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Sightings: Men in Black

Paul Greenberg

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: A professor of humanities and folklore at New York's Julliard School by the name of Peter Rojcewicz didn't tell anybody about his encounter with the Men in Black for years -- for fear of how people would react.

A professor of humanities and folklore at New York's Julliard School by the name of Peter Rojcewicz didn't tell anybody about his encounter with the Men in Black for years -- for fear of how people would react. The professor says he was reading quietly in the University of Pennsylvania library when his Man in Black descended on him -- literally: "He sat down, like he had dropped from the ceiling -- all in one movement ..." and proceeded to talk about flying saucers. He was gaunt, pale, about 6-1, 140 pounds, and wore a black suit, black shoes, black string tie and a bright white shirt, according to the professor.

The solemn visitor proceeded to get miffed when the professor said he wasn't sure he was interested in UFOs. "Flying saucers are the most important fact of the century," the sinister figure screamed, "and you are not interested?"

"I tried to calm him," the professor recalls. He evidently succeeded because the Man in Black left in the same singular way he had arrived, but not before putting his hand on the professor's shoulder and saying, "Go well on your purpose."

One of the professor's purposes since his close encounter of the strange kind has been to seek out others who have had experiences with the Men in Black. Such meetings turn out to be numerous. He calls it the MIB experience and says hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others have encountered the visitors, often in sets of three, and mostly after sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects. Now that his researches are being widely reported, we have this not-so-eerie feeling that even more MIB experiences will be recounted. Psychologists call it the power of suggestion. Maybe a better name for it would be consciousness lowering.

I myself once encountered an MIB at the front door of the house distributing Bible tracts. He did not seem threatening, although his grammar was imperfect. (Only if his grammar had been absolutely perfect would he have seemed alien in American society.) Prof. Rojcewicz says the MIB phenomenon can be traced back to biblical times.

Well, Genesis does describe Abraham "as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him ..." but the account doesn't mention the color of their garments. These three visitors didn't seem angry or threatening, as modern MIB are often described, and they even had a sense of humor. They told some improbably story about their host's nonagenarian spouse having a baby. (Father Abraham himself was no spring chicken at the time.)

If these were MIB, there were only two of them by the time they made it down the road to Lot's place. We know a guy who once got in a poker game with three men in black in the Army; it was not a profitable experience. It was more like Hobbes' view of life in a state of nature: poor, nasty, brutish and short.

According to the professor, "The Men in Black are part of the extraordinary-encounter continuum -- fairies, monsters, ETs, energy forms, flying saucers, flaming crosses. ..." MIB usually come in threes, he adds, although they have been spotted in twos, fours and ones. These days they may be carrying briefcases, another detail missing from the sketchy account in Genesis.

You can be sure somebody is working on the screenplay. Has Steven Spielberg heard about this? Or is he responsible for it? What great pre-release publicity this research would make for an other-worldly flick. I see Jack Nicholson, Jack Nicholson and Jack Nicholson in the title role of MIB, Gregory Peck or maybe Anthony Quinn as a contemporary Abraham. Meryl Streep as a spry Sarah, with the voice-over a good imitation of the late John Huston's, only with a little more of the stained-glass quality. Can't you hear the story conference now? "So these three guys drive up to Abe's sheep farm in a Porsche, see. ..." It's enough to make you squirm even before the MIB arrive.

I happen to prefer my angels, like my tennis players, in regulation white but there's not dictating modern taste or the lack of it. Even the most respectable tennis courts are a riot of color. It's part of the Geraldo-ization of American taste. Then again, MIB may not prove as benign as angels; you might prefer meeting them in the Penn library than in a dark alley.

Oops, excuse me, I'm told there are three gentlemen out in the lobby waiting to pay a call -- and that they look like they've just come from a funeral.

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Men in Black (MIB)