Reconnaissance Specialist Zorbum 9Smith Reports

29 Feb

by Roger White

 

“Oh, I used to be disgusted,

And now I try to be amused…”

—Elvis Costello

 

“Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.”

—Commander Buck Murdock, Airplane II, The Sequel

 

Floating far above the clouds somewhere over the Great Plains, a gargantuan monolithic door composed of a mysterious synthetic skin slides silently up, and the great silver mothership swallows a lozenge-shaped shuttlecraft.

Reconnaissance Specialist Zorbum 9Smith exits the shuttlecraft and immediately reports to Captain Vnnn-pu. After the traditional Andromedan earlobe-sniffing ceremony of greeting, Specialist 9Smith readies for the debriefing.

“9Smith,” Captain Vnnn-pu mindmelds, “your mission was to observe this planet’s most advanced, most powerful nation and report on your impressions of its culture. What are your findings?”

“Honored Captain, if you would open your mind to Subchannel Y, I have prepared a Mental PowerPoint presentation,” 9Smith melds. “I believe you will be most intrigued, as was I. Please disregard those first two slides. That is me at a ritualistic labor ceremony of the Western world.”

“What is this ritualistic labor ceremony called?”

“The happy hour,” 9Smith reports. “Work force representatives convene at small, local shrines to partake of what I can only presume are holy elixirs, plot overthrow of their labor overlords, and perform pre-mating functions with work force representatives of the opposite sex.”

“I see. The gyrations are quite peculiar. And what is that device on your subcranium?”

“That is termed a lamp shade,” 9Smith melds, referring to his notes. “Apparently, this is a sacred crown worn during the advanced stages of the happy hour ceremony.”

“Good.” Captain Vnnn-pu nods, mentally smiling. “You must have gained their trust to be honored so. And your report?”

“This is a land of many ironies, Captain. And I know how a good irony sets your drachio-chords to vibrating.”

“Yes, yes. Juicy irony.”

“Observe your mindscreen, Captain. These are just a few examples:

“In this culture, personal vehicles that would save the most currency for drivers—vehicles the earthlings have finally invented to run without using deceased dinosaur fluids—are priced out of reach for those drivers who would need the currency savings the most.”

“Most odd,” Captain Vnnn-pu notes.

“It becomes worse,” 9Smith melds. “Domestic energy alternatives, such as solar panels, energy-efficient windows and doors, and appliances that cost the least currency to operate—and even longer-lasting, currency-saving light-producing modules—are the very things the poor among this society cannot afford.”

Captain Vnnn-pu mentally sighs. “Continue.”

“It seems that humans who operate their personal vehicles the fastest on earth streets and highways are generally the humans least qualified to drive at any speed.

“Further, the media with the most power to influence humans in this culture—movies and television—and would therefore obviously hold themselves to the highest standards of storytelling, worthwhile entertainment, and adherence to the principle of doing the most good for the most people, instead regularly produce such products as ‘Booty Call,’ ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’, ‘Deuce Bigalow,’ ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians,’ and ‘The Jerry Springer Show,’ to name just a few.”

Captain Vnnn-pu shudders, his drachio-chords humming.

“Also, professions that have the potential to make the most positive impact on cultural progress—such as teaching—are consistently near the bottom of the human pay scale, while those who play children’s games for a living make millions of earth dollars per year.”

“Astounding.”

“What’s more, these fully grown children-men are idolized and revered by most everyone in the society—namely the males—despite the children-men’s propensity to disregard the society’s laws and morés, injure one another and themselves with firearms, ingest illegal performance-enhancing substances, and generally behave like preteen humans.”

“I must sit,” Captain Vnnn-pu admits. “My drachio-chords. Go on.”

“Those humans with the most varied and abundant life experiences, who would be revered and honored by any thinking society—the elderly—are by and large relegated to the shadows, often to die alone, in poverty, or in dormitory-like detention centers known as care facilities.

