Space Bugs, Fuzzy Babes, And Growing Pains
By John Saleeby
January 16th, 2004
The Human Brain is an amazing thing - I really have to get one of my own sometime (My skull is too leaky to continue using as a Tupperware container). Sorry, I actually do have a brain in there somewhere. It's just that its product, like that of a Chinese lunchtime buffet, is of erratic quality and best left untouched by anyone with a sensitive nature. Indeed, my unpublished novel "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" has been known to have the same effect on folks as the Shrimp with Lobster Sauce at Min Wa's on Highway 80. So please don't hold it against me if I pay about as much attention to my consciousness as I would a Senate Committee Hearing chaired by Dick Lugar on C-Span. Dick Lugar? Who said that? That's funny!
As remote as I am from my brain's perception of my actual surroundings you can just forget me remembering anything I've ever seen of the artificial world of Television. One time the Neilson's Rating Service sent me one of their little booklets to write down everything I saw on TV that week and the end result was the rough draft of "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" (Originial title - "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Simpsons"). Which brings us to (Unless I come up with an idea for a silly joke before I get to "the point of this essay" part of this sentence. Hhhmmm . . . Nope. ) the point of this essay -
One night in the early Sixties my Dad and I saw some sci-fi thing on TV in which a little space ship (About as big as a fire hydrant only it flew around to keep away from the dogs) landed in the desert so that Freak-Ass-Space-Ant-Creatures the size of hampsters could emerge and skitter around terrorizing some guy and a chick who had parked out there to give the Insectoids someone to torment and abuse. Mean Little Critters with Scary Psycho Faces on their Antenna Sporting Heads. I remember a shot of the guy laying dead on the ground and one of the Killer Bug Mothers walking down the length of his dead human arm. Better Yet - The girl taking refuge in the car and screaming her girl head off as one of the Alien Ants crawled up on the windshield and looked right at her through the glass like "I'm gonna get you, screaming human girl! I'm gonna get you and walk all over your dead human girl parts and I ain't talking about no dead human arm, if-you-know-what-I-mean! Hot cha cha cha cha!" Those Scary Psycho Faces were mucho expressive. Last thing I remember is the little space ship landing on a nearby military post where The Agro-Ants crawled all over the walls so our Brave Men In Uniform could swat at them with brooms - Better than Vietnam, guys! Final Memory - Dead Space Bugs piled up in piles of Dead Space Bugs and set aflame like leaves of autumn yardwork. Good Night, Time for Little John Saleeby to go to his room and draw pitchers of Killer Bug Mothers walking along the length of a dead human arm all night. Probably went into the hall closet and got out the broom so I could sleep with it (Practice for my inevitable fate as Mister Ann Coulter).
Vivid stuff and I never forgot it. That silly little space ship in the desert, the bug on that arm, leering at the girl through the windshield - All these sights are as permanently installed in my memory as my house when I was a kid, the playground outside my grade school, and the roar of the crowd when Led Zeppelin brought me onstage at Madison Square Garden to jam on "You Shook Me". And yet - As years went by and kids would gather to recount the spookiest, creepiest things we had ever seen - The Blob cornering that poor nurse in the Doctor's examination room, Laurence Harvey tied to his bed and left to writhe in agony as The Earwig ate it's way from one side of his head to the other, Richard Nixon and Sammy Davis Junior giggling and hugging each other in obscene ecstasy - Nobody ever had the slightest idea what I was talking about when I told them about The Ants From Outer Space - Nobody! They just looked at me like "Uh . . . Ants? Big ants? Hhhmmm . . . " as dismissively as that NBC Executive when I pitched my idea for a sit com about a guy with two boxes of Special K Cereal on the ends of his legs instead of feet to him. I'd go "Oh! Oh, yeah! I thought I was gonna DIE when I saw that!" when they'd describe Count Dracula disintegrating into a pile of dust when exposed to sunlight or some such foolishness, but did anybody hyperventilate in the least when I was kind enough to share my Ants The Size of Hampsters with em? No, I'd put as much energy into my Bugs From Beyond monologue as Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band clubbing thirty thousand people over the head with how much you should hate your Ol' Man and the most I'd get in return would be "Uh . . . No . . . Never saw that. Nope." It was driving me crazy, it was driving me nuts - Not even my Dad remembered it and he was right there with me! Maybe Springsteen had a point about them guys after all.
