Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm not going to Roswell, again

About sixty years ago, a flying saucer was reported to have crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. The event was reported in newspapers across the country, only the be followed the next day by a story claiming that the "flying saucer" had turned out to be a weather balloon.

Years later, different groups of witnesses came forth to tell what really happened at the Roswell flying saucer crash, or the crash at Corona as it is sometimes called. In the eighties, several people wrote books on the subject, decades after most people had forgotten all about it. In the late eighties and early nineties, the public demanded to know what really happened. Then we all learned about something called Project Mogul.

Tourists started visiting Roswell. A few people started museums about flying saucers. Visitors went out to see the crash-site.

And then came the Roswell UFO Festival. There were serious lectures and such, as well as some not so serious stuff. Bike races, movies, a dance, and a costume contest.

It was a bit of fun. Some friends of mine at some of the local clubs went. The next year a bunch more went. By the fiftieth anniversary, this was going to be a big deal.

Harlan Ellison went on television to tell us how stupid we were for having a big party. I've always wondered if he paid for the TV time himself, or if the Sci Fi Channel used to like him so much that they just gave him free air time to say whatever he wanted. The first possibility seems unlikely, but the second possibility seems unlikely as well. Only a dozen or so people like Harlan Ellison, and I only know that because I've met about half of them.

So there was the big party planned, and some people were guessing that half a million people would go. I wanted to go, but I didn't have any money. But I really did want to go.

At the time my husband worked as a traveling photographer at a company that was cheating him. I have signed legal papers that prevent me from talking about it, so I won't say the name of the company. Anyway, my husband's boss at the time was Ms. Big Eyelashes, and she kept promising him that things would get better. And to keep him from quitting, she told him that she could arrange for him to travel to other districts whenever he wanted.

I decided to put this to the test and told her that we wanted to be in Roswell for the 4th of July weekend. I told her that it would not be possible to actually work in Roswell that week, since even if there happened to be a job there at the time that we wouldn't be able to get a room there. But maybe she could get something in the general area, say something that would be a half hour drive, or maybe even an hour.

Sure, no problem.

My friends kept asking me if I wanted to share a room and travel expenses with them on the trip to New Mexico. No, I said. I don't have that much money. Supposedly I'll still get to go, but I can't spare the money to share a room in Roswell with anyone.

I kept asking about it, and Ms. Big Eyelashes kept telling me that everything was fine. She just had to get permission to trade photographers with someone in that district that week. The other district manager was okay with the idea, but she didn't have the schedule yet.

Anyway, the date got closer and closer, and I kept getting offers to go to this thing with other people. A couple of people had to cancel, and the rest of them would rather that someone went who could pay some of the expenses rather than just be short a person and have to make up all of the money themselves.

Thanks anyway, but I really can't afford even that.

I asked Ms. Big Eyelashes again, and again she said everything was fine.

A friend of mine offered to take me along, and he didn't ask for any money. But he'd just remarried, and I didn't know his new wife that well. I thought she might not like another woman tagging along. She might have different ideas about the trip. Having to take two kids on the trip was one thing, but having an extra woman on the trip is different.

Thanks anyway.

I asked Ms. Big Eyelashes again, and again she doesn't say anything useful. I'm starting to get very annoyed with her. Not that I wasn't annoyed with her already, but I was started to get really annoyed about this trip to New Mexico in particular. If she couldn't do it, she should just admit it and get it over with. If the trip is going to happen we need to know where specifically so that we would know where to reserve a room. That sort of thing isn't normally a problem, and we rarely make reservations, but this was different. I figured we would probably be working in Artesia or something, but if we didn't hurry we wouldn't be able to get a room there either. Roswell didn't have enough motel rooms for all the people going to the UFO Festival, and maybe all the rooms in Artesia would be taken too.

At one point Ms. Big Eyelashes said something really stupid. She said that she had the guy on the phone and he was making up the schedule, but she didn't know which week I wanted to be in New Mexico. It wasn't like this year, with the 4th being on a Wednesday. Not sure if the weekend before or the weekend after gets to be the 4th of July weekend when the 4th is on a Wednesday. But this was not the case that year, and the 4th was either on Saturday or maybe Sunday. The work week for us at the time was Thursday through Monday, so there was no doubt which week I was asking about when I told her I wanted to be in Roswell for the 4th of July weekend.

A week later she tells my husband she's arranged for him to work in Brownfield, Texas on the week in question.

Not even in the right state. I don't know if it was even the right district, but it's not close to Roswell. It's like a two or two and a half hour drive between Brownfield and Roswell. There's no way that I could get to the UFO Festival if I was staying in Brownfield. And Brownfield is a bit of a drive from here. It just wasn't worth going there at all.

Then she tells me that if my husband doesn't work in Brownfield that week he'll have no work at all. The schedule is already made up, and there's nothing for him in his regular district.


