If you're reading this, the aliens probably haven't invaded yet. And if they have, then what on earth are you doing leafing through a magazine? You should be using it for toilet paper, which is now worth its weight in irradiated platinum!
I've been a crackpot for nigh on 60 years, ever since I saw "The Twilight Zone" on the tube and wondered where all the aliens were at. Since then, I've followed the UFO (ahem, excuse me, UAP) lore pretty closely, reading Philip Corso's The Day After Roswell, skeptically but hopefully pouring over Bob Lazar's supposed accounts of working at Area 51, and even dutifully experiencing my own sighting of an unexplained craft. In the decades since, I've bored my family and friends endlessly by retelling it, so why should you be any different?
One night while I was engineering for the Burlington-Northern between Custer and Hysham in the late 1970s, one of the other crewmen shouted "What the hell is that?" He noticed, and I did shortly after, that the train was bathed in a strange light which seemed to be emitting from the bottom of an enormous craft that looked to be about two football fields long and one wide. It followed us through the breaks and bluffs of Yellowstone River before shooting vertically into the sky at an impossible speed.
Even though I've told this story over and over, I still feel a little bashful recounting it because for years that sort of thing was all flying saucers and little green men, and it seemed as if the kinds of people who saw stuff like that were often gap-toothed, red-necked hillbillies—people, in short, who were just like me. In other words, I don't blame people who didn't believe me. I'm sure that if I saw myself (on the History Channel, let's say) adjusting my sweat-stained John Deere cap while I talked about giant spaceships, I wouldn't believe myself either.
Nevertheless, it hasn't escaped my notice that there's been a lot of UFO news (whoops, I mean UAP news! Fifty-some years of habit is hard to break) lately, including our shooting down of a Chinese balloon and several objects that apparently weren't Chinese or balloons, a very high-profile whistleblower, a House of Representatives hearing, and hours of closed-door testimony. I'm writing this in early August, and there may have been yet stranger developments since. In all my years of being a crackpot, I've never seen so much happen at once. And then Congress advanced several laws intending to declassify UFO documents or exercise eminent domain over recovered UFOs and their passengers. Politicians on both sides of the aisle supported the bills. Who's ever seen Congress work so harmoniously and expediently?
So it's got me thinking, what if they're coming, whoever they are, and the government knows it and is trying to get ahead of the story?
And if they are coming, then you know where they're coming. The same place as all the rest of the tourists: Montana.
Which means we finally have to face some paradigm-altering ideas, such as, Is there anyone in the universe that could possibly be worse than Californians?
Now, to be fair, I don't hate Californians at all, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Montana has spent the last 50+ years exhausting itself in loathing California. Some of us think they're coming to take our homes, and our jobs, and to change the essential fabric of our state. To that I say, “Well, maybe, but at some point your ancestors got here and tried to get a home and a job and a piece of the fabric too.” I think the best part of Montana is that it's a state of mind, not a right-by-lineage. However, I say that as a fourth-generation Montanan, secure in his Montana-ness.
But imagine a Montana overrun by little gray aliens? Wouldn't that absolutely be worse than the worst Californian?
For one, I've bellied up next to a Californian at a bar many times and had a pleasant chat with the lady or fellow. Never have any of them tried to probe my derriere. Not once. It's enough to make me wonder what's so wrong with my caboose.
But if stories of certain close encounters of the third kind (if you know what I mean) are accurate, these guys don't even wait until the third date; they just strap you down and go to town.
So there's one reason aliens are worse than Californians, but you might think differently.
Here's another. Californians, for the most part, leave your damn livestock alone. One time, in fact, I witnessed a Californian on a hike who jumped in fright when he heard a cow say "moo."
But UFOs and their drivers, those big-eyed ET SOBs, are crazy for cows. They shell and discard bovines like I do sunflower seeds while driving on I-90.
Can you imagine a Californian getting out a laser scalpel and removing the sex organs of a cow? Of course not! If you tell me a Californian tried to pet or ride a bison, I'd say, "Yep, that sounds about right.”
If you tell me a Californian drained the blood of a steer, cut out its udder, and then spirited away into the night without a sound, I'd be skeptical, to say the least. But if you tell me an alien did it, I'd nod knowingly and say, "I knew it, those little green bastards."
Hell, at least a Californian's the same species as us, beholden to the same carbon-based bodies and accompanying human needs, like eating, sleeping, and consuming fluids, that we have. They can reliably be counted on to spend $8 for a latte and $400 on a hotel room. Theoretically, at least some of that money reaches a Montanan now and then. But with aliens we have none of the same assurances. Some leaked documents, purported to be real, say that the recovered bodies don't have identifiable ways to eliminate material waste. No apertures at all, ahem, down there.
Now, say what you will about 99.9% of Californians, but at least they poop!
Which goes a long way toward my being able to understand their point of view. I think that the fact that both myself and a California man spend our morning constitutionals atop the porcelain office chair means that he is my brother. Whatever differences we might have in politics, lifestyle, or basic intelligence are, at that moment, surmountable.
The list of reasons Californians are better than aliens goes on. Teslas are annoying, but at least they don't zip through the sky and jam our radars. And none of them have ever shut down, however briefly, our nuclear capabilities, as one UFO famously did in the skies above Malmstrom AFB in 1967. Californians might be accidentally contributing to skyrocketing property taxes, but they've certainly never rocketed my property into the sky. As Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee said in an interview, "They [the aliens] could turn us into a charcoal briquette."
In short, if you think the Californians are bad, just wait until the parks are overrun with Non-Human Intelligence. You might just long for the day it was just patchouli-scented Golden Staters invading and not a sinister army of diminutive, technologically advanced monsters with big eyes, long tapered fingers, and no you-know-whats.
Gary Shelton was born in Lewistown in 1951 and has been a rancher, a railroader, a biker, a teacher, a hippie, and a cowboy. Now he's trying his hand at writing in the earnest hope that he'll make enough at it to make a downpayment on an RV. Hell, scratch that. Enough to buy the whole RV. He can be reached at [email protected] for complaints, criticisms, and recriminations. Compliments can be sent to the same place, but we request you don't send them - it'll make his head big.