By the time I became an adult I just gave up on it. In fact, with giving up on ever finding anyone who had ever seen those goddam Ants on TV one might say I was finally putting aside the folly of childhood and becoming an adult at last. It took decades, but I somehow worked up enough strength to face the fact that I had never seen such a thing on television at all, had made it all up, and was in truth a crazy person, a nut, a flake, a loonie who was incapable of discerning fantasy from reality and would inevitably wind up in a little padded room wearing a straight jacket, and screaming "SCRATCH MY BALLS!!! SOMEBODY SCRATCH MY BALLS!!!" (Like when Cheech was in the crazy house in "Nice Dreams". I can't help it, even my most gloomy expectations are from Hollywood). Damaged goods, no woman would have me. I became a Solitary Man, a Loner, moved around a lot, worked crummy night jobs, didn't say anything throughout the Nineties but "May I have your autograph, Mister Duchovny?" I was The Man Who Saw Bugs Coming Out Of The Sky and no one was gonna get me.
That was the life to which I resigned myself until . . . Just last week . . . Looking up from my bowl of vegetable soup to the television across the room I saw the beginning of a Sci Fi Channel rerun of the legendary Sixties series "The Outer Limits". I'd always heard great things about this show but I'd never seen it. Or maybe I had, because once the show got past the opening credits and into the story what did I see but - A little space ship landing in the desert! Monster Insects emerging to assault a couple, crawl on the dead man's arm, and stare down the shrieking female through the windshield! Tears of gratitude ran down my face and into my Campbell's Alphabet Soup as I realized I wasn't a lunatic after all - I really had seen it on television! Overjoyed, I ran to the phone to contact my Dad for the first time in years and relate what I had just discovered about myself. "Yeah, 'The Outer Limits'!" he said "I remember seeing that when you were a kid!" and I snuck into Tower Records to shoplift a coupla Bruce Springsteen boxed sets.
But there is just one more thing to be settled before I can retake my place in civil society. Something I saw as a kid . . . Or think I saw . . . On The Late Late Show one night when I snuck into the TV room cause I couldn't sleep - Maybe the whole thing is a dream? A black and white Italian thing - Italian movies, The Bane Of My Life As A Boy TV Viewer ("On land or on the seeeea, as long as there is neeeeeed, there'll be Sons O' Herculeeeeeeees!!!" I coulda been learning to play the banjo or mastering some other Traditional American Folk Art instead of watching that crap) – with an opening scene at a convent in the countryside. "A CONVENT!?!" I thought after creeping out of bed in hopes of a war movie or something with radioactive dinosaurs destroying Tokyo "What the heck kinda movie opens at a CONVENT!?!" I braced myself for a Neapolitan version of "Where Angels Go Trouble Follows" or that thing with Sidney Poitier my Mom was so crazy about. So I am inattentive from the very beginning, which proves to be a mistake - Story Of My Life.
Our Hero shows up - No, not a “perfect in every way young African American man even Spencer Tracey couldn't object to” - A real Italian Sleazeball type - Greasy hair, shades, cigarette, black suit with matching tie. What's this "Reservoir Dog" clone doing in a convent? THE HOOK - Living at the convent is a young woman who was born COMPLETELY COVERED WITH HAIR. Kinda cute - Like a cat. No, she didn't have a tail - What kind of a question is that? Whiskers? Maybe. Whiskers would have been kinda nice. But nothing in the least bit monkeylike - Let's make that clear. Cat Girl - Cute, Monkey Girl - Not Cute. I'll make an exception for Pink. Guess her parents gave her up as a "Freak" so she was raised by Thuh Sistuhs. So I perk right up expecting a horror movie about a Carnivore Chick who terrorizes the countryside or something. But, No, The Hero turns out to be not just a Sleazeball, but a Small Time Show Business Sleazeball and he takes Miss Fuzzy on a tour of The Meatball Circuit where she does a little act dancing around in an Arabian Nights Harem Costume. I'm so let down with this I'm close to turning the damn set off and going back to bed.
