Years ago, I came across a survey conducted by the Roper Organization. According to its survey, approximately 33,000,000 Americans showed signs of having been abducted by aliens. A booming industry of abduction specialists ranging from psychotherapists to documentary producers began chasing after space ships in hope of a bit of terrestrial profit. More recently, former astronaut Edgar Mitchell has gone on record as saying that aliens are among us and, as those of us who love conspiracy theories have always suspected, the government has been covering up the evidence that the little gray men are here.
It doesn’t seem fair somehow, that if one in fifty Americans get abducted, that I got left behind. When I was a child, I was convinced I was an alien. These people who were raising me couldn’t possibly be my parents. I would sit on the steps out back and wait for my true people to come back and pick me up.
Now, a lot of these abduction specialists say that many of us HAVE been abducted, and just don’t remember. That the aliens inject you with some sort of amnesia drug so that you don’t remember the trauma. Some have even said that we’ve ALL been abducted at one point or another. Maybe that’s why I have these recurring dreams of talking to Pope John Paul II. Maybe he and I were abducted at the same time. The Pope and I whiled away the time in the space ship waiting room sitting alongside Martha Stewart and a janitor from East LA.
Martha: “I love coming here. It’s where I get my best ideas. Your Eminence, don’t you think, for the holidays, the Vatican would look adorable in some wired winterberry wreathes dipped in gold?”
Pope: “Zmeczony jestem!”
Janitor: “I knew this was going to happen. Every time I go to Beverly Hills I get lost.”
I go on the WEB to read more about alien abductions. There’s so much information out there, I begin to wonder if the Internet is run by aliens. Fortunately, there is a survey available that you can fill out to find out if you’ve been abducted. Have you ever seen a UFO? No. Have you ever been aboard an alien space ship? No. So far I’m good. But then it asks if I have any kind of anxiety about seeing aliens. And suddenly I remember…..
I’m at the New Jersey shore, a surreal adventure on any day. The boardwalk is always crammed with screaming families, giddy teens with multiple piercings, big haired women crammed into revealing leopard tank tops teetering on spiked mules, and barrel chested men sporting elaborate gold chains, talking about hockey as if it was a life and death issue. These, however, are not the aliens.
They are everywhere. Huge blow up alien dolls hang suspended from the indoor arcade, a grand prize for a lucky video game winner. Stuffed little green man prizes line several boardwalk games. A family plays, betting on the number two. It lands on one. The father shrugs. The son begins to shriek and stamp his feet. “I want my alien! I want my alien!”
At another booth, the alien dolls wear human clothing. One of them is even dressed in a long white wedding dress with a veil. I start twitching. My sister asks me what my problem is. “It’s a conspiracy,” I blurt. “See, they sell these cute, cuddly little aliens to the children, who take them to bed. Then when the aliens show up a few years later, these kids are adults and remember them fondly from warm, fuzzy bedtimes. And they marry the aliens! Don’t you see?”
My sister quickly drags me to the nearest bar stool to help me forget my alien paranoia.
Trembling, I return to the survey. “Did you ever experience a period of time while awake where you could not remember what you had done during that period of time?” Uh oh. Lately, whole chunks of my day have been evaporating. I go downstairs and stare into space for a moment trying to remember whether I came downstairs for lunch, to do the laundry, or to finish painting the living room ceiling, which I had begun three years before. Then the next thing I know, it’s dinnertime. Or I go to make a phone call and suddenly it’s time to go to bed. I had been blaming it on encroaching senility, or the perils of the self-employed.
But no! That’s not it! I’m being abducted. Almost daily. This must be what is happening. Just at the moment that I’m about to undertake an unpleasant task, the aliens, sensing my confusion, seize the opportunity to whisk me away, conduct unspeakable experiments on me, drug me with the amnesia drug and send me back to my computer terminal where I stare and realize that I haven’t written a single word all day.
But now it’s OK because I no longer have to accuse myself of being spaced out, I can say I’ve been in space. The aliens have obviously stolen my time. Now, when I show up a half hour late for an appointment, I can simply say, “I’m really sorry I’m late, I got abducted again.” Job not done? Oh well, not my fault – it’s those damn aliens.
Could the whole alien phenomenon be a creation of the contemporary psyche to help us deal with an unmanageable world? Companies keep downsizing and we watch our co-workers disappear. They’ve installed computer terminals at the treadmill at the gym so that I can work while I work out. And I don’t even want to work out because I’m so tired. There are 4000 projects around the house that get started and never seem to get done. I’m torn between everything from political party fundraisers to changing my windshield wipers to helping out at the grammar school’s Craft Fair and Pumpkin Decorating contest.
With everything falling apart, how comforting to think that it’s not my fault. That some extraterrestrial force is out there stealing my time, memory, and energy, plus telling me to go out there and love in a world gone mad. At cocktail parties (that I didn’t want to attend) I can say I’m in therapy because of an alien abduction experience instead of obsessive compulsive disorder. It would make me more interesting to boot – instead of talking about 401K SEPs or treasury bonds, I could start talking about the white light, the bizarre apparatus they snaked up my nose, my conversation with the Pope. Soon, all the guests would start to confess their own lost hours, sense of disorientation, lack of motivation. After a couple of martinis, we might even recognize each other from the space ship.
Maybe the aliens are here to save us. By blaming them for our inability to be workaholic superheroes, we can begin to go back to the important things in life….staring into space, dawdling over a meal. We can cut back on obligatory, unnecessary crap that fills up our lives – “Ever since I was abducted, I just can’t enjoy working out at the gym anymore, the machines, you know, remind me of….the experiments,” or “I’m sorry, I just can’t get to that office cocktail party. I’m having an abduction flashback and I’m afraid I might have a nosebleed or a seizure. It would be a mess.”
When I tally up my answers to the survey, it says that my total score has a suspicious number of yes answers and that I should investigate further the possibility that I have been abducted. That’s good enough for me. I’m going to go sit down and stare at the falling leaves outside my window for a while.