Q. I’ve heard the word dystopia used a lot lately. Is it contagious?
A. Just to clarify, you want to know about dystopia, not dattopia, right? Some people get them mixed up.
Q. What the heck is dattopia?
A. And, see, that’s why I wanted to clarify. Because I am the dystopia guy. I know dystopia like zealots know zel. The dattopia guy is someone else. In fact it’s a woman. I’ve heard she’s mean and wears leather pants.
Q. Wow, I’d like to meet her sometime. But I do want to know more about dystopia.
A. Okay. The first thing you need to know: all of your topias—your dyses and your dats—come from the word Utopia.
A. Utopia, not y-o-u topia. The U comes from the nickname for a character from Roman mythology called Ulysses Hoo. His friends called him U for short and today he is remembered as the father of the chocolate soda.
Q. Are you making this up?
A. Oh no. These are all hard facts straight from my mind. Anyway, topia is another word from ancient times, specifically when Greeks went around naked. Sometimes in the cool, cool, cool of the evening they developed a condition called topia—known today as goose bumps. The word topia became corrupted over the centuries into tapioca, a pudding with bumps in it. So, literally, utopia means “U Hoo! Tapioca!”
Q. And dystopia means…
A. It’s from the Greek word “Dys” which has two closely related meanings. The first is “Dys be wrong, Zorba.” The other is “We’ll have none of that bumpy pudding crap here.” Thus, dystopia essentially means “You can’t have your tapioca and eat it.” Today, of course, it has come to mean a society where tapioca is a mortal sin.
Q. I don’t think they even make tapioca anymore.
A. Because it’s a mortal sin.
Q. So what you’re saying is that I am currently living in a dystopian society.
A. What’s your zip code?
A. Let’s see. That’s Arthur, North Dakota. Oh yes, dystopia up the yingo.
Q. What about 58008? I have a brother who lives there.
A. Hmm. Barney, North Dakota. No tapioca sightings there.
Q. Yeah, Barney is strictly a custard man. What about 58052? My uncle lives there.
A. That would be Leonard, North Dakota. They have an ordnance. Strangers, upon entering town, must check their tapioca with the blacksmith who flattens all bumps.
Q. So what you’re saying is North Dakota is a tapioca-free state and therefore a dystopian society.
A. Not exactly. As you well know they really don’t have what you’d call society in North Dakota. They don’t even have a tuxedo rental shop and you can’t buy white gloves without a license. They have mostly farmers, car dealers and crop dusters.
Q. Don’t forget the Dakota wall industry.
A. What’s a Dakota wall?
Q. It’s the same as a concrete Jersey wall only these come with wallpaper and crown molding.
A. Gosh, look at the time.
Q. One more zip code. 58015. A girl I dated in high school lives there.
A. Uh oh. Christine, North Dakota.
Q. Christine! That’s her. Um, why uh oh?
A. Christine not only boasts one of the largest tapioca eating populations in the country, it’s a hotbed of tapioca smuggling. What Nogales, Arizona is to cocaine running, Christine, North Dakota is to tapioca.
Q. Definitely not a dystopia.
A. The exact opposite: it’s your classic dattopia.
Q. Is dat a Greek word?
A. Dat is not a Greek word. Dat is believed to be part of da call sign between da smugglers and da dealers. If da smuggler doesn’t hear da correct response to his “Who dat?” he drops his tapioca and runs.
Q. Who dat?
A. Who dat who say who dat?
Q. Dat be me.
A. And dat be dattopia.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved