Thursday, July 18, 1996
UFO update: Don't believe all you hear

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Because I know you depend on me to fearlessly investigate matters of serious local, national and regional significance I went to a UFO support group meeting.

Now, I already know that I am not one of those people who excels at ''thinking outside the box.'' Frankly, if the box was good enough for our parents, I say it should be good enough for us. You just can't be too careful when it comes to new ideas. I have only recently allowed myself to believe in the existence of fat-free cookies.

But it appears that there is something mysterious at work out there. Otherwise, how can we explain goatees, the stock market and Courtney Love?

Blame it on the movies

Ever since the release of the movie, Independence Day, there have been strange sightings all over the place. A glowing red object was reported by people in the Middletown and Carlisle areas earlier this month. Now, I don't know about you, but I see glowing red lights all the time and I choose to ignore them.

This is probably why my car ran out of gas twice last year.

Anyway, a man named Bode Gibbs described the Middletown phenomenon as round, glowing red, with red lights and said the object twice appeared to dump a ''ball of burning liquid.'' This sounds exactly like what happened to Harvey Fierstein in Independence Day, except that the ball of burning liquid was lethal.

Mr. Gibbs said he was reluctant to report the sighting because of his position as a leader of a Star Trek fan club.

Right. You can't be too careful.

The police in Middletown, who received about 300 calls, say they think pranksters are responsible. Ditto for the crop circle which showed up in a farmer's field in northwestern Ohio. Hundreds of people visited the site. Some were looking for evidence that the 93-foot mashed, perfectly formed circle was caused by the landing of a vehicle from outer space. The rest were looking for sweet corn.

John Timmerman, who lives nearby and studies UFOs, says he knows how the pranksters did it, but he won't tell because he's afraid of copycats. This would, he said, taint his UFO research.

Right. You can't be too careful.

Likewise, I went into my own research with great care and some skepticism. I probably did not believe I was going to meet anybody who had been abducted by aliens. About the best I thought I could do would be to meet some who think that they've been abducted by aliens.

The evidence presented by the people at the meeting was subtle. Nobody had pictures or ET's autograph or even artifacts such as ''Mom was abducted by aliens and all I got was a lousy T-shirt.'' Most of it was more reports of flashing lights. But one woman described an experience which convinced her that aliens were ''among us.''

She said she was riding along in her car, when suddenly she discovered that the sleeves of her blouse were too tight. I guess she thought that they'd beamed her up and when they replaced her, their calibrations were a little off.

Death by flab

Not wanting to be the bearer of sad tidings, I did not tell her that every middle-aged woman suddenly discovers that the sleeves of her blouse are too tight. Most of us do not complain because we know that without sleeves if we attempt a friendly wave or spontaneous applause, we will be flogged to death by our own upper arms.

So, ''get real'' is what I wanted to say to her. But I was too polite.

The general consensus seemed to be that creatures from outer space visit all the time, but our government keeps this information from us. The U.S. government, if I may say so, leaks like a sieve. Just ask the Clintons. Or the Reagans. If the government was going to keep a secret, why not the one about J. Edgar Hoover in an evening gown?

I confided some of my reservations to a member of the UFO support group. She was disappointed by my attitude.

''Maybe if you had a more open mind, you might learn something,'' she said. ''If we can't trust you, we won't tell you some of the really bizarre things we know.''

Right. You can't be too careful.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU-FM (91.7 MHz) and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.