The Festival was Thursday through Sunday, with most of the good stuff being on Saturday. My husband worked Thursday through Monday. We had put a camper shell and such on the truck for carrying the photo equipment, so I was unable to drive the truck myself. My husband couldn't drive two hours, drop me off at Roswell, drive back to Brownfield, go to work, drive back to Roswell, get me, and then drive back to Brownfield. That would have taken between seventeen and nineteen hours. I could have gotten a ride from Artesia, or maybe even from Carlsbad, but not from Brownfield. It just wasn't even worth thinking about it.

We decided since we were stuck with the schedule that we might as well go a day early and drive to Roswell anyway.

So we go to Roswell on that Wednesday before the Festival and there is really nothing to do except for the stuff that's always there. So that isn't very much. And there was someone selling hot sauce, but we didn't buy any. We went to Roswell's regular museum (with art and regular science stuff, not flying saucer stuff), and we went to a couple of the flying saucer museums and stores. And it was crowded everywhere we went, cause about half of the half million people who wanted to go to the Festival were already in town looking for something to do, so we all ended up being at the same places. But I didn't see any of my friends from the clubs.

I did see Stanton Friedman. I didn't hear him speak or talk to him or anything, I just saw him. In fact, I think I stepped in front of a camera when someone was trying to interview him. Sorry about that. Did I mention that the place was crowded?

You know what happens when half a million people go out to New Mexico in July?

They sweat. They sweat a lot. We went to the planetarium show. It was a sold out show. And it did not smell good.

It was too crowded to see a movie at the UFO museum, and there was no reason to stay in town to watch a regular movie that we could see just as well in Brownfield. So, we headed back. I think that was the opening day of the first Men In Black movie. We were surprised that the little failing down theater in Brownfield had it already. On the way out you get to vote on what movie the theater shows next week, even if you're not going to be in town next week.

So my friends went the next day and the day after that and Saturday and Sunday and just had all kinds of fun. I heard that Will Smith hung out for a while. A bunch of my friends were in the costume contest. Some of them got their pictures in magazines, and one of them was paid five hundred dollars to be on the book cover of a book about Area 51.

I spent the rest of the week stuck in a motel room in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing to do except go to Walmarts and maybe go to the movie theater, but we'd already done that on Wednesday.

So this year I was vaguely aware that it was the 60th anniversary of the Roswell crash, and they were having the UFO Festival. I even looked at the schedule of events and such. I decided that it probably wasn't worth it. It didn't look like the serious UFO people were going to be there, and if any of my friends from the clubs are going they didn't mention it.

Turns out that the serious UFO people are going to be there, but they just didn't get top billing on the ad that I saw. The costume contest and such as that were more important. And there's a special screening of the 50s version War Of The Worlds followed by a talk with the actress who starred in it.

So maybe it would have been fun, but by the time I thought that it might be fun it was too late for me to plan a trip. Besides, we've spent all of our money on cameras and trips to Arkansas and such.


dmarks said...

I remember those early days of the Scifi Channel. "Sci Fi Channel used to like him so much that they just gave him free air time to say whatever he wanted" seems to be about right how Harlan Ellison was all over the place on it back then. They also provided a lot of convention coverage.

Dame Honoria Glossop said...

Those ex-employers sound like total schmucks!
I love sci fi, but Roswell would be a bit too far for me to travel. I guess if you really wanted to go, you'd have to start planning now for next year.

laughingattheslut said...

My friends' interest in the thing seemed to really drop after the 50th anniversary. I just thought that since it was the 60th anniversary that it might be good. I'll go to the thing eventually, but I think that next year it won't be any big deal. I have been to the place just to visit the UFO museum when it wasn't time for the festival, just to look around without all of the crowds So it's not like I've never been to Roswell.

I'm afraid I just wasn't thinking. There is this convention that my buddies go to in Tulsa every June, and I never get to go to that either. But this year I really wanted to go, but then the thing was moved to October. And if I'd immediately switched gears and asked about Roswell, I might be there now.

We are all just too busy in October, so I don't even know if the group will still go to Tulsa. I mean there is the regular meeting and the regular dinner, and then there is the Halloween party and all the work that involves. And then there is usually a trip to Screams (park with haunted houses) and a trip to a catfish restaurant that is supposed to be haunted. And some of the group goes to a Ren Fest in the Houston area, and they tend to go the first weekend in October. October is already very busy without trying to go to Tulsa.

JLeonard said...

Laughing, Hey will be going to The UFO Fest here in a little while. Will try to post some pics for you and let you know how it was. I'm going mainly for the freaks. I'm sure they will be out in droves. Jim

evil-e said...

I would like to check it out sometime in my life....the whole alien thing and the whole government cover up thing fascinate me.

Have you ever listened to Art Bell in the wee hours?

laughingattheslut said...

I don't believe I have.

Babybull40 said...

Sounds like it would be a fun time except for all the crowds.. I bet the town is raking in the dough during this festival.. Do you know what the population of Roswell is? I thought it was a really small place.. I could be wrong about that..

laughingattheslut said...

Actually, they expect about 50,000 people for the Festival, and the population of Roswell is just under that.

I don't know how many people were there in 1997. There was a lot of talk about a quarter of a million people or sometimes even half a million people wanting to go, but I never heard how many people actually went to the thing. And I don't even know where they would put the 50,000 extra people, much less a quarter million or half million.