Unpronounceable

UTOPIA WITH ATTITUDE

Earth has discovered it is not alone in the universe. The aliens – pink, shapeless, and peaceful – are very nice, but after a string of failed diplomatic missions, they ask Earth to stop with the crazies and send someone normal. In frustration, the UN devises a lottery to pick the next ambassador and washes its hands of the problem.

Enter Rose Delancy, a Jersey waitress with a grudge against pretty much the whole world, but especially her sister, Alice. Rose is not actually happy about winning, though Rose is not particularly happy about anything. When she arrives on Unpronounceable–the planet having a name she refuses to try to say–she is nothing but rude to the Blobs, as she calls them, and they find it refreshing. She likes them, they like her, and Rose has the job of ambassador for as long as she wants.

Rose settles in and starts teaching the natives all about humans with the help of Hollywood movies, junk food, and the occasional bout of PMS. They show her a few things of their own involving the transformation of matter, but Rose is only interested in how it applies to sex. That is until she learns that she’s been suckered to play the patsy for an interstellar takeover by Earth. To avoid the horrors of planetary annihilation, not to mention having to go back to Jersey and her family, Rose and the Blobs have to to stop the invasion, save the planet, and ultimately take on her sister.


Reminiscent of the space fantasies of Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, this improbable tale spoofs popular star-trooper fiction, as well as the vain politics of both Washington and Hollywood.
— LASplash.com book review

chapter 1 excerpt

First day on Unpronounceable


   In the morning, a knock at the door doesn’t make me happy. Jet lag is to how I feel the way a headache is to death by a car bomb. Still, I am a diplomat these days, envoy of the planet Earth, so I crawl out of bed. When Mizi comes in, I even talk to her.
    “Hey, fart-face!” I say, just pretending, you know, to be falling for the friends thing.  “I feel like you look. My bones are all jelly and my face is falling off. It might almost be worth dying just so’s I could get off this rock and go back to Earth.”
    Mizi, she starts wiggling all her arms around, making me dizzy. “I’m making conversation and all you can do is shake like a bad disaster movie. You do your St. Vitus routine while I take a whiz. All that bouncing’s making my bladder hurt.”
    Well, suddenly her whole body collapses on the ground, the individual arms kind of melt back in and she turns into a single blob of quivering jelly. Okay, so maybe rudeness kills them, I’m thinking. I experiment.
    “Get some dignity about yourself.  Am I the Ambassador of Earth or am I the Avon Lady trying to sell you a lot of bad perfume just because it’s in a cute bottle?”
    I turn my back on her road-kill impersonation and go into the bathroom thinking about my Aunt Celeste who collects Avon bottles. Says they’ll be worth something someday, says she’s gonna pass 'em on to her kids. I can just see Vito when he finds he can’t get one penny at the pawn shop for them. He’ll want to kill his mother, but she’ll already be dead. Such is life on Earth. Here on Unpronounceable, I come out of the bathroom and Mizi is still wiggling, so I give up on her and decide to find breakfast on my own.
    I head toward the room where I ate dinner the night before, hoping breakfast with strong coffee and lots of sugary, fatty carbohydrates is a concept at least one of the previous missionaries got across to the natives. Mizi, she kind of flops and oozes after me like a balloon filled with jumping beans.
    I run slam into another Blob going around a corner. It’s not as repulsive as you’d think. They’re warm and soft, but not slimy. Like a giant hot water bottle. This gal I bump into, she’s a real tank like my great-gramma Ronnie was. She takes one look at Mizi and oop!, Mizi is on her feet and saluting practically. I feel a bit bad for Mizi, and so I go on the attack. Whenever I feel anything, I go on the attack.
