Saturday, August 02, 2003

Susan Smith Nash

“And then I was subjected to…” crumpled face, stifled sobs, long silence, then words choked out. “The Probe!!!” The audience gasped in response. It was the climactic moment they had been waiting for. Another daytime talk show. Another alien abduction testimonial. You would have thought those things would have died out a couple of years ago after psychiatrists started pointing out that many of the “recovered memories” from troubled individuals under hypnosis were not long-repressed memories at all. They were responses to suggestions made by the hypnotist.

I went to a therapist for a couple of years, but he never suggested hypnosis. He didn’t suggest much at all, as far as I could tell, and so I eventually left. He was later drummed out of psychiatry for having requested nude photographs from his female patients. I don’t remember that he ever asked me for such photographs, and I certainly never produced any for him. But, maybe I’m just not remembering it. Perhaps he really did have me under hypnotic suggestion.

Despite some ongoing skepticism on the part of non-believers, abduction / UFO sighting stories are more popular than ever. Peru leads the way, with hundreds of supposed UFO sightings every year. People in non-light-polluted countries report that UFOs, comets, and deviant stellar behavior are harbingers of doom, warnings to take heed, change one’s wicked ways before it’s too late.

Americans’ experiences with the aliens are very personal. They can even involve the possibility of encountering one’s soulmate. According to my favorite tabloid, at least two former First Ladies have had recurring love trysts with space aliens, variety Great Gray (the mild-mannered, harmless ones), who visit them from their spacecrafts.

Doesn’t this set up some spousal jealousy in the White House? After all, there are more than a few individuals who believe that the world leaders are, in actuality, reptilian aliens disguised as humans. As opposed to the fairly passive yet intellectually curious Great Grays, the Reptilians are aggressive. They deliberately provoke strife between nations. Their goal is total global nuclear holocaust, which would leave behind lots of flesh ready to eat, and nice, warm radioactive sands for incubating Reptilian Alien eggs.

I’m not sure if I believe any of that. I do wonder, though. There are persistent rumors that the super-secret all-male Bohemian Society is comprised of Reptilian Aliens, who inhabit the bodies we know as world leaders. The Bohemian Society, which meets each summer in Sonoma County, California in a grove of Sequoiahs along the Russian River, is said to kick off its two weeks of male bonding with a bonfire ceremony to the Great Owl, Moloch, in which members burn effigies and don red KKK-type outfits. These are our world leaders? Marvelous.

That probe business is what catches my eye. It’s the common thread that unites all the narratives. There are other ways aliens can invade and violate people. Why the probe? Why not the earwigs of Dune and Star Trek? Those little critters are scary. Dropped into the ear, they crawl into the ear canal, and promptly chew their way to the brain. I guess the problem with that is that you rarely live to tell the tale (!)

An alternative horror is the human botfly. I was considering a trip to Costa Rica until I remembered having read about the human Botfly in the Dangerous Insects book I bought for my son at the local natural history museum gift shop when he was 7 or 8. The botfly looks like a mosquito, except it’s a fly. Its favorite place to bite appears to be the male scrotum. The mother botfly lays her eggs in the scrotal area of an unsuspecting tourist, and then flies off happy with the knowledge that her eggs have been laid in the most jealously guarded region of all of human anatomy. There the little eggs thrive. Human blood nourishes the larvae, which incubates for several weeks, growing to the size of a small chicken egg. This, according to all reports, causes “discomfort” in the unwilling “host.” Finally, when it is time to give birth, the now inch-long worm-like creature, with a double-row of spines down its back, starts wriggling toward its birth canal, except there is no birth canal, just scrotum. According to all reports, this causes even more “discomfort.” Birth in such circumstances is always by caesarian, accompanied by shrieks of horror, nausea, and shouts of “I’m not touching THAT!” and “Quick! I heard these things can jump up to 6 feet!”

Thankfully, human botfly experiences are rare, especially in comparison to alien abductions.

In attempt to make light of a situation that alarmed me, I joked with my son that he and his pet beagle, Sammy, must have been abducted by aliens at precisely the same time. I was saying this because my son had just described having had his core body temperature measured by a metal rectal thermal probe. He was severely dehydrated and had fallen unconscious from heat stroke during a training exercise with the Marines on a lava plain in Hawaii. As luck would have it, at precisely the same moment, 4,000 miles away in sunny central Oklahoma, a metal cylinder was being inserted up Sammy’s rectum. No one thought Sammy was suffering from heat stroke. Instead, the veterinarian’s assistant was collecting a stool sample to analyze for parasites. Thankfully, Michael and Sammy are both fine now. Sammy was parasite-free, but decidedly ungrateful for the knowledge. He runs and hides when he sees me holding anything even vaguely resembling a metal cylinder. After his ordeal, I felt sorry for the chubby little dog, so I fed him a full package of Bacon Beggin Strips. Ironically, Michael suggested I mail him a care package with his favorite snack items.

“Don’t they have potato chips and cookies at the exchange on base?” I asked.

“It’s not the same,” he said. “I’ll be back from the field next Thursday. Do you think it can be there by then?”

I looked up to the TV where another weeping man was describing his alien abduction experience. After a commercial break, the show ended with the announcer describing the gifts the guests would receive. One was a generous box of gourmet chocolates, fruits, and coffees.

Well, there’s the pay-off. A hefty care package heals a lot of wounds, especially those inflicted in the name of scientific investigation or “health.” I wonder if I’ll be getting a box of chocolates for my birthday from my old therapist.