I have a friend from Mars. Periodically, he comes down for a visit and to partake in cheese curds because they’re hard to come by where he’s from. Lately, however, he’s feeling a bit lost when he comes down.
His last trip was in the 80s.
Consequently, he had big hair and was wearing a suit with no lapels and padded shoulders. He got a lot of strange looks.
I just laughed. “You’re forty years out of date, man.”
“Forty years?” He then tapped the side of his head. “Yeah, forgot about the difference in time.* And what’s with everybody down here?”
“What do you mean?”
“At one store, I got yelled at for not wearing a mask, and at another store, I got yelled at for wearing a mask. What gives?”
“We got a lot a problems right now. Political stratification, culture wars, climate change, pandemic, war, and no baseball. It’s been tough and a few people are on edge,” I said.
“Huh. Well, could be worse.” He put his arm around me and squeezed. “Gotta look on the bright side, I always say. Look to the stars.” He tilted his head up, intimating that I should do the same.
I looked up. Clouds.
Doug (that’s the name he likes to use) shook his head. “Beyond the clouds, man.”
“Beyond the clouds, man, is a lack of oxygen,” I harrumphed.
Doug put his hand to his chin, contemplating my cogent articulation of human limitations. “I think I’m starting to see the problem here: a big-time lack of optimism. What you need is vigorous new leadership; a new moment forging forward into the zenith of the advancing century.” He patted my shoulder. “Sounds good, right?”
“Sounds like TED Talk gobbledegook,” I said.
He scratched his head. “Don’t the young yearn to lead?”
“They want to be influencers; make it big on TikTok.”
“TikTok?” He smiled, and squeezed my shoulder again. “Interesting. Well, like I said: it could be worse.”
“You did hear me say political polarization, culture wars, climate change, pandemic, war, and NO BASEBALL, right?”
Doug put his arm around my shoulder once again. “Dude, you ever been to Mars?”
“No,” I said, sheepishly, “as far as I know only billionaires want to go.”
“Then shut up. It. Could. Be. Worse.”
“Enjoy what you got while you got it,” he said. “And learn from our mistakes.”
“Sure. So what brings you back to Earth?”
“Came to load up on booze and smokes, if you know what I mean.” He winked before walking away.
©2022 David William Pearce
*One year on Mars is 687 days on Earth.