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Brian Evankovich

Explaining the Simple with the Impossible
By Brian Evankovich
Dec 9, 2003 - 12:20:00 PM

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The other day the boss came to me and declared: "The world is going crazy."

I just stared at him, waited to hear something I didn't already know. We live in California, after all.

But when I prompted him for evidence (because no good journalist makes such a claim without irrefutable evidence), he pointed out the recent goings-on in the North Bay town of Fairfield regarding some pesky crop circles which may or may not have been formed by visiting aliens.

Some research was required on my part because the boss was obviously too shaken up with his new discovery to give me any solid details. To the web I went; found an article from the San Francisco Chronicle relating the details of this extravagant event.

Last June: a farmer discovered crop circles in his wheat field. Crop circles are those mysterious geometric patterns that have been showing up now and then in farmers' fields around the world, but this is the first time I've heard of them appearing in these United States. Alien-worshiping pilgrims descended on Fairfield shortly after; entrepreneurs set up souvenir booths selling T-shirts and other trinkets so the pilgrims could prove they were in Fairfield when God (or whoever) landed.

But there's more! Four teenagers later claimed that they were the ones responsible for the crop circles, because, as one put it, Fairfield is boring, and there was nothing else to do.

If the story ended there, it would be a good laugh - but like a daytime soap opera, the plot thickens. A group of paranormal investigators descended on the scene; began studying the circles; concluded that the teens were lying because the absolute perfect shapes of the crop circles would be impossible for a group of kids to achieve. If they found any traces of the aliens who did the deed, or had anything more than their opinions to base the final decision on, they did not say. Paranormal investigators are not to be questioned, you see.

But I say to them: malarkey!

For some reason our society always wants to look toward the impossible to explain the simple. Not just with alien visitations, either. We say Oswald couldn’t have shot JFK – it was a conspiracy; Marilyn Monroe didn’t commit suicide – she was murdered; Timothy McVeigh couldn’t have worked alone – it was yet another conspiracy (I've lost track of all the conspiracies); the CIA could have stopped 9-11 if they’d taken these steps . . .

Why do we do this? I think it’s because we humans are woefully afraid that life is indeed controlled by a fickle randomness that cannot be predicted. Tomorrow somebody will step out on the street and get hit by a bus – no warning, no malice, just a terrible accident. Incidents like that are, as author Dashiell Hammett wrote in The Maltese Falcon, the kinds of things that lift the lid off of life and show us the works. But we cannot accept accidents or simple explanations for these events; otherwise we are indeed holding onto life by a thread.

But that’s the way it is, folks. It’s nothing to be afraid of; wild stories are not needed to explain things - the answers are always simple. Just look both ways before you cross the street.


About a week ago my friends Kristin, Luanne and I went to see a movie called Elf. You've probably read about it or even seen it yourself. It's a good movie, but for a comedy it falls short - there are only four or five really funny moments in it. But that's not the point.

After the movie we wandered across the complex to a children's toy store known as Zany Brainy which, unfortunately, is going out of business.

Kristen, Luanne and I - well, we were in toy heaven; wound up fiddling with this toy, checking out that toy. We took advantage of several display models that made really neat noises and had flashing lights and bright colors. Generally, we had too good a time for people our age in that sort of environment. Luckily we were the only ones there.

When we'd walked in, a sign on the door said: "Children must have adult supervision in the store," - but I wondered who would supervise the adults.


I'd like to send out a special congratulations to Sergeant Edward M. Rutledge of C Company, 27th Engineering Battalion - who recently won the Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan, where he spent time clearing mine fields. Jillian, his mother (and my friend), made an interesting point when she told me about it: all we hear about our troops over there is how often they get killed. We never hear about their successes.


My mother had a birthday the other day - I think we did a pretty good job of celebrating it this year. Even though I drop by the house for the party, I've always made a point to call in the morning and say happy birthday. This year, though, after I made the call, I was hit with the memory of December 8th, 1993 - I was a senior in high school - the only time I forgot to say happy birthday to Mom.

Well, sort of. My sister and I woke up for school and hustled out per usual, but I don't know where my mind was - I hadn't said a word to Mom. As the bell rang for school to start and I hustled to my media class, I stopped cold, realized my mistake, and made a quick dash for the hallway pay phone. I corrected the error, and then headed for class - but with a sly grin, because I was now five minutes late; my media teacher and I didn't get along very well, so I knew she'd hassle me for being late, probably even send me to detention.

A little background is required: this teacher had taken over the media class which, for the past three years, had been taught by an actual broadcasting professional who gave us a lot of hands-on instruction on TV and radio equipment - the school had it's own studio for both. This new lady, on the other hand, took us a step backward; all we really did with her was book work and lectures, which were boring.

Back to my story: Being an 18-year-old rebel at the time, I looked forward to taking her on with the best excuse in the world - I was calling my mother. Now, you'd think that using such an excuse in front of a room full of high school seniors would be asking for ridicule. On the contrary! Nobody liked this teacher, yet I was the only one who would stand up to her. Anything I said would have been cheered.

But the teacher never said a word. She was probably tired of fighting with me.

Two years later, I saw that particular teacher at a gas station; for a moment, I debated about going over to say hello. The past is the past, after all. But I decided, maybe another time; then turned my back so she couldn't see me.

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