AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
The idea for this story came to me in the middle of a traffic jam in front of a GM plant in Flint, Michigan while driving from Canada to Ohio on business. It's based on the old Edward R. Murrow program "Person to Person," where polititians, military leaders, and celebrities gave banal answers to trite questions. I was thinking particularly of the interview with then Senator and Missus John Kennedy.
Our John (Sheridan) knows how to play the game, but Delenn takes it more seriously. Anyway, I hope you like it. It's just a bit of fluff, really, brain candy.
I'd like to thank my beta readers: Penny, Pat, Gwyn, Lynne, and Mary (who still hates ISN, but read the story anyway). Thanks again guys!
[Transcript of a program aired on ISN on 15 March 2266, at 2200 hours.]
Peter Hadrian [seated behind curved desk and facing camera]: Good evening. I'm Peter Hadrian. Welcome to ISN. Tonight's show is something special. So let's get right to it.
You know them as the most powerful couple in this part of the galaxy. He is the President of the Interstellar Alliance. She is the leader of the Rangers, arguably the most potent fighting force in the galaxy. Together and separately they fought the Shadow war, created the League Alliance, restored Minbari society, and freed Mars and Proxima 3. But tonight, we're going to see a different side of this famous couple, a softer, more domestic side. So stay tuned. After this commercial break, join me, Peter Hadrian, At Home With...Mister and Missus John Sheridan.
PH: Welcome back. We're on Babylon 5, in the quarters of John and Delenn Sheridan. [cambot pans to couple seated on couch. They are sitting close together. She is visibly pregnant. His right arm is across the back of the couch behind her. Her left hand rests lightly on his thigh. They are both smiling.] Thank you for allowing us into your home. I know how busy you both are, especially at this time. If I may ask, when is the baby due.
Delenn: The doctors tell us our son will be born in approximately six weeks.
PH: A son. Have you chosen a name for him yet?
John Sheridan [grinning broadly]: Yes. David Neroon Sheridan.
PH: The middle name is Minbari, isn't it, Mister President?
JS: Yes. In honor of a great Minbari who gave his life to save his people.
D: Just as our son is both Minbari and human, his name is also of both peoples.
PH: And David? Who is that for?
D: My husband's father.
PH: The diplomat?
PH: May I say, Entil'zha - is that the correct pronunciation? - on behalf of all of all of us here at ISN, congratulations and all our best wishes for the future.
D: Thank you. And please, just Delenn. It is not necessary to use that title here in my home.
PH: How has this affected your work, especially with the Rangers? What if a crisis arises? Can you effectively respond now, and what about after the baby is born?
D: I have a very efficient and capable staff. I have full confidence in their ability to handle any emergency, and I am always available for consultation.
PH: But, is that really enough? What if a situation develops that demands your personal intervention, how will you be able to handle that?
D [no longer smiling]: When and if that happens, I will deal with it.
PH: But, how, that's what I....
D: [interrupting]: Mister Hadrian, I thought it was agreed that we would not discuss politics tonight.
PH: But this is not politics, this is....
JS [frowning]: Mister Hadrian,
PH: Please, call me Peter.
JS: Mister Hadrian, my wife persuaded me - against my better judgement - to allow an ISN news team access to our home. Don't make me regret that decision.
D [patting John's hand on her shoulder]: I am sure Mister Hadrian did not mean to offend you.
PH [ingratiating tone]: No, no, of course not. I'm not offended, not at all. Perhaps you could tell us a little about how the impending birth of your son is changing your home life.
JS [smiling and visibly relaxed]: Well, I'm learning how to cook. As Delenn can tell you, my previous attempts have been disasters.
D [smiling at John]: That is not true. You always did your best. But I too am learning how to cook. It is only fair that since John has tried to prepare Minbari food, I should learn to prepare human food. After all, our son will eat both.
PH: And how are you coming along?
JS: You'll have to ask Mister Garibaldi about that. He's our teacher. But I think he'll tell you that my wife is a better student than I am.
D: You are speaking nonsense again. Your last attempt at preparing dinner was quite commendable.
JS [grinning]: Notice she didn't say edible!
D [facing PH]: I am finding the whole process fascinating. I did not realize how similar human and Minbari foods are.
PH: For instance.
D: I just learned how to prepare a dish from the Italian region of Earth called polenta. [turns to John] Is that the right name? [John nods] In taste and consistency, it is very similar to a Minbari dish called flarn. Of course flarn is a component of most ceremonial meals on Minbar, and not eaten every day, as I believe polenta can be. But the two are very similar.
JS: Well, we're both learning to cook so that no matter which one of us is home, David won't have to learn to order take-out at an early age. But I have a feeling our son is going to prefer his mother's cooking.
PH: What other changes have you made or are planning to make?
