I’ve yet to publish the story, but I have finished it: a slice of life at the dawn of my alternate timeline’s space age. One of the big supporting characters is a friend of the protagonist: Muffy, a luscious tan platinum-blonde teenage girl with a baby in tow (and no man in sight; her lips are sealed as to the reason for that…), as of 1941 apprenticing to be a makeup artist so she can work toward her dream to open up her own girls’ hat shop right there in Astoria, Oregon. After that magical night where they all see the first manned spaceflight, what happens to Muffy and her baby, Tiffany Tacoma, a.k.a. Taffy?
Fortunately for leveraged index investor Muffy, stocks are in a roaring bull market in the 1940s, so her baby bonus she invested should multiply handsomely over Taffy’s first decade of life. I always envisioned her being successful in achieving her dream, and by the year 1950, when Taffy is 10, she should have opened and settled into being the founder, owner, and manager of Muffy’s Hat Shop. Locating in some charming storefront downtown is a possibility, but I’m thinking it more likely she runs it out of one of the new shopping malls. In any case “Muffy’s Hat Shop” is written in girly cursive neon lights at the entrance.
Muffy herself could be the model for a lot of the fashions and promotions, since she’s pretty and talented enough, having worked as a fashion model on the side herself since her teenage years. One of Muffy’s dearest dreams is to include pretty fashionable hats for little girls too, something she was denied by her own parents on account of her being “too young”, and based on this, along with Taffy looking like a spitting image of her mother, I’m sure Taffy will be modeling the latest fashions at Muffy’s from a very young age, both in pictures as well as live and in-person at the shop. The whole setup will honestly be rather adorable.
Above their little slice of an Oregonian shopping mall will be a full-fledged residence for them, just like an old-timey downtown storefront. Yes, that’s not done in real-life mid-20th-century American shopping malls, but there’s no technical obstacle to such an arrangement; indeed, the general idea of shopping centers being integrated with apartments is common in Asia; with a cursory search I even found this example from Singapore, which also contains a bus station! Such buildings wouldn’t seem out of place; in this timeline tastes evolve a bit differently: the suburban buildout is sprawling and car-centric, but it’s mixed-use and on a grid plan.
After her days spent modeling and helping her mother out with their business, 10-year-old Taffy plops her fashionable self down in her room, where in between glancing out at her window hoping to see a glimpse of a whale’s tail out in the faraway Pacific Ocean, she plays games on her computer. A thought that’s long intrigued me is what will become of the city-builder genre of games in my alternate timeline; with computer technology about 50 years ahead, 1950 should see technology good enough for an equivalent to Simcity 3000. Simcity 4 level even; if not by 1950, then certainly within a few years. This stage is when the graphics for such games start to get really good, and gameplay mechanics start to become limited only by the imagination of the developers.
In real life we got Simcity 4, then one expansion pack, and, despite all indications being that there were going to be more, the series kinda died (excepting unofficial mods, which amount to several expansion packs worth of upgrades…). I hear the closest thing we’ve got to a true sequel is Cities: Skylines, but among enthusiasts Simcity 4 is still generally accepted as the genre’s pinnacle…20 years after release.
Anyway, what if Taffy is an enthusiast for this timeline’s equivalent of the Simcity series — about her age, 10, is perfect to be a passionate player — and it keeps getting supported with expansion packs and sequels? Maybe even the series is open-source (as is the norm for software in general in this timeline), so fans can modify the source code as much as they please? Admittedly a wish-fulfillment scenario, but it’s an interesting one.
While “SimCity” is the rather obvious moniker for a city simulator, I’d want a different name for my universe’s version. “Metropolis” perhaps? “Polis” just by itself? Hmm. I’ve got more than enough thoughts for a true sequel to Simcity 4 to make a whole novella all by itself, so it might be a fruitful avenue to explore through the lens of cute tween Taffy.
She’ll still be a gamer when she grows into womanhood in her teenage years, making Taffy herself arguably another instance of wish fulfillment: a cute feminine stylish pretty girl who’s also a gamer. But in fact it seems open-ended free-form simulators have always been very popular with women and girls compared to other sorts of games; go figure.
In between building her artsy cities and modeling her girly fashions, Taffy will be doing some traveling. Muffy’s prospered with the twin tailwinds of the bull market and her successful hat shop, so the little family will have plenty of money to splurge on little luxuries like vacationing in Europe.
I’m thinking when she’s really young, say 12 or something, she has a meet-cute with a French boy of about the same age (and adorability) on the Riviera, and both of them fall in love with each other, becoming each other’s first everything; the time they make love in a grotto in a Mediterranean will be as glorious as it is clandestine. Their affections stick for the long haul, becoming a good boyfriend and girlfriend for each other, consistently seeing each other whenever they’re on vacation, being pen pals handwriting love letters (and the online equivalents) the rest of the time.
Taffy goes on dates with other men in her teenage years, but ultimately none compare to her original French boyfriend. Taffy’s just the type who would be silly enough to try to learn the language and keep a heart-shaped locket with her crush’s picture in it. Her mother Muffy isn’t even much more mature; at perhaps 16 years older than Taffy she’d just be around 30 by the time this romance takes hold. She’ll be almost as enthusiastic about it all as her daughter! Some years and a lot of lovemaking later, Muffy becomes a grandmother and Taffy and her beloved become wife and husband, and they all live happily ever after.
That would be nice. Maybe it’s a bit silly, but it would make for a cute little story I think.