Malcolm McMichael

Many people are intensely focused on the strange and disturbing activities emanating from our nation’s capital. As our election season unfolds, our social media accounts and mailboxes are inundated with messages of hope and doom, claims of piety and accusations of malfeasance.

These communications infiltrate our consciousness as if implanted by alien forces that have adopted generic-sounding, yet vaguely pleasant, names. The messages spread like a virus, infecting many who come into contact. They defy financial gravity, as they seem to be transported by invisible pools of bottomless monetary propulsion.

We scrutinize and parse the images of creatures speaking strange emphatic tongues on our screens, half expecting at any moment for the speakers to remove their masks and reveal their true faces. They laugh maniacally as they consume hapless members of the audience.

In this context of aliens apparently cavorting among us, I am fascinated by the U.S. Navy’s disclosure that their highly trained pilots and high-tech weapons systems have recorded contacts with Unexplained Aerial Phenomena. I have seen the videos — they are available online — and the recordings have been acknowledged by the U.S. Government and published by no less than the New York Times. Let that sink in: The New York Times published gun-camera videos that appear to show UFOs, and the U.S. Navy’s only response is that they have no clue what they are, but please don’t call them UFOs. Alrighty then.

I don’t know what to make of all this, and I don’t know what I am expecting the public reaction to be. But the overall public reaction is to look up from their phones, tablets or computers, shrug, then return to whatever they were doing. I am not going to begin to try to think about the existence of aircraft that appear to possess unknown forms of propulsion and defy the laws of gravity. But I find the revelations themselves, and the public reaction to them, remarkable. Whether the story is an elaborate hoax, a highly sophisticated psychological warfare operation, a government brain fart, or laying the groundwork for an alien presidential candidate in 2020, the mere existence of the story is remarkable to me.

Closer to home, I am also fascinated by apparent alien forms of propulsion and supernatural phenomena occurring daily on our local roads. How is it that the traffic signals seem to know whether you are in a hurry or in fact in need of a quick break?

Try this some time: Spill coffee in your lap, or realize that you need to send a quick text message, and then watch the traffic signals open up before you like Moses parting the Red Sea. This is not a coincidence my friends, this is an obvious conspiracy. The other day, my truck got stuck in four-wheel drive as I traveled at full speed on the dry pavement of Highway 82. I needed to stop to disengage the gear but, instead, I mainlined up the highway like the vice president heading to an Upvalley fundraiser.

On the other hand, if you’re in a hurry the traffic signals will shut you down and mock you mercilessly, trapping you behind a string of nincompoops from the planet Uranus who can’t find the gas pedal with both tentacles. Each light is like another episode of Groundhog Day, as you watch the grass grow along the shoulder, while the outwardly human forms in the cars in front of you each take their turn coming out of suspended animation and navigating slowly through the deep space of their minds.

As if to underscore this point, and to prove there is a conspiracy, the New York Times ought to investigate why the universe sees fit to have a fellow driver cut you off and then slow down to below the speed limit in front of you when you are running late. What is going on here? How do they know I am running late? Where do they park their vessels while they are waiting to be dispatched on another mission of interplanetary mischief?!!

Another vexing unexplained phenomenon is how grocery stores seem to know what I am shopping for, and strategically empty the shelves of 25 percent of the items I need each shopping trip. This. Happens. Every. Time. I’ll go in for five or six items, and come out with three. And it’s not because I am there on restocking day, with empty shelves all over the place. Oh no! The aisles are bursting with goods, the only things missing are my specific desired items: the flavor I want, the brand I seek. They are the only items missing — an empty space on the shelf surrounded by a sea of plentitude. The little shelf label sticker remains, openly mocking me and confirming that I am the butt of another cosmic joke.

This is a “first-world” problem, I know. But I can’t shake the feeling that it just feels, so, personal. I am reminded of the movie “The Truman Show.” Is that what's going on? Am I surrounded by cameras, tweaked and prodded by sociopathic movie directors? That would explain a lot.

So, if you’ll excuse me now, there’s another political push-pollster ringing my doorbell. I think he’s sizing me up for a cavity probe. I am going to get in my rowboat and look for the back door.

Malcolm McMichael lives in Carbondale with his family, family hamster and an extended family of outdoor gear. He wants to assure our alien overlords that he’s mostly harmless.