On this quiet Friday when the sun shone its smiley face all day, friend Quinn McDonald, artist and creativity coach, emailed a question used to help folks jumpstart creativity cells in their brains:
Pick six items in your house. How would you explain these items to a visitor from outer space who doesn’t understand our culture. Write down your answers.
Thankful George Dubya Bush doesn't live here, I looked for six things I could explain to the Martians, should their superior brains ever make the terrible decision of landing here in the yard in Mason Neck.
1) Walt: Black Lab. Canine. Male. 7 years of age. 80 pounds. Sweet, but magna cum laude graduate of Duh University. Walt is unafraid of alien visitors, except the garbage truck and vacuum cleaner. All guests from the outer reaches of the galaxy are forewarned they will be expected to throw Walt's kong toy for him 1.8 million times before they run screaming to their space ship to zoom off at light speed to get away from such earthling madness.
2) Margaret: Black Lab. Canine. Female. 12 years of age. 90 pounds, but don't tell her I told you. She is very sensitive. Never stops wagging tail, even in sleep. If Martians land and demand, "Take me to your leader!" Margaret would smile and bulldoze her big black head against their skinny Martian legs, knock their green bodies to the ground, then proceed to smooch their bulbous heads. She would then get a drink of water and take a nap.
3) Book. A written work printed on pages bound together so one can read and learn. There are hundreds in this house, but only good literature and thought-provoking essays are allowed. All other books get thrown across the room or against the nearest wall. Any Martian visitor would have to read such small tomes as Don Quixote, The Grapes of Wrath, Moby Dick, and other works that are at least 600 pages. Just ask The Ya Ya Sisterhood Book Club of Mason Neck. They want to send me to the moon every time I get my way with a "classic" suggestion for the reading list.
4) Guitar. A stringed musical instrument played with the fingers, or a guitar pick. The sound is produced by vibrating strings, which in turn resonate the body and neck. All alien visitors will be subjected and expected to politely listen to such trad favorites as "Haul Away Joe" and "What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?" and should feel encouraged to participate in the splendid caterwauling. Please make note that Walt does not like the tune "Sweet Betsy from Pike." Methinks it is the reference to "the big yeller dog," but I am not sure.
5) CDs. A small optical disk on which data such as music, text, or graphic images is digitally encoded. There are probably close to 1000 such media in this house, due to music, archived programming jobs and movies. No, Mr. and Ms. Martian, you may not borrow the following music CDs: Sons of the Pioneers (featuring Roy Rogers), The Radiators (from New Orleans), Nat King Cole, any Van Morrison, or EmmyLou/Mark Knopfler. Clapton is also off limits. You always say you will bring them back, but you never do. Light years away. A likely story.
6) Coffee. Seeds that are dried, roasted, and ground to prepare a stimulating aromatic drink. Must be served so piping hot as to scald even the most hardy Martian tongue. Please add cream of the highest fat content. No decaf allowed. Wimps. Please note that my brother-in-law Dave roasts his own coffee, and shares it with family and friends. It is the best coffee I have ever consumed. He will never reveal the method, but the roasting process starts with an air popcorn popper. You didn't hear this from me.
So, all of you out there, what's in your house? The Martians want to know.
Graphic: The Sun by Emma Mary Mankin, age 7. Used with permission, in exchange for an apple fritter.