“Look,” Scott said, “I’m not sure if you’re the type of person who likes this sort of thing. Frankly, I’m not sure what type of person does, but I suppose there’s a type.”
Scott is a neighbor of mine. I hadn’t seen him for a month and this is how he greeted me when we saw each other in town a few days ago. Was he going to ask me to have sex with his wife while he watched? I hoped not. She was in her 60s. Was he going to tell me that he was an alcoholic? Was he going through some rehabilitation program where he had to awkwardly admit it to people?
“We were at a party this summer,” he said. “You remember the Denton’s? They used to live behind you?”
Yes, the Denton’s. They had two old dogs. One was senile. It would wander into our backyard and bark at my back door at 2am, lost. Jim Denton, was nearly deaf and had the bad habit of watching television outside on his patio. He’d run an extension cord and sit out there on the nicest days, CNN blaring, and he couldn’t hear a word of it. One of the things about working from home, maybe you take notice of your neighbors too much.
“So we were on their deck, each summer they come up and rent for a week at Bay Head. Bill was there too.” Bill was my other neighbor. An ex-NYPD detective. “The house they rent is right on the water. So I’m there, eating a hotdog, and out in the sky, I see these orange lights. They’re far off, maybe out over Blue Haven, but I don’t hear any engine noise.”
So it’s clear now that I’m being told a UFO story. What makes it different from the majority of UFO stories I’ve heard are two details. First, I know the guy telling it. Second, he’s a no-nonsense pilot and has been for his entire life. When he’s not a pilot, he’s a copy editor. He’s dry. A straight edge. A square. He’s never seen anything like this in the forty years he has flown planes. It’s clear that he’s almost embarrassed to tell me the story, but he can’t help himself.
Bill, the retired NYPD detective with whom he witnessed the orbs, is also not the romantic or dreamy type. In fact, in the eight years I’ve been his neighbor I’ve learned he believes in only three things: God, property rights, and the need for everyone to drive slower. He’s not the sort of guy to discuss UFOs.
Scott continues his story. “There’s a group of 5 of them. Then 10. They’re flying in two separate formations. I’m transfixed and I call Bill over. As we watch, two more groups of 5 join the first bunch and then one more. And we’re watching these 25 blobs of light move in a formation. No noise, no aviation lights, just these pulsing blobs of light moving in formation, fast. And then, as suddenly as they appeared, they shoot off and are gone.”
We’re standing on the sidewalk in town and people are walking past us. I feel some of them looking at my face while Scott speaks, but I don’t divert my eyes from his. I can tell he’s risking something telling me the story. All I’m conscious of is my daughter holding my leg and looking up at Scott with her big brown eyes. Judy, who is also prone to being freaked by the supernatural and aliens is also with me.
“Apparently,” Scott said, “the cops were flooded with phonecalls. The blobs were seen up and down the coast. They checked with all the airlines and the military. There were no light shows, nothing like that. It’s hard to imagine what they could have been.”
And that was it.
Judy and I talk about the story later. I’m more excited about it. Surprisingly, I’m focused on positive scenarios. “Imagine the aliens show up and solve our energy problems!” Or, “Maybe they come down and cure cancer!” Or, “They’ll need laborers… full unemployment!” Judy tells me that I watched E.T at a very impressionable age. “Stop being so gay about it,” she says. “They’re fucking aliens. They’d kill us all.”
A day later I’m back at work and staring at my screens. It’s been a difficult couple of years. I’ve been looking back at some decisions I made and wishing that I had done things differently. During the day, I find myself going over to the window and looking over the Denton’s old house toward the sky. Nothing. A few feet away the headline machine is spinning through my screens. Fear is being sold. Europe is falling. China is rising. We’re a joke.
Maybe it’s best that the helpful aliens I’ve been thinking about don’t come to save us. Scrolling through the headlines it’s clear we don’t want to be saved. There would be absolutely no way for anything 100% positive to ever happen to our country without the media coming in and fucking it up. They’d find some negative angle and play on people’s fears.
The aliens are going to steal our jobs, our spouses, our awesome health care, our freedoms.
Holy shit, they’re already here!
The truth is, and I agree with James Altucher here, even if some smart girl could solve all our energy and health problems, she wouldn’t be heard above all the din. Even if the aliens came and gave us everything we needed, we’d be focused on figuring out what the catch was.
I’m afraid we’ll continue to trudge along in the dark, complaining about the dim light and how we can’t afford to turn on the lights anymore. Our sides hurt. Give us a test. What’s that thing we’re feeling?
I’m looking out my window and I can’t figure out what I’m hoping for.
Do you believe in aliens and UFOs?
Have you ever seen a UFO?
Is there anything good about the media?