In middle school, our language arts teacher introduced us to — among other important topics and skills — propaganda (and how to recognize it), how to structure sentences, J.R.R. Tolkien, and unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
We thought Mrs. H was terrific because she always treated us with respect, was open-minded and encouraged us to read whatever most interested us — she had racks and racks of books we could borrow — and she was outspoken when it came to the subject of UFOs.
This was in the late 1960s, a good 17 years after the term was first seen in print, and there were frequently reported sightings of these unusual anomalies — sometimes referred to as “flying saucers.”
I never doubted that Mrs. H knew what she was talking about. She was wise and well-read. Not long after she first introduced us to UFOs, my friend, Karen, and I were sitting in the rear-facing back seat of our station wagon, feet stuck out the open window as we gazed up into the dark night. Suddenly we both screeched at my father to stop the car. We were sure we’d sighted some unusual phenomena. Fortunately, my dad, the scientist, acquiesced and in fact, joined us in our speculation.
Fast forward to December 2012…meteor showers were predicted for late night/early mornings. On our 6 a.m. run, my running partner and I counted four shooting stars. The next morning, I was alone and trying to keep an eye on the sky while avoiding bumps in the pavement.
And there it was…a slow-moving object flashing green and red. Moving so slowly that it appeared to be almost still. Over the next 20 minutes, I kept my eyes on it. At one point, an airplane flew directly over it — parallel to it.
And no…I didn’t see any alien green men. No one swooped down from the sky to take me to some unknown location. But for the rest of the day, I felt unsettled.
And this is where Facebook comes in handy…I sent out a message to my former 8th grade classmates and asked if they could guess what I saw in the sky that morning. Two of them knew exactly what I was talking about and that started a spirited discussion of our fond memories of Mrs. H.
And yes, I realize most of you are singing the “Twilight Zone” theme song right now. Go ahead and doubt. And snicker. I’ve got Mrs. H on my side.