards nodded again.  “We’ed like that, Dave,” said Lobelia.  “We came to the best place to get the best service for ourselves, and the best for little Aegis, before and after we take him home.”

“And that’s what you’re getting,” Dave said with an affirming, warm and successful smile.  “Now, let me be sure, here,” he glanced up from the papers on the desk.  “You do want the extended care plan?”  They nodded.  “Fine, Lacey over at sales can add that to the contract and you’ll receive notice of the additional charge in a week or two,” he smiled agreeably.  “Don’t worry, you have a full nine months to pay.  Is everything settled then?”

“One more thing,” Doke said.  Dave’s broad smile tightened a bit.  “What’s the trade in policy, here?”

Dave leaned back, the tension gone from his neck and shoulders.  “You get a full refund on everything during the first year,” he began.  “After that, Les, over at re-sale and consignment, can set you up with a program.  Let me give you some advice, though.  Do it early, like in the first five years.  As they get older, it’s harder to do out placing.”  The Mustards smiled and nodded agreement.

“Well guys, let’s get the show on the road!”  Dave rose to his full nine feet.  His wet snout gleamed in the white light of the ceiling flouescents, his smooth fur shiny black as he extended a flipper to Doke and Lobbie, and led them out into the feathered future.


It all went well with the Mustards and little Aegis.  He’s ten now and doing well in school.  No parasites, no ill effects, and his colors are beautiful.  he molts twice a year, and since SoCal is such a congenial place, he only needs a light sweater during his winter molt.  Doke and Lobbie are thinking of  a little brother.  A mallard.

DK now offers two new ways to have a family:  On-Site for “Parents Who Want to Leave the Growing to Us”, and Quick P, a 60 day accelarated pregnancy option for the woman who wants to experience the joy of pregnancy but doesn’t have the time.

They are also working on developing a number of unique breeds for commercial purposes.


5 responses to “That Thing With Feathers

  1. as a professor of english and hardened reader,i always enjoy mr.gallaher’s articles,he can be sentimental at times ,but in a poetic way and with delicate restraint and with a purpose-to move the reader regarding his topic,which often carries a spiritual message.he can be amusing as he muses on the shallowness of modern america.yet,he can also sting with a form of comedy that is a strange mixture of george orwell and dave barry;”that thing with feathers”is an example of the latter.good stuff.highly recommended reading.dr.james mullan

  2. very clever, non-confrontational way to make your point(s).

  3. Htcras Detcrfutlz

    W ay cool I’d pay for a kid that was strong as a Gorilla and fast as a lion,he’d have a great future in the NFL and could support me in my old age’Imagine the size of his signing bonus!!
    great blog!

  4. Good heavens! We are closer to a BRAVE NEW WORLD!

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