X: A Fabulous Child's Story — by Lois Gould © 1972
Once upon a time, a baby named X was born. This baby was named X so that nobody could tell
whether it was a boy or a girl. Its parents could tell, of course, but they couldn't tell anybody else.
They couldn't even tell Baby X, at first.
You see, it was all part of a very important Secret Scientific Xperiment, known officially as
Project Baby X. The smartest scientists had set up this Xperiment at a cost of Xactly 23 billion
dollars and 72 cents, which might seem like a lot for just one baby, even a very important
Xperimental baby. But when you remember the prices of things like strained carrots and stuffed
bunnies, and popcorn for the movies and booster shots for camp, let alone 28 shiny quarters from
the tooth fairy, you begin to see how it adds up.
Also, long before Baby X was born, all those scientists had to be paid to work out the details of
the Xperiment, and to write the Official Instruction Manual for Baby X's parents and, most
important of all, to find the right set of parents to bring up Baby X. These parents had to be
selected very carefully. Thousands of volunteers had to take thousands of tests and answer
thousands of tricky questions. Almost everybody failed because, it turned out, almost everybody
really wanted either a baby boy or a baby girl, and not Baby X at all. Also, almost everybody
was afraid that a Baby X would be a lot more trouble than a boy or a girl. (They were probably
right, the scientists admitted, but Baby X needed parents who wouldn't mind the Xtra trouble.)
There were families with grandparents named Milton and Agatha, who didn't see why a baby
couldn't be named Milton or Agatha instead of X, even if it was an X. There were families with
aunts who insisted on knitting tiny dresses and uncles who insisted on sending tiny baseball
mitts. Worst of all, there were families that already had other children who couldn't be trusted to
keep the secret. Certainly not if they knew the secret was worth 23 billion dollars and 72 cents —
and all you had to do was take one little peek at Baby X in the bathtub to know if it was a boy or
But, finally, the scientists found the Joneses, who really wanted to raise an X more than any
other kind of baby — no matter how much trouble it would be. Ms. and Mr. Jones had to
promise they would take equal turns caring for X, and feeding it, and singing it lullabies. And
they had to promise never to hire any baby-sitters. The government scientists knew perfectly
well that a baby-sitter would probably peek at X in the bathtub, too.
The day the Joneses brought their baby home, lots of friends and relatives came over to see it.
None of them knew about the secret Xperiment, though. So the first thing they asked was what
kind of a baby X was. When the Joneses smiled and said, "It's an X!" nobody knew what to say.
They couldn't say, "Look at her cute little dimples!" And they couldn't say, "Look at his husky