by Peg Whelley
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Last year, my husband and I got a feeling that we should vacation in Northern California, and so we did. We also got the urge to climb Mt. Shasta. We flagged down a highway patrolman near there who gave us directions not only to a nice campground on the side of the mountain, but also some good tips about how to go up the mountain. Things are a little different in California.
We found out as we were unloading the car that every new-ager on the west coast is associated with "magic mountain", as Mt. Shasta is called in that neighborhood. They were descending on us like a horde of non-biting gnats. The mountain supposed to have these properties associated with these beings from other stars that come to visit it. Shoot, all we wanted to do was to get to the top. People were coming out of the woods to share their awesome experiences with us, and they all drove Volkswagens. It was almost like time travel to the sixties. We finally had to tell them rudely that we just wanted to climb the damn thing, and then we were on our way. We hit a thunderstorm at about nine thousand feet so we ran down the side, and returned to the campground.
That night, we were visited by a group of friendly, if a little short, violet colored aliens. They were a group of social scientists on sabbatical. They gave me and Rick a spin in their interstellar ship. Maybe those new-agers weren't so crispy after all, because we had a great time! It was better than a hot rod! Anyway, for a trade for their tour around the solar system, they put some kind of device in my head which enabled them to communicate with me without landing, which could attract all kinds of unwelcome attention. Then they moved us into a house listed on a census map as an earth contact. They figured that this was a specified location where the government would allow them to do business unmolested. I told them when they moved next door that they had to shovel the snow, otherwise they would attract attention, with all those bright lights going on and off at all hours of the day and night.
The first thing they asked me to do was to go to a Megadeath concert. They wanted to go, but they had problems getting tickets, and they figured I had a better chance. Besides, with all their hardware in my head, they could channel it so they all could have the sensation of going. I got scalped tickets outside, and I was the only sober over forty-year old in the audience. Well, it was an experience. Especially seeing them light their vomit on stage. I didn't know it could be that exciting. Then one of the guitar players underwent spontaneous combustion. The crowd went nuts. When I saw the blue tracer, I knew that the aliens had gotten a bead on him and he would be returned in twenty years at another concert. The major after-effect was that I couldn't hear for a week and I'm drinking rum straight out of the bottle now. The aliens loved it. They asked me if I'd go to the Pink Floyd concert next month and I said I was a little too old for this, and suggested that they please get one of the crispy California types that were all over the campground. The aliens said that their was some technical problems with them, and that's why they had contacted me, but that they would think about it.
Next, they asked me to find an Elvis impersonator. So, I read the supermarket tabloids until I found a rash of Elvis sightings in Witchta Falls. They were clumped in a cluster in a Piggly-Wiggly near the Sears Mall. It took me all day to hunt him down, interviewing most of the local convience store operators. I was right! Learning how to do research at MCC paid off! The Elvis impersonator was working at Acme Strippers. He was the master of ceremonies. Actually, he was kind of nice, being one of those soft spoken southern types, although he called every woman "Pricilla" or "Honey". He asked me out but he backed off when I told him the real reason I was there. I'll remember that for the future when someone tries to pick me up when I don't want to be; I can just tell them that I am doing research for extra-testreals.
My next assignment from the aliens was to do a poetry reading at a noveau-beat place called Kerouac's Summer Vacation. It was in a cellar near downtown. I thought that this would be easy until the aliens told me to read McKuen's Thoughts on Capital Punishment. They wondered why a poet that wrote so maudlinly could be un-cool, especially since they thought he started the animal rights' movement with this poem. I explained to then that this was a beatnik place, named after Jack Kerouac. He was a person so cool that he couldn't earn a living, and had to live with his parents most of his life. I went into training for this assignment, smoking cigarettes and drinking quarts of expresso. I stood up at the mike dressed in a black ribbed turtleneck sweater, with black jeans. I looked stylishly emaciated, and very pale. I looked over the haze of smoke to an audience similar to me, with a smattering of people wearing some very cool shades. The bongo drummer accented every nuance in case anyone missed it. But, you know, people can be too serious at times... I left hurriedly through the stage exit.
I was now beginning to think that this was a lot of stuff to do for just getting an hour's joy ride in a space ship, even though I got to see Pluto close up. The aliens got a little upset when I explained this to them because so far, this wasn't the stuff that they were supposed to, just the stuff they as individuals were curious about. So, they promised me that they would get somoeone else to help them, if only I would do one thing for them; that was to fundraise for Ollie North in Cambridge. This was what they got the grant money for their trip. I told them that this was very dangerous, and I would have to think it over. So, I talked it over with my husband, and he said that I should be polite; after all, these guys had gone so many light years to do this and they were our guests, and maybe they'd take all the electronics or whatever it was out of my head if I just cooperated a little. The aliens decided I just had to fund raise around Harvard Square. Nothing would happen to me, and like when Captain Picard gets in trouble, they would beam me up if the going got a little hairy. So, I wrote Ollie and told how proud of him that I was when he trampled all over the constitution in the name of freedom, and how was his Mom? (my mom and his mom had been friends in high school). He sent me back a fund rasing packet, and his mom's current address, so my mom could write. Then I dressed in my best jeans, and got on the T. I exited the station quickly because the third rail looked mighty close. I went down in front of the Congress Men's Shop, thinking that to fundraise for Ollie in front of all those oxford shirts was the safest place in Cambridge.
The first person that I talked to was wearing Birkenstocks and just gave me this awful look, like she didn't think I was for real. At that point, I very deeply hoped that not a single one of my friends would decide to visit Harvard Square that day. Maybe I could use my mom as an excuse, if they did. But I pressed on. The next person that actually would talk to me wanted to know Ollie's position on smoking in restaurants. She wanted to know if he would go along with banning it entirely in Cambridge. It took us a good half hour to find out that Ollie was running in Virginia, and being a heavily subsidized tobacco state, he was keeping as much on the fence as he could possibly do on this issue. A few more hours later, some people actually got close enough to me to have another conversation with them. This couple wanted to know Ollie's position on rent control. I noticed that I was running into the granola factor here. Ollie really didn't know anything about the burning issues of Cambridge and this was totally hopeless. I took my clipboard and Ollie flyers and went home. I hoped that the aliens would understand. I wasn't hassled much, maybe it was all those oxford shirts and chinos that did it.
Being lavender colored social scientists, the aliens understood. They had recently found a nuclear engineer and a metaphysics expert that looked promising to take over my job. So, they beamed me up, did a few more procedures on me, and we all hugged. One of them baked me a cake and we had a little good-bye party. I told them to stop by if they were ever in the neighborhood again. Then they left me.
Next I put all of Rick's Jane Oliver tapes in the sun and told him the aliens made me do it.
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