Area 51... & I Totally Fell For It.

Sometimes when I'm writing posts for the Lunchbox I worry that maybe I'm getting too many laughs at the expense of others. Of course it's never my intention to ever hurt anyone in what I write, but I do want to ensure there's a balance in my subject matter. I once heard the remark, "If you can't laugh at yourself, then you sure can't laugh at others." What I'm about to admit to definitely fits the "laugh at myself" criteria, and when you see what I'm talking about you will laugh at me too.

This week my mother sent me an email with photos attached. In the subject field was the headline, "Strange Happenings at Home," and since my parents had just recently made it home from their road trip to attend our wedding, I expected a some news about how high the lawn was, or which woodlands creatures feasted on the newly planted garden. The pictures, no doubt, would be the visual accompaniment. What I found was completely astonishing.

First I read the message my mother wrote which explained how they had gone to bed and woke up to find what's pictured below in the backyard at the hands of some unknown entity.

By her tone, and because they had been gone for the past week and a half I was convinced this mystery was totally legit. I spent the next several hours searching "lawn diseases," and yes, "crop circles." Not for one moment did I doubt my parents were anything but sincere over there consternation on the origins of this strange marking.

When my mother finished her email with the line, "I wonder what this looks like from a satellite photos on Google," I made a note to search for outer space imagery while I was at it. Later when I talked with my son Noah on the phone, I told him all the gory details which immediately sent his curiosity skyrocketing. In fact I'm pretty sure I opened the conversation with him with the question, "Noah, do you know what crop-circles are?"

"DO I?!!!" His imagination brought to mind who knows what, but in any case, my honest belief in an alien encounter translated into an explosive flurry of activity for every lobe in his brain. We discussed theories, and possible testing we could conduct; we wondered if maybe the government would show up - Noah even asked if there was a way we could make money off the whole thing.

I did have something of a concern that floated in the back of my mind as we talked. Understand, I am terrified of several things: large rats, rare flesh-eating viruses and aliens. I'm not sure how to explain UFOs and little green men, but with all the crazy happenings documented from the time of Ezekiel till today, I believe there's something out there.

My larger concern in this little X-File episode was the fact I had planned several days of camping out in the back yard when the boys and I visit my parents later next month, and as such I wanted no part in me or my boys being the subject of any alien abductions. Not only did I dislike the idea losing internal organs or having metal disk of an unknown composition inserted into our spinal cords, the thought of trying to explain to their mother that we're one kid short because Sawyer was sucked up in blinding light from the sky wouldn't play out well as I turned the kids back over to her. I briefly considered canceling the planned outdoor activities (seriously), but decided otherwise since it's a well-known fact that many an abduction took place within the safety of of the abductee's own bedroom.

Noah and I continued our excited discussion for a solid forty minutes before he had to get off the phone, at which time I struck up the same conversation with his 6 year-old brother. "Harrison, do you know what crop circles are?"

"DO I?!!!" and with that Harrison was ready to donate his time and services to our investigation. Of course, Harrison maintains an undying infatuation with gadgets, and one in particular. "We're going to need a flashlight, dad."

Given my fear, I was thinking more like a flood-light, but I reassured him we would have a flashlight (and several weapons) handy. This was going to be probably the best two weeks with boys with one unbelievable bonding opportunity.

At this point, I want to reiterate I really believed the "yard-circle" to be authentic - honest, cross my heart, hope to die. My comic-book, conspiracy-inclined self couldn't wait to figure this whole thing out, and the fact my boys would be involved made it all the more exciting. Several hours later, however, the mystery was solved after a phone call home.

"Hey, Mom, tell me about those crop circles," I asked. "The boys and I are all excited to figure it out."

My mom was silent for a moment on the other end. "Didn't we tell you about the swimming pool?"

Apparently my parents had purchased an above ground pool for our impending visit, and dad had already marked the spot and started removing sod for the base of sand he planned to pour underneath. I have to admit I was a little disappointed as I explained to mom how sold I was on the idea my childhood home being the next Area 51.

Of course, this was hilarious to my mother, who followed up her instigating email with a follow up the next day entitled, "Strange Visitor Not From Around Here." Opening the email I was treated to an excerpt of my mother's instructions to their "alien visitor" on how they wanted the pool dug, the garden maintained and several other chores carried out. As you can see in the next few photos, while traveling back home, my parents stopped at a few antique malls, and knowing my love for all things Superman, purchased a three-foot high replica they found tucked away in some booth.
Now I know where my sense of humor comes from, and after years of innumerable stories with my family as the subjects of my musings, they got me and got me good. And what about the boys? Well, I think they'll enjoy the pool a whole lot more than an alien abduction.

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