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Chips & Ripov
by Albert Russo

The day little Daphne was bom, Ripov saw the world in a new light. He never imagined that fatherhood could be so totally, so delightfully, engrossing. He had eyes only for little Daphne, to the point where he became oblivious to the baby's mother who, feeling neglected, dejected, then utterly disgusted, decided to leave the household.

A staunch believer in progress, and having read extensively about the marvels of computer education, Ripov sent baby Daphne to computergarten even before enrolling her at the Teenie Weenie Swimmers Club. The results were stunning and the days seemed to be made of 24 minutes apiece.

At age one, little Daphne could count and read Pascal. At two she spoke Spanish, Russian and Kangooreese. On the eve of her fourth birthday she was able to juggle with algebraic equations and survey the map of our galaxy, identifying novas.

She'd just turned six when she presented Ripov with a chart of the universe as it would appear a million years hence. So awed was Ripov by the extent of her learning capabilities and her powers of reasoning that he soon began to develop a complex. He consulted the famed Parent Clinic where he was told that he had contracted C.H.I.P.S. (Computer Hyper-Immunity Parental Syndrome), a disease so rarely encountered that even the most advanced computers refused to decode it. Without being aware of it, Ripov began to ape his daughter. He would talk in a high-pitched voice and bob his head while smacking his lips. He wondered why all of a sudden in the street transvestites stole such lustful glances at him. To outsiders he acted as little Daphne's manservant. She never needed to lift an eyebrow nor raise her voice. Ripov waited on her hand and foot, anticipating her every whim. Little Daphne even managed to project him onto the videoscreen and cast him in her games as her referee.

Ripov floated in a sort of amniotic bliss. He would dream of little Daphne resting on a magnificent coral throne and surrounded by exotic fishes. She would address her Council of Ripov clones and devise new measures to extend her filial authority.

Ripov couldn't understand why his friends pitied him. "A maze of split personalities", they'd mutter.

“I'm the richer for it," he'd answer them calmly. “Thanks to my darling little Daphne," he'd go on to explain, "I've rediscovered the importance of my genes and their megabyte memory. In a world where it is so fashionable to claim one's social status, religion or ethnic group, I have realized that I'm but a chip, albeit indispensable, in the cosmic network." At this stage, Ripov suspected his friends of being envious. “They still believe they can act as their children's mentors," thought Ripov. To be taken care of and dictated to by one's own progeny, wasn't that the nec plus ultra, the key to happiness? Adult tyranny had, after all, wrought only havoc throughout the ages. That he appeared irresponsible didn't bother Ripov the least; on the contrary, he felt proud of it.

Little Daphne was now in perfect control of her father’s life, to the degree where she no longer reverted to conventional computers. She would snap a finger and immediately Ripov would respond. She tried all kinds of experiments on her slavishly obedient father. She'd make him bark or twitter to probe his varied and boundless potentialities. Even as he'd crawl, Ripov would deliver the most sophisticated formula. To reward him, little Daphne would let Ripov munch as many potato chips as he wished, for even before contracting C.H.I.P.S., Ripov had been a chips freak.

And some people complain about their children being difficult. Oh, to be blessed with C.Hl.P.S.!