HERCEG NOVI, MONTENEGRO – There are as many Perfect Holiday Scenarios as there are people who might conceive of them. For me, observing the Alien Landings on the beaches of Montenegro is always one of the most anthropologically satisfying ways to pass the time.
You are out. You are away from the office and the daily hub-bub of whatever bub you happen to hub for a living. A few hours ago, you were disgorged from a bus or a plane onto this foreign shore. The sunlight blinds your troglodytic eyes, causing you to throw up one tote-bag-toting arm in futile self-defense. Your arms and legs gleaming white-grey the from hours of exposure to fluorescent light, sensitive translucent skin calling out to some long dormant genetic code linking you to a nocturnal amphibious haddock yearning to be free.
But that was Saturday.
Now it is Wednesday already and your pigmentation has begun to adapt. Your clothes are no longer pressed, no longer gleaming white. Your street shoes are in the back of the closet having been usurped by the ubiquitous and fashion-questionable flip-flop (also known as shower-shoes, sandals, go-aheads, thongs, and zories). You might even have taken to wearing some kind of hat… In other words, you have transitioned. Your transition is marked by adaptation to the local environment, the driving desire to fit in, and the fact that you are, despite all possible arguments against it, a human.
The Aliens, on the other hand, are the interesting ones to observe. These are creatures that cannot, for some reason, make the transition. Not that the Aliens would not LIKE to fit in… Bien au contraire! Alien Life Forms in a Natural Marine Environment do their best to give a good show of adaptation by affecting all of the sartorial and cosmetic changes required, but somehow, you can always see that they are from another planet.
No Shirt Guy, for example, is very likely to be from a planet far, far away. No Shirt Guy bursts forth from the plane and immediately his loose fitting Cabana-style shirt (pineapple motif) disintegrates into nothingness. Thus transformed from City Guy to No Shirt Guy, he proceeds to parade around the seaboard, weaving in and out of populated areas and places of commerce without the advantage of abdominal tenting.
No Shirt Guy is different from other shirtless inhabitants of the resort area in that he is FULLY DISTINGUISHED by his lack of shirting. Sporting a well-ballooned and dazzlingly white (or lobster red) stomach surface, No Shirt Guy seems to be less of person than a proclamation – “HERE I AM!” he proudly cries out.
No other feature of No Shirt Guy is in fact visible – try to remember the face of the last No Shirt Guy you saw. This is a clever ruse by Alien Life Forms at the beach: anyone who can filter out the NSG stomach will immediately perceive a small grey-alien head in the shape of an upturned pear.
However, as no human has ever been able to shield the out blinding bellies, this is mere speculation on my part.
Another alien manifestation comes from the costumes. With Wayfarer sunglasses that steep at 76 degrees to starboard, a floppy-brimmed hat, belted shorts in colors which do not occur in nature, offset to some degree by the splotch of chocolate ice cream in a normally embarrassing area, this year’s summer Alien fashion collection also includes a pair of non-ambulatory flip-flops.
Difficult footwear even for experienced humans to master, the flip-flop must be wedged between the toes big and middle, held in place either by the sheer will of the wearers’ arches, or (and more commonly) by a constant shuffle which serves to push it back onto the foot on each forward thrust. Our Alien Life Forms, however, tend to combine every conceivable method of affixing the defiant straps of rubber and plastic to their feet. The net result is either complete immobility or the stumbling gait that one may easily descry from a great distance, signaling the arrival of observable beach aliens. Typically, the Event is comprised of a few shuffles, a hop, perhaps the occasional fall, a readjustment stop, two decisive stomps (demonstrating to all and sundry that in fact the Alien himself is less at fault for the spectacle than these damn flip-flops), and then repeat.
Variations are possible.
The Aliens, however, take their revenge each September. This is when the humans return from the beach but REFUSE TO READAPT. Puka shells, henna tattoos, open shirts, and chemically reinforced suntans mark the Return of the Naturalized to the darkness and glowing florescent of office life. This is when the aliens among us sit in cafes, pointing and gawking over their decaf cappuccinos. When we finally wake up a few weeks later and realize that the holiday is long since over, tossing out our flip-flops and wondering how we ever got them on our feet, the aliens may depart again, remarking that they have never had such a satisfying holiday.
“And did you SEE those humans?”