Calvin Parker, Jr

Calvin Parker Jr., stands in the area where he claims to have been abducted by a UFO along with fellow Mississippian Charles Hickson, on the banks of the Pascagoula River on Oct. 11,1973, making international headlines. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Any day now I should get a sense of the comeuppance I've got coming from another dimension.

Things started turning against me last year when President Donald Trump signed a pandemic relief package with a caveat tucked inside: as soon as this week we may know everything the government knows about UFOs, after a series of videos showing spacecraft zipping about left respected national leaders, from Hillary Clinton to Marco Rubio, wanting to know more.

Creating a space force had to be based on something — and that something hovers over my career. The truth is out there.

“Next time send a journalist instead of a comedian.”

That was the message my editor had waiting for him that morning in 1992 after I spent the day and most of the night with UFO investigators. The Pentagon is taking flying saucers seriously now, but I didn't back then.

For a while, I was persona non grata with Northwest Florida's Mutual UFO Network chapter, because every conspiracy needs a shady figure, a cynic who just wouldn’t listen. That was me.

Gulf Breeze had been reeling after photos surfaced of a little-too-perfect UFO glowing above Ed Walters' yard, the first of more than 100 sightings and abductions he claims to have experienced over the next six years, as he wrote three books and became a convention speaker. I convinced him to speak to my Rotary Club, but soon after he stopped talking to reporters, especially if they're named Joey Bunch.

I joined up with "UFO investigators" who ate sandwiches and drank coffee at Shoreline Park, which "Roadside America" calls a "UFO Mecca." 

If you sit on the beach with strangers looking into a starry abyss long enough, a zinger or two is bound to pass through your mind.

 “You know what E.T. stands for?” I asked at about 2 in the morning. “ ‘End this,’ I want to go home.”

I’ve had a joke bomb before, but that one went down like a weather balloon in Roswell.

FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder was on the same case to write an essay about the Panhandle encounter for Omni magazine under a fake name, as was alleged on “The X-Files” in 1993.  

"When I first saw the Gulf Breeze photos, I knew they were a hoax,'' said Mulder, sounding like me.

Unless these flying Tic Tacs turn out to be drones, then the last laugh will be on the two of us.

On the other hand, if they're as advanced as "Ancient Aliens" has led me to believe, then they could have colonized this planet already. I've got my eye on a couple of legislators, who might have their eye on me.

A decade after my MUFON dustup, I was putting the Gulf Coast behind me when I drove from Gulfport to Colorado to start a new life. I stopped in Roswell for a T-shirt and to see a reenactment of an alien autopsy, and it crossed my mind that I shouldn’t mention my name. “I’ve heard of you,” they might say. “You’re that eye roller.”

I was jaded before I ever got to Gulf Breeze.

Three years before that, I was the sports editor of a small daily paper in northeast Alabama, when people in the greater Fyffe community spotted low-flying aerial phenomena for several nights in a row in early February. I covered high school basketball games, so I kept film in my camera, just in case.

Driving home in the pitch darkness of a Deep South winter night, you think of a flying saucer like a tornado; you'd prefer to see it passing by, not coming at you.

It seemed odd that a civilization advanced enough to travel across time and space would spend any time at all in Fyffe, which had one blinking yellow light, a locally owned restaurant, a gas station with a convenience store and a high school. Each August some 30-odd years later, you can still attend Fyffe UFO Days for a balloon ride, a funnel cake and a Barney Fife impersonator. 

Fyffe left me with this: Not everybody who sees a UFO is a crackpot, but, yeah, most of them are. Once you're probed with that impression, it never leaves.

I thought I saw Elton John buying a 40-ounce bottle of Miller Lite from a Tom Thumb store in Milton, Florida. Accent, outlandish glasses, he drove away in a nice car. My friends said no, which made me want to believe it more. Extraterrestrials are a lot like the Rocket Man.

I'm not alone in my skepticism. Denver had its chance to form a welcoming committee, you probably don't recall.

The city was preparing to host the Democratic National Convention in 2008, when a bunch of us gathered to talk about strange beings in the Student Union Building on the Auraria campus.

A UFO expert talked up a ballot initiative to form a Denver Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission to put out the welcome mat for when the mothership lands. 

“If the people will lead, the politicians will have to follow,” Steven Greer, founder and head of The Disclosure Project, told the crowd.

Only 17.6%, that's 31,108 Denverites, voted for it.

Now it's the politicians, starting with Trump, who are leading the world into the great unknown.

I'm bracing to be disappointed again.

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