It’s a project to tell the universe the story of our lives. How it works is we all write down on slips of clean paper-perfect four-by-four squares-what it is we want to tell them: whoever’s out there, twenty, thirty, forty light years away. Movies picture them green with large protruding brains or slimy tentacles as they breathe through glass tubes pressing rainbow buttons on advanced space ships that go beep, bonk bonk, beep.
I think they’re something else, something familiar maybe, but scientists have explained theories that they might be the size of bacteria, amoeba-like things with tiny ray guns, beaming out their own messages to the universe in hopes of finding something like them or something like us.
On my slip, I write simply: We are here. I slip it into the slit of the truck that comes around collecting these messages.
I ask these neighbors of mine-an Indian fellow and his white boyfriend, both just out of law school-what did you write? The Indian guy says, happily: I love Joseph Green. And Joseph Green-blue-eyed Joseph Green-he says he wrote I love you Sami! They both laugh and ask me to hang out on their porch. We drink iced tea and watch shooting stars and talk about this experiment that is supposed to show us what it is that is out there.
Everyone writes something like that, like Joe and Sami. It’s an act of romance; they use it as a proclamation of their love to the world, the universe, and everything else. Stuff like Peter Burns loves Ariel Cook! or Beverly Jones is the most beautiful woman in the universe!
Sometimes, though, there’re other concerns. When you read this, we will be gone; greed and oil killed us; I lived in New York, it is now under water, or else: My cat is the best cat in the world-her name was Burger, is she in heaven now?, or: There are no aliens out there, but if you’re reading this, you’ve proved me wrong, I have a habit of being wrong; this you should know.
Most likely, we won’t hear anything. And if something, it’ll be our children or our children’s children who’ll receive the message. Scientists believe we’ll get something back in binary code. By then, they believe, we’ll all relate to each other in simple codes made of only ones and zeroes.
We all sit and wait. Soon, the news will tell us that NASA’s collected all the messages, and they’re beaming them up at any minute. The last of the messages is Let me tell you this…
It is all thrown out into space in blind hope that something out there will listen and understand or at least know.