Monday, January 21, 2008

Tell the Aliens I'm Too Busy to See Them Now

So the aliens have arrived.

America greets this news with a selection of emotions as limited as our culinary palate. There is fear, but it so thoroughly blends in to the maelstrom of other terrors that unrelentingly prick the margins of our consciousness that this newest horror quickly becomes indistinct. What is up with that mole on our shoulder? Do we look fat? Is it possible that 24-year old fucktard who lives on the corner makes more money than us? And yes, our penis exceeds average length, but what about girth? All these frights simmer endlessly on the burners of our brain, a vile and noisome gumbo, and who is to say that it is the flying saucers that are making us wretch?

For long-time believers in the existence of extra terrestrial beings, this is a moment of triumph and validation. Yes, they told us so. I hope that their foresight is rewarded with some position of power in the Venutian regime soon to be established. For I dread being strapped to a board next to one of these know-it-alls, waist deep in an animate, sulfurous mucus while our unseen captors breed generations of offspring in the linings of our exposed intestines. That physical agony will be nothing compared to the psychic torment of listening to my neighbor yammer on smugly about the nutritional requirements of those alien fetuses. If that is to be my fate, tell me so I can slit my own throat now.

But for the overwhelming majority of Americans, the arrival of characters from beyond our solar system has aroused little more then a gentle, fleeting hillock in the flatline of their existence. It is not a case of denial, because to be in denial implies that the conscious mind, having recognized the discomfiting import of a phenomenon, takes the prophylactic step of suppressing the distasteful news. But this is an event utterly beyond our experience, and we have not slots in our head suitable for storing it. As with every first-time experience in our lives, we must sit patiently on our couches, waiting for our television to tell us what it means, and what sort of personal grooming products we must buy as a result.

For me, the emotion most prominently elicited by the arrival of the aliens is exasperation. At this moment, I have an almost limitless amount of shiznit on my plizate. My sixth-grader has a math midterm this week, and apparently this requires me to master his curriculum. I am engaged in a nasty negotiation with my health insurer over co-payments on a colonoscopy. And the world is in political, economic and environmental meltdown and I have no idea what slogan I'm supposed to chant to put things to right.

And now flying saucers? Well, that's just fucking great. I have meetings all day tomorrow, and the grocery store closes in one hour. Tell the men from space to get in line.

What limited mental energy I have dedicated to the UFO problem I have allocated in the hopes of stumbling upon a quick explanation, a logical debunking that will allow me to return my full attention to the trite and pedestrian frustrations that suffuse my every waking moment. But it's backfiring. The more closely I examine the problem, the harder it is to dismiss. Are the witnesses lying? That seems unlikely. Lots of people saw the same thing and it seems they had no opportunity to cook up the story together. Perhaps it was an optical illusion? Possible, but it's odd that the same optical phenomenon was experienced by people observing from a variety of angles. Maybe the flying craft were actually part of a top secret U.S. government military research program? But the notion that America possesses the technology to allow an aircraft to hover, and then silently accelerate to thousands of miles an hour instantaneously, and yet that technology has in no way been deployed commercially to enhance the performance of personal watercraft or to formulate shaving products that provide unparalleled closeness and comfort seems to me even less plausible than the idea of visitors from Andromeda.

And so, reluctantly, I have decided to clear my calendar for the aliens. If they really are out there, I suspect there's a pretty good chance they've been keeping an eye on us for some time, observing us like zookeepers. It seems their intentions are benign. They have overcome the challenges of interstellar travel, and if they haven't atomized us, it can only be because they haven't tried.

If I had to hazard a guess as to the most likely purpose of this unexpected incursion into our planetary airspace, I would have to say it's eco-tourism. They are here to see the pandas, the whales and the penguins. But most of all, they must be fascinated by the homo-sapiens. There is a great debate about us going on at home on Krypton. What the hell is Hip-hop? Is the George Foreman grill some sort of primitive tool, or an object of religious devotion? And of course, they are every bit as confused about the Japanese as we are.

But there is cause for concern. If we are someone's fish tank, they may be wondering why the water is so cloudy of late. One species has gotten a little out of control, it seems, and it is time to cull.

Then so be it. But I hope the human race will be permitted to endure until next Tuesday. I have a dentist's appointment.