Have you ever felt like you donít fit in? It doesnít really matter if itís because you came from the Andromeda galaxy or just another country. Itís a lonely feeling.
Yesterday I watched someone in a grocery store put a cantaloupe to his ear. What could he possibly be listening for? Maybe itís because I was up for three days watching an ďX-FilesĒ marathon, but could he possibly be an extraterrestrial mistaking that melon for one of his eggs? Call me crazy but I see proof every day there are aliens among us. Does your male boss speak gibberish while wearing a tie that any human would know clashed with his shirt? Do you have a female boss who shows up at work wearing a poodle skirt right out of the Eisenhower era but doesnít realize it? Maybe itís a colleague with a voice so shrilling it could shatter crystal. These are all clues.
When I was growing up, I suspected I was an alien adopted by Wisconsin parents. That would explain so much. My father played accordion in a Milwaukee polka band. (If I never hear the Beer Barrel Polka again it will be just fine with me.) My mother played the organ for our Catholic church. After seven months of practicing with a harmonica I got for Christmas, I was ecstatic to finally play at a High Mass. It didnít end well. Father Feeney threatened my parents with excommunication if I ever showed up again with a musical instrument. I couldnít be any more different than my parents.
I was born a square peg and have spent my entire life trying to fit into a round world. Can any of you relate to this feeling? Forty years ago my dad tried to assuage my alien worries by pointing out he must be my biological father because we both had similar male baldness patterns. A few days later I caught him secretly shaving the crown of his head to match mine. A parentís love is a powerful thing.
If you are young and donít fit in, consider you might be an alien from a planet that doesnít judge on height, weight or athletic ability. Iím now a senior citizen and have had the time to reflect upon my long life, so if you are hoping youíre an alien, ask yourself the following questions:
1) Can you dance? In the 1980s, all the discotheques had mirrors lining the walls. Just when I started to feel like John Travolta I would catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and realize I looked far more like a bear on a bicycle. Aliens canít dance.
2) In high school did you sweat profusely while talking to someone you wanted to date? I told girls I fell in our swimming pool while getting ready for school. It had the bonus advantage of making my parents look like they could actually afford a pool.
3) Are you often passed over for a promotion? Think outside the box. Your boss might also be an alien who caught a rash on your home planet he canít get rid of. Hey, Jerry Brown once dated Linda Ronstadt so donít tell me weirder things havenít happened.
High school can be brutal. While everyone claims to be a rebel, they torture those of us who dare to be different. Ernest Hemingway said, ďEveryone is broken by life but afterwards many are strong in the broken places.Ē At your high school reunions, those same bullies will claim they were your friend all along, but thatís only because theyíre out of work and the bank is repossessing their Nissan. Youíre the strong one now in all the broken places. The future is yours.
Even if youíre not an extraterrestrial but just arrived here from somewhere else on our planet, let me assure you, this country is everything you heard it was. We have our faults but most of us can relate to your journey because our ancestors were the same as you. Brave people with amazing dreams. Welcome to America!
Tom Neuhoff is an alien from Wisconsin who once lived in Coeur díAlene, too. He likes beer, which is very American.