An Out-of-This World Weekend
NEW YORK – I was on my way home from another Trailer Trash party hosted by Queen Alyssa at Doc Holliday's Bar in the East Village after yet another night of drinking beer and shots of vodka, eating free wieners and tater tots, and talking boxing. As I was about to transfer from the crosstown bus to catch the subway home, and while tiptoeing around the pee, homeless people, and howling religious fanatics, a blinding white light flashed before me. Suddenly I felt myself being levitated and carried away in the light. I then passed out.
When I woke up, I found myself sitting in the type of chair you find at a dentist's or eye doctor's office. I wasn't bound or gagged or anything like that, and was feeling no pain, but I just could not move out of that chair. It was like a magnet for my bones was holding me down.
"Forgive the intrusion," I heard a voice say, obviously addressing me. I glanced to my side, and saw a smallish green being, not exactly human, but with a physique which resembled our species.
"My name is unpronounceable by your kind," the little guy said, "but our people come from the planet Marchegiano in the Barrow Cream galaxy. Perhaps you have heard of us?"
"Listen, whatever you are," I replied. "No offense, but you're not getting any information from me about anything after kidnapping me like this, and especially after the night I've had."
"Forgive us again, but our planet is in major trouble. We heard you were the smartest boxing journalist around and we had no other means of contacting you."
"Who'd you hear that from?"
"Why, the noted radio and TV personality, Aaron Braunstein."
"Oy. OK, look, why didn't you just Google me?"
"The people on our planet are just like most of your boxing writers, fairly ignorant of that new space age invention of the Internet. We have mastered inter-galactic travel, are close to achieving immortality, and even can program our VCR's, but most of us can barely just open e-mail."
"So what the hell do you want from me?"
"Our planet is being threatened with extortion by a hostile planet known as Alphabet from the Sulaiman Mendoza galaxy. They say that if we do not pay them fees, that they will come to our planet and strip us of our belts. We are a very modest people and without belts our pants would all fall down."
"And where do I come in?"
"It has been many millennia since our people have engaged in any type of combat. We used to be great warriors, but after we invented video games, we quickly became highly intelligent but flabby larva-like lumps. And we also spent too much time gambling on interstellar explosions and getting tattoos. Now we need to reestablish training in sports like boxing as part of our self-defense programs, and we came to the planet you call Earth where boxing is the most developed in any galaxy."
"You mean it's even smaller everywhere else?"
"I'm afraid so. Yet we see that in the northeast region of the country you call America, boxing seems to be flourishing. You just had over 14,000 Earthlings at your Madison Square Garden Saturday night, while over 10,000 more were down the road in Atlantic City."
"True, although now I'm not sure how many there were really Earthlings."
"Trust me, there were none of our people there. But we have figured out how to watch your pay-per-views for free. Now, we want to learn from your boxing, and we saw that the audience at both events seemed quite pleased, but we have some questions."
"They’re not MY pay-per-views, and I don't do consulting for free. And especially when you've glued me to this chair or whatever it is you did."
"Again we apologize. Are ten thousand of your dollars sufficient for a few more moments?"
"Pay upfront, please."
And he snapped two of his four fingers and a neat pack of one hundred $100 bills, all American, appeared in my hand.
“All right,” I replied. “Whaddaya want?”
“There are several things we do not comprehend about your sport of boxing. We understand your football, which you in your sector call soccer. It is having its World Cup and is run by an organization known as FIFA.”
“Right, although I’m not too interested in that.”
“And we understand your basketball, which is having its own championships run by an organization known as the NBA.”
“Right again, but I’m also not too concerned with them.”
“What we don’t understand is this: Your sport of boxing showed tremendous potential by drawing such large crowds the same night in neighboring sectors. Yet it has no central body like FIFA or NBA running it.”
“I see this is even obvious to you guys from outer space.”
“Yes, but remember that to us, YOU are the ones from outer space.”
“Whatever. So why again did you go to all this trouble to rope me in like this?”
“We want to start a boxing league. We see that your leagues like FIFA and the NBA have plenty of their own problems, but that those who run those sports cooperate in their scheduling. At both your boxing shows this past weekend, your fans were deliriously happy and demonstrated their satisfaction by moving their hands together and away rapidly and by remaining standing on their feet.”
“Correct again. And? I gotta catch the subway home, and they don’t run too often this time of night.”
“Fine. Our question is: Why don’t those who run boxing cooperate in the same way that those who run these other sports do? We just want to learn from your experience to create the strongest program and league possible to uplift our people.”
“You said the magic word there, fella: League. The promoters here have historically been too greedy, shortsighted, corrupt, narrow-minded, egotistical, and just plain stupid to create a league. And you have seen with your own – how many do you have, three? – eyes that they could be filling up stadiums and not just arenas if they worked together and didn’t split their fan base.
“Plus,” I continued, “our TV networks are making it worse by putting on competing programs, and even pay-per-views at the same time. And it’s going to happen again on August 5, when Showtime features the Marquez brothers while HBO has Ike Quartey vs. Vernon Forrest and Samuel Peter.”
“That is not good. Even we have heard of all these warriors and admire their talent.”
“But it goes deeper than that. It is really a reflection of the type of society we have. We sometimes use our individualism to develop our own talents to the best of our abilities. But other times we use individualism to keep others down.”
“Heavy. We understand, Earthling. We have studied some of your history. Rabbi Braunstein was right in recommending you.”
“He told you he is a rabbi?”
“Yes, he said his radio show is called ‘Wise Guys, Black Guys & Rabbis’, and that he is all three of those.”
“Lemme out of here!”
“Your wisdom has been very valuable. We shall try to learn from the strengths of your species while avoiding your mistakes.”
And then, just as suddenly as I had been swept away to wherever these little critters had taken me, I found myself sitting on a bench in the 14th Street subway station, waiting for the train back home. I didn’t know if this had all been a dream, or the rumblings of too much beer and wieners, but my head did not hurt at all.
I reached into my denim jacket’s pockets to see if all the cash I remembered getting was there, but all I could find, besides old tissues and expired Metrocards, was an oddly-shaped piece of paper.
On it was written: “Thanks for the advice. But next time, don’t believe everything you hear from a prospective boxing promoter, even from another galaxy.”