A Starry Night for Generation X-Files

From the Other Side Column

Jeff Morris, Manotick Messenger/Richmond Hub

Last Monday night seemed normal. It was clear, warm, and extremely starry. Like I do every night, I was walking our Yorkie before bed.

While he was sniffing around for the perfect place to pee, which sometimes takes a few minutes, I was mesmerized by the stars. Sometimes there are so many stars that you just have to take it in.

The dog continued to sniff, and I started identifying constellations. I was facing northwest, kind of toward Carp or West Carleton. And for a few seconds, I saw something really weird in the sky. It was like a bright, amber-yellow football that had been deflated. It was moving at a fast pace. I watched it for about five seconds, and then it just vanished, like it had a cloaking mechanism.

What was that thing? Was it a weather balloon? I don’t even know what they are or what they look like. Was it a drone? It was too high, too big and too bright to be a drone. Was it the space station? No, that just looks like a shooting star. Was it a Chinese astronaut’s shuttle re-entering the atmosphere? It was probably on the wrong side of the planet for that. Was it a balloon up in the night and all I could see was the flame? Do balloons fly at night? The Von Trapp family’s did, so maybe this was a balloon.

Was it a UFO? I didn’t even want to go there. But my mind did. Should I call the police and tell them I might have seen a UFO? I’m sure that would go well. What about the fire department? Who do you even call if you see something weird? Are 99 per cent of the people who call that line complete whack jobs? Should I investigate it and do a feature on UFO sightings above Richmond? Should I go full on Joaquin Phoenix and make tin foil hats like in the movie Signs? Maybe Dale Greene or David Brown know what it is. They know everything going on in Richmond, probably in the sky, too. Should I tell them? No, they’ll think I’m nuts. Or do I just ignore it and accept that I saw something in the sky and I didn’t know what it was and assume there is probably a logical explanation?

Instead, I made the biggest mistake I could ever make. I told the Diva.

“I saw something weird in the sky last night,” I told her the next morning. If we were a video game, I just unlocked the next level of the game and gave her super sarcasm power. I told her what I saw, and she laughed.

“So you saw a spaceship last night,” she said in a mocking tone.

“No, I didn’t say I saw a spaceship,” I said. “I saw something weird and I have no idea what it was.”

She paused for a moment.

“Did it have a cone of light coming out of it, and was there like a limp cow floating up into the spaceship?”

“No.”

“Were there little green men?”

“NO! And I didn’t say it was a spaceship. I just saw something weird.”

As the seconds ticked by, I thought that maybe she had moved on from teasing me.

“Hey babes,” she said. I turned and looked at her. She was laughing, and then I noticed her phone, which was subtly facing me. Her screen was a big picture of Marvin the Martian from Bugs Bunny. Funny. I turned back over.

“Hey babes,” she said again after a few minutes. I turned and looked, and she was laughing harder. I looked at her phone. She had a picture of Gazoo from the Flintstones. Ok, that was really funny and we both laughed.

“So if you saw something, why didn’t you get your phone out and take a video?”

“It was only there for about five seconds, and then it was gone,” I said. “So by the time I even thought to reach for my phone, it was gone.”

Besides, as she pointed out, I probably would have had the setting wrong or dropped my phone or something like that.

The next day I went down a major rabbit hole on the internet. I usually get sucked into something like what happened to 70s sitcom stars, but this was a series of clicks and links that began with a Google search of UFO sightings in Ottawa.

The funny thing is that the rural area west of Ottawa is known globally as a UFO hotspot. CBC did a documentary called UFO town that focused on an alleged UFO crash near Carp in 1989. There were declassified documents from the Canadian Department of National Defence describing an X-Files-like scene of government personnel removing wreckage from a swamp and alien beings being taken to an underground research facility at the University of Ottawa. There was also a VHS tape leaked by someone known as “Guardian.”

The whole thing got me thinking too much. I don’t think I saw an alien spaceship, but I don’t know what I saw. I wonder how many other people saw the same thing. I wonder how many people won’t talk about it.

The next two nights, after walking the dog before bed, I was greeted by the same questions.

“Did you see any spaceships?”

“No. And I never said I saw a spaceship.”

“Did you see any little green men or cows being abducted?”

“No.”

“Did they probe you or put a bar code on your forearm?”

“No.”

“Did you see Mork from Ork and did he say ‘Nanu Nanu’?”

“No.”

“Good babes. Go to sleep.”

We spend our whole lives looking up at the sky and wondering if we will ever see anything unsual. And then when we do, who do we tell?

I still walk the dog every night and I still look into the sky.

I just don’t look over Carp or West Carleton.

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