Sickened by too much on-sale Halloween candy, I’m looking in the refrigerator for something nutritious to eat. After digging through the Lizard of Fun’s stash of Hershey bars ("Hey, careful!" it shouts. "Didn’t you hear there was a shortage? Those things are collectors’ items!"), I reach the conclusion that there’s nothing edible left, other than a few dubiously dated eggs.
"Hey, when did I buy these?" I ask, fully expecting the Lizard to have no idea, as it rarely pays attention to such mundane things unless Pop Tarts and beer are on the grocery list.
But, once again, the Lizard surprises me. "You didn’t buy them. I did." "You shopped?"
"Yeah, on the Web. I figured I should contribute something to the house, since I’m here freeloading all the time. I put them on your Visa."
"You shopped online with my credit card?" I ask, somewhat baffled. "What, at one of those Internet grocery sites?"
It’s the Lizard’s turn to look baffled. "No, at a hot babes site. I mean, I was there, and they were auctioning them, so I figured, hey, why not make omelets?"
I groan inwardly. "How much did you pay?"
"Ummm," the Lizard furrows its brow, calculating. "I don’t quite remember. But it included the UPS fees. Anyway, there’s one thing I don’t get — is a supermodel some kind of new breed of chicken? And how did they get the eggs here unbroken?"
I grin. "I think you got rooked, my old friend. The supermodel eggs that were being auctioned online are human eggs."
At first, the Lizard looks as though it doesn’t know whether to laugh or throw up, and then it looks at me in disbelief. "People lay eggs? I thought only birds and lizards did that."
I explain, since the Lizard has clearly been in a candy-coated fog all week, that there is a Web site at which several models — clearly not supermodels, as none of them are immediately recognizable to me — are displayed as potential egg donors. Or rather, egg sellers, assuming that they get a suitably lucrative bid from some rich but baby-desperate person, and then go through with the whole long and painful process of egg-harvesting, and then collect their thousands of dollars for their trouble.
The Lizard looks skeptical. "So, these human eggs, they eventually hatch?"
"Not exactly," I say. "But they might eventually get fertilized and turn into embryos that grow into babies."
"Baby supermodels," says the Lizard. "Yuck. Babies throw enough tantrums as it is."
I explain that while there’s been a good deal of bioethical brouhaha over the site, Ron Harris, the guy who started it, says that this is a simple case of Darwinian selection, which means that the best genes go to the fittest. Or, in this case, with bids starting at $15,000 and presumably shooting up from there, perhaps the richest.
"I swear, these didn’t cost more than five bucks," says the Lizard, getting out the carton of eggs. "You think I can resell them for big cashola?"
"Hey, you never know what people will buy," I say, pointing out that one of Marilyn Monroe’s slinkier dresses just sold for $1.26 million at a recent Christie’s auction. Just think how much people would pay if someone back in 1962 had thought to cryogenically preserve her eggs.
The Lizard looks thoughtful. "So then, logically, if all these eggs hatch, we’ll end up with a bigger population of rich people with supermodel genes."
"Sorta," I say. As with life, and hence with all those scientifically induced reproductive technologies, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the results you hope for. The supermodel genes could turn out to be recessive, leaving you with a kid who looks more like the supermodel’s Uncle Fester.
"That’s why lizards all look alike. Avoids that whole issue. Much more civilized."
And then there’s the question of supply and demand. Like the vending machines that are said to be able to raise the price of a can of Coke when the weather heats up ("Not that they’ll be likely to drop the prices when the snow falls," says the Lizard. "No," I add. "But maybe they’ll serve hot Coca instead."), the market could fluctuate according to what future consumers want. It’s possible that one day there’ll be too many supermodels, and people will want to buy eggs from scientists, or bus drivers, or even journalists. ("Naaah," says the Lizard.)
"So, tell me, how is this different from someone selling their kidneys on eBay?" asks the Lizard.
"I guess it isn’t," I say. "I mean, it’s not likely to kill them to have some of their eggs removed. And it does give rich people a new hope in life, in a weird kind of way."
"Hmmm," says the Lizard. "Then forget the eggs. I want to be able to go straight for the gold and buy other body parts directly. I mean, hey, think of the market for Claudia Schiffer’s legs …."