“Get this, the humans who vie for public office are most interesting. These humans claim to have ‘the average Joe’s values at heart,’ yet they are generally among the most very wealthy and privileged among them. From my observation, the average human citizen wouldn’t have anywhere near the financial means, the family pedigree, the television actor’s visage, or the innate ability to switch sentiments on a whim as do these humans. A most perplexing and frightening breed.”

“Who are these humans?”

“They call them politicians, Captain. A most untrustworthy type, yet the humans bestow upon them the most power of all, it seems.”

“And this ‘average Joe?’”

Specialist 9Smith mentally shakes his subcranium. “Apparently, not the brightest of creatures.”

“Please, the drachio-chords.”

“Lieutenant Kranki-5, please get the captain a container of neep juice.”

 “Is there more?”

“Oh, much, much more, Captain. I will relate only a few, however. This one possibly intrigues me the most. The very nature of accruing wealth is quite obviously tipped in the favor of the already-wealthy humans.”

“What is wealth again, 9Smith?”

“The accumulation of personal currency. Unlike Andromeda, sir, where every citizen is guaranteed equal access to life necessities, here one must earn and trade currency to ensure continued sustenance, care, and shelter.”

“Most curious.”

“It is a true subcranium-scratcher: The cycle of wealth begetting wealth and poverty begetting poverty appears solid and unshakeable. For the large part, it appears the wealthy human tribes will always be the wealthy, and the same with the poor humans. Any real attempt at wealth-sharing appears lacking.

“Also, human corporate leaders—bosses, they are called. In companies large or small, these are the very humans who have no need to park closest to the building because no one apparently cares if they are tardy. Yet, oddly, these are the humans with the most convenient vehicle parking spots.”

“Bosses, eh? Perhaps bosses cannot walk so well.”

“I do not know. But in a related observation, these bosses many times are given personal vehicles free of charge, when their ability to purchase such vehicles is many times greater than those humans who appear to work longer hours and park much farther away.

“Continuing, humans have more work-saving devices and more automated systems than ever in their history, yet this generation seems destined to work many more years of their lives than several generations previous.”

“And why is this?”

“It all has something to do with some dreadful collision.”

“Collision?”

Specialist 9Smith refers to his notes. “Yes, a terrible crash on, let’s see here, Wall Street.”

“Strange. Proceed.”

“More is known now among humans about health and nutrition for young humans, and more affordable access to quality choices for human children is available to  more families than at any other time in human history, yet childhood obesity and diabetes appear to be at epidemic proportions—and human childhood hunger remains a problem.

“Additionally, with the advent of cable and satellite, humans now have thousands of television wavelengths available for viewing every night, yet when one mindmelds with the humans, it appears the choices of quality programs are nowhere near as desirable as, say, A.D. 1962—when one could choose from among “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Gunsmoke,” or “The Ed Sullivan Show” from among the three network channels the humans had then.”

“Andy Griffith. Was he a great leader?”

“On the local level, yes, Captain. Apparently an outstanding officer of the law.”

“Please, no more, 9Smith, no more. Anything positive to report?”

“Well, yes. One of the culture’s leaders here announced that humans may soon be able to keep their shoes on when they arrive at air travel centers.”

“Shoes?” Captain Vnnn-pu queries. “Why on Andromeda would the humans need to take off their shoes at air travel centers in the first place?”

“It’s a long story, Captain.”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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4 Responses to “Reconnaissance Specialist Zorbum 9Smith Reports”

  1. Margie February 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    I’ve been watching reruns of 3rd Rock from the Sun. You too?

    • oldspouse February 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      Believe it or not, I never watched that show, despite my love for all things Lithgow.

  2. shrink on the couch February 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    For a lowly earth human you sure have a superior subcranium for noting the absurd.

    • Mr. Cairo March 1, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      Get your appendages off that human’s subcranium, young lady!

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