Beam Me Up

OK, who’s the wise guy who put me on the ET email-list?

I suspect my son Mike, who is the most subtle kind of practical joker.

He only pulls one of these on me about once every three years, so he often gets away with it. He doesn’t have access to my cell phone anymore, so he’s not able to put my husband’s friends’ pictures on my wallpaper or change my language setting to Portuguese, both of which he has done in the past. So putting my email address on a We’re Not Alone fan club mailing list sounds about like Mike.

I’ve been getting emails that are intended for people who believe that aliens come to earth on a semi-regular basis. Or at least I think that’s what they’re talking about. They use a lot of initials and abbreviations for things, and I’m pretty sure they’re not living in the same reality as the rest of us, so I don’t really know what they’re talking about. They talk as if I should know what it all means, so I’m just going along.

The last couple of emails were advertising a book that this guy wrote about a family who goes to Mars on vacation. It takes place in some future year and Earth people are regularly traveling to Mars, as it seems to be the new Disney. In the excerpt, the family decides to go off-roading on a couple of 4-wheelers while they’re at Mars. Adventures follow.

I know I’ve said that I’ll read anything, including the pamphlets that the Jehovah’s Witness leave me. But I can’t imagine reading one single page of this book about the Mars vacation.

It’s true, though, that I’ll read anything. I can count on one hand the number of books that I’ve started and not finished. No matter how bad they are, if I start it, I almost always finish it. It seems wasteful of the time I spent reading the first part of the book, unless I can finish it and say I read it. Never mind that it’s even more wasteful to read the second part of a bad book. I’m an obsessively symmetrical person and it’s just the way it has to be.

There have been exceptions, however. Our old next-door neighbor, Brian, loaned me a book about a mercenary spy Sylvester Stallone-Arnold-Jean Claude Van Damnit type character once and I could hardly believe how bad it was. A couple times I had to set the book down and put my head in my hands and marvel at the injustice that this writer could get his book published and I can’t get a blurb accepted by Reader’s Digest.

I’m usually super nice and polite, but when I returned the book to Brian and he asked me if I read it and if I liked it, I said, “No, and no. This was the worst book I’m aware of in print today and I couldn’t read another syllable. Here. Take it. Get it away from me.”

Back to the extra terrestrials: When I was a reporter I had to interview a guy who claimed he had seen something like 75 space ships from his back yard. He lived out in Beaver Township, long past the area that has zoning rules and normal people and regular looking houses. I remember driving forever to get to his house and when I got there his yard was full of a bunch of crap, old shutters and pipes and rusty pieces of metal that probably used to be something useful, but had sat too long in the yard and were now modern art sculptures.

We sat at his kitchen table and he told me about the club he was starting for people who had seen alien space ships. I mentioned that I could not be in the club myself, although I would write something and put it in the paper for him.

“Have you really, honestly seen UFOs 75 separate times?” I asked him, my pen poised.

“Yes, I have. Some of them right from my back yard.”

“Why do you think you’ve seen so many and there are so many people who have never ever seen even one unidentified thing in the sky,” I asked him. “How could there be so many visits by aliens to our planet and only the same small group of people keep seeing them over and over again.”

He didn’t even pause. He may have heard this question before and was prepared. “Because we’re the only ones looking.”

He kind of had me there.

I’m tempted to respond to one of the emails (although I will not start the book - I will not start the book) just to see what’s up with these people. Have they, too, seen up to 75 UFOs? Have they ever seen an actual alien? Have they been abducted and had medical tests done on them and returned to earth?

Now that would be a vacation.

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