Elliot: Martian Day in America arriving soon


FILE (The Daily Iowan)

Beau Elliot, [email protected]

Of all the problems facing this society — and as soon as you say that, some wag points out that problems don’t really face society, they gaze off obliquely at the horizon, where they can see the future but we can’t.

Yeah, sure, whatever. You say, tired of these ubiquitous wags. Of all the problems that don’t truly face this society — guns everywhere (but at least they’re made-in-USA, so they don’t shoot straight), trade deficits, budget deficits, the Trade Police, sanity deficits, Martians, who’d’ve thought Samuel Beckett would jump to the fore?

But then, who’d’ve thought Samuel Beckett’s most famous play would become the America’s most overused metaphor this side of the Titanic? Which side of the Titanic is that? you wonder. It doesn’t really matter. Both sides sank.

Everywhere you turn, it’s Waiting for Godot. Say, is my sandwich ready yet? I realize it’s only been four days. Waiting for Godot. I brought my phone in a month ago; is it fixed yet? Waiting for Godot. Say, about that suit I brought in for dry-cleaning? Waiting for Godot.

When you finally get your suit, a week or a month later (hard to tell; the calendars always tear in the wrong places; some say the corporation makes them that way on purpose), the suit is in tatters. Which you point out to the dry-cleaner. Yes, he says. The machine is made-in-USA, so it does that. When it works. But the tatters are very clean.

Of course, when the Trade Police see you walking down the sidewalk with your suit of tatters, they nod and smile. You obviously bought made-in-USA.

That’s good, because the Trade Police can be vicious. They will stop you on the sidewalk for no reason just to make sure you have nothing that was made in China. Or India. Or worse, Canada.

I have nothing but made-in-USA stuff, you tell the Trade Police. Of course, that’s why nothing I buy lasts longer than a week.

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The Trade Police nod sagely. Good, they say. Just buy more American stuff. We’re fighting a trade-deficit war here, and you’re one of the foot soldiers.

Don’t remind me about American shoes, you say. This is my third pair this week.

The Martians never say Waiting for Godot. So you can tell they’re not American. But then, some say that because Martians are not really Americans, they shouldn’t be here. Nobody should be here, the wags say, but you can’t get anywhere else because the transportation is made-in-USA.

Besides, why want the Martians gone? They don’t do anything. Except make little gizmos and leave them lying around the landscape. And the gizmos don’t do anything.

Still other people refuse to believe the Martians are actually Martians. They prefer to believe the Martians come from Roswell, New Mexico.

Wags, of course, have pointed out that large swaths of New Mexico might as well be Mars, given the similarities. Including, but not limited to, topography, atmosphere, and seeming lack of sentient life.

No word yet on what happened to the dogs that created all these wags.

It’s hard to make the standard jokes about the Martians. For instance, How many Martians does it take to change a light bulb?

You people still use light bulbs? the Martians say. With that amused little smile style of asking questions.

Or ask them about rocket ships. You people still use rocket ships? the Martians say. With that amused little etc.

We surf gravitational waves. Sometimes, dude, you catch a really awesome one, it curves just so, you can ride for light years.

So, what’s the deal with the gizmos all over the landscape? Are they a problem?

Yes. Exactly.

But all these problems.

Yes. Problems create the future.

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