By Monte Lazarus - [email protected]
I recently had an unusual visitor. It just dropped by to see me and, using powers of deduction I developed by reading all of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I concluded that it was from another planet. The fact that it was green and that it had only three fingers on each hand like a cartoon character were hints. What confirmed that it was otherworldly was it was wearing a double knit “leisure suit” with a shirt collar hanging over the lapels. “Aha,” I thought, “Only someone from outer space would still wear one of those outfits.” My reasoning was correct.
The visitor was amiable, gentle and curious. It came from some planet where young males went forth on voyages of discovery and my guest was selected to learn about our society. He spoke a form of Olde English, and we were able to communicate fairly well. His name does not translate easily, and the closest we could come was “Harvey.” Why did Harvey choose to visit me? Apparently upon landing on Earth after a long and tedious journey (long enough to explain the leisure suit) he was fortunate enough to be on Marco Island where he picked up a copy of the Coastal Breeze. He read it cover-to-cover, and was interested in a column I wrote about a new Calusa discovery. Since satire is unknown on Harvey’s planet, he took the story literally. He believed it completely, never understanding the intended satire. Because he was not familiar with the history of our world he did not get that the two “archeologists” in the column were really the names of the Frenchmen who found the Rosetta Stone and solved it. He figured that I could give him a lot of good material about Earth creatures, and I was so flattered I never told him how little I know.
Harvey didn’t care about any of the stuff about the Calusas. He was curious about the things that mattered to Earthlings now, and he decided that watching television, particularly the Super Bowl, would furnish a ton of information. Harvey was extremely interested about two things in the broadcast: (1) why gigantic Earthlings, clad in armor, ran into each other for 60 minutes in an attempt to kill each other and, (2) what were those important things in the announcements (commercials) that kept interrupting the slaughter.
I explained that what he saw was a game – a sport. Harvey had read some Earth history, and he instantly comprehended my explanation. He said, “Ah, verily, like the ancient Romans in the arena. I believe they were called gladiators.” “Something like that,” I replied, “Only our athletes actually get paid huge sums of money to get into the arena, and it is a most desirable profession for young males.” He was a bit puzzled. “You mean they aren’t slaves?” he asked. “Well” I tried to explain, “Some people believe that they are slaves of the owners of the teams, but they are actually free to leave. Also the owners set them free when they aren’t performing very well”.
“About those announcements every two or three minutes,” Harvey said. “I suppose they are to remind citizens about utilizing their funds to improve their lives?”
“Those interruptions are called ‘commercials,’” I explained. “Businesses pay for those announcements so that the game can be played and shown on television.”
“Oh, I comprehend,” said Harvey. “So the viewers purchase the very important things that are essential to their lives. They must consume enormous quantities of those beverages called beer, Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola, and buy a lot of automobile insurance for all those cars they need. Earthlings must also use a lot of that toilet paper stuff and take a lot of medicine. Of course, the people watching in the arena do not have to pay any of their ducats to attend since the interruptions cost so much.”
“No,” I explained. “The people in the arena pay enormous sums to see the game.” Harvey scratched his bald head and blinked his one eye in confusion. “Thank you for the information. I think I’ll have to study a lot before I return home. I can tell there’s a lot I do not comprehend about Earthlings.”
“You are quite welcome, Harvey.” I’m sorry I couldn’t help more. I suggest that you don’t study the books about ‘Fifty Shades’ of anything. You might get a distorted view of Earthling behavior. Oh, and by the way, I’m very happy you did not study our society during the presidential campaign. If you did you couldn’t possibly understand anything about us.”