I have this hatbox that I somehow commandeered from my mom. It’s very Audrey Hepburn. Maybe a little more intensely-patterned that Ms. Hepburn seemed to prefer, but it’s, you know, a HATBOX, which is cool in that 1940s, Vogue-cover kind of way. My hatbox is yellow and black, the colors splattered around the rounded exterior like watercolors. The zipper groans when you pull it. Also, it’s magic.
One night, when I was very busy Procrastinating, I found in my hatbox, among other things, a random stream of Post-Its, yellow, medium-sized, the second stuck on top of the first, the third stuck on top of the second, and so on, so that when I pulled it out, it draped down like a cat unfurling its tail. Here’s what some of the notes said:
Random note #1: Clean bathroom.
I am proud of myself for using correct punctuation on this note. Although, right now I’m transcribing my own notes, so I’m sure you can smell the conflict of interest here. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that there wasn’t a line or resounding X anywhere near this Post-It, which means I didn’t actually clean the bathroom.
Random note #2: ATPBOYG
I have no idea what this means. I’m really glad I left myself a note to remind me to use an alien language. Although, the closer I looked at this one, the more I realized that it WASN’T EVEN MY HANDWRITING. This should’ve been unnerving, but I was riding a high from the previous, correctly-punctuated Post-It and I like to grab the good times when I can. In the interest of full disclosure, I frequently write my grocery lists as a list of letters. For example, it’s very possible “ATPBOYG” means, “apples, toilet paper, baby oil, yogurt, granola.” Except I don’t know why apples would be on that list, I’m allergic to apples.
Random note #3: Do Not Look behind You.
I’ve always had a hard time with headline-style capitalization. What is one to do with prepositions? When they run six letters, they almost demand to be capped, but they’re PREPOSITIONS, and everyone knows you don’t cap prepositions. But let’s face it, Random note #3 looks dumb with a lower case “behind.” In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I’m kind of a grammar geek, which at times prevents me from seeing the obvious.
When I heard the creak behind me, I assumed it was the radiator, which is a sign of impending heat, which is awesome. I suppose my want of heat allowed me a moment of relaxation that I rarely indulge in, what with my superhero powers constantly at the ready, so when the voice behind me said, “You should pay attention to that one,” I jumped to the ceiling. Then I had to remind myself I had superhero powers, at which point I fell from the ceiling and banged my head on the floor. When I stood up, I turned towards the voice.
She was an alien. She was very tall and she had to stoop a bit to fit under the ceiling. She was green. She had three eyes, two red, the middle one yellow; four tentacles about chest high; and legs that looked like giant frog legs. Other than that, though, she looked pretty human.
“Oh,” she said, covering her three eyes with her left-most tentacle. “It’s just so EMBARRASSING.” Her mouth looked like a human mouth, but she had an orange tongue. “What’s so embarrassing?” I asked.
“All we were doing was coming to Earth for Halloween because we love it here, it’s like an amusement park for us, but man are you humans freaks about the green skin. Never saw any other planet freak out so much about it. So we usually come on Halloween, win a few costume contests, cruise home, no one’s the wiser. But this year, we overshot the planet and ended up showing up well after Halloween and look!” She thrust a magazine at me. Her nails were perfectly manicured.
The magazine was called GOSSIP! Just like that, all caps with an exclamation point. The cover had a bunch of thumbnail pictures of celebrities doing things like picking their noses or picking their wedgies, and the big picture, right in front, was a toe-to-head shot of the alien in my apartment, frozen in picture-time, in a moment just before falling flat on her face. Her eyes were bloodshot and glassy. She wore a purple scarf saucily tied around her neck. She had a martini glass in one hand. It looked like her giant frog legs were crumpling like paper towels. The tag line screamed: “Alcoholic Alien Finds Final Frontier!” And underneath, in small caps, “’Sobriety sucks!’ Alien says.”
“I like your scarf,” I finally said, handing the magazine back to the alien.
“I know, right? 100% silk. Five dollars.”
“No!” I said.
“I would not lie about accessories,” she said. “But that’s not the point! I know the royal purple of that scarf brings out the sparkle in my eyes, but I was not drunk! I wasn’t walking down the street with a martini! I don’t even like martinis!”
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I thought it, too. It’s really hard to grasp the concept of an accessory-savvy alien who doesn’t like martinis. “Well,” I said, nodding at the magazine in her perfectly manicured tentacle, “on the upside, there’s nothing in your teeth.”
“But I look better with stuff in my teeth! What is wrong with you humans? You know what? This is ridiculous. Why we even come to this stupid planet, I’ll never know.”
“Well, you know, we do have the Grand Canyon on Earth, which is pretty cool, and—”
“Oh, shut up! The Grand Canyon reminds me that I’m afraid of heights.”
“I suppose that must work against you when you’re in outer space.”
“Oh, shut up! Your human logic reminds me that you infuriate me.”
“I was only making the point that—”
When she yelled like that, she kinda sounded like Marge Simpson, but louder. Could my neighbors hear her? “We’re through with Earth,” the alien said. “We’re not coming back. You humans are exasperating.”
“Well, some of us aren’t so bad. I mean, maybe a small number of us, but all in all, you know, blanket generalizations are a bit harsh, considering—”
But she didn’t wait to hear what was about to be an excellently-rendered speech about not passing judgment, she just huffed at me, wagged a tentacle in my general direction, then marched out my front door.
So, humans, looks like I scared the aliens away. This is unfortunate because now how will we have science fiction? I’m afraid I have simultaneously broken relations with a galactic neighbor and destroyed an entire genre of art. In the interest of full disclosure, I had no plans to do any of that when I woke up that morning.