Sunday, June 30, 2013

156. Answers

Hello friends. Big Dope is taking a vacation this week and it gives me time to answer some of your mail.

Dear C.W.: My name is Stevie and I am nine years old. When I told my friend Benji that I didn’t want to marry a girl, he said that I would die and burn in some place called Hell for ever and ever. The Bible told him so. I told him the Bible also said that you have to give your money to the poor, so his daddy would be burning with me because he didn’t. He said that part was taken out of someplace called Contax. Can you tell me where this place is?

Dear Stevie: I think you mean “context” which, in your case is not a place but a state of mind. People like your friend use it in a process we call “faxilataturia” on Falloonia. It means to ignore anything that is inconvenient. It is contra-related to the process of “redolataturia” which means to ignore anything that is stupid and which you should use when your friend Benji tells you something.

Dear C.W.: I am a descendant of Thomas Wood Forrest. My family owns one of the largest real-estate brokerage firms in the United States.  I don’t want my country to expect me to pay for socialized medicine from my trust fund. How may I best go about stopping this evil idea?
Signed – Howie

Dear Howie: It is confusing to a visitor from another planet as to why some in your species distrust socialized medicine while they—almost joyfully it seems to me—embrace the notion of socialized housing. From government-backed housing loans to mortgage-interest deductions, your country subsidizes home ownership in a manner unheard of throughout the Galaxy. In fact, it is rare in the Cosmos to find a species that allows profits to be made from the provision of basic needs. But, more to your point, someone told me recently that one of your species’ primary religious documents mandates that the rich give their money to the poor. Why don’t you try that and perhaps health care will take care of itself?

Dear C.W.: My wife snores something awful. Do Falloonians snore? If so, is there a cure?
Signed – Desperate

Dear Desperate: To answer your first question, Fallonians do not snore. They do, however, as they grow older, tend to use the “rest and recharge” period to secretly discharge the buildup of noxious gasses from their digestive systems. I am told that in some of the older unit pairs, this occasionally results in violence, an otherwise rare occurrence on our planet. More to your point, I recommend that you simply rejoice, as you lie awake, in the fact that you are not a Ligeniatorian. The females of that species, on a certain night during their gestation period, invade the bodies of their spouses in order to incubate their eggs. Then they must find a new spouse. So, from a universal perspective, consider yourself damned lucky.

Dear Fans: Please forward your
letters to Big Dope for the next few days.
I will be "out of pocket." - C.W.
Dear C.W.: My Husband is a complete dope. He wanders around all day pretending to talk to an alien. I can’t depend upon him for anything. In addition, he snores at night and his feet smell awful. I am thinking about taking a baseball bat to him and his little buddy. I know that my people would not blame me but do you think there would be galactic repercussions?
Signed: Bare-Handed Momma

Dear, Dear. I must run now. Out of space. I’ll get back to you.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

155. Beginnings

C.W. has decided he is going to write a book.

“I read the draft of yours,” he said. “Not bad.”

“Thanks,” I said. “It inspired you?”

“Not really. But I figured if you could do it, anyone could.”

“You understand the concept of ‘damning with faint praise,’ I see.”

“Whatever,” he said. He was the spitting image of William Faulkner. His dark eyes flashed. “You like sex?” We were sitting in the living room and the question caught me off guard.

“Why do you ask?”

“Seems to work well,” He opened a briefcase and took out a file folder, pipe, and lighter. He handed me the folder and started to light the pipe.

“Uh,” I said. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Just read,” he said, as smoke filled the room.

I read the first page.

“If you want to know why I killed the son of a bitch, we may have to go back further than you want. At least it was further than Beth wanted to go when I told her about it. But then Beth was always the impatient type. I remember she would arch her neck just when I got into the short strokes, and say, ‘Be still for a second.’ Let me move a muscle then and she would light in screaming and be done.

But then, of course, that a lot to do with it. Best friend’s wife or not, she was worth it.”

It ended there and I looked over at him. “Not bad,” I said. “What happens then?”

“A car chase,” he said, puffing away.

“A car chase? What does that have to do with it?”

“Nothing,” he said. “But I intend to expand my profits by selling the screen rights. And you know that any movie produced in your country must have its plot designed around …”

“A car chase.”

“Correct,” he said as he expelled a cloud of smoke.

“What’s that I smell?” A voice from the kitchen interrupted us.

“Men at work,” C.W. said. “Go back to your cooking.”

“Don’t make me have to come in there.”

He ignored her, but quit puffing on the pipe. “So what do you think?”

I was stuck on the car chase. “So what happens?”

“The narrator chases the bad guy for several chapters, probably two-thirds of the length of the movie version.”

“Then kills the bad guy?”

“Oh no, the bad guy gets his pony-tail caught in a street light and it breaks his neck.”

“And the hero gets back to the woman?”

“No, actually he becomes the mob boss and spends the rest of his life writing poetry.”

