Friday, January 28, 2011

41. Hats

Yep, it was C.W. I was processing some early morning photos I had taken of the Little Rock skyline when I heard his footsteps. I was at the door before he knocked, for he bangs so loudly at times that he wakes up my wife, and she manages to twist her head around another 360 degrees when she is awakened ere the appointed time.

Anyway, I opened the door and couldn’t even see C.W. for this enormous cowboy hat. I mean it must have been three feet in diameter. Underneath it, he looked a little like George W. Bush.

“Howdy partner,” he said.

“Come in and be quiet,” I said. Then I had to step aside to let the hat pass. “Take that stupid thing off,” I said.

“Jealous?” he said.

“Of what?”

“From Darwin on, your scientists have agreed that the female of the species has been attracted to large, gaudy appendages.”

“Do you think they meant to include cowboy hats?”

“It’s taught as fact in Texas.”

“A lot of things are taught as fact in Texas,” I said. “Besides, what’s it to you?”

“I’m in love,” he said.

“You’re what!”

“Well, maybe not in the strictest sense, but I am studying this thing called dating.” He paused and looked around. Then he straightened his hat and grinned. “And I have a girlfriend.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Found her down on the river.”

“What? How?” I was stupefied.

“Well, I started out in the bars, but all the girls I met there said that I would never make them wet, so I started looking for beaches down along the river.”

“In the middle of winter?”

“Yeah. I wasn’t having much luck until I found this one fishing.”


“Yeah. I worked up this ‘retrieve from the ground’ line I though was pretty good.”

 “Retrieve from the ground line?”

“Yep. Ain’t that what you call it.

“You may mean ‘pick-up line.’”

“Precisely. Want to hear it?”

I groaned.

“Here we go … I said.’Hey, I see you like to fish. Bet I could make you a fisher of men.’”

“C.W., you are whacko.”

“Hey, it worked.”

“It did?”

“Yeah, we’ve had two dates so far. But I had to dress up to make the third.”

“Dress up?”

“Yep.” He pointed to the hat.

“What’s the story?”

“Well, yesterday when I called her, she seemed hesitant.”


From this photo he showed me,
C.W. was doing okay, for a while.

“Well, she put me off.”

“How so?”

“Well, she said she though I was about one cowboy hat shy of a rodeo.”

“Thence, the hat?”

“Yep. I bet now I can get ‘to a point across an intervening space.’”

“C.W.,” I said. “I don’t think you could ‘get over’ if you had some cattle as well as a hat.”

“You’re just jealous,” he said.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

40. Movie Trailers

Geez, you should have seen the getup C.W. was in this morning. Remember those old movies that were about making movies and the director would be in knee britches, a beret, and ascot, carrying a megaphone? Yep, that was he. Knocked on my door about daylight. I was watching the city come to life outside my window and wasn’t really in the mood for visitors. Not caring, he barged right past me and demanded a drink.

“C.W.,” I said, “It’s a little early and, besides, you know alcohol doesn’t agree with you.”

“I don’t care,” he said. “I need something.”

“Sit down,” I said. “And tell me about it.”

“It’s the Elders of Falloonia,” he said. “They are driving me crazy. If I see one more car crash I’m going to explode myself.”

“What’s up?”

“It’s like this,” he said. “One of my associates read a book called ‘The Hidden Persuaders.’”

“I’ve heard of it.”

“Well now the Elders are all concerned about what motivates your species to action. I have been assigned to watch modern movie trailers. It means enphasing into homes and staring at a TV all day long.” He pulled a Mark V movie director’s viewfinder from his pocket and began to study me. “You’re not very photogenic, are you?” he said after looking at me from several angles.

“I don’t think so.”

“So tell me,” he said. “Why do they show movie previews on television that are designed to convince people not to see a movie.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that the scenes depicted are so maudlin and puerile as to make your brain weep. How do you like my new words? In between commercials I study your ‘book giving information about word meanings.’”

“You mean a dictionary.”

“Ain’t that what I said?” He began to survey the room with his viewfinder.

“Of course. Now what displeases you about the movie trailers they show these days?”

“Well,” he said, returning to me with his view finder. He closed in on my face. “Ugh.”

“Cut it out. Now what’s up?”

“Well, yours is a consuming species, right?”

“Oh, I think so.”

Now this would make me want to see a movie - C.W.
“Well, if you want to show previews that would induce people to go to a movie, one would want to use the best scenes as teasers, right?”

I thought for a moment. “I think they do pick the best scenes.”

“No, they just show car crashes, gun fights, explosions, and shots of men and women sticking their tongues into one another’s mouths.”

“They think those are the best scenes,” I said.

He studied me with his viewfinder until I felt like grabbing it and throwing out the window. Finally he said, “And you still maintain that Shakespeare wasn’t an alien?”

“C.W., go home,” I said.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

39. McBaths

“I’m ‘juvenile form of a planted,’ C.W. said as he plopped on my couch.

“Perhaps you mean you are ‘bushed,’” I said.

