I saw a UFO. Who cares.

An old friend called me last night.  We will call him "Fred" which is not his real name.  It was after 9:00 pm.  All the kids were in my room with me and my wife, watching Coming to America for the umpteenth time.  I wanted to sit around the iPad and watch Shay's Cooking Show but we voted and I lost.  

Normally I would not answer the phone that late, especially when I am settled into my bed, we are into a movie, school is starting the next day.  The stars were not aligned for being distracted by the phone.  But I had not spoken with this guy in a couple years.  When an old friend you do not keep in touch with regularly, calls at an odd hour, you pick up the phone.

I got out of bed and walked into my closet, for privacy and so I did not disturb the movie.  It is a large walk-in closet, really more like a dressing room but that sounds pretentious so we just call it the closet.  I asked him, "What's up," fearing the worst.  The connection was staticky.  I could not understand what he was saying.  He said he would call back from his land line.  It must be something important, I thought.  I hung up, eager to find out what was up, while dreading it at the same time.

I told Mrs. M., "I think someone died."   Then I went back in my closet to look for a place to sit.  My chair had some clothes lying on it, shorts that I wore once and did not want to wash yet but also did not want to fold and put away.  I stood in the doorway to my room to watch some more of the movie.  It was the part where Akeem leaves New York and goes back to Zamunda, dejected, African drums playing over the motorcade on Park Avenue.

Fred called back.  The connection was better.  I walked out of the room and sat on the top step of the stairs, bracing myself for the sad news Fred was surely about to deliver.  He went right into the old catch-up routine.  "How's it going, how's it been, what've you been up to," etc.  Huh?

I came right out and asked if someone had died.  We can talk like that with each other.  He is a dear friend from college, a fraternity brother.  He said no.  He was just sitting in his garage, watching the thunder storm, and thought of me.  I could hear in his voice that he had been drinking.  I asked him if he was drunk.  He said yes.  He just wanted to catch up.  I was drunk-dialed on a Thursday night.  I told him, "OK.  Let me go get my glass."

Why are UFOs a Secret?
"Fred" at Alumni Weekend

I went back into my room.  I had a nice, etched, weighted glass on the night stand, from a nightcap I had polished off, earlier.  I would have told Fred to call back another time but there was only a minute, or so, left in the movie, all the popcorn had been eaten, it was time for the kids to get to bed, and it was early enough that I could prepare myself a second drink.  I told Mrs. M., "It's OK, he's just drunk."  I went downstairs, made a dirty martini, and sat in my recliner in my office.

Fred and I probably talked for an hour and a half.  There were not many lulls in the conversation.  We covered a lot of topics, our kids, the pandemic, politics, mutual friends, old times back in school.  It was a good conversation.

Since the call was so random I wondered if Fred had just seen me on Unidentified and that was the reason he was calling.  I would not have cared.  It is not like he was someone I barely knew and then became Facebook friends with but never saw or spoke to him in person, like many of my Facebook friends.  This was a good good friend, albeit somewhat estranged by the hands of time.

When you are close enough to bluntly ask someone, "Who died," you can ask just about anything without them taking offense.  I chewed on an olive and asked Fred, "Did you call because you saw me on TV?"  He was clearly baffled.  Unfazed, Fred moved on to another subject.  He was loaded.

Now, I was itching to let the cat out of the bag.  I let Fred go on for a few more minutes and then circled back around and said sheepishly, "When we were in school... did I ever tell you I saw a UFO?"  He paused, to think.  Then he said no and immediately went into a time he saw some weird lights and then changed the subject to something else.  And this is why more UFO stories do not get told.

Why are UFOs a Secret?

A lot has been reported, since Unidentified first aired, about the ridicule US Servicemen face when trying to report a UFO.  It happened to me immediately, forcing me to stop telling my fellow Army Reservists afterwards.  It happened to Mike, the other witness, compelling him to completely recant his story for the rest of our Annual Training exercise.  He did not talk about it again until I tracked him down two years ago, for Unidentified.  I can say with certainty (without knowing any actual statistics) that it has happened to every sane, rational person who surrounds themselves with sane, rational people.  It is just the way it is.