“This all sounds a little familiar,” I said.

“Then try the next one.”

I laid the first sheet aside and picked up the second.

“Arthur Crawford was a cautious man, and that probably saved his life. As a young boy, he read that some famous Texas Ranger never entered a room all at once, but stopped halfway through the door and looked both ways before committing. If Arthur hadn’t done that this time, the bullet would have gone in one ear and out the other.”

“Hmm,” I said. “Interesting.”

“Keep reading,” he said.

“He remembered the first time a bullet had come that close. He was thirteen and hunting with Eddie Joe Stubblefield when a rabbit ran across their path. Eddie Joe was quicker on the draw and fired first. Eddie Joe remembered his dad, who grew up poor and would tell him of hunting on frosty mornings on the Saline River bottoms. His companion, a mixed-breed mongrel, would trot alongside him, his ears flopping in the sharp air. One morning they …”

My next work will be set in a nation that has been
subjugated by a foreign power. The trouble occurs when
a roving band of hippies starts to foment revolution.
Puerto Rico should be a good location. - C.W.
“Uh, C.W., I said, looking up.

“Shhh,” he said dreamily. “Keep going.”

“You have a flashback within a flashback within a flashback.”

“Oh,” they work,” he said. “Ask any of your popular writers.”

I thought. “Yeah, well, I guess you’re right.”

“I still smell it,” came the voice from the next room”

C.W. looked toward me. “Let’s get drunk,” he said. “Or would you like to fight?”

Sunday, June 16, 2013

154. Skill

“Come on man, I need to borrow some money.”


“Just need to. That’s all.”

C.W. had assumed one of his strangest shapes yet. The best description I can offer is somewhere between a contestant in a break-dancing contest and Larry the Cable Guy. It could really put you off your feed, if you get my drift.

“Where in the world are you going that you need money?

He paused, looked around, and gave in. “Hot Springs, man.”

“Hot Springs? Why?”

“I have some friends visiting.”

“You have friends? From where?”

“Two from Donstacoree, one from Honsticono, and one from Evaratunicky++.”

“From where?”

“Out in the Galaxy, man. Just out in the Galaxy.”

“You have friends visiting from outer space?”

“Yes. They’re on a fact-finding mission.”

That’s where I had to stop and absorb it all. “Fact finding?”


“What kind of facts?”

He squirmed and looked away. “You going to lend me some money or not?”

“What kind of facts?”

He took a deep breath. “Seems that the word is out, man.”

“What word?”

He looked up and thought before answering. “That your species sets some inter-galactic standard for irrationality in thought patterns.”

“Oh. I thought they might be mining some secret data. So how much do you need?”

“Oh, a thousand would do.”


“Maybe a little more if you could spare it.”

“What is up, C.W.? Where are you going?”

“To the casino.”

“You want me to give you money so you can gamble?”

“No,” he said quickly. “Casino gambling is illegal in your state. We’re going to play electronic games of skill. Don’t you see the point?”

“Quite frankly… no.”

“I’m showing them a good example of irrational thought processes”


“You really do deserve the name ‘Big Dope,’ don’t you?”

“Say again?”

“According to your species, betting money against a human dealer is gambling, which is forbidden in your state. Betting against an electronic device is ‘enjoying a game of skill’ and quite legal, although you lose your money in equal proportions either way.”

“Well,” I said. “It makes sense to some people.”

“Not to the Honsticonoian.”

“Why not to him?”

“Because he is …”

“Don’t tell me,” I interrupted. “Electronic.”

“Exactly. Now can I have the money? Those women are charging by the hour.”

“Those what?”

“Working girls. We found them at the bus station when I picked up my friends.”

“You found women at a bus station that want to go on a trip with you?”

“They promised us a good time, man.” He winked. “If you know what I mean. Gonna cost, though.”

“C.W.” I said. “Would it surprise you to learn that paying a woman to have sex with you is illegal?”

“Oh,” he said. “We would never pay them to have sex with us.”

It seems that your species has an uncommon attachment
 to things bright and shiny - a trait shared
with your evolutionary cousins, the blackbirds. - C.W.
“Well, that’s a relief.”

“No, we’re paying to make a movie of them having sex with us. That’s legal.”

“I can’t believe what I just heard.”

He offered me a wide grin. “Your species really is marvelous at times,” he said.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

153. Worries

“Your species sure has a lot of things to worry about. I’m compiling a list for the Falloonian Elders. What a mess.”

I couldn’t disagree, although this was coming from the mouth of a comely young lady who appeared to be on the verge of childbirth. That is to say, it was the Alien himself, or herself, in this case, it having joined me on my walk through the park.

“You are right,” I said. It is disturbing if you think about it.”

“Oh, I do,” she said. “I think about it even more now.” She patted her belly.

“One would think so,” I said, playing along with the scenario.

“I’m having a baby, you know.”

“I had guessed as much.”

“I want to have several.”

“Good luck with that.”

