Mr. Blondo

by Colin Campbell 2,059 words

     I never met a billionaire until my niece married one.

     The reception was up in Mission Canyon at the Rockwood venue of the Santa Barbara Women’s Club. The ballroom was mostly empty; a couple workmen were setting up a 16-foot TV screen on the stage. Outside on the Club’s stone-walled terrace, a dozen Gen Alpha people were chatting under the branches of a big oak tree. They were all thinly clad in the ninety-degree heat. Every one of them was blond. I didn’t know any of them.

     Santa Ana winds were gusting down the canyon were swirling leaves and branches of the oak, and hints of smoke were in the air. Fire season.

     There was a bar table set up on the terrace and I ended up talking to the bartender more than anybody else. 

     “Sure are a lot of blondes here,” I said to him. His nametag said “Bud.” “I guess they must be Nylla’s friends from high school. They’re all so young.”

     “No, I think they’re mostly executives with BlonDNA and a couple other biotech companies,” Bud said. “I’ve seen several of them before at Mr. Blondo’s events.”


     “Tim Haynes, the groom. Everybody calls him Mr. Blondo. He’s the CEO of BlonDNA.”

     “Oh, sure, Tim Haynes, that was the name on the invitation, I’ve never met him, all I heard was that he was a billionaire, I didn’t know how he made his money,” I said. There are so many new billionaires these days. “The bride is my niece, Nylla. She’s my sister’s granddaughter.”

     Bud’s eyes drifted away from me as he listened to his earbud for a moment. “Oh, of course, you must be Mr. Kelly.

     “I haven’t seen her since her high school graduation five years ago. Seems like a lifetime ago, the way things have been changing so much. Her high school is a homeless encampment now.”

     “Yeah, things sure have changed,” he said as he handed me my drink.

     “I don’t know much about my niece. I was never able to compete with her phone for her attention. She doesn’t care about anything except her own appearance.”

     “Well then she’ll fit with Mr. Blondo’s crowd pretty well,” Bud said.

     “She’s been out and around in the world and I saw her Instagram stream, once in a while, and then suddenly she’s marrying a billionaire I never heard of. I’ve never met him, I didn’t know his nickname.”

     I was the only one at the bar. “These kids look too young to drink.”

     “They’re old enough. This is my fifth event with Mr. Haynes,” Bud said. “I’ve gotten to know his group a little bit. They’re not big drinkers.”

     “What’s the big-screen TV for?” I said. “Are they going to show a movie?”

     “It’s for the Presidential debate,” Bud said. “Mr. Blondo is a big donor to the Jensen campaign.” Tonight was the final debate before the election.

     “It’s the first election for Generation Alpha, I said. “I hear the AI candidate is very popular with them.”

     “He’s popular with us Millennials, too,” Bud said.

     “So, when is this shindig supposed to start?” I said.

     “They’re late, but they’ll be here,” Bud said. He turned his head and focused his attention on his earbud again, then said, “They’ll be here any minute, Mr. Kelly. They’ve just turned onto Mission Canyon Road.”

     “I thought it would be a bigger party,” I said.

     “He has a tight inner circle and doesn’t socialize much,” Bud said. “They had a brief ceremony at City Hall. Mr. Blondo says it’s a routine legal formality that didn’t require the presence of guests, so the party starts here. Mr. Blondo has a pretty strict schedule. Tomorrow He and Nylla are flying to the Great Barrier Reef for a scuba honeymoon.”         

     “So, ‘blondo,’ he made his money in the hair dye industry? I thought he was a computer programmer, or was it genetical engineer.”

     “No, he ended the hair dye industry.”

     “He sure did,” said one of the young people, a woman in a little black dress, who approached the bar in time to hear Bud. Her hair was not exactly blond: it was golden with stripes like an orange tabby cat. “Who’s your new friend, Bud?”

     “This is Mr. Kelly, he’s the uncle of the bride. Mr. Kelly, Esme Rovere.”

     She tilted her head and listened to her AI earbud for a moment. “Oh, of course, I saw your file, Mr. Kelly, at Mr. Blondo’s request. I’m marketing director at BlonDNA. Yes, we ended the hair dye industry! Why wreck your hair and scalp with chemicals every six weeks? Use BlonDNA once and it lasts forever. And to answer your question, Mr. Blondo is not a programmer or a genetics engineer, he’s a prompt entrepreneur. He tells AI what he wants and AI does it. I’m surprised Nylla didn’t tell you about him. She was one of our original poster girls.”

     “We haven’t been close,” I said. “It’s not a dye? How does it work?”

     “All you have to do is send us a few of your hair roots and tell us what kind of hair you want. We use CRISPR technology to program an RNA crème for you. Takes a while for it to penetrate into the roots of your hair and alter the genetics, but then it’s permanent. Your hair doesn’t eventually start growing out dark again. BlonDNA is the CRISPR crème that permanently changes your hair color at the roots. With BlonDNA, your cuffs and collars can match, too.” She shook her head to swirl her cascades of feline-striped hair. “We’re working to add lion DNA right now–if you want a mane, we can deliver it.”

     I rubbed my head. “I don’t have any hair left. You got a crème for that?”

     “That’s a totally different problem, our labs are working on it.”

     Then she said, “Oh, they’re here,” and raced away as six people entered the ballroom, including Nylla, who looked radiant. She didn’t see me, she and Mr. Blondo were inundated as people streamed in from the terrace to greet them.

     Bud said, “Nylla was a choice prize and she had other suitors, she’s the epitome of the minimalist esthetic, the all-neutral look. But I’m surprised she was able to land Tim Haynes.” 

     The people clustering toward the bride and groom were all very attractive and thinly clad in the ninety-degree heat. “They all look like Olympic athletes,” I said.

     “Their metabolisms are always at full rev,” Bud said. “Their skin is clamped down tight over their musculature, eight percent body fat. They’ve taken Metabolero–the Metabolero CEO is going to be here. Well, I’ve got to get to work here.” He opened a cabinet and pulled out two bottles of Macallan Edition No. 1 single malt scotch and set them on the bar, and then two more bottles, and rolled a rack of elegant glasses, brandy snifters, conveniently to hand.

     I’d heard of Metabolero, it was advertised a lot. There were plenty of DNA metabolism enhancers on the market. Re-set your body’s metabolic rate and eat anything you damn well please, and lose weight! Dial it up to the same rate as The Rock, without having to do eight hours a day in the gym! It was a long-time regular niche in the supplements market but the new DNA products drove out the old brands overnight because they really worked.

     The cluster of people around Mr. Blondo grew and more people were arriving in the ballroom as the word spread that He Was Here, and then the swarm moved out to the terrace around him and he headed right to the bar with Nylla on his arm. Nylla saw me and her eyes widened in recognition. She was wearing only two diaphanous silk scarves fluttering in the Santa Ana wind. She was very blond.

     She hugged me. “Thank you for coming, Uncle Kelly.”

     I stuck out my hand. “Congratulations, Mr. Haynes,” I said.

     A spark of static jumped between us when he shook my hand. “Hah! There’s electricity in the air! Humidity’s just five percent today. Just call me Mr. Blondo. Or Blondo, that’ll do.” He was much shorter than Nylla. He wore shorts and a t-shirt and his tight-skinned body had an incongruous pot belly while his arms and legs glistened with a light sweat.

     “Thank you for coming, Mr. Kelly, we are glad you are here,” Mr. Blondo said. “Where the heck is everybody, Bud? Break open the scotch.” All the young attendees were clamoring for Blondo’s attention.

     Mr. Blond began holding court, gabbing with guests, handing out generous snifters of scotch as Bud poured them. And he never said another word to me.

     Nylla was staring dreamily at him. She diverted her attention from him for a moment to say, “Isn’t he great?”

     “Where are your mother and father?” I said.

     “I don’t think they’re coming,” she said.

     The crowd moved in around Mr. Blondo at the other end of the bar from me. When everybody had a drink Bud brought me a snifter and one for himself.  Mr. Blondo was 44 but he looked a lot younger. He was twice the age of Nylla but it was hard to decide which one looked older. 

     “He’s the same age as me,” Bud said, “but he’s been using all the new biotech stuff.  

     “A first toast for the bride!” said Mr. Blondo. “Emil, Emil Vrba, you go first.”

     A young guy in a Dodgers cap stepped forward and lifted his snifter and said, “You can never be too blonde or too thin!”

     The crowd laughed. Bud told me, “That’s the CEO of Metabolero.” As others toasted, Bud identified them for me. The botox guy who created Botauten that tightens your skin all over your body. The ChatMD guy and his fierce opponent the FreeMD guy. The girl who developed Senolyze, the white blood cell modification that removes senescent cells in your body that pile up as age. And the kid who invented the EarAI earbud.

     Mr. Blondo and Nylla and the crowd moved over under the oak tree and stood in the wind, garments flowing. And just like that I was alone with the bartender again.

     Bud said, “I heard there might be a boycott of Mr. Blondo’s event by people who are opposed to Ryan Jensen’s campaign for President, but it looks like most of the regulars are here. Only two weeks until the election.”

     “I don’t really care,” I said. “Hell, maybe an AI President would be better than what we’ve been stuck with over the years.”

     The third-party candidate drawing all the attention was Ryan Jensen, 40 years old, and his “Jetson” campaign in which his AI avatar is the actual candidate. Jensen says he will rubber-stamp every decision that the avatar makes. His opponent in tonight’s final debate was the combined Republican/Democrat candidate. The AI write-in candidate who won all the primaries, fronted by Ryan Jensen. Jensen’s prompt was simply the US Constitution and the laws of the United States. Given these parameters, what should the President’s decision be on any given item of interest? The AI has a complete grasp of all information. AI has no use for graft, no relatives to put on the payroll.          

     “This is their first time the Gen Alphas are eligible to vote,” Bud said. “They’re probably all in favor.”  

     “In favor of what?” I said.

     Then Esme was at the bar again with her cat hair. “They’re all in favor of Ryan Jensen, that’s what,” she said. “Even the Gen Z people, and they’re the largest fraction of the electorate now.”

     “I don’t want to talk politics,” I said.

     “Mr. Blondo is a major donor to the Jensen campaign,” Esme said. “Our economy is hobbled by an archaic central government more dedicated to the continuation of its own power than to the general welfare.”

     “That’s Jensen’s campaign promise. I don’t see how he can win.”

     Bud refreshed her drink and she walked away saying “Don’t forget to vote.”

     Then it was time for the Presidential debate, and everybody went inside to watch on the giant-screen TV. And that’s when I went home. Whatever happens to this country, it’s going to be these young genetically enhanced elites who will be making the decisions, not me. I’m out of the picture now.