Economics 101, a Novel, ch_42b -- Prologue, Part 2

(The story starts here:

The previous chapter is here:

This is a long prologue. I had actually meant it to be an epilogue.

Beginnings can be scary because they mean hard work.

Fun and games take hard work to make them truly fun, too.

And now you know about the wedding night.

Wednesday morning, we will leave them to their privacy. It really is none of our business, not something we need to know about, although "we all know" what they were doing.

Really. What do "we all know"? If everyone knows so much about it, why do so many make such a big deal of it?

We don't really know. We can guess, in somewhat broad terms, if we choose to waste our time and energies doing so.

But it's their business, their responsibility, what they say and how they say it. It's not ours. There are all the little details that make it special to them, and we would not understand much of it, even if we did stick around and watch.

We should give them their privacy and keep ours.

However, just to creep you out, ...

"Wycliffe, where are you going?"

"We're not supposed to stick around, are we?"

"Open your eyes," Hanaka said.

Wycliffe let himself become aware, not just of the physical world where his two friends were celebrating their affection for each other, but also of the lower world where there were evil spirits avidly waiting for opportunities to whisper suggestions of a mean and vulgar nature to our co-protagonists. No, not just waiting -- continually whispering, looking for any crack in their emotional armor. And not just whispering, but laughing coarsely, carrying on crude and imprudent conversation, pretending that they knew all about what was going on.

And, of course, having never had physical bodies, they understood even less than we would, which is why it did not help them to be happy.

"Well, I thought we should give them their privacy, but that is not going to work. I guess propriety has a different meaning for us."

"That's right. That's why you've been putting so much effort into training yourself to ignore the false memories of your flesh."

"This is going to painful. It hasn't been that long since I had a body."

"I don't think so. Remember that anything that is right, that you would have received with all your heart if you had had the opportunity, will not be denied when the time comes. If you are faithful now. And patient."

"I don't want to become a devil."

"That's part of the being faithful and patient, learning how to watch over people in every situation without giving in to the various temptations to serve the devil."

"What if my thoughts get out of control?"

"Focus on what's right for our friends. And I can help you."


"She can help you. We'll be here, too."

I could talk about the clinical attitude of physicians, but it would not really cover more than a small part of what Wycliffe was learning, to enable him to watch over his friends in their private moments without taking their privacy away -- and to do so without being himself overtaken by the lusts that people in evil spirits allow themselves to be entirely taken in by.

"Oh. Grandma Georgiana, Grandpa Greg." Wycliffe took a little more time to think. He sighed a metaphysical sigh and strengthened himself to believe he could do what was right. "Well, okay, I guess I'll try."

And he did just fine.

And if you excuse yourself in looking at pornography and such because the angels are watching, well don't say I didn't warn you that it won't make you happy.

Maybe it's cheating, for me to preach at you like this while we leave Bobbie and Karel to take care of each other.

But I don't think it is. So I will preach at you.

When I find myself distracted in a variety of temptations, I have found the best thing to do is think things through -- all the way to the end.

In high school, some of the football players jested and bragged about "going all the way" with some girl or other.

I don't think I was the only one who wondered about the follow-through. How could they call it all the way, when they had not married, and would not. How could they call it all the way if they would attempt to refuse the best part -- the responsibility to cooperate in raising the child, should the girl become pregnant?

Of course, some of my friends complained that I was a wet blanket. They probably had a point. I wasn't really walking very far with them.

There is a somewhat modern parable of two boys who see a man working in the fields, and one suggests they hide his shoes. But the other suggests they hide money in the shoes, instead. Mischief can be turned into something productive, if we walk together far enough.

In truth, I knew I was not strong enough to go with them where they wanted to go, without myself giving in to evil temptations. I knew it was better for me to leave early.

Now, if, for instance, I was tempted to buy a pornographic magazine, the question of what, exactly, I would do with it would slow the impulse down. I could read the articles and look at the the pictures, but then what?

Would it help me make friends with the girls I was too shy to talk to, if I had those images in my mind?

Looking at those images made it that much harder to redirect my imagination and reign it in, when the wash of hormones broke it loose. I did look once or twice, and that was enough to understand I didn't want to fight with the false euphoria.

Sure, it may seem like an adventure, but you have to remember there's a lot of work to do in real adventures, and you have to ask yourself if you are ready for all the work -- remember that the work is a part of the fun that we may not be ready for.

Sometimes, when you're focused on what seems to be right in front of you, you need to look down the road to where it leads. Think things through.

Well, Karel and Bobbie have been working pretty hard. And I've glossed over a lot of the hard work. I told you a little about it, but if I kept telling you about the things they do every day, just to keep themselves and each other alive, that would get in the way of telling the story.

In the last chapter, I told you about some of the physiological things that happen to Bobbie. It was especially hard this time, and it won't usually be anywhere near as difficult as it was this time. But it's something that happens regularly for her because she is a woman and young enough to have children.

Some time back, I told you about some of the physiological things that happen to Karel. It's not in the same league, but it is still sometimes painful.

Now they are married, they can help each other with these things in different ways than before. But it still won't always be easy, and it won't always be quickly taken care of. And it might even seem like drudgery sometimes.

Sometimes it will be anything but fun, except maybe in retrospect, maybe years after the fact. But it will be part of their experience, part of the taste, so to speak. It it would all be incomplete without the hard parts.

They have been friends since they met, and they keep learning new ways to be friends. Being friends with each other can help with the drudgery.

