I knew it would happen sooner or later. What with all the stories about how the Soviet Union is a better and better place, I knew it was inevitable.
After decades of hating the Soviets, we now like them. And this is fine with me. I have read and I believe all the stories telling me how the Russians are just as nice as Americans, just as warm as Americans and just as decent as Americans.
And now, the final step:
It turns out Russians are just as dopey as Americans, too.
You've heard of glasnost ?
This is nutnost.
The story broke last week. The Soviet news agency Tass reported that gigantic "humanlike" creatures and a tiny robot had emerged from a huge "banana-shaped" UFO to land in the Soviet city of Voronezh, 300 miles south of Moscow.
The UFO hovered over a park and then descended. The aliens, who were 10 feet tall and had three eyes, were clad in silvery coveralls and boots the color of bronze.
Just another loony UFO story, you say? Exactly the point. Tass does not report loony UFO stories.
Tass' idea of a wild story is tractor production in Minsk and the International Conference on Hydroelectric Power in Pinsk.
Tass is the official mouthpiece of the Soviet government and never before has been confused with a supermarket tabloid.
But under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union has entered into a new era. And now the Soviets want to prove they can be goofy, too.
Tass reported that there were numerous witnesses to the alien landing and that "onlookers were overwhelmed with a fear that lasted for several days."
At first, the story upset me. That's because it shattered my long-held theory about UFOs: Even though space aliens are supposed to be much smarter than Earthlings, they always pick extremely stupid places to land.
They never land in front of the White House, for instance, or on the quadrangle at MIT or even in a shopping mall.
No, they always land in obscure places like the swamps of Georgia where Luke and Duke Dweeb are out in a flat boat fishing for engine blocks. And Luke goes on local TV and says, "Yup, they was big and green and offered to take us back to mate with their women and start a master race."
"But we said no," Duke says, "because we didn't want to miss the next episode of 'Chicken Soup.' "
But the Tass story seemed to shoot down my theory. After all, Voronezh sounded like a pretty important city and this time the aliens were seen by many onlookers.
So this could have been for real. After all, why else would Tass have reported it?
Then, other accounts began to surface. I saw a Soviet TV interview with an "onlooker" who had seen the three-eyed aliens.
He was 10 years old. And, as it turns out, the other onlookers were 10 years old, too.
I am not saying 10-year-olds are liars. But when I was 10, I would have said I saw three-eyed monsters, too, if it would have gotten me on TV or out of a math test.
Then there is Voronezh itself. For information about that, I interviewed Antero Pietila, a former Moscow correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and an expert on the Soviet Union.
"I would not call Voronezh a major city," he said.
What would you call it? I asked.
"A hick town," he said. "A large hick town--maybe about 300,000 people--but it's still a hick town. Though it is quite plausible to have giant three-eyed creatures there."
Really? I said. You are not making this up?
"Really," he said. "Voronezh has a huge cooling lake that sits over a nuclear power plant. And the lake is stocked with carp and the people eat the carp."
The government lets people eat carp that swim in the cooling lake of nuclear power plant?
"Oh, yes, the town is very proud of the lake," he said. "They have a beach there and everything. And so I would not be surprised at all if, after a few years of eating the carp in that lake, you would see strange creatures in Voronezh."
So there you have it. The creatures are not aliens! They are the next generation of Soviet citizens!
And while some Soviets may be scared of them now, I think they will soon see the advantage of having a race of multieyed giants.
Just wait until the '92 Olympics.