But it is not like we witnesses never talk about it with anyone - most of us.  I have been keeping track, anecdotally, of what the other folks on Unidentified have said about this topic.  There were one or two people who said they had never told anyone in their lives (though I doubt that) but most of them said they had only told close friends and family.  It was the same with me until I started this blog.

Last night I asked Fred if I had ever told him about it before.  My recollection was that the first time I told anyone outside my reserve unit was when I told my cousin's girlfriend six or seven years later.  I remember my eyes welling up with tears as I relived the terror.  It was a cold winter's night and we were outside, smoking.  She said she would never have believed such a story but could see the trauma in my face, the water in my eyes, I was visibly affected.  I know now, it was PTSD.

I did not think I would have told my frat brothers.  Even though we were so close; we could comfortably confide our feelings to each other in a way that most men are unable to do.  But as much as we all loved each other, telling everyone I saw an alien spaceship would have caused them all to start calling me, "UFO Boy" or some other stupid nickname.  Most of us had a nickname.  One guy was Hoover, one was Loaf, one was Mackto Jackson.  Everyone called me, "Marceau."  That was fine with me.

So, fear of ridicule kept me from telling my closest friends right after the incident happened, despite a level of intimacy shared only by fraternity brothers or combat veterans.  If I had told anyone, Fred would have been one of the 3-5 people in my inner-most circle that I would have told.  Then again, maybe I did.  Maybe I said something and it went like our phone call last night went.

I know this has happened before, with other people.  I can remember several times, through the years, when I have tried to tell someone and did not quite get through to them.  Maybe alcohol was involved, maybe not.  But the message often does not result in ridicule, it simply falls on deaf ears.

Why is that?  Why do people not pay attention when someone is pouring their heart out, providing such valuable information?  This information is so important, I felt for three decades that I needed to speak with someone high-up in the US government, to let them know our airspace is being invaded and our military bases are in danger of being overrun.  How could someone not listen when trying to tell them about this?

Trying to tell someone you saw a UFO can be treated like saying, "I was driving down the road one day and someone hit a possum."  Uh-huh.  You want to say more about this mundane experience but they jump in with something equally trivial like, "I saw something flattened out on Route 7 today, could have been a raccoon, then when I got to the store they were all out of what I went for.  So I kept driving and then my wife called.  So where did you go on vacation last summer?"

But wait!  I had something important to... oh, nevermind.  He probably would not have believed me anyway.

Sometimes you do manage to tell someone and you think it registers but it does not.  For example, when my sighting occurred, I told my dad the next day.  He was there, in Gagetown in 1992.  He was the Mobilization NCO in my unit so he was there for the entire three weeks, like I was.  He knew about the sighting.  Years later, when I told my cousin's girlfriend, my dad was there too and he did not remember me telling him the first time.

I mentioned the incident again to my dad two summers ago.  I wanted to see if he could fill in some missing fragments of my memories of Gagetown, in anticipation of possibly being on Season I of Unidentified.  He had no memory of me telling him about the UFO.  I know I had told him at least twice before, at this point.

How could someone simply forget something so big?  Is it because my dad did not experience it himself?  I told my dad I earned an MBA a few years ago.  He was not there for the ceremony but he remembered afterwards.  Why not this?  I am sure there is a psychological reason for why people remember a recounting of certain events and not others.  Maybe he thought I was kidding.  Like, "Hey Dad, there's a snake under the couch.  Ha ha!  Made you look!"

I tried to tell Fred about the UFO one more time last night but he had other things on his mind.  It was strange because this was about such a huge moment in my life.  Now, with the appearance on Unidentified and the success of this blog and with interviews coming up, so much has changed.  Fred just wanted to talk about the old times.  Glory Days, as it were.  That was OK.  It was good to catch up and now we are making plans to get the families together at my Distant Social Firepit.  Fred moved up this way last year and is only 20 minutes away now.  And really, what difference does it make, anyway.  I had a close encounter.  I saw a UFO.  Who cares.

Enjoying this blog?
Also follow me 
If you have seen an alien spaceship or any type of unidentified flying object (UFO) contact me using the Contact form at the bottom of this page.  You may remain anonymous if you want.  I will not ridicule you or try to tell you why you are wrong.  I get it, I saw one too.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.