“Exactly, he said. He had wandered in late Sunday afternoon in one of his favorite shapes, the Falloonian version of a homeless person. In this case, it was the stereotypical long-haired, unshaven character wearing camouflage and a worn field jacket. He knew it offended me—I have told him a number of times that “homeless veterans” primarily exist in the minds of lazy reporters and overzealous do-gooders. Anyway, he looked more idiotic than normal.

“What have you been doing?” I said.

“House hunting,” he said.

“Say what?”

“Looking at houses,” he said. “They allow you to enter some of them on Sunday afternoon and look around.”

“You went looking like that?”

“Of course,” he said. “Why do you ask?”

“You look like a …” I struggled for words.

“Homeless person,” he said.

“They let you tour homes?”

“Aren’t the homeless those most in need of housing?”

“Might they also be the least able to afford it?”

He looked puzzled.

“Anyway, they allowed you to tour?”

“They looked at me funny but I went in anyway.”

This didn’t surprise me.

“Know what I saw?”

“I can’t imagine.”

“Most of those houses would accommodate dozens of Falloonians. Why are they so large?

“Status symbol I suppose, or some form of compensation.”

“Compensation for what?”

“Never mind,” I said. Then I couldn’t resist a joke. “Did you buy one?”

“No. I asked if I could move 20 or 30 of my colleagues in and they said ‘no.’”

“Oh really?”

“Know what else I saw?”

“I’m all ears.”

“In the bathroom …”

“I can’t imagine.”

“You know those things you people use to dispose of your bodily wastes?”


“They called them commodities.”

“No, ‘commodes.’”

“That’s it. Well, this one had a ‘large flush’ and a ‘small flush.’”

“No kidding!”

“They said it was to save water.”

“That makes sense.”

“Well not exactly. When I examined the shower, it had eight nozzles aimed at different body parts. It must have used up the equivalent of 20 additional large-flushes over the consumption of a normal nozzle during a shower. Explain that.”

“I can’t.”

“Know what else?”

“No, what?”

“When they weren’t looking, I sprinkled some bath powder in the solid waste disposal unit.”
Where's the connection between wealth and taste? - C.W.

“It took four small-flushes to get rid of it all.”

“For goodness sake.”

“Know what I think?”

“I think you are going to tell me.”

“You people need to learn to think things through a little better.”

Thursday, January 13, 2011

38. Guns

C.W. called Monday morning and inquired if the wife was there. When I said no, he asked if he could come over. This was strange on two counts. First, I had never heard him sound so grave. Second, it was totally unlike him to ask permission. Usually he just barges in. I said come on.

When he arrived, he was in the shape of a World War Two army officer, complete with bloused trousers indicating paratrooper status.

“Request permission to enter,” he said. He was as solemn as I had ever seen him.

“Permission granted,” I said. I still wasn’t sure whether or not he was carrying out some joke.

He walked in, removed his hat, and eased into a chair while maintaining a perfectly straight posture.

“Coffee?” I said.

“Nothing, thank you.” He took a long time gathering his thoughts. Finally he said, “I suppose you heard about Dick Winters … Major Dick Winters.”

“Yes,” I said. “He died a couple of days ago.” As most folks know, Richard Winters was the real soldier who inspired the creation of the lead character of the TV mini-series, “Band of Brothers.” He was a member, and ultimate commander, of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. He and his comrades make the jump behind German lines as part of the Normandy Invasion. His unit also survived the encirclement of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

“Damned shame,” he said. “Good officer. Should have gotten the Medal of Honor.”

“Yes,” I said. “But why the interest and get-up?” I immediately regretted saying it. This was a C.W. I had not known before and the hurt in his eyes seemed real.

“Know what he said when the war was over?” he said.


“That he wanted to find a quiet peaceful place to spend the rest of his life. He also said he would never harm another living creature.” He paused and thought for a moment. “They say he stuck to the promise.”

I sat in my chair and didn’t say anything.

“I guess you heard about the shooting out in Arizona as well?”

I had. A mentally disturbed man had opened fire at a meeting held by a politician. He had killed six people and wounded a number of others, including the politician.

“What’s with your country and the use of handguns?” he said.

“I don’t know.”

“This, this …” he struggled for words. “This obsession isn’t showing up in other countries, from my studies and those of my colleagues in other sectors.”

“I don’t know,” I repeated.

“Dick, he was a first rate warrior when he had to be.”


“Afterwards, he didn’t seem to have a lot of use for violent hobbies.”

“No,” I said. “And that seems to be true of many who faced war and survived.”

“This weapon used in Arizona,” he said.

“What about it?”

“It has no other practical appeal than to inflict damage on a victim?”

Richard Winters
“As far as I know.”

“No sports application?”


“Just a desire to inflict harm?”

“I’m afraid you are right.”

“What then? What causes this uncommon fondness for firearms?”

“There are those who correlate it with the relative size of a male’s penis.” I tried to lighten the conversation a little.

