The Enchantment is a dingy roadhouse on the outskirts of Letongaloosa. It’s the kind of place every college town needs to maintain academic accreditation. I go to the Enchantment to have a soft drink and chat with friends—some of whom live here and some, like my robot alien friend KB 11.2, live a long, long way from here.
My Alien friend Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set arms sprout from the curved sides of his body. Three spindly legs drop from the flat underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet, and three sensor-eyes wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top his lid.
Kaybe comes from the Alpha Centauri star system. Many years ago on a visit to Earth, Kaybe saved my marriage. We have been friends ever since. Kaybe communicates telepathically– his voice comes into your mind. When we speak English, Kaybe sounds like CNN’s Anderson Cooper. When we speak Spanish he sounds like the Mexican comedian Cantinflas.
There are a variety of cosmic characters at the Enchantment none of whom are around here: Four-Finger Fanny, Henry the Hulk (about whom I have written) who is small but who has a deep voice, Minature Mike, who is huge and very shy.
Four-Finger Fanny speaks telepathically, but she also speaks human, for which I am grateful. It gives me a headache to speak telepathically for very long.
“Kaybe’s back in town, said Fanny. ‘He has a companion. Come on out, have a soft drink and chat.”
“I’d love to. See you soon.”
I drove out to the Enchantment, slid into a back booth and ordered a soft drink.
A little later Kaybe rolled up to the booth, and another alien who looked just like him, rolled up right behind him.
“Hello, good friend,” said Kaybe, telepathically.
“Hi, pal,” I replied. “Who’s your friend?”
“This is K.B.11.3, nickname K3. She’s an old (eons old) friend of mine. K3 just swung in from beyond…well she comes from way beyond any place you’d recognize.
‘’It’s a pleasure to meet you Ms. K3.”
“Just call me Three,” she said telepathically.
“So, what’s going on in the outer reaches?”
“Comets, black holes and the reach of infinity. What can I say?”
“Here on earth things are roiled and getting hard boiled. Elections are coming up and people are all excited to see what happens. Do you choose your leaders by elections? I assume you do have leaders and followers.”
“Eons ago we had leaders. But we evolved a system of governance where everyone has an equal say.”
“How do you deal with divergent views?”
“We talk it over—and we talk it over and we talk it over and we talk it over. We don’t measure time like you do in this section of the galaxy, so these conversations last and last. Eventually when we have turned up and discussed the galaxy of information and opinion and we have pondered it all for a long, long time all that “stuff” begins to seem old and raggedy. And we say, This stuff is old and raggedy. We’re not going to waste any more discussion on old, raggedy stuff like. Let’s play some board games.”
“Indeed?” I say. “That’s fascinating. What you are describing as “stuff” looks and sounds very much like what we here on Earth call politics. We’ve been chewing on the same political soup bones for decades, but we act like the “stuff” is new and compelling.
“So, do you chuck it all out and go and play board games?” asked Three.
“That would be marvelous,” I said. “That would be SO sensible. We could just agree that some “stuff” will never be resolved and go play board games.”
“Do you think that will work?” asked Three.
“I’m afraid not. I think we’d get into a big hassle about which board games are “socially and politically acceptable,” and which board games are not,” I said.
That’s stunning,” said Three. “What a wonderful bunch of “stuff,” that is.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” I said.