When looking into the infinite expanses of the sky for signs of otherworldy intelligence, a scientist is hoping for one thing in particular—a pattern. Fifty jillion types of signals bathe our watered planet constantly. Every portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is represented in the poor, huddled mass of unwashed particles. Every microsecond of every day, sensors record and attempt to interpret this filthy intergalactic tide. Like a child in a department store, forgotten, hungry, alone, and inundated by all manner of retail clamor, we are surrounded by unfamiliar voices and possess only limited faculties with which to engineer rescue. Like that child, we listen and hope for a voice we recognize.

From miles of data recorded during his tenure at the observatory, this particular scientist heard a familiar voice. He traced a particular sequence of signals and found that it was repeating. Nothing as simple as a string of digits or a three chord pop vignette from the heavenly choir, but a pattern which was recognizable, and to his trained eye, unmistakable. For two weeks he had watched for the reemergence of the pattern, and had been daily rewarded. An orbit was being described—not a perfect circular path, but a more realistic and believable precession of ellipses, whose focii appeared to be our sun. The theme was clear. Someone was in our solar system, and that someone, or group of equally advanced someones, was watching us.

As the scientist ignored the offended commentary of his colleagues in his demoniac pursuit of these signals, he likewise neglected several aspects of his personal life. The voice of his wife no longer iterested him. Her repeated entreaties to carry out various homestead tasks went unanswered or pointedly ignored. In fact, he had spoken to her only once in the weeks preceding his discovery.

Don't talk to me while I'm working.

Lest the reader exhaust his compassion on the scientist's wife, we ask him to consider the scientist's son. He's a lad of about 13 with all the requisite teenage problems, disorders, syndromes, conditions, diseases, difficulties, etc. For conveneience, we will call him Teenage Boy Whose Ambitions are Evenly Divided Between Three Pursuits:

  1.       Perfect upon his own pate the manner of hairstyle he had seen in various periodicals devoted to the revelation of teen-chic to chic teens worldwide. Its signature is its complete lack of a defining characteristic. The cut/style/look is two parts "just woke up, and I'll be damned if I am going to pretty up for some job interview", one part "the fact that I have not washed my hair in several days indicates a savage, lusty, animal facet of my nature which my TextBook King's English may fail to portray fully" and three parts "If even one of my glorious locks is out of place when she gets here, I will stalk, pounce upon, kill, and eventually devour each of my stylists." The exact photo our boy is trying to emulate is a still frame publicity shot from the classic rebel flic "My Tastes in Picaresque Literature Vascillate Wildly from Day to Day" starring Pierre Renault. Renault's character is a teenage boy with what the kids call "Girl Fever." Luckily for him, the girls in the movie suffer from acute "Pierre Ache." The photo is from the scene where Pierre is leaping from the back of a stolen horse (on which he has been fleeing from a band of angry locals from whom he stole a different horse earlier in the film). His hair is a sort of sandy blond and rests about shoulder length, except in the front, back and sides, where it reaches his waist. His sassy curls are lit from within and even in the still photo, seem to sway in the breath of his hungry admirers. It is this swaying that most completely captures the essence of the style--a zen-like realm of utter neglect achievable only through continuous, obsessive-compulsive care.

  2. The completion of his as yet untitled memoirs. Teenage Boy wrestles constantly with the demons of low self-esteem and steadily rising tide of pubescent madness. His second most prevalent mantra1 during this time of tribulation is "I will endure, if only that others might learn and likewise endure." He develops his various theories on maturity, love, intuition, pain, enlightenment, etc in a journal he received for his 8th birthday. The journal is actually a sticker book chronicling the exploits of a plucky band of shape-shifting robotic half-men, but its cover art (an angry jet fighter/Lay Minister armed with a sceptre which fires pirahna soaked in some flammable liquid) and its title ("So It's Come to This?") establish in his autobiographical efforts a subtextual infrastructure that is at once desperate and endearing.

  3. Capture the attention of a lovely girl. The underlying motivation for the previous ambitions is the snaring of a girlfriend. Despite his overwhelming desire to understand the more advanced aspects of our species, he is only a 13 year old boy, and must periodically succumb to that most animal of our human tendencies--lust. He loves the ladies (in as much as a young man living in near seclusion as his father plumbs the most embarassing secrets of the universe can. The only women he sees are the wives and daughters of his father's colleagues.) At the moment, his most detailed fantasies involve Dr. Mrs. Geurre, the wife of his father's immediate superior in the facility. She has a doctrate in Feminist Historical Perspective from Lee and is, according to Teenage Boy, "Nice, you know...up front."

1 His most common battle cry is "Dude, check it out dude," which fails to deliver the spiritual punch he programmed specifically into the quote mentioned in the text. Translation--"Girls don't really like all that Dude stuff, but they go all squirmy when you talk it up pretty like."