Mary Oves
Mary Oves Danny Drake

If aliens were looking down on Earth on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning in August in Ocean City, I think the conversation would go something like this:

E.T.: "The Earthlings are up early today, it is only 7:00 a.m. on Earth time."

Alf: "I have found that on Sunday mornings they are up early in the summer at this place they call the Shore. Look at them. They are all so busy, and move so fast."

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(They look down at the bridges, the boardwalks and the beaches.)

E.T.: "What in the galaxy are they doing?"

Alf: "Walking. Running. Biking. Swimming. Surfing. All these things seem to make them happy."

E.T.: "Happy??! Most of them are not smiling. They all look so...serious. And angry."

Alf: "They are angry. At themselves. I have studied their weekend behavior, and I have found that on Sunday, they punish themselves for sins they committed on Saturday."

E.T.: (Stops to eat a Reese's Pieces): "What kind of sins?"

Alf: "Drinking and eating, mostly."

E.T.: "Why would they punish themselves for that? It is necessary for their survival."

Alf: "It is this thing called guilt. They eat and drink more than is necessary to survive. So to keep from becoming rotund Earthlings, they force themselves to do these activities."

E.T.: "But it is bizarre. They run, walk and bike, seemingly to reach a destination, and then turn around. What is the point?"

Alf: "The activity is the point. It is called exercise."

E.T.: "So if the Earthlings enjoy drinking and eating, and then use exercise to stay tubular, why aren't they smiling?"

Alf: "It is hard work, this exercise. They don't smile until they are done."

E.T.: "Ahhhh, I see. (He doesn't really) Why do they smile when they are done?"

Alf: (Trying to be patient) "Because they are done, and this exercise makes them feel good. It releases this human chemical called endorphins. It is quite addicting, and it makes them smile the rest of the day."

E.T.: "They smile because they feel good?"

Alf: "Yes. And because they can relax for the rest of the day, have fun with their families, eat and drink, knowing that they did something good for their bodies in the morning."

E.T.: "So they eat and drink again? I thought the exercise was to atone for those sins?"

Alf: "Yes. Like you said, eating and drinking are necessary for human survival. But humans are very childish in that they do not know when they've had enough to eat and drink. This exercise maintains a balance in body, mind and spirit."

(They wander to a playground).

E.T.: (Smiles, these little Earthlings are his favorite). "Look at the little Earthlings. They run, jump, and bike, and they smile the whole time. What makes them different from the big Earthlings?"

Alf: "What the little Earthlings engage in is called play. It is a different form of the thing called exercise."

E.T.: "Play. I see. It makes them smile because they are atoning for their sins as well?"

Alf: "The little Earthlings do not have sins. They are pure."

E.T.: "So eating and drinking for the little Earthlings is not a sin?"

Alf: "No. Because they have the balance. They know when they've had enough of drink and food. And they play all day, so they don't have to do it in the morning as punishment."

E.T.: "So the big Earthlings were at one time little Earthlings. When did they lose the balance?"

Alf: "No one is really sure. The wise ones think it is when the connection is made that drink and food are pleasurable. And that more of something pleasurable must surely be that much more pleasurable. But alas, it is merely gluttonous."

E.T.: "Children are not gluttonous?"

Alf: "Only for life. And love."

E.T.: (Becomes quiet). So these children must have much to teach their adults."

Alf: "Yes. But do not think too badly of the big Earthlings. They love their little Earthlings, and often give them so much of themselves, they forget how to play."

E.T.: "That's very sad."

Alf: "It is a little. But don't feel sad for them, because they don't feel sad for themselves. The sacrifice, the sin and the gluttony is just their way of enjoying life. And this thing called exercise? It is a good thing. It keeps them fit, and happy. It is just their way of life."

E.T.: "These humans are very complex. "

Alf: "Indeed. Especially on Sunday mornings at the Shore."

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