    “Hey, you, how about a few interplanetary niceties like showing me a face, so’s I can ream you for running me over.”
    Seven arms just shoot straight out of the tank-Blob and pop back in. Mizi starts to melt again, but manages to say, “Rose Delancy, Envoy of Earth, may I introduce Another-goddam-unpronounceable-name, high priest and doctor of Medicine.”
    I offer my hand, the Blob puts out a paw and we shake. I let her know, “I can’t pronounce your names and I’m not gonna waste time trying, just to provide comic relief for your otherwise empty lives. Forget it. You, I’m calling Ronnie, after my mother’s grandmother.”
    “I’m honored.”
    “Don’t be. She was mean and stubborn and the Earth became a cheerier place the day she died.” They both start up now. “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. What is with you people? Every time I open my mouth, you turn into tapioca. It’s disgusting. Stop it.”
    More wiggling. “Hey.  You may be talking in signs here, but I’m not hearing anything so I don’t know what’s going on.”
    “Our apologies. We are laughing. I keep forgetting, you humans make a screeching sound when you are happy. We will accommodate.” And suddenly I’m in the middle of a slasher movie. Alfred Hitchcock, you lived in the wrong century. I start flailing my arms trying to get them to stop and they just scream louder. I realize they think I’m trying to laugh in their language and it’s making things even funnier.
    This pisses me off so I stop and stand absolutely still a few minutes and the slaughterhouse soundtrack disappears. I am emphatic, “Don’t do that ever again. You bozos can just wiggle from now on and I’ll know what it means.”
    “We were not correct in our replication of laughter?”
    “You were correct, alright, but it was a replication of Hell.”
    “Hell is where, in your religion, souls go after life?”
    “Only souls who do unspeakable evil and are tortured for all eternity, screaming and writhing in agony without end.”
    “Odd. That is the sound several of your predecessors made when they enjoyed a rejuvenation bath at a –spitting-choking-word–.”
    “They were screaming in pain, numskull. You stripped off all their skin, which is not a thing that should ever be done to a person or even to meat if it's still alive.” Mizi and Ronnie became still and changed color. I'm philosophical. “Hey, not to worry. Those losers were nuts to come here in the first place. No harm done.”
    Mizi and Ronnie brightened right up. “We did mean well. A –spitting-choking-word– is for us the highest experience of what it is to be an ‘Unpronounceable.’ We were going to invite you tomorrow.”
    “And while I was screaming in pain, you sadists would have just wiggled with glee. You’re a great bunch of gals, and if you don’t feed me some breakfast right now, I’m going to tell the whole planet Earth you did it on purpose and they should nuke you till you glow.”
    We go to the dining room and get some food. I sit on a chair. The gals don’t sit exactly. Their legs just squish under them. Ronnie holds forth while I chow down.
    “It’s such a relief to know humans are capable of being properly concerned over bodily functions. Your predecessors never asked for food or sleep or would admit to elimination. Obviously, they were perverts sent off-world because their lives had no value to society.  We tried to help them as a sign of interplanetary goodwill, but we kept failing. This is why we finally requested a sane person. You, we can talk to, and there is hope for peace between our people.”
    Now a diplomat would have clasped their hands and made some promise of friendship. Me, all I could say was, “Don’t count on it. Humans wouldn’t know peace if every last one of them was dead. This soup stuff needs salt.”