JS: This place, for one. We just moved in a month ago. There was no room for a baby in our old quarters. Delenn's done a great job with the decorating. Would you like to see David's room?
PH [facing Delenn]: May we?
D: Of course.
PH [back at desk of opening shot]: We'll be right back after these messages.
Welcome back. Let's rejoin President and Missus Sheridan as they show us around their home on Babylon 5. When we broke away, they were about to show us the baby's room.
[PH, JS, D in doorway of bedroom]
PH: This is a very interesting room. Perhaps, Delenn, you could tell us about some of the things we're seeing.
D: Of course. Where would you like me to begin?
PH: Well, how about the crib. It's a most unusual one. I don't believe I've ever seen one quite like it.
D [smiling]: Yes, it is special. The crib comes from my husband's family. He and his sister used it, and then his sister's children used it. John's sister sent it to us a few months ago. We have made some modifications, as you can see.
PH: Yes, the head of the crib is higher than the foot. Why is that?
D: Since our son will be part of two cultures, he will need to know the ways of both. We thought it would be better for him to learn to sleep on a minbari bed first.
JS: It's easier to pick up the trick of sleeping on a slanted bed if you start very young.
PH: Excuse me, sir, but you sound like you're speaking from experience.
JS [grinning]: No comment!
PH: Yes, well, that yellow bundle at the foot of the crib. Is that also Minbari?
D [smiling]: No. That belonged to my husband when he was very young. I believe it is called a...a pooh bear? Is that correct, John?
JS: Uh..yes. Why don't you tell our visitor about the meaning of the crystals in the alcove above the crib.
PH: Yes, please do. It looks like a bay window with sunlight coming through. Isn't that impossible on a station like this?
D: The sunlight is artificial. On Minbar, it would be a real window, with real sunlight. It symbolizes the light of the Universe welcoming a new life. The crystals on the shelves represent the attributes we want for our son. The ones on the top shelf represent wisdom and compassion. Those on the middle shelf signify a contented heart.
PH: What about the bottom shelf?
D: That is usually left empty.
PH: But there seems to be an oddly-shaped crystal on it.
D: Yes, it was custom made.
PH [motioning the cambot for a tight shot]: I'm sure I'm wrong, but that crystal looks a lot like a baseball glove with a ball and bat lying across it.
D: You are not wrong.
JS: Well, I'd like my son to share my interests....
PH: As do all fathers. Delenn, what is that plant at the foot of the crib. It looks a little like mistletoe or cranberries.
D: It is a fruit that is used in many Minbari ceremonies. There is no word for it in your language. When a child is expected, the fruit is planted in a crystal container. The ripened fruit will then be used in the naming ceremony for the new baby.
PH: Naming ceremony?
D: When the baby is welcomed into the community. I believe there are similar ceremonies among many earth cultures.
PH: I see. What about those pictures on the walls? I recognize the Grand Canyon, and Victoria Falls, but most of the others are unfamiliar.
JS: All the pictures are famous sites on Earth and Minbar. That city, there on the back wall, is the capital of Minbar. We want our son to learn about both his heritages.
PH: The ceiling over the crib is unusual. Is that dappled pattern also Minbari?
JS: Not exactly. Lights out!
PH [gasp of astonishment]: It looks like the night sky on earth. I can make out the Big Dipper, and is that the Belt of Orion?
JS: It is pretty spectacular, isn't it. We can change it to show the night sky at different times of the year and from different hemispheres. This view is from my parent's home.
PH: I don't recognize the star patterns on the other side of the room, over the rocker in the corner.
D: That is the night sky over my home on Minbar.
PH: How did you decide the placement of the star maps? Why Earth over the crib?
JS: We flipped a coin.
D: We did. It seemed the fairest way.
JS: Why don't we return to the main living area now.
PH: Yes, of course.
[Back in main room, JS & D on couch again, PH on chair facing them]
PH: This is a comfortable room. The various minbari and human elements fit together well.
JS: My wife is the decorator. This is all her work.
PH: I'm sure our viewers would be interested in learning your decorating secrets? How about it, Delenn?
D: Secrets? I do not know what you mean by secrets. I just place objects where they will be in harmony with their surroundings. It is quite simple, really.
PH: If you say so. But I'm sure most of us can't do it as beautifully as you.
D: Thank you.
PH: May we see some more of your decorating skills? Your bedroom, perhaps?
JS: Sorry, that's private.
PH: We'd all like to see more of how you've blended the two cultures.
JS [standing up]: My wife is tiring. The doctor says she needs to rest often.
PH: Of course. Thank you, Mister President. Thank you, Missus Sheridan, for allowing us into your home.
[PH stands up. Shakes hands with JS. D nods her head.]
PH [facing camera]: This is Peter Hadrian. Good night for ISN.
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