Then the Nuns show up again which does nothing to cheer me up, getting rid of them was the one thing that kept me going once I caught on that the Hairy Girl wasn't particularly eager to rip anybody's throat out and drink all their blood, now these Nuns are back? It's up to The Hero to put up with their crap, I've been watching all this time and he hasn't even pulled out a gun and shot anybody, of course he's got these old biddies squawking all over him. Turns out in Black And White Italian Cinema it's an outrage for a Young Girl (Hairy or not) to be traveling around with a man she's not married to. Okay, so I'll marry her, he declares so quick even Britney Spears would be shocked. Next thing it's The Wedding Night, She's Hot To Trot, and BOOM! Pregnant! I wake up, this is Our Last Chance At Blood Sucking, Howling At The Moon, Human Flesh Eating Freakazoid Horror Movie Thrills N' Chills - The Mutant Devil Spawn Will Arise And The Fur Is Gonna Fly!
But Nooooooo - The Baby is perfectly healthy. Huh? But when she gave birth ALL OF THE GIRL'S HAIR FELL OUT and now she's a typical good-looking Italian movie star chick. Apparently nobody wants to see a typical good-looking Italian movie star chick dance around in an Arabian Nights Harem Costume (These people are paying way too much attention to those Nuns!) and Our Hero is out of a job. With a wife and baby to take care of he goes Straight and gets a job in a factory - Springsteen would just SHIT! At The End Of The Movie the girl and the baby come to the factory to eat lunch with him on his break and we see that the love of this sweet innocent girl has turned this surly creep into A Good Italian Family Man. THE END
And it finally hit me - It was a Lighthearted Comic Fantasy the whole time! Kind of a Fairy Tale - I probably woulda really enjoyed it if I had given it half a chance! Oh well, next time it comes on I'll definitely check it out . . . Only it never came back on.
So, has anybody - Anybody - seen such a movie or should I just start living in garbage dumpsters? Please, if you have ever seen that movie drop me a line so I'll know that I'm not completely out of my mind and be able to start leading a normal life, maybe get a job in a factory.
But so what if it turns out I'm out of my mind? When Life Gives You Lemons You Make Lemon Pledge, right? The "Hairy Chick Who Made A Man Of Me" thing may be crazy, but it's got SIZZLE! ZIP! PIZZAZZ! Plus, Nuns and a perfectly healthy baby for that Crucial Family Audience! I'll just go right ahead and make a movie out of it myself - I see Pink as Miss Shaggy and Matthew Perry as the Sleazeball. Perry's great on "Friends" and I've had an eye on that kid ever since that episode of "Growing Pains" when he was Tracey Gold's boyfriend and he got drunk and died in a car accident. What? Yeah, before he was on "Friends" Matthew Perry played Tracey Gold's boyfriend on "Growing Pains" and . . . Yeah, she was worried about his drinking and . . . Tracey Gold, she played Alan Thicke's daughter . . . She was worried about Matthew Perry's drinking and . . . and . . . "Growing Pains", it was a sit com on ABC . . . And then Matthew Perry smashed himself up in a car accident and Tracey Gold visited him in the hospital . . . Aw, come on, you remember . . . She made him promise that he'd never drink and drive again but when they all got home from the hospital Kirk Cameron was waiting for em . . . Kirk Cameron? Come on! He was the wacky punk son on the show, he's a preacher on the Christian Cable Channel now . . . When they all got home from the hospital Kirk Cameron tells em the hospital just called and Matthew Perry is DEAD!!! Oh, man! Matthew Perry dead!! It was the saddest thing I ever saw in my life! Wasn't that the saddest thing you ever saw in your . . . What?
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - email@example.com