You may think I'm repeating myself, but walk with me yet a ways.

There are many things they don't have to worry about because they have been true to each other, and to God.

They don't, at any rate, need to worry about the diseases the other person might bring home. And they don't need to worry about allergies to antibiotics or other possible bad reactions to medicine that they won't need to take.

The possibility that one of them might die or become disabled there on the island is not completely zero, but God has given them some reassurances about that.

On the other hand, diapers and the roof over their heads are things they must worry about. And it's not just feeding the children that will come, but making the table to put the food on. And as the children get older, there will be concerns about their education.

There is a difference.

Spousal relations is not just about endorphins and making each other feel good.

Really, there are many ways other than sex to help each other feel good.

When we start down a road, whatever happens to us while we are on that road happens to us. We can fix things to a certain extent, especially with the help of God, but we can't undo them. And God would rather not have to help us fix too many things. True?

Okay, so you've heard all of that before. You didn't think you needed me to tell you again, distracting you from what Bobbie and Karel are doing.

But it's a fundamental principle of real economics -- If we can't learn how to be true to our partner in sexual relationships, how are we going to be true to our partners in market relationships?

Well, think carefully about how Karel and Bobbie prepared for this day.

They have indeed prepared.

We must suppose they'll still have arguments, disappointments, and such. Life won't be a rose garden all the time, especially out here on the island. Lots of things worse than thorns, and lots of things better than beautiful flowers. But the arguments and other problems are going to be significantly different because they prepared.

Because they start out trusting each other, they can usually be seeking for solutions instead of seeking for common ground when the arguments occur.

This is one of the big things you give up when you try to get to the good times without the preparation.

I'm going to go out on a limb and tell you it works much better if you are not trying to negotiate sex at the same time as basic friendship.

Sex without marriage may seem easy and it may seem fun, but, ultimately, friendship just lasts longer than sex. And it may seem old-fashioned, but sex with both commitment and friendship really is a whole lot better.

Okay, end of lecture.

"Are you okay?"

They were lying on their backs, side by side. Karel was looking like he was in another world.

"Mmm. Yeah. Way better than okay."

"Much more fun when I'm not being forced."

"I'll take your word for it." Karel was taken a little aback. "Wow. For a moment, I'd forgotten you have bad memories about, uhm, ..."

"Those memories are now being replaced with good memories."

"I'm glad. I think I'm in heaven. Are you okay?"

"Me, too. Heaven, I mean."

They probably shared a kiss.


"Can we just lie here for a while?"

"Great idea."

Sometime during the morning, they got up and got some exercise, bathed in the sea, got breakfast, and generally got a fairly normal, if belated start on the morning.

"Should we get started on the hut today?"

"We need two."

"I think so."

"Two." Bobbie held up two fingers.

"Huh? Wait ..."

"One for storage. Our trunks and stuff are going to rot!"

"Oh. Good idea. Storage should be simpler to build -- good practice. We'll start with that."

During the heat of the day, they drew plans for their huts in the sand. With a little thinking, they decided they could put a covered porch between the two huts and, simplify the storage hut.

"I'm worried about the stand-offs. I'm sure they'll shift in the sand, and then the whole thing will fall down."

"The wise man built his house on the rock."

"Where are we going to find rocks that big?"

In the cool of the evening, they hiked up to the ridge and found some large loose rocks and boulders, some of which Karel carried down to camp, one at a time. The larger ones, they carried together, stopping frequently for rests.

They weren't able to move enough to put under all the standoffs before nightfall, so they stopped and got some dinner and went to bed together under the stars again.

It rained that night, and they changed into dry clothes and moved into the tent.

It took the rest of the week to raise the corner posts, get the floors laid out level on good foundation, and get a loosely woven wicker roof up, supported by whole culms spaced about three inches apart, and covered with thatching. And it rained again on Sunday, giving them an opportunity to test the thatching and re-work it on Monday.

After some more planning, they decided to use wicker work on the walls, too, using a double weave that would shed water outside the walls. They tied the wicker onto vertical culms spaced about six inches apart.

The support beams for the walls went up quickly, but the wicker work took time. It rained twice that week, allowing them to test the walls as they built them.

The storage hut was finished on Saturday, and they moved their trunks and luggage into it in time to protect it from another Sunday rain. Happily, the roof and walls held. But the tent, without the luggage in the center, seemed like it might fly away in the wind.

By Tuesday evening, the walls for their living hut were finished, with windows, door, and coverings for both. And it started clouding over again, so they moved they rest of their stuff in, took the tent down and stored it in the hut, lashed the coverings in place, and spent the night in the hut.

It held, in spite of the wind, but sleeping with their bedrolls directly on the bamboo floor was not very comfortable.

They had just enough bamboo left to make wicker flooring, which took most of Wednesday.

The rainy season began in earnest that night.


They were lying together on their combined bedrolls, cuddling and listening to the changing rhythms of the rain and wind.

"Yes, Honey?"

"I think I felt something inside me."


"You know."

"I do? Yeah. I guess I understand." Karel stroked Bobbie's stomach, then lifted the covers and kissed the fabric of her pajamas over her navel.

"Always so romantic!"

"Huh-uh. Just telling the kid to take his or her time and get it right."

Bobbie giggled and stroked Karel's hair. And then she became serious. "But we're going to have to review your physiology lessons and get started with teaching you how to help me deliver this baby."

"If this hut holds, we should have the time during the rains." 

Yes, I guess this chapter is a prologue after all.

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