“But the news worries me.”

“That seems natural. There are certainly things in our future that should concern us.”

“Oh? What’s bugging you in particular?”

I looked at her. “Well, the planet will start to run out of drinking water during that one’s lifetime.”

She stopped and turned to me with a look of total shock. “Who says so?”

“The world’s scientists,” I said.

She relaxed, “Oh them.”

“Yes them, the ones who also say our planet is in the process of frying.”

“Don’t you worry about them. That’s all just stuff they say to scare us.”

“Who told you that?”

“It’s on the news every night. You just have to watch the right channel.”

I was confused. “I thought you were worried about things.”

“Oh I am,” she said. “But real things, not that sort of stuff.”

“Like what, then?”

“You silly. No wonder everyone calls you ‘Big Dope,’ the way you act.”

“You’re the only one who calls me that,” I said. “Other than my wife. But anyway, what things are bothering you?”

“Well, for one thing, we still don’t know who killed President Kennedy.”

This time it was I who stopped. “Uh, yes we do. It was Lee Harvey Oswald.”

“Well that’s what they want you to think.”

I sighed.

“So what real things do you worry about?” She said. She looked at me with a blank look on her face.

“Well,” I said. “In addition to the ever-increasing likelihood of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorists, there is the matter of the Amazon rainforest.”

Her look changed to one of suspicion. “What about it?”

“Other than it cools the entire planet by one or two degrees, Celsius, or that one-fifth of the world’s fresh water flows through it, or that it absorbs 300 million tons of carbon dioxide per year?”

“And? What’s your point?”

“It could disappear by the year 2080, according to some estimates,” I said. I gestured toward her protruding stomach.”

“Oh, fol de rah,” she said. “Here’s what’s really got me worried.” She pointed to a newsstand where the daily posted a headline announcing that another state (not ours) had approved same-sex marriages.

“This worries you?”

“Do you think I want my little boy to marry another little boy?”

“Wouldn’t you, if it made him happy?”

“He’ll be happy about things I tell him to be happy about,” she said, snipping her words.

“Well he couldn’t be happy about the possibility that there won’t be any middle class in his America.”

“There you go again, worrying about silly things while there are real concerns.”

Don't you worry about the Amazon Rainforest.
By the time it is gone, I'll be basking in the
tropical sun at my cabin in northern Manitoba. - C.W.
“Such as?”

“Buy me this newspaper and I’ll show you.”

“Show me what?”

“Wanda Sue may have been kicked off American Idol last night.”

Sunday, June 2, 2013

152. Selections

“It always amazes me,” C.W. said looking up with a confused look. He likes to assume the shape of an elderly woman in the morning when he reads the news. “Doesn’t it you?”

I was working on the computer and had no clue as to what she was referring.

“I’ve tried to figure it from several angles,” she said. “It never makes sense.”
I gave up. “What’s troubling you, my child?” I said. That kind of tone aggravates him when he has assumed this particular shape.

“This,” she said, thrusting a newspaper in front of me and pointing a long slender feeling at a front-page article.

It was a report of a massive storm in the Midwest. A photo featured a family huddled together amidst a field of debris. The caption identified them as among the survivors and quoted one as saying, “Someone was watching over us, for sure. He saw that our home was spared.”

She tapped the photo. “Who was that someone?”

It was not a question that sought information. It was an attempt to start an argument.

“I dunno. One of the ‘American Idol’ judges?”

“You are so cute,” she said. “How many people died in this storm?”

“Several dozen.”

“And how many homes were destroyed?”

“Several hundred.”

“And someone chose this family to be spared?”

“Your words, not mine.”

“So how was the selection process determined?”



“Shut up.”

“Not much of an explanation, young man.”

“It’s the best I can do this early in the morning.”

“So let me get this straight.”

“Pray do.”

She folded the newspaper. “Your species has selected a worship figure that sends storms across a neighborhood, destroying homes and killing men, women, and children.”

“It happens. Weather can be a cruel partner.”

“But in midst of all this,” she said. “This omnipotent deity suddenly picks one family and preserves it among all the carnage?”

“According to the newspaper.”

She sighed. “If you were doing the selecting, would you choose me?”

“For what?”

“As the one to be saved.”

Oh dear friends, you can only imagine the effort with which I bit my tongue.

“I don’t think I would want to be put in that position,” I said.

“So you would allow nature to take its course?”

“I suppose so.”

“Then the survivors couldn’t credit you with saving them.”

Disasters can bring out the best in your species. On some
of the dying planets I visit, the community-at-large,
what you call 'Government,' isn't willing to
help the victims of Nature's fury. - C.W.
“Oh, I suppose they could if they wished.”

“Then the victims’ families could blame you with equal justification?”

“Go to hell,” I explained as I rose to get another cup of coffee.

“I am so fortunate,” she said as she looked wistfully out the window.


“I could have been selected to observe a less fascinating species. What a tragedy that would have been.”