Rain fell, cold and smelling like earth. It spat at my face like an angry chicken, with bad aim and little force but great determination.
‘This is it,’ I thought, ‘this is what it feels like to be an earthling. Resigned and brimming with negativity. Walking! Getting progressively colder and wetter.’ Then I stepped in a puddle. ‘Brilliant. If only the folks back home could see me now...’
This was not part of the plan. That had fallen apart shortly after landing, so dwelling on it seemed pointless. There were many sayings about best laid plans on this planet and they all lead to the same ending, plans suck. They go wrong, and you end up somewhere altogether different from where you wanted to be. At least there were many different ways to describe my situation, vocabulary was not lacking on this distant world. The small island I found myself stranded on had one word that best described my situation: buggered.
More than buggered, to be fair. On the checklist of things a being can be in life I was alone, stranded, and with no purpose to speak of. Not to mention me being a bit of a whinge fest. They say it’s not about where you end up, it’s all about how you got there. I got there with a whole lot of wrong steps, usually involving puddles and good hard slaps from strangers reacting to my lack of behaviour know how. Up ahead I spotted a lone woman walking with hunched shoulders and squinted eyes.
‘Excuse me,’ I said to the passerby, who jumped at my words, probably horrified by the idea of being approached by a stranger. I was most likely breaking some sort of rule of social conduct. It could end in a slap.
‘Yes?’ she asked, begrudgingly. And suddenly I wanted to make this conversation as uncomfortable for her as possible. Because I could. And to be honest, in Earth terms, I’m considered to be a bit of a bastard.
‘Well, I was wondering...’ I began, smiling in what I hoped was my best imitation of manic. ‘Could you, perchance, inform me. If it’s no trouble of course?’ my eyes focused directly on hers, people don’t like that, too invasive. The question, I do understand, was rhetorical. But to annoy one must push the boundaries of convention. So I awaited a reply, patiently.
‘Erm, yes... sure,’ eventually she gave in, nodding as her eyes searched the street, possibly for an escape or some other life form to push me off on to. There was none.
‘Well, as I was saying. Especially now I know it’s of no bother. Could you, please, let me know where the nearest pub is?’ the look of relief on her face could have been pictured and placed in the dictionary as a definition. I took out my camera and snapped fast. The relief soon vacated her face, giving way to concern. I knew this expression well.
‘What did you just do?’ the question popped right into the air out of her open mouth. Her concern visibly grew, making both of us wonder why she asked at all, really.
‘Oh, that. It’s for a project. Nothing really, it’s a failed project, but I pluck on!’ my attempt at cheerful made her back up a step. ‘So, as I was asking, this pub?’
‘Two streets down,’ her answer was quick. She turned around and crossed the street at a light jog. No slap. Glad about the outcome and yet disappointed the annoyance would soon leave her mind I set off in the opposite direction, towards a pub. It had been on my original list of places to learn about, as part of the human study program.
The pub. I’d been told it was a place to learn about drowning, glassing and some form of diving that required beer goggles. People had told me often to ‘go down the pub, get a stiff drink in you, that’ll loosen you up.’ After pointing out the contradictory ironies in their statement they usually insisted I go off and perform some sort of form of sexual act upon myself. The intricacies of which act I have yet to encounter so as to perform it correctly. However, this may aid in my loosening up, as I’ve been told something stiff is also required.
Social interactions on my home planet had never been much easier for me. Which, believe me, did make me wonder why they really sent me off to another planet in the first place. Really, I knew, they wanted to get rid of me. But still, as I had explained to the passerby, I was plucking on. Land on Earth, compile a dictionary of all human expressions and you can return home. There was no real hope of ever completing the task. Bugger.