About Those Aliens
As a child, sometimes playing with new friends leads to interesting revelations. You often do not appreciate what you learn until years later.
When you are a child of a Navy serviceman, you move around a lot. Our military services provide housing areas near large military bases that make it easier to support families moving around quickly. The goal is not to provide better places to live than the local populace, but places that allow the serviceman (if he so chooses) to not incur all the extra work that goes with looking for and arranging to move his family to a new place to live.
As a child of a serviceman, you make a lot of friends, and you lose a lot of friends. You become used to people speaking the local dialects of the language, and you become used to different local customs. For parents, it is sometimes regarded as hardship; for little children, it is more often regarded as adventure.
Where Are You From?
So, Where Are You From?
One such adventure occurred in the late 1960’s, near about the same time that I learned about UFOs, learned a little about radio, and watched Star Trek. Kids in Navy housing almost always compare notes on where they are from, and all the places they have lived before, and all the places their Dads had been. Some of us even come up with games to play, childish games where you play a role, like "Cops & Robbers" and "Cowboys & Indians". This story is about one such encounter with a new friend. I am going to leave his name out (truth is I forget), but I am sure he will recognize this story if he ever reads it, even if he was only seven or eight at the time.
I told him that I was from all over, and that I had lived a lot of places in the United States. This is normal for children of men who serve in the Armed Services of our country. Many of the places were the usual places for Navy brats. I had also lived in Canada. My new found friend was from outside the housing area, and said he was only here on vacation. I remember wondering at the time: "Who vacations in North Chicago, anyway?".
But instead, I asked: “Oh? Where from?”.
“Hawaii” he replied.
I thought "Right, Hawaii is where the grandparents go to vacation, nobody leaves Hawaii to vacation in North Chicago."
But instead, I asked “Well? Where are you parents from?”
“My Dad is from another country”.
(Over forty years ago, I forget exactly which country) So, assuming he was from the other country too I started one of the routine childrens game lines,
I told him “If you are from another country, you are supposed to register, did you register as an alien?”
He replied "No, I’m not from another planet”.
I thought "uh oh, now what?", but being spontaneous, I improvised “My sister is from another planet. She has not registered either.” (Ten year old children make up the craziest things, don’t we?)
He replied “No one is from another planet”.
I told him I could prove it, but he would have to come back tomorrow when my sister was there.
Its A Toy
Later that day, after he had left, my sister and I quickly concocted a plan. We had two five foot long stuffed snakes, with paste-on cardboard eyes, and felt fabric mouth, tongue and eyelashes. We agreed she would wrap one around her waist, cover it with a jacket, and that the jacket would be open just enough to show the beady eyes and tongue. She was to sit quietly downstairs, until she heard someone say "boo", then she would turn, provide a glimpse of the beady eyes before closing the jacket and running away hollering gibberish.
Next day, what I told him was totally different. I told him she was an alien, and had to find a quiet place every now and then so that the snake in her stomach would not go blind. I also told him that when she was like that, she spoke in her native language, and no-one understood her. I also told him, it was a really big secret, and no-one was supposed to know, so don’t ever tell anyone. But if he really wanted the proof, all we had to do was find her and scare her.
So, we quietly sneaked around the house pretending to look for here and eventually we went downstairs. We peeked around the corner of the bottom step to see my sister sitting quietly on the floor with her back to the door. The stair creaked, he jumped out and hollered "boo". My sister quickly turned, closing her jacket.
Those cardboard beady eyes reflected the light so briefly that even I thought they were real eyes. In mock horror, I jumped back crying out "Watch out! She’s mad!" as she ran by us gibbering and up the steps.
You can guess how he reacted.
If you are thinking "Feet don't fail me now" then you probably have the right guess in mind.
Be really careful when you try to scare someone like that, because you never know what Mom will do when she hears your new found friend babbling about alien snake-people. Of course, once the parents find out, you have to explain it was only a trick. And "going to my room to think about it until Dad got home" made it a memorable event.
Looking back, I've often wondered if, and how, he remembered it.