My father, the Motivational Drill Sergeant, likes to tell this story, especially after he’s had a few Piña Coladas. That’s all he drinks, although he calls them Muzzle Blasters.
One night when my mother was off giving a speech to the UN, my father and I were at home playing the Game of Death. It’s a game he made up—basically a combination of the Game of Life and Risk with his own rules mixed in. He had already had a few Muzzle Blasters, and so I wasn’t surprised when he brought up the aliens.
“Boy, did I ever tell you about the time I got kidnapped by aliens?”
“I don’t think so,” I said, although I could probably have quoted the story, word for word.
“It was about 10 years ago, before you were born,” he said. I didn’t enlighten him that I was older than 10. “I was out by myself, skulking around the perimeter of Dollywood, since I’ve always been suspicious of that place. I was just climbing a tree, when I was approached by two aliens. They were yellow, looked like flowers, and were exactly opposite heights.”
This is a detail he always puts in, although I’ve never figured out what “opposite heights” means exactly. I nodded and rolled the dice. “I’m attacking the wedding chapel,” I said.
“You only have four armies,” he said. “You need at least five armies to attack the chapel without a degree.”
“Yeah, but you said that if I cashed in my Fire Insurance, it was good for two more armies,” I said. He frowned a bit and then nodded. My father has made the Game of Death so complicated that I have to remind him of the rules sometimes.
“Anyway,” he said, taking another swig of Muzzle Blaster, “they asked me to come with them, to which I replied in the negative. Meaning, I told them to buzz off. The next thing I knew, I was onboard an alien spacecraft. I knew it was a spacecraft, because I saw the Earth in the window. That was a dead giveaway.”
“‘Are you out of your flowery, extraterrestrial gourds?’ I bellowed at them in my best drill sergeant yell. ‘How dare you kidnap me?’
“‘We need your help,’ one of the aliens said. He looked bashful and that made me feel better. ‘We’ve heard a lot about you.’
“That made me feel a lot better, but I didn’t as much as smile. ‘What’s the problem?’ I growled.
“‘We’ve spent years building up weapons of unimaginable destructive power but we’re too shy to use them,’ the alien said.”
“Did he blush orange when he said it?” I asked.
“He did, actually,” my dad said. “Are you sure you haven’t heard this story before?” He took my innocent look as confirmation that I hadn’t and continued.
“I said to those aliens, I said, ‘Well, who do you want to attack? Not us, I hope.’ ‘Oh no,’ they said. ‘We’ve seen enough of your TV programs to know you’d get way too angry. We were thinking of the innocuous creatures of Flufficon Four.’”
“I thought it was Cuddlius Three,” I said, forgetting that I’d never heard the story before.
“They wanted to attack a lot of innocuous planets,” my dad said. “Anyway, I stood up and slapped the main alien in the face. ‘What a bunch of spineless, gutless, yellow-bellied space pansies!’ ‘We’re actually closer to tulips,’ the main alien began, but I slapped him again.
“‘Shut up!’ I shouted. ‘If you got the flower-power, you use it, see? Nobody pushes you around and you don’t let a bunch of Flufficons or Cuddlians intimidate you. Ooh, what’s wrong, you waiting for an engraved invitation before you go attack them? Well, it’s not coming!”
“‘But—’ one of the aliens began but I cut him off. ‘But?’ I shouted. ‘But is something you sit on and you won’t conquer any planets sitting down. Now, stand up.’ They all stood up a lot straighter. ‘Get out there and conquer some innocuous planets and don’t let me see your sorry asses back here until you do. Also, if you could, drop me off at Dollywood before you go. Something about that Dolly Parton makes me suspicious.’”
While he had been telling the story, I had been quietly cheating and by now, I controlled most of the board. My dad looked down and grimaced.
“I’m nuking the retirement mansion,” he said, taking out a hammer.
“I thought you needed to roll two 12s in a row to do that,” I said.
“Okay,” he said, and proceeded to roll two 12s in a row. The hammer came down and the little plastic mansion was shattered. I don’t know how he does it, but no one beats my dad at games when he’s been drinking Muzzle Blasters.