Thursday, August 18, 2016

Reflections on the Bizarre Behavior of a Science Fiction Nerdkid

Recently I was contemplating the many ways in which I was a weird kid. Here are but two, both of them grimace-inducing as I ponder them today.

When I was in sixth grade, I was obsessed with the show V. (Partly because I was obsessed with Jane Badler but who can blame me.) As you may recall, the aliens in this show were the Visitors, reptiles who disguised their appearance from humans with fake human-looking skin. (Fortunately for the show's producers, this also had the effect of minimizing special effects and makeup budgets.) However, this "skin" could be torn off revealing the scaly hide underneath - and often was in fact torn off, inevitably to dramatic effect. My obsession with the show around age 11 was such that I actually starting telling other kids I was a Visitor. Of course, this made me every bit as popular as you might expect. One day, a helpful classmate demanded to test my claim by saying "it won't hurt if I pinch your skin then." I don't recall ever thinking I was actually a Visitor, but also recall thinking I'd be damned if I was going to be forced to admit that I wasn't. Seeing no way out, I allowed a very very painful pinch and twist of the hand which felt like it would break the skin but did not; after which I announced that I had special skin that couldn't be torn off. However, perhaps wary of additional tests, I shortly decided I was sick of playing this game (had it been weeks? months? oh boy) and one day I started telling other kids I wasn't a Visitor. When they gleefully claimed victory over my ruse, I also insisted that I had never said that, which made me even more popular.

Perhaps more disturbing in retrospect was the time at about age 13 when my own made-up science fiction universe actually confused me about reality a little bit. I had invented bad guy aliens, the Ptranians, a race of bipedal reptiloid rats, 7-8 feet tall. (Because that would be cool.) They hailed from a harsh moon of a gas giant orbiting the star Algedi. One day I found myself wondering what the Algedi system was actually like, and found myself unable to imagine that there were no Ptranians there in reality. This unpleasant experience scared me and I stopped making up aliens for a while. The reader will be pleased to know that today I can clearly imagine there are no Ptranians at Algedi, but of course the space lemmings at Epsilon Eridani are real.

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