Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January 11: Tralfamadorians, Trump Press Conference, Eyes in His Palms

Some night owls in Ilium heard Billy on the radio, and one of them called Billy's daughter Barbara.  Barbara was upset.  She and her husband went down to New York and brought Billy home.  Billy insisted mildly that everything he had said on the radio was true.  He said he had been kidnapped by the Tralfamadorians on the night of his daughter's wedding.  He hadn't been missed, he said, because the Tralfamadorians had taken him through a time warp, so that he could be on Tralfamadore for years, and still be away from Earth for only a microsecond.

Another month went by without incident, and then Billy wrote a letter to the Ilium News Leader, which the paper published.  It described the creatures from Tralfamadore.

 The letter said that they were two feet high and green, and shaped like plumber's friends.  Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely flexible, usually pointed to the sky.  At the top of each shaft was a little hand with a green eye in its palm.  The creatures were friendly, and they could see in four dimensions.  They pitied Earthlings for being able to see only three.  They had many wonderful things to teach Earthlings, especially about time.  Billy promised to tell what some of those wonderful things were in his next letter.

Billy's daughter, Barbara, thinks Billy is losing his mind.  Little green aliens with suction cups and eyes in their hands.  Four dimensions.  Time warps.  Of course, if my father started telling me stories like this, I would have him heavily medicated and/or committed for psychiatric observation.  But, the thing is, Billy is telling the truth.

Now, most of you are probably expecting me to launch into some kind of rant about Donald Trump's press conference today.  Compare the President-Elect's version of reality to Billy Pilgrim's time-tripping, Tralfamadorian reality.  I will not insult Kurt Vonnegut like that.  Plus, I accept Billy's version of the truth more than Trump's version.

No, I will not linger on the Trump circus this evening.  I am too tired.  I have my own realities to deal with.  This morning, after the snowplows blasted by my house, I got my car stuck in my driveway.  The snow was heavy and stiff and thick.  No matter what I did, I couldn't get myself unstuck.  Imagine me in front of my house at 4:45 a.m., cursing the heavens like some kind of ancient prophet.  Eventually, I had to wake up my wife to help me get unstuck in time.

The thing is, I think we all get a little unstuck in time every day.  Visit our own Tralfamadores.  This morning, as I was shoveling and swearing, I felt like I was the only person on Earth.  That I was a rat in some kind of Tralfamadorian laboratory, being tested.  Even though I was only outside for about 20 minutes, I felt like I'd just paddled from Cuba to Florida. 

Then there was the Trump show this afternoon, which seemed to go on longer than an entire season of The Apprentice; unfortunately, nobody got fired at the end of it.  And, just now, I helped my son take his bath (a good time to bond with him, as he doesn't really remain still any other time in the day); that moment was a nanosecond, come and gone like a snowflake.  Then, tonight, I will watch a few episodes of the second season of American Horror Story with my daughter.  It will be over before it begins.

Time is a very liquid thing, as Billy Pilgrim learns.  Years can go by in a second.  A second can last years.  Saint Marty doesn't have to have eyes in his palms to understand that.

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