Ellem missed making pies, though the decision not to do so rested solely with him. He refused to pursue the pleasure he once derived from baking in the round now that such activity could be undertaken only with “a watchdog,” as he put it. Almost as bad as supervision was the fact that he could only make a pie — or anything else that required a major appliance — in a community kitchen. His personal residence contained merely a microwave and toaster, neither useful for making from-scratch pies.
Ellem was one of more than 7 million people in the United States living in Cerebelland. Ninety-one Cerebellands stretched across the country, each assigned a number to distinguish one in the Northeast from one in the Southwest and both of those from Cerebellands scattered afield and afar of an imaginary diagonal intersecting the country from Boston to San Diego (or, as Southern Californians would say, from San Diego to Boston).
Six years ago, Congress passed legislation requiring all counties with populations of 750,000 or more to establish communities in which citizens with age-related cognitive impairment “could live together in a safe and welcoming environment.”
With the firm foothold of the Socratematicans Party, the legislature recognized the ill-advisedness of passing a bill subject to varying interpretations and possible “interference” from judges of the Overriding Court (the judicial branch supplanting/rebranding the U.S. Supreme Court, which had become politically charged and lost credibility as anything that should be described as “supreme” and furthermore endowed with term limits “just in case”). Thus, the Americans With Impaired Cognitive Abilities Act supplied an exhaustive explanation of what comprised “a safe and welcoming environment.”
Framers of the legislation looked first at the model established decades ago in Amsterdam’s De Hogeweyk, where elderly citizens with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia lived in a fabricated society where time stood still in terms of the environment in which Netherlands’ elderly citizens had lived their fully cognitive years.
Ohio’s Senator Stan de Groot, who brought forth the bill and who was among the foothold-holding Socratematicans, suggested the legislative framers also study a trio of assisted-living facilities in Ohio, including one in his hometown of Chagrin Falls where residents resided on a faux golf course amid biomorphic architecture and where “porch” facades lined the hallways under a ceiling painted to resemble a puffy-cloud-studded blue sky.
As proud as the senator was of The Lantern of Chagrin Valley, he was chagrined by his two-square-mile Cleveland suburb’s name, which connoted disappointment and humiliation. At least the “sh” sound of the “ch” mitigated the situation, as a “disguised ch” proved positive in people’s perception in examples such as Chagall, Chopin, and Cher.
In any event, the ambitious politician, whose eyes were trained on a run for the White House once he could make “de Groot” a household name with progressive ideas such as the then-still-to-be-named Cerebelland, argued that solving the country’s manifest and manifold problems should begin with a view that extended well beyond one’s nose but not beyond the horizon. In that vast middle ground, he argued on the Senate floor, rested the dilemma of how to care for an increasingly long-lived population “with dignity and compassion” while simultaneously easing the burden of family-member caregivers and reining in the ever-stratospherically headed costs of healthcare.
The senator’s bill-drafting aides chose to stray from the precedent set by the Americans With Disabilities Act, for which the acronym excluded “W,” possibly determined with foresight by someone who realized that AWDA (conceivably pronounced “aww-duh”) didn’t sound as positive as ADA (conceivably pronounced “aada” or “adda,” which ultimately was a moot point because people ultimately spoke each letter: A-D-A). The untested-but-plausible-and-evidentiary theory of Senator de Groot’s aides held that a more-than-three-letter governmental acronym containing consonants and vowels would be pronounced as a word (witness NASA, FEMA, and DARPA) and that an “A” and “I” fairly screamed for an intervening consonant (giving “with” its retribution), the result of which yielded a poetic “awika” resonance (the second “A” in AWICAA remaining silent for the practical purpose of pronunciation ease) instead of an awkward “awka” that sounded more like the call of a bird native to a rainforest (not inconsequentially an amenity lacking within the confines of U.S. boundaries).