“He said he would come in,’ the White Queen went on,
`because he was looking for a hippopotamus.
Now, as it happened, there wasn’t such a thing
in the house, that morning.’
“Is there generally?’ Alice asked in an astonished tone.
Well, only on Thursdays,’ said the Queen.”
― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass,
and What Alice Found There
There was one other little matter that needed to be cleared up. Once it was, I began to feel like my new life might actually start to fall in place.
Men’s personal needs, I’ve always noted, are few: some soap, a brush and a razor and they’re good to go.
But what about women?
I’d already taken notice that women in this new century were not only in good physical shape, but looked good, too, with what appeared to be a lot of freedom and individuality in how they made themselves that way. Granted, it had been a while since I’d had reason to do much about my own appearance, but I certainly had my share of ego, and I didn’t really want to be the drabbest girl on the block.
And of course, women’s bodies have always required more general maintenance. Yet Wovaki’s welcome package of supplies had been the equivalent of what the airlines used to dole out when they’d lost your luggage and left you stranded in some foreign city. A toothbrush and some shaving foam. I once actually had an emergency kit that provided me a pair of men’s briefs.
Only another woman would know these things, so when I met Uhura for drinks in the recreation area the next night, I got right to the point.
Marilyn had come over to join us. I addressed my question to both of them.
“So, I said, making a note of Uhura’s impeccable grooming, and Marilyn’s deft use of makeup, “what does a girl have to do to get some mascara around this place?”
The two of them looked at each other and laughed. For some reason, Marilyn gestured at Uhura as she grinned in reply, “Inagi Thweet.”
“Inagi Thweet?” I repeated, clueless.
Uhura was still laughing. “The greatest, most unsung, scientific mind of our century,” she grinned. “She invented the Female Replicating Utility Grooming System. It was so brilliant, though, everyone just calls it after her, Inagi Thweet.”
Uhura went on to explain. Inagi Thweet was an Earth woman, a scientist, who’d spent prolonged periods in space. Based on her own experience, she’d invented the device that was now simply known by her own name. It was the most ingenious contraption, and had become standard issue on all Starfleet ships, largely due to the efforts of Uhura herself and a few other females, who’d actively lobbied to have the items included in ship’s stores. The things were too intricate to be easily replicated, and most ships’ engineering departments didn’t want to mess with them, since they served such unofficial – but oh, so essential – functions.
And just what was an “Inagi Thweet”?
They looked at each other and agreed: they couldn’t describe it. I’d have to see for myself. Marilyn ran up to her room and fetched her own. She set the thing on the table, and I looked at it curiously, but had no clue from its appearance what to do with it.
It was an object about the size of a small loaf of bread, sleek-looking and, to my untrained eyes, simply a solid white object.
I was so wrong.
It would have been a best-seller on the Home Shopping Network. A cross between a mini-replicator and a Swiss Army Knife, it had all kinds of little openings, drawers and hatches, and contained – or could manufacture – everything any woman could want, for any bodily maintenance. The Inagi Thweet provided the tools and substances to deal with anything that needed to be plucked, buffed, tweezed, brushed, exfoliated, painted, polished, lacquered, absorbed, wiped, perfumed, disinfected, depilatoried, filed, clipped, tinted, colored, waxed, shaved, shaded, shaped, removed, enhanced, curled, straightened, freshened, steam-cleaned, soothed, plumped, highlighted, tightened, covered up, flossed, glossed or moisturized.
In other words, a gal’s best friend, in one handy package. Every woman in space had an Inagi Thweet. Uhura laughed again and said it wasn’t surprising Wovaki hadn’t thought to supply me with one. Wovaki didn’t exactly subscribe to many womanly functions. Uhura made a call, and my very own Inagi Thweet was awaiting me when I got back to my room.
This century was definitely looking up.