chapter 2 excerpt

Bored already with being an ambassador


    I am bored. I know, I know, I am on an uncharted alien world. So much to see, so much to do. But think about it. It’s alien, which means nothing is familiar and so who cares. You seen one night sky with three moons, you’re done. Moons don’t mean nothing until you spend a couple hours looking up at one over Jimmy Petrankis’ shoulder as he’s huffing away in the back seat of his dad’s convertible. After that, the moon, the steady thump of rock and roll music, the squeak of a Chevy suspension in need of a lube job, these take on meaning. A girl needs experiences before she can care.
    At home, if the experiences weren’t good, at least they kept me from being bored. I could fight with my family and the time would pass. I could have sex with an inappropriate but good-looking man and forget who I was for a half-hour. And when all else failed, I could shop for things I couldn’t afford and then fend off irate creditors for months, pretending not to speak English when they called. But notice, my family does not happen to reside in this particular solar system. There are no men, no creditors, no stores even. I tell you, I’m depressed, and it ain’t pretty. I stopped dressing since nobody else wears clothes or even cares, stopped wearing make-up since faces are optional here as well, and finally went so far as to stop shaving my pits and legs.
    Now, before anybody gets all grossed out, I should add that this particular slump in personal hygiene led to yet another interplanetary breakthrough. See, Mizi asked me about the leg stubble once, and I explained about shaving and how it was a mark of civilization, just one more boat she and her kind had missed. She did a little wobble, said she’d adjust the water, and walked away.
    I’m so mesmerized watching her rolling backside disappear around the corner I don’t really think about what she said.  But don’t you know, the next day when I shower, not only does my stubble wash away, but all of my hair falls out. Everywhere.
    Needless to say, I am not happy, but needless doesn’t stop this girl. I say plenty, drawing a bit of a crowd as I’m wishing loudly for an axe, explaining I want to show them a typical human type called an “axe murderer,” and don’t you know, the Blobs go and bring me one. Can you beat that? I get even madder, saying how, by giving me an actual axe, they cheat me not only of the fun of using it, because an ambassador can’t commit dismemberment on anyone, but also of the sweet dream that I would if I could.
    Mizi says, no, no, be her guest, and invites me to haul off and whack her with it right on her sort-of head. Maybe you’d be ashamed to vent on someone who’s being so agreeable, but not me. I whack.  And then I bounce. The axe not only doesn’t hurt Mizi, it ricochets back so quick I’m off balance and falling on my behind quicker than you can say Lizzie Borden.
    “Mizi,” I explain, “I did not want the axe so’s I could practice for a vaudeville comedy act. I wanted it so I could split your head open and watch your precious bodily fluids ooze out onto the floor. Then I figured we’d be even.”
    Mizi says okay and invites me to try again. Now I hesitate. See, if this was Alice or anybody else from my family, it would be a set up. I’d trust, whack, and fall right back on my behind again, and they’d all laugh for days.
    I decide to go ahead as a kind of test. If she’s playing me for the goat, I’ll know all this friendship baloney is just a set-up for the takeover of planet Earth, and I can always have the last laugh by giving the Blobs a nuclear winter to remember.
    I swing the ax one more time and bring it down hard on Mizi’s noggin-equivalent.  It hits with a solid thunk. The pink-grey flesh splits, leaving a huge gash, out of which oozes all manner of slimy innards and buckets of blood. Mizi collapses on the ground and wiggles in convulsive throes, sending splats of soft grayish effluvia everywhere.  I do my part and throw up.
    The other Blobs are watching and it occurs to me I will have a hard time explaining this when Reiner asks why I have been kicked off the planet. Then suddenly all the many-colored and many-textured parts of Mizi just ooze back together and there she is back in her normal disgusting shape. The only mess left is the bits of my lunch that I lost. Those cookies stay put where I tossed them.
    “How was that?” Mizi is obviously pleased with her performance and the other Blobs are crowding around impressed. So am I, not that I’d show it.
    “Thanks for making me throw up. Now I get to eat another tasteless, texture-less lunch. But first, I gotta brush my teeth. They won’t fall out like my hair did, will they?”
    The Blobs give a smile of a wiggle and assure me my teeth are safe. And Mizi promises to adjust the water back to normal and just give me a special washcloth that will do the same trick, but only in the places I rub it. They also will rig a cloth to hurry the growth of hair back on my head. So I’m only bald for a couple of days. In a week, I have a nice head of curls. Not only that, my hair is silkier and shinier than it ever was in my life.
    A more business savvy girl might be wondering how a world that doesn’t have a single factory has managed to produce these nifty hair and skin care products. Beauty products have always been a sure way to get rich back home, and most of those don’t actually do much more for your skin than good old olive oil does. Beauty products that actually improve your skin and hair would make so much money, rich would seem poor by comparison. Me, though, all I can think about is Mizi’s special-effects performance.
    After a few days, so she won’t think I’m at all impressed, just bringing it up for polite chit-chat, I ask, “So how’d you do that blood-and-guts trick the other day?”
    “Oh, that’s nothing. We can take any form we like.”
    “Do you mean to say you choose to have that shapeless body in that ugly color?”
    “Appearance is irrelevant.”
    “It may not bother you, but think about someone else for a minute, like me, for instance. I’m the one stuck with sensory deprivation, looking at nothing but Blobs all day, eating tasteless food, and having sex all by myself.”
    “Looks are so important to you humans perhaps because you cannot change them.”
    “Not without a pile of cash and a top-notch plastic surgeon.”
    “Would you be happier if I looked like you?” Mizi shifted before my eyes and became the spitting-image of me.
    “Gah! No, no. I’m the last person I’d want to be marooned on a distant planet with. No one should have to be stuck with herself. No. Give me Mad Max. James Bond.  Indiana Jones. All the movie idol guys.”
    “Your government showed us some movies. I started to watch one, got bored and left.”
    “We’ll watch together and I’ll explain. For one thing, the guys, look at the guys.  Chiseled jaw, rippling chest, biceps to die for, and hair always in the right place. Just the sight of one tells you God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world. Whereas the sight of you makes me think God got a phone call from his mother right in the middle of creation, and he had to drop everything unfinished and hurry over because her cat was on the roof and wouldn’t come down.”
    Mizi, still looking like me, takes off all of a sudden and I figure she’s mad. No that I care. I’ve made people mad all my life and I’m not going to stop now. It’s weird, though, seeing yourself walk away in a huff.

 

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