Laughlin, Nevada is the kind of place where vegetarianism is deviant. Even the lentil soup comes served
with large chunks of sausage in it… Thick, greasy, lips-and-asshole
chorizo sausage. Even when picked out, it befouls the rest of the soup
with its putrid flavor.
I have to send it back. “This has sausage in it”, I tell the waitress.
“Yes”, the waitress says, nonplussed, “you ordered the lentil soup”.
The atmosphere has abruptly changed. My effeminate coastal dietary peculiarities have made my
presence suddenly unwelcome. I feel a wave of panic fill the room. At
surrounding tables, the bloated men in cowboy hats are, I imagine,
wishing that they were thirty years younger, so that they might rise up
to knock some sense into my goddamn skull. To the people of Laughlin,
it appears, there is nothing particularly bizarre about a group of UFO
seekers holding a conference in their town, but a man who doesn’t eat
meat is truly a freakish thought. Christ, it’s already noon and I don’t
even have a beer in my hand. To the generally upper middle-aged,
beer-bellied, cigarette-sallowed gamblers of this obscure poor-man’s
alternative to Reno, I am an interloper.
I feel more at ease among the ET enthusiasts. My initial impression is that they display nothing of the
unwelcoming, bitter homogeneity of the Ritual Abuse crowd. Among them
are Science Fiction fans and writers, Fortean chroniclers of anomalous
events, students of the paranormal, and the mere curious.
The diversity is an unexpected relief. The two-hour shuttle ride from the Vegas airport to Laughlin
gave grim indications that the conference would be strictly populated
by elderly New Agers.
Earlier that day, I was among the first to be shuffled aboard the small bus just outside the baggage
claim. Freshly acquainted geriatric galactic citizens bemoaned the
horrifying quality of in-flight meals between refined excoriations
against the blind ignorance of the mainstream masses who, despite
overwhelming evidence, remain skeptical to the fact that Earth is being
regularly visited by extraterrestrial intelligences. They were all
warming up for the conference, taking full advantage of this
opportunity to preach to a captive choir. Self proclaimed “intuitives”,
aura readers, psychics, and UFOlogists all began climbing aboard to
contribute to an increasing din of metaphysical philosophies,
conspiracy theories, and Aquarian Age wisdom. Full groups spoke to each
other simultaneously, without a single member listening. The driver
announced that we would be leaving in five minutes, precisely on the
hour, no exceptions, at which a strained looking old fellow took
immediate leave. “I’ll be right back,” he assured the driver.
Ten minutes after the hour, the impatient passengers abandoned their peaceful transcendent pretensions
and began to suggest with undisguised agitation that we should move on
without our missing comrade. A man volunteered to look for him. He came
back and reported something in confidence to the driver who then
announced, “Two more minutes!” and started the engine. Our fact-finder
sat back down across from me. “He’s taking a shit”, he muttered
ruefully to the passenger next to him.
Soon enough our man returned, sullen and shamed, head low.
We’re away even before he’s seated.
The responsible chronicler in me wanted that I should I mingle with the other passengers, at least
listen to what they were talking about, despite a fatigue-induced
disinterest. Somebody was talking about media misinformation, another
about how the UFO deniers are “asleep”.
Good enough. I put on my headphones and listened to music, partially falling asleep.
Anyway, my interest is in those who claim to have been in personal contact with extraterrestrial
beings. That most reports of such contact are based upon recovered
memories is a well-known fact. How are these recovered memories similar
or different to those reporting satanic cult activity? Proponents of
recovered memories of abuse, uncomfortable with the association to ET
abduction, are quick to dismiss the parallel as a cheap-shot, a
low-brow attempt at discrediting all recovered memories. But, without a
method by which one may reliably distinguish legitimate recovered
memories from fabrications or confabulations, the abductees present a
unique challenge. If one can cultivate entire false memory scenarios
regarding sometimes traumatic contact with alien beings, why could one
not also construct such false memories about any traumatic experience?
And what makes a more plausible recovered memory any less likely to be
a false construction than an implausible one?