But he took me seriously. “That wouldn’t explain women like this Sarah Palin," he said. He thought about it for a few seconds and then added, “Of course there is this supposed female motivator called ‘penis envy.’”

“Don’t tell anyone that I said that,” I said.

Friday, January 7, 2011

37. Dancing

Received the strangest invitation this morning I’ve had in a long time. C.W. knocked on the door well before daylight while I was enjoying coffee alone. Of all things, he was dressed as a modern dancer and looked a lot like, as I remember, Rudolph Nureyev. Yes, it was a bit of a strong sight for 5:30 a.m.

“Come go with me,” he said. “I’m going to welcome the sunrise with a special dance in Riverfront Park. I call it ‘Sprites in the Garden.’”

I stood there.

“Well, come on,” he said. “Daylight defers to no mortal plans.”

I think I must have looked a little confused.

“May I come in?”

“Please do.” The last thing on earth I wanted was for a neighbor to see him standing in the hall.

“Oh thanks,” he said, lighting in a chair with a flourish and graceful hand gesture.

“Oh Christ,” I said, returning to the coffee pot and wishing I had some brandy to stiffen it with.

“Know what?” he said.

I just looked at him.

“The concept of dancing on your planet is simply marvelous.” He made another sweep of his hand as if my living room encompassed the entire store of humankind’s accomplishments over the 150,000 or so years of its existence.

“It is a little all-encompassing, though,” he said, lowering his chin to his head and peering up at me. “I mean it includes everything from the most sublime movements imaginable to what appears, to me, to be young boys lying on their backs and wiggling their legs.” He sighed. “But, overall—fascinating. Simply fascinating.”

“C.W.” I said. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Celebrating the joy of life through dance,” he said. “Hurry up and let us go then, you and I.”

I groaned.

“Come on,” he said. “The fecund stirrings of Mother Earth shall spread exaltation through the very soles of your feet. In short, you shall be unafraid and happy.”

“I have never socked an alien—or a ballet dancer—in my life, but I am very close.” I said.

“Oh, you who spurn the soothing catalyst of dance are the saddest of souls,” he said.

“You’re probably not going to leave until I agree to go with you, are you?”

“You got that right,” he said, settling back in this chair with a gesture of finality. “How did all this dancing stuff get started anyway?”

“I dunno. Maybe it was some effort at imitative magic, as Frazier phrased it: efforts to make the earth bloom again in the spring.”

“Well then,” he said. Seeming to think it over for a minute, he looked up. “It certainly seems to work. Hmm. Let’s see. ‘April is the happiest month, filling life into slumbering feet.’ Hey, maybe I’ll take up poetry next.”

“Oh Christ,” I said, heading, back to get dressed.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

36. Spy TV

In case you are wondering, and several have asked, C.W. has been on a recall assignment back to his home planet to provide an interim report on his findings. I suspect that the “Elders of Falloonia” as he calls them (somewhat disrespectfully if you ask me) wanted to make sure he wasn’t going native, so to speak.

Anyway, he showed up at my door in the shape of the captain of a sailing ship, complete with a long-barreled brass telescope. It was New Year’s Eve so he could get by in about any shape since one would assume he had escaped from a costume party.

“Avast there, sailor,” he said as he barged in. In his spare hand he held a metal tankard and I immediately went on guard as he does not handle earthling liquor well. He thrust his telescope in my face and said, “Know what?”

“Hello, C.W.,” I said, motioning him toward a chair. “What? And be quiet about it. My wife is asleep.”

“Can I go watch her?”

“Hell no,” I said, “What are you up to?”

“Did you know,” he said. “That you can stand out on the street and see about anything you want with this?” He brandished the telescope again. “Especially in your apartment building. Now there are some real characters therein. Don’t you people know how to pull your curtains?” He paused and took a drink. “Of course you can’t even hold a handle to the people staying in that motel across the freeway.”

“Did you know that you could be arrested for peeking in windows?”

“Me? Hell, swabbie, I ain’t the one who should be arrested. Shiver me timbers.” He took another drink.

“C.W.,” I said. “Would you calm down? What is with this sneaking around spying on people?”

“Research,” he said, letting his chin rest on his chest. “Just like I was ordered to.”

“Ordered to?”

“The Elders want to know about this obsession you Americans have with voyeurism.”


“You call it ‘reality television.’ We call it voyeurism.”

“It’s just a popular form of entertainment,” I said.

“Belay the semantics,” he said, bellowing it out. “We call it an obsession with the lives of people more culturally challenged than the norm.”

He had me there. “Maybe it is simply escapism,” I said. “Maybe it’s a form of relief, knowing that no matter how screwed up a person is, there is always someone worse off.”

“Lad,” he said in his captain’s voice. “The way you use words reminds me of a south sea orangutan trying to copulate with a cannonball. You go round and round but you just can’t get at it.” He took another drink. “Which reminds me,” he said. “We need to have a talk sometime about the use of contortionism in your species’ sexual acts.”

“C.W.,” I said, “Give me the goddam telescope.”