January 11, 2003


While walking home from work last Friday, I noticed a spaceship in the Shakespeare Garden. At first I thought it was for one of the Garden’s cutesy community events (Plants from Outer Space perhaps?), but I couldn’t figure out what it was doing in the Shakespeare Garden. Was it built there with the intention of moving it later? If so, this was a stunningly bad idea because the ship was blocking the path and had crushed several flower beds.

The spaceship was shaped like a giant frisbee and had a bubble-like dome and a ring of round red lights along its circumference. It stood on three stilt-like legs and had a bottom hatch, which was down. When I ran my hand across its surface, I was surprised how smooth it was. I don’t think I’ve touched anything that smooth.

But the real surprise came when I climbed up the hatch. I expected to find a cramped room with a bunch of hokey alien spacecraft controls and navigation screens, but instead the room looked exactly like my own apartment. In fact the pot I had used that morning was still soaking in the sink and the clothes I’d worn the previous day were where I’d left them, in a pile on the floor by my bed.

Just one thing had changed: there was a woman was sitting in my green chair.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” I said.

“I’m an alien,” she said. “I’ve come to study you.”

I don’t know why, but she reminded me of a certain ex-girlfriend.

“Really,” I said. “That’s awesome.”

For obvious reasons I didn’t believe she was an alien.

I asked if she happened to know why there was a spaceship in the Shakespeare Garden.

“There isn’t any more,” she said, indicating the hatch with her eyes.

I climbed down. The hatch led not into the Shakespeare Garden but into the apartment of my downstairs neighbor, a creepy guy who always has a can of Coke in his hand. I knew it was his apartment because it was shaped like mine and had eight cardboard boxes of Coke stacked against the wall.

I climbed back up and pulled the hatch shut.

“Nice trick,” I said.


“Who are you?”

“I’ve come to study you. I will sleep in your bed but I won’t have sexual relations with you.”

“I don’t remember asking you to have sexual relations with me.”

“It is expected. I have assumed a physical form that you find hot. Did I use that right, ‘hot'”?

“It’s more like hottt, with three t‘s.”

“I thought it was just one t.”

I noticed she had a space between her two front teeth, just like that certain ex-girlfriend.

Hot is fine, but it’s flat. The extra t‘s add a touch of irony by referencing how the word is spelled in phone sex ads. It’s ironic because phone sex ads that spell hottt with three t‘s are too moronic to be sexy. To refer to this is a kind of wink. You’re saying that you recognize how moronic and unsexy it is to spell hottt with three t‘s, but that you are going to do it anyway. By some roundabout logic, this sort of stubborn self-consciousness is itself sexy.”

“But how do people know how many t‘s you’re using when you say it this way?”

“They can’t, so you have to find other ways to indicate it.”

“Like how?”

“Gesture, intonation, facial expression.”

“This conversation is not very hottt,” she said.