Encountering an alien with Len Hodgeman
Honestly, he looked like any other typical five-year old. Bowl-cut blonde hair, striped jersey, jeans and scuffed sneakers. He looked at me with piercing blue eyes, freckles and a Grand Canyon grin, standing boldly in the middle of the sidewalk. He told me, rather matter-of-factly, and very convincingly, “I am an Alien From Another Planet.”
He had what appeared to be a thin stick in his hand, though I had a suspicion it may have been a disguised ray gun. There was a dark-haired boy next to him with a Saint Christopher pendant around his neck, who also waved his stick towards me. “And I am a Dragon Slayer,” he exclaimed. “Are you a Golden Dragon?”
I think the ray gun must have worked, or the Dragon Slayer’s stick was really a magic wand a la Harry Potter. I was frozen in place for some reason, completely unable to move.
Lucky for me, the sound of a car door slamming nearby also had a magical effect. Suddenly I could move my head. I turned toward the sound to see this attractive young woman—In her early twenties I’d say–looking at me curiously and perhaps a bit protectively. Was she too an alien, or perhaps a sorceress?
No, I thought, she must have been one of the boys’ mom. I met her gaze bravely and smiled. “So, he’s an alien from another planet?”
“Apparently”, she replied with a conspiratorial grin. “Today anyway. Last week he was Abraham Lincoln. Ran around freeing all the slaves in the neighborhood.”
Just then both boys pointed their sticks towards me. The Alien From Another Planet made a soft sizzling sound–tsssst-psst, though it may have come from the ray gun, and the Dragon Slayer solemnly exclaimed “Animagicus … Planetarium.”
There was no question what needed to happen next. I clutched at my chest and made a loud gurgling sound. My face contorted in pain and horror—eyes round and my mouth wide open.
I dropped to me knees on the sidewalk. Ouch, that hurt. But it was well worth the look on their young faces. A look of wonder, grateful complicity and absolute delight, tinged with just the slightest hint of doubt and absolutely real concern.
As I crumpled to the ground and the groceries spilled out onto the sidewalk, I closed my eyes in respect.
I too, many years ago, was once a Space Alien, a Dragon Slayer, a Cop and a Robber, a Cowboy and an Indian.
photo by connor vicki
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