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02/24/2005

14 Kids and Pregnant Again!

This morning I watched 14 Kids and Pregnant Again! I wondered what that exclamation point meant. Surprise? After 14 kids, you'd think they'd suspect that hittin' it sideways after Sunday Bible meetin' just might lead to pregnancy. Horror? Well, I was horrified when I realized that when the current generation reproduces, there will be enough of this family to overthrow the government, an effort I would happily support if I didn't suspect they find the current administration just a little too liberal. Dismay? "Where, oh, where will we find more of that adorable floral upholstery fabric to make yet another voluminous jumper for our potential daughter-to-be?"

As I contemplated the enigma lurking within that single inscrutable punctuation mark, it occurred to me that the writers probably spent a fair chunk of time struggling with the title of the show, finally throwing up their hands in surrender and going with the obvious. I wish they'd worked a little harder, though, to punch it up a little. Everybody Loves Jim Bob? Sects and No City? God's-Will-More Girls? My Pelvis Is Made of Bubble Yum!?

The program showcases the Duggar family of Springdale, Arkansas, evangelical Christians — of course — who "decided to let God dictate the size of [their] family." Now, why do I suspect God is pacing the halls of Heaven, wearing a groove in the clouds, clawing at his snowy-white mane, muttering, "Good Me almighty, I gave you people birth control for a reason..."?

Anyway, Michelle and Jim Bob — shown here in giant disembodied head mode — met as teenagers, married shortly thereafter, and then all Hell broke loose. A long parade of children would follow, nearly one a year, all with names beginning with J. (Strangely, Jesus has not yet made the cut, while Jinger, pronounced Ginger, has.) There are two sets of twins, nine boys and five girls. The children, who frequently wear matching clothes, create an interesting but vertiginous optical illusion when all that plaid is set in motion.

It turns out there's a name for women who give birth to more than ten children. (No, this is not the setup for a joke, but, hey, feel free to make up your own.) It's great-grand-multipara. It's also mother of the year, at least according to the Arkansas legislature, who honored Michelle for her contributions to the local grocery store's profit margin the rhetorical arsenal of Zero Population Growth the hallowed ideal of motherhood, which apparently involves a cascade of pre-Raphaelite hair and a charming high-waisted frock topped with a white collar the size of a dinner plate. The show closes with the birth of the family's fifteenth child, another boy. According to Michelle, she'd happily have more children.

I can see it now. I am setting the TiVo even as we speak to catch the inevitable premiere of 15 Kids and Her